I’ve got about a hundred (93 to be exact) tabs up on my Firefox browser, many of which are filled with articles about which I would like to post. But these articles either keep getting displaced by something more timely or more blogworthy or even more substantive. Many are interesting, but not worth an entire long post. So, I decided to do one of those sort of potpourri linkfest things like so many bloggers do and be able to close a bunch of these tabs. Plus it gives me a chance to indulge in my interest in the political situation without having to devote an entire post to it.
First and foremost, I want to link to the latest post in MD’s blog. When I posted earlier about our meals in Mexico, I mentioned this great Andalusian gazpacho recipe she had. A bunch of people asked for it, so she put it up.
Richard Feinman sent me a link to an annoying Mayo Clinic nutrition blog by a couple of ignorant dietitians. Reading stuff like this that is written with such certainty always makes me think of a couple of lines from Shakespeare’s’ Measure for Measure:
Man, proud man!
Dress’d in a little brief authority:
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d.
These women are oblivious to the fact that the studies upon which they base their idiotic ramblings are worthless as proof of the nonsense they spout. The first considers a diet with 45 percent of calories as a low-carb diet. Oh, really? The second is an observational study, and, as such, totally useless for proving causality. Yet, in their words, these studies
caused a couple of “aha” moments
for them. I suppose they could have meant, “aha, we’re really clueless.”
I read a nice little summary in the journal Hepatology of a study published in Nature Medicine. The study looked at chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) and aging. As we age, we tend to accumulate protein debris in our cells. Over time this accumulation interfers with the proper functioning of the cell and is thought to be one of the components of aging and cellular sensescence. Organelles within the cell called lysosomes are charged with the responsibility of basically chewing up (auto-phagy: self eating) these junk proteins to keep the cell free of garbage, allowing it to do its job. Chaperones are proteins that bind to junk proteins and move them into the lysosomes for degradation. Researchers developed transgenic mice that had the ability to make more of the chaperone proteins than normal mice, giving them the ability to increase the degradation of junk protein. Their study showed that increasing the CMA in these mice resulted in lower accumulation of junk protein, better ability to deal with protein damage, and improved organ function. The reason I like this paper so much is that it confirms what I wrote in one of my favorite posts from the past about ketosis doing the same thing. Maybe you don’t have to be a transgenic mouse to get the benefits of cleaner cells; maybe just staying in ketosis more of the time will do the job, too.
Politics alert! POLITICS ALERT! POLITICS ALERT! For those of you who chastise me for daring to bring politics into what is at heart a nutritional blog, beware: politics to follow. If you want to avoid reading about anything to do with politics and get back to the nutrition stuff, skip on down until the politics alert has been removed.
Here is one from the Karma-is-wonderful department. By now everyone knows that Tom Daschle got the rug pulled out from beneath him in his attempt to become the secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration because of his failure to pay over $100,000 in taxes. And everyone knows that former Senator Daschle didn’t pay taxes on the car and driver he was provided as part of one of his lobbying efforts. (One wonders what kind of car would run up enough imputed income to result in over $100,000 in taxes.) But what many people might not know is that Mr. Daschle, in his days as a Senator from South Dakota, ran ads showing that he drove an old car while working in Washington for the folks back home. The irony is so sweet.
While we’re at it, you might enjoy this cartoonist’s ideas on how we can afford the stimulus package being argued in Congress. Now we can add one more with Solis. We really can begin to refill the coffers if this keeps up.
An insightful article in the Economist from a few weeks ago got me thinking. This piece was talking about the government in the UK, but it could be applied to any government anywhere when faced with a crisis. Governments all follow these two rules:
First, eschew all blame.
Second, do something.
I’ve never seen our own government here in the US not follow these rules. For example, let’s look at the subprime mortgage situation that has gotten us into our current bad way. When the house of cards began to fall, what did the government do? Pointed fingers at everyone but itself. It eschewed all blame. It was the fault of all the independent mortgage lenders making shaky loans; it was greed on Wall Street; it was Bernard Madoff. And on and on and on.
And what did our government then do, after all the finger pointing? It did something. It passed an emergency stimulus bill to the tune of $700 billion to keep all of these people from losing their homes and to keep the economy from cratering as a result. As near as I can tell, I have about 5,000 people who read this blog every day. And those 5,000 people know a lot of other people. In fact, I would imagine that, on average, each of these 5,000 people probably knows or knows of at least 50 people, which means that all of us together know around 250,000 people. Of all these people, some are bound to be in financial trouble and are behind on their mortgages. So I ask you this, has anyone reading this blog learned of anyone he/she personally knows getting mortgage help from this $700 billion? I didn’t think so.
