10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List

    By JOHN TIERNEY

    For most of the year, it is the duty of the press to scour the known universe looking for ways to ruin your day. The more fear, guilt or angst a news story induces, the better. But with August upon us, perhaps you’re in the mood for a break, so I’ve rounded up a list of 10 things not to worry about on your vacation.

    Now, I can’t guarantee you that any of these worries is groundless, because I can’t guarantee you that anything is absolutely safe, including the act of reading a newspaper. With enough money, an enterprising researcher could surely identify a chemical in newsprint or keyboards that is dangerously carcinogenic for any rat that reads a trillion science columns every day.

    What I can guarantee is that I wouldn’t spend a nanosecond of my vacation worrying about any of these 10 things:

    1. Killer hot dogs. What is it about frankfurters? There was the nitrite scare. Then the grilling-creates-carcinogens alarm. And then, when those menaces ebbed, the weenie warriors fell back on that old reliable villain: saturated fat.

    But now even saturated fat isn’t looking so bad, thanks to a rigorous experiment in Israel reported this month. The people on a low-carb, unrestricted-calorie diet consumed more saturated fat than another group forced to cut back on both fat and calories, but those fatophiles lost more weight and ended up with a better cholesterol profile. And this was just the latest in a series of studies contradicting the medical establishment’s predictions about saturated fat.

    If you must worry, focus on the carbs in the bun. But when it comes to the fatty frank — or the fatty anything else on vacation — I’d relax.

    2. Your car’s planet-destroying A/C. No matter how guilty you feel about your carbon footprint, you don’t have to swelter on the highway to the beach. After doing tests at 65 miles per hour, the mileage experts at edmunds.com report that the aerodynamic drag from opening the windows cancels out any fuel savings from turning off the air-conditioner.

    3. Forbidden fruits from afar. Do you dare to eat a kiwi? Sure, because more “food miles” do not equal more greenhouse emissions. Food from other countries is often produced and shipped much more efficiently than domestic food, particularly if the local producers are hauling their wares around in small trucks. One study showed that apples shipped from New Zealand to Britain had a smaller carbon footprint than apples grown and sold in Britain.

    4. Carcinogenic cellphones. Some prominent brain surgeons made news on Larry King’s show this year with their fears of cellphones, thereby establishing once and for all that epidemiology is not brain surgery — it’s more complicated.

    As my colleague Tara Parker-Pope has noted, there is no known biological mechanism for the phones’ non-ionizing radiation to cause cancer, and epidemiological studies have failed to find consistent links between cancer and cellphones.

    It’s always possible today’s worried doctors will be vindicated, but I’d bet they’ll be remembered more like the promoters of the old cancer-from-power-lines menace — or like James Thurber’s grandmother, who covered up her wall outlets to stop electricity from leaking.

    Driving while talking on a phone is a definite risk, but you’re better off worrying about other cars rather than cancer.

    5. Evil plastic bags. Take it from the Environmental Protection Agency : paper bags are not better for the environment than plastic bags. If anything, the evidence from life-cycle analyses favors plastic bags. They require much less energy — and greenhouse emissions — to manufacture, ship and recycle. They generate less air and water pollution. And they take up much less space in landfills.

    6. Toxic plastic bottles. For years panels of experts repeatedly approved the use of bisphenol-a, or BPA, which is used in polycarbonate bottles and many other plastic products. Yes, it could be harmful if given in huge doses to rodents, but so can the natural chemicals in countless foods we eat every day. Dose makes the poison.

    But this year, after a campaign by a few researchers and activists, one federal panel expressed some concern about BPA in baby bottles. Panic ensued. Even though there was zero evidence of harm to humans, Wal-Mart pulled BPA-containing products from its shelves, and politicians began talking about BPA bans. Some experts fear product recalls that could make this the most expensive health scare in history.

    Nalgene has already announced that it will take BPA out of its wonderfully sturdy water bottles. Given the publicity, the company probably had no choice. But my old blue-capped Nalgene bottle, the one with BPA that survived glaciers, jungles and deserts, is still sitting right next to me, filled with drinking water. If they ever try recalling it, they’ll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers.

    *7-10*

    I am so out of the loop. :redface: I had no idea I was supposed to be worrying about wormholes. Shark attacks have never concerned me even when I lived near the Jersey shore. Having worked in the plastics industry for a few years I was never concerned that their production and use was detrimental to the planet. As for hotdogs, I love a good all beef frank so I never stopped eating them. :smile:
     
  2. TwasBrillig

    TwasBrillig Member

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    Love this post, NJ. How did I manage to miss this for 5 days?? Makes my August a heck of a lot better. I've rented a house in Bethany Beach, DE for the third week of this month. Taking my sister and her kids - kids, hell - they're in the mid-twenties.

    Thinking about the trip, my mind was obsessed with exactly what Tierney has covered and I was convinced this was to be a failed adventure. Now I feel better. Thank you.

    Irene, can I have another tube steak?

    By the way, does Tierney write for the NY Times? His name is familiar.
     
  3. TwasBrillig

    TwasBrillig Member

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    Never mind. I found the answer when I clicked on the 7-10. I thought his name was familiar.
     
  4. marleyisalegend

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    LOL NJ, I love it!!
     
  5. SpeedoGuy

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    I still think plastic bags (#5) are evil. People discard the friggin' things everywhere.

    From what I've seen, the state flags of Arizona and Nevada should be a wind tattered plastic baggy caught in a barbed wire fence along any roadside outside of town...
     
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