Coffee Reduces Post-Exercise Pain

Yet another benefit of coffee has been found. A small study shows that caffeine equivalent to two cups of coffee can reduce post-gym muscle pain. MSNBC reports:

“If you can use caffeine to reduce the pain, it may make it easier to transition from that first week into a much longer exercise program,” said lead researcher Victor Maridakis of the University of Georgia.

Maridakis and his colleagues studied nine female college students who were not regular caffeine and coffee drinkers didn’t exercise on a regular basis. One and two days after an exercise session that caused moderate muscle soreness, the participants took either caffeine or a placebo. Then they completed two thigh exercises, one requiring maximum muscle effort, the other sub-maximal effort.

Those who consumed caffeine one hour before the maximum force test had a 48 percent reduction in pain compared with the placebo group. Students who took caffeine before the near-maximum force test showed a 26 percent reduction in soreness.

Anyone who has needed a pick-me-up knows caffeine can increase alertness. Past studies have shown it also boosts endurance, and one experiment found caffeine reduces pain during moderate-intensity cycling.

In a related study I just found that if you drink two cups of coffee and stay at Starbucks instead of going to the gym you will enjoy the coffee more and have a total absence of pain.

If you find this to be too off-topic, a previous post on another benefit of coffee more relevant to this blog is under the fold.


Top Ten Lists for 2006

The end of the year continues to bring lists. Slate lists the top 10 most outrageous civil liberties violations. Richard Clarke has an op-ed in the Washington Post listing problems which got out of hand partially due to the Bush administration being bogged down in Iraq, such as global warming, Russia’s move back towards authoritarianism, and Latin America’s move to the far left. Juan Cole, who previously listed the top ten myths on Iraq, now lists the top ten ways the United States enabled Saddam Hussein.

Below the fold I’ll repost  my list from last New Year’s of Five of the Most Absurd Right Wing Arguments.  We sure don’t hear much talk about that Republican mandate coming off the 2004 election any more.

Posting will be reduced for early January, but the good news is that Liberal Values will be reporting from the happiest place on earth. Finally I’ll get to see how Pluto is doing after his big demotion last summer.

Renegade Glaciers Attacking As Al Gore Warned

Reuters reports on a huge ice shelf breaking free in northern Canada:

A chunk of ice bigger than the area of Manhattan broke from an ice shelf in Canada’s far north and could wreak havoc if it starts to float westward toward oil-drilling regions and shipping lanes next summer, a researcher said on Friday.

Global warming could be one cause of the break of the Ayles Ice Shelf at Ellesmere Island, which occurred in the summer of 2005 but was only detected recently by satellite photos, said Luke Copland, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s geography department.

It’s sad when a comedy skit on Saturday Night Live is more accurate about global warming than the Bush White House. Al Gore warned us about “renegade glaciers” which are “on the attack.”

Full text of Al Gore’s SNL skit from May is under the fold, and video is at Crooks and Liars.


John Kerry’s Iraq Photos, And What George Bush Would Have Done

There are plenty of theories going around about this photo being posted on many right wing blogs to claim that the troops were avoiding John Kerry during his recent trip to Iraq:

Some say it is Photoshopped, questioning if this was even taken in Iraq when looking at the flags in the background. TPMmuckraker notes that the picture’s embedded data shows a date of January 9. 2006, but perhaps the camera’s date was set incorrectly. Shaun at Upper Left raises further questions upon lightening up the picture.

There have been comments that this was taken at the embassy where few soldiers were even present, and someone saying he was there reported that Kerry didn’t enter the room until near the end of breakfast when few people were left. Besides, how many soldiers are going to just walk up and sit down next to a Senator who is busy talking to someone else?

It’s not really necessary to worry about which explanation is correct since, as I reported earlier, photos taken when Kerry was in Iraq did show him with the troops:

All in all, this was a pretty desperate smear, but it is typical of the conservatives who typically resort to this nonsense but never show the guts to discuss Kerry’s actual statements and positions. Afterall, these are pretty much the same people who have been twisting Kerry’s recent joke about George Bush getting us stuck in Iraq to be a smear on the troops. It’s much easier to distort things than to respond. If we wanted to resort to this type of attack I imagine it would be possible to find a picture of Bush with only a couple of people and claim other were ostracizing him.

Actually the Bush people are much better at propaganda and would never get caught in a mess such as this. For example, when there weren’t enough soldiers at a Bush rally for a 2004 campaign ad, they just Photoshopped them in:


My take on this at the Unofficial Kerry Blog in October 2004 is reposted under the fold.


Health Savings Accounts and Adverse Selection

This is a few days old but I happened to stumble upon it from a link from a conservative site which launched a rather specious criticism of Ezra Klein’s criticism of Health Savings Accounts.

