Filbert identifies the world’s problems

Problem 1:  Us-vs-Them-ism.  Call it tribalism, nationalism, racism, whatever.  Any time you divide the world into Us and Them, you’re asking for trouble.  Unfortunately, that’s how we evolved to view the world.

Problem 2:  The Expert Syndrome.  Any time you find someone who’s absolutely convinced you should live your life some other way than what you’re doing right now, you’ve got conflict.  Religious zealotry, health-nuts, safety nazis, the list goes on and on.  “I know better than you, and you should be forced to do things my way.”  Both halves of that statement are also how everyone evolved to view the world.  The first half (I know better than you) isn’t that harmful in and of itself, it’s the second half (you should be forced to do things my way) where things fall apart rapidly.

There.  I’ve pretty much identified the basic problems with the world today.  Somebody needs to go out and fix them.  Actually, everybody needs to go out and fix them.

Coffee good. Very good.

Early in the morning, I really need some help getting started.

Help spelled c-o-f-f-e-e.

The New York Times (via the South Dakota Politics[*1] blog) confirms the black goodness which is coffee:

Coffee is not usually thought of as health food, but a number of recent studies suggest that it can be a highly beneficial drink.Researchers have found strong evidence that coffee reduces the risk ofseveral serious ailments, including diabetes[*2] , heart disease[*3] and cirrhosis of the liver.

Among them is a systematic review[*4] of studies published last year in The Journal of the American Medical Association[*5] ,which concluded that habitual coffee consumption was consistently associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. Exactly why is notknown, but the authors offered several explanations.

Coffee contains antioxidants that help control the cell damage thatcan contribute to the development of the disease. It is also a source of chlorogenic acid, which has been shown in animal experiments toreduce glucose concentrations.

Caffeine, perhaps coffee’s most famous component, seems to havelittle to do with it; studies that looked at decaffeinated coffee alonefound the same degree of risk reduction.

Larger quantities of coffee seem to be especially helpful indiabetes prevention. In a report that combined statistical data frommany studies, researchers found that people who drank four to six cupsof coffee a day had a 28 percent reduced risk compared with people whodrank two or fewer. Those who drank more than six had a 35 percent risk reduction.

Whew! Pluto IS a planet

From Yahoo News:

Opponents of Pluto, which was named a planet in 1930, still mightspoil for a fight. Earth’s moon is larger; so is 2003 UB313 (Xena),about 70 miles wider.

But the IAU said Pluto meets its proposed new definition of aplanet: any round object larger than 800 kilometers (nearly 500 miles)in diameter that orbits the sun and has a mass roughly one-12,000ththat of Earth. Moons and asteroids will make the grade if they meetthose basic tests.

Roundness is key, experts said, because it indicates an object hasenough self-gravity to pull itself into a spherical shape. Yet Earth’smoon wouldn’t qualify because the two bodies’ common center of gravitylies below the surface of the Earth.

“People were probably wondering: If they take away Pluto, is RhodeIsland next?” Binzel quipped. “There are as many opinions about Plutoas there are astronomers. But Pluto has gravity on its side. By thephysics of our proposed definition, Pluto makes it by a long shot.”

Fat folk say they’re eating ok

Survey shows most obese people say they’re eating healthy[*1] :

ATLANTA – More than three-quarters of obese Americanssay they have healthy eating habits, according to a survey of more than11,000 people.

About 40 percent of obese people also said they do “vigorous” exercise at least three times a week, the telephone survey found.

“There is, perhaps, some denial going on. Or there is a lack ofunderstanding of what does it mean to be eating healthy, and what isvigorous exercise,” said Dr. David Schutt of Thomson Medstat, theMichigan-based health-care research firm that conducted the survey.

Explanation #1:  fat people are lazy, they lie, and are not good people.  We hate them.

Alternative Explanation:  “Eating healthy” doesn’t work and is the root cause of the obesity epidemic.

Atlantis on the launch pad

Shuttle Atlantis makes it to the launch pad[*1] :

After two stalled attempts, NASA’s space shuttleAtlantis rolled out to its Florida launch pad Wednesday as workersready the space plane for a planned liftoff later this month.

Atlantis reached Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center(KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida just after 8:00 a.m. EDT (1200 GMT)following a seven-hour trek from the cavernous Vehicle AssemblyBuilding.