News from my inbox …

Meat Eaters Are Bad People

We all know meat-eating is frowned upon by Hindus in India, but apparently some Indian textbook publishers have opted for brainwashing over mere persuasion when it comes to kids:

Meat-eaters “easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes”, according to a controversial school textbook available in India.  New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India’s leading publishers.

Well, I know the cure for this criminal tendency:  eat more meat.  Then in addition to forgetting promises, you’ll forget to cheat, lie and commit sex crimes.

“The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables,” reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food?

Yeah, and look what happened when Adam and Eve ate some of that fruit:  they realized they were naked and felt ashamed.  That’s why I never ate apples after a long night of drinking.

The textbook may sound ridiculous to us, but keep in mind textbooks in America tell students that meat and animal fats cause cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  At least people in India aren’t taking their textbook seriously.

Silliness In La-La Land

I’ve never regretted leaving the Los Angeles area, but news stories like this certainly confirm my decision:

Los Angeles is hoping to persuade people to become vegetarian – at least one day per week. Under a resolution unanimously approved by the city council this week, all future Mondays in the City of Angels have been declared “Meatless Mondays.”

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who introduced the motion with Councilman Ed Reyes, noted the environmental impacts of meat production, and she emphasized that a high-meat diet has been linked to health problems such as colon, prostate, kidney and breast cancers, as well as heart disease.

“Eating less meat can prevent and even reverse some of our nation’s most common illnesses,” Perry said.

Well, that’s strange … we already eat less meat than previous generations of Americans, especially red meat.  I guess that explains the astounding reversal of obesity and common illnesses we’ve witnessed since the 1970s.

Reyes said it is easy for individuals to feel helpless in the face of issues as big as global warming or the obesity epidemic, “but the small changes we make every day can have a tremendous impact. That’s why this ‘Meatless Monday’ resolution is important. Together we can better our health, the animals and the environment, one plate at a time.”

Not only that, Meatless Mondays in Los Angeles will no doubt produce a decline in lies, cheating, forgotten promises and sex crimes — but the politicians will find other pursuits.

Sanity Emerges in Denmark

Remember when the Danish government instituted a “fat tax”?  Well, they’ve changed their minds:

Denmark has said it will scrap a fat tax it introduced a little over a year ago in a world first, saying the measure was costly and failed to change Danes’ eating habits.

“The fat tax and the extension of the chocolate tax, the so-called sugar tax, has been criticised for increasing prices for consumers, increasing companies’ administrative costs and putting Danish jobs at risk,” the Danish tax ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

“At the same time it is believed that the fat tax has, to a lesser extent, contributed to Danes travelling across the border to make purchases,” it added.

“Against this background, the government and the (far-left) Red Green Party have agreed to abolish the fat tax and cancel the planned sugar tax,” the ministry said.

This is of course good news, but here’s what I don’t understand:  the tax was burdensome, drove business to other countries, created an administrative nightmare, and failed to solve the problem it targeted …  so why the heck is a government canceling it?  The Danes should take a page from our government’s playbook and declare that the lousy results only prove the program wasn’t big enough.

Billions and Billions, Minus A Few

When Fat Head was released, I heard from die-hard fans of Super Size Me who accused me of being funded by McDonald’s (if only that were true) and insisted that Super Size Me had hurt McDonald’s sales.  I replied that the people who loved Super Size Me are the same people who already hated McDonald’s and didn’t eat there anyway.  I also replied that I’d spoken to a guy who owns six McDonald’s restaurants, and he told me sales went up after Super Size Me, not down.

Well, Ronald McDonald’s sales are finally down:

McDonald’s posted its first monthly drop in global sales in the month of October, the first time it’s done so in (wait for it) nine years.

Now, with all the news about the obesity crisis in America (a whopping one-third of the country is now considered obese), it might seem logical to conclude that a suddenly health-conscious citizenry in the U.S. is eschewing fast food for more wholesome fare. Alas, no one appears to think that’s the case.

To wit, although monthly sales were down 2.4 percent at McDonald’s in the U.S. and Europe, sales at Wendy’s rose 2.7 percent in the third quarter. You might say, then, that plenty of people just swapped out their Quarter Pounders for a Dave’s Hot ’N Juicy.

Or they’re eating Whoppers. Reuters also reports Burger King sales rose 1.4 percent during the last quarter. Unfortunately, fast food clearly isn’t going anywhere soon.

So here’s what I think happened:  The rabid Super Size Me fans were right.  Morgan Spurlock did harm McDonald’s … it just took eight years for people who liked his film to get the point.

