New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Bike Commuting

April 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

One of the Best Ways to Stay Healthy…

by Jay Walljasper

It’s always a pleasure when scientific studies confirm your own long-held opinions, especially when what you think flies in the face of all conventional wisdom.

For instance, who knew that chocolate éclairs and triple fudge caramel brownies actually contain fewer calories than a 12-ounce glass of skim milk? Or that every $1,000 you spend on lavish vacations before the age of 65 will, over the long run, provide you with more retirement income than if you’d stashed that same $1,000 in a 401k?

Well, to be honest, I made up the fact about the éclairs. And the one about vacations, too.

But here’s bona fide scholarly research that excites me in the same way: Biking for transportation appears more helpful in losing weight and promoting health than working out at the gym. (more…)

Dropping Like Flies?

February 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Applying the Precautionary Principle to GMOs 

by Devon G. Peña

We have been hearing a lot of protests lately from the pro-GMO camp about the ‘proven’ safety of genetically engineered foods. The most typical narrative comes in the form of a quote from a 2012 report issued by the respected and highly influential American Medical Association (AMA) and its Council on Science and Public Health. Here’s the proffered quote, which reveals the current dominant discursive frame used in defense of transgenic food safety:

Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature. However, a small potential for adverse events exists, due mainly to horizontal gene transfer, allergenicity, and toxicity.” (AMA 2012:i)

The AMA position has led many defenders of biotechnology to dismiss critics with a wave of the hand and repetition of a statement made by Mark Tester of the University of Adelaide: “If the effects are as big as purported…why aren’t all the North Americans dropping like flies?” (more…)

Stepping Away

February 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Mary Sojourner

An Experiment in Research Methods

by Mary Sojourner

The world outside my writing room window is diamond bright. Gleaming black ravens hop and posture around the corn chips and unshelled peanuts I’ve scattered for their breakfast. Conan, a ferocious tassel-eared squirrel half a raven’s size, scoots down the apartment wall and dashes into the birds. They step aside. If I were prone to anthropomorphizing, I would conjecture that they are muttering, “Sheesh, it’s that pushy kid again. Humor him.” Conan stuffs corn chips in his cheeks and races off.

There’s a flash of sapphire. A Steller’s jay drops down to grab one of the peanuts. He gobbles one, then grabs a second and flies off. “Hey,” I say, “you’ll choke.” He’s back in a forager’s heartbeat and I find myself wondering about that first peanut. Did he swallow it whole? Did he tuck it somewhere behind his beak? (more…)