Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Free Speech--Only For Qualified People

Here's a quick quiz: which of the following statements are protected by the US Constitution's First Amendment?

1) Carbs, especially processed carbs and sugar are bad for a diabetic.

2) Hitler was a cool guy and the Holocaust is just Jewish propaganda.

3) The way to fix the economy is for the government to borrow colossal sums of money and spend it by giving it to politically connected companies and paying people to junk their cars. This increases aggregate demand and prevents a liquidity trap, and is really fun if you are politically connected or were planning on buying a new car.

4) Twilight is the greatest movie of all time.

Answer, all of the above...unless you live in North Carolina. While all the statements, except for the first one, are offensive to anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together, it is only the first one that can land you in hot water, unless you've been certified to say it.

This is what's facing Steve Cooksey at the health blog Diabetes Warrior. Steve was apparently providing "illegal nutritional counseling" for suggesting pizza and Mountain Dew might not be the optimal diet for a person whose pancreas is dying.

Let's just take a look at the First Amendment, shall we?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Since it is his blog they are going after, isn't that also violating freedom of the press? Or does that only apply to the "real" press, such as the NY Times or the Washington Post?

The interesting thing about a law only allowing certified people to dish out advice is that were a certified dietitian to give out the same advice as Steve, they would be in danger of losing their certification. So what the law essentially is saying is that only people who follow the party line of the ADA are allowed to tell diabetics what they should eat. Uhm, if that's not a violation of the First Amendment I don't know what is.

Only us experts are allowed to tell you what to eat--it's the law!

If someone is making false claims, that's another story. There's the famous case of Listerine having to redact its claims that its product could reduce or alleviate the common cold (although I'm not a huge fan of the FTC the ruling was upheld in court).

So perhaps the NC State Board of Dieticians would like to challenge Mr Cooksey's claims that vegetarian pizza really sucks ass for diabetics. What an awesome court case that would be! I'm pretty sure Dr Bernstein would be happy to testify for the defense. Also, I'm sure "qualified" people like Robb Wolf, Emily Deans, and Chris Kresser could be convinced to testify. Perhaps even Kurt Harris would leave his Fortress of Solitude, to make an appearance.

This is all reminiscent of Dr Annika Dahlqvist's struggle to treat diabetics in Sweden with an HFLC diet. She lost her job and went through a lot of shit for that (although she's now practicing as a full-fledged doctor again), but thanks to people like her (and especially her), Sweden is now a leader in HFLC.

I'll leave you with this video interview Jimmy Moore just did with Steve Cooksey. Which also has this awesome YouTube comment:
Guess what, Michelle Obama is going around this country trying to tell us what to eat and she is not a certified nutritionist either...!!! I rest my case..!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

We were just watching a BBC documentary about Apollo 11 and I was struck by the astronauts eating a steak and egg breakfast before jaunting off to the moon. Here's Michael Collins eating. There's some toast also but Collins hasn't touched it.

That's Buzz Aldrin to the left and I don't know who, one of the alternate astronauts, to the right with the map. The dude with the map is the only one who actually touched his toast (Buzz seems to have skipped the eggs and gone for steak and steak). Okay, I have to admit buzzcut redshirt guy looks to be in pretty damn good shape despite his partaking in toast and marmalade.

Speaking of Buzz Aldrin, the guy is currently 81 years old and going strong.

And he still has a damn good right hook.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The French and Autism

Autism is a controversial subject--way more controversial than it should be, in my opinion. For interesting insight into autism one could do worse than start with Oliver Sacks--one of the kindest souls to inhabit this planet. In North America there is the baseless idea that autism is caused by vaccines. In France, there is the idea that autism is caused by depressed mothers and can be cured with psychoanalysis:
Sometimes, when the mother is depressed, in utero, I mean when she is pregnant or at birth, sometimes the child can be autistic,” an analyst tells the camera in one scene. Another explains that autistic children “are sick of language — autism is a way of defending themselves from language.
I'm no expert on autism, but I doubt anyone with a couple neurons to rub together thinks that autistic kids are sick of language or are the product of a depressed mother.