Hair Loss And Heart Attacks

In my Big Fat Fiasco speech, I demonstrated the weakness of associations found in observational studies by explaining that we could find a statistical link between baldness and heart disease – because men are more likely to lose hair and suffer heart attacks as they age.

Now some Danish researchers are citing baldness as a heart-disease risk factor:

A bald patch on the top of your head or a small vertical crease in your earlobe may seem like relatively harmless signs of aging, but a new study says signs like these may signal an increased risk of heart disease.

Danish researchers found that people were 39 percent more likely to have heart disease, and 57 percent more likely to have a heart attack, if they had at least three of these four signs: baldness on top of the head, receded hairline, a crease in the earlobe, and fatty deposits on the eyelids known as xanthelasmata.  The researchers accounted for people’s ages in their results.

Thank goodness my earlobes aren’t creased.

Therefore, the study shows “looking old for your age, by [having] these aging signs, marks poor cardiovascular health,” said study researcher Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, a professor and chief physician in the department of clinical biochemistry at Copenhagen University Hospital.

While the exact reason for the links between these signs and heart disease risk remains unclear, the study “validates the common clinical practice that the clinician examines the patient, and often looks at whether a person looks older or younger for her age,” Tybjaerg-Hansen said.

I’m frequently told I look young for my age, so I may yet survive the hair loss.

Tybjaerg-Hansen said the four signs identified in the new study should give clinicians greater incentive to treat patients who have them. “The suggestion is that lifestyle changes and lipid-lowering therapies should be intensified, because their risk is higher,” she said.

Well, if baldness is a risk factor for heart disease and medical treatment is the answer, I already came up with the next pharmaceutical blockbuster:

Want Better Grades?  Take Drugs!

As if we weren’t already medicating too many kids labeled as ADHD, a doctor is apparently prescribing drugs to boost academic performance:

When Dr. Michael Anderson hears about his low-income patients struggling in elementary school, he usually gives them a taste of some powerful medicine: Adderall.

The pills boost focus and impulse control in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although A.D.H.D is the diagnosis Dr. Anderson makes, he calls the disorder “made up” and “an excuse” to prescribe the pills to treat what he considers the children’s true ill — poor academic performance in inadequate schools.

“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”

Yup, that’ll modify the kid, all right.  You can read about the long-term effects of those modifications in the book Anatomy of an Epidemic. Let’s give it 20 years and see how many of the good doctor’s patients end up diagnosed as bipolar in their 20s.

Dr. Anderson’s instinct, he said, is that of a “social justice thinker” who is “evening the scales a little bit.”

Oh, no … not another “social justice thinker.”

He said that the children he sees with academic problems are essentially “mismatched with their environment” — square pegs chafing the round holes of public education. Because their families can rarely afford behavior-based therapies like tutoring and family counseling, he said, medication becomes the most reliable and pragmatic way to redirect the student toward success.

Hey, doctor, have you tried prescribing replacing cereal and toast with bacon and eggs in the morning?  Dr. Ann Childers told me that’s worked wonders for her little patients.

“People who are getting A’s and B’s, I won’t give it to them,” he said.

So the doctor believes these drugs improve school performance, but he wouldn’t use them to turn B students into A students … uh … because he doesn’t want the B students getting too far ahead of the D students? He’d rather see everyone become more equal than see good students become great students?

A socialist armed with a prescription pad.  Now that’s scary.

Shaving With Bacon

If I’m feeling courageous and indulgent someday, I may try the bacon-flavored sundae a restaurant here in Nashville started selling.  But I’m pretty sure I’ll never try this:

Just when you think every bit of bacon innovation has been cooked up, another seemingly unbelievable creation is unveiled for the world to enjoy.

But today’s new bacon offering is not to be eaten. Rather, it’s to be used as part of the distinguished gentleman’s grooming routine: bacon shaving cream.

For $14.99, you can purchase a limited-edition can of what creator J&D’s Foods suggests “is best used after a hot shower or before an important date with someone you may want to spend the rest of your life with.”

I can see how bacon shaving cream could benefit those still flailing in the dating pool.  When I first met Chareva, she struck me as a bit of a hippie-dippie chick … just home from the Peace Corps, a yin-yang nose stud, colorful clothes she brought home from her time in Africa, etc.  I have nothing against hippie-dippie chicks, but a lot of them are vegetarians or vegans.  So you can imagine my relief when she tore into an Italian sausage on our first date.

That was 15 years ago.  Now I’d just shave with bacon and see if she licked my face when I kissed her goodnight.

