Every other full moon or so I write a column based on bits and pieces that I cannot or do not want to develop into an entire article. I call these brief opinions “opinionettes.” So here is my most recent offering.

Election time

My first opinionette is about this election. I have never received so much mail as I have this time around. And I have never seen so much negative campaigning as I have this time. Negative campaigning that brings out actual facts (this candidate voted against or for this) is one thing, but many of them go way beyond objective positions on issues. At least the negative campaigning has been bipartisan: Both parties are into it, big time. Ironically, according to economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in their best-selling book “Freakonomics,” heavy spending by candidates only affects 1 percent (or less) of voters. Candidates who spend more typically win because they have more people behind them (and thus more money to spend).

As for me, I have never missed an election since I have turned 18 (but I have missed a few primaries, though not many). I vote on the basis of the positions candidates take – not based upon how they look or what the campaign literature says. After all, it is the way they vote that leaves a legacy – be they handsome or ugly, shrewd or bumbling. Let me encourage you to be a participator – get out there and vote.

Testosterone

According to the Oct. 27 HealthDay News, “The testosterone-fueled American male may be losing his punch. Over the past two decades, levels of the sex hormone in U.S. men have been falling steadily, a new study finds ... The reasons for this trend are unclear, said researchers at the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Mass. They noted that neither aging nor certain other health factors, such as smoking or obesity, can fully explain the decline.”

One theory is that long-term drug use (including marijuana use) is producing this decrease in male testosterone. Some believe that drugs affect the genetics of conception and are therefore also responsible for the seeming increase in Attention Deficit Syndrome cases.

Another suggestion faults poultry producers and the meat industry. This theory claims the use of the hormone estrogen in chicken and turkey is the real culprit and responsible for lowering testosterone levels. The proposed solution: eat meat that is hormone-free. Please remember that these are merely theories and are far from proven. But something, somewhere is not right.

Besides the obvious personal consequences, lower levels of testosterone affect muscle and bone mass – and make one prone to diabetes. And diabetes is bad stuff. It often instigates a variety of serious health problems.

Trans fat

Kentucky Fried Chicken has recently decided to eliminate the use of trans-fat oil when frying its “finger-lickin’ good” chicken. Trans fat is the new taboo substance when it comes to healthy cooking, especially heart-healthy cooking. A generation ago, they were telling us that hydrogenated fats – stuff like margarine, vegetable shortening and salad dressing – were better for us than butter, lard and real mayonnaise. The authorities are now telling us that butter, lard and real mayonnaise are the lesser evils! Of course they have not wavered when it comes to the health benefits of the original cooking fat: olive oil. That’s what they used in biblical times, and they say that the ancients had more sense than we had, messing around with margarine. Makes we wonder what’s next. I know – they’ll tell us we need more salt in our diets (just wait!).

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune.

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