Friday, December 23, 2016
The aluminium scare
I hold no brief for aluminium. Claims that molecules from aluminium pots and pans leak into food go back a long way so I have never liked aluminium cooking utensils. I have mostly used cast-iron, enamel and steel utensils instead. But the study below has been hyped and I wish to inject a note of caution.
The main cautions concern the sample, its selection, its size and the variability of the results.
Regarding the latter, I quote from the Results section of the paper: "Aluminium was found in all 144 tissues and its concentration ranged from 0.01 to 35.65 μg/g dry wt." That is a pretty big variation. It does not sound like a uniform process.
And the form of Alzheimers was a rare one. Does it generalize to other forms? Is the rarity due to something that also encourages aluminium concentrations? Might not more common forms of Alzheimers be less infested by aluminium?
And the sample is an available one, not a random one so its generalizability is inherently unknown.
And the sample size is risible. You can get all sorts of odd and unreplicable results with such a small sample.
Finally, an important question is how many users of aluminium pots and pans have lived to a ripe old age? Hundreds of millions, I would think. Do we balance 12 cases supporting a conclusion agains millions not supporting it?
I accept that I may be wrong but my conclusion is that aluminium is unlikely to harm you
Aluminium in brain tissue in familial Alzheimer’s disease
Ambreen Mirzaa et al.
The genetic predispositions which describe a diagnosis of familial Alzheimer’s disease can be considered as cornerstones of the amyloid cascade hypothesis. Essentially they place the expression and metabolism of the amyloid precursor protein as the main tenet of disease aetiology. However, we do not know the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and environmental factors may yet be shown to contribute towards its onset and progression. One such environmental factor is human exposure to aluminium and aluminium has been shown to be present in brain tissue in sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. We have made the first ever measurements of aluminium in brain tissue from 12 donors diagnosed with familial Alzheimer’s disease. The concentrations of aluminium were extremely high, for example, there were values in excess of 10 μg/g tissue dry wt. in 5 of the 12 individuals. Overall, the concentrations were higher than all previous measurements of brain aluminium except cases of known aluminium-induced encephalopathy. We have supported our quantitative analyses using a novel method of aluminium-selective fluorescence microscopy to visualise aluminium in all lobes of every brain investigated. The unique quantitative data and the stunning images of aluminium in familial Alzheimer’s disease brain tissue raise the spectre of aluminium’s role in this devastating disease.
Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology Volume 40, March 2017, Pages 30–36.
Who are really the stupid ones?
Some comments from a fellow blogger:
As hard as it might believe, I can be a pompous ass on occasions. I had a friend who used to remind me of this, by very gently (and sometimes not so gently), reminding me: "I love it when you talk down to me", or "I love it when you talk to me as if I don't have a brain in my head."
Bill Clinton needs such a friend in constant attendance, it would seem, as of late.
Bill is at it again, reminding the deplorables that they are in fact deplorable and ignorant. And, saying that Donald Trump got votes by exploiting our anger, by taking advantage of our stupidity.
To my mind, this is simply saying the reverse, that Hillary Clinton had the God-given ability to make us so angry that we stayed away from her in droves. After all, how smart do you have to be to antagonize the people you want to vote for you?
Ah, Bill. Best to keep your mouth shut; and, to stop calling people stupid because they did not vote for your dumpy wife.
Close Them Down!
Donald Trump is appointing good people -- Andy Puzder, for example, Trump's nominee for labor secretary.
When Puzder took over Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants, they were deep in debt. Four years later, they were profitable. I bet his 70,000 workers are happy about that.
"What did you do that your predecessor didn't?" I asked Puzder. His answer sounded a little like Trump.
"They were entrenched. ... My second memo as CEO was: Next person that answers a question with 'because we've always done it that way' will be fired."
Sounds ruthless. No wonder he opposes the minimum wage! But wait: He got his start scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins.
"Minimum wage, dollar an hour... I learned about customer service, about inventory. That was a good start, a good step on that ladder."
Puzder painted houses and mowed lawns as a teenager, jobs that today's minimum wage and employment regulations sometimes make illegal. People think those rules are compassionate, but not Puzder.
"I have a 16-year-old son, and I really love him," he told me, but "there's no way in the world I'd pay that kid $12 an hour to do something. We're losing a generation of people because we've eliminated jobs that those people normally filled. How do you pay somebody $15 an hour to scoop ice cream? How good could you be at scooping ice cream? It's just not a job where you could compensate somebody like that."
The media hate businessmen who say things like that. A Washington Post headline: "Ayn Rand acolyte Donald Trump stacks his cabinet with fellow objectivists." This is absurd. Trump likes capitalism, but he's no objectivist. Objectivists have firm principles.
