I’ve finally gotten over the sensation that my house is rocking on invisible waves, so I guess it’s safe to write about the 5th Annual Low-Carb Cruise. (I was once on a cruise ship for five straight weeks as a comedian. When I finally went home, it was nearly two weeks before our townhouse didn’t seem to be riding on gentle waves.)
You’ve probably heard by now that one of our speakers, Dr. Jack Kruse, was pulled off the ship after someone tweeted to Carnival that he was bringing a biological weapon aboard. I met Dr. Kruse on the flight from Nashville, and Chareva and I later shared a ride to the hotel with him. The next day he was gone and we never saw him again. More on that later.
Once we checked into our hotel in Houston, Chareva and I ended up having lunch with Dr. Eric Westman, his daughter, and a few other people. I was pleased to learn that Dr. Westman uses clips from Fat Head when explaining how low-carb diets work to people in his clinic. I was further pleased when he said I’ve inspired him to include more humor in his presentations.
After lunch, Chareva hung out with some other cruisers she’d met last year so I could rehearse my roast a few more times in our hotel room. (As the Older Brother noted, I’m a bit of a freak for rehearsing. If I’m disciplined about rehearsing, I can afford to be loose on stage.) By the time the pre-cruise dinner rolled around, I felt more or less ready.
I haven’t done a full standup routine in a couple of years now, so it was both a pleasure and a bit nerve-wracking to walk up on stage after dinner and find myself facing an audience of 270 people, all of them expecting me to make them laugh. I was happy with the response, especially since it was a one-shot deal. As any standup comedian will tell you, comedy is a hit-and-miss game. While developing a routine, you write some bits, try them out in front of an audience, drop or rewrite the bits that didn’t quite work, then repeat the process until you’ve got a full slate of material you know works.
That isn’t possible with a one-time roast. The first time you test the material is also the last time you’ll deliver it. My hit-to-miss ratio was high, so I was happy when I walked off stage and finally felt like I was on vacation after weeks of preparation.
Unfortunately, the audio/video gods decided to mess with me again. A couple of my roast bits included video clips. For some reason, they didn’t play on the big screen, even though I could see them on my laptop. I didn’t notice at first, so I wondered why a clip from the movie “Quiz Show” in which Fred Hahn had a couple of lines as an actor didn’t draw a response. Well, duh … nobody in the audience could see the clip.
I also didn’t get a good audio recording of the roast. When I record myself in front of an audience, I like to put a camera in the back of the room to get the full view and let that camera pick up the room and audience sound. Then I wear a wireless microphone and feed the signal into another camera to get a clear audio track of my voice. If I just take sound from the wireless mic, the crowd noise is barely audible, and it sounds as if I’m talking to an empty room … kind of like my speech in Washington.
For whatever reason, that second camera didn’t record, even though I know I pressed the record button just before taking the stage. So all I have is a video with my voice echoing from across a large room, with crowd laughter drowning me out at times. Jimmy Moore recorded the roast from the front of the room, so he’s going to see if he can strip off the audio track and send it to me. If that works, I’ll put it all together and post the roast. If not … well, you’ll just have to trust me that it was a fun show.
Now, about that Jack Kruse incident … a couple of hours after we’d all boarded the ship, I bumped into Jimmy Moore, who told me Dr. Kruse had been questioned and removed from the ship by agents from the FBI and Homeland Security. At the time, nobody knew what had actually happened. We picked up bits and pieces throughout the day, and late in the evening I read the full story online. Here are some quotes from an online news article:
Nashville neurosurgeon Jack Kruse says he’s the victim of cyber sabotage. Kruse was scheduled as a guest speaker Monday for Jimmy Moore’s 5th Annual Low-Carb Cruise on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston, Texas.
But before the ship departed Sunday afternoon, the cruise line learned of a Twitter message from an account containing quotes allegedly from Kruse. The account — @s…krusesays, which contains an expletive — contained messages claiming Kruse had a “vial of Legionnaires for epic biohack.” The Twitter account has since been disabled.
When Carnival learned of the tweet, it contacted authorities, and Galveston police, the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard boarded the ship to investigate.
Authorities searched Kruse’s bags, questioned him and asked him to disembark the ship while they investigated. Kruse said authorities quickly learned he wasn’t behind the tweets. But he wasn’t let back on the ship. In addition to the tweet, Kruse said someone named Lance emailed Carnival warning that a doctor was on the ship and going to conduct a bio attack.
Kruse has a following at jackkruse.com and speaks about diet and weight loss. He once weighed more than 350 pounds, he said. Kruse speaks about Leptin reset and cold thermogenesis, a type of treatment that uses cold temperatures to facilitate weight loss.
Kruse said he believes those who disagree with him are behind the anonymous Twitter account.
“These were all people who had competing thoughts about diet and exercise. This created a huge logistical nightmare,” Kruse said. “To make a joke about something like this is not a good thing to do. Not only is it unprofessional and unethical, it’s quite dangerous these days.”
