• Bad News For Java Drinkers

    Apparently, for 54 percent of the population, a couple cups of coffee daily increases your likelihood of heart attack by a third. The key is a gene, CY1A2, which we all have two copies of. A bit over half of us, though, have a mutated form that impedes caffeine metabolization. If you've got the mutation, a couple cups a day begins playing havoc with your heart. This isn't terribly surprising: caffeine constricts blood vessels, screwing with their normal functioning. It also, for reasons that are not well understood, increases the rate of harmless heart palpitations among susceptible portions of the populace (these are the skipped beats -- which are actually double-beats -- you always hear about, PVC's and PAC's). As for me, I almost certainly have this mutation. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I've no tolerance for the stuff, but a single cup in the morning will have me buzzing in the evening. Lucky thing, then, that I never got into it in the first place.
  • Editorial of the Day

    The New York Times makes all the right arguments against the AT&T/BellSouth merger: One of the pillars of the argument for letting AT&T and BellSouth merge is the strength of the Internet telephony companies, which compete with them in offering phone services. Yet once the bigger and better AT&T had approval from Washington, what incentive would it have to allow competition with its phone services in its newly expanded market? None. Internet service providers like AT&T are already hoping to create a tiered system, adjusting the speed of a connection to a Web site and its content according to how much the company pays. They want to be paid not only by their subscribers, but also by the companies supplying the Web site material, especially for large files like music and video clips. Right now there's no data discrimination. That system has been a runaway success, but the urge to squeeze out a little more money has begun to endanger it. The chief executive of AT&T,...
  • The Deserving Sick

    Kate's got a great take on Miracle Workers , a show that's both the most charitable thing on television and entertainment's most poignant window into all that's wrong with our society. Meanwhile, I've gotten really into Scrubs. Cause I'm intellectual like that.
  • Quote of the Day: Post-Oscar's Edition

    The Superficial : Is it finally happening? Is this the end of Clooney's Urkel-esque cold streak? Is it possible for an attractive woman to look past the rugged good looks, charming personality, enormous wealth and broad intelligence, and just see the capable artist underneath? Let's all hope so. Because if anyone deserves it, it's Mr. Clooney. Amen.
  • Well That Settles It Then

    Read Brad on why the line-item veto is both less important and more pernicious than you think.
  • An Agenda, Not A Vision

    Mike Crowley gets this basically right: The Contract was really just a statement of a Republican vision that people did know about--a uniformity on taxes, national defense, "family values," regulations, and so on. In other words, the Contract was a manifestation of a familiar pre-existing Republican vision, not its first articulation. The problem for Democrats is that they don't actually have a similarly crisp and clear vision they can boil down into bullet points--at least not ones that aren't hopeless platitudes. At the moment, a Democratic contract would likely be an embarassingly worthless muddle (as was a little-noticed 2004 attempt at a party campaign platform). If Democrats can come up with a coherent vision then, fine, put out some kind of gimmicky document. But you can't put the cart before the horse. Problem is, folks keep using the word "vision" when they mean "agenda." Go read the damn thing . Republicans didn't have a vision of a world with $500 child tax credits and "...
  • Gotcha!

    I just find this story baffling. Do Jihadists, in accordance with ancient scriptural codes about debt-repayment, ensure they've got good credit ratings before blasting themselves into the afterlife? It'd be one thing for traditional law enforcement to involve themselves in larger-than-average debt repayment. I'd oppose it, but at least then the suspicion (crime) would be clear. But if the DHS has nothing better to do, than one of these administration officials constantly assuring me we're in grave danger might want to explain why that is.
  • Link of the Day: Mensa Edition

    My office's fearless leader, Mike Tomasky, has written up a quiz to test your knowledge of political history. Fun stuff. If you're a nerd. (Note to my employer: I am a nerd, and I thought your piece a brilliant, perceptive exposition of the liberal tradition and the paucity of historical knowledge amongst today's know-nothing youngsters. Sir.)
  • Now That's Citizen-Journalism

    Atlas Shrugged's Pamela, heart skipping like a schoolgirl's, opened her John Bolton interview with possibly the greatest first sentence ever: What I most admire about John Bolton is his steely demeanor and moral clarity. Discussion question: What qualities do you most admire about John Bolton? And believe me, you really need to read the whole thing . A sampling: Atlas: As a tangential aside, does that stuff get to you? JB: The criticism, you mean? Atlas: Yeah, the intense unfair vilification ......... You don't want to know what they call me on the left side of the sphere I am your whatever because I am such a staunch supporter. After awhile, does it sting less? Were you born with a thick skin? The derision is incredible[...] Atlas: Did you grow up in a Jewish neighborhood? JB: No Atlas: Did you know many Jews growing up? JB: Nope Atlas: It it seems to me you like Jews. JB: Hysterical laughter Atlas: Seriously folks I'm just asking you because I find it's refreshing, and it's unique,...
  • Health of Nations Redux

    Kevin Drum writes : The reason that universal healthcare has failed in the past has been fear: fear of rationing, fear of lines, fear of bureaucracy. To win, we have to overcome that fear, and that's a public opinion campaign that will take years. The blogosphere can help by writing about what national healthcare systems in other countries are really like, and we can also help by insisting that candidates who want our support get on board the bandwagon. How about it? Man, if only someone had done exactly that , and in a Koufax-nominated series as well...