I enjoy making fun of the French as much as the next red-blooded American, and for the Brits, trashing the Frogs is a national sport (one of few sports in which they still excel). But the fact is, the French have been very slow to jump on the lipophobia bandwagon, and good for them. I very much doubt that these rent-seeking French psychoanalysts are suing the filmmaker because they think the average French citizen agrees with them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lies, Damn Lies and TV Reporters

Paula Deen, a woman famous for cooking high-fat AND high-sugar food, has diabetes and is now going to get paid to promote Victoza (Liraglutide (NN2211)) a drug that "reduces meal-related hyperglycemia (for 12 hours after administration) by increasing insulin secretion, delaying gastric emptying, and suppressing prandial glucagon secretion".

Anthony Bourdain points out this is like breaking people's legs then selling them crutches. Except, I would add, crutches actually serve a useful purpose.

Now anyone reading this blog is most likely aware that adult onset diabetes is NOT caused by eating natural fats (although probably exacerbated by industrial seed oils). You know that, I know that, anyone with two brain cells to rub together that has looked into the issue knows that.

However, according Mikaela Conley, writing this ABC "news" article, Paula has Type II diabetes from eating too much butter:
Despite knowing her Type 2 diabetes diagnosis for years, Paula Deen, the all-smiles cooking host of the Food Network's "Paula's Best Dishes," continued touting her buttery, artery-clogging Southern down-home cuisine.

Deen, 64, confirmed today on NBC's Today Show that she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago and she is now launching a new campaign, "Diabetes in a New Light." The campaign is in partnership with diabetes drug maker Novo Nordisk.

Kim Jong Il summed it up best in Team America, "Why is everyone so fucking stupid?"

As if that wasn't bad enough, the article goes on to imply that Anthony Bourdain finds her cooking unhealthy because of the fat.
Anthony Bourdain, a New York-based chef and host of the Travel Channel's "No Reservations," has long been critical of Deen's cuisine, having told TV Guide that the chef is the "worst, most dangerous person in America" because of her high-fat cooking. In the wake of her diabetes announcement, Bourdain had even more criticism to sling.

"When your signature dish is hamburger in between a doughnut, and you've been cheerfully selling this stuff knowing all along that you've got Type 2 Diabetes... It's in bad taste if nothing else," he told Eater
I'm pretty sure Anthony Bourdain doesn't think animal parts cooked in animal fats is unhealthy because I've seen tons of his shows (including his most of A Cook's Tour) and never heard him whine about his arteries when eating rattlesnake fried in lard. And the guy is whip-thin despite all the "unhealthy" food he eats.

The ABC article about Paula Deen's diabetes doesn't mention sugar one single time. OK, it uses the word sugar twice in the form of blood-sugar. But never is the word sugar--as a food that is actually ingested--mentioned in an article about diabetes. Artery clogging fat is mentioned plenty of times.

Let me get this straight, SFAs are ingested by hapless pre-diabetics, where they somehow manage to jack up blood glucose AND clog arteries at the same time? And the solution to this is to inject daily a drug that INCREASES insulin secretion?!?!? Are these people fucking insane? This is seriously Orwellian "thinking"--not-thinking to be more accurate. Let's force a worn-out pancreas to work even harder, and when it breaks down completely we will just inject insulin, we will bathe in insulin, we will pave the streets with insulin and dead pancreases. Because if we have to give up the sugar and wheat and processed foods and industrial seed oils the terrorists win.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wikipedia Takes a Stand

Does anyone in the US remember this thing called the Constitution? Jimmy Wales does, and I applaud Wikipedia's planned 24 hour shutdown in protest of SOPA and PIPA.
A Motion Picture Association of America executive dubbed the blackout plan an example of the "gimmicks and distortion" that inflamed passions while failing to solve the problem of copyright infringement.
Don't you hate those inflamed passions against the loss of civil liberties?

