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Archive for May, 2008

Once an athlete, always an athlete. You never lose it. Your entire life, you have certain values ingrained in you that make you who you are. Teamwork, goal-setting, discipline, competitiveness, leadership, fair play… we all know how it works.

So when a friend of mine sent me a link for a feature by Curve magazine which profiles women over the age of 30 who are becoming amateur athletes, I wasn’t at all surprised.

The piece is entitled “All American Girls,” and profiles women over the age of 30 who are becoming amateur athletes in sports they’re trying for the first time. From surfing and power lifting to flag football and rugby, the stories of these women should inspire all of us to leave our fears and doubts about injuries and time commitments behind and take to the fields of games we’ve been itching to try since we were young. They might not be professionals, but as far as athletic competition is concerned, it’s just the beginning.

One of these profiles really caught my eye, and it’s about Mona Rayside who plays in a rugby club in Washington, DC.

Mona Rayside is 30 years old and has been playing rugby since 1991. Although rugby has been famously dubbed “the barbarian’s sport played by gentlemen,” it started attracting ladies in the mid-1970s and now rivals softball for popularity. Rayside plays for the Maryland Stingers, one of the top women’s club teams in the nation.

Rayside likes the sport because it resembles “female power.” She says, “When I started playing, it was a revelation, because all of a sudden people were excited to see a big ol’ girl come on the field,” she recalls, a smile in her voice. “Rugby … helped me recognize and find my own strength, and to realize that I was physically strong and that that was something to be desired.”

As a basketball player, one of the aspects about Rugby that I am particularly jealous of is the sense of community among its players, or, “ruggers.” First, they’re tough people in general. To go out there and take a hit with no padding on has GOT to hurt. But they encourage each other to get right back up and keep playing.

Second, after the match, they DRINK (party + eat) with their opponents! Often dubbed a “drink up,” this great tradition ingrains sportsmanship and respect for the sport in each of the athletes.

Third, I love the sense of community. I am jealous of the clubs set up for those of us out of college in cities around the world. These serve as “families” of sort (much like my college basketball team was for me). It’s a great way to meet people and have fun. I miss that sense of community, and having moved to a new city, I wish I had it here. Unfortunately, when it comes to basketball, it seems that level of organization seems to dissipate after college.

Although I’d love to try it, I don’t have the time to commit to learning rugby right now. And I don’t think or want to think that I’d enjoy taking a hit that hard.

Plus, my “love” is with basketball. My community is found among basketball players, or “ballers.” I’ve been playing the sport competitively since I was about six years old.

With the overwhelming national popularity of women’s basketball, I really wish there would be more formalized “clubs” that we could join and participate in as adults . I’m not talking about just rec leagues. I’m talking about clubs, membership-oriented communities of adults who fund raise, practice on a regular basis and travel to play in tournaments on the weekends in various cities.

Ballers, where are we? It’s time to get organized. Maybe we can learn a few things from our “rugger” friends.

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As I posted earlier in my Ranting About Red bull piece, energy drinks should be NOT be consumed by kids and teens. More importantly, they should not be consumed with alcohol (by anyone, not just kids and teens).

Gerald Pugliese recently wrote in Disease Proof that energy drinks like Red bull contain a ton of caffeine.  Ingesting this much caffeine can increase a child’s risk for a heart attack. Here’s what Gerald quoted:

“After drinking a cup of coffee, blood pressure can rise up to 5 or even 10 millimeters of mercury,” said Dr. Charalambos Vlachopoulos from the Cardiology Department of the Henry Dunant Hospital in Athens, Greece. Increases of this magnitude can increase a person’s risk of suffering from a stroke or a heart attack.

A recent article from the New York Times Well blog (Tara Parker-Hope) points to new research that says that teenagers who drink energy drinks—which are LOADED with caffeine—are more likely to engage in “risky” behavior. Here’s what she had to say:

In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior. The study’s author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that high consumption of energy drinks is associated with “toxic jock” behavior, a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.

The finding doesn’t mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety.

So please, do not drink Red bull. In an ABC news report, they reported that teens and young adults are drinking Red bull in droves.

These days, many teens and young adults choose to stock up on energy drinks such as Red Bull to keep them energized throughout the day and night. According to a Simmons Research poll, 31 percent of U.S. teens — approximately 7.6 million — said they consume energy drinks. On average, they consumed 5.3 glasses in the past 30 days.

College students, on the other hand, consumed 5.6 glasses in the past 30 days.

Many of these teens are combining Red bull with alcoholic beverages.  it is reported that the side effects are very dangerous and not worth the extra “buzz” you might feel.

“You can hinder your respiration,” said Roger A. Clemens, of the University of Southern California’s School of Pharmacy. “From a public health perspective, you should not mix stimulants with alcohol.”