So some hater got Dr. Kruse bumped. I can’t imagine what goes through some people’s deranged minds. Sure, Dr. Kruse is controversial, but if you disagree with the guy then the proper response is to cite your evidence and prove him wrong. But as Jimmy Moore and others have learned, some wackos out there in cyberspace believe that if you disagree with them about diet and health, you’re now some kind of mortal enemy who deserves any vicious attack they can dream up.
Jimmy has received vile emails calling him all kinds of names and accusing him of being evil … yes, evil. Jimmy Moore, one of the most kind-hearted and generous human beings I know, is evil to some people because they don’t agree with his views on the benefits of a low-carb diet. Amazing.
Anyway, I hope the FBI finds the nutcase who did this to Dr. Kruse. I also hope the nutcase gets a nice, long opportunity to continue hating Dr. Kruse from the comfort of a prison cell.
But back to the cruise …
On last year’s cruise, the speakers were assigned to different tables every night to give the other cruisers a chance to meet everyone over dinner. Apparently the powers at Carnival decided that was too confusing for the dining-room staff, especially since it was such a large group, so this year we were told to stay put. I liked being moved around last year, but I’m not complaining, since our dinner companions this year were Fred Hahn, Dr. John Briffa, Denise Minger (who kindly agreed not to kick my ass in public after the roast), Chris Masterjohn, Dr. William “Wheat Belly” Davis and his lovely wife Dawn. How’s that for interesting company?
John Briffa was every bit as witty as I expected him to be based on some email exchanges, Chris Masterjohn entertained us one evening by recounting the time he (as a teenager!) successfully defended himself in court against a charge of disorderly conduct, Fred Hahn was his usual wise-cracking, lobster-devouring self, William Davis proved that even brilliant doctors can have a great sense of humor, and Denise Minger was, well, Denise Minger. I hope she and Chris Masterjohn get married someday and produce a big brood of little geniuses. They could single-handedly raise the average IQ of the American population.
Jackie and Conrad Eberstein
The Lady in Red, Lynne Daniel, works with Dr. Westman. Some years ago, she was 180 pounds heavier. That means she was (almost) carrying one of me around with her.
My only complaint about the ship, the Carnival Magic, was the lack of karaoke opportunities. Last year there was late-night karaoke pretty much every night, so many of us hung out in the karaoke showroom after dinner. This year most of the karaoke shows were at 6:30 PM, which doesn’t work for people having dinner from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Jimmy Moore and I managed to continue our cruise tradition of singing Elvira together exactly once.
On most nights, the low-carb group packed into the piano bar and pretty much took it over. I was pleased to see that the speakers seemed to be surrounded by different groups of cruisers every night, if not every couple of hours on a given night. I know from talking to people on previous cruises that meeting the speakers in person is partly why they come aboard. Well, they had plenty of opportunities to hang out with their heroes this year.
Dr. John Briffa shared an interesting observation with Chareva one night: “There’s a lot of love in this group,” he said. Yes, there is. Most of us have struggled with weight or health issues (some still are) so there’s a bond, an understanding, that makes for instant friendship. I end up hugging more people on a week-long Low-Carb Cruise than I do during the other 51 weeks of the year.
Chareva dancing with some guy.
Chareva dancing with some other guy.
Dr. Eric Westman dancing with his daughter.
Fred Hahn getting a hair makeover.
I didn’t leave the ship for any excursions this year because I was on a one-man mission to get as many of the assembled experts on camera as I could. As I’ve mentioned, Chareva and I are planning to produce a book for parents and kids that explains how different foods affect kids’ health. We’d also like to produce a DVD companion for the book, and that DVD will include plenty of interviews.
When I was in Los Angeles for the Ancestral Health Symposium, I interviewed Dr. Richard Feinman, Dr. Robert Lustig, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, Dr. Mike Eades and Nora Gedguadas. On the cruise, I managed to arrange interviews with Dr. John Briffa, Dr. William Davis, Dr. Eric Westman, Dr. Mary Vernon, Dr. Michael Fox, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt (again) and Dr. Ann Childers, a psychiatrist who focuses on diet as the cause of emotional and behavioral problems in children and teens. In other words, I’ve now interviewed the Dream Team.
I also happened to meet Dr. Brad Hoopingarner, a pediatrician who told me Fat Head convinced some of the obese children he treats to change their diets and finally begin shedding the excess body fat. Naturally, I asked him to talk about his work on camera as well. Nothing like having a “boots on the ground” pediatrician to explain how bad diets are turning kids into fat diabetics. Dr. Hoopingarner has seen type 2 diabetes in kids as young as four year old – that just shouldn’t happen, ever.
Chareva did go ashore when the ship was in port. She even swam with the stingrays in the Caymans. I’ll be honest: that would freak me out a little. I would’ve skipped that one even if I wasn’t busy conducting interviews. I don’t like to be around creatures with “sting” in their names.
