Category Archives: Other Stuff

McCain… Liberal Democrat?

I just don’t understand the big hard-on the right-wing radio hatemongers have for Mitt Romney. I was “forced” to listen to 770 WABC tonight on the way home, since the rental car I was in didn’t pick up Air America out on the Island. Mark Levin was doing his usual schtick, and that included extolling the virtues of Mitt, and name-calling “Mike Hucka-phony.” How clever, Mark… You’re just so clever with your cool little nicknames you come up with for the candidates you don’t like.

“Independent Republican means Liberal Democrat,” he said, talking about John McCain. “He’s going to be swinging right over to their side if he becomes the nominee.” Um, yeah… OK. My guess is if he’s the nominee, the GOP is going to exert so much influence on him that he’ll cave just like he did when George Dubya asked him to speak at the 2004 convention. And this, after Bush’s minions push-polled voters in South Carolina back in 2000 and asked them, “if you knew John McCain fathered an illegitimate black child, would you be more likely to vote for him? Or less likely?”

That’s the only reason I’d be very scared of a McCain presidency. With a couple more Supreme Court nominees coming up, things could go very badly for progressive causes for decades if a Republican wins the presidency again.

Free Subscription

Who knows how long they’ll offer this, but you can now get a one-year paid subscription to, perhaps the most informative progressive online ‘zine. Just click here and try out one of the partner offers (you can always cancel before you owe anything). I tried Rhapsody, which is free for 14 days. Within a couple days you’ll get a notice to go to Salon and create a username and password for your account. Your one-year membership also entitles you to a free one-year subscription to Wired, and other bonus deals. Very cool.

I had written to Salon telling them I wasn’t going to renew unless they got rid of the god-awful columnist Camille Paglia, so I’ve been using the “daily pass” for a while now. I’m all for having an alternative voice, but all she does most of the time is just regurgitate the right-wing talking points. And she claims she’s a Democrat! Um, right… If they ditch her in favor of a more insightful conservative columnist, I’ll pay for my subscription. Until then, I’ll thank TrialPay for renewing for me!


Just was looking at some stats for 2007 and wanted to thank you all so much for stopping by. This year, this here blog received just over 5000 unique visitors, served just over 100,000 hits over approximately 25,000 visits overall. Visitors have come from places all over the globe, including the Seychelles, Tuvalu, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Norway, Hong Kong, South Korea and Austria. Most non-US visitors come from undetermined EU countries, followed by Brazil, Canada, Germany and China, respectively. Six percent of you spent more than 30 minutes here per visit, and two percent of you spent more than an hour here per visit. Most of you are using Windows, but seven percent of you are using Linux, while four percent are using a Mac OS. A healthy 50% of you are using something OTHER than Internet Explorer (40% are using Firefox or a Netscape-branched browser).

Rest assured, I am not tracking any one of you, just overall stats like every website does. Just thought you might like to see what your fellow readers are like.

So again, my humble thanks for reading. I’m going to try to post here a little more often. Have a great holiday season!

Soda and DNA Damage?

You might already be aware of Sweet Poison, the book by Dr. Janet Starr Hull that details the huge corporate and governmental coverup of the dangers of aspartame. Back in the late ’90s, I started suffering from a mysterious illness that caused strange sensations in my legs. I could not sit for long periods of time, and I even started having trouble walking. I was in my 20s and was otherwise mostly healthy. My doctor could not find out what was causing the issue, but I eventually found some information on the web about aspartame poisoning. At the time, I was drinking one or more Diet Snapples a day, along with one or two diet sodas. As soon as I cut out the diet drinks and started drinking water instead, the symptoms eventually went away. I have since personally known two other people that have been “poisoned” in the same way and who eventually found their “cure” in the elimination of aspartame from their diet. There is plenty of information available on Dr. Starr Hull’s site if you’re interested in why aspartame is dangerous, particularly in cooked foods.

Despite the warnings, for the next ten years or so I still consumed the occasional Diet Coke (or Coke Zero, which is very tasty). I think that’s about to stop altogether though, as I just heard on the Thom Hartman Show about some research on the health effects of sodium benzoate. Apparently, when sodium benzoate is mixed with ascorbic acid, it breaks down into benzene, an industrial solvent that is classified as a carcinogen. Benzene is also a product of cigarette smoke. From Wikipedia:

Benzene exposure has serious health effects. Breathing high levels of benzene can result in death, while low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Eating or drinking foods containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, irritation of the stomach, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsions, rapid heart rate, and death.

The major effect of benzene from chronic (long-term) exposure is to the blood. Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection.

