Computer Troubles And A Mini-Vacation

Seriously, you need to just touch base with all the fans out here.  No explanation necessary, just “I’m still here, just crazy busy” will do. I couldn’t stand it another day.

I received that note in an email today. Yeah, I guess I’d best explain the absence. The brief story is that my Mac Pro finally died a couple of weeks ago, so I ordered a new Mac, then went on a little vacation in Chicago while waiting for it arrive. Now I’m back and crazy busy getting set up to work again.

The Mac Pro that died is the same one I used when I made Fat Head in 2008. Yup, it’s been around for 10 years. I also used it to produce Fat Head Kids … well, almost. We got the film rendered and sent off to the distributor, but there are lots of other files they need soon: dialog, sound effects and music on separate audio tracks, for example.

Almost two weeks ago, I walked into my home office one morning and noticed that while the Mac’s power light was on, the monitor was dark. I fussed around with connections and whatnot for an hour or so, then gave up and took the thing to a Mac repair shop. The repair guy called an hour later and told me the mother board was fried. Probably not worth replacing in a 10-year-old machine.

So I went through all the stages of grief for my deceased buddy … anger, denial, bargaining, etc. When I reached the acceptance stage a few minutes later, I brought it home and removed the hard drives. Truth is, I was planning to get a new Mac at the end of this year. Fat Head Kids is mostly animated, and the ol’ hoss was painfully slow when I was working in After Effects. I couldn’t watch many of the animations in real time until I rendered them. Often that meant going back to adjust the timing after viewing then rendering again. I knew I’d have to move up to a younger, sleeker model someday soon.

Soon turned out to be right now, since we’re almost but not quite done with the film. The next day, I went to our local Apple store to order an iMac Pro. I can’t just buy off the shelf – well, I could, but I wouldn’t get what I need. Film production is heavy-duty stuff, especially if there’s animation involved. When I buy a computer for production, I pretty much max it out. That’s why the old Mac Pro lasted 10 years.

The special-order model finally arrived yesterday. Now I’m busy reinstalling all my software. The next step will be to copy all my working files from backup drives, which will easily take 24 hours or more. Then I’ll finally be able to finish the film.

While waiting for the new Mac to arrive, I took a mini-vacation in Chicago. Specifically, I went here:

With these guys:

Those boys are my life-long best friends. I’ve known Bob (in the black hat) since sixth grade and Mike since the summer after high school. Back in the day, we were all in a band together. Some of my fondest memories are of being on stage with them. Some of my other fondest memories are of being offstage with them after our band days were over.  We’ve been threatening to have a reunion in Chicago for years and finally got around to it.

Anyone watching me over the weekend wouldn’t believe I just produced a film on diet and health. Friday night, we had stuffed pizza and beers at Giordano’s. It’s the best pizza in the world, in my humble opinion, and worth the carbs once in a blue moon. Stuffed isn’t the same as deep-dish, which has a thick crust. Stuffed means stuffed with meat and cheese and other ingredients. A slice looks like this:

On Saturday, went to Wrigley and drank more $10 beers than I care to count. I also ate an Italian beef sandwich and an Italian sausage for good measure. Amazingly, it was just 70 degrees in Chicago that day. The Cubs were down by five runs after three innings. Back in the day, they would have gone on to lose 10-0. But these guys ain’t your father’s Cubs. They stormed back and won 8-7, thanks to a four-run rally in the eighth inning. I’m still hoarse from all the yelling.

Here’s my bad attempt a selfie:

On Saturday night, we ate at a restaurant called Three Forks, which is near Mike’s office. It was quite expensive. It was also quite wonderful. I had the biggest and most flavorful filet I’ve ever eaten. And wine. And scotch. And some creamy dessert drink the waitress brought to us on the house, probably because were happily spending a small fortune.

