Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I don't know how much I will find on the 'net today.  Has anyone else noticed how repetitive some of the news sites?  So often I fine half a dozen or more repeated stories on the same useless stories I didn't want to read in the first place.  The gardens are doing well and I am getting a steady supply of cherry tomatoes and, recently, the slicers are beginning to ripen.  I still have to get the Amish paste tomatoes out of the tansy and re-attached to their stakes.  The wind was still to high to do that yesterday.  I have been thinking about taking the purple cayenne and drying them.  Otherwise not much to say on that front.

I found this mesmerizing animated graph on describing U.S. demographic history from 1900 and projecting for another 30 or so years.

The teaser title promised something else.  A so-called "dark age" for science evoked an image to me of the European Dark Age--a disappearance of literacy and numeracy, an intellectual stagnation.  The author instead is talking about a financial "dark age" thanks to sequestration.  Thinking about it for a bit I don't buy his argument.  Scientists functioned very nicely before government and big pockets corporations took over the financing.  And I am not so sure that the presence of gobs of government and corporate money has been all that beneficial.  Starting in the 1970s we saw the corporate use of "tame" scientists who were very happy to tailor their research to get the results that supported the company strategy.  As a result we got stories which told us that cigarettes weren't addictive or harmful, there was no linkage between smoking and cancer, and DDT didn't have any impact on our environment beyond killing noxious bugs.  Science today is a gladiatorial contest between credentialed "experts" and deciding who has the better "evidence" is a guess at best.

The new Coke ads that try to whitewash the use of artificial sweeteners has made all of the news outlets.  I find it interesting in an abstract way.  We have almost totally eliminated soft drinks from our diet.  We might have one if we visit one of the relatives but not if we have other choices.  Mom says that drinks with aspartame have a metallic aftertaste.  Neither of us have much of a taste for overly sweet items any more.  Here we use honey, cane sugar, or home grown stevia.  I did think it was interesting, when I saw the ad, that Truvia (commercially processed granulated stevia) was featured in the ad but Diet Coke, last I heard, used aspartame which suggests the two are equivalent.  Of that I am not so sure.  This is another case of dueling experts--those supporting aspartame's safety and those who think it is harmful.

There are times when I am firmly convinced that medicine has not progressed at all beyond the "snake oil" con man era.  Stories like this one solidify that conviction.

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