A Fluffy Bill Raises a Sticky Issue

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The thought of it kind of revolts me now, but as a kid I was fond of the Fluffernutter, the peanut-butter-and-marshmallow-spread alternative to the standard peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. Like many things I enjoyed without injury as a child, Fluff now has been identified as a threat to the nation's youth. A Massachusetts legislator, allegedly representing the very district where Fluff was invented, wants to ban the stuff from public school cafeterias. "A Fluff sandwich as the main course of a nutritious lunch just doesn't fly in 2006," said state Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios, who was outraged when his son, a third-grader, requested Fluff at home. "It seems a little silly to have an amendment on Fluff, but it's called for by the silliness of schools offering this as a healthy alternative in the first place." Barrios did not explain the nutritional advantages of jelly.

[Thanks to Paul Strigler for the tip.]

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  1. Maybe they changed the main ingredient in Fluff between the time you were a kid and now. Doesn’t mean they should ban it. But I would not assume that it is basically the same thing either.

  2. a kid I was fond of the Fluffernutter

    I never ate the stuff, but I liked the jingle on their commercial!! Have another Fluffernutter…

    Like many things I enjoyed without injury as a child

    “Without injury”? But aren’t you that nut that says yes to drugs? ‘Nuff said…

  3. Maybe they changed the main ingredient in Fluff between the time you were a kid and now.

    See Jacob, you’d be dead by now if your childhood you had eaten today’s Fluffernutter!! (Kinda reminds me of what they say about pot!) OTOH, maybe you’d be more right-thinking, instead…

  4. Hmmm Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, Barrios … Barrios… Burrito. Ah ha! I think it’s pretty obvious that Big Taco is behind this.

  5. Kinda reminds me of what they say about pot!

    They have not changed the main ingredient in pot.

    We know what the main ingredient in Fluff is now. It is cornsyrup. Was it that in 1975, or was it something different? I don’t know. I don’t think Sullum does either.

  6. Maybe they changed the main ingredient in Fluff between the time you were a kid and now. Doesn’t mean they should ban it. But I would not assume that it is basically the same thing either.

    And Dave W. continues his quest to make the rational among us have aneurysms.

    I demand recompense for the heightened blood preassure I have as a result of reading Dave’s drivel, the truth will out in discovery!

  7. Paging MainstreamMan! Paging MainstreamMan!

  8. Yep. Let’s get the government involved in the righteous War on Corn Syrup.

    I’m serious. The stuff is vile.

  9. I’m not sure that “threat to the nation’s youth” is quite the standard I’d use to determine what foods a public school cafeteria should choose to sell.

  10. Damn that corn syrup. I don’t know about you guys, but I, personally, am sick and tired of having to step over the rotting corpses of fat diabetic children anytime I want to go out these days.

  11. I don’t know about you guys, but I, personally, am sick and tired of having to step over the rotting corpses of fat diabetic children anytime I want to go out these days.

    I laugh, actually, because the only thing funnier than a crying fat kid is a dead fat kid.

  12. I called Smucker’s just now to find out if jelly might be less cornsyrupy. The primary ingredient is grapejuice, so maybe. On the other hand, the second and 3d ingredients were HFCS and CS respectively.

    So I think Sullum has something of a point about the jelly.

    Then again, I buy jelly without HFCS and it is nice that this is still an option that doesn’t require me to order over the Internet or drive out of my way. Thank goodness 4 small miracles.

  13. I just remembered something: back in the 70s, wasn’t sugar–which Dave currently fetishizes as the Sweetener of Ultimate Health–demonized in its own way?

    No matter. The reason little Suzie and Johnny–whoops, I mean little Tyler and Dakota–are such fatasses is NOT that they drink twelve Coca-Colas and eat fifteen Fluffernutter sandwiches a day–it’s because those sodas and sandwiches are made with evil nasty corn syrup instead of healthy nutritious sugar.

  14. A Massachusetts legislator, allegedly representing the very district where Fluff was invented, wants to ban the stuff from public school cafeterias.

    Um, no, he doesn’t. He wants to bar public schools from serving it to kids, which is different from “banning” it (i.e., prohibiting students from bringing it in their lunchboxes).

  15. I truly am enjoying all the humor and snark, but if anyone has a serious argument that it’s perfectly fine for the government to be selling lunches in public schools, but outrageous to pass any judgement whatsoever on what foods should be included, I’d love to hear it.

