The Best Part of Waking Up

Posted on May 11, 2014. Filed under: Animals, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

…is not having to actually get up.

Post No. 1 in a series of articles I callTales from my darkest ‘ell

I called it ‘ell.  It was not particularly descriptive of my work environment, but, the private joke kinda’ lightened my mood.  I’ve worked the night shift in a number of different capacities and locations over the past couple decades, and yes, doing unnatural things before daylight (such as being awake and up before sunrise) sets up a tiring tedium.  After a while, you start looking for ways to stay alert and interested in the moment.

Actually, the workplace really was ell — that was the shape of the building.  Outside, a concrete apron and a roof overhang of 8 feet formed the inside of the ell, bordering the main parking lot on two sides.  A picnic table, nestled in the 90 degree corner, constituted the break area.  It was here, often alone, that I got a glimpse of the night world outside normal human sleep time.

The small collection of white dots at the edge of the apron was indicative of an often used roosting spot above.  Yet, all I could see above it was a small electric junction box with a 4″ long conduit protruding from it; since it was flush against the wall, it could not be a roost.  I started to routinely check the area for any birds, finally noting a single little sparrow flitting around under the awning near sunset.

On a midnight break, I finally had my answer to the poop-a-dot question.  Directly above the drop zone, in the angle formed by the little junction box and along the groove formed by the round conduit extension and the wall, the little sparrow had wedged itself for an undisturbed night’s sleep.

In all the months I worked there, I never saw the sparrow tuck itself in for the night.  It always waited until I was not watching before it would trundle off to its little hidey.  Even without that self-awareness mirror, it is evident the bird was acutely aware of itself and that it needed to be careful to protect itself.

Just before sunrise, the air above and around my little bit of ell would come alive with various birds, including hordes of sparrows, chattering and flitting.  All these guys must have read the little adage about the early bird and the worm.  Much to my delight, I learned that humans are not the only recalcitrant risers before sunrise.

Between the break table and the wall at the inside of the ell, there was a space of about 3 feet.  I was sitting on that end, facing outward into the parking lot.  I noticed a small object coming right toward me on a steadily descending glide path.  Any second now, I expected the sparrow to hit the brakes after seeing me and redirect its path elsewhere.  It did not, continuing to a smooth landing on the sidewalk between the table and wall.  Then — not giving me the least bit of consideration — fast walked to the inside angle of the ell.  Once there, facing the wall, it tucked its head under a wing and settled in, oblivious to my perilous proximity.  Apparently, morning came a lot sooner for this tiny creature than it had been prepared for.

My third ell-ish encounter was similar to that, without the smooth landing.  I was standing at the edge of the concrete apron, sort of hanging 10, awaiting the dawn.  Again, there is the approaching silhouette of an early riser, but, it leveled out at about 30 inches above the pavement and slowly glided past me well within arm’s reach.  My first thought was, “this little guy is going to make a quick stop just before the wall and snatch a bug off the brick,” a trick I had seen grackles do.  But, no air brakes were deployed.  The little critter went head first into the wall, and dropped in a heap onto the sidewalk.

This was not the first time I had seen birds crash like that, but, usually, it happens against glass barriers.  It is frequently a fatal error.  But, this little fella got to its feet in a few seconds, shook its head a few times, and started walking back toward the edge of the apron.  Obviously dazed, it struck a pose that mimicked mine, toes teasing the edge of the curb, and facing the parking lot.  About the only difference between us were our head heights (5.5 feet vs. 2.5 inches) above sea level, and the fact that I had not just bashed my head into that brick wall.  I was hanging 10, it was hanging 6.  Sans the brick wall, I knew this little guy would never be caught dead standing a mere 18 inches from me.  So, I started talking to it, like we were long-time buds just shootin’ the early morning breeze.  I could tell it heard my droning voice since it kept looking toward me.  I don’t think we got more than a minute of quality time together, ’cause it finally figured out this was not Kansas anymore, and took off like demons were after it.  I had to wait for the bell at shift’s end before I could flee my demons.

Enthusiasts of the whole “natural order” hypothesis proclaim that Nature — indeed, all of Existence — is a precision machine that moves its various components in a grand procession of order across the Cosmos.  I think I speak for a large number of smaller components in this “precision machine” when I say, “It just ain’t so!” 

That NOCTURNAL > DIURNAL transition switch has a definite herky-jerky characteristic to it, and needs a little work.  Until it is ironed out, we unfortunate and disenfranchised membership of “the perfect order” will continue to rely on the snooze-button, un-cut coffee (more than 4 cups a day) and banging of heads against walls just to get clear of sunrise.

 

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Conversation With A Chihuahua

Posted on February 28, 2014. Filed under: language, Pets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Today’s proverbActions speak louder than words.

Your word for the day:

  • language = a communication medium; a bridge between the knowledge of one and the ignorance of another.

I noted the language barrier between our two species (homo domesticus and canis familiaris) in a previous post (Hermit Interrupted).  Time, once again, seems to have modified things a little.  The two little interlopers upon my solitude have figured out a few things about me and have developed a path of communication.  For my part, I figure they just want to eat or go outside…   or not.

