Sunday, November 30, 2014

NOVEMBER 2014 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH

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This month’s bonehead absurdities offer a glimpse of the wing-nuts voters elected in November. Go figure.  

1. What would you think if the writer of the book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, became head of the most important Senate committee on the environment? Well, get ready. In what may prove the most disastrous consequence of the November election, leading climate change denier, James Inhofe (R-Ok.) will be replacing Barbara Boxer as chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works. This is like having an arsonist as the local fire chief.  

The hyper-religious Inhofe prefers to let our climate future rest with God. As he said in his book: “My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing with the climate is to me outrageous.  

His response to the IPCC Synthesis Report released two weeks ago:  

“The idea that our advanced industrialized economy would ever have zero carbon emissions is beyond extreme and further proof that the IPCC is nothing more than a front for the environmental left. It comes as no surprise that the IPCC is again advocating for the implementation of extreme climate change regulations that will cripple the global economy and send energy prices skyrocketing. The United States is in the midst of an energy renaissance that has the potential to bring about American energy independence, which would strengthen our national security and energy reliability for generations into the future. At a time of economic instability and increased threats to American interests, the IPCC’s report is little more than high hopes from the environmental left.”  

2. Jody Hice (R-GA). Another beneficiary of a hard-right conservative district, Hice is a Tea Party Republican straight out of central casting. He’s a preacher, conservative radio host, gun-toter, and the district's worthy successor to Paul Broun, who famously called "Evolution and embryology and the big bang theory ….lies from the pit of Hell."

Hice's most recent hit has been the assertion that Muslim-Americans are not protected by the First Amendment because Islam is not a true religion. He also is viciously anti-gay and is for women entering politics only if it is "within the authority of her husband."  

Jody Hice probably shouldn’t be considered a bonehead of the absurd; he’s just plain mean.
  

Friday, November 14, 2014

HEAD INJURIES IN FOOTBALL: THE NFL FUMBLES


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NOTE:  This is the first of a three-part essay on head injuries in football.  This post will trace the sordid history of the NFL’s denial of the connection between concussions and later life neurological impairment.  For this history, I draw heavily on the book League of Denial: Inside the NFL’s Concussion Crisis by investigative journalists Mark Fainaru-Wada and his brother Steve.  The book earned them a prestigious 2014 George Polk Award for investigative journalism.  The brothers also made a documentary film called League of Denial, which aired on PBS.  I hope BLS followers watched the program, but if you didn’t you can stream it on pbs.org.  Part II will focus on changes the NFL made in response to growing pressure to take action to mitigate head injuries.  The possible connection between brain injuries and domestic violence will be taken up in Part III.

I recently watched a PBS Frontline program on the NFL’s concussion crisis called League of Denial, written by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru.  The program traced the decade-long effort by the NFL to discredit scientific research that pointed to a likely connection between repeated head collisions in football and permanent brain damage.  Watching the documentary made me so mad I almost threw my remote at the TV screen.  Part of my reaction was outrage at the NFL’s despicable behavior and part was personal.  One of the former players who suffered neurological damage was Ralph Wenzel, a fraternity brother and friend of mine from San Diego State in the early 1960's.  Wenzel died at age 59 after suffering from Alzheimer’s.