  16. They’ll have to pry my marshmallow fluff out of my cold, dead, sticky hands….

  17. kurt, I agree completely.

    But like you said, I also enjoy humor and snark.

  18. You know regular cornsyrup has been around since the 1800s and contains LESS fructose than ordinary sucrose table sugar, right Dave?

  19. I propose a compromise: Marshmallow Fluff with Smart Balance natural unhydrogenated chunky peanut butter. Get your omegas with your corn syrup. Everyone wins!

  20. Timothy-

    You don’t get it. Corn syrup is currently the product of the choice for the corporations, who sit in their corporation buildings, and do their corporation thing, and get all the money.

  21. thoreau: Dammit, I’m a cubicle drone, will they not cut me in on the spoils?

  22. perfectly fine for the government to be selling lunches in public schools, but outrageous to pass any judgement whatsoever on what foods should be included

    That’s potentially a good point, but consider that not all “government” is the same. I’m no expert in public education jurisdiction, but I’m pretty sure that passing a law on the state level is not how most educations decisions are made by “government”. I think I’d have zero problem with whomever normally makes these decisions simply making the decision not to serve Fluffernutter. That doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here.

  23. Cubicle doesn’t cut it, Timothy — gotta have at least a window office, preferably a corner office. Then you start getting all of the bennies of “Corporate Greed.”

    Of course, I formerly occupied a corner office, and frankly, it sucked. One of the worst jobs I’ve ever had. And I didn’t exactly get rich in the deal, either.

    On-topic (sorta), I’m now working on a theory that exposure to tort lawyers (present company most certainly included!) has deleterious health effects, ranging from spikes in blood pressure to incontinence (verbal and otherwise). Does anyone have data to offer that might support or refute this theory?

  24. You know regular cornsyrup has been around since the 1800s and contains LESS fructose than ordinary sucrose table sugar, right Dave?

    so what? with sugar, salt, pepper, transfat, food coloring, protein or anything else it is the degree of usage that matters. Things are not as simple as setting up some kind of binary classification into “dangerous” and “not dangerous” as many of you seem to be tempted to do.

    By acting like Fluff in the age of Barry Bonds is the same as Fluff in the age of Reggie Jackson is an example of how we subtly condition ourselves to ignore big changes in potentially relevant foodvariables.

  25. …acting like Fluff in the age of Barry Bonds is the same as Fluff in the age of Reggie Jackson is an example of how we subtly condition ourselves to ignore big changes in potentially relevant foodvariables.

    Because, obviously, the food companies’ best interests are served by constantly fiddling with their formulations to make them less healthful, safe, etc.

    Crawl back under your rock, wouldya, Dave? I don’t have the energy to deal with you this morning.

    (Yes, I missed my morning coffee… which I’m sure you’ll tell me is not the same as the morning coffee my parents drank, and I should be darkly fearful on that account.)

  26. People.
    It consists of the words “Fluffer” and “Nutter”
    One’s a support position in the porn industry, the other is British slang for a person with a mental disorder.
    That alone is enough to ban it from school.
    It is also a great idea for a buddy sitcom.

  27. Dave W,

    Isn’t the HFCS horse a rather dead one to beat in this context? They’re not banning all HFCS products, they’re banning Fluffernutter! (And I use the word “ban” because they are indeed banning it from “public school cafeterias”, if not from their lunch rooms.) How do you know the cafeterias aren’t going to just replace it with some other HFCS product?? Seems more likely to me than not.

  28. The worst part about this is the attitute that legislators have that the reason they are elected is simply to make laws. No overriding principle of what government is and what functions are proper for it. It is simply “gee, what law can we make now?”

    Mr. Barrios, as they say in your great state, you Sir are retahded.

  29. I did not really have a comment on the school unch ban. My comments were more about explaining why we have not been behaving rationally in the private sector vis-a-vis HFCS (or maybe even plain old CS too).

    I was tempted to make one comment about the political aspect, and since you asked, I will make it now:

    If we don’t behave rationally in the private sector, then we invite gov’t meddling. In the private sector, we should have worked out the difference in diabetes diffrerentials definitively instead of defensively dithering on this disease.

    How do you know the cafeterias aren’t going to just replace it with some other HFCS product?? Seems more likely to me than not.