For instance, the big dog uses his nose and muzzle in the same manner that we use a hand to tap someone for attention or take their elbow to say, “Come with me.”  A quick nose dob to the leg says, “Hello” while a light muzzle slide across the leg says,  “Hey, didn’t you see me down here?”  When he comes into my room with his mouth open and his tongue hanging out a little and his eyes are sparkling, he wants something.  If I do not get up and follow, I get the muzzle hook behind my calf saying, “C’mon, man, don’t be a jackass.  At least get up and see what I want.”

Almost always, with the big boy, it’s “come with me to the food bowl.”  But, since the bowl is just a few feet from the back door where stinky things often call to him, I can’t be sure.  I always pass the food bowl and open the back door.  It may be cold and rainy, but  I hype the excitement of the great outdoors and then look back for his reaction.  His eyes are looking at me from the tops of their sockets.  Holding that gaze, his butt slowly sinks to the carpet into the sitting position.  I can hear him thinking, “You…   have got…   to be kidding.  How long is it going to take you to figure this out?”  Yeah!  He wants food.  Conversely, if he makes a run at the back door, it’s the stinky things calling to him.

Then, there is the 50-ouncer, the hairy Chihuahua.  He asks for more than a trip outside or a serving of chow.  He has agenda:

  • I want your chair.
  • I want to be in your lap in your chair.
  • I want the other chair you use.
  • Open this door so I can get in this room.
  • It is time to feed me.
  • Daddy, he’s looking at me again!  (That is to tell me the big dog is edging closer to the little one’s bowl so he can muscle in and finish it off.  It is little dog’s way of getting me to scold the big dog.)

Both of them have different dialects for “holie molie what are you eating?  Can I have some, too?  Can I have some, huh?” When little dog is eager and excited for something, big dog exhibits interest but remains silent.  He keeps looking at little dog and me to see what the effect is.  Because big dog knows that little dog is cute to homo domesticus and gets what he wants most of the time, big dog lets little dog to the begging.  Big dog gets to share in whatever little dog negotiated

However, there was one event that went beyond “I am hungry, feed me” and “I’m bored, let me out.”  I think the little one called me stupid.

While in my LIFE IS GOOD pose (feet up, leaning back in my chair, cup of coffee poised to meet my lips, eyes closed in deep reflection) little dog came in all excited.  Right up to my knee he came, making that yelping, whiney noise and tapping my knees with his paws…   standing on his back feet since the top of his head is only about 7 inches from the floor.  My immediate assessment is that he wants up in my lap.  Wrong again, coffee breath.  As I stirred, little dog whirled and hit the doorway all excited.  When I stood, he took off down the hall…   outside, I guessed.  Out in the hall, I saw that he had raced all of 3 feet to the next door.  He was in a slight crouch, nose to the door and glancing up at me.  When that door opened at least 2 inches, he was ready to squirt in.

Small problem:  a house guest is using this room.  Whenever this request is made, I always knock first and wait for a reply before I open the door.  This I did twice with no answer.  Down low, I saw the hairy one rise from his sprint pose and give me a full face look.  Then, in an instant, he shot down the hallway and into the living room.  I followed.  In the living room he had stopped and sat down at the couch and was looking me in the eyes as I entered.  I then asked him if he wanted to go outside and I tried to make that sound exciting.  The dog responded by racing back into the hall and waiting for me at the door he wanted to enter.  I opened the door and he was happy.

This is the conversation that went down:

  • Hey, Doofus, let me in the bedroom next door.
  • Okay, but let me knock so I don’t surprise anyone.
  • Knock, knock.  No answer.  Knock, knock.  No answer.
  • Unbelievable.  Look, Doofus, there is no one in there to answer.  Come to the living room.
  • So,  now you want to go outside?
  • Are you for real?  The kid you think is in the bedroom is asleep here on the couch — you can see him can’t you?  So, quit talking to the stupid door and let me in that room.

If that damned, hairy little creature weren’t so cute, I could hate him…   a lot!

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Death Cup 4: Was coffee study faked and misleading?

Posted on December 30, 2013. Filed under: Health Studies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

ABOUT 76% WAS FABRICATED by my calculation, based on the article’s wording.

Now that I have your attention, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way.  Source refresher:  an online article on August 15, 2013, by Jenny Hope, put up at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health, on a blog called MailOnLine.

Tossing a few stinky red herrings around, Dr. Snow-Job (a.k.a., Dr. Lavie of the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans) said:

  • “There continues to be considerable debate about the health effects of caffeine, and coffee specifically, with some reports suggesting toxicity* and some even suggesting** beneficial effects.”
  • Boy, if I read about results like I found*, I would avoid the problem even without definitive evidence.  (It is too aggravating for me to re-read that story, so I sorta just paraphrased that last comment.)

Dr. Snow-Job, knowing his claim differs from the vast majority of earlier studies, emphasized some studies alleging coffee toxicity* while trivializing the many studies claiming its benefits.  Grasping for further validity, he off-handedly alludes to a “genetic coffee addition” that may make some people vulnerable to his alleged harmful effects…

  • So, Dr. Snow…   any ideas about what this gene was doing for about 100,000 years while hanging around our double helices waiting for Folgers, Maxwell House, Maryland Club, Community, and Starbucks to show up so it could take a coffee break?
  • …I mean, other than just being available to prop up your so-called study?