Ezra notes something everybody involved in health care knows, but it is always good to have the documentation. A small number of patients account for the bulk of the spending. Ezra demonstrates this with this graph from Kaiser:

HSA’s work by having individuals save money in tax free accounts for routine medical care, and they are sold along with a catastrophic insurance plan. Money in one’s HSA is used until the high deductible catastrophic plans kick in. Ezra’s argument is relevant as the incentives for spending money are lost once the sickest individuals exceed the high deductibles of HSA’s and their catastrophic coverage kicks in.

While significant, this isn’t the most important argument against HSA’s. The most important argument against HSA’s is almost lost in a single line in Ezra’s post. “They do nothing but disincentivize basic care, which doesn’t cost much anyway.”

Several landmark studies, such as the Diabetes Complications and Control Trials and the UK Prospective Diabets Study, have clearly established the fact that more aggressive care of diabetes early will reduce long term complications. Unfortunately many patients (and some doctors) don’t take problems such as diabetes and hypertension seriously since they have no symptoms in the early years and feel fine. Even when people have health care coverage, it is difficult to get many diabetics and others with chronic diseases to receive adequate care. The more people have to pay out of their own pocked, the less likely they will spend money when they feel fine. While this should not be controversial, I have reprinted some of my old posts from Light Up the Darkness and The Democratic Daily which link to further evidence of these assertions under the fold.

By making people pay out of pocket for basic preventive care and for treatment of chronic diseases, you are increasing the chances that people won’t pay attention to their cholesterol until after they’ve had their first heart attack. People with diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, all assymptomatic for years, will be more likely to ignore these problems despite all the evidence that early and aggressive treatment reduces long term complications.

This leads back to the small number of people who do account for the vast majority of health care spending. HSA’s not only don’t reduce spending there, as Ezra points out, but will actually increase the number of such high risk patients. We’ll have more diabetics who allow their sugar or blood pressure to be out of control for years, increasing their risk of catastrophic outcomes. Less people will take modern medications which can lower cholesterol to a point which not only prevents but can actually reverse blockage in coronary arteries.

It is far more economical to treat diabetics and others with chronic diseases early than it is to pay for bypass surgery, dialysis, amputation of limbs, and post-stroke care when the long term complications of uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension catch up with them. HSA’s provide perverse incentives to treat populations in a far less cost effective manner. While the health care system needs repair, any fixes should concentrate on increasing the likelihood that chronic diseases are treated early when it is most economical as opposed to creating incentives to postpone care.

More information on Health Savings Accounts under the fold.


McCain Defies Bush on Treatment of Detainees

I’m no fan of John McCain, but sometimes it is only fair to give the other side credit. McCain ran as the outsider in 2000 and found that is a dead end in the GOP. He has been trying to run as Bush’s heir in 2008 and has been photographed being as cuddly with Dubya as Joe Lieberman. Politically the smart thing to do would be to go along with the Bush Administration, including on detainees, but McCain is sticking to principle here.

This may only remind Repubicans of why they opposed him in 2000. The Washington Post notes, “In a reprise of criticism showered on McCain during his 2000 campaign, some prominent conservatives are branding him a disloyal Republican and an unreliable conservative because of his assertiveness on the detainee issue.”

Perhaps McCain can afford to stick to his principles on this issue. It is unlikely to hurt him in New Hampshire. The big question is South Carolina, where disagreeing with Bush might not be as dangerous as we’d first think. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a former military lawyer, joins McCain in opposing the Bush Administration on treatment of detainees:

In a telephone interview from South Carolina yesterday, Graham said: “What I hear is, people respect the commitment of the president to the [CIA interrogation] program, and they respect my commitment and Senator McCain’s commitment to the troops.”

Graham added: “Every editorial in the state has understood Senator McCain’s and my concerns, and believe they are legitimate.” The Geneva Conventions say wartime detainees must be “treated humanely.” Bush says the United States complies so long as CIA interrogators abide by a 2005 law barring “cruel, inhuman, or degrading” treatment of captives. McCain and his allies say that the requirement is too narrow, and that they are concerned Bush’s approach would invite other nations to interpret the conventions in lax ways that could lead to abusive treatment of captive U.S. troops.

Update: The Los Angeles Times looks at how this stand may hurt McCain among conservatives. Sorry John–don’t let them torture people and they won’t want to play with you.
A few older posts on John McCain are under the fold–two of which include the picture of him hugging George Bush.


Republicans Attempt Retroactive Legalization of Warrantless Wiretapping

Republicans plan to spend the fall trying to use 9/11 for political gain, including to pass legislation retroactively permitting Bush’s warrantless wiretapping. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on S.2453, the “National Security Surveillance Act” written by Dick Cheney and Arlen Specter. The House Judiciary Committee is also expected to consider a companion bill, H.R. 5825. The bills would gut the civil liberties protections present in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Fourth Amendment. The bills:

  • Allow the NSA to examine international phone conversations and e-mails of American residents and businesses, without any judicial approval and without any evidence the target is conspiring with al Qaeda
  • Authorize warrantless physical searches of Americans’ homes and businesses without any judicial check
  • Allow for the electronic surveillance of Americans without the warrants needed to protect the individual rights of people in the US.

