Broadening Horizons

One of the things I’ve discovered since becoming part of a loving-committed relationship, is that you get to share each other’s likes and dislikes.  Okay, that’s pretty obvious but the point I’m trying to make here is, by sharing that you can also broaden your horizons.  I’ve discovered the world of computer games, if only by proxy. I like watching some of them being played, but not so keen on playing them myself, except Guitar Hero.  I’d never read a Graphic Novel before (not through any grand snobby notion about ‘great literature’, just didn’t occur to me to look at them).  We had comics as kids  (My uncle had given us a big box of them, my favourites were Archie & Veronica, Peanuts, Garfield & Casper.)  but have not read any since I was able to read ‘chapter books’.  I am now half way through V for Vendetta, which I’ve been dipping into between books.

I’ve watched many movies that I otherwise would not have chosen to watch.  Some of which I have surprisingly enjoyed.  Watchmen– (careful not to type ‘The Watchmen‘ so as not to attract any wrath),  being a notable example.  Okay, not too far outside of my box, but not something I would’ve chosen for myself.  As far as superheros go, I’ve really only been a fan of Superman.  Even then, only the Christopher Reeves movies (1 & 2).  Watchmen has clear, well defined characters (with histories) and an interesting story.  It’s not just a showcase for super hero stunts & special effects.

Last night we went to see Kick Ass. My boyfriend won free tickets to an advanced screening.  While he loved it (“Awesome”, was a word he used), I wasn’t so keen.  The initiating idea was new (at least to me) but it was a teenage boy fantasy come true.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but given that I’m not a teenage boy (and never was) I guess it wasn’t really going to appeal to me.  Although, I did see quite a few females in the audience enjoying themselves.  I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence, and long actions scenes.  I’m not offended by it, it just doesn’t appeal.  (In the same way that I’m not offended by Highschool the Musical but it just doesn’t appeal).  If you’ve read the comic and enjoyed it, go see it.

And that’s the end of this post.  I know it doesn’t read like it’s the end but, as you know, the beauty of blogging on the internet is that we can follow our own rules.


Antioxidants (updated)

The CSIRO website states that:

Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals in foods that help to counter the detrimental effects of oxygen free radicals, which form during normal metabolism and through external factors such as x-rays, ultra-violet radiation and pollution.

Oxygen free radicals have been implicated in the development of several diseases including cancer and heart disease, highlighting the need to consider antioxidant levels as part of preventative medicine.

They also go on to state that:

Recent research shows the risk of cancer and heart disease is considerably lower in people who consume 5-7 serves of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables.

This is supported by extensive studies which indicate that diets high in antioxidant rich foods, such as fruit and vegetables, offer significant protection against other age-related degenerative diseases.

A reputable source, I would have thought, and wouldn’t have questioned them if I hadn’t just been reading ‘Bad Science’ by Ben Goldacre.  In his book, he points out a number of problems with the theory.  He points out that Free Radicals aren’t always bad.  In fact they’re the weapons our immune system uses to fight off infections.  He also points towards a study that showed people taking antioxidant supplements were 46% more likely to die from lung cancer and 17% more likely to die from any cause.

He also talks about Nutritionists in his book.  A profession I’ve had little dealings with, but have never thought to question.

One wonders how a lay-person like myself (and many of you) with no scientific background is supposed to sort through all the information we are bombarded with everyday,  and figure out what we can trust.

Goldacre gives a lot of good advice on just how you can do this.  I’m only halfway through the book, but have already discovered a good resource in The Chochrane Collaboration.

When in doubt, the best advice I found to follow in his book is this;

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and live your whole life in every way as well as you can: exercise regularly as a part of  your daily routine, avoid obesity, don’t drink too much, don’t smoke, and don’t get distracted from the real, basic, simple causes of ill health.

So far I’ve found the book informative, easy to read and even funny.  There is one thing that annoys me about this, otherwise well written, well presented and well researched book, is that there is no index.  As a person who deals with reference inquiries for a living, I find that really unhelpful.  Despite this flaw, I would still highly recommend reading it.


Goldacre, Ben. Bad Science. Fourth Estate, 2008