iamom: (bush hunger strike for nepal)
A recent conference on nutrition has sparked an intense and interesting debate on the value of low-carb diets to treat obesity. It has drawn in heavy hitters such as Dr. Robert Lustig and Gary Taubes, and gone on to implicate others throughout the nutrition blogosphere such as Stephan Guyenet.

It's an interesting debate and I enjoy watching it, because it's attacking with real science the conventional wisdom held since the 80s about low-fat diets. In large measure, it's quite likely that we can tie the modern obesity epidemic to the low-fat craze of the 80s and 90s, because that brought with it a huge influx of refined carbs into our diets.

One of the commenters in this most recent debate, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, has an excellent website I just found this morning for the first time, and I love this summary post he's made about a form of eating he calls LCHF, or Low Carb High Fat. It's a really good read, and basically summarizes the kind of diet I've been trying to follow for about the last 8-10 weeks, successfully losing weight each and every week since I started:

http://www.dietdoctor.com/lchf

In some respect, it's "Atkins." But the logic behind it is quite sound for those who are obese, and if you're "pre-Type-II-diabetic" or Type I diabetic, this way of eating is much easier on your diabetes. In fact, I think it can pretty much resolve Type II diabetes entirely. Personally, what I've noticed with it is that my hunger is much better managed, I don't think about food all the time, I don't need to eat much between meals, and I feel much more satisfied after a given meal. I'm also getting in a lot more vegetables than I used to. So for me, it's all good so far.
iamom: (john)
My paternal grandfather is likely in his last year of life from metastatic prostate cancer, I have a close friend dying of metastatic breast cancer this summer, and my dear, dear Sara's father ([livejournal.com profile] grammardog) is struggling with his own cancer right now also. This xkcd made me think of them...

iamom: (Default)
This short piece came from the issue of Lapham's Quarterly that I recently quoted from about economics. This piece comes from the Zhuangzi, which I've never heard of but which the editors state is one of the most influential books in the Taoist canon.
Skilled Labour

A butcher demonstrated dissecting an ox in the presence of Prince Wen Hui. With what his hands were touching, his shoulders were leaning, his feet were treading, his bent knees were pressing, and with an artful use of his knife, he made the sounds of dislocating joints and separating bones from muscles form rhythms and a succession of musical tones.

Prince Wen Hui said, "Ah! Excellent! How could your technique reach such perfection?"

The butcher laid down his knife and answered, "What I have wished is Tao, far more superior to technique. When I first dissected oxen, what I saw was nothing less than the whole ox. After three years, I no longer saw the whole ox. And now, I let my intuition, not my eyesight, lead the way, such that functions of the organs are accessories to initiatives of the mind. I proceed on what comes naturally, attack the hollow cavities between tendons and bones, and sink knife into joints, taking advantage of their natural structures, without interfering with the big and small blood vessels around small muscles and bones, let alone bigger bones.

"A good butcher changes his knife every year; he uses it to cut muscles. An ordinary butcher changes his knife every month; he uses it to cut bones. I have used the same knife for nineteen years to dissect several thousand oxen. It looks like new from the sharpening stone. Since the bone joints have empty space in between and the knife blade has no thickness, inserting what has no thickness into where it is hollow leaves plenty of room for maneuvering. Therefore, after nineteen years it still looks like new from the sharpening stone.

"Even so, every time I come to complex formations, I find it to be a tough job and call for extreme caution. I look at it with great attention and proceed with deliberate slowness. With a slight movement of the knife, the dissection is over, as swiftly as throwing mud to the ground. The ox doesn't even know it is dead!"
iamom: (riker muzzle)
An ordinary man seeks freedom through enlightenment.
An enlightened man expresses freedom through being ordinary.
--Adyashanti

Self-pity

May. 9th, 2011 08:33 pm
iamom: (Default)
There is no situation
so bad that a little
self indulgent belief
that your life is
harder & sadder
than everybody else's
can't make it worse

-- Steve Toth (via Nonduality Highlights Issue #4236 by Mark Otter)
iamom: (pink)
I first heard of Lewis Lapham in a Sunday Edition interview with Michael Enright on CBC Radio last year. I remember being impressed with him, and also recall hearing at the time that he edited a literary/journalistic sort of journal called Lapham's Quarterly. I picked up the most recent copy last week and have been enjoying his opening essay on unemployment titled "The Servant Problem."