    Which is exactly why I would prefer to see adjustments made in the private sector. that is why I goad private individuals like T. and Sullum rather than petitioning my MP. I would much rather see scientists get to the bottom of this before the regulators do. Let’s not have a repeat of the cigarette fiasco, where the gov’t interference was warranted by an amazing amount of willful blindness in the private sector.

  30. T., have you ever heard of high-fructose corn syrup? It is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous corporationist plot we have ever had to face. Do you realize that in addition to using high-fructose corn syrup in soda, why, it’s been added to flour, fruit juices, soup, bread, jelly . . . even ice cream? Ice cream, T., children’s ice cream.

  31. Knock knock
    who’s there
    Diabetes
    diabetes who
    These kids keep dyin’! Beates the hell out of me why.

  32. It’s a sad case, folks. We can only assume that Dave has been exposed to more than his share of tort lawyers.

  33. Which is exactly why I would prefer to see adjustments made in the private sector.

    Minor correction:

    As I explained on a thread last week, I would like to see more rigorous, government-mandated food labelling.

    that is a form of government action, but one that facilitates decentralized, individual choice as aa practical matter in the real world.

  34. I’d like to see government mandated boob quotas for primetime TV. Anything short of this is a conspiracy.

  35. If the scientists had any concern for humanity, they would get to the bottom of this Fluff controversy.

    But nooo, they’re too busy playing with those laser thingies, even though Britney already has that covered.

  36. I just ate a chocloate-covered marshmallow. Is there anything I can do at this point to escape an ugly future as a diabetic fatass?

    No. Nothing. Absolutely not. If only we had wise government regulations to save me from the insidious evil of Big Marshmallow. Turning New York City into an interdimensional portal to hell clearly wasn’t enough for these bastards.

  37. All snark and corn syrup idiocy aside…

    When public schools are serving marshmallow sandwiches as entrees at lunch, I boggle that anyone in this country would look to government as a cure for peoples’ bad eating habits.

  38. As I explained on a thread last week, I would like to see more rigorous, government-mandated food labelling.

    Excuse me for not having read what you explained last week, but don’t packaged foods such as Fluffernutter already come with government-mandated food labels?

  39. exposed to more than his share of tort lawyers.

    Lawyers used to be seriously restricted from advertising by the government. In 1977, it was decided that this violates Free Speech guarantees of the First Amendment. So now ceratin types of lawyers started advertising more freely. During this same period, I hear that frivolous tort suits are an increasing problem for society.

    For a libertarian, I wonder what the implications of this situation are? Maybe government regulation of the form and format of consumer info in a mass market can be a good thing?

    Linkee doodle went to town:

    http://tinyurl.com/n6jhx

  40. When public schools are serving marshmallow sandwiches as entrees at lunch, I boggle that anyone in this country would look to government as a cure for peoples’ bad eating habits.

    True enough. But I view peanut-butter-and-masrhmallow sandwiches as being akin to the chocloate milk most schools also sell: use something sweet and not particularly healthy (marshmallows or chocolate syrup) to get kids to eat or drink the stuff that has nutrients in it (peanut butter or milk).

    Although come to think of it, I’m surprised Fluffernutters haven’t already been banned under some peanuts-are-poison regime.

  41. Eric, that is an excellent point.

  42. That does make a sort of sense…Still, damn. The idea of a marshmallow sandwich grosses me out. If I had kids in those public schools, I’d pack lunches for them.

    And yeah, I’d probably support this measure. I have no problem with inflicting government on itself if I think it’s causing me a problem.

  43. “ceratin”

    should have been either –certain– or –cretin–

    can’t remember which I intended.

  44. I don’t care what the government (federal, state, or local) does when it comes to stupid legislation such as this. I would much rather the government restrict kids’ eating habits in public schools than restrict more important rights (civil lib. privacy, etc.). Although I would be a little nervous about the slippery slope getting out of control.

  45. but don’t packaged foods such as Fluffernutter already come with government-mandated food labels

    Yeah, ones that allow Sullum to say Fluff is unchanged and have all the adults here nodding in unison that that sounds about right.

    When we change one of the major constituent of our diet, that should be labelled as a big event, not a footnote. My other thread went into more detail about the form this more rigorous labelling might sensibly take.

  46. Dave, humor us with an example of the sort of label you’d want on a product that contains corn syrup.

  47. Maybe government regulation of the form and format of consumer info in a mass market can be a good thing?

    Nope. Nice try with the ol’ red herring, though.