Scary stuff. Most Coke products have moved to potassium benzoate so they can claim a “low sodium” product, but the acting preservative is still benzoic acid. According to, potassium benzoate and sodium benzoate both reduce to benzene when combined with ascorbic acid, so it seems the threat is the same regardless of benzoic acid’s initial formuation.

While these dangers have reportedly been well known in the beverage industry for almost two decades, as recently as last year the FDA reopened its investigation into benzene contamination of beverage products. An independent lab in NY “found benzene levels in a couple of soft drinks two-and-a-half-times and five times above the World Health Organisation limit for drinking water (10 parts per billion).” The FDA confirmed the test results and claimed that simple reformulations of certain soft drinks would solve the problem.

Over the weekend though, research from a British University found something far more alarming. Sodium benzoate itself might actually damage DNA. Time to check those labels.

A Time and a Place for Everything

This year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a bit less controversial than last year’s, but it wasn’t without incident either. Apparently, Sheryl Crow and Laurie David got into it with Karl Rove over global warming. Here is the Crow/David account on Huffington Post.

According to both accounts, Crow and David found themselves in the same room with Karl Rove at the Correspondents’ Dinner and decided they could change his mind about global warming. They say in their post that they “were introduced” to Mr. Rove, but they don’t say how that event played out. I’m no Karl Rove fan by any means. I think he has done as much to damage this country as Mr. Bush himself. However, my guess (and this is nothing more than a guess) is that Ms. Crow and Ms. David saw an opportunity to hound a high-ranking associate of the White House regarding one of their key issues, and they took it. When Mr. Rove turned away to return to his seat, Ms. Crow reportedly “touched his arm” and he shot back, “don’t touch me.” Ms. Crow answered that “he worked for her.”

Comments on the Huffington Post blog are all positive toward Ms. Crow and Ms. David, so I am definitely in the minority here, but I think the two of them were somewhat deluded if they thought they were going to change the mind of Karl Rove (Ms. David said she thought she could really change his mind), and hounding him at a social dinner certainly wasn’t going to help their case. Also, just because Rove works for us doesn’t mean any of us has the right to grab his arm (or “touch” his arm).

I just think there is a time and place for everything, and for some reason, this story in particular struck me as an example of how not to pursue your agenda. I realize Ms. Crow and Ms. David probably thought this was an opportunity too good to let pass, but did they really think they would change Rove’s mind? Or did they just see an opportunity to badger one of the most hated figures in Democratic circles? I’m all for badgering evil people, but don’t pretend you’re doing it to further a cause.

They’re Buying All the Water

A couple months ago the wife and I decided to switch to Poland Spring water. We had gone to “filtered” water a while ago when I found this cool gadget called “Zero Water” that is like a giant 5-gallon bottle of water with two big filters in it. You pour regular tap water into the top of it, and eventually it filters down into the lower chamber of the bottle and is cooled by your regular 5-gallon water cooler. You just replace the filters every 3-4 months. Their pledge is “zero total dissolved solids” in the water.

Hearing this, my wife got a little edgy because supposedly zero TDS is equivalent to distilled water, and she heard opinions vary on whether or not distilled water is “safe” for humans to drink regularly. As she’s pregnant at the moment, we decided to err on the side of caution and go back to bottled water with it’s “natural” minerals. So we went looking for another distributor, one that was a little more reliable than “Waterboy,” the local bigwig distributor.

I thought about Poland Spring, but then wondered if they’d really truck water all the way from Maine to Long Island. I looked into it, and apparently there are a number of “water sources” from which Poland Spring draws upon for delivery. They’re all in Maine, but I discovered something that I thought was kind of strange — all these water sources, including Poland Spring itself, are owned by Nestle. In fact, there seems to be a whole website dedicated to their water “ownership” — and that link is just for the North American operations. I don’t know how far across the country the brand “Poland Spring” travels, but growing up in NH, it was ubiquitous. Here in NY the brand “Deer Park” is more prevalent, and I would imagine that the brands “Arrowhead,” “Calistoga,” “Ice Mountain,” “Ozarka,” and “Zephyrhills” are well known in other areas of North America.

But Nestle Waters don’t stop at the continental borders.

If you’ve had San Pellegrino, you’ve tasted Nestle Waters (the company bought the site in 1999).

If you’ve tasted Perrier in the past few years, you guessed it. Owned by Nestle Waters.

So imagine my lack of surprise today when I discover in an article at AlterNet that the Bush administration has done everything it can to enable corporations to purchase public water sources.

“The new oil” indeed.