“You’re going to feel good, you’re going to smell good and you’re probably going to taste good,” J&D’s Dave Lefkow tells KIRO. “This is something that every bacon-loving American male needs.”

I love bacon, but I’ll pass.  Chareva doesn’t lick my face, but my Rottweilers do, and I’m afraid a bacon scent would inspire one of them to take a bite.  Besides, I’ve never had to bear the burden of being irresistible to women, and I don’t want to start now.  I might be able to learn the self-defense moves demonstrated in these old Hai Karate ads, but I don’t think they’d work against tough paleo gals who smell bacon.

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29 Responses to “From The News …”
  1. Kim says:

    I guess there’ll just be more meat for me on Mondays.

  2. Lori says:

    Re: India textbook, LA and the pediatrician, “The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie.” -Joseph Schumpeter

    The Danes, OTOH, from what I remember when they started their fat tax, seemed more interested in nipping some minor health problems in the bud. (They had low rates of heart disease, obesity and diabetes to begin with–even while eating cheese, butter and bacon–imagine that!)

    I’ll bet the bacon shaving cream people will corner the market on chow owners who wish they’d gotten a more affectionate dog.

    I hadn’t thought of that. We should get the Dog Whisperer to weigh in.

  3. Jenny says:

    You’re baiting us with that first date-Italian sausage story, aren’t you? Nobody took the bait the first time because it’s too easy and we’re trying to respect that this is a family blog. But we do need to have some fun and I didn’t know you were Italian there I said it.

    I’m not into that biting stuff.

  4. Netty says:

    Love your writings Tom. Interestingly LA is the one place I have visited in the USA that I didn’t care for, although really enjoyed the rest of the west coast. ( from the UK)

    My great-aunt lived in California for more than 50 years and told me the L.A. area was a paradise when she moved there. Unfortunately, it was screwed up by Californians.

  5. Per Wikholm says:

    Wow… bacon shaving creame seems a to be great news, especially for the
    poor, bald guys at high risk for heart disease since it is well established by the conventional wisdom that shaving at least one time per day, reduces the risk for CVD in the Caerphilly Study:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12543623

    Other good news… Yudkins on sale again (with intro by Robert Lustig)

    http://www.amazon.com/Pure-White-Deadly/dp/0241965284/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354200116&sr=1-1&keywords=Pure%2C+white+and+deadly

    Yikes, I’d better start shaving every day. I don’t have much of a beard and sometimes go 2-3 days, but now I see that could be giving me heart disease.

  6. Danny says:

    Your comments in the “Want Better Grades? Take Drugs!” seem strange. You have a doctor who might agree with you if he were exposed to sufficient data showing that bacon and eggs might help kids (it’s not like nobody’s ever gotten an A on a diet of toast and cereal), but you instantly criticize him for not reaching the same concolusions you have. I don’t know, you don’t like over-prescribing away our problems and neither does he, but somehow that only gets him more criticism from you.

    I’m not following your logic.

  7. Marilyn says:

    I guess my husband doesn’t call California “the land of fruits and nuts” fer nuthin’. I supposed I could handle a meatless monday if I could have plenty of eggs, cheese, butter, cream. . . But somehow, I don’t think that’s what they’re talking about.

    Creased ear lobes a risk factor for heart disease? When I think of really creased ear lobes, I think of scrawny old women who have pierced ears and have worn heavy earrings all their lives. Does that count?

    Next headline: earrings linked to heart disease.

  8. Tony Mach says:

    One more from the news: Eric Smart, sat-fat researcher from Kentucky, falls from grace after a considerable amount of his published work turns out to be faked.

    http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/ori-sanctions-university-of-kentucky-nutrition-researcher-for-faking-dozens-of-images-in-10-papers/

    http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33464/title/A-Decade-of-Misconduct/

    Scientists are freakin’ liars.

  9. Liz says:

    As usual, excellent points. If people want to go meatless for their own reasons, fine, but why should be a government sanction, you know?!

    I personally am curious about the bacon shaving cream! I wonder if it can be promoted during an NFL ad campaign, you know, the New Pigskin!

    They could show a kicker attempting a field goal with another player’s face.

  10. Ricardo says:

    wow i don’t know if you remember me sending you that piece of news on YouTube from the Young Turks Show but i feel honoured that you posted it up on your site.

    Readers are my best source for interesting news stories. I always appreciate the alerts.

  11. Janknitz says:

    “The Danes should take a page from our government’s playbook and declare that the lousy results only prove the program wasn’t big enough.”