    The problem with tort lawyers isn’t that they advertise — it’s that they’re not held accountable for the frivolous and sometimes downright outrageous lawsuits that they file. A reasonable libertarian case may be made, I think, for a “loser pays” system of tort law, and this would reign in the worst abuses of contingency-based torts.

    But, since this does nothing for your flabby analogy, and goes to the heart of the problem with tort lawyers, I doubt you’ll have much good to say about it. 🙂

  48. Dave, serious question: assuming a kid eats enough healthy food to give him all the nutrients he needs, how many corn-syrup Fluffernutter sandwiches do you think he can eat before turning into a diabetic? How many sugar Fluffernutters could he have eaten before reaching that same point?

  49. I would have thought those marshmallow-jizz-in-a-jar products were composed of petroleum by-products. Sort of like those non-dairy, fat-free, sugar-free whipped toppings. You don’t know what’s in them, and frankly, you’re probably better off languishing in innocence.

  50. I am not going to disagree that you bring up some relevant factor, Clean Hands. I myself have proposed tighter wage regulation for contingency lawyers here (although that ain’t too libertarian, either, is it). I wouldn’t mind loser pays, either.

    But my point is that the frivolous lawsuit problem is perceived as getting a lot worse since 1977, and I am looking at the [i]change[/i] in “frivolous” lawsuit frequency and trying to explain that. The change occurred 19977-now, not 1950-1977. I think the explosion of lawyers you see on TV and billboards, which I didn’t use to see back when I ate lots of Fluffernutters and was still quite underweight, is most of the difference.

  51. Bad news for Dave:

    Skimming a bit for info on angiogenesis (my current project) and diabetes, I find that most research on angiogenesis in the context of diabetes is related to treating complications of the disease, not prevention of the disease. And it would certainly have nothing to do with figuring out whether the contamination of our precious bodily fluids is at fault.

    Sorry, Dave.

  52. But this is a case where the solution you propose is worse than the problem.

    Of course, that just makes it a stronger parallel to the on-topic discussion, doesn’t it?

  53. Dave, why can’t you grasp the idea that maybe a junk-food product with corn syrup is not inherently bad for you; it’s overconsumption that causes the problem? If somebody gets carotenosis it doesn’t mean carrots are poisonous–it means you shouldn’t eat multiple pounds of them every day. And if HFCS were as horrible as you say then everybody in America, with the possible exception of the Amish, would be either diabetic or dead by now. But a lot of people eat corn-syrup products and are just fine, because they apply this concept called “moderation.”

  54. If somebody gets carotenosis it doesn’t mean carrots are poisonous–it means you shouldn’t eat multiple pounds of them every day.

    I want somebody to figure out the precise number of carrots I can safely eat, factoring in metabolic differences between individuals, so that there are no inefficiencies impeding my vision improvement/skin color tradeoffs.

  55. Excellent question Jennifer. If it turns out that they are probabilitically the same or HFCS is actually better I will consider myself pwn3d. If it turns out that HFCS is somewhere between dead even and twice as bad, then I think both sides of our ongoing discussion will have been partially correct. If HFCS is probabilistically twice as bad or worse, then I will consider myself vindicated.

    If it does turn out that HFCS is probabilistically twice as bad (or worse), then I imagine that HFCS will be quietly, slowly and incrementally replaced by cane or beet sugar by large food manufacturers and the diabetes rates will come back down in the US. In fact, I think this may already be happening as I have seem more HFCS/cane mixture products in the US and Canada since, well, since just last year really.

    You can imagine how frustrating it is for me when I see “HFCS and/or cane sugar” on a product label!!! Makes me suspect that Sullum is the one drafting these labels because he sees the ingredients as interchangeable.

  56. If Jennifer gets carotenosis will she apply for a job as an Umpalumpa?

    (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

  57. I want somebody to figure out the precise number of carrots I can safely eat

    and of course this would be perfectly appropriate if there was a massive new infusion of carrot based products into foods that didn’t used to have them.

    on angiogenesis in the context of diabetes is related to treating complications of the disease, not prevention of the disease

    ns, Sherlock. You make more money on insulin and diabetes-related blindness drugs when the incidence of diabetes is increased.