And yet, through all of these “suggestive” studies, this multi-billion dollar a year industry continues to supply hundreds of millions of customers who HAVE NOT been dropping like flies.

Dr. Euan Paul, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association, at the other end of the chain Dr. Snow-Job rattled, rebutted the “study” with:

  • “…the study’s limitations may have skewed the findings.
  • “Previous studies have found either NO LINK between coffee consumption and heart deaths, or a POSITIVE EFFECT ,” he added.
  • “Other factors such as smoking and poor fitness could partly explain the link with premature death.
  • “There is a growing body of data which suggests that coffee is perfectly safe when consumed in moderation — four to five cups a day — and as part of a balanced diet.”

Now, there is something I DON’T understand.  Controversy is the life blood of the “responsible news reporting” industry (a.k.a., The Big P).  That stuff really drives media sales.  According to

  • …Dr. Lavie, 4 to 5 cups a day is excessive consumption.
  • …Dr. Paul, 4 to 5 cups a day is moderate consumption.
  • …Dean (that be me), 4 to 5 cups is time to start my 2nd pot of coffee…   this morning.

So, hey, all you PAU grads, where is the 2-week ongoing coverage to define (according to the media) excessive vs. moderate consumption?  I am sure you experts in yellow journalism could whip up something between your morning and afternoon coffee breaks.  Dr. Lavie won’t mind if you throw his name around a little.  After all, it’s just more publicity.

Dr. Lavie actually took time to run up a list of statistics based on his…   uh…   study.  I found that odd, since I always thought you had to have real numbers from which to create viable statistics.

  • Snow-Job’s stated age parameter for the study is 20-87 years, which implies a study span of 67 years.
  • Dr. Snow’s stated study length is 16 years.
  • The difference between the “real years” (16) and the “implied years” (67) is 51 years.  Thus, 76% of the claimed study range had to be recounted from the participants’ memories.   That is a polite way of saying that the claimed input data would have to be faked.
  • Don’t get me started on the total lack of breakdown on that 43-thousand plus participant figure…   and, when they quit participating because of death or lack of interest.

Cynicism — my general outlook on existence — is held in low esteem by many of my fellow Homo sapiens.  I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE IT:

  • Is the 20-87 age range the starting ages of the subjects or their ages at the end of the study?  If starting ages, the 87-year-olds finished at 103 years of age, and the 20-year-olds at age 36; if it is their ending ages, then the 20-year-olds began the study at age 4.  AM I BEING OVERLY CRITICAL?
  • The 20-year-old starters quit documenting at age 36, years before entering the dreaded death zone of 40-55 years of age (US Mortality Table, year 2011).  That means there is no recorded data on how their coffee-swilling may have influenced their longevity.
  • The over 55-year-old starters…   what can I say?  They started the study already free and clear of the Lavie Death Zone.  That entire group (How many?  What percent of the total?) left no recorded study data for their pre death-zone drinking habits.  In any case, they had all thumbed their noses at the “premature coffee death” hypothesis before they picked up that first pencil

So, Lavie, when you say you applied the results of the study to the under 55 age group to get an inordinate indication of premature deaths…   EXACTLY TO WHICH RESULTS WERE YOU REFERRING?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Doctor Euan Paul, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association, who has agreed to give you an encore reading of his objections to Lavie’s publicity stunt.  Doctor Paul, go ahead.

  • The study’s limitations may have skewed the results.”

Thank you, Sir, for stating the more than obvious in such concise terms.

Comparing the “study” to the US Mortality Table for year 2011 shows an interesting result: 

  • Lavie states 2,500 deaths during the 16 years of the study, with just under 1/3 of these from heart issues.  Annual average of these figures:  156 deaths, 46 from coronary causes.  Annual percentage of Lavie’s coronary related deaths:  29%
  • Death zone figures from the US Mortality Table for 2011 gives 1,852,355 deaths, with 597,689 of those coronary related.  Annual percentage of US coronary related deaths32%

Is it just me, or do the annual percentages show that Dr. Lavie of the Ochsner Medical Center, has just demonstrated —

  • the LONGEVITY BENEFITS of consuming 4 OR MORE cups of coffee per day?  

Since NO ONE on the planet Earth knows a given individual’s projected life span until that person dies, what god-like power gives Lavie or any other researcher the temerity to decree what is “premature” death?

___________

*Yeah, that would be Lavie’s own report.

**He is appalled that other studies differ from his own’

***The Chicken Little ploy.  Tacit admission of bull shit?

______________________________________

Series references:  premature death, 4 cups a day, coffee, Dr. Carl Lavie, Dr. Euan Paul, faked study, cynicism, statistical death zone, researcher, coffee addiction gene, caffeine, health effects, longevity benefits

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Death Cup 3: 5 Things THEY Don’t Want…

Posted on December 7, 2013. Filed under: Health Studies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

…YOU to know about “shocking” results of “new health studies.” (One thing I don’t want you to know: this is the longest article I’ve posted to date.)

I really hate article titles like thatthe mysterious “they” holding back on something vital to our survival.  I have covered this before in journalistic veracityThe Big P is looking to sell advertising,* whether it is printed, broadcast, or internetted.**  To that end, salacious, frightening, or sympathy-inducing tabloid-type headlines (yellow journalism), passing as legitimate news, are the means employed.  So, I guess I’m just parodying the Yellow J with Yellow S (sarcasm}.

