Archive for July 2013
Bethesda, MD (AP) – The National Institutes of Health has released a new study linking parenting failures with children who suffer from allergies.
Covering research spanning more than two decades, the most recent study reviews and analyzes more than 600 surveys and clinical initiatives involving children living with at least one parent. It catalogs the steep documented rise in the incidence of allergies among children and correlates it with the manifest decline in parenting competence since the Baby Boomer generation’s children began having children themselves.
To ensure that the correlation actually indicated causation and that the link was not the result of third factor, the researchers investigated the prevalence of bad parenting before and after the documented increase in children’s allergies. They found that bad parenting practices increased by a significant margin several years before the spike in allergies.
Certain environmental allergies had always been relatively common, such as hay fever and, to a lesser extent, some dietary allergies, such as dairy or nuts. But in the seventies, eighties and nineties, as exposure to disco, cable television, George Steinbrenner, bell-bottoms, the British royal family, platform shoes, Prince, My Little Pony, the 1972 Presidential campaign, Mike Tyson, the acting in the MacGyver series, and myriad other evils increased and parents failed to adequately shield their children from those malignant influences, the incidence of allergies began to rise. It increased steadily through the nineties and into the first decade of the twenty-first century as parent continued to knowingly allow their children prolonged encounters with such harmful forces as Lindsay Lohan, Dubstep, a New York Rangers Stanley Cup, George W. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey flavor ice cream.
Today, nearly one in four children suffers from an allergy of some kind. According to the NIH report, “this phenomenon can only be attributed to the atrocious parenting exhibited over the last several decades.” The report noted that outside the US, where the aforementioned pernicious influences are much less intense or prevalent, allergy rates are much lower. “In other developed countries, such as Israel or most of Western Europe, the frequency of life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut butter is close to nonexistent,” the researchers noted, pointing out that, for example, Keanu Reeves films and anchovy pizza remain only mildly popular in those locations.
The NIH has yet to formulate public policy guidelines as a result of these findings. Harvard University Professor of Public Policy Barkeen Guptha Wrongtree explains that a good number of the officials who would have to approve, implement, or oversee such a policy are themselves part of the problem, not least because of their own demonstrated failings as parents.
Geneva, Switzerland, July 30 (AP) In an unexpectedly ambitious proposal, the World Health Organization announced this morning that it has formulated a plan to completely eliminate AIDS by the end of this calendar year, simply by no longer referring to it as AIDS.
If adopted by enough countries, the WHO plan could change the face of worldwide public health, eliminating one of the most virulent scourges of the last three decades. By the simple and quick step of changing the name of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome to something else, governments and health workers in such devastated areas as Sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia can conceivably reach the point where there is no longer a need to fight AIDS.
“The most effective solutions to complex problems are usually the simplest,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan at a press conference to announce the bold new initiative. “And we can achieve, with this extremely simple measure, what the world has only achieved once before – the complete eradication of a communicable disease.” She referred to smallpox, which, in 1980, was declared eliminated. It thus became the first disease to be removed from the human population through human efforts.
Chan spoke of the funds that could be freed up to focus on research and treatment of the world’s myriad other health concerns. “In just a few short months – weeks, even, if our constituents act with sufficient alacrity – we could already be in the post-AIDS era. The hundreds of millions of dollars that go each year toward finding a cure for AIDS can now be directed toward other worthy ends,” she continued. “We are on the cusp of a revolution in health care and in public health policy.”
In developing the new policy proposal, WHO researchers noted that they were inspired by the way in which American society has confronted its racial tensions. Whereas in the nineteenth century it was common for white-negro relations to be the context for intense animosity and outright violence, by the middle of the twentieth century, the society had apparently outgrown that problem, which was well timed: the country now faced an equally troublesome white-colored divide.
