Friday, November 10, 2006

Inexplicable long lives

An older Australian (born in 1951) reflects:

The way the world is run, it seems extraordinary that anybody over the age of 60 is still upright. They should be dead. Consider what they have had to survive to get this far. These people, in fact anybody over 30, went to school during very dark days indeed.

They were days when the canteen sold doughnuts, pies and chips to anybody who wanted them.

They drank carbonated water with weird flavors and absurdly mixed full-cream ice cream in it at times to make something called a "spider".

There were no teachers searching for contraband chocolate in school lunch boxes and no self-righteous doctors from VicHealth explaining impressive charts about childhood obesity.

How did anybody survive past puberty without a fridge and cupboard full of things labelled "lite" or "low fat"? How could life exist and thrive when nobody had the faintest idea what "low GI" meant?

But it did. These baby boomers ate fried dim sims and potato cakes with salt, gulped down bags of lollies, and considered Twisties a health food.

Red meat was served at one meal a day, not one meal a week.

Fish had to be cooked before you ate it, preferably in batter and boiling oil.

Tofu, if ever considered, would have been considered revolting.

Today's food police would have locked up the entire generation. So, how did that generation of boomers survive long enough to become a financial problem important enough to agitate Peter Costello? Of course, the threat was not restricted to killer food. That's only one of the social evils now identified and attacked. Most of the boomers also managed to survive other people's cigarettes.

They went to football games where fans were allowed to smoke in the grandstand in the belief the smoke would blow away.

They travelled on trains with carriages marked "smoking" and "non-smoking", in the belief people could make a choice about their own lives.

They even experimented with 10-to-a-pack cigarettes that were almost certainly designed as starter kits for kids. Yet most of them still developed the good sense to give up smoking.

But how did they survive such a dangerous social life? How did they eat in restaurants where the bloke on the next table would light up an after-dinner smoke with his coffee? Why are so many still alive after spending years drinking more than 4.3 standard drinks a day in bars where smokers were not treated like dangerous criminals? Again, it is probably my approaching birthday, but modern history seems to have thrown up so many questions and so few answers.....

Think about germs, too. A smelly old horse with a smelly old driver used to deliver bread and milk to the front door before dawn.

How did people survive drinking milk that wasn't straight out of the refrigerator and eating bread that wasn't so tightly sealed it could be opened only by laser beam?

And speaking of bread, how did generations thrive while eating bread that wasn't bursting with Omega 3, calcium and a dozen other additives nobody is sure exist?

How could young women still manage to look so attractive 20 years ago without a scientifically designed uplifting device guaranteed to deceive nature and gravity?

Who sorted out the rubbish in those days when it was placed in only one bin? How did households survive without three colour-coded monsters and an army of bin police likely to lay charges if a chicken bone is inadvertently re-cycled?

But perhaps the greatest question of all is this: Why did a generation that spent the first half of its adult life dedicated to excess, independence, freedom and loud music decide to spend the second half of its life writing rules that tell everybody else how to live?


'Dry air' device kills head lice

A hairdryer-like device can rid children of head lice by exterminating the eggs and lice, work shows. Test results published in Pediatrics journal show one 30-minute treatment with the device is enough to eradicate infestations by drying the invaders. The LouseBuster is being developed commercially by a University of Utah spin-off company Larada Sciences. Patents are pending but the developers hope their non-chemical product will be on the market within two years.

Head lice are a common problem, particularly among schoolchildren, with some classes suffering multiple outbreaks of the condition, pediculosis, in a single school year. A single louse can lay dozens of eggs, called nits, in the hair at the rate of three a day. Lice cannot fly or jump and rely on direct hair-to-hair contact to pass from host to host, although they can be transferred by head contact with contaminated bedding or furniture.

While their bloodsucking activities do cause itching, the infestation is not dangerous in itself, although the host's scratching around can lead to secondary infections of raw areas of scalp.

There are chemical shampoos available to treat the condition, but resistance to these has been steadily increasing over recent years. Regular head combing is recommended by many experts, although this will not prevent reinfection.

The LouseBuster's co-inventor, Dr Dale Clayton, explained that the device worked by drying the nits and lice out, not by heating them. He urged parents not to try to do the same at home with a hairdryer. "We don't want kids getting burned by parents who think it is the heat. "This thing is actually cooler than a hairdryer, but requires twice as much airflow, and the special hand piece is critical because, unless you expose the roots of the hair, it doesn't work. "It's difficult to do that with a regular comb," he explained.

In the Pediatrics study showed how best to use the device to exterminate the nits and lice. When used with a plastic hand piece with 10 coarse teeth, the LouseBuster killed 80% of hatched lice and 98% of louse eggs. This was enough to eliminate entire infestations.

As many as 3 million people a year in the UK catch head lice. The National Public Health Service for Wales has undertaken research into treatment of head lice in schoolchildren, particularly looking at patterns of resistance to chemical shampoos. Dr Richard Roberts, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control, Wales, said that work suggested products containing malathion were most likely to be effective. "High levels of resistance were seen in pyrethroid containing products," he added. He said wet combing could work for those able to follow the rigorous regime it involves.



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). For a summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and no lasting harm from them has ever been shown.


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