After a weekend of eating foods I almost never eat and drinking more alcohol than I consume in a typical month, I flew home exhausted and fuzzy around the edges, but happy. Like I’ve said before, I’m okay with the occasional indulgence. It’s bad daily habits that screw up our health, not once-a-year blowouts.

I have a ton of loading and copying and resetting to do on the new Mac before I’m ready to resume normal work, but I hope to have it all wrapped up this weekend. Then I’ll get back to blogging. Promise.


From The News …

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Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

Why people hate vegans, part whatever … and how to deal with them

If I’m ever in Toronto again, I’m having a meal at this guy’s restaurant.

Animal rights activists were horrified this weekend when the co-owner of a Dundas West restaurant they’d been protesting for weeks staged what appeared to be a counter-protest of his own.

The restaurant in question, Antler, is known for serving “local seasonal and wild foods” that are native to Canada, such as bison, boar, rabbit, duck and deer.

A group of local activists had arranged a protest in front of the restaurant on Friday evening, writing on Facebook that it would be their fourth of such protests outside Antler.

Yeah, yeah, the usual holier-than-thou nonsense from vegan zealots. That’s not news.  But the owner’s method of dealing with them was:

About an hour into their demonstration, protesters say that the restaurant’s co-owner and chef, Michael Hunter, “brought out an entire animal leg and started cutting it up right in the window on a table reserved for diners.”

Event organizer Marni Jill Ugar wrote later that night on Facebook that she felt Hunter had been “taunting” the group by cutting up a deer leg right in front of them.

Aw, jeez, you try to annoy the crap out of the owner and his patrons, and he responds by taunting you? What is this world coming to?

“Once the deer was cooked Michael Hunter, owner of Antler, sat back down at the window to eat the dead deer,” she wrote.

“Look in the window. Look at Michael Hunter. That deer was treated like a joke. That deer was an innocent animal who did not want to die.”

Same goes for all the innocent animals who are killed to farm your soybeans, you mental midget.

At one point, a couple of police officers arrive and go into the restaurant. They are seen speaking to Hunter as he continues to prepare the meat.

After about a minute, Hunter packs up his tools and meat. Both he and the police officers are then seen smiling as they walk away.

They’re smiling, I’m laughing.

Meatless sliders?

Speaking of soybeans, White Castle is now making meatless sliders:

Vegetarians who once found it impossible to eat fast food have a new option that will give them the true White Castle experience.

The fast food chain is introducing the “Impossible Slider.”

It’s the first plant-based and scientist-developed burger to hit the fast food market.

Yeah, that’s the key to good health: eating foods developed in laboratories by scientists.

It’s made with a meat substitute that apparently tastes and even bleeds like real meat, but is made entirely out of plants.

If you want something that looks like a burger, tastes like a burger, and even bleeds like a burger, just eat a burger. Nobody ever goes looking for meat that looks and tastes like tofu.

On the other hand, the next time vegans decide to protest outside Antler, perhaps the owner can cut up a bleeding meat substitute in the window.

Meat and Men, Part One

As you probably know, the vast majority of vegans are women – around 75%, according to one survey I saw. So why is that? A study reported in Science Daily gives us the answer:

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers are influenced by a strong association of meat with masculinity.

“We examined whether people in Western cultures have a metaphoric link between meat and men,” write authors Paul Rozin (University of Pennsylvania), Julia M. Hormes (Louisiana State University), Myles S. Faith (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and Brian Wansink (Cornell University). The answer, they found, was a strong connection between eating meat — especially muscle meat, like steak — and masculinity.

In a number of experiments that looked at metaphors and certain foods, like meat and milk, the authors found that people rated meat as more masculine than vegetables. They also found that meat generated more masculine words when people discussed it, and that people viewed male meat eaters as being more masculine than non-meat eaters.

The authors of the study seem to consider the association of meat and manliness a problem we must overcome:

If marketers or health advocates want to counteract such powerful associations, they need to address the metaphors that shape consumer attitudes, the authors explain. For example, an education campaign that urges people to eat more soy or vegetables would be a tough sell, but reshaping soy burgers to make them resemble beef or giving them grill marks might help cautious men make the transition.