The challenges and discrimination affecting the colored population have all but ceased in the intervening years, however, and the WHO was impressed by how thoroughly the US has moved beyond its troubling treatment of colored people. The latter case was cited specifically in the WHO proposal as an example of how crucial timely solutions can become; as the century progressed, the US found it more and more necessary to address racial issues with the African-American community. That demographic is not listed in earlier social literature, indicating that once again, American society freed up the necessary resources to grapple with discrimination against African-Americans by a timely elimination of its need to fight discrimination against colored people.
The precedents are not restricted to social history. In 1993, musician Prince was rechristened The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, meaning that the world would no longer be subject to any more new creations from Prince. However, in 2000 he began to be referred to once again by the former name, illustrating the commitment that the WHO must demonstrate if it is to spearhead the elimination of AIDS by changing its name, according to Barkeen Guptha Wrongtree, Professor of Public Health Policy at Harvard.
“The WHO and its regional subsidiaries must really stick with the nomenclature shift, or the consequences will be disastrous,” he explained. “I mean, it’s not on the same level of disaster that the return of Prince represented, but it’s still pretty bad.”
U2’s vocalist Bono has ascended steep slopes leading to extreme altitudes with the averred single purpose of spending time in your presence. To the same end he has sprinted or jogged across numerous open areas in rural or countryside settings.
Perhaps realizing that the above locations were ill-suited to fulfilling his desire, Bono conducted the same activities elsewhere: first he moved quickly on foot, irrespective of location, and when that mode of transportation proved inappropriate, got down on all fours and proceeded thus. He also made vertical advances, specifically going up the municipal ramparts, with the same aim as before.
As of this writing, however, he has yet to succeed in obtaining what he set out to find, and he has made repeated verbal observation to that effect.
Changing tacks, Bono attempted to achieve his goal by romantic means, notably some sweet-tasting osculation and receiving therapeutic touch from the digits of a female he has so far declined to identify. The result, he recalls, left a caustic sensation accompanied by lust.
Moving on to other realms to continue the pursuit, Bono conversed with both heavenly beings and at least one denizen of the underworld – perhaps Lucifer himself – and recalls that although the atmosphere remained of high kinetic energy even after sundown, he nevertheless experienced a drop in body temperature, or at least the perception of it.
Despite these efforts, as before, Bono has yet to locate the target of his quest, and he would tell you so again.
Turning an eschatological eye toward the future, the vocalist and social activist sees fit to proclaim his faith in the advent of an ideal, post-historic era when differences and conflicts will be erased, but for some reason his clinging to this belief has not relieved him of the need to continue moving forward quickly in his quest.
Now Bono addresses your actions directly, noting that you have undone certain restraints and removed fetters, in addition to wielding a symbolic crucifix simultaneous with his embarrassment, a fact that evidently carries so much emotional weight that he repeats it. He also asserts that you were aware of his credulity at the time.
Apparently, all of this psychological upheaval has made the vocalist somewhat distraught. At press time, he was repeating, ad nauseam, that he has yet to successfully lay eyes on the object of his search.
Snellville, Georgia (AP) – In this suburb of Atlanta, Temple Beth David’s Reform Jewish congregation offers a full range of religious-style services, bringing Jewish-style worship to Gwinnett County. Founded in 1981, Beth David adheres to most of the familiar tenet-style teachings of Reform Judaism, including a firm commitment to a tradition-style lifestyle.
“We’re all about our heritage,” said synagogue president Mickey Kroll in an interview-style encounter with a reporter over a lunch of lobster, a creature that Jewish heritage prohibits. “We make the eternal Jewish message relevant to modern society,” he continued, seemingly unaware of the ontological impossibility inherent in that sentence. Kroll explained that his congregation maintains a strong faith in God, except that God can’t be trusted to formulate a lasting moral system.
In a demonstration of Jewish-style practice, the Atlanta native ate the Biblically forbidden crustacean at a restaurant that also serves foods prepared with at least a nod toward, if not actual adherence to, Jewish dietary tradition, such as the meat of permitted animal species. Kroll ate without acknowledging, either before or after eating, the goodness, insight, and wisdom of a creator who made such delicacies and their appreciation possible.