Rejoining Dr. Snow-Job (Carl Lavie) and his heart-clutching “premature death” announcement, we gonna analyze his load of bull sh…   uh…   bull shize manure.  Remember, TYSK means Thing(s)YouShouldKnow.

TYSK 1.  WHAT ARE THE STAKES FOR THE PUBLICIZING RESEARCHER ?

  • Justification of that 16-year long 9-5 salary?
  • Gain publicity to enhance a GRANT MONEY APPLICATION…   you know, razzle-dazzle those grant signers into giving up the loot so that “research” on the current inanity can continue?  You don’t think he is paying for the “study” out of his own pocket, do you?  The man gotta show positive results, or the money train grinds to a halt.  Ditto his employment.
  • Gain publicity that will enhance his (and his organization’s) REPUTATION, which could get him a raise or a better paying post later?

Down here in the coffee-swilling-with-a-Red Bull-chaser segment of society, we just cut through the b.s. and call it what it is:  resume building, a big feature of which involves fluffing up your creds.

TYSK 2.  WHAT WERE THE ORIGINAL PARAMETERS OF THE EXERCISE…   study…   I meant of the STUDY?

  • I mean, c’mon, who embarks on a 16-year, grant-money-approved-tedium of enrolling 43,727 humans from a (presumed) wide spectrum of society to fill out forms weekly recounting from memory*** their coffee consumption (x 52 weeks = 2,273,804 collected forms/year x 16 years = 36,380,864 collected forms for the study)…
  • …WITHOUT HAVING SOME SORT OF PRE-CONCEIVED AGENDA IN MIND?
  • Can the original (and somewhat casual?) study protocols be adhered to over so many years through so many employees with any reliable degree of accuracy?
  • Oooo…   one more step:  let’s say 10 questions on the form; that would be 363,808,640 questions to be entered for the entire study.  Unless the forms were set up for automatic scanning input, that’s an awful lot of carpal tunnel syndrome…
  • …giving us yet another basis for a new grant-money-subsidized “health” study on the downside to such massive keyboard pecking:  carpal tunnel syndrome…   leg and back problems from sitting for so long…   eyestrain from flickering monitors…   marriage problems from the above-stated work-related stress…   which, in this case, could be attributed to coffee-induced stress by proxy.  (If litigators get wind of this, Dr. Snow-Job^ better have some big bank accounts.)
  • For this study, what participant status was designated to constitute DNFIR (Dead:  No Further Input Received)?  If a participant after, say, 8 years, decided to stop this nonsense and quit sending in the weekly questionnaire, was he listed as MIA, thus prompting a visit from a response team to locate and re-indoctrinate him?  Or, did an unimaginative clerk simply list him as KIA and stick him in the “dead” column as a victim of 4CAD/EDS, thus skewing the claimed results?  (If you have been paying attention, you know this is:  4Cups A Day/Early Death Syndrome.)
  • Was the program originally scheduled for 16 years, or did it just take 16 years to figure out how to string all those non-related data bits into a pearl-like necklace that would dazzle the media and, hopefully, the eventual check-signer of the new grant application (who, incidentally, will be harder to dazzle than the slutty Big P)?

TYSK 3.  IT IS THE NEGATIVE, UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS THAT HIT THE BIG HEADLINE

  • cause they are scary and attention-getting.  Lots of people drink coffee; lots of people are uneasy about death.
  • Just note how many “it is believed that (something negative)…,”   “maybe (something negative)…,”   “there are indications that (something negative)…,”   “It could be that (something negative)…,” etc.  etc. are thrown at you.   Can you spell u-n-s-u-b-s-t-a-n-t-i-a-t-e-d?
  • Just note the big-titled sources and mind-numbing statistics listed to give the article the feel of veracity in lieu of verifiable facts.
  • HOW FORTUITOUS for me:  a new release in this study of uncertainties provides an example of expert fear-mongering-for-publicity-space to enhance the status of (…please understand my loathing to use this word) “experts.”  Seems some group has determined that burned breakfast foods have been found to contain a (possibly) harmful substance; the FDA chimed in with a “maybe” warning.  They specified breakfast, so, I guess if you eat the burned toast at lunch you gonna be in the clear.

TYSK 4.  STUDIES ON A GIVEN SUBJECT ARE INTERMITTENT AND CYCLIC:  good, bad, good, bad, good…   you get the picture.

TYSK 5.  THE TIMING OF THE RELEASES AND WHY THEY ARE ALMOST ALWAYS COUNTER TO CURRENT PUBLIC THINKING

  • “Timing” is easy.  “We are running out of money for all the salaries being paid and need to show fruits of research in order to keep the grant bank open.  We want to keep this sweet gig going as long as possible.”
  • Why counter to public thinking?  In a few words, TO GET ATTENTION.  If you have a yellow announcement posted with a lot of other same shade yellow announcements (same old same old), your bid for the fabled 15-minutes of fame does not stand out and your opinion…   uh…   your biased assertions…   uh, hold on now, I think I’ve got it…   your “scientific conclusions” will go unappreciated.
  • Turf-marking amongst the elite “experts.”  Check with author Diana Gainer^^ (New Title 2:  The Human Journey, available at Amazon.com) who noted that, if you dig up old bones that have been previously named, no one remembers you.   If you can claim those bones are a new type, you get to name them and people remember you.  Authoritarians are no different from gangs or wild animal packs guarding their claimed territories assiduously.  Basically, that means…
  • THE RANKER YOUR MARKING MEDIUM (as attested to by Fido the dog and Tom the cat), THE MORE NOTICIBLE YOUR PERSONA.  Others get a whiff of you, and their ears perk up.