The Post article smears Puzder as a cruel Ayn Rand fan who "wants to automate fast-food jobs." But Puzder doesn't want to automate. He just states an obvious truth: A higher minimum wage leads employers to replace some workers with machines. Fast-food companies were already installing touch screens. A $15 minimum wage speeds that process.
If reporters were actually compassionate, they would oppose the endless regulations they routinely champion. People can't gain the experience needed to earn higher wages if they aren't allowed to be hired in the first place.
"We have restaurants in 33 countries and 45 states," says Puzder, describing how hard it is to get permits to open restaurants. "In Texas, it's 60 days. In LA, it takes 280. I can open a restaurant faster in Siberia than I can in California."
Remember when it was Russia that opposed capitalism?
"The permitting is ridiculous," says Puzder. "They make us put in stoplights and curb cuts and plant trees two blocks away. Everybody on the planet wants input. You've got to get approvals from the city, the county, the state, satisfy federal regulatory requirements."
As a result, "You can't grow, can't build restaurants, can't build a new Wal-Mart, that new office building if you can't use the land, if you can't get through the regulatory process."
Trump nominating someone who sees that problem is encouraging. I hope he surrounds himself with other people who love free markets, not just power.
Another possibly good Trump appointee is Linda McMahon, his nominee to head the Small Business Administration. McMahon almost defeated Connecticut's clueless socialist Sen. Richard Blumenthal in the 2010 Senate race. She calls herself a fiscal conservative, so I wish she'd won.
But I hesitate to support her, since I once sued her and her husband for allegedly telling one of their giant actors to beat me up because I pointed out that WWF wresting is fake. Really. Google "Stossel wrestler" and you'll see what I mean.
But my main objection to both nominations is that we don't need either agency! The SBA is wasteful cronyism. Federal bureaucrats have no clue which small businesses deserve funding.
Likewise, workers don't need a Department of Labor to set one-size-fits-all labor policies. Let competition set the rules. Employers and workers will make the choices and contracts that work best for each of them.
I hope Andy Puzder and Linda McMahon take over the SBA and Labor Department, then immediately shut them down.
Bored CBS Knocks Trump’s Cabinet Picks for Their Wealth
No mention that installing people who are already rich greatly reduces any temptation to corruption
With seemingly nothing else better to report with regards to U.S. politics Tuesday, CBS Evening News chose to whine about how President-Elect Donald Trump’s cabinet is comprised of millionaires and billionaires. “He's nearly finished with his cabinet, and outside national security, the billionaire president has surrounded himself with billionaires,” remarked Anchor Scott Pelley leading into Julianna Goldman’s report.
“As he traveled the cross the country on his thank you tour, President-Elect Donald Trump touted his choices for his cabinet and inner circle, a team historians say is the richest in U.S. history,” Goldman reported, as if it was somehow tainting Trump’s presidency.
“How rich? CBS news estimates seven of Mr. Trump's picks are worth a combined $11.5 billion,” she exclaimed, before rattling off the net worth of Trump’s selections:
Betsy DeVos, nominated for secretary of education, comes from a family worth more than $5 billion. Linda McMahon, picked small-business administrator, has family wealth worth $ 1.2 billion. And Vincent Viola, Mr. Trump's choice for army secretary, is worth $1.77 billion… Steve Mnuchin, Mr. Trump’s Treasury pick, has been estimated to be worth as much as $655 million.
Goldman leaned on Senator, and failed presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders to slam Trump. She played clips of Sanders on CBS’s Face the Nation where he chided Trump for their wealth and claimed he could not properly fight the political establishment with them on board. “Critics, like Senator Bernie Sanders, say Mr. Trump's choices fly in the face of his populist campaign message,” she argued.
The CBS reporter seemed to try to dismiss the idea that these wealthy people could care about the poor, “[Steve Mnuchin] and Commerce Secretary Nominee Wilbur Ross, worth $2.5 billion, recently said they were attuned to the plight of working Americans.” She then played a clip of Ross discussing how all jobs are not created equal, the set up painted the comments as somehow out of touch.
Wrapping up her report she noted that cabinet members do tend to be rich, but touted former presidents, saying, “Neither President Obama nor President George W. Bush had a single billionaire in their first cabinet.”
The left’s demonization of success and wealth originates from a false belief that the rich became so through underhanded and unethical means, especially those who associate with the right. It’s an extension of the belief expressed by President Barack Obama that “you didn’t build that.”
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Posted by JR at 1:46 AM