His preamble speaks of how much the news media look to outperform their other in their "showings of concern" for the unemployed. He quotes the official unemployment rate at 9.4%, but notes that it's probably nearer to 17%. He says that the stock markets and the country's corporate profit margins have largely weathered the storm of the recession, but that "unless jobs can be found, we wave goodbye to America the Beautiful." He continues:
Not being an economist and never having been at ease in the company of flow charts, I don't question the expert testimony, but I notice that it doesn't have much to do with human beings, much less with the understanding of a man's work as the meaning of his life or the freedom of his mind. Purse-lipped and solemn, the commentators for the Financial Times and MSNBC mention deficits, discuss the cutting back of pensions and public services. From the tone of the conversation, I can imagine myself at a lawn party somewhere in Fairfield County, Connecticut, listening to the lady in the flowered hat talk about the difficulty of finding decent help.

The framing of the country's unemployment trouble as an unfortunate metastasis of the servant problem should come as no surprise. The country is in the hands of an affluent oligarchy content with Voltaire's reading of its rights. During Ronald Reagan's terms as president, the income that individual American families received from rents, dividends, and interest surpassed the income earned in wages. Over the last thirty years, the wealth of the emergent rentier class has been sustained by an increasingly unequal sharing of the gross domestic product; the percentage of GDP accounted for by manufacturing fell from 21 to 14 percent, and the percentage accounted for by finance rose from 14 to 21 percent. The imbalances become greater over time; as between compensations awarded to the high-end baskers in the sunshine and those provided to the low-end squatters in the shade, the differential at last count in 2009 stood at 263 to 1. With wealth comes power in Washington, so it's also no surprise that the government, whether graspingly Republican or scavengingly Democratic, adopts the attitudes and prejudices of the monied sultanate. So do most of the nation's news media, their showings of concern expressed in the lawn-party voices of the caterers distributing the strawberries.
iamom: (Default)
From the Nonduality Highlights:

Haikus are short 2-4 lines verses, pointing to the immediacy of the profound truth in and as the perceived moment. They demand tremendous discipline of expression, arising in complete spontaneity, reflecting the totality of the moment as it is.

Usually associated with Japanese Zen.

However if there were Judaistic Haikus.....they may go something like...

Beyond Valium,
Peace is knowing one's child
Is an internist.

On Passover we
Opened the door for Elijah
Now our cat is gone.

After the warm rain
The sweet smell of camellias
Did you wipe your feet?

Testing the warm milk
On her wrist, she sighs softly.
But her son is forty.

Like a bonsai tree,
Is your terrible posture
At my dinner table.

Seven-foot Jews in
The NBA slam-dunking!
My alarm clock rings.

Sorry I'm not home
To take your call. At the tone
Please state your bad news.

Is one Nobel Prize
So much to ask from a child
After all I've done?

Yenta. Shmeer. Gevalt.
Shlemiel. Shlimazl. Meshuganah
Oy! To be fluent!

Hard to tell under the lights.
White Yarmulke or
Male-pattern baldness
iamom: (Default)
Elisa Zied is a nutritionist whom I just located through the great blog on obesity called Weighty Matters, authored by an Ottawa-based physician and obesity specialist named Yoni Freedhoff. Through this article on food addiction on Zied's personal blog, I discovered this other post on the topic on a different website. From that post comes the following:
According to Sunny Sea Gold, author of Food: The Good Girl’s Drug, “Food hasn’t been proven to be addictive in the same way drugs are; the science isn’t quite there yet.” But Gold, who overcame binge eating disorder, does believe that people can use food just like they would alcohol, drugs, or sex. “They can become dependent on food as a distraction, as a coping mechanism, and as something they comfort themselves with...I know I did” she adds.
I don't have any doubt that certain people do have full-blown addictive behaviours around food. I know that I have had them in the past. Recent research that shows similar MRI results to drug addicts when food-addicted subjects are shown certain food cues would lend further credence to that fact.

My personal experience has been that when food has become a truly addictive substance in my life, I've needed to abstain from it as I would any other drug. Of course, you can't abstain from food per se, but you can certainly undergo a nutritional detox wherein you eat no refined sugar or excess salt for a number of days to see what happens to your body.

