Friday, September 30, 2005

death by toothbrush

Brushing your teeth can kill you.

You've probably always assumed the twice-a-day activity actually contributed to health. But fluoride, the popular ingredient in most toothpastes that most companies say prevents tooth decay, also has some unsettling side effects.

Fluoride has been linked to bone cancer, ADD, thyroid and endocrine problems.

At least that's the charge of a book I'm reading called The Fluoride Deception. Christopher Bryson crafts a well-documented case against using fluroide, which is a byproduct of toxic waste. He also details how industrialists and government officials urged that the poison -- it's used as a pesticide -- be added to our drinking supply and toothpaste in the 1940s.

Before you dismiss Bryson as a crackpot, consider that he graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism and worked for the BBC and National Public Radio.

Also, if you want to do a minimal amount of research into the subject that will take all of 30 seconds, go find the tube of paste in your bathroom. Unless you use an all-natural or organic toothpaste, you will find the following warning on the back in fine print:

"Keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a poison control center right away."

Yes, we are brushing our teeth with poison. And it's right there for us to see.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

procedural matters

Strange that I had never even heard of blogging until a few months ago. Not only did I start one recently, but in the last week, so have two friends. You can catch them here:

Enjoy. I have no doubt they will be entertaining, and with any luck, offensive too.


Here's a good recipe of my own creation that I'm passing along for anyone who is interested in eating something healthy and good. It's a more complicated version of oatmeal.

You need:
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup oats

1 scoop whey protein powder
1 small handful of flaxseed
1 TSP of honey
7-10 chopped or unchopped almonds
1 handful raisins

1 handful blueberries
1 hanful blackberries
1 handful raspberries

Directions: Cook the oatmeal with the water as directed on the package. If you are using frozen fruit, defrost it now. Then combine your fresh/unfrozen fruit with the other ingredients. Add in the oatmeal. Mix together thoroughly. Then add a little bit of milk.

This can be a filling afternoon snack. "Men's Health" recommends eating at least 5 of the 12 foods on its ABSDIETPOWER list every day. You get at least five in this recipe, and it only takes five minutes to cook.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Morrie taught him poorly

Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom has always been a wonderful storyteller.

As some of you may recall, he wrote a wistful column from the NCAA Final Four in March, painting a flowery picture of how former Michigan State stars Jason Richardson and Mateen Cleaves longed for the simplicity of their college days.

In great detail, Albom described how the pair took time from their NBA schedules to attend the Final Four, how they sat in the stands and wore their spartan green, cheering on their Michigan State descendants with great passion.

Only problem. Cleaves and Richardson weren't at the game.

Days earlier, the pair told Albom they would be attending. But flight trouble delayed their arrival, and they never made it to St. Louis.

Nonetheless, Albom had delivered great prose about their attire at the game, their feelings about their alma mater, their actions while watching the game. He waved a magic wand, made it all up, and committed one of journalism's great sins.

Although the Free Press did not fire its star columnist, Albom lost all credibility.

That is why I nearly spurted Cheerios through my nose when I read this column last month, in which Albom, the great fake, had the audacity to lament the decline of journalistic standards. His message was correct, but I'd eat a dead dog's penis before I accepted it from him.

He was at his hypocritical best again Sunday, writing how the Detroit Lions have lost all credibility thanks to their lousy play. The headline on the story, which borrowed from the text, read: "Easter Bunny more believable than Lions."

It was time to write Mr. Albom a letter.

I emailed him Monday morning:

"Dear Mitch,
If the Easter Bunny is more believable than the Lions, then are both more believable than you, you fiction-writing fraud?


You'll be shocked when I tell you that I have not yet received his response. I'm not surprised. As talented a writer as Albom is, there are no words that can justify betraying your profession.

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Monday, September 19, 2005

An underrated legend

With so much happening around the National Football League in the days before the season's start, the retirement of Jerry Rice barely made a blip on one 24-hour news cycle.

The dearth of coverage is understandable. Rice walked away in a foreign uniform, on his fourth team in as many years, about three years after he should have retired. He has been an inconsequential player for three years.

But recent history should not overshadow his overall greatness. And considering the month's worth of blowjobs given to Lance Armstrong by the American media prior to his retirement, Rice deserved far better.

In my book, he is one of the five best American athletes of the 20th century, and easily the most underrated of a group that includes Muhammad Ali, Jim Thorpe, Jim Brown, Babe Ruth and Rice.

Perhaps in a later entry, I can describe my reasoning for the above five. For today, I'd like to keep the focus on Rice.

Just as Brown redefined the running back position in the NFL, Rice forced a fundamental shift in the way defenses approached covering receivers.

And although his production slackened over the last three years as he approached his retirement age of 42, he played at an elite level for 17 seasons at a position where the window for success is often less than five years.

