smog sunsets are the prettiest

6/11/09

I’d advise most of you to skip this entry, because it’s not going to make you feel any better, and it’s the same old shit. Seriously, you’ve been warned. In fact, I don’t even know why I’m writing it.

But let me just say this: many of the comments from the last few days, especially LFMD’s about vaccines, rang oddly true to me. Personally, I have no problem with vaccines – along with tetanus and whopping cough, I wouldn’t mind getting vaccinating against “bad decisions”, “utterly false notions” and “late-night free-floating anxiety”. But it’s becoming clear to me that the American experience is made unbelievably painful by two things: experts being 100% wrong [about some things -ed.], and corporations not caring for the welfare of any human being.

Let’s look at a few, shall we?

1950: Butter is good for you!

1960: Butter will kill you.

1970: You must only use margarine.

1980: Margarine will kill you.

1990: Organic butter is good for you.

2000: Any butter will kill you.

Or, perhaps:

1960: barely any vitamin supplements are taken

1970: vitamin supplements are for the elderly

1980: your vitamin supplement has A, B6, B12, C, D, and E!

1990: your vitamin supplement has A, C, D, E, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), B6, B12, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Molybdenum, Lecithin, Choline, Inositol, PABA, Boron, Silica, and Vanadium!

2000: Antioxidants will save your life! Vitamin A, C and E!

2005: Studies show vitamin supplements give absolutely no benefits to anyone but the elderly and those with specific diseases

2009: Wait: Vitamin E can actually make heart failure more likely. And… what the fuck? Actually makes cancer more likely in smokers? And companies are letting lead get into the supplements?

You get the idea. Now, when it comes to autism, the rumors are beginning to move away from vaccines and towards a vaguely-understood smorgasbord of chemicals called EDCs, or Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. These include our old favorite PCBs, our new baby-bottle villain BPA, the tongue-tying Phthalates and of course, dioxins and pesticides. In other words, every floor you’ve stepped on, every rug your child plays on, every electronic appliance you’ve ever owned, blah blah blah.

It’s impossible to talk about this shit without turning into Lefty McLuddite, the crankypants birdwatcher who wants everyone to go back to cloth diapers and till the soil with oxen poop. Besides, we all grew up in this brave new world and we’re fine, right? Well, maybe, but when 1 in 166 kids is now born with fucking autism, it makes you think: perhaps this toxic sludge of ENDLESS PLASTIC AND CHEMICAL PRODUCTS finally reached a tipping point, say, five years ago.

And here’s the deal: nobody is going to protect you, and you can’t hide from it. Some studies say that 82% of our body’s toxic EDCs comes from contaminated house dust, so perhaps you can install a nice home-cleansing HEPA air filter. But who says that study is right? And in the meantime, your nice home-cleansing HEPA air filter is made of phthalates, motherphtlthucker.

For the record, I take the following supplements: Omega 3 Fish Oil, Co-Q10, Green Tea Extract and Vitamin D. From my research, those are the only things left that make any sense, and I will be demoralized (but not surprised) to see them debunked. As for everything else, what can any of us do?

It’s beyond disheartening, lower than demoralizing, and painfully futile to say this, but I’ll charge ahead: I’m really angry that corporations didn’t test their products better for the last 70 years, and they still don’t. Someone has to die for them to recall something, and it’s usually the most helpless and innocent. Absolutely NO THOUGHT was ever given to the disposal of all this crap. Companies can’t help it: they were given the rights of a “person” by the United States, but the endless pursuit of profit necessarily makes them a fucking sociopath.

That’s the tradeoff all of us agreed to: because of it, we get iPods, air travel, Shamrock Shakes and pajamas that don’t catch fire. Doing without all of our creature comforts is pretty much a dealbreaker, yes, even for me. The question is this: is it too much to ask for all these objects we love without doing nerve damage to baby boys two thousand miles away? If the answer is yes, then I might be finally gravitating away from all the pretty blinking lights.

0 thoughts on “smog sunsets are the prettiest

  1. dean

    When I read one of your last lines about corporations testing their products, I thought of your Prius. Have you read about all the environmental costs to build one of those tin cans? Ironic.
    As for vitamins, I am convinced that it is one big ploy and most vitamins are pricey placeboes looking meely to create some delusion of health.

    Reply
  2. LFMD

    Thanks for the mention. I so rarely make sense to the people in my life (work, home, etc.). . .I am glad that you “got” what I was saying.
    “Late-night free-floating anxiety” — I like that phrase! I suffer from it too! Now I have a name for it.
    Funny you mention Shamrock Shakes. Just last night, I told Helen that the year I was pregnant with her, I spent the entire month of March searching fruitlessly for a McDonald’s that would serve me a Shamrock Shake. Couldn’t find one. I guess it was not on the menu in 1999. She got very quiet and said, “That must be why I have such a sweet tooth! You gave me a sweet tooth!” That, and a whole lot more, according to all the good/bad studies that you reference.

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  3. kent

    I can’t ever remember to take vitamins — I can barely remember to take my diabetes pills.
    On the other hand, going to the gym does more for my blood sugar than the pills, and if I’ve gone I well fucking know I’ve gone.
    And never have I forgotten to eat for more than 5 or 6 hours.
    So, pills lose.