Here's the thing about the rule of law: it has to apply to everyone all the time. Same thing with free speech. Otherwise you are living in a banana republic, which is where the US is rapidly headed.

SOPA and PIPA would continue the grave inroads into civil liberties that had its roots in the War on Drugs and was greatly accelerated by the War on Terror--especially with the Patriot Act. These acts would allow any website to be shut down by the entertainment industry, placing the burden of proof on the website. Guilty until proven innocent.

Freedom is all fine and dandy, but it really must take a backseat to more important things like people smoking pot, the threat of terrorism or the awful specter of someone posting the lyrics to a Britney Spears song.

As Ronald Bailey points out, this would grant powers eerily similar to what Putin likes to employ against those who disagree with him, or whose assets he likes to seize for one of his cronies.

Thanks Wikipedia and Reddit. And screw you Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest who complained about SOPA but weren't willing to act on principle. Thoreau is flipping you off from the grave.

Soren Bowie at Cracked has a humorous take on SOPA here.
Julian Sanchez at Cato Institute discusses SOPA here.

Addendum:  the CEO of Twitter twitters "that's just silly. Closing a global business in reaction to single-issue national politics is foolish."

SOPA would give the government (at the behest of alleged infringees) the right to shut down ANY website in the world, presumably because the US controls the DNS (Domain Name Service) of the major top level domains such as .com .org etc. I don't think country level domains (.cz .fr .uk etc) are controlled by ICANN but I'm not sure and am too lazy to research it. The point is, this IS a world political issue, Dick (yes that's his name).

Second Addendum:  Google is adding a link to their homepage in a munificent show of solidarity--yes I'm being sarcastic.

Third Addendum:  head of MPAA calls protests an abuse of power.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is Space The Next Big Thing?

[Warning: the following has nothing to do with diet or exercise or even politics (well, everything has something to do with politics)]

A friend and I were arguing about the viability of near future space travel and exploration. With him being optimistic on the future of space travel, saying it is the next big thing, especially in the private/commercial arena. I'm much more pessimistic. Why? Not because I don't think spaceships are cool and would love to see bases on the Moon and Mars and Titan and fleets of miners in the Asteroid Belt, and holiday package tours being offered for sand surfing the slopes of Olympus Mons. The problem is that the costs to lift something out of the Earth's gravity well are simply ridiculous using current technology (chemical rockets) and I don't foresee anything coming along in the near future to change that.

Actually, there already exists the technology to put a lot of mass into space at a relatively cheap cost--nuclear bombs. It's called a nuclear pulse rocket and it is essentially a giant nuclear-bomb-powered pogo stick.

Yeah, baby!!!

Personally, I've no problem with a little extra atmospheric radiation as a viable step needed to lift the tons of stuff necesary to kick off the space age. That's my idea of hope and change. Small amounts of radiation actually seem to have a hormetic effect. Unfortunately, this is another example of me being right, and most of the world being stupid & wimpy, so it's never going to happen (except possibly in deep space).

So the real questions are:
1) Why are conventional rockets so expensive?
2) Is there a technology in the pipeline to significantly reduce costs?
3) Is commercial space development viable with current technologies?

I was going to calculate the energy needed to lift a kilogram of mass into geosynchronous orbit, that thought lasted about 10 nanoseconds--then I just googled it (thus doth the internet make math wimps of us all). The answer is 6.24x107 joules or 17.8 kilowatt hours(kWh). The average price per kWh in the US for 2011 according to BLS was 13 cents. Which puts the theoretical cost of putting a kg of mass in orbit using current electrical prices at $2.31 (yes, I did that calculation myself).

Gee whiz, $2.31 a kilo now all we need is a really long extension cord.

