Regulate But Don’t Ban Energy Drinks

CNN posed an interesting question this morning: should energy drinks be regulated? This comes in the wake of a statement issued by pediatricians that energy drinks are unsafe for kids and contribute to childhood obesity and tooth decay. Clearly, children should not be drinking Red Bull, Monster Energy or any of the hundreds of other products out there.  Ideally, parents should be regulating what their children drink.  But realistically speaking, many parents fail to do so, and not by choice either, so the government should step in and require at a minimum stricter labeling. Or even require an ID, say 16 or over to buy a can of the stuff. These companies market their products so that they are appealing to teenagers and young adults, who should be aware that consuming too much sugar and too many stimulants could lead to weight gain, irritability, insomnia, hypertension, diabetes and mixed with alcohol, even death. Four Loko was banned for a reason. Stimulants and depressants are not complimentary and in excess, can be deadly.

I stop short of calling for a ban on these sugary energy boosters, even sinister sounding brands like Crackshot, Monster Hitman and Mamajuana Energy drink. Yes, these products exist and people are buying them. Rather than ban them, in addition to stricter labeling and requiring an ID to prevent younger kids from buying them, I’d like to see a government sponsored campaign to educate the public about the dangers these drinks pose to youth. And maybe state legislatures could impose a energy drink tax to make them less appealing to cash starved teens.

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Climate Change Rant

There have been so many deadly tornadoes this year, more than last and this has been a trend for the last 50 years, and more evidence of climate change. And we suffer. My heart goes out to all the victims. I say this without a political agenda, because in my view, science is not political. In fact, that’s why I trust it. Global warming and climate change are real. Skeptics argue that we are in a normal change cycle that has been happening since the beginning of time, but many of them, particularly the creationists who do not believe in science, claim than mother earth is just 6,000 years old, according to their literal interpretation of bible scripture. Scientific evidence on the other hand suggests the earth is actually 4.6 billion years old, and this is a generally accepted fact by most including the religious among us. That the temperatures are rising and that there is more moisture in the air and more catastrophic weather events is indisputable. That the polar ice caps are melting and the sea levels rising is also indisputable. The doubters may say poppycock; poppycock notwithstanding, the effects of climate change are real and unfortunately, irreversible.

All we can do is slow it down by taking better care of the earth. This is not political either, though Republicans want to make it political and dupe us into believing that taking care of the earth is somehow anti-American. Anyone who wants clean energy is branded a liberal activist. Save the planet advocates are considered to be left-wing union agitators or “illegal” immigrants. Anyone who believes in Darwin, is a Marxist, unless that person happens to be a social darwinist and that’s ok.

In fact, the right’s policies are anti-earth. For them, no regulations are the best regulations. Drill baby Drill until its bone dry. Dig deep, dig often. Cut down, especially the old growth. Screw the rain forests. Who needs them? Just those commie scientists and a few indigenous peoples.

New slogan for the 2012 campaign: “Don’t give a hoot. Pollute”.  The dirtier the energy, the greater the profits. That’s capitalism at its best, which is really the only thing that needs protection. Screw the earth, the redwood forests, the owls, anything endangered and most of all to hell with the next generation we leave the planet to (if  there’s anything left of it) when we are gone.  New ideology: (actually practiced now for a number of years) hedonistic narcissism under the banner of Country First.  Clever slogan for “me and mine only”.

Air France 447 Flight Data Recorders Recovered

The black boxes from a Rio to Paris Air France flight that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing all 228 aboard have finally been recovered after a 2 year search. Some of the information from the flight data recorders have been released but have not provided definitive answers as to what actually caused the plan to stall and plummet into the ocean. What is clear is that sensors that feed airspeed information to the computer system of the Airbus A330 failed giving pilots unreliable data from which to respond to stall warnings. These faulty sensors have since been replaced on all Airbus planes. What is alarming is that Airbus Industries may have known that these sensors were defective.

Though there are still many questions left unanswered, and a full report not due out for another year, it appears that the co-pilots could not be blamed if data systems failed. That they were unable to take full control of the plane was not due to lack of skill, but may have more to do with the fact that Airbus’ fly-by-wire (FBF) technology makes it more difficult for them to do so. But even if they were able to take control, without accurate data, it would be like trying to fly the plane in the dark and even the most capable pilot would not likely have success.

