Volume 4 Issue 15

Vassar: Historian of African art, curator, filmmaker, and photographer, Susan Vogel, Founding Director for the Museum for African Art will discuss El Anatsui’s Marriage of Painting and Sculpture: A New Art from Africa 6 p.m. Taylor Hall Room 102

Merritt Books: Interested in writing for children? Six-week class every Tuesday beginning April 24. 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. 57 Front Street, Millbrook. $175 for whole class. Register: Karen Orloff: orloff@bestweb.net Instructors: Karen Kaufman Orloff and Della Ross Ferreri. 

WITH THE RECENT, problematic disclosure that the Heartland Institute—propagandists for hire, annual operating budget $7 million and rising—has a plan to pervert classrooms with false teachings about global warming, I thought it prudent to have a look at the phenomenon of global-warming denial, its roots and various manifestations.  Then Oklahoma Senator Jim “Mountain” Inhofe chimed in, and I quote in full: “God is still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” Inhofe was promoting his new book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future. (In his defense it must be said he probably wasn’t speaking solely for the Deity, having received $1,352,523 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies, including $90,950 from Koch Industries.)

Quite often in medicine, a procedure or medication designed for one condition also provides collateral benefits for something entirely different. For example, some of the drugs used to treat men’s prostate enlargement also helps restore their hair growth. Oral contraceptives may also treat some cases of acne. So it does not come entirely as a surprise that surgery originally designed to help the seriously obese lose weight also offers a drug-free assist in the management of adult-onset (Type-2) diabetes.

There are several kinds of bariatric surgery, with varying levels of invasiveness, cost, and potential risks. They include the placement of an adjustable band that restricts the size of the stomach (gastric banding); sleeve gastrectomy, in which part of the stomach is removed to permanently reduce its capacity; and gastric bypass surgery, in which the first few feet of small intestine are bypassed in order to reduce the absorption of some nutrients.

 

Perhaps you remember the days when you were told to avoid not only saturated animal fats but also palm and coconut oil because they contained high amounts of artery-clogging saturated fat. Yet the thinking on coconut oil is changing, as it appears to have a number of health benefits, perhaps especially for people with diabetes. Let’s be clear up front what we’re talking about: virgin, organic, nonhydrogenated coconut oil, which is a solid when cool. Mounds and piña coladas don’t qualify. According to Judy Shishmanian, RD, CDE, coordinator of the Center for Diabetes Management at St. Francis Hospital and Health Centers in Poughkeepsie, coconut oil has unique properties. For example, although it is a saturated fat, like animal fats, coconut oil contains high levels of what are called medium chain fatty acids, which behave somewhat differently from most dietary fats. Unlike animal fats, these are small enough to enter a cell’s mitochondria where energy is produced.     

As we reported several weeks ago, spring 2012 promises to be an especially dangerous season for tick-borne diseases, especially Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis/anaplasmosis. Because the white-footed mouse population has crashed, owing to a dearth of acorns, the black-legged ticks (borrelia burgdorferi) that normally get their “blood meal” from the mice are looking for another source—quite likely ourselves or our pets. 

To find out how to protect our animals, we talked to Dr. Paul Schwartz at the Center for Veterinary Care, who told us that the tick-related diseases increase year. Once Lyme was the most common tick-borne disease, but since 1995–1996, ehrlichiosis, now called anaplasmosis, has grown to surpass Lyme. Moreover, many animals have both organisms, which makes them much worse off.

 

 

 

This column has recently been considering philosophical theory and contemporary practice regarding the issue of justice with respect to taxation practices. The impetus has been a county law I am sponsoring to grant tax-exemption status to disabled property owners below certain incomes. Such an exemption works by granting a property-tax discount to those who qualify, while expecting the rest of the community to make up the difference. In a day and age in which class warfare is on the rise and there is much voter angst being channeled against so-called entitlements, I have been looking for justification to Aristotle’s ancient discourses on justice and the role of the state. According to the Golden-Tongued Philosopher (as Cicero called him), legislators ought to decree the “justest laws,” with justice defined in terms of “equality,” while also considering the advantage of the state and the common good of its citizens.

  From time to time, we find items on the Internet of sufficient importance to bring them to your attention. A recent post of TomDispatch reported on the near-secret expansion of our national and international intelligence activities.   Most of us are aware of the National Security Agency, once a top-secret agency, that listens to electronic traffic around the world to learn what people are saying that might be of interest to the domestic intelligence community. It still occupies a conspicuously well-guarded office building on the campus of Fort Meade in Maryland. It still is a secret agency, except everyone knows about it and what it does.  

A political career by age eighteen? That’s Marcus J. Molinaro, who knew who he was and what he wanted to do in life even before that age. While still in high school, he performed volunteer work for the village of Tivoli, then worked intently as an intern for well-respected assemblywoman Eileen Hickey. By the ripe old age of eighteen, he was a member of the Tivoli Village Board of Trustees. The idea that politicians serve the public, an ancient Greek ideal, became the foundation for his career. He’s serious about that ideal, which guided our Founding Fathers in organizing a new country.

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