Of course, the Low-Carb Cruise isn’t just about dinners, excursions and late-night fun. The main purpose (or the stated purpose, anyway) is to attend the lectures, and this year’s lectures were excellent. I won’t describe them in detail since they were all recorded on video and should be available online soon. When they are, I’ll post the links. But briefly:
Dr. Eric Westman spoke about low-carb myths. No, a ketogenic diet won’t cause your kidneys to explode, and no, you don’t need to eat 120 grams of glucose per day to have a well-functioning brain.
Dr. Jeff Volek spoke about low-carb diets and athletic performance. The studies he’s conducted demonstrate that athletes perform quite well on a low-carb if they give themselves time to become keto-adapted, with the added advantage of no longer “hitting the wall” once their glycogen stores are depleted. After all, it’s nearly impossible to deplete your stored body fat in a single event, even if you’re quite lean.
Dr. John Briffa spoke about escaping the “diet trap” … that is, the discredited notion that simply eating less and moving more will lead to long-term weight loss. Long-term success is about adopting a diet that controls metabolism and appetite naturally, not going through life hungry most of the time.
Dr. William Davis spoke (of course) about wheat. The semi-dwarf wheat people consume today has only been around since the 1970s, and it appears to be causing a number of health problems– not the least of which is ramping up people’s appetites because of changes in the gliadin protein, which acts as an appetite stimulant.
Monique Forslund spoke about her experiences feeding kids a high-fat, low-carb diet and watching their health and mood improve as a result.
Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt updated the ongoing story of the high-fat, low-carb revolution in Sweden. (Let’s bring that revolution here!)
Chris Masterjohn spoke on why animal fat is good for us and why some polyunsaturated vegetable oils probably aren’t, and he recounted the studies that tried (unsuccessfully) to prove that removing or reducing animal fats in the diet can reduce rates of heart disease.
Denise Minger spoke (of course) about the many flaws in the China Study. She also showed examples – from T. Colin Campbell’s own published studies – of how his previous findings contradict the dietary advice and warnings he now promotes.
Jackie Eberstein spoke on carbohydrate addiction, explaining why addiction to sugar and white flour can be as real as addiction to cocaine. (Since the gliadin in wheat is an opiate, I’m sure Dr. Davis would agree.)
Fred Hahn spoke on exercise and which popular forms of exercise he’d advise against – such as doing squats while balancing on a ball. (Do people really do that? Apparently so. I guess it’s called “balance training.” Looks like a great way to suffer a serious injury.)
Since Dr. Kruse was taken away from us and Dr. Ron Rosedale couldn’t attend, Jimmy Moore invited other experts who happened to be on board to fill those slots by giving 10-minute talks of their own. So we got to hear from Dr. Mary Vernon, Dr. Michael Fox, Dana Carpender and several others. All in all, a great set of lectures before a packed house — so packed, we needed two screens this year for the PowerPoint presentations.
Since the audio-visual gods had already messed with me, the travel gods decided to get into the act as well. After the ship docked on Sunday, we got on buses for the hour-long ride back to the airport in Houston. Chareva and I had booked a 12:49 PM flight home, so when the bus pulled away at 10:30 AM, I figured we had plenty of time.
Nope. There was an accident on the interstate and the bus slowed to a crawl for about a half-hour. We dashed into the airport at noon, figuring we’d make it just under the wire. But for reasons that were never explained to us, United had changed our flight to 12:29 PM. Since the minimum check-in time before takeoff is 45 minutes, we weren’t allowed on the flight. The folks at United generously offered to put us on standby for a 3:48 PM flight. If you don’t travel much, “standby” is an airline term for “we know you’ll never get on that flight since it’s already oversold, but this way we can pretend we’re doing something to help.”
At first they told us the next flight with open seats was at 7:00 AM the next morning. That was a depressing proposition because 1) I’d have to wake up at 4:00 AM, which I hate, and 2) I was really missing Sara and Alana and wanted to get home as soon as possible. Then two seats magically became available on a 5:35 PM flight. We snapped those up. Naturally, since I was booked on that flight, it didn’t actually take off until 7:30 PM.
Well, it wasn’t so bad. We ended up having a long lunch in the airport with several other people who’d been in our group on the cruise, so it was sort of like extending the festivities. Later we spent more than an hour talking to Anne Luther, a nurse who had suffered a number of health problems when she still ate grains, including horrible pains in her joints and feet that her doctors couldn’t explain.
“They said my pains were idiopathic.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means they’re idiots.”
Too true. She finally figured it out by doing her own research online. When she went low-carb and gave up grains, the pains went away.
That’s why the work the speakers we saw on the cruise are doing is so important. Too many people are suffering needlessly, taking drugs to mask the symptoms of diseases they shouldn’t have in the first place. As Dr. Davis said in his talk, to a large degree our health-care system is simply treating the effects of consuming mutant wheat and other bad foods. That’s got to change.
After hanging around with the large and enthusiastic crowd aboard the ship, I want to believe we can bring about that change, each of us doing our own small part. That’s the dream. When we all get together on a cruise, there’s a sense of mission, yes, but also a sense of celebration. We’ve escaped the bad dietary advice … let’s drink to that.
I hope you can celebrate with us next year.