  58. Dave-

    Should I refrain from proposing projects that involve angiogenesis in the context of diabetes then?

    I was thinking of devoting my life to promoting clean living. It’s just that if I promoted a truly balanced approach to clean living, one informed by good statistics, the highest priority would be given to exercising more and eating less. Which you consider a relatively unimportant factor compared with corn syrup.

    What should I do?

  59. If it turns out that they are probabilitically the same or HFCS is actually better I will consider myself pwn3d.

    But this won’t stop you from calling for an expensive and instrusive new food-labeling requirement, in the meantime, now will it? After all, it’s For Our Own Good. And for the children.

  60. What should I do?

    Get promoted as high as you can, but mentally register all of these situations where making money off a disease seems to dominate the consideration of what is good for the health of humankind. This diabetes thing won’t be the only time you see this pattern because you will be privvy to a lot of information that I am not.

    Then, once you get to be the boss, take a stand. Don’t let the stockmarket act as proxy for your good judgement about what will increase lifespan and improve health. Be like Jonas Salk. Be like Walter Reed. Be like Duesenberg. Don’t be like your boss when you are boss.

  61. And here I thought my goal should be to publish, get a professorship, publish more, get tenure, and then devote myself to producing students who are better-trained and more capable than I am, thus assuring that civilization advances.

    And I figured that I should inculcate them with a very skeptical attitude so that they’d be good scientists.

  62. Get promoted as high as you can, but mentally register all of these situations where making money off a disease seems to dominate the consideration of what is good for the health of humankind. This diabetes thing won’t be the only time you see this pattern because you will be privvy to a lot of information that I am not.

    Why is Thoreau the only person who has to make a career change for the good of the world? Dave, why don’t you spend your life focusing on corn syrup to the exclusion of all other possible sources of bad health in the world? Why don’t you take on some of this responsibility you’re so eager to foist off on others?

  63. Get promoted as high as you can, but mentally register all of these situations where making money off a disease seems to dominate the consideration of what is good for the health of humankind. This diabetes thing won’t be the only time you see this pattern because you will be privvy to a lot of information that I am not.

    Why is Thoreau the only person who has to make a career change for the good of the world? Dave, why don’t you spend your life focusing on corn syrup to the exclusion of all other possible sources of bad health in the world? Why don’t you take on some of this responsibility you’re so eager to foist off on others?

  64. Dave, humor us with an example of the sort of label you’d want on a product that contains corn syrup.

    My guess is that it would be a full front label graphic (with a bright red starburst background), and the words: NOW WITH CORN SYRUP! OMGWTFBBQ!!!!!, and the actual product name and branding in small letters on a label on the bottom of the jar.

  65. expensive and instrusive new food-labeling

    what do you think about the current labelling requirements that already exist, Clean Hands:

    a. an outrage

    b. creeping fascism

    c. the real reason diabetes is exploding

    d. all of the above.

  66. Dave, why don’t you spend your life focusing on corn syrup to the exclusion of all other possible sources of bad health in the world?

    when I am not posting here I am exhorting reluctant engineers to think outside the box on problems of electrical energy storage. mostly for electric vehicles.

    So, really I am taking on two crises in parallel.

  67. a full front label graphic (with a bright red starburst background)

    as the consumer info gets more voluminous, wouldn’t it make more sense to let the manufacturers provide some of it on the Intrawebs?

    I thought it was interesting that I had to call Smucker’s this morning and talk to an actual, probably-USian human being to find out the ingredients list for Smucker’s Grape Jelly

    BTW, the representative corrected me and called it “Smucker’s Traditional Grape Jelly.” It was the 1st I had heard that HFCS had attained status as an actual tradition.

  68. when I am not posting here I am exhorting reluctant engineers to think outside the box on problems of electrical energy storage. mostly for electric vehicles.

    Which has absolutely jack shit to do with the insidious dangers of corn syrup. So I ask again–if you expect Thoreau to completely alter his career to go tilting at your windmills, why the hell shouldn’t you lead by example first?

  69. Maybe thoreau’s knowledge of optics allows him to see the windmills better than Dave can.

  70. Dave, if you care so much, I would propose the following:

    1) Do pro bono patent law work for somebody with a good alternative battery design.

    2) Proving that corn syrup causes diabetes may not seem patentable, but researchers addressing new questions sometimes need to develop new techniques along the way, be it an algorithm or piece of hardware or chemical compound or laboratory technique or whatever. So, find a group doing work that you like and offer some pro bono services to them if they invent anything useful along the way.