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  4. Ehren

    I definitely believe that companies have only one purpose, which is to make money for their shareholders. Any concern for the environment or public well-being devolves only out of fear of repercussions to their bottom line.
    That being said, if you write a list of all the things that our scientific-industrial complex has given us over the past 100 years, I think that the disasters would be the rare (albeit glaring) exceptions. For every drug side effect cover-up are dozens of life-saving medicines honestly peddled.
    And while I think it would be great if whatever were escalating autism rates were eliminated from our society without over-disruption, the fact of the matter is that cheap plastic and massive industrialization have made the biggest impact on the poor. It’s great to love your organic goat milk soap and your fresh pesticide-free garden veggies, but if you actually have to produce your own eco-lifestyle products, you’ll find that most people are priced right out of the middle class and back into crushing poverty.
    Wal-Mart is robbing small towns of good jobs and siphoning money out of their communities, but the cheap plastic goods they sell are the sort of thing that have allowed the rural poor to afford the trappings of a more livable existence.

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  5. Ian

    Hamp, it’s Coenzyme Q10, and it’s shown a lot of promise for long-term heart health, possible cancer treatment, and migraine reduction. It doesn’t naturally absorb into the body well, so my doc recommends 100-200mg, preferably from a good supplement maker who makes the high-absorption version.

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  6. Bob

    I’m going to take on the experts-being-wrong-100%-of-the-time stuff, and leave the issue of evil corporations for another time when I’m feeling more energetic.
    When my doctor told me I had to reduce my cholesterol level, he handed me a list of foods to be avoided and, surprise, surprise, it was pretty much a roundup of every food promoted as healthy when I was a kid. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, back when they told us that you couldn’t do better than to fill yourself with butter, eggs, milk, and meat. Given what we were told to ingest, it’s amazing that anyone’s willing to cremate a baby boomer; you’d think we’d be a fire hazard. So I know a little something about experts being wrong. Hell, egregiously wrong.
    And yet.
    And yet, I did a little looking around on the Internet and found out that the life expectancy for those born in the US in 1900 was 48.2 years for males, 51.1 years for females. Pretty grim. In 2004, it was 75.7 years for males, 80.8 years for females. That’s pretty impressive to me, particularly since were this 1900 I’d most likely be writing this from the Great Beyond. On a manual typewriter.
    Science and health experts may be wrong a significant part of the time, and experts in the public eye especially so. But our increasing lifespans suggests that at least some of the experts have been right, and in a pretty significant way. Yes, the back and forth movement on just what is good for us and what will kill us is maddening. But it looks as though the general trend across all of the health care industry is positive, and this even in the absence of our adopting common-sense things that we know will help, like decent health care for all kids. Like the right of everyone to get a form of health coverage that isn’t a trip to an overcrowded emergency room.
    I have nothing against Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey. The world needs shiny, pretty people, and they fill the bill nicely. But Jenny McCarthy has never improved my life in a material way, and Jim Carrey still owes me a personal apology for “Yes Man,” the bastard. I think I’ll get my information from the folks who have a track record, as wrong as they may be from time to time.

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  7. kjf

    how about the shifting advice on how to place the baby in the crib. face down, on their side, and now on their backs. c’mon figure this out folks.
    and as for shamrock shakes i believe i read somewhere that they were just vanilla shakes with green food coloring in them but that people thought they tasted minty because they were green.

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  8. Ian

    Oh man, I didn’t mean to imply that I thought ALL experts were 100% wrong ALL the time. In fact, that kind of thinking allows for some very dangerous anti-intellectualism currently cascading through the country. I just meant in certain high-profile cases – such as estrogen supplements for women – when a respected group of people get something 100% deadly wrong.
    I’m a genuflecting apostle of Big Pharma as anyone else, perhaps more – I meant more specific examples of falsehoods that make people untrustworthy of other medically-established facts.

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  9. jje

    I’ve never had a Shamrock Shake, but we worship at the altar of Chick-fil-A down here and I can’t imagine any fast food shake that tastes better than their Peppermint Chocolate Chip shake. Sadly, also seasonal, though I did find it once back in April at a random CFA outside of Columbia, SC. I was alerted to its continued existence because of the ad for “Holiday Cowz with purchase” still stuck on their menu board. My friends were quite concerned that I ingested a seasonal shake well outside of the season it was originally offered. But it was sooooo good…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsJHqstPuNo

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  10. Anne

    I am totally feelin’ this tirade, Ian.
    My maternal grandfather had many health issues as an adult (numerous kidney-stone surgeries; cancer leading to a colostomy) and even smoked Pall Malls most of his adult life. He ate bacon and margarine and lots of other “bad” stuff — although he also grew his own vegetables and had a diverse diet, and he was athletic and physically active all his life. He lived to 88.
    My mother (his daughter) had most of the same habits, although she was more aware of dietary health and tried to keep the fat ratio down. But she died more than 10 years earlier than Grandpa did of cancer that originated in her kidneys and metastasized everywhere. She recalled, as she was dying, sitting on a dock outside the metals factory where she worked as a secretary and, with her friends, dangling her feet in the cool harbor water – water we now know was thick with PCBs from industrial runoff.
    The difference, I think, is that by the time my mom’s generation hit adulthood, we had been systematically polluting our environment for a while, but weren’t yet aware of the consequences. (This was in the 1940s, decades before “Silent Spring.”) I know all the toxic crap can accumulate in one’s organs. Like my mom’s kidneys, perhaps. Makes me furious. And I have long had a feeling that I and many of my fellow Boomers are doomed in some way by all the insecticides, fertilizers, and bad air we’ve ingested since we were born. Bah!!!

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