I guess I am old-fashioned; if you tell me with authority that PROBLEM “X” is going to kill me, I am expecting more in the way of reasons than “IT IS SUSPECTED THAT…,”   “MAYBE…,”   “THERE ARE INDICATIONS THAT…,”   and ‘IT COULD BE THAT…”   To me, those are all just variations of…

  • “Blow this up your butt and feel the burn — and, by the way, my name is DR. G. WHIZZ, with 2 z’s…   That’s right, TWO Z’s.  And, YES, I AM A DOCTOR!”

That was just a personal aside so that you feel I am close enough to share my dark side; in the interest of “truth in opinionating,” here is TYSK 6, which is my personal itch aggravated by the unholy union of gossip-journalism [which is (1) the typical genre of today’s info media, and (2) doing it for the money) and pseudo-science (which (1) is doing it for the money, and (2) can be grouped with pop-psychology).

  • TYSK 6.  That kind of crap REALLY pisses me off.  (And, judging from comments affixed to Jenny’s article, a lot of others feel the same way.)

The United States Food and Drug Administration recently provided background music for the gossip- and pseudo- adherents with its “burnt-stuff-for-breakfast” warning — lots of if, maybe, it could be, etc.  Next, we can expect to see litigator ambulance-chasing ads such as —

  • “If your bread or sausage, or that of a loved one living or dead, tends to burn when you over cook it, it is NOT your fault, nor that of your dead or living loved one.  YOU MAY BE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION from the bakers and packers who failed to include FDA approved fire-retardants in the base mixtures.  Contact us at 1-800-FillMyPpockets.  We are…

(Here, you may insert one of the following proven client grabbersChristians…   Big Business Tamers…   Champions of the common people…   et cetera ad nauseum)

  • “…SO YOU CAN TRUST US TO GET YOU WHAT YOU DESERVE.”

 ________________________

*Obnoxious pop-ups

**Posting stuff on the web (my definition)

***Alluded to by Dr. Paul Euan, Executive Director of the British Coffee Association

^Dr. Carl Lavie, Oschner Medical Center, New Orleans

^^I do not know how the science community views Ms. Gainer, but, since she seems to use clarity of thought in her comparisons, I suspect she is persona-non-grata at the annual mutual-admiration meetings of the Science Boys Clubs.

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Death Cup 2: The Snow Job

Posted on November 4, 2013. Filed under: Health Studies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

If you are a coffee drinker, you were taken aback by the recent “4 cup a day early death syndrome” (4CAD/EDS) press release. It is not truly a scientific study; it has all the earmarks of a publicity stunt to enhance a researcher’s status or give the research group some credibility. Basically, it is just another attempt to manipulate public perception. IT IS A SNOW JOB.

True confession: I am NOT omniscient.  In fact, ignorance is that warm security blanket shielding me from untold amounts of information that serve no purpose other than to scare the pants off me. For instance, I love nature shows and finding out all sorts of things about the structure in which I exist. What do the science channels insist on telling me? This stuff:

  • Yellowstone Park, USA, is the site of a gigantic volcano caldera that could blow anytime (it is a thousand years or so overdue), destroying most of the United States and crippling civilization all around the globe…   or was that Krakatoa or Iceland… 
  • A rock or something icy flying about the solar system could slam into the Earth at any time, Ditto the results… 
  • A star going super-nova out there in the galaxy somewhere could send a tsunami-like wave of particles across our solar orbit and strip the atmosphere from Earth…

I can’t do anything about any of that.  WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW IT?  And then there was that Cote de Pablo thing with NCIS…

On the other hand, Dr. Snow-Job* apparently wants people to think he is omniscient.  His comments for the press release acknowledged that many other studies run counter to his heart-stopping announcement.  His justification for the counter conclusions — AND I PARAPHRASE WHAT I HEARD as Lavie crowded the microphone and said…

  •   “I…   CONCLUDED!  Therefore…   IT IS.  So, don’t bother me with your silly requests for corroborating data.” 

I don’t want to sound like that, so, let me tell you straight up where I stand on this matter of coffee consumption:

  • COFFEE.  BLACK coffee.  HOT black coffee.  In a ceramic cup, foam cup, metal cup, plastic cup, mug, open top or sip through lid.  More than 4 cups a day, every day, every week.  For more than a couple of decades, Outdoors in cold rainy weather loading/unloading trucks, and, while bored outta my gourd on the long, 7a-5p office tours.  COFFEE.  Black COFFEE.  Hot black COFFEE.  That’s my bias, and, I’m sticking to it.

