Previous month:
March 2010
Next month:
May 2010

April 2010

Don't be impressed by headlines of Chinese drywall judgments

Those following the saga of tainted Chinese drywall can't possibly miss all the fanfare given to Judge Fallon's latest awards...

Judge awards $164K to Louisiana family for Chinese Drywall!

However, this is all quite meaningless as the judgment will never be perfected (that is, collected). This court can't enforce a judgment on a foreign nation, least of all on China—a country that holds our own government's markers for trillions.

This is one time that the plaintiff's lawyers are hurting themselves, since many of them actually believe that our courts will seize assets such as ships, to enforce the judgment.

If you buy that, I've got 5,000 tainted drywall houses in Cape Coral, FL I'd love to sell you.

If health care is so important, why don't we care about doctors?

That's the title of a recent HND piece, which focuses on an issue that you almost never hear about: How doctors—especially hospital residents—are being screwed by the system. Of course, this will only get worse under Obamacare.

Yes indeed, only liberal morons could come up with a "reform" of health care that spends untold billions, adds not a single doctor or nurse, but provides for upwards of 17,000 new bureaucrats.

The current piece, though, looks more at how these residents—the heart of the hospital—don't even make $50,000 per year, and this for working more than 100 hours a week. In addition, they are saddled with a huge student loan debt (averaging $200,000 or more). Note that these conditions have been in place for a long time.

You will also find out how the med school grads can't even pick their specialty or their location to practice, as this is all set up by the "Match." No wonder most docs are less than thrilled with their lives, but have invested so much time and money, few of them can just bail.

Read the complete article.

Are fruits and vegetables protective against cancer?

We certainly hear a lot about this. The trouble is that what looked great in case-control studies seems to get disproved when the more comprehensive prospective studies are done. Or, maybe not.

My latest HND piece takes a critical look at a big study just published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Many are touting the results of this work, indicating that fruits and vegetables have little if any effect.

One of the obvious problems with the study is that "cancer" is used as the endpoint, with no further breakdown as to the type of cancer. Inasmuch as lung cancer is a major form of cancer, and it is caused in 90 percent of cases by smoking, don't you think that this might skew the results a little bit?

What would the results have been if smokers who got lung cancer were left off the study? After all, no one is suggesting that eating fruits and vegetables will make up for the negative effects of smoking.

Moreover, it is well known that certain fruits and vegetables and protective against certain cancers. While it is easier to get data on "cancer" and "fruits and vegetables," my take is that such broad categories prove very little.

It's almost as if these sorts of studies, which inevitably show no (or very little) effect for healthier diets or supplementation, are purposely designed to come out this way. As it is, a bravura review article done by Christian Roberts and James Barnard (J Appl Physiol 98: 3-40, 2005) examined 424 references and found that there was a major effect of exercise and diet on chronic disease. Cancer is one of the conditions covered in that work.

This paper can be downloaded for free, by the way.

Barnard notes on his website that

I have been studying diet and exercise for over 40 years and am convinced that most of the health problems seen in the U.S. and other industrialized countries are the result of poor diet, a lack of regular exercise and exposure to hazardous chemicals.

I would quibble with him a bit on that "hazardous chemicals" item, since it has been over-hyped, but I would have to agree with the rest of his statement.

Another stupid "environmental" lawsuit: This time it's about fish oil and PCBs

These days, it isn't enough for an inexpensive supplement to boast near miracle properties, complete with plenty of evidence. No, manufacturers also have to fend off nuisance litigation—in this case directed at supposed California Prop 65 violations.

As always, the science from the plaintiffs is suspect, but in "fiddle while Rome burns" California, all idiots are due a hearing. Still, even the starry-eyed regulators in the once-Golden State are not exactly getting too excited over this one.

I'm afraid this sort of abuse will only stop when people start ignoring direct mail appeals from spurious "environmental" groups.

Read my complete HND article.

Dream (When You're Feeling Blue)

My latest Mike's Comment talks about this great song by Johnny Mercer, and focuses on the wonderful version by Susannah McCorkle.

Perhaps Susannah was able to nail it because she actually lived the spirit of the lyrics. The words portray someone who is at least temporarily depressed, trying to convince themselves that "Things never are as bad as they seem," and "Dream, and they might come true."

More than that, the lyrics imply putting on a happy face, to disguise turmoil underneath. Yet, the tone is anything but ironic. Rather, it really is hopeful.

Check out the complete article.