Friday, January 2, 2004
1. FAD DIETS: BOB PARK IS STARTING OFF THE NEW YEAR EATING CROW.
An item on mad-cow disease in last week's WN included a warning
about long-term health effects of high-protein diets from a group
called The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Alas,
a number of readers pointed out that PCRM is a cover for animal
rights activists. Human health is not high on their agenda, and
WN regrets having used them as a source. In the long-running
carbohydrate-protein debate, WN endorses only the "physics plan":
consume fewer calories than you burn (WN 25 Feb
00). This is the
only diet plan firmly based on the First Law of Thermodynamics.
2. CLIMATE CHANGE: DIESEL ENGINES IMPLICATED IN GLOBAL WARMING.
In the city, vehicle exhaust quickly transforms winter wonderland
into black yuck. NASA scientists James Hansen and Larissa
Nazarenko report that even in pristine areas of our planet soot
levels in snow reach 100 ppb, mostly from diesel engines. That's
enough to significantly reduce the albedo and accelerate melting
Not surprisingly, the diesel engine industry disputes the study.
3. EPHEDRA: IF IT STARTS KILLING CELEBRITIES, IT'S GONE TOO FAR.
Sold for weight loss, body building and a cheap high, more than
100 deaths were attributed to the herbal supplement ephedra since
passage of the 1994 Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act,
which exempts suppliers of "natural" supplements from any need to
test for safety, purity or effectiveness. Sales reached $1.4B.
The supplement industry's friends in Congress control the FDA
budget. They made sure the FDA couldn't afford to test all the
supplement products. WN was almost alone in warning of ephedra
(WN 7 Sep 01) until a young major league pitcher became a victim
(WN 28 Feb 03). That made it front page news. This week,
ephedra became the only supplement banned by the FDA since 1994.
4. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: "O LORD, HOW MANIFOLD ARE THY WORKS!"
This pious praise of the architect of the Grand Canyon is from
Psalm 104:24. Donald Murphy, Deputy Director of the Park Service,
ordered a bronze plaque inscribed with Psalm 104:24 mounted on
the South Rim viewing platform, along with two other plaques
bearing equally inappropriate Psalms. Visitors must also be
impressed with how quickly the Lord dug the canyon. A book
approved for sale in park bookstores and museums, "Grand Canyon:
A Different View," explains that the canyon can at most be a few
thousand years old, since that's how long it's been since Earth
was created. Meanwhile, in the Mojave National Preserve, the
Park Service is waging a court battle to continue displaying an
eight-foot-tall cross atop a prominent rock outcropping.