In fact, says Ronald Bluming, the congregation’s Rabbi, belief in God is not even a prerequisite for Reform worship-style practice. “I’m actually an avowed atheist,” he notes. Bluming sees no contradiction in values between his vocation and his position of theological authority, as the absence of a Creator makes all values a human construct in any case. “There’s no such thing as absolute morality without a God as the source, definer and arbiter of that morality,” he explains, “so I don’t so much give my congregation moral guidance as I do moral-style guidance.”
According to Bluming, moral-style guidance resembles genuine moral guidance in that it purports to be based on the goal of increasing good in the world, but unlike the morality in an absolute system, the very definition of “good” remains wholly the product of the perceptions, whims, drives, prejudices, limitations, and zeitgeists of the people involved. Moral-style guidance denies that any immutable good is even a coherent concept, and posits that all we have available to us is our conscience.
Bluming’s predecessor, Richard Baroff, arrived at similar practical pastoral conclusions even without overt atheism. Baroff, who retired in 2001, strove to convey to his congregants that God is real but does not ultimately care what we do. This approach, common among Reform Jews – and large swaths of society at large – allows a person and community to shift with changing mores, and to avoid the pesky notion that there is any cosmic significance to human behavior.
The freedom inherent in this attitude means that the community and movement can find in their faith support for anything they find compelling, untroubled by other parts of the same sources they adduce that condemn that very practice. Thus, the members of Beth David often quote the portions of Leviticus that advocate love for others, while ignoring the inconvenient neighboring passages that bar adulterous, incestuous, or otherwise immoral sexual liaisons.
Similarly, Temple Beth David welcomes interfaith couples and condones intermarriage, consistent with the view that all religious-style paths are of equal worth and there is no place for the notion that a special, unique, exclusive, individual and national relationship has any relevance, which also serves to explain the aforementioned attitude toward adulterous liaisons.
New York, July 25 (AP) – Concerned that the latest revelations of Anthony Weiner’s sexually explicit online behavior have given him a publicity advantage, other prominent candidates for New York City Mayor are publicizing their own indiscretions.
Former Congressman Weiner resigned from his seat in the House of Representatives after being caught sending suggestive pictures to a woman other than his wife, in 2011. After a public apology and an attempt to rehabilitate his image, Weiner declared his candidacy for mayor. This week, he admitted to more recent indiscretions involving text messages.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, considered the leading candidate, soon confessed to reporters that she routinely traffics in inappropriate online images and videos. “And I’m a lesbian, which should make this tidbit even juicier,” she said at a press conference today.
MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota, as well, posted at least two dozen erotic photos of himself on his campaign’s Facebook page in an album he titled, “Get a Lhota These.” Remarks attached to the photos suggested they were taken over a period of eighteen years, and most recently last month, apparently an attempt to establish that Mr. Lhota’s extensive documentation of his deviant online behavior extends back years and was not simply a reaction to the attention given to Mr. Weiner.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, also campaigning to succeed Mayor Mike Bloomberg, did not release any photos or texts, but made known to reporters that he specifically visits Las Vegas to partake of legal Nevada prostitution, and that he has been a proud subscriber to several online pornography sites for years, and before that, an avid consumer of print media in the same vein.
City Comptroller John C. Liu also made a valiant attempt to demonstrate his irresponsible use of the internet by inviting, via Twitter, prominent officials and media representatives to participate in what he termed, “Liu-ed acts.” Given Liu’s reputation as conservative in his personal habits, the initial reaction to the tweet has been skeptical. “It doesn’t seem sincere to me,” said New York Times correspondent Alison Leigh Cowan, who has been covering this aspect of the mayoral campaign. “But I must say I’m intrigued and flattered to be included, so I’ll probably attend and make my personal assessment afterwards.”