Let me share with you the essence of the recent scary headline, designed by others to alter your perceptions, but, mostly, to get you to notice all those pop-up ads on the Yahoo, Google, et al home pages and the blog website.  The scary, please-notice-my-popups headline is first:

  • More than four cups of coffee a day puts you at risk of early death, claim experts (this was the big headline)
  • High consumption raises premature death chance in younger people (this was the little headline)
  • The findings come from a U.S. study of 43,727 individuals aged 20 to 87
  • It is suspected that excessive consumption may adversely affect metabolism
  • By Jenny Hope, Published:  12:16 EST, 15 August 2013, Updated 19:27 EST, 15 August 2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health **

Those are all the facts you can expect to find in this article.  The rest of this stuff is the product of my disturbed cynicism.

My initial reaction to the calculated gloomy announcement:

  • “…claim experts.”  — Only ONE alleged expert was cited.
  • “…premature death chance in younger people.”  — Clarified later as under age 55.  Are you kidding me?  What over-the-hill 30-year-old considers 55 as young?
  • A (16-year) US Study of 43,727 people aged 20 to 87.  —  A lot of years, a large number of subjects, and a wide age range to give the feel of thorough procedural veracity.  (O-kay…   so the 20 year olds are now 36, and the 87 year olds who started the study are 103 years old today…   right?)
  • “It is suspected that…” — Wasn’t the point of the announcement to PROVE THE CLAIM rather than CLAIM THE PROOF?

Are you Homo sapiens sapiens, or simply H. sap…   a deep thinker, or your run-of-the-mill gullible rube?

  • Taxonomically, Homo sapiens sapiens is the upgraded version of Homo sapiens neanderthalis (or some cousin thereof).  H. sap. is often — and sometimes aptly — used to abbreviate that classification.

If you are Homo sapiens sapiens (the one who thinks for himself) , there are certain Things You Should Know (TYSK) about this and all publicized so-called studies.  (This is your chance to show you are smarter than a cave man.)  I will list them here, and, in the next segment, elaborate on each of them.

  • TYSK 1.  What are the stakes for the publicizing researcher?
  • TYSK 2.  What were the original parameters of the exercise…   study…   parameters of the study?
  • TYSK 3.  It is the negative, unsubstantiated claims that hit the BIG headline.
  • TYSK 4.  They are intermittent and follow a predictable cycle:  good, bad, good, bad, good…   you get the drift.
  • TYSK 5.  The timing of the releases and why they are almost always COUNTER to current public thinking.

Okay.  You have enough time to grab another cup or two of coffee before the next installment, Death Cup 3.

__________________

*Dr. Carl Lavie, a co-author of the alleged study results.  Sorry, Doc, but all authoritarians-for-a-buck get a moniker in this blog.

**In the wake of Dr. Snow-Job’s announcement, there were many articles posted on-line about “early coffee death” making it look like a landslide of evidence damning coffee drinking.  THERE WAS ONLY ONE STUDY commented on by dozens of bloggers and journalists.  Just about the only difference in all those stories was the name of the blog posting its version  —  and the pop-ups the various oportunistic blogs waived in front of you.   

Series references:  premature death, excessive coffee consumption, Dr. Carl Lavie, Dr. Euan Paul

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Coffee? 4 Cups A Day? You gonna die

Posted on September 2, 2013. Filed under: General Interest, Health Studies, Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

…but, even if you DON’T drink coffee, you GONNA DIE anyway.

Your proverb for the day:  It ain’t poison unless it kills you within a week. Anything taking longer than that is just what floats your boat.

DIE, coffee drinker, DIE!  …Ooooooooooooooo!  Sounds like a vengeful spirit out of Hollywood, doesn’t it?  Relax.  It’s just one of your biennial “scientific study” publicity releases.  I guess those are okay, since most of us don’t have the time to take off from work and spend 5 or 10 years without pay asking people what they did before they died.  But, these unpaid researchers patiently tally, categorize, enter data into spreadsheets, divine what it all means, figure out which mathematical tact will “prove” what they set out to prove in the first place…   Yeah!  I didn’t buy it, either.

Your words for the day:

  • existence = (consider it) a sporting event
  • birth = “WAKE UP!  You’re at bat.”
  • life = going for extra bases
  • death = you got tagged (“You’re outta here!”)
  • the dugout = your basic hole in the ground

Source of today’s laugh:  an online article on August 15, 2013, by Jenny Hope, put up at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health on a blog called MailOnline.  (Aside to the author:  Usually, I refer to female journalists giving me a laugh like this as Jenny Stonebottom.  I will spare you, since your name is already “Jenny” and Jenny Hope sounds like a cutie.*)

The headline — the funny part.  “More than four cups of coffee a day puts you at risk of early death, claim experts.”

The big picture, if you have been too busy dealing with life to have noticed:  One gets BORN; one LIVES LIFE as events, circumstance, and personal whims permit; then, one DIES.  You have no control over your birth; you have less control over the progress of your life than you like to think; and — though some might fiddle with the “how” — one DIES.  No refunds.  You can’t avoid death.

You only go around once in life, so grab some gusto while you can(It’s not plagiarism!  It is — loosely — from a beer commercial a few years ago, but, I don’t remember which one.  Al Gore’s information highway can answer that for you…   my smart phone is on the fritz.)

