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June 28, 2010

Football, Fracking, Folly: stupid things we keep doing.

Three stories in the overall category, "why do we do such stupid things?"

Football and Brain Injuries

The brain of the late Cincinnati receiver Chris Henry contained so many signs of chronic disease... that it shows a football player can sustain life-altering head trauma without ever being diagnosed with a concussion.

Dr. Bennet Omalu: "I'm not calling for the eradication of football; no, I'm asking for full disclosure to the players. Like the surgeon general considers smoking to be dangerous to your health, repeated impacts of the brain are dangerous to your health and will affect you later in life. Period. The players need to know this.

"I think it's an epidemic. It's beneath the radar. We simply didn't identify it [early and properly].

"The NFL wants us to believe that documented concussions are the issue. I've always believed that it's not about documented concussions. It's about repeated impacts to the head ... sub-concussions," Dr. Omalu said. "The issue is repeated impact, repeated blows to the head."
Encouraging children to play football is so reckless that it makes soccer and the World Cup seem rational.

What a fracking mess

Today's Vanity Fair presents an account of fracking operations in Damascus, PA and Dimock, PA in order to exploit the natural gas found in the Marcellus Shale. Both towns are in the Delaware River basin watershed.

The story tells about one family whose (post-fracking) well-water eroded their plates in the dishwasher, made their children dizzy after they took showers, and eventually could be set on fire as it came out of the faucet.

Folly: Losing Afghanistan

Today's Economist (reg. req'd) talks about our failure in Afganistan. Although we're ostensibly fighting the Taliban and al Queda, the corrupt Karzai government has announced plans to seek a diplomatic rapprochement with them. Karzai is also manuevering with Pakistan to cement his Pashtun tribe's power.

Even Henry Kissinger (the godfather of American Realpolitik) says that what we're doing and saying is a formula for failure. I'm all for killing bad guys over there, but I'm not convinced that we're not creating more bad guys than we're killing.

I really, really, really hate to quote John Kerry, but his rhetoric fits this situation perfectly. How do you ask somebody to be the last man to die for a mistake? How can we tell a grieving parent that the loss was justified, when the Afghan president and congress are both cutting deals with the purported enemy?


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