John A. Catsimatidis, the grocery store billionaire, leveraged his corporate and retail clout to display offensively sexual images of the candidate in the windows of his Gristede’s supermarket chain. Between posters touting tomatoes for $2.99 per pound and a special on pork loins, Catsimatidis is easily identified in enlarged photos of the man in suggestive poses with multiple partners of both sexes. A warrant has been issued for his arrest, leading Cowan to suggest that the added publicity of such a development could only help Mr. Catsimatidis, who has been trailing in the polls.
“What Weiner – and Elliot Spitzer, for that matter – have proved is that getting yourself on the map politically actually becomes easier if you have a sexual scandal or two under your belt,” she said, apparently without a trace of irony. Spitzer, the former NY governor, resigned after reports of his visits with prostitutes while in office. He is also running an election campaign, for City Comptroller. Catsimatidis, said Cowan, is banking on a similar dynamic with his own candidacy, which could only benefit at this point on the campaign trail.
Whoever wins, says Cowan, will be the one who proves they are proficient at screwing many people at once, preferably 8.3 million of them.
Washington, DC (AP) – Scientists are struggling to explain why otherwise seemingly rational people eat the manifestly inedible seeds of the Chenopodium quinoa plant, according to an article in the upcoming issue of a monthly report by the US Department of Agriculture.
A twelve-year research project by faculty and doctoral candidates at three universities – Case Western, the University of California at Berkeley, and Texas A&M – sought to determine the origins and continued growth of the quinoa consumption trend. They looked at social and market developments over the last several decades to discover what might explain the sudden decision by increasing numbers of Americans to eat the seeds, which cannot even be fermented to make a proper whiskey, let alone ground into flour to make a passable pizza crust or hamburger bun. To their chagrin, the researchers were unable to find an adequate explanation for the culinary popularity of the weed.
Quinoa was domesticated as long as 7,000 years ago by South American herders, to provide feed for their animals. According to University of Virginia Botany Professor Kit Niott, who was not involved in the study, only recently have Americans begun to consume quinoa seeds in appreciable numbers, driving up demand and prices for the crop. He compares the phenomenon to shag carpets, which no one in his right mind would ever buy, but which almost every household had in the early-mid-1970’s.
“People have demonstrated a tendency to just do what everyone else is doing, regardless of the actual merit or wisdom of the behavior,” explained Niott. “Quinoa, while it might provide any number of nutritional benefits, has no demonstrated qualities that make it an acceptable foodstuff, in contrast, to, for example, pizza.”
Pizza, he noted, is like sex: when it’s good, it’s very, very good; when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Whereas quinoa, “falls somewhere between sofa cushion stuffing and ball bearings in its culinary appeal.”
The Spanish conquistadors actively discouraged quinoa cultivation among the enslaved South American natives, seeing the plant as a relic of pagan society; in fact quinoa was often used in agricultural rituals. While the physical enslavement, extermination policies, exploitation and destruction wrought by the Spanish and other European invaders of the New World attract justified opprobrium, Dr. Ann Jiospurm, the study’s lead author, asserts that the Spaniards got the quinoa part right.
“This weed has nothing to recommend it; if there’s one thing one could wish that the conquistadors did more thoroughly, it would the suppression and elimination of quinoa cultivation,” she writes.
Reached by telephone, Jiospurm elaborated on the study’s findings. “Mere nutritional benefit is not enough to explain why something becomes an accepted part of the diet,” she noted. “Dogs are also full of protein, but you don’t see us eating more and more of them every year. The same goes for various essential minerals – humans generally have standards when it comes to what they consume, and for good reason, you don’t see granite breakfast cereals or topsoil cake frosting.”
Jiospurm repeated the words with which she concluded the article, stating the scientific community remains “at a loss to account for the growing collective insanity that characterizes the popularity of quinoa as a food – something that it most clearly is not.”