Or you could just make those soy burgers bleed. But as for those “cautious” men, perhaps they just intuitively understand the effects of swapping meat for soy …

Meat and Men, Part Two

Here are some quotes from a study in my files:

A randomised crossover dietary intervention study was performed to evaluate the effects of replacing meat protein in the diet with a soyabean product, tofu, on blood concentrations of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, androstanediol glucuronide, oestradiol, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), and the free androgen index. Forty-two healthy adult males aged 35-62 years were studied. Diets were isoenergetic, with either 150 g lean meat or 290 g tofu daily providing an equivalent amount of macronutrients, with only the source of protein differing between the two diets.

Okay, so they divided up the men and fed one group meat, the other group tofu. And here are the results:

The mean testosterone:oestradiol value was 10% higher (P = 0.06) after the meat diet. SHBG was 3% higher (P = 0.07), whereas the FAI was 7% lower (P = 0.06), after the tofu diet compared with the meat diet. There was a significant correlation between the difference in SHBG and testosterone:oestradiol and weight change. Adjusting for weight change revealed SHBG to be 8.8% higher on the tofu diet and testosterone:oestradiol to be significantly lower.

So the meat-eating men had a higher testosterone to estrogen ratio, and lower levels of sex hormone-binding globulin. Wikipedia tells us SHBG limits the bioavailability of hormones like testosterone, and then adds this little nugget:

SHBG levels are usually about twice as high in women than in men.

So I’m pretty sure swapping soy protein for meat isn’t something most of us men want to do … even if the soy burger bleeds.

A meat-eating man sets a record.

If you saw Super Size Me, you may recall the interview with Don Gorske, the guy who eats a Big Mac every day. Frankly, I wasn’t sure why Spurlock included him. He was lean and fit, and thus seemed to undermine Spurlock’s premise that eating at McDonald’s makes people fat.

Anyway, Mr. Gorske recently reached a new milestone:

Another day, another burger, and one major McMilestone for one man.

Don Gorske, 64, recently downed his 30,000th Big Mac from McDonald’s.

He’s eaten at least one almost every day, since May 17, 1972.

The Wisconsin man has a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. In case you’re wondering, he says his cholesterol and blood pressure are normal – and he weighs five pounds less than he did 5,000 Big Macs ago.

And he somehow managed to avoid having a liver that resembles an alcoholic’s … perhaps because unlike Spurlock, he’s not a closet alcoholic.

How to kill raccoons slowly

Raccoons have become the bane of my existence. Remember last summer, when I found out Rocky Raccoon VI was living inside the chicken coop – after he wiped out half the flock?

In the past month, I’ve trapped and killed Rocky Raccoon VII and Rocky Raccoon VIII. Both of them managed to find a way into the chicken yard – Rocky Raccoon VIII apparently climbed a tree, leaped onto the net and chewed a hole in it.

Our last remaining flock is now so small, we’ve gone from selling eggs to buying eggs at the grocery store when we run out. It was a real letdown to put eggs in the grocery basket after all these years.

Anyway, some raccoons are apparently feeling the effects of eating too much people food:

Here’s another reason for keeping raccoons out of your compost bin: our leftovers are giving them high blood sugar.

A new study by a group of Ontario researchers found that raccoons with easy access to human food waste were significantly heavier and had higher blood glucose levels than others.

The findings, published last week in the journal Conservation Physiology, compared data from three groups of raccoons: those with high access to human food waste living on the grounds of the Toronto Zoo, those in a conservation area with moderate access to garbage, and those in a farming area with hardly any access to food waste.

Blood glucose level is determined by measuring for the presence of a glycated serum protein (GSP). The urban raccoons averaged GSP levels more than double those of their rural cousins.