As Bush’s activities have come under attack from the courts, and some Republicans as well as Democrats, the Republican leadership hopes to push through these acts to legalize actions which likely were illegal when committed.

In recent years the United States has gone through crises including World War II and the Cold War while managing to maintain the rule of law. Even when their were some abuses, these were limited to a specific time frame. It is more important that we preserve the rule of law in the face of what can become a perpetual state of war against terrorism. This is a war which has no clear end point and which would provide a never ending justification for suspension of civil liberties if we allow this. I recently cited one article which predicted that we will achieve victory “three or four decades into the future.” If we give up our liberties for such a period, it is doubtful they will ever be restored.

Previous posts on the warrantless wiretaps under the fold.


Lost Creates New Mystery

Last year Lost concentrated on the mystery of what is in the hatch. Next season is expected to be about the mystery of The Others and possibly also answer what is really going on with Desmond. There is yet another mystery about Lost–why are those Tailies such awful drivers? Last season Michelle Rodriguez, who played Ana-Lucia Cortez and Cynthia Watros, who played Libby, were arrested for drunk driving, and subsequently killed off on the show in an episode entitled Two For The Road (story under the fold). Now Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays Mr. Eko, has been arrested for driving without a license. All three characters are among the Tailies–people who were in the tail section of the crashed plan and separated from the main group until the second season.

Last season showed that arrests on traffic violations can be shorten the survival of characters on this show. Eko’s fate was somewhat in question as he was in the hatch when it was apparently destroyed at the end of the second season. It is assumed his presence in Hawaii, where the show is filmed, means he is returning (although this is no guarantee as some characters have returned in flash backs after their death). It has already been announced that Desmond would return, increasing the chances that Eko could also have survived.


Sci Fi Friday: Looking Back At Al Gore’s Appeal To The Federation Council

Liberal Values remain at least partially in reruns for the holiday weekend with Sci Fi Friday set to post today before I left on vacation. Under the fold I present old posts which question whether neocons are more like the Sith or Vogons, how the final Star Wars movie warned of dangers to democracy, and a couple of old Star Trek posts including Star Ship Captains for Truth Attack Jean-Luc Picard. Before getting to that I’ll start with something which isn’t technically an old blog post of mine. It was written before I had heard of political blogs, shortly after the 2000 election. Parts of this require quite detailed knowledge of Star Trek, but hopefully others will find the bulk of it amusing.

Gore Star Fleet

Al Gore Appeals Election to Federation Council

In what could be the final blow to Vice President Al Gore’s Presidential campaign, the Federation Council has refused his appeal to overturn the adverse ruling against him by the United States Supreme Court issued on December 12, 2000. An unsigned majority ruling agreed that this would be a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive.

In a concurring statement, Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan refused Al Gore’s request to perform Vulcan mind melds to definitively determine the will of the voters. While conceding that a majority of Florida voters may have intended to vote for Mr. Gore on election day, Ambassador Sarek declared that “Logic would dictate that voters who preferred Al Gore should have punched the chad by Al Gore’s name, not Pat Buchanan’s name.”

The majority statement did not refute Mr. Gore’s assertion that Texas Governor George Bush’s future Supreme Court appointees would result in further racial and cultural divide, culminating in the Bell Riots of 2024, but did find that the these events were part of the time line which ultimately resulted in the formation of the United Federation of Planets. For reasons which were not explained, Captain Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space Nine recused himself when discussion of Gabriel Bell was raised.

In a dissenting view, several members saw no justification in refusing Mr. Gore’s request to travel to the Guardian of Forever to determine if there was any validity to his accusations that a Bush Presidency would cause an alternative time line with the alternative Empire encountered by Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.

A review of the time line also suggested that Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush were actually from an alternative time line than the one in which Star Fleet is a reality. While history of that era was sketchy, records seems to indicate that the President circa 2000 was actually named Jeb Bartlett.

Reaction to the Federation Council’s decision was mixed. The Ambassador from the Bizarro Planet was puzzled as to what the controversy was all about, stating that, “On my Planet, the candidate who comes in second is always declared the winner.”

Mr. Gore had no immediate response to this latest setback. After rumors that some aides were suggesting a further appeal of this decision to a higher authority, the Q Continuum offered to hear the case. “This is my kind of election,” declared Q.


Looking Back: Kerry Was Right and Other Stories

I’m on the road today, but hopefully will make it on line later on. Even if I’m not by the computer, Liberal Values will continue to post material. Recently I went through my download of Light Up The Darkness to find posts which are still relevant, but no longer available on line. I’ve set some posts to appear over the holiday weekend. To start out today I have a variety of posts about John Kerry from around June 2005. This includes some “Kerry was right” posts. As usual I’m putting old posts below the fold so that readers looking for new material only aren’t subjected to them. Tomorrow Sci Fi Friday includes Al Gore. (more…)