Performance Bleg

A question for y'all: how's the performance of our site these days?  I use Firefox and Windows XP and my performance is sort of sluggish, but not wildly so.  Maybe 10 seconds to load the first few posts on the blog and another 10 or 15 seconds to finish loading the whole thing.  How about you?  Better?  Worse?  Is load time consistent or does it bounce around a lot?

Kanye West Can't Stop Saying "Gay"

I love you Kanye, but jeez, you're turning into one of those well-meaning types who overdo it and embarrass us all. The rapper/musician/fashion designer gave an extensive interview with Details magazine recently in which he proposed taking back the word "gay" from its negative connotations, as in, "that's so gay." Okay; so far, so good, right? Well, then he kept talking:

In the past two, three years, all the gay people I've encountered have been, like, really, really, extremely dope. Y'know, I haven't, like, gone to a gay bar, nor do I ever plan to. But where I would talk to a gay person--the conversation would be mostly around, like, art or design--it'd be really dope. From a design standpoint, kids'll say, 'Dude, those pants are gay.' But if it's, like, good, good, good fashion-level, design-level stuff, where it's on a higher level than the average commercial design stuff, it's, like, gay people that do that. I think that should be said as a compliment. Like, 'Dude, that's so good it's almost . . . gay.'

So, gay people are dope, but you wouldn't go to a gay bar ever in your life, but talking to them is fun, but as long as it's about color combinations and fabric choices? Sigh. Well, at least he's doing better than 50 Cent, who called Kanye "tri-sexual" in an interview with MTV News, although he seemed reassured about West's sexuality because he knows somebody who "knows a girl who knows Kanye." Glad that's settled.

Is This Site Slow?

As you know, we relaunched our site a few days ago—and like all such endeavors, this one comes with the occasional hiccup. We're trying to closely monitor site performance--how fast pages load, whether anything looks broken, etc. And we need your help. If you see any problems, could you let us know in the comments? The more specific the better; if you can include the browser and operating system you're on, that would be great. As a nonprofit shop, we can't afford a slew of dedicated coders, so your help is greatly appreciated and keeps our resources flowing to the journalism.

Vitamins

Everyone needs vitamins.  Too little Vitamin C and you get scurvy.  Not enough B1 and you come down with beriberi.  But even a halfway balanced diet provides you with enough essential nutrients to avoid vitamin deficiency diseases, so scurvy and beriberi aren't things for most of us to worry about. A more important question for us developed world types is, Can large doses of vitamins help prevent other chronic conditions, like cancer and heart disease?  The New York Times says no:

The latest news came last week after researchers in the Women’s Health Initiative study tracked eight years of multivitamin use among more than 161,000 older women. Despite earlier findings suggesting that multivitamins might lower the risk for heart disease and certain cancers, the study, published in The Archives of Internal Medicine, found no such benefit.

Last year, a study that tracked almost 15,000 male physicians for a decade reported no differences in cancer or heart disease rates among those using vitamins E and C compared with those taking a placebo. And in October, a study of 35,000 men dashed hopes that high doses of vitamin E and selenium could lower the risk of prostate cancer.

....“I’m puzzled why the public in general ignores the results of well-done trials,” said Dr. Eric Klein, national study coordinator for the prostate cancer trial and chairman of the Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute. “The public’s belief in the benefits of vitamins and nutrients is not supported by the available scientific data.”

Eating leafy greens is good for you, but apparently getting megadoses of the same vitamins in pill form doesn't do squat.  In fact, they even have some negative side effects.  Bottom line: have a salad tonight and skip the multivitamins.

Over at the MoJo blog, David Corn highlights the symbolic statement President Obama made Tuesday afternoon when he signed the stimulus package into law at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The museum draws its power from solar panels, installed by Namaste Solar Electric, a small, progressively minded company based in Boulder, Colo. But the most intriguing thing about Namaste isn't that the president signed the stimulus package, which includes billions for renewable energy, under a roof lined with the company's product.