So the raccoons eating human food have high blood sugar – and double the glycated proteins of the country raccoons that kill my chickens. And what do researchers blame for the high blood sugar? Too many leftover donuts? Breads? Pretzels? Candies?

Of course not:

That doesn’t surprise Suzanne MacDonald, an animal behaviour specialist in the psychology department at York University.

“They’re eating high fat, high salt, just like we are. It’s not surprising that raccoons are mirroring what humans in cities look like.”

Yeah, it just HAD to be the fat and salt, of course.

And that’s why I can’t retire from blogging anytime soon.


Lies Lying Liars Tell

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Last week, I explained why lying liars lie: they believe it’s okay to abuse the truth if what they consider a Big Truth is advanced in the process. Morgan Spurlock was, by his own admission, an alcoholic for decades, yet allowed the world to believe eating at McDonald’s for 30 days trashed his liver. I suspect he told himself it was okay to lie, since McDonald’s is an evil corporation that sells unhealthy food.

I’m convinced the world of nutrition research is full of lying liars telling lies. And most of the lies they tell are about the dangers of eating animal foods.

I understand when vegans who are scientific illiterates insist meat will kill us. The poor little dears don’t know any better. Yesterday on Twitter, I broke my rule about arguing with idiots and had some back-and-forth exchanges with a vegan. It was, of course, the same old, same old. The vegan cited a couple of observational studies as proof that meat is deadly.

Since this was all in response to a tweet in which I mentioned Tim Noakes, Professor Noakes replied to the vegan as well.  He explained that observational studies don’t prove cause and effect. The vegan’s reply? Saying “observational studies don’t count” is just semantics. The evidence is very strong.

Yes, you read that correctly. A guy who thinks the difference between clinical and observational studies is just a matter of semantics was arguing about science with Tim Noakes. It was like watching a child who’s learned to play three notes on a recorder arguing about music theory with Mozart.

Anyway, we can forgive the vegan. He was simply regurgitating what the vegan preachers always say and doesn’t know enough to recognize how little he knows. I don’t believe he was being intentionally dishonest.

But then there are the lying liars — doctors and researchers who simply can’t be that ignorant. And yet they ignore all the contrary evidence — not to mention the principles of basic science — and continue to tell us animal foods will kill us.

Why? I can think of two reasons. The first is that they believe eating animals is immoral. That’s certainly the case with the loonies at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

PCRM is, of course, an organization founded to promote veganism, not a group of concerned doctors. Only a tiny fraction of its members are physicians. Dr. Neal Bernard, the founder, grew up on a cattle ranch and now preaches about the dangers of eating meat. Perhaps Freud would have something to say about that. What I’ll say about it is that Dr. Bernard will say pretty much anything to scare people away from animal foods.

One of PCRM’s biggest campaigns warns people about the dangers of eating eggs. And yes, they can point to observational studies in which eggs are associated with diseases. But there are plenty of studies that show the opposite. For example, here’s the result of an observational study reported in USA Today:

The results showed people who consumed one egg a day carried a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and strokes compared to those who didn’t eat eggs at all.

And here’s the result of a clinical study reported in Science Daily:

Eating up to 12 eggs a week does not increase cardiovascular risk factors in people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Bernard is a zealot, but not an idiot. He has to know about the studies that show no harm from eating eggs. But that’s the little truth (otherwise known as the actual facts). He’s more interested in the Big Truth, which for him means that people shouldn’t eat animals because it’s immoral. So he’ll happily lie about the evidence.

Other lying liars have different motivations. As I recounted in a recent post, Walter Willett of Harvard is now claiming that one-third of premature deaths could be prevented if we all became vegetarians. One-third! That’s a huge, unbelievable number … especially since some large observational studies (like this one and this one) showed no difference at all in the lifespans of vegetarians and meat eaters.

Surely Dr. Willett is aware of those studies. So why would he tell us going vegetarian can have a huge effect on mortality that’s never been demonstrated in any study?