In my own case, whenever I've done that I've undergone genuine withdrawal symptoms such as severe headaches, irritability, and even some joint pain. But the feeling that comes after even a few days of eating no sugar and low salt can be pretty remarkable. Suddenly I feel refreshed when I awaken in the morning and it doesn't take me 10 minutes of slow movement to work the stiffness out of my joints. My mind is clearer and sharper throughout the day, and I just feel better generally.

For someone in the throes of their addiction, this activity is much easier said than done. That's why I think psychotherapy can have a big role to play in that process. I can't really think of any case wherein someone who is addicted to food hasn't developed their addiction through mindless eating behaviours tied to emotional or psychological precursors. Some form of inward-looking talk therapy -- or even substantive personal journaling -- is required to break up the mental logjam in our minds and to develop authentic awareness around the reasons why we're overeating in the first place.
iamom: (bush hunger strike for nepal)
Michael Moore delivered this speech to the demonstrators in Wisconsin recently that I heard about from his e-mail newsletter. Regardless of what you think of the guy, it was an impassioned speech and I was touched by his emotion. (I didn't watch the whole thing, but you can see it here if you're interested.)

Anyway, the reason for my post here is actually to draw some attention to this provocative article he posted in that newsletter that describes the disparity in wealth in the US right now. I sent the link to my favourite lefty comedian Jimmy Dore in the hopes he might quote from it in a future episode of his political radio show on KPFK.

Some of my favourite highlights from that article are:

• 400 people have as much wealth as half the US population;
• the top 5% of US families saw their incomes rise by 73% between 1979 and 2008, while the lowest 20% saw a decrease of 4% and the remainder stayed mostly stagnant; and
• in 2007, the richest 1% of US households owned more than 33% of the nation's private wealth, which is more than the combined wealth of the bottom 90 percent.

My great friend and erstwhile physical fitness mentor [livejournal.com profile] vyus has been writing some great posts recently about economics, and it strikes me that he might take some issue with this article, or maybe its sources. Anyway, I'm interested in hearing what his or anybody's take on it is. Even if the statistics in this article were inflated by 100%, they'd still be freaking scary to me.

PS: I have a few family members whom I'd consider wealthy or at least extremely comfortable: an successful entrepreneurial uncle by marriage worth probably $15M+ and a few other retirees with holdings probably in excess of $3M. But that's not the level of wealth I'm talking about here. It's the extremely high-income families earning tens or hundreds of millions each year where I think the problem lies. If there were a million multi-millionaires of the former ilk in the US (e.g. with $10M or less in the bank), I believe that trickle-down economics might actually work -- there'd be lots of liquidity and investment and entrepreneurship happening. But I can't imagine that dozens of billionaires are of much constructive use to the economy at all. At least, not for the little guy. Or the middle class worker. Just my $0.02.
iamom: (bush hunger strike for nepal)
Rich man's burden, this. It's just that I've been finding that I'm losing a lot of time lately just to managing the flow of messages through my Gmail inbox. I have innumerable filters set up for my various lists and such, and since my time is at a premium right now I actually seldom get a chance to read most of my favourite feeds or list e-mail anyway. I'm also using the excellent new Gmail priority inbox system, which has been super helpful in separating my non-essential e-mail from my essential e-mail. But I just find that whenever I still have unread or undealt-with e-mail in my inbox, I become drawn to sit down at the computer and try to clear some of it out. And there's at least a dozen really important tasks related to e-mail in my Inbox that I should be working on, but whenever I look at my Inbox I start to try to read and deal with whatever's left over instead.

I'm starting to feel like the tail is wagging the dog, here. Instead of doing productive work on my computer I'm playing with my goddamned e-mail. And instead of doing constructive work around the house or exercising, I'm sitting at the computer to try to deal with some of my e-mail. And I don't even have a damn straight job right now! Imagine if I did!!!

I have a handful of friends who have committed Facebook suicide because they've found themselves so utterly consumed by it; lately, I've felt like committing e-mail suicide. I also know from experience that many of "the kids" out there don't even check their e-mail or have functioning e-mail addresses anymore. It's all Facebook and text for them, period. It's so funny that e-mail might be becoming an obsolete means of communication for us old folks out here. And I'm not even 40 yet. I do, however, find myself wondering what the hell we did before e-mail. My wife and I both are attached to our Inboxes at the hip, it's so lame.

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Dustin LindenSmith

January 2013

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