50 Nifty

So, Evan asked me earlier today if I could name all the states.  I did and I did it through song.  Whenever called upon to remember the states I still rely on “50 Nifty United States” that I learned back in Elementary School from our music teacher, Mrs. Dinkins.  I was a little iffy on some of the lyrics, so I just found this youtube video for Evan.  He’s a little upset that they don’t teach this in his school (which I can confirm, as David never learned it).  Now, that’s a loss.

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Is it enough to lead in the polls?

So, Santorum has basically caught Romney in national polls and leads in a number of key states, yet, still (Chait):

Here are some things to keep in mind when assessing Rick Santorum’s chances of beating Mitt Romney. He has no pollster, no campaign headquarters, and no paid advance staff. He’s currently getting outspent on television in Michigan by a ratio of 29-1.

Yowza!  I didn’t realize it was that bad.  If you’re Romney, you have to be asking, how could I be getting such competition from this?!  If you are a political observer, it’s hard not to ultimately see this as a sign of Romney weakness.  Not to mention the fact that Santorum still really remains a long shot.   I’m still quite convinced Romney is the Republican’s best chance, but “best” is a word not particularly suited to much of Romney’s campaign these days.  Chait’s conclusion:

As Josh Marshall put it, “running around the country in a long twilight struggle with Rick Santorum is just … how to put it? inherently demeaning and diminishing. It’s like struggling to land a one pound fish or searching for the way out of a paper bag.”

Romney may be weak but he can’t really be this weak, can he?

My take on that question… sort of.  Presuming he wins the primary I do think he will look stronger than this in the general when conservatives realize if not Romney, it’s four more years of the socialist, terrorist-sympathizing tyrant.

Photo of the day

From an Alan Taylor set of the riots in Athens.  Should I buy stock in gas masks?

A demonstrator holds a traffic sign during clashes between protesters and riot police near the Greek parliament in Athens, on February 12, 2012.(Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images)

Added Fiber

Breakfast time, which means I’m eating my fiber fortified Kellog’s FiberPlus Berry Yogurt Crunch (and, oh, how I do love it).  Ever since I went on Weight Watchers, though, I always mix in a 1/2 cup of Kashi Go Lean with whatever cereal I eat for extra fiber plus a good dose of protein (now, that’s the stuff for fending off hunger).  If you do much grocery shopping at all, you’ve surely noticed the huge trend towards fiber added foods.  NPR recently ran an interesting, though somewhat problematic, story on the topic.  First, the part I found really quite fascinating:

“We’re looking for elements within things,” says John Swartzberg, a professor of public health at University of California, Berkeley. “Almost a mystical kind of thinking.”

He says that our love affair with food additives — fiber, for example — can be traced back to a single moment in history: British navy, 1747. “They realized that when the sailors were eating citrus fruits, they didn’t get this terrible disease calledscurvy,” he says.

That launched the idea that specific, isolated ingredients in foods could prevent — sometimes even cure — diseases. And often, they could. Vitamin D prevented rickets. Iodine preventedgoiters.

“So all of these things led us to think that we just have to find these magic bullets within foods that we replace and we’ll be much better,” he says. This is the legacy that is on full display at any modern grocery store.

And the part I found problematic:

Just to be clear, all of those are additives that you would not normally find in white bread. When added up, they bring the fiber content up to the magic number of 3 grams. That’s the minimum amount you can pack into a product and still have the words “good source of fiber” on the label.

Matsuno says that designation is a bit generous. “An apple with the peel is 5 grams of fiber,” she says…

But pretty much everyone agrees that given a choice between fiber-fortified sugar cereal and an apple, you’re better off with the apple. “I don’t want people to think that by adding things to unhealthy foods, it somehow makes them healthy,” Swartzberg says. “And I think that’s the most important message.”

I suppose there are people out there who eat fiber-added snack food in the place of fruits and vegetables, but I honestly don’t think there’s very many of them.  I presume that people who will eat apples (I usually have 2-3 day in addition to my fiber-added foods) will eat apples and those who will eat snack food might simply choose the fiber-added variety, and that those who will eat both will eat both.  Barring research that says otherwise, that’s the most obvious outcome.

Religion and family size

so, during the Slate Political Gabfest last week, David Plotz was speculating, based on anecdotal personal experience, about the relationship between religiosity and family size.  “There’s not any atheists with a bunch of kids are there?” Or something along those lines he asked.  He then lamented the lack of any figures on the matter.  Of course, I realized I already had a number of these variables coded and could pull them up in recent General Social Survey data.  Yes, some atheists have a good handful of kids, but certainly not many.  I think the corner cells are most interesting: only 19% of very religious people have no children in contrast to 44% of the non-religious.  As for having four or more, this is the case for nearly a quarter of the most religious, but only 5% of the non-religious.  As for me, I’d put myself in the moderately religious (though, I think secularly-oriented, regular church attender might be more accurate), 4 or more box.

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