“When you combine those two together, you always have a risk,” he said. According to Clemens, some major concerns with mixing these two drinks include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular risk, impaired judgment, shortness of breath, dizziness, disorientation and rapid heart beat.

So please, don’t follow the crowd. Especially if you’re an athlete. It’s just not worth it. Parents, discourage this behavior in your kids, please.

It makes me think, if these drinks are so bad for you, why doesn’t the FDA step in and do something? Caffeine needs to be regulated a little more carefully.

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Online searches via Google for the drug amantadine spiked on early last week after the drug played a prominent role in the medical drama “House.”

In terms of digital health, as the Washington Post accurately points out, this is important for one key reason. Primetime TV is a powerful medium to send people to the Internet to look up drugs.

In the epidsode, House, the hero on the show, realized that a young woman named Amber had damaged kidneys and was taking amantadine for the flu. The drug built up to toxic levels.

The result of mentioning amantadine: the drug shot to the top of Google’s hot trends list last week, WSJ’s Buzzwatch reported.

So, there is a clear connection here. Primetime TV and pharmaceutical drugs.

According to Jacob Goldstein at the Washington Post, between January and September of last year, pharmaceutical products and logos were seen or mentioned 705 times on broadcast and cable television, up from 630 times during the same period in ‘06, Fortune reported last year.

Rachel at Our Bodies Our Blog also pointed out that last year, The Well-Timed Period noted posters for the NuvaRing on the set of Scrubs and wondered whether this was an example of “stealth pharma marketing.” It later became clear that this was exactly the case, with NuvaRing maker Organon Pharmaceuticals acknowledging placement deals with primetime programs including “Scrubs,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “King of Queens.”

But the FDA can’t ignore this forever. Researchers at UCLA recently called for the FDA to regulate this marketing scam.

The facts about drugs in scripts are poorly supervised and sometimes incorrectly portrayed (as are medical terms and emergency situations). But what we can see from last week’s report is that people are paying attention. And, they’re making the extra step of going onto their computers to find out more.

If the facts are incorrect, this can become a large-scale public health concern if the FDA does not jump in soon.

As far as marketing goes, the Pharma companies will probably see the TV-internet connection as a positive trend and attempt to buy their way into more Primetime TV shows.

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As for the recent comments Hillary made about Robert Kennedy’s assationation, they were completely blown out of context (as usual). 

Defending her ongoing presence in the Democratic nomination — in that anything can happen, she said, “We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California.”

These words were met with quick criticism (as they always are) by the Obama campaign. She quickly apologized and expressed her deepest sympathy for the family, including an expression of sympathy for current Senator Kennedy’s recent diagnosis with a brain tumor.

But, as Bronson pointed out on his/her comment yesturday, the press is quick to turn on you when you say something strong and impulsive. The reason: because it was deamed threatening to Senator Obama’s safety.

But, let’s all be adults here and remember that her comment was an expression of REALITY.  I mean, it was a bit harsh, but hey, let’s get real. We all know what she really meant. Anything can happen. She simply used the Kennedy situation as an example. Unfortunately,  the American public has a particularly hard time with dealing with reality.

Unfotunately (Obama supporters) these remarks will NOT be the end to her political career. It’s only the beginning. And if it doesn’t happen now (which would be unfortunate for our healthcare and economy), it will happen in 2012.

I’d like to thank Bronson for posting a great comment on my article yesturday about Hillary’s numbers. I always apprecaite it when readers leave comments that are both interesting and helpful. (And I’m always ready to post, accept, and respond to criticism).

 

 

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This past week, there has been talk about Obama “closing” out the nomination. Reporters are calling on him to start looking for a VP, and they’re deaming Hillary as “crazy” (typical) for staying in the race. But, to  my surprise, on page A19 in the “Commentary” section of Friday’s Philadelphia Inquirer… a glimmer of hope.

There appears an article entitled, “In most inclusive count, Clinton has the numbers.”

Interesting.

Columnist Jonathan Last evaluates the various ways you can count the votes of the Democratic nomination. He basically says there are six different ways of looking at this, and nobody knows for sure what will come of this. If you look at the most inclusive way to count the votes (popular vote plus Florida, Michigan and the caucuses) Hillary is actually winning.

Here are the six ways to look at this:

1) The popular vote of sanctioned contests
2) The total of sanctioned contests, plus the caucuses: Iowa, Nevada, Maine and Washington
3) The popular vote plus Florida
4) The popular vote plus Florida and caucuses
5) The popular vote plus Florida and Michigan
6) The popular vote plus Florida, Michigan and the caucuses

The sixth way is the most inclusive. If you look at THESE numbers, Clinton leads Obama by 71,301 votes.

Now, despite what the  media is telling everyone, THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION IS NOT OVER. Obama is expected to lose in the remaining contests of Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. As Jonathan says, “It is quite possible that Clinton can take the lead in ALL of the popular vote tabulations.”

Jonathan then goes on to say that the reason there is a “chorus calling for Clinton’s withdrawal” is because they’re actually scared that she can pull this out.

Clinton is staying in the race is becuase she is trying to win the popular vote. If she does this, the delegates will have to answer the question as to why the popular vote doesn’t matter. (If you think back to the previous Presidential election, many people wonder why George Bush was elected, yet Al Gore won the popular vote).

So this race could go on for quite some time, despite all the crap that everyone is saying about her needing to drop out.  HILLARY IS STILL WINNING STATES. This fact CANNOT be ignored. 

It’s only fair that Howard Dean and the other leaders of the Democratic party allow Michigan and Florida to participate in the convention. They are part of this country, too. It’s time for our country (and our Democratic party) to stop whining and grow up. Everyone’s voice must be heard in order for this to be a truely just nomination.

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There has been a lot in the news lately about obesity, health and basically how American’s can’t seem to close their mouths when it comes to food. However, there is also a lot in the news lately about rising oil prices, and –even worse — a global food crisis. But, in the face of a global food shortage, one must look at what’s right in front of their faces: wasted food.

I recently read a very interesting article in the NY Times Well Blog about food that we DON’T eat. The article features a slideshow (which is awesome) and a podcast interview between Tara Parker-Hope (one of my favorite writers) and Jason Bloom, the author of WastedFood.com, a blog which will serve as the basis of his future book about wasted food.

So I took a look at Jason’s blog. Incredibly interesting and I highly recommend you read it regularly. In one of his most recent posts entitled “Envisible Elephants,” Jason tells us that 27 percent of food, or, 96 billion pounds, is wasted each year. Now, what’s crazy about this is that this is OLD DATA.  It’s from 1997.

Jason went to far as to predict that we now waste about 150 billion pounds of food annually, which equals the weight of about 15 million elephants.

Now, how is this happening? How about “all-you-can eat” facilities? Capitalism at its best.

In a post on 5/22, Jason gives us the example of food trays. Apparently, they make us pile on more than we can actually take in (people pile multiple plates per meal onto one tray). He refers to a  Virginia Tech student-led campaign which determined food wasted in a week. Apparently, the students averaged about a half-pound of edible waste per student per meal — 1,400 pounds of waste per day. Take a look at the slideshow. (disgusting)

I don’t know about you, but this makes me think twice before piling on the food in a cafeteria. With the oil industry taking over the world horrible global food crisis, we should be paying more attention to what we DON’T eat.

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This week is a pivotol one in the history of journalism (AND, sadly, in the history of feminism). I could not believeMarie Cocco my eyes. In the past two weeks, there was not one, but TWO articles in the Washington Post about how sexist this Democratic Presidential nomination actually is.

In “Misogyny I Will Not Miss,” Cocco gives an excellent recap of what it’s been like for Hillary (and Hillary supporters) as we endure the oh-so-wonderful sense of humor of the media and American public. Here are some of my favorites:

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan “Bros before Hos.” The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won’t miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it’s mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like “a scolding mother, talking down to a child” (Jack Cafferty on CNN).

I won’t miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible “gender card.”

You can read the article for yourself. Excellently written, adequately described and tragically true. If only there could be more. But then — there was another one. Today in the Washington Post -“The ‘Not Clinton’ Excuse.” Same author. (kudos!)

This article beautifully bashes those who fear another “Clinton dynasty,” and articulates the urgency for the public to see that THIS woman needs to be elected NOW (as opposed to other powerful female politician hopefuls who have entirely too many limitations to actually have a chance in this generation).

There are two key parts to this article which really hit home for me (and, in my opinion, are the key ingredients to a great piece): the introduction and the conclusion.

(The introduction:)

“A woman? Yes. But not THAT woman.

It is the platitude of the moment, an automatic rejoinder to any suggestion that Hillary Clinton has struggled so desperately — and so far unsuccessfully — to grasp the Democratic presidential nomination in some measure because she is female.”

(The conclusion:)

“Clinton cleared the hurdles often cited as holding American women back, yet she is unlikely to surmount the final barrier. So you have to wonder.

Is it something about Hillary, or something about us?”

I would like to thank the editors of the Washington Post Writers Group for allowing such content to be published. These days, you never know.

I would also like to thank YOU, Marie Cocco, for finally speaking up. Not just as a journalist of this country, but as a woman with a voice. My only fear is that it might be a little bit too late.

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