You survived the first year of LIFE.  Consider yourself on base.  From here on, the name of the game is (1) don’t get tagged out, and, (2) try to have some fun.  (Yeah, I know, it’s kind of ironic — avoid getting tagged and sent to the dugout early while you round the bases, but, when you reach home, you get sent to the dugout anyway.  Don’t dwell on that.  Concentrate on enjoying that trip to second base.)

But, enjoyment comes with a price.  You enjoy scattering your toys while you play, but, come evening, there are the nagging voices of parents saying, “Clean up your mess before you go to bed.”  You enjoy hanging out at the mall with your buds after school scarfing down McDonald’s French fries, but, there is this other group that has figured out LIFE ACCORDING TO THEM and are now suing McDonald’s to prevent YOU from buying and enjoying what YOU enjoy.  You move on over-the-hill (you know…   your 30th birthday) and become health conscious, so you take your vitamins, eat balanced meals, exercise more, take them antioxidants, and wash all that down with a cup of hot coffee…   or four.  And, those do-gooder groups line up at your door to straighten out your act:  you have the wrong balanced diet; you are exercising wrong; vitamins just might not be so good for you; antioxidants are not what they are cracked up to be.   That line extends around the block and you can’t make out who they all are, but, they will announce themselves soon enough…

…Uh, that was your cue, Doc.  Tell them of your fabulous finding that 55-year-old young people can expect to die before they are 55 if they drink 4 cups of coffee a day…

Yeah, I know, right?

  • The over-the-hill 30 year-old can’t blow his birthday candles out because his sides are splitting from finding out that 55 year-olds are called “young” for this study.
  • The record number of over 60 year-olds, who have been drinking 4 cups a day since they were 30, were once part of the “early death” squad claimed by our fame-seeking researcher.  Oh!  Now isn’t that thoughtful.  They are all hoisting a coffee toast to all you doomed 54 and below drinkers.

This article engendered 3 pages of 11×17 paper in 8 point type.  And, 15 cups of coffee.  I had to cut out 2.5 pages just to get this.  So, YES!  You can bet I have more to say on this subject.  (Excuse me.  I gotta hit the head.)

______________

* Okay.  Okay!  That was chauvinistic, sexist, and un-called for.  But, it stays.

_______________________________________

Next up:  lots more stuff about the hazards of coffee studies

Article references:  coffee, coffee study, coffee death, premature death, under 55, health risk, genetic coffee addition, antioxidant, Dr. Carl Lavie, Ochsner Medical Center, Dr. Euan Paul, Director of British Coffee Association.

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Truth. Beauty. Mud. In The Eye

Posted on June 30, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

8th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre litigation practices.

Your word for the day

  • fabrication = something made up; the invention of something not true.

Old saws that I have heard, all of which relate to sight and perception:

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
  • Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder
  • “Here’s mud ‘n yer eye.”

Honestly, I don’t know what that last one means.  Never did.  It lacks the clarity of sayings like “The truth is what I say it is.” 

An illustration:  There is a grove of trees along the horizon covering the contours of low hillocks and shading the small stream wending its way through it; the reality is what it is.  A squirrel perceives shelter, food, and drink.  The impressionist painter perceives splashes of color to be transferred to canvas.  The still-life painter perceives a pastoral tableau.  The hot-air balloonist who ran out of gas at 800 feet and is now rapidly descending toward that grove hasn’t perceived much since he heard his flame go pppfffffffttt ’cause he is now deeply involved in an intense religious experience.  The same physical reality — once 4 minds apprehended it — became 4 different perceived personal realities.

Enter Super Dan, et alia.  In the spirit of the corrupt senator in the film “The Shooter,” our stand up comic has seized upon  the line “The truth is what I say it is!” and produced a pseudo-deposition, tabloid-like production of “What KBR Really Knew…”   Pseudo because the original footage has been extensively doctored (cut, pasted, re-mastered, opposing counsel rebuttal questions deleted, and on and on).  This work of fiction is designed to instill you with an alternate view of reality.  It comes to you courtesy of the law firm Doyle Raizner (www.DoyleRaizner.com) and is displayed on-line by Ms. Sparky(TM).  I’m not kidding about the trademark thing.  Some of this stuff is just too ridiculous to make up.

Super Dan and Sparky have done a good job of flinging mud ‘n yer eye, so I’m going to go through this travesty scene by scene in an effort to clear the visibility;  you might want to review the work so you will know to what I am referring.  (Just be careful;  bullshit tends to stick to your footwear.)  I found it by entering — Mary L. Wade, KBR — and clicking on the ms.sparky result (video).  I’ll give you a couple of days to research* the item before I resume “The Great Cluster Fu…” series.  Meanwhile, lets talk about..

Next up:  Digressions

* (update:  10-9-12)  A couple of weeks before scheduled court date (10-9-12), this video was blocked and labeled “Private Video”

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigator, sued, cluster, deposition, hexavalent chromium

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The Truth Hurts

Posted on June 21, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

5th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your word for the day 

  • flim-flam = (1) trick or swindle
  • flim-flam = (2) deceptive talk, talk that confuses or deceives

Lest I be guilty of not being up-front (as I am about to accuse Danny Boy and his law firm of doing) I should tell you what triggered this series of posts.  In my preceding post (No Safety in Numbers) I mentioned finding Danny Boy and his apparent venture.  The on-line post I viewed purported to be a deposition taken from employees of KBR.  That display may have started out as a deposition, but after Danny and his firm  cut their testimonies into sound bytes interspersed with silent-movie-era dialogue boards and a “let me show you what you are seeing” voice over, the deposition became a work of fiction.  The “deposition for public consumption” use, instead of being strictly an in-house litigator’s discovery tool, bothered me.  The more times I watched it, the more it just didn’t add up.  