So the government pointed fingers and did something. We know that whatever it did, didn’t really help the individual people who were hurting during this mess. It helped Wall Street guys get their bonuses, and it helped management of troubled banks get their health insurance premiums covered, and it redecorated a few offices, so maybe the do-something part of the equation actually helped some individuals (though not the ones it was sold to us to help). But what about the blame? Wasn’t it Wall Street greed and independent mortgage brokers? As Will Rogers used to say, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” I’m kind of the same way, but I like to think I’m a little bit of a critical reader. The single best and most comprehensive piece I’ve read yet on the current financial debacle was written several months ago in The Spectator, published in London, and my favorite weekly magazine. The author of this article musters the data to show that it is the government itself that is at fault. And if you don’t believe the author, here is a piece written in the New York Times on September 30, 1999 when the seeds for this subprime meltdown were sown, discussing the potential problems that could come to pass. Sadly, they did.
On the global warming front, here is part of an email I received today from an outraged friend of mine in the UK. This friend is a famous author who hobnobs with everyone who is anyone in the UK. Name withheld mainly because it’s too late at night there for me to be asking for permission.
Tonight I sat watching television which I don`t do a huge amount of. We have been snowed in for 4 days and tonight it is minus 8. I watched a hapless man from a council lamenting that they had run out of salt and grit so the county`s roads would be death traps. Asked why their stocks were so low, he said because they had all been led to believe we would never have winters like this again because of GW. so they spent the money on recycling and ‘Climate Change initiatives’ instead. ‘And I have to say,’ this brave man ended ‘I think we`ve all been badly conned.’ Ten minutes later the US Vice President Biden appeared on my screen – what a pleased-with-himself guy he is. In Munich, and he said to me that the USA was now wanting dialogue with Iran and Pakistan and Russian and…. and that this will be an initiative that will work … well I am glad he is so cocky about it. He then said ‘we have far more to fear from global warming than we have from international terrorism.’ What the hell planet is this guy ON? It`ll take a 9/ll and the entire mad middle east to explode in their faces for the truth to dawn….. meanwhile, does it not occur to them that most of Western Europe has been trying to engage these countries in dialogue for the last 10 years – and that meanwhile, weekly, a terrorist plot is detected and defused by our counter-intelligence and anti-terrorist police … He looked so smug I wanted to throw something at him.
Okay. Politics over. The all clear whistle has sounded. It’s safe to go back into the water.
One of my readers sent me this great link to an article in the journal Archeology about the diet of the Roman gladiators.
It appears that far from being the cut and shredded specimens of masculinity that we see portrayed in films, the real gladiators were fat. Why? Because body fat protected them from injury. It provided a kind of a built-in shield. And how did the gladiators make themselves fat? According to researchers on the subject, gladiators ate a lot of simple carbohydrates and not much animal protein. I can already see Dean Ornish’s next book: The Gladiator Diet.
You’ve all read my whines and rants about the sorry press coverage of scientific studies. Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. Here is a writer from the prestigious British Medical Journal bitching about the same thing.
Every day one of our national newspapers publishes a piece reporting on “scientific research” and nearly every day the report is misleading, inaccurate, shows poor understanding of science and scientific research methods, and irritates the hell out of many a hardworking researcher. Often the original research is crap too. Millions of innocent people are misdirected and confused as new and often harmful myths are started.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Last week an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times about intermittent fasting. I’ve gone through quite an evolution myself on this subject, going from pro to not so pro back to pro with some reservations. I’m planning a post within the next couple of weeks on the subject, specifically about one of the papers mention in this LA Times article.
A pretty good review article on the treatment of obesity appeared in Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology (free full text and pdf) last December. (See, my tabs have been up for a long time) This article provides an overview of all the different diets available for the treatment of obesity. And, what makes it nice, is that not only does it not ridicule or give the low-carb diet short shrift as most mainstream journals do, it actually seems to imply that the low-carb diet works the best. Slowly but surely we’re making progress.
Last but not least, lets end with a death-defying bit of daredevilry. Watch this guy jump this motorcycle both ways. I like to push the envelope risk-wise sometimes, but you couldn’t get me to do this for all the money in the world. Bravo!