While an aging quarterback can rely on instincts and guile to supplement his loss of athleticism or a running back can still succed using brute power alone, a receiver does not have such luxuries.

Except for perhaps cornerback, no NFL position is more succeptible to aging than receiver. You lose any speed, that half-step advantage over a defender, and your career is finished. The difference between elite and the waiver wire is two-tenths of a second.

For Rice to remain in an elite bracket for 17 of his 20 seasons is inconceivable. Because of his longevity, he holds every vital receiving record -- and by mostly huge margins.

Take a look at his key records:

Most career receptions
1. Rice 1,549
2. Cris Carter 1,101
3. Tim Brown 1,094

Most consecutive games with a reception
1. Rice 274
2. Monk 183

Most seasons of 50-plus receptions
1. Rice 17
2. Andre Reed 13

Most career yards
1. Rice 22,895
2. Tim Brown 14,934
3. James Lofton 14,004

Most yards, single season
1. Rice 1,848
2. Isaac Bruce 1,781

Most career 100-yard games
1. Rice 76
2. Don Maynard 50

Most seasons of 1,000-plus yards
1. Rice 14
2. Brown 9

Most career touchdowns
1. Rice 197
2. Carter 130
3. Steve Largent 100

Most touchdowns, single season
1. Rice 22
2. Mark Clayton 18

Most consecutive games with a touchdown
1. Rice 13
2. Elroy Hirsch 11

I could continue, but I think you get the point. Rice owns every significant record, often with room to spare. NFL legends at other positions do not dominate the record book like that.

Take a look:

Most career yards
1. Dan Marino 61,361
2. John Elway 51,475

Highest career completion percentage
1. Kurt Warner 65.9
2. Daunte Culpepper 64.37

Highest completion percentage, single season
1. Ken Anderson 70.55
2. Sammy Baugh 70.33

Career seasons leading league in yardage
1. (tie) Sammy Baugh, Steve Young 6

Most career touchdowns
1. Marino 420
2. Brett Favre 374

Most consecutive passes without an interception
1. Bernie Kosar 308
2. Bart Starr 294

Records at running back:

Seasons leading league in yardage
1. Jim Brown 8
2. Multiple players with 4

Career yards
1. Emmitt Smith 18,355
2. Walter Payton 16,726

Most yards, single season
1. Eric Dickerson 2,105
2. Jamal Lewis 1,066

Games over 200 yards
1. O.J. Simpson 6
2. Brown 4

Games over 100 yards, single season
1. Barry Sanders 14
2. Dickerson 12

Highest career average yards per carry
1. Brown 5.22
2. Mercury Morris 5.14

Career touchdowns
1. Smith 164
2. Marcus Allen 123

My point in listing all of these records is not to inundate you with statistics, but to demonstrate that, at other offensive positions, you can manipulate the record book to support a particular player as the "best ever." Many different names occupy those No. 1 spots.

You cannot do that at wide receiver. The case is closed.

Through a combination of longevity at a position where the word is nonexistent, speed and precision, Rice became the preeminent player of our time.

The lack of fervor surrounding his retirement can be attributed to his humble attitude -- he does not pout like Terrell Owens, whose lengthy spat with the Philadelphia Eagles claimed much more TV time during Rice's good-bye.

Rice also does not need bucket-loads of commercial endorsements or hype -- he is Michael Jordan without the marketing.

All he needs is a training regimen that his former coaches and teammates have called the most brutal and intense they have ever seen. It was enough to elevate his play at receiver into an art form. He was dedicated, determined and successful beyond imagination.


Monday, September 12, 2005

Wasted talent

On my way to work this evening, my auditory senses were assaulted by the song, "Accidentally In Love," that puppy dogs-and-ice-cream piece of kindergarten tripe produced by the Counting Crows for the Shrek 2 soundtrack.

It reminded me of how fucking disappointed I am in that band.

Their first two albums -- "August and Everything After" and "Recovering the Satellites" -- unmasked so much potential, with songs like the brooding "Rain King" and the classic "Mr. Jones." The Counting Crows offered a fresh and distinct sound at a time when grunge had overrun the airspace.

Those albums must have drained Adam Duritz and company of all creativity, because their follow-up efforts lacked much compelling material. Stooping to pop garbage like "Accidentally In Love" cemented their plunge.

It was the worst song of 2004, and an insult to their talents.

So wretched, in fact, that it reached back in time and tainted their previous work. Now, I cannot even revisit their better songs without simultaneously pondering how musicians who blended folk and hard rock into such a unique and melodic sound could also offer such crap.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Fortuna, you vicious slut

Watching the New Orleans floods unfold over the last week, I could not help but wonder how Ignatius J. Reilly would have handled such adversity in his native city.