“The Great Cluster Fu…”   series lists my objections to this tabloid opus.

Flash forward:  We are approaching Danny Boy’s opus, a grand fusion of fantasy, journalism, yellow journalism, tabloid style of story-telling, half-truths, speculations, unfounded assertions, mellow-dramatic tear jerker ending designed, tabloid-like, to help you ignore/skip/fast forward over the array of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, outlandish assertions, presented in his vague novella.  In true more-knowledgeable-than-thou-art anchor-person fashion (complete with the inability to even read the teleprompter flawlessly) he condescendingly leaves out important pieces of information in fear that you will decide the true nature of things for yourselves.  Throughout this exercise, Danny Boy has glaringly left out 3 pieces of pertinent information:

  • Who the hell he is representing.
  • who the hell he is trying to convince in the absence of a court-room and jury.
  • HOW MUCH  M-0-N-E-Y  HE EXPECTS TO CLEAR FROM THIS VENTURE OF YELLOW JOURNALISM.

Danny Boy’s failure to include the cream filling in his little Twinkie leaves me no choice but to fill the void with my own assessments.  You are forewarned.

I’m calling this hatchet job  a travesty of the justice system.  Danny Boy and his lackey Ms Sparky (we’ll get to her shortly) have created and posted this piece of propaganda and have the audacity to call it a “deposition.”  It started out as a deposition, witnesses being subpoenaed to appear and give out-of-court testimony.  These witnesses appeared and gave testimony because to not do so would result in charges of contempt of court.   Had this intended use been known before hand, I am sure KBR lawyers would have had a lot to say about allowing the depositions to be given.

Will the truth hurt your case, Danny Boy?  I think, “Probably.”  So, as we continue, I will fill in your omissions (and expose some of your commissions) from my own humble store of life experiences.

Next up:  An inconvenient truth

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigation, sued, cluster, deposition, hexavalent chromium

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It’s Not My Fault!

Posted on June 11, 2012. Filed under: KBR, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

1st of 25 in the series  The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation  practices

Bil Keene’s Family Circus kids, in response to mom’s “Who did this?”  replied, “Not me!”  Mr. Not Me kept out of sight and lived in a sweat because he never knew when he might be fingered as the fall guy for someone else’s pratfall.

Mr. Not Me, you may try to hide, but, invisible or not, you live in the Litigation Nation (a.k.a., the U.S. of A.).  Here, nothing that someone does is ever his own fault or responsibility.  For you, there is a litigation attorney out there right now trying to dig up someone — anyone — with a cock-eyed story fingering you as the patsy who needs to pay for his very own mistake.  Specifics don’t really matter.  These litigators are really good at sleight of words, and, if you were breathing air in the same city at the time of the alleged indignity, your non-involvement can become deep involvement.  You could be sued, so, review everything you’ve done in the past ten years or so.  Be prepared to defend yourself against…   (?) to be announced by the litigator…   accussed possibly by someone you have never heard of.  Don’t think you have all the files from everything you did even 5 years ago?  Tsk!  Too bad, ’cause, believe me, that litigator will seize upon that as “still missing critical documentation”   Doubt your vulnerability?  Check out these unwitting targets.

Our old bud, Mickey D.  Been serving coffee to this little old lady (and a whole nation) for years.  HOT coffee, to be sure.  She wouldn’t have it any other way.  Seventy years she has been working out the principles of gravity and thermodynamics.  She knew that the handles on porcelain tea-  and coffee-cups stayed cool to the touch even though the lip-burning HOT liquid in the cup was…   well…   hot!  She knew that coffee was brewed using HOT water.  She knew that coffee kept its flavor while it was HOT.  She knew when she ordered and accepted it that her coffee was HOT.   She knew she should be careful in handling it, ’cause gravity works 100% of the time, and, that, regardless of circumstances, HOT always travels from a place of higher concentration (that coffee)  to a place of lower concentration (her lap).  Thus, the tendency to corral the stuff behind an insulated barrier from which it can be sipped carefully and safely.  EVERY coffee drinker since the invention of fire knows you got a tiger by the tail and, if you let it go, it gonna bite the livin’ crap outtayuh.

When acquiring all this data on heat hazards, there must have been some practical exercises reinforcing the knowledge.  She must have spilled hot stuff on herself numerous times during that 70-plus years of schooling.  Did she sue her parents for her klutziness when she was a minor?  Or her children when they were adults?  Or her husband when he brewed coffee for breakfast and she spilled the stuff onto her lap?  No!  And why not?  Because, it’s what everyone does from time to time.  That’s life!  They don’t call it the school of hard knocks for nothing.

Yeah, there is another reason.  None of them were loaded with money nor had to drag around a lot of bad press engendered by the nightly news and stoked by an unknown number of litigation attorneys.   They weren’t big business.

Next up:  Brain-dead juries

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigation, sued, cluster, deposition

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