Perhaps this will explain it:  Willett is now the co-chair of an organization called The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health. Here are some quotes from their website:

The Sustainable Development Goals cover topics ranging from urban life and education to oceans, inequality and gender.

Food production is notoriously energy-intensive. Reducing the amount of energy used in developed countries’ food systems is an important step to lower GHG emissions and environmental impact.

Food production contributes around a quarter of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. By eating limited amounts of meat or none at all we can reduce methane emissions and improve our diets.

Reducing inequalities between countries and within societies themselves will require a huge boost for those at the bottom of the ladder.

Goal 5 is the gender equality stand-alone goal, but it can only be successful if women are integrated into each and every goal. That means goals around food too. There are many reasons to focus specifically on women’s nutrition: For example, healthy women are better equipped to break existing barriers to equality and they can nourish healthy babies.

There is also a reverse relationship between food and peace, justice, and strong institutions: A lack of these can also be a root cause of dysfunctional food systems, hunger and poor nutrition. Getting it right on food can both depend on this goal, and strengthen its attainment.

I could go on and on with quotes, but you get the idea. These are a bunch of social justice warriors, and Willett has become one of them. He believes eating meat is bad for the planet, bad for social equality, perhaps bad for women and children, etc., etc.

Now, I don’t care what your views on social equality, gender equality, peace, love, justice, clean water and free healthcare for all happen to be. If we’re talking about the effects of eating meat on human health, leave them at the door. Your social-justice goals shouldn’t figure into the discussion … unless you’re the type who believes it’s okay to abuse little truth in order to promote Big Truth.

Yes, I’m only speculating, but in light of his outlandish and unsupported claims about how we’d avoid one-third of all premature deaths by going vegetarian, I’m convinced Willett is promoting his Big Truth at the expense of actual facts.

An article with the rather provocative headline No amount of alcohol, sausage or bacon is safe according to cancer experts landed in my inbox recently. Here are some quotes:

No amount of alcohol, sausage or bacon is safe according to a new global blueprint on how to beat cancer.

Even small amounts of processed meats and booze increase the risk of a host of cancers outlined in World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) guidelines updated every decade.

The respected global authority has unveiled a 10-point plan to cut your risk of getting cancer by up to 40%.

Boy, human beings must be remarkably delicate creates if no amount of bacon or alcohol is safe. I hadn’t heard of the World Cancer Research Fund, so I went looking. I found this article from the Huffington Post illuminating:

Among ten recommendations on how to avoid cancer, the [WCRF] report argues that there is “convincing” evidence that red meat and processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

However, the largest ever study examining the link between colorectal cancer and red and processed meat consumption did not find any association. But it was never been published – even as 19 other studies on cancer and diet were published by the Pooling Project.

The fact is that their colorectal cancer study had more subjects than many of the other studies published by the Pooling Project – and the four-year delay in publication cannot but raise the question of whether their results just didn’t fit in with the nutritional beliefs of Harvard’s School of Public Health, one of whose senior figures – Dr. Walter Willett – has long recommended limiting red meat and who, coincidentally, is a board member of the World Cancer Research Fund.

I don’t believe I need to comment. Draw your own conclusions as to why Willett would perhaps block publication of a large study that found no association between cancer and red and processed meats.

I don’t think we can blame Willett for this one, but it’s another fine example of lying liars telling lies: A recent article in the U.K. Telegraph was titled Atkins diet may cause heart failure, major new protein study finds. Ah, so they studied the Atkins diet, right? Wrong.

The Atkins diet may raise the risk of fatal heart disease, according to a new study.

Analysis of more than 2,440 men found that those with a high protein intake faced a 33 per cent increased risk of developing heart failure, where the organ is unable to pump sufficient blood and oxygen around the body.

Those who ate the most protein from animal sources had a 43 per cent higher risk of heart failure compare to those in the study who ate the least.

