Monthly Archives: February 2007

Blinded with science

So, a new study of previous studies indicates that use of common dietary supplements such as Vitamin A, Beta Carotene and Vitamin E may shorten one’s life.

Our systematic review contains a number of findings. Beta carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E given singly or combined with other antioxidant supplements significantly increase mortality. There is no evidence that vitamin C may increase longevity. We lack evidence to refute a potential negative effect of vitamin C on survival. Selenium tended to reduce mortality, but we need more research on this question,” the authors write.

“Our findings contradict the findings of observational studies, claiming that antioxidants improve health. Considering that 10 percent to 20 percent of the adult population (80-160 million people) in North America and Europe may consume the assessed supplements, the public health consequences may be substantial. We are exposed to intense marketing with a contrary statement, which is also reflected by the high number of publications per included randomized trial found in the present review.”

“There are several possible explanations for the negative effect of antioxidant supplements on mortality. Although oxidative stress has a hypothesized role in the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases, it may be the consequence of pathological conditions. By eliminating free radicals from our organism, we interfere with some essential defensive mechanisms . Antioxidant supplements are synthetic and not subjected to the same rigorous toxicity studies as other pharmaceutical agents. Better understanding of mechanisms and actions of antioxidants in relation to a potential disease is needed,” the researchers conclude.

Well, this study is hardly the last word on the subject, as the researchers themselves acknowledge, but it’s another chance to ponder the position that scientific conventional wisdom occupies in our lives, sometimes at our own mortal – not to mention moral — peril. For many decades, the value to one’s health of taking vitamins has been considered beyond reasonable debate. Certainly, there has been debate at the fringes — for instance: should you take just the official recommended dose, or “mega-doses”? And to what extent is getting the vitamins from actual food better than getting them from pills? But the idea that taking a vitamin E supplement might actually cause you to die sooner has not been anywhere on the radar. Maybe in a few years this will be the new conventional wisdom, and any remaining true-believers in mega-dose vitamins will have to furtively deal for them in back alleys.

To think of all that money spent on vitamins by so many down through the years, perhaps only ultimately resulting in shortened lives — I guess it’s a small reminder of where one’s complete trust shouldn’t reside.

Well, you’re on your own, you always were,
In a land of wolves and thieves.
Don’t put your hope in ungodly man
Or be a slave to what somebody else believes.

(And I wonder when the class-action lawsuits start?)

Hey Joe

Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind-CT) wrote a column which was published yesterday on the political atmosphere in Congress regarding the Iraq war, and on the necessity of success. Despite disagreeing with Joe Lieberman on important issues, he is without doubt a patriot (and a confirmed fan of Bob Dylan) and I think that we’re fortunate he occupies the pivotal position that he now does in the U.S. Senate. Thank you, Daily Kos et al.

Two months into the 110th Congress, Washington has never been more bitterly divided over our mission in Iraq. The Senate and House of Representatives are bracing for parliamentary trench warfare–trapped in an escalating dynamic of division and confrontation that will neither resolve the tough challenges we face in Iraq nor strengthen our nation against its terrorist enemies around the world.

What is remarkable about this state of affairs in Washington is just how removed it is from what is actually happening in Iraq. There, the battle of Baghdad is now under way. A new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has taken command, having been confirmed by the Senate, 81-0, just a few weeks ago. And a new strategy is being put into action, with thousands of additional American soldiers streaming into the Iraqi capital.

Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq–or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?

I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next. Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed.

Gen. Petraeus says he will be able to see whether progress is occurring by the end of the summer, so let us declare a truce in the Washington political war over Iraq until then. Let us come together around a constructive legislative agenda for our security: authorizing an increase in the size of the Army and Marines, funding the equipment and protection our troops need, monitoring progress on the ground in Iraq with oversight hearings, investigating contract procedures, and guaranteeing Iraq war veterans the first-class treatment and care they deserve when they come home.

We are at a critical moment in Iraq–at the beginning of a key battle, in the midst of a war that is irretrievably bound up in an even bigger, global struggle against the totalitarian ideology of radical Islamism. However tired, however frustrated, however angry we may feel, we must remember that our forces in Iraq carry America’s cause–the cause of freedom–which we abandon at our peril.


This morning, I was woken up to the local newsradio station announcing an apparent bombing attack targeting VP Dick Cheney in Bagram, Afghanistan. Turning on the Today Show twenty minutes later, I was treated to Matt Lauer announcing that there was “breaking news from Afghanistan” regarding the attack, before saying (I must paraphrase): “More on that later. There are also big developments in the Anna Nicole Smith case …”

Well, it seems dubious that the Taliban did in fact know Cheney was going to be there, as his presence was the result of a last minute change-of-plans, so perhaps the mainstream media was just trying to avoid giving them the attention they so badly desire. Hmm.