    Then again, MainstreamMan was kicking your ass with data that casts serious doubt on your hypothesis…

  71. Dave said:
    Lawyers used to be seriously restricted from advertising by the government.

    Wasn’t it state bar associations that imposed this ban?

  72. Zoidberg,

    The answer varies state to state probably. The first line of the SCOTUS opinion I linked above reads as follows:

    As part of its regulation of the Arizona Bar, the Supreme Court of that State has imposed and enforces a disciplinary rule that restricts advertising by attorneys.

  73. completely alter his career

    I told him to become his boss and to emulate the giants in his field of medical research. You can see — that response is just a bit upthd. What was he planning to do b4?

  74. should be:

    –become the boss–. i am assuming his current boss is more part of the problem than the solution. If T.’s boss were really doing his job, I wouldn’t have to be the one teaching T. this stuf.

  75. If T.’s boss were really doing his job, I wouldn’t have to be the one teaching T. this stuf.

    OMFG, you really are as pompous and self-important as one might have expected from your obsession with wild-eyed food conspiracy theories and your chosen profession.

  76. What was he planning to do b4?

    Work in the field of optics, I gather.

    If T.’s boss were really doing his job, I wouldn’t have to be the one teaching T. this stuf.

    The only thing you’re teaching Thoreau or anybody else here is, by example, how to be an irrational compulsive jackass. But I still want to know why you keep insisting Thoreau needs to personally do something about corn syrup when you haven’t bothered doing anything. When and how did he end up tasked to change the world into what you think it should be?

  77. Work in the field of optics, I gather.

    wow that is what I did back when I designed government funded products used to kill people. well, boxes to hold optics, really.

    then I switched careers so that I would have the leverage in the labor market to do more helpful, nice work. And I do.

    Still, I don’t think it is optics itself that is the nub of the problem here.

  78. I get it, Dave. You’re not going to answer the question about why Thoreau, rather than you, needs to change the world. Maybe you don’t even see the contradiction yourself.

    On a completely unrelated note, I’m thinking of becoming a playwright.

    THE SWIMMING POOL
    a play in one act, by Jennifer

    SCENE: A swimming pool. DAVE and THOREAU are sitting in deck chairs, with a donut-shaped life preserver between them.

    THOREAU: Excuse me, I have to go to the bathroom. (THOREAU exists stage left. Five seconds later, an ADORABLE LITTLE HELPLESS GIRL enters stage right and falls into the swimming pool.)

    ADORABLE GIRL: Help! I can’t swim!

    DAVE: Holy shit! (picks up life preserver) Somebody ought to throw this life preserver to that little girl! (raises voice and yells offstage) Thoreau! Get in here and toss this life preserver to that little girl!

    THOREAU: (something unintelligeble from offstage)

    DAVE: I don’t care if you’re in the middle of pooping right now! Get your ass in here and throw the life preserver to that child! (puts preserver on head like a cute hat.) If that little girl drowns it’ll be all your fault! Don’t you care? I’ve identified a problem–why the hell won’t you do anything about it?

  79. OK, for the record, here are my research interests and career goals:

    I work in optics and biophysics. In optics, my current interests are mostly related to microscopy, although I do have an interest in the optics of disordered media (which has applications in tissue imaging, as well as fundamental significance). I’m currently working on ways to beat the diffraction limit and image things that are smaller than you can distinguish with conventional optical microscopes. There are obvious biological applications, and also cool physics implications. To the extent that it’s biomedically significant, advances in microscopy can be used on both sides of the prevention/cure axis: In order to know if something is either preventing or curing you frequently need to take pictures of tiny things.

    In biophysics, my main interest is not really a particular disease (although at the moment I work on the growth of blood vessels in the vicinity of tumors), it’s the application of physics and mathematics to understanding biological processes. What I’m interested in is something fundamental: Taking the science from a qualitative level to a very quantitative level, understanding why things happen. Understanding why it is that when gene X produces protein Y phenomenon Z occurs. At the moment, I’m applying basic concepts of diffusion and chemical kinetics to understand how it is that cells can sense which direction their supposed to move in as a blood vessel grows.

