When red Bull kills

imgresOn Monday, the family of a man who died of a heart attack during a basketball game soon after he consumed a can of Red Bull filed an $85 million wrongful death lawsuit against the beverage maker. It is believed to be the first ever wrongful death suit against Red Bull , reports ThinkProgress. “And it comes at a time when lawmakers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are scrutinizing the potential public health harms of energy products.

“According to the Daily News, 33-year-old construction worker Cory Terry regularly drank Red Bulls. His heart stopped after he drank a can during a basketball game in 2011, and medics who arrived at the scene pointed to his consumption of the product in their report. Terry’s relatives say that suggests drinking Red Bull had something to do with his untimely death.

“I know he was healthy and I couldn’t find no other reason for why he died,”said Terry’s grandmother. The family’s lawyer, Ilya Novofastovsky, said she hopes that the lawsuit will bring even more attention to energy drinks at a time when an increasing number of companies infuse foods and beverages with caffeine, taurine, and other stimulants — some of which aren’t strictly regulated. “[The ingredients] are more dangerous than what Red Bull lets on,” saidNovofastovsky.

“Emergency room visits caused by energy drinks more than doubled in the past five years, according to government data. Many of these drinks get around FDA guidelines regulating additives by classifying themselves as “dietary supplements” rather than “drinks” — something which may change as the FDA reexamines the potential harms of energy products. These drinks may be especially harmful to younger Americans, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). In June, the doctor’s group formally endorsed banning the marketing of energy drinks to children under the age of 18.


More at: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/29/2854701/red-bull-energy-lawsuit/

Why motorists hate bicyclists

Something about cyclists seems to provoke fury in other road users. If you doubt this, try a search for the word “cyclist” on Twitter. As I write this one of the latest tweets is this: “Had enough of cyclists today! Just wanna ram them with my car.” This kind of sentiment would get people locked up if directed against an ethic minority or religion, but it seems to be fair game, in many people’s minds, when directed against cyclists. Why all the rage?imgres-3

I’ve got a theory, of course. It’s not because cyclists are annoying. It isn’t even because we have a selective memory for that one stand-out annoying cyclist over the hundreds of boring, non-annoying ones (although that probably is a factor). No, my theory is that motorists hate cyclists because they think they offend the moral order.

Driving is a very moral activity – there are rules of the road, both legal and informal, and there are good and bad drivers. The whole intricate dance of the rush-hour junction only works because everybody knows the rules and follows them: keeping in lane; indicating properly; first her turn, now mine, now yours. Then along comes a cyclist, who seems to believe that the rules aren’t made for them, especially the ones that hop onto the pavement, run red lights, or go the wrong way down one-way streets.

You could argue that driving is like so much of social life, it’s a game of coordination where we have to rely on each other to do the right thing. And like all games, there’s an incentive to cheat. If everyone else is taking their turn, you can jump the queue. If everyone else is paying their taxes you can dodge them, and you’ll still get all the benefits of roads and police.

In economics and evolution this is known as the “free rider problem”; if you create a common benefit  – like taxes or orderly roads – what’s to stop some people reaping the benefit without paying their dues? The free rider problem creates a paradox for those who study evolution, because in a world of selfish genes it appears to make cooperation unlikely. Even if a bunch of selfish individuals (or genes) recognise the benefit of coming together to co-operate with each other, once the collective good has been created it is rational, in a sense, for everyone to start trying to freeload off the collective. This makes any cooperation prone to collapse. In small societies you can rely on cooperating with your friends, or kin, but as a society grows the problem of free-riding looms larger and larger.


For more, see: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130212-why-you-really-hate-cyclists

Fewer married mothers

Four of ten American children are not born into married households.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we are talking “single-moms.”  Definitions of family and parenting are rapidly changing, not to mention views of marriage itself.

Many of these issues are discussed by


Naomi Cahn and June Carbone in an article appearing in today’s Slate.com – on the 40th anniversary of the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court Decision Excerpted below, the story begins:

“As the co-authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, we often give talks about the recent rise in what’s called the “nonmarital birthrate,” or the idea that more than 40 percent of children are now born to women who aren’t married. Sometimes at our talks someone will come up to us, confess his or her encounter with single parenthood, and say something like: “When my daughter got pregnant and decided to keep the child, we were OK with that because we are Christians. Continue reading “Fewer married mothers”

Bigotry is not a Christmas value

“I will not donate to the Salvation Army, but will instead give to other charities until the Salvation stops discriminating.”

The statement appears on vouchers circulating this week in opposition to the Salvation Army’s widely-known prejudices toward the LGBT community. As The Huffington Post reports,

“With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is once again coming under intense scrutiny from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocates. Continue reading “Bigotry is not a Christmas value”