It wasn’t a study of the Atkins diet at all. It was just another lousy observational study based on food questionnaires. Men who ate more animal protein had a slightly higher rate of heart failure. Okay, fine. And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts (and you can keep the donuts) the men who ate more animal protein also ate more sugar, drank more alcohol, etc., etc. There was no mention whatsoever of any subjects being on a low-carb diet.

The New York Post ran an article on the same study titled Are high-protein diets quietly killing middle-aged men? Go look at the photo that accompanies the article. It’s a lean, muscular guy clutching his chest. Yeah, that happens all the time. Lean, fit guys have heart attacks because too much protein quietly kills them.

Here are some quotes from the article:

The American Heart Association study’s authors say there’s more research to be done on the connection between high-protein diets and heart failure.

However, it doesn’t look good for middle-aged men who gorge on burgers and bacon instead of whole grains and veggies.

In other words, the American Heart Association once again conducted an observational study and discovered that by gosh, they’ve been right all along. We should be eating more whole grains and veggies and stop gorging on burgers and bacon. Too much protein will give you heart failure.

But then the American Heart Association will have to explain this study, which was posted on the site for the European Society of Cardiology under the headline Heart failure patients with a higher protein intake live longer.

Heart failure patients who consume more protein live longer, according to research presented today at Heart Failure 2018 and the World Congress on Acute Heart Failure, a European Society of Cardiology congress.

This study investigated the association between protein intake and survival in 2,281 patients with heart failure in the BIOSTAT-CHF study, which was conducted in 11 countries in Europe. Patients were divided into four groups according to the amount of protein they consumed, and then the association with mortality was assessed.

At the end of the median 21 month follow up period, 31% of patients in the lowest quartile of protein intake (40 grams or less per day) had died compared to 18% of patients in the highest quartile of protein intake (70 grams or more per day).

After adjusting for multiple confounders, including age and renal function, patients in the lowest quartile of protein intake had a 46% higher risk of death than those in the highest quartile of protein intake.

So I guess more protein will save your life if you’ve had heart failure … but a high-protein diet is the reason you had heart failure in the first place.  Yeah, that must be it.

Or it could just be that lying liars lie. When doctors and researchers tell you meat will kill you, I think that’s the safe assumption.


Fat Head Kids Trailer

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We have quite a few items that must be delivered to our distributor by the end of this week.  A trailer was one of those items.  I hadn’t created on yet, so that was my weekend.

You wouldn’t believe how much head-scratching work is required to go through an entire film and pick a mere two minutes to capture the essence of it … or least entice people to watch it.

Anyway, here it is.  If all goes according to plan, the film will be available in December.


Why Lying Liars Lie

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I wrote about this before, but it deserves another mention, given the topic of this post. Back in December, Morgan Spurlock made a public #MeToo confession, admitting he’d sexually harassed a female employee and is very, very sorry now and will become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Yeah, whatever. Given who is, I suspect Spurlock learned he was about to be named publicly and decided to get out in front of it. Or he just figured the confession was good P.R.

What I found interesting was that he blamed his behavior, at least in part, on being an alcoholic. In fact, Spurlock said he’d been drinking since age 13 and hadn’t been sober for more than week in decades.

Surprisingly, hardly anyone in the major news media put two and two together and wondered if perhaps Spurlock’s confession also means Super Size Me is a load of bologna.

The Wall Street Journal and The Daily Wire did finally ask the question recently. The WSJ article is behind a paywall, so let’s look at some quotes from the Daily Wire article, which also quotes from the WSJ article:

McAleer [of the WSJ] rightly asks: “Could this be why his liver looked like that of an alcoholic? Were those shakes symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?”

Indeed, one of the doctors asks Spurlock in “Super Size Me” if he abused alcohol, to which Spurlock replied no.

“Any alcohol use?” the doctor asks at the outset. “Now? None,” he replies.

I guess “Now? None” means I’m not drunk at this particular moment.