    HA! You called it, Tom! That’s EXACTLY what Marion Nestlé (Food Politics blog)said when commenting on the repeal of the fat tax in Denmark: “Is a saturated-fat tax good public policy? A tax on sugary drinks would be a better idea. ..anti-obesity tax measures in other countries have tended to avoid targeting broad nutrient groups. Instead, they focus on processed foods, fast food or sugary drinks – all major sources of calories. Taxing them seems like a more promising strategy…One lesson from Denmark is that small countries with open borders cannot raise the prices of food or anything else unless neighbouring countries also do so.”

    So she believes we need to get everybody in the bad-idea pool to make those ideas work.

  12. Firebird says:

    “That was 15 years ago. Now I’d just shave with bacon and see if she licked my face when I kissed her goodnight.”

    What are you, a moron? ;)

    Meanwhile, waiting for Sean Connery to have his heart attack…

    Chareva will forever be known for her “moron” line in Fat Head. I’m not sure if she’s happy about that or not.

  13. PhilM says:

    “We all know meat-eating is frowned upon by Hindus in India,”

    It saddens me to see such false generalizations made about whole cultures. This isn’t something I expect to come across here.

    Hindus in India are not all vegetarians. You might be surprised to learn that Veganism is not something that is practiced in India as consumption of milk and butter is almost universal. I don’t know what percentage of Hindus in India is vegetarian but it is not the majority. There are only a few castes of Hindus which forbid meat consumption but majority don’t.

    Meat is quite expensive in India and it is a country of poor people (never mind the small super rich sliver of the society which has always existed there) and for many, meat eating is something of a feast. Hindus hold cows as sacred and have a big problem with beef consumption which sometimes contributes to this Hindus-are-vegetarian meme. But many religions forbid something or the other but it doesn’t end up as amounting to wholesale vegetarianism.

    If one cares to read the Hindu scriptures and study its history with some rigor, one sees that the so called Hindu vegetarianism is some what of a recent vintage. The “text book” you talk about would be the work of a religious fanatic who likely has never opened his mind to anything but some arcane notion of religion. Such things exist everywhere and should not be confused with mainstream thinking. I will refrain from quoting analogous examples from the US of A :)

    Good catch. I should have specified Hindus don’t eat beef, not meat in general.

    That makes the textbook even stranger.

  14. Vir-Gena Fowlkes says:

    My son’s third grade teacher certainly thought that there was something wrong with him. He didn’t act like the other children in class…..a real problem. Have you tested him for ADHD? He should have meds so that he will conform to the norm. I’m certainly glad that we didn’t cave to the pressure. At the end of the school year he scored VERY high on his SATs. He was then tested for being Gifted. Bingo! So that was what was “wrong” with him……. He was bored to death in class and needed to be challenged. Now, he is in a proper school setting that encourages and stimulates his mental capacity. I can only imagine what would have happened if we would have given him drugs.

    You were wise to resist the pressure. Way back in the 1980s, a Chicago Tribune columnist named Bill Granger wrote about the trouble his son was having paying attention in school, all the teachers and administrators who wanted the boy stuck in special ed. Granger knew his son was bright and had him tested — off the charts. Genius IQ. He didn’t need special ed, he needed a school for gifted kids.

  15. Ash Simmonds says:

    I do Meatless Mondays now and then, usually because I had a 1kg t-bone for dinner on Sunday and just don’t need to eat again until Tuesday.

  16. Marilyn says:

    This is completely off topic and you don’t need to publish it if you don’t want to. But speaking of Los Angeles, in 1915, my first cousin twice removed (grandpa’s cousin) was written up in the Los Angeles Times for his invention of a “safety system” — an early version of turn signals for cars.

  17. Underground says:

    Since when is tutoring a “therapy”?

    It’s cheaper to keep people drugged up than to deal with the cause. To a point anyway.

  18. Peggy Holloway says:

    LOL – most of this post, Tom.
    My son was one of those kids who was treated with Stratera, Concerta, etc (without my knowledge when he was living with his dad, an Internist and always believed in ” a pill for everything” while feeding his son on Sunny D and pop tarts with a good dose of Taco Bell everyday). My son is now a low-carb/paleo missionary (secretly working undercover in a Whole Foods store) who lambastes the use of drugs to treat “ADHD” when dietary changes would completely eliminate the problem. As a college professor, I am daily appalled at the levels of obesity I witness. I work one-on-one with students in private voice lessons and so many of these kids have abdominal obesity (even the otherwise “skinny” ones) and have such problems with focus and concentration, The really overweight guys are particularly prone to getting off task and being really “hyper.” I am cautious about giving dietary advice, but many of my students are Facebook Friends and will hopefully see my “shares” of low-carb articles, and when asked, I tell them my own story and that of my son.