While we cannot know with certainty what those last minutes were like for the passengers aboard the flight, it does appear that the flight crew remained calm and that the rapid descent may have felt more like turbulence than a nose dive. They may never have known what was happening. Death would have been instant upon impact and they would not have suffered.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the plane crash victims. May this latest development in the investigation help bring them closure and peace.

Phoebe

At Lafferty’s kindergarten, I was a blue bird in the morning; a red bird in the afternoon. The only all day bird of the flock. I watched the clock during the midday nap trying to figure out how to tell time that played tricks on my mind. Time stood still. I never slept. Not a wink.

Birds. Do they have accents? Is that a Boston chirp I heard in the Northern cardinal? And I swear the jay bird taunted my cat today with a southern drawl.

Once knew a cat named Phoebe, named after JD or a black-capped chickadee. A really sweat cat. P-H-O-E-B-E.

Angry Birds

flappin peckin swoopin chirpin cawin clawin

angry birds

Bubble Gum Recall

A friend told me that Benadryl had been removed from the market and I was a little worried given my dependence on the stuff during allergy season. And what a season it has been so far. Tree pollen counts at record highs in my neck of the woods in the NE section of the EEUU. To survive, I have taken to taking Clartin during the day, and Benadryl at night. When my friend said that Benadryl was nowhere to be found, in a panic, I went to the FDA website to see what I could find by way of recalls. To my relief, I didn’t see any mention of a Benadryl recall, nor any news of tainted antihistamine. While it may be true that Benadryl has been removed from the shelves of some pharmacies, it may have more to do with reports of antihistamine abuse, than bad antihistamine. But I did find something even more disturbing that has been recalled. Not disturbing that it has been recalled, but disturbing that the thing exists, and even more disturbing and ironic is the reason it has been recalled.

If you can believe it, and I certainly can’t, or maybe I can, there is a brand of bubble gum called Toxic Waste Short Circuits. Wait until you hear why it has been recalled. Brace yourself. ELEVATED LEAD CONTENT! This is why we need the FDA folks.  Anyway, when this company says Toxic Waste, they really mean it.  You have to give them props for their truth in advertising, but what on earth would possess a company to market fake (in this case, actually not fake) Toxic Waste candy. Interestingly, the product is imported from Pakistan and sold nationwide.  I didn’t know we imported anything from Pakistan.

Now, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and this is probably coincidental, but I wonder if this candy is for export only to the “infidels” of the West.  It does appear that the recalled lots went to Switzerland, Canada and the U.S. And the concept? It’s almost as if the labeling is a bad translation or something. But the packaging gives the appearance that the product indeed is dangerous. I mean look at it – yellow and black stripes of a nuclear hazard and cartoon figure blowing a bubble perhaps moments away from an internal nuclear meltdown and explosion. Sick stuff for kids.

But this concept is nothing new. I seem to remember back in the 70’s a thing called Wacky Packs, those crazy trading cards that had the most bizarre and humorous parodies on product advertisement, clearly aimed at kids. I don’t remember if it came with a stick of gum (remember those?) usually brittle and nasty, but it may have.  How about the card depicting the Band-Ache brand that strips off skin or the can of De-Mented Rotten Tomatoes. I had collected most of those cards in the set by the age of ten. And I have never been the same since.  Maybe there was lead in the gum.  Actually, I think those card stickers liberated my mind a little bit.  There was something subversive about them and they made me think of advertising more critically, all at the tender age of 10.

So I guess I should not get on a soap box and rant against this candy maker for their product concept, but you know, they should lay off the lead.  There’s nothing funny or liberating about a gum ball full of lead.

Sbarro bankrupt pizza

That Sbarro plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection comes as no surprise to me. Have you ever been to a mall food court craving pizza but not that pizza? Have you ever seen a line form at Sbarro? My point.  The thing is their pizza is awful. It is. It reminds me of that bland stuff I used to eat in my high school cafeteria 30 years ago on the days I forgot to pack my lunch.  The cheese is like glue.

I have no ax to grind with Sbarro and I hope that they emerge from bankruptcy with a restructured pizza.  I’m getting tired of standing in line for burgers, burritos and Chinese food.