So the audience is presented with the image of a healthy young guy who doesn’t drink. And then he eats just three meals per day at McDonald’s, and by gosh, everything goes haywire, including his liver. (I explained in Fat Head that Spurlock couldn’t possibly have eaten three typical meals per day at McDonald’s, given his calorie totals, but that’s what we were told.) This review is pretty typical of what the film’s fans took away from it:

In just a month, Spurlock gains 25 pounds, his cholesterol increases sharply, and he suffers severe liver damage. In the last few days, the doctor tells him that his liver resembles an alcoholic’s and if he continues the diet much longer, it could entirely wipe out his liver.

Hmmm … his liver resembles an alcoholic’s. And now we know he was an alcoholic, and had been one for decades. And yet Morgan Spurlock was happy to have the world believe that just a single month of eating at McDonald’s trashed his liver. An interview with Spurlock about Super Size Me in The New York Times was titled You Want Liver Failure With That? – and again, Spurlock blamed the fatty food he ate at McDonald’s for turning his liver into pate.

So the question is: why would he do that? Why would a guy who knows damned good and well  he’s a heavy drinker decide it’s okay to blame McDonald’s for a liver that resembles an alcoholic’s? In words, why do lying liars lie?

I believe the answer is related to what I’ve written previously about objectivists vs. subjectivists. An objectivist thinks like this: If it’s true, I’ll believe it. But a subjectivist thinks like this: If I believe it, it’s true.

Subjectivists have a fuzzy relationship with the truth. That fuzziness allows them to believe that it’s okay to stretch, twist, or otherwise abuse the truth if they are serving a larger and more important truth. Call it little truth vs. Big Truth. It’s okay to abandon little truth if Big Truth is advanced in the process.

My guess is that Morgan Spurlock told himself it’s okay to blame McDonald’s for damaging his liver because McDonald’s sells unhealthy food. Little truth: I’m an alcoholic, and that’s why my liver is trashed. Big Truth: McDonald’s is an evil corporation that’s making people sick, and if people believe eating their food damaged my liver, maybe they’ll stop eating there. I’m doing them a favor.

Spurlock is a gimmicky filmmaker. We’re talking about a guy who paid people eat dog turds and worms on his MTV show. But even reporters for the national news media make the little truth vs. Big Truth tradeoff.

In the 1980s, I was working at a small health magazine and wrote an article on AIDS, which was very much in the news. The conclusion (quoting a researcher more or less verbatim) was that if you’re a heterosexual and don’t shoot drugs with used syringes, you are more likely to be struck by lightning than to contract AIDS. (As a single man at the time, I was quite relieved.)

Meanwhile, I was reading articles in national newspapers and magazines assuring us that AIDS was about to explode into the heterosexual population. Nobody was safe.  U.S. News & World Report declared that The disease of them is suddenly the disease of us.  Life Magazine ran a cover story with the title Now No One Is Safe from AIDS.

I kept thinking, Are these people reading the same research I’m reading? Where the hell are they getting this?

It was little truth vs. Big Truth. The little truth (otherwise known as the actual facts) was that AIDS was a horrible disease, but mostly confined to gay men and drug abusers using infected needles – and almost certain to remain so. But the major-media types were more interested in the Big Truth, which was that if the public believed were all in danger, it would be easier to convince politicians to spend more money on research. So they wrote articles they knew were abusing the facts.  The predicted explosion of AIDS into the heterosexual population, of course, never happened.

I’m convinced little truth vs. Big Truth explains a lot of what passes for research in the field of nutrition and health. We’ll look at some examples in my next post.


It’s Over! Noakes 2, The Anointed 0

The more unjustified a persecution, the more vehement and long-lasting it is likely to be. – Eric Hoffer, who wrote in the 1950s.

Well, it’s finally over. The persecution of Tim Noakes has ended. Here are some quotes from a Business Day article online.