    I hope they listen.

  19. Elenor says:

    “Creased ear lobes a risk factor for heart disease?”

    Actually, before y’all go ‘crazy’ against this idea. Actually the ear crease IS a symptom of heart disease (or incipient heart disease)! Now, does that mean anyone with a crease needs to be statins?! Hell no!

    It means they need eat some eggs, butter, steak and to lay off the carbs!! But let’s not discard an *actual* symptom because it *seems* crazy. I don’t care enough to do all the research to try to figure out WHY the crease seems indicative of heart disease; it’s enough for me that it IS indicative:

    From: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1216678/ a study from the British Heart Journal: Br Heart J. 1989 April; 61(4): 361–364
    … Diagonal creases were present in 123 (72%) of 171 men and 88 (67%) of 132 women. A previous history of cardiovascular disease was present in 90 (30%) of the total of 303 and 74 (35%) of the 211 with diagonal creases. A cardiovascular cause of death was present in 154 (73%) of 211 with and 41 (45%) of 92 without diagonal creases and was associated with an increased risk of a cardiovascular cause of death of 1.55 in men and 1.74 in non-diabetic women.

    I don’t dispute ear creases can be a risk factor, but the way our medical industry works, they’ll soon have anti-creasing drugs and assume that will reduce heart disease.

  20. Elenor says:

    Here’s a bit more. From here (ELC = earlobe crease) : http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2892/are-earlobe-creases-a-sign-of-heart-disease

    A Swedish study of 520 autopsies found ELC had a “positive predictive value” for coronary artery disease of 68 percent — 80 percent in those under 40.

    A Turkish study found ELC was a higher risk factor for heart disease than diabetes, family history of cardiovascular trouble, or smoking.

    Of 340 patients admitted to the Montreal Heart Institute, 91 percent of those with ELC had heart disease versus only 61 percent of those without.

    An Irish study of 247 patients found ELC had a predictive value of 71 percent for heart disease, showing what statisticians call low sensitivity but high specificity. Translated: if you don’t have ELC, that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have heart disease, but if you do have ELC, it’s a pretty good bet you do. (To be fair, other research hasn’t found as strong a correlation.)

  21. wilberfan says:

    Meatless Mondays. Yeah. I took this photo inside the cafeteria of the giant Kaiser Medical Complex on Sunset Blvd, in Hollywood, a month ago:

    http://img834.imageshack.us/img834/8118/20121029143146.jpg

    Ugh.

  22. Bullinachinashop says:

    If they think meat eaters are bad people, wait until they witness the scare tactics from the dairy industry ;)

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=v6iHCFiSqIw

  23. Keen says:

    “The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables,” reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food?

    Wait, since when are Adam and Eve a part of Hinduism??? This is just bizarre.

    I wondered that myself, but I’m not very familiar with Hinduism.

  24. Marilyn says:

    “So the doctor believes these drugs improve school performance, but he wouldn’t use them to turn B students into A students … uh … because he doesn’t want the B students getting too far ahead of the D students? He’d rather see everyone become more equal than see good students become great students?”

    He would probably be doing those B students a HUGE favor by not drugging them.

    I agree, but it annoys me that he’s picking and choosing who he “helps” based on some desire to achieve equality of outcomes.

  25. Marilyn says:

    Oh, yes, I agree, Tom! The whole idea is frightening to say the least.

  26. Ailu says:

    Always irritates me when people bring up the fact that Adam & Eve didn’t eat meat, but conveniently leave out the rest of the story. I like to remind them that God revised their diet after the flood to include every sort of meat (Genesis 9:3). I then like to ask them this thought provoking question: Does that mean that when God told Noah and his progeny they could now eat meat, he was then destining man to a life of clogged arteries, cancer & heart disease?

  27. Firebird says:

    @ Bullinachinashop…you should have tape another sign to that one that read: BULL. CRAP.

  28. Gehri says:

    I am surprised that the Danes didn’t include phrenology or palm reading in the study. If I shave my head will that make me more likely to get heart disease? I have blue-grey eyes, will I get liver disease? One more item for your Science for Smart People talk.

    As I discovered years ago, the problem with using exaggeration in comedy is that reality eventually catches up.

  29. alexandra says:

    I was born in Denmark, on visits back I remember one of my favorite foods being “Fit”
    (translation: Fat) it is lovely white pork fat mixed with loads of crunchy bits of fried salty pork cracklins… it is used as a spread…usually a 1/2 inch thick or better, on thin dark danish bread…yum! I am glad the Danes are backing off the fat tax, even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

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