    This work has applications all over the place in biology. I’m a theoretician, a basic research guy. I like fundamental results and cool math. I’m gratified whenever my physics and math prove to be useful in a question related to human health. The research world needs people like me, and it needs people who are the opposite of me, and it needs people in between, and people who are on a completely different axis. We need people who generate cool toys and ideas and let others find the real use. We need people who are passionate about a particular disease and will draw upon whatever toys or ideas can be used to understand and combat that disease. We need people who are interested in the actual application. We need people who are interested in phenomena rather than cool tools. And lots more. Most of all, we need people who can turn this into products and bring them to market. (I’m not that guy, although if I ever come up with something cool enough I’d love to work with one of those guys.)

    Most of all, I’m interested in teaching. I like working with students. I like explaining things. I like figuring things out and finding new ways to understand things and sharing that.

    My career goal is to be a professor and train the next generation of scientists, engineers, physicians, and maybe even patent lawyers 🙂 (Seriously, a lot of patent lawyers, Dave included, have degrees in technical fields.)

    I’m quite satisfied with my chosen path, I’m having fun, and I think it’s important stuff. I have tremendous respect for those who pick other paths, but I see absolutely nothing to apologize for. If that isn’t good enough for Dave, well, too bad.

    And Jennifer, that play was hilarious. You should make a sequel, where Dave demands that pools be made so shallow that nobody can drown, and then demands that pools be made so deep that no diver can injury himself.

  80. You should make a sequel, where Dave demands that pools be made so shallow that nobody can drown, and then demands that pools be made so deep that no diver can injury himself.

    And then stands around shouting about how pools have been changed, and The Management should be forced to put up signs.

  81. And to prevent myself from wasting any more time on Dave, I just installed Eric the half-a-bee’s script that blocks comments from Dave W.

    I’ll never know how you respond, Dave. Jennifer, let me know if there’s an amusing meltdown.

  82. Jennifer, let me know if there’s an amusing meltdown.

    How did I get such a responsibility? Sounds like you installed that filter just in time, Thoreau–you’re picking up some very bad habits.

  83. You’re right, Jennifer. Sorry about that.

  84. Hope an Arab spikes your food with corn syrup, Thoreau.

  85. I can hear it now….

    Oh, with a name like Smuckers?
    You know, you know it’s got to be…
    filled with deadly High Fructose Corn Syrup!!!

    Kevin

  86. Hope an Arab spikes your food with corn syrup, Thoreau.

    I have never been angry with T. I have no reason to wish him him ill. I used to see the world a lot like he does for a long time.

  87. I thought it was interesting that I had to call Smucker’s this morning and talk to an actual, probably-USian human being to find out the ingredients list for Smucker’s Grape Jelly

    I probably would have looked at the label next time I was at the grocery store, but that’s just me. I also do tend to look at the ingredients of the things I buy and get all-fruit jelly (sweetened with juice concentrates) and natural peanut butter (and not just because I love that “Natural Peanut Butter! Ingredients: Peanuts.” needs to have a “Warning: Contains Peanuts” notice)

  88. Sometimes I think they try to keep us exercised about whether or not the kids are allowed to eat peanut butter and Fluff sammiches at school, in order to distract us from the greater problem of how we are going to get kids out of the clutches of gubmint edumacators.

    I’m the graduate of a parochial grammar school and a private high school, neither of which served us lunch. Everybody brown-bagged it. The H.S. had some vending machines that sold soup, sandwiches, fruit, milk, soft drinks and snacks like candy and chips. Nobody starved.

    At our grammar school, when our teacher noticed a child without a lunch, she found out why. Usually the kid had left it at home. The cure for the situation was to alert the class – we ate at our desks, as we had no cafeteria – and the absent-minded student would be inundated by a share of what his classmates had. I can even remember being sent to the convent kitchen to pick up a bag lunch when I’d forgotten mine, which contained about twice as much food as my mom would have packed.

    The school lunch program is based on three silly ideas:

    1.) No child should ever be forced to eat a cold meal.

    2.) Kids from families who have incomes that qualify them for food assistance somehow can’t remember to use that food card to buy the makings for lunch.

    3.) Everybody knows that the Federal school lunch and food asistance plans are basically subsidies to the farmers and processors, right?

    Kevin

  89. Uh Dave…

    I only stop by this forum occasionally, and I’ve seen this HFCS theme repeated a few times in the past, but I can’t figure out a few things.