The Banting diet guru Prof Tim Noakes has won his case at the Health Profession’s Council of SA (HPCSA)‚ four years after he tweeted a response about a mother weaning her baby onto a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet.

He told TimesLIVE: “The predominant feeling at the moment is one of intense relief. Relief that it is finally over and that the appeal judgment was again 100% in our favour, as was the original judgment. This chapter is finally closed. I just hope that all the effort put in by myself and my team will help move the dietary guidelines forward to the benefit of the health of all South Africans.”

In February 2014‚ the mother‚ Pippa Leenstra‚ tweeted: “@ProfTimNoakes @SalCreed is LCHF eating ok for breastfeeding mums? Worried about all the dairy + cauliflower = wind for babies??”

The complaint against Noakes was laid with HPCSA by dietician Claire Strydom‚ who was then chairwoman of the Association of Dieticians of SA.

Way to go, dietitians of South Africa! In a previous post, I pointed out that:

1. Nobody should be prosecuted for answering a question tweeted to him by a fan.  (The fan didn’t complain; the dietitians did.)

2. It isn’t necessary to prosecute people who offer contrary dietary advice if they’re actually wrong — people will discover that for themselves.

3. Tim Noakes isn’t your real problem.  Lousy results are your real problem.

4. There’s no positive outcome to your continued harassment of Tim Noakes.

I believe point number #4 could hardly be more obvious now.

Four years. Lord-only-knows how much money spent on the prosecution. A fine man put through the stress of two trials. And the final result of this whole, sorry episode is that you’ve made yourselves look like the petty @$$holes you are.  You took a shot at Noakes and wounded your own reputations in the process.  Well deserved.

None of this ever should have happened, of course.  If you don’t like what Noakes tells people about diet and health, argue your own case. Prove him wrong. Engage him in the marketplace of ideas. Demonstrate that your results are better than his. That’s how a sane person would react to a critic.

But no, you had to prosecute. You wanted him stifled. You wanted to make an example of him to scare off anyone else who dared tell people your dietary advice is wrong. This was never about a tweet. It was an assassination attempt.

To quote from the Business Day article:

During the appeal hearing, Noakes’s lawyers mentioned e-mails they had accessed through the Promotion of Access to Information request. The e-mails were between Strydom and a professor of dietetics at North-West University and discussed a plan to complain about Noakes — before the tweet in question was posted.

Noakes’s legal team argued that the two had planned to take him down and found a tweet to do so.

There’s really no question about that. Marika Sboros tweeted the text of those emails. This one was written by Strydrom to the professor on January 30, 2014 – before the tweet by Noakes that was the supposed basis of his trial:

Subject: Tim Noakes impact on the dietetics profession.

Here are other examples of what other people are writing due to the negative attention we are getting from Tim Noakes.

Sure sounds like Ms. Strydom was upset that Noakes inspiring others to question the advice offered by dietitians, doesn’t it?

This one was written by Strydom on March 20, 2014. If it doesn’t portray someone scheming to prosecute a critic, I don’t know what does:

Just would like to follow up on the Tim Noakes problem – the bashing of the profession continues and we need intervention from the HPCSA as a matter of urgency. As ASDA we do comment, but the HPCSA has a much bigger clout and we are desperate for an intervention.

Allow me to interpret: we’re not big enough to really hurt the guy, so we want you to do it.

Unfortunately for Strydom and the rest of the @$$holes, they chose the wrong target. Noakes was 65 years old at the time and could have simply ridden off into the sunset to avoid a long and painful trial. But the man has a steel spine. I’m reminded of a line from A Few Good Men: “You @#$%ed with the wrong marine!”

They wanted to shame him and instead gave him the opportunity to become a hero. Like most heroes, Noakes didn’t set out to become one. He was thrust into circumstances that would have crushed an ordinary man. But he’s not an ordinary man, so he stood up and fought a battle that lasted four years – for himself, yes, but also for the rest of us.

Congratulations, Professor Noakes. And thank you.