Michelle Malkin has tracked the reaction of the non-mainstream media, which, at places like the Huffington Post and the Democrat Underground, is as mind-bogglingly ugly as you could imagine. In a confrontation between medieval maniacal misogynistic gay-hating, Jew-hating, Christian-hating, atheist-hating, music-hating, free-speech-hating mass murderers and the Vice President of the United States, it’s only too clear whose side many on the modern day American left are on.


Bob Dylan has referred to the reality of the devil on more than a few occasions, in song and otherwise (even on his radio show).

In the interview accompanying his 1985 box set, Biograph, he said:

What’s changed? When did Abraham break his father’s idols? I think it was last Tuesday. God is still the judge and the devil still rules the world so what’s different?

It’s not very appealing to think that the world is ruled by the devil, but maybe a truly unfiltered look around the place makes the notion more plausible.

A lot of Christians attending services this morning would have heard this from Luke, Chapter 4:

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'”
And the devil took him up, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,
and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory; for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will.
If you, then, will worship me, it shall all be yours.”
And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'”
And he took him to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here;
for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'”
And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”
And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

So, a dilemma is illustrated here, for the mortal man. Living in a world that the devil struts through commandingly, he is asked to serve only God. It’s tough to keep straight, but without a doubt you gotta serve somebody.

There is a YouTube clip at this link (or play below) of Dylan doing a hard and searing version of that very song in November of 1990.

Are you ready?

Truly unbelievable: Miami Church Brands Members With ‘666’ Tattoos.

DORAL, Fla. — Surrounded by a mob of news cameras, a group of smiling, well-dressed church members crowded into a South Beach storefront parlor on a recent muggy evening and got matching tattoos of their prophet’s symbol: 666.

Members of Growing in Grace, a controversial religious sect headquartered in Doral, said they were following the example of their leader, Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda, who has claimed to be Jesus and recently declared himself the Antichrist.

Critics have called De Jesus a cult leader who manipulates followers. Church members say he has brought them happiness and spiritual fulfillment.

I figured this for a really small-time group of kooks engaging in a successful attempt to draw attention to themselves, and almost stopped reading the story right there, but “small-time” is not an accurate description, it turns out:

De Jesus had just a few hundred followers when he launched his church in a Hialeah warehouse about 20 years ago. Today, he commands a global movement from his Doral headquarters that boasts 335 education centers, 200 pastors, 287 radio programs and a 24-hour Spanish-language TV network that’s available to 2 million homes — including by special request from some U.S. cable companies. Only De Jesus and his right hand man, Carlos Cestero, are authorized to preach.

In his sermons, De Jesus emphasizes wealth and success as a sign of God’s favor. Many of his members are business owners who give a percentage of their corporate profits to De Jesus, said Alvaro Albarracin, who oversees corporate donations to the church and holds the title “entrepreneur of entrepreneurs.” Albarracin, who runs the film production company MiamiLa Entertainment, said he gave 20 percent of his profit to the movement when he sold his Web-hosting company, Dialtone, for more than $16 million in 2001.

Martita Roca, 25, a South Florida singer and actress from Guatemala, said she sometimes gives 40 percent of her salary to Growing in Grace. Giving a piece of her flesh by getting a tattoo was another way to prove her commitment, she said.

“For all of those people who pray for us to come out of this movement, this shows that this is it, there’s no going back,” Roca said of her tattoos. “This is to make sure that everyone relates me to that vision.”

Luz Fuentes, 51, a former Catholic who joined Growing in Grace in 1990, said she and her brother give Growing in Grace up to 50 percent of profits from their Hallandale mortgage company, Apos Mortgage. “Apos” is short for “apostle,” one of De Jesus’ monikers. De Jesus is listed on the company’s website as its CEO.

“Antichrist” is the latest in a string of titles De Jesus has bestowed on himself.

Charming. What on earth is going on here?

Coming on the heels of the story the other day about a film which will supposedly claim that the “coffins” of Jesus, his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ “brother” and Jesus’ “son” have been identified, I’d say it might be time to make sure the stocks of powdered milk and batteries are replenished — not to mention getting yourself right with the Lord. This world can’t stand long.


Thanks again to readers for the e-mails during my silence in this space, and just for checking in. At this point, I’m wrestling with a time-management issue, or what I might call my Dear Landlord problem. Being away from blogging for awhile brought into sharp relief just how much time I’ve been putting into something that doesn’t contribute to paying the rent. As much as my landlord might enjoy chuckling over the latest RWB bon mot, he is curiously implacable when it comes to expecting the full amount of money each month as dictated by the terms of the lease. My industriousness in other directions cannot therefore be neglected. We shall see what we shall see.

All of us, at times, we might work too hard
To have it too fast and too much,
And anyone can fill his life up
With things he can see but he just cannot touch.

Back, sort-of

Thanks for the messages of concern — there was a death in my family and much to do as a result, but with God’s help things seem to be working out. I underestimated how much time I would be away, and now I find myself behind on everything, not least of which is making a living, which I naturally don’t do by means of this blog. So, things will be spotty here until such time as they are no longer spotty.

And no, it all had nothing to do with Anna Nicole Smith.