    1. Why are you so bent out of shape on this subject? Did you get dropped into a sticky syrup vat and morph into some sort of food safety super-hero? What’s that in the sweetener aisle mom? It’s Sucrose Man, here to save us from the evil ADM Corporation!

    2. Why do you think more labelling is required? I’m fully capable of reading the existing ingredient labels. I usually avoid “Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil”, and anything that sounds too much like one of my organic chemistry examinations. Any illiterate fuck-tard incapable of doing so deserves whatever unknown serving of fate he drops into his shopping cart.

    3. Why in hell do you think that the government can help? Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the ultimate reason for using corn syrup in place of sugar found in government intervention in both the sugar industry (keeping the domestic price high) and the corn industry (resulting in perennial oversupply)?

  90. I probably would have looked at the label next time I was at the grocery store, but that’s just me.
    I knew it had HFCS because I started using product labels to cut back on HFCS since 2003, but I haven’t looked at a Smucker’s recently and didn’t want to rely on old info. You should see the way they jump on me on this board on the rare occasion that I do make a misstatement.

    1. Why are you so bent out of shape on this subject? Did you get dropped into a sticky syrup vat and morph into some sort of food safety super-hero? What’s that in the sweetener aisle mom? It’s Sucrose Man, here to save us from the evil ADM Corporation!

    Part and parcel in my libertarianism is a belief in a responsible private sector with competitive markets. My libertarianism is not a matter of abstract metaphysics about fundamental rights. For me, libertarianism is a more practical thing. I believe in it, to the extent and in the specific way I do believe in it, because I think it will maximize the material well being of the largest number of people.

    With diabetes, I feel that we would be better off with a massive government intrusion no matter how many times it would make Ayn Rand roll in her grave. It pains me to admit that. It should be otherwise.

    Whether it is the private sector or the public sector, the obvious approach to the diabetes problem is to scientifically determine the relative diabetes-related dangers of each sweetner and then let people tailor their consumption in light of this info. If this happened, I think it would benefit humankind more and increase lifespans more than all the work that has been done on the human genome. Mostly because there is a hell of a lot more diabetes out there than there are people who will get gene treatments. But this example is just to show how far priorities are out of whack. I don’t think it would have taken more than 1 or 2 percent of the genome money to do all the diabetes/sugar research and more that I want with a ridiculous degree of redundancy.

    From a utilitarian point of view, diabetes/sugar research (and mostly lack thereof) is a massive clusterfuck. I don’t know how I can say it any clearer than that.

    2. Why do you think more labelling is required?

    Do you believe the current government requirement for labelling food with its ingredients is a good government requirement. If so, why — I mean you know the requirement is imposed by the government and is a burden on foodmakers? You tell me why the existing requirement is an acceptable burden and then I can better tell you why the extended info I want would be an acceptable burden.

    3. Why in hell do you think that the government can help?

    I think what helps is decentralized, informed decision making by individuals is ultimately what will help. To the extent government actions are tailored to enhance information, rather than force or deny consumer choices, I believe that the government intrusion will be warranted.

    Note that I am not suggesting that the government force foodmakers to do any new medical research, but merely to regulate collection of extant research and make that accessible to the public.

    Not all kinds of “coercion” are created equal. My prefered brand of “coercion” is pretty non-coercive and clearly outweighed by the increased in informed decisionmaking by individuals, which I see as an important competing priority.

  91. I think the reason why people aren’t studying types of sugar and diabetes is because the cause of diabetes is pretty clear to us.

    – Being overweight is the main risk factor (besides genetics) for Type II Diabetes.
    – More people than ever are overweight, and more people than ever have diabetes.
    – Being overweight is a result of eating too many calories and not expending enough.
    – The calorie content of corn syrup and products containing it is public knowledge.

  92. I know what the folk wisdom is dagny. I’d rather have the science.

    The outcome I want to avoid is one where someone avoids the main risk factor of obesity and still ends up diabetic. I believe that this sad scenario is on the increase and it should not be.

  93. Dave W.

    I can tell you have been slacking off on your readings. And here I thought you might be interested in actually learning about this stuff. The basics you seem to need are not HFCS basics, but basics of epidemiology.

    http://www.bettycjung.net/Bite.htm

    Write a 20-page summary before commenting on HFCS or other food additives on H&R threads. Pay particular attention to the topic of effect size.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

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