Reilly, the misanthropic oaf from the fascinating novel "Confederacy of Dunces," certainly would have refused to evacuate his Constantinople Street shack. He had only left town once in his lifetime, taking a trip to Baton Rouge aboard a Greyhound Scenicruiser that turned into a harrowing misadventure.

Surely, he would have thwarted rescuers by informing them of the errors of their blighted worldviews. If they attempted to forcibly remove him, he would have blurted, "Oh, my God! You mongoloids must take your appendages off my magnificent being before I lash your pitiful shoulders."

Exasperated and angered, Ignatius would have been left on his own. Stuck in his room, he would be content to drink Dr. Nut, read Boethius and masturbate into his plastic glove.

As Fortuna spun his wheel downward, however, and the Hurricane hit, his valve would have permanently closed. His Big Chief writing tablets would have been destroyed by rising water, and I'm sad to say, I believe Ignatius would simply been too obese to be rescued via boat.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, then I highly suggest you read John Kennedy Toole's fine novel before I lash you.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fairy tales

I caught this story at work last night, and thought it was one of the more insightful and amusing articles I've read about the current gas crisis.

By Warren Brown
© 2005, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The Children’s Hour has been extended
at the White House. It is a time of make-believe in
which the nation’s leaders tell fairy tales. The
latest story is a political favorite. It goes like
Once upon a time, there were cruel car companies in
the United States. They were known as the Detroit Big
The Big Three made big cars and trucks that used
lots of gasoline. The people of the United States
could not afford them. That did not matter. The Big
Three controlled their minds with powerful magic dust,
called advertising.
Whenever the people complained that their cars and
trucks were too big and their gasoline prices too
high, the Big Three polluted the air with magic dust.
The people breathed it in; and they were quiet.
This went on until the nation’s leaders decided to
put a stop to it. The leaders consulted members of
Congress and the environmental establishment to
concoct a witch’s brew, called CAFE, which stands for
corporate average fuel economy. The car companies
would be forced to drink CAFE and build the kinds of
cars and trucks the virtuous, energy-conscious people
of America always wanted.
The new cars and trucks would save lots of fuel —
the equivalent of 10 billion barrels of gasoline,
according to the latest proposed mixture of CAFE. The
people would be happy, and all would be well with the
In addition, the noble leaders of America gave the
people a bonus. Under CAFE, the people would not have
to do anything. They would not have to pay higher
taxes for the gasoline they loved so much. In fact,
the leaders promised to “ease the pain” of the people
at gasoline pumps across the land, which is
Washington’s way of saying that the people might one
day return to gasoline prices of barely $1 a gallon
for regular unleaded — no matter that they already
were paying the cheapest prices for gasoline in the
developed world.
This way, the people of the United States could
have their gasoline and waste it, too; and that made
them very, very happy.
The people like this story, even though some of
them suspect it is a lie. Few of them ever question
how they alone could be so blessed to pay $3 a gallon
for gasoline, when people in Europe are paying the
U.S. equivalent of $6 a gallon. Few of them pay
attention to the laws of supply and demand in a world
that now uses two barrels of oil for every barrel it
Rapidly growing demand for oil in China, India,
Eastern Europe, Africa and South America does not
concern them. They are Americans. They’ve grown up
with an unshakable sense of entitlement — cheap oil
for everyone forever. They love their big cars and
trucks and the superhighways that take them to big
houses and big shopping centers in big suburbs.
Any politician or federal regulator who questions
that belief is doomed to unemployment. As a result, no
one dares tell the true believers that the fairy tale
is just that, and nothing more.
Energy conservation is someone else’s problem —
something for the car companies and the petroleum
industry to work out without disturbing the psyches or
the bank accounts of the people. The myth pleases
everyone. Big, rich companies get to carry the bill,
burden and blame for energy conservation. Elected
leaders get to be re-elected by not telling the people
the truth, which is that everyone has to pay for the
energy mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. The people
are allowed to keep freedom of choice in the
marketplace. With cheap gasoline, they don’t have to
buy the more fuel-efficient vehicles that CAFE
demands. They can buy whatever they want and drive
until the roads run out, which is not likely to happen
anywhere or anytime soon.
Several weeks before the White House proposed its
new CAFE rule, which would set fuel-economy targets
based on vehicle size, weight and class, President
Bush signed a $286 billion highway bill to build more
roads and bridges, which will accommodate more cars
and trucks driving more miles and using more gasoline,
and which will lead to the construction of more
suburbs with big shopping centers and big parking
The American people have applauded this. They are
content with the fantasy that the Almighty has chosen
them, and only them, to have the cheapest gasoline in
a world torn asunder by deadly resource wars.