Then why does it cost so much to put so little mass into space? The current cost of putting a kg of mass into space is a lot. I'm not sure exactly, this old BBC article quotes $10,000/lb or $22,000/kg (but it's the BBC so take their facts with a truckload of salt). Also, there's a huge difference between low earth orbit (LEO), geosynchronous orbit (GSO) in terms of energy expenditure. Going into actual 'space'--leaving Earth's gravity well altogether--takes even more energy, but is not that bad once one reaches GSO.

Why does it cost so much more than $2.31/kg to put something into space? Socialism.

I kid. Actually socialism is only partly to blame in this case. The biggest problem are those pesky laws of physics. In order to lift a kilo of mass into GSO with a chemical rocket you really have to lift thousands of kilos of chemicals into LEO and hundreds of thousands of kilos of chemicals into the stratosphere. In other words, most of the fuel in a chemical rocket is consumed lifting the fuel in a chemical rocket.

How do we get around that?

In the short term (at least 20-30 years), I just don't think we can. I don't see any technology from scramjets to fusion rockets, that is going to be even close to viable in order to found a moonbase or any sort of self-supporting space colony or to even make a space station that isn't heavily subsidized by governments. I certainly think a lot of improvements can be made and I have nothing but high hopes for projects like SpaceShipTwo. But there's a huge difference between a sub-orbital and getting out there and actually doing something.
"Once you get to earth orbit, you're halfway to anywhere in the solar system."
-Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, January 06, 2012

PCRM And Flat Earth Society to Hold Joint Press Conference

Whenever an organization has a weasel word like responsible in their title, it almost invariably indicates the opposite. This goes way back to the Holy Roman Empire, which, as the old joke goes, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire, and is continued today by such luminaries as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

I don't know much about Jamie Oliver, except that he's got a mockney accent and has a very punchable face. But I'm willing to forgive him a few sins because his basic message is to eat real food (even if he thinks we need tons of government intervention to do that) and the PCRM, a vegetarian pressure group, hates his new cookbook.

Here's the awful truth about Jamie:
One serving of the Meatball Sandwich contains more fat than a Big Mac and more than double the calories, cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat.
Like ohmigod!

It's easy to forget, living in the rarified paleo/lc/primal/real food/whatever world, that many physicians still think dietary cholesterol is unhealthy. Is that 50 year old rabbit study still cutting edge research in their minds? I knew about the salt and SFAs but dietary cholesterol? That's been so debunked it's pathetic. A meatball sandwich is not ideal because of the bread of course, but it is quite filling. I used to eat meatball subs at Subway for lunch (skipping breakfast) because they were cheap and then get by with a light dinner.

Honestly, all the cookbooks the PCRM hates look quite good. The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook has
More than 50 pages of recipes featuring grilled meat, which increases cancer risk.
Sign me up. Is there any real evidence linking grilled meat with cancer? I remember hearing about that back in the 70s (yes I was a kid, damnit) but I don't believe there's ever been anything substantial. The Neelys’ Celebration Cookbook:
Bourbon Bread Pudding is saturated with butter, half-and-half, and whole milk; high-fat diets increase heart-disease risk.
All the sugar and bread is okay, but that butter will kill ya, kill ya I say!

Oh you vegan propagandist doctors. If only you actually were held responsible for all the damage you cause, that would be some sweet poetic justice.

HT: KeepFoodLegal

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Ron Effing Swanson

Dear Readers, I give you the greatest work of art ever created. I encourage everyone to buy a copy and hang it next their Pyramid of Greatness.

The Cause of High Food Prices? Speculators Of Course.

The economic geniuses at Wired magazine have decided that the "discovery" that high food prices are caused by evil speculators was one of the top scientific discoveries of 2011.
Biofuel demand played a role in in nudging food prices up -- but the spikes, the sudden and socially disrupting fluctuations, seemed to be caused by commodity speculators who entered food markets after the late-1990s wave of financial industry deregulation. The same forces that fueled the 2008 mortgage meltdown and subsequent near-collapse of the global economy have been turned loose on food.
If only agriculture was more heavily regulated, damn those evil speculators.