Quote of the Day - 02.17.09

QUOTE OF THE DAY....From James Joyner, musing on how the blogosphere has changed in the past six years:

The rise of RSS readers and aggregators like Memeorandum mean that fewer of us are using our blogrolls or just keeping a log of interesting things we’re finding on the Web; instead, we’re much more apt to write about what everyone else is writing about.

I'm not quite sure I'd agree that RSS and Memeorandum are to blame for this, but there's not much question that the blogosphere is more herdlike than it used to be.  Not a change for the better, I'd say.

Obama Goes Alternative for Stimulus Signing

This is change.

Barack Obama was in Denver on Tuesday afternoon to sign the $787 billion stimulus package--a.k.a. the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The occasion was historic. Less than four weeks in office, Obama had won approval of a serious piece of legislation--a tremendous blast of spending and tax cuts designed to boost the collapsing economy. And Obama was laying down a marker: he was promising this measure would save or create 3.5 million jobs. This was a big deal. He was defining his presidency.

What was also intriguing was the atmospherics of the signing. Obama put his John Hancock on the law at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. And as part of the signing ceremony there, Blake Jones, a leader of Namaste Solar Electric, a Boulder-based company that designs, builds, and installs solar panels for homes and businesses, introduced Obama. Namaste had installed solar panels on the roof of the museum, and earlier in the day, Jones had given Obama a tour of the panels.

In her first interview since giving birth, Bristol Palin told CNN Fox that enjoining young people to be abstinent is "not realistic at all." This puts her at odds with her mother but squarely on the side of reams of social science research that shows abstinence education programs don't work. The young Palin said she had decided to speak out (despite suffering through "evil" tabloid coverage) because teens need to know that having a child is "not glamorous." She could be onto something. If she can put across a nuanced approach to sex ed that embraces contraception, it could help sway some conservatives--and maybe cover her childcare costs by landing her a lucrative book deal.

Preventive Detention

PREVENTIVE DETENTION....Jane Mayer writes in the New Yorker this week about how the Obama administration plans to handle the enemy combatants currently held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.  Greg Craig, Obama's White House counsel, says that some disturbing options are being considered:

The Obama Administration has indicated that it hopes to return the majority of the detainees to other countries, or to try them in civilian and military courts. The looming question, however, is whether there is a category of terror suspect whose status precludes such options. It’s unclear whether some home countries can provide fair trials or secure prisons. More important, the high standard of evidence required in U.S. courts—guilt must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” — might result in dangerous individuals being set free.

....Depending upon how many such “hard cases” exist, Craig says, the Administration will decide whether new laws, including possibly those enabling some sort of preventive detention, are necessary....“It’s possible but hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law,” Craig said. “Our presumption is that there is no need to create a whole new system. Our system is very capable.” Then again, the idea is not being ruled out, which may be surprising to some constituents, given Obama’s past support for civil liberties and Craig’s own record — in the early nineties, he served as the chairman of the board of the International Human Rights Law Group, an advocacy organization now known as Global Rights.

There are lots of genuinely tough questions here, so I sympathize with Craig's position, but still: preventive detention?  Is he talking about indefinite preventive detention?  That's hard to believe, but temporary preventive detention (i.e., holding a prisoner without bail while awaiting trial) is already a standard part of our judicial system — and it's hard to believe that the government is truly afraid that a judge presented with even minimal evidence of danger and flight risk would allow a terrorism suspect out on bail.

Hopefully I'm just confused here.  In the meantime, though, read the whole thing.  It's a good summary of where we stand right now.

John McCain, in defeat, isn't retreating. On Monday, he sent out a fundraising appeal, noting that he is running for reelection to the US Senate in 2010, when he will be 74 years old. The short fundraiser, which was signed by McCain, was notable in one regard: he blasts congressional Democrats and says nothing negative about President Barack Obama: