Americans are starting to die younger


iStock photo

For the last three years, life expectancy in the United States, the richest nation on Earth, has declined. This decline in life expectancy is being driven by rising death rates in young and middle-aged Americans, according to a new study. These troubling trends place the U.S. in stark contrast to every other developed nation in the world, The Washington Post reports.

[I haven’t used the Post article because many folks are put off by a paywall]

❝ The study, which analyzed six decades of mortality data, found that adults between the ages of 25 and 64 are increasingly dying from drug overdoses, suicides and diseases related to addiction and obesity. From 2010 to 2017, the biggest spike in death rates was seen in young adults between the ages of 25 and 34, with a 29 percent jump. Overall, the death rate for working-age Americans rose 6 percent from 2010 to 2017…

The report doesn’t single out one cause for the increasing death rate. Demographics, even geography play a part. Culture, costs and economics in general play a part. RTFA and reflect upon something that need not be.

Caffeine in your bloodstream ain’t all you might worry about


Steven Ward, OSU

❝ Scientists at Oregon State University may have proven how much people love coffee, tea, chocolate, soda and energy drinks as they validated their new method for studying how different drugs interact in the body.

In conducting mass spectrometry research, Richard van Breemen and Luying Chen worked with various biomedical suppliers to purchase 18 batches of supposedly pure human blood serum pooled from multiple donors…All 18 batches tested positive for caffeine. Also, in many of the samples the researchers found traces of cough medicine and an anti-anxiety drug. The findings point to the potential for contaminated blood transfusions, and also suggest that blood used in research isn’t necessarily pure.

❝ “From a ‘contamination’ standpoint, caffeine is not a big worry for patients, though it may be a commentary on current society,” said Chen, a Ph.D. student. “But the other drugs being in there could be an issue for patients, as well as posing a problem for those of us doing this type of research because it’s hard to get clean blood samples.”

Article worth reading, folks.

I keep an eye on nutrition and health studies – and being a lifelong coffee drinker that’s one of the substances I track. I even quit drinking coffee for a few years after a scary preliminary study – eventually disproven – from a solid medical source rolled out too many threats to rationalize.

Devin Nunes, GOP’s worst best example


Click to enlarge

Take it far enough back and I have spent a fair piece of time with honest conservatives – a contradiction in terms for today’s Republicans – I participated in a few political actions with conservative friends who’d supported my own activities confronting American racism and more. Including being a founding member of the Young Republicans chapter in my home town BITD.

Cycle back to the 21st Century and ask anyone who says they’re a “traditional American conservative” if they’re a registered Republican. If they say, “yes” – then they spend more than tolerable time in their political life playing at “Let’s pretend I’m not a hypocrite!”

‘Nuff said.

AT&T’s offering a crap new product that’s a tiny bit better than their old crap product — WooHoo!


Smell that? Those are blocks of dried horse dung…

❝ AT&T will soon offer 5G mobile service on its 850MHz spectrum, which will enable wider coverage than existing 5G networks but offer only 4G-like speeds at launch. Significant speed increases will arrive in 2020, AT&T says.

❝ The 5G networks already deployed by carriers use millimeter-wave signals that don’t travel far and are easily blocked by walls and other obstacles. This has resulted in coverage maps with small pockets of 5G, and 4G just about everywhere else.

But 5G can work on all frequencies, such as the lower-band frequencies used by 4G. There isn’t as much spectrum available on these bands, so you won’t see anything like the huge speed increases available on millimeter-wave spectrum. But 5G on low-band spectrum will cover wider areas and indoor spaces and hopefully bring some speed increases—Verizon says 5G on the lower bands will be like “good 4G.”

Golly gee, gang. So, what we have to look forward to is “new and improved” crap hardware that finally delivers what the old crap hardware promised.

Anyone wonder if we’ll be charged for the “improvement“.

What mass shooters have in common

❝ For two years, we’ve been studying the life histories of mass shooters in the United States for a project funded by the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. We’ve built a database dating back to 1966 of every mass shooter who shot and killed four or more people in a public place, and every shooting incident at schools, workplaces, and places of worship since 1999. We’ve interviewed incarcerated perpetrators and their families, shooting survivors and first responders. We’ve read media and social media, manifestos, suicide notes, trial transcripts and medical records.

❝ Our goal has been to find new, data-driven pathways for preventing such shootings. Although we haven’t found that mass shooters are all alike, our data do reveal four commonalities among the perpetrators of nearly all the mass shootings we studied…

❝ So what do these commonalities tell us about how to prevent future shootings?

One step needs to be depriving potential shooters of the means to carry out their plans. Potential shooting sites can be made less accessible with visible security measures such as metal detectors and police officers. And weapons need to be better controlled, through age restrictions, permit-to-purchase licensing, universal background checks, safe storage campaigns and red-flag laws — measures that help control firearm access for vulnerable individuals or people in crisis.

I come from a hunting and gun-owning family. The immediate generations before me – in my father’s family alone there were at least 7 who worked for firearms manufacturers. No big deal in industrial Southern New England.

I lived through periods of practically zero gun regulation. I lived through periods nearly equivalent to most of what’s asked for by people of conscience and good sense, nowadays. I’m still a gun owner.

My life and lifestyle wasn’t altered in the least by those regulations. Personally, I support a return to those strictures. Personally, I think those who use fear of regulation as an excuse for lousy politics are intellectually dishonest, deceiving no one other than themselves and their sympathizers.

America After Trump

❝ As of this writing, Trump seems highly likely to survive impeachment itself. Many Republican senators fear him even more than they hate him, making 67 Senate votes a high hurdle. Predicting impeachment’s effect on his electoral prospects is tricky, but even in the most favorable scenarios, Trump’s 2020 map is tough. His campaign seems to accept that he will almost certainly lose the popular vote again, and probably by an even bigger margin than in 2016. Trump’s most plausible plan for reelection is to hope that, by inflaming the racial fears of white voters, he can hold most of his 2016 states and possibly flip a couple of others. To do this, he must activate intergroup hatred on a scale not seen since George Wallace—and never considered by an incumbent president since Andrew Johnson.

It might work. The damage Trump could do in a second term would be substantial, and possibly irreversible—starting with the harm that would be done to the legitimacy of the American political system if he once again wins the Electoral College while losing the popular vote…

❝ But what if, as seems more likely at this point, he is defeated? If Trump loses, a cloud will lift from American politics. But the circumstances that produced him will not vanish—and the changes that he wrought will outlast him. Like Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, when Donald Trump fades from the scene, his teeth will linger after him—but unlike the cat’s, those teeth will not be smiling. They will bite and draw blood for years to come…

Even a roundly defeated Trump will bequeath a hard legacy to his Democratic successor, however: fiscal deficits in excess of $1 trillion for years to come; no-win trade wars, not only against China but against the European Union and other friends…under current fiscal and political conditions, a costly progressive agenda stands little chance of being enacted. Medicare for All? Student-debt relief? There won’t be money for those—nor, more pertinent, the votes in the Senate.

RTFA. It’s long, detailed, only a bit wordy – but, hey, it’s David Frum telling the truth from the viewpoint of a conservative willing and able to fight for bipartisan legislation helpful to ordinary folks.