Archive for the “Random Musings” Category

More evidence that the weenification of America is continuing on schedule … check out this news item from Entrepreneur.com.

Perhaps an indication that gluten-free has reached peak cultural saturation, late last year Zara tried to capitalize on the trend. Via black capital letters on a white-crop top, the retailer inquired: “Are You Gluten Free?”

I wasn’t familiar with Zara before a co-worker alerted me to the article. Apparently it’s a company that produces t-shirts. Here’s the t-shirt in question:

I’ll bet your first thought when seeing that shirt was something along the lines of HOW DARE YOU MAKE LIGHT OF A SERIOUS CONDITION LIKE CELIAC DISEASE, YOU CALLOUS, INSENSITIVE BASTARDS!!

No? You mean you just figured it’s a shirt that promotes a gluten-free diet? Well, that’s because you’re not a weenie. But America is chock-full of weenies these days, so here’s what happened when the shirt was promoted:

The T-shirt, as many a T-shirt has done before, drew polarizing reactions. While some shoppers, a few of whom said they had celiac disease, embraced the shirt, others felt Zara was making light of a serious disorder.

If you’re a partial weenie, you might decide (illogically) that the shirt is making light of a serious disorder! and respond by not buying one. Here’s how a full-blown weenie responds:

One consumer was upset enough to start a change.org petition, which received 53,000 signatures. “The truth is that I just wanted Zara to reflect on the message, I was trying to explain that perhaps it wasn’t the best way to make people aware of the illness,” she told The Local.

Yup, that’s the full-blown weenie mindset in action:  I’m offended because I chose to interpret the message to mean something offensive. And now that I feel offended, I don’t want anyone else to buy that shirt – because it offends me. No message that I find offensive should ever be displayed in public.  So let’s start a petition to get this shirt off the market.

She got her wish. Zara’s parent company said the crop top would no longer be sold online or in stores. “We sincerely regret that this case might be interpreted as a trivialization of celiac disease, the absolute opposite of our intentions,” the company said in a statement.

Great. As so often happens these days, the company responded to a weenie attack by caving – thus acting like weenies themselves.

I’m about to go on a political/cultural rant here, so those of you who get all upset when I express such opinions might want to avert your eyes … although you should probably keep reading, because if you’re that easily upset, you’re a weenie and need some de-weenification. Either way, consider this your trigger warning. If you haven’t retreated to your safe space by the next paragraph, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Still here? Okay, then.

Let’s review the words printed on the shirt: ARE YOU GLUTEN FREE?

It’s a simple question. Lots of people avoid gluten these days whether they have celiac disease or not. It’s like asking ARE YOU SUGAR FREE? or ARE YOU PALEO?

So what’s offensive about it? Nothing. But that’s what makes weenies such weenies: they constantly feel offended and victimized – usually by people who had no intention of offending them. Thanks to the takeover of college faculties by the loony left, we even have an entire generation being trained to feel offended at every turn.

If I have a foreign accent and you ask where I’m from, you’ve committed a “microaggression,” according to campus guidelines written by loony-left administrators. You’ve “other-ized” me or something horrible like that. It’s perfectly okay for me to be proud of an ethnic heritage that makes me different, but if YOU notice I’m different, I’m entitled to be offended – like a good little weenie.

Here’s a hot-off-the-presses example of how weenified college students are becoming:

Students at Emory University claim they were frightened and ‘in pain’ after someone wrote ‘Trump 2016’ in chalk around campus.

Officials at the Atlanta school, which has an enrollment of more than 14,000, were forced to act after the youngsters claimed their ‘safe space’ was violated when the messages of ‘hate’ appeared on sidewalks and buildings.

One student even said she ‘feared for her life’ as she thought a ‘KKK rally’ was going on, while others were scared a mass shooting was going to take place and wouldn’t walk alone.

Someone scrawls a candidate’s name on a sidewalk, and college students — legal adults — think it’s a hate message and a violation of their safe space.  They want someone prosecuted.  Way to prepare those college kids for the real world, college administrators.  ISIS and other terrorist groups must be laughing their asses off and licking their chops.

The weenie takeover of college campuses is so complete, comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock refuse to perform at colleges anymore – because they can’t crack a joke about anything without all the weenies in the audience deciding they’re offended.

I remember a comedian I worked with in Chicago cracking a joke about his hair – or lack thereof, since he was rapidly balding:

I think your hairstyle should make a statement. Mine says “chemotherapy.”

That line got a laugh back then. Today there would probably be a stunned silence, followed by some weenie yelling, “Cancer isn’t funny, you insensitive bastard!”

Weenies like to think of themselves as sensitive, caring types. They’re not. What they actually are is profoundly self-centered.  The weenie attitude is the ultimate “it’s all about me-me-me!” attitude.  You have to be self-centered to believe you’re endowed with a divine right to go through life without being offended — even by people who intended no offense. You have to be self-centered to expect everyone else in the world to know what words or phrases you might find offensive (good luck with that, since the loony left keeps expanding the list) and then censor themselves accordingly.  You have to be self-centered to demand that a company stop selling a shirt others may want to buy because YOU interpret it as offensive.

The person who ran out and started a change.org petition because she decided ARE YOU GLUTEN FREE? is somehow making light of celiac disease is exactly that kind of weenie. So are the 53,000 people who signed the petition. Unfortunately, the loony left won’t be happy until nearly everyone in the country has been properly weenified. I say “nearly” because they’ll want to keep a few non-weenified people around to say things the weenies can find offensive. After all, being offended is what makes them feel important.

So with that rant out of the way, I’ll tie this in with diet, since this is a diet and health blog.

I’ve been going through interview footage for the film version of the book. Three people who work with kids – Dr. Ann Childers, Nora Gedgaudas, and Dr. Brad Hoopengarner – all talked about how diet affects mood and personality. Take a kid who’s overly anxious or easily upset, remove all the sugars, refined grains and industrial seed oils, start feeding him real foods with plenty of natural fats, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a personality change.

As Dr. Hoopengarner said in some footage I watched last night, the kids who switch to a real-food diet are happier and less anxious, they concentrate better in school, they get along better with other kids, and they don’t get upset over little things.

So perhaps part of the successful weenification of America is due to all the processed junk in the American diet.  Perhaps that’s part of the reason we have so many people in adult bodies exhibiting the emotional maturity of toddlers.

When people get upset and want to force a company to stop selling a t-shirt because they decide ARE YOU GLUTEN FREE? is offensive, something is seriously wrong … which means they probably need to go gluten free.

Gosh, I hope that suggestion doesn’t offend anyone.

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Just wanted to share this because it’s so well put.  An email alert from Reason magazine included a link to a Facebook post by Nassim Taleb that perfectly describes The Anointed, even though he doesn’t use that specific label.

Nassim Who?  Yeah, I had to look him up.  Here’s what Wikipedia says about him:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American essayist, scholar, statistician, former trader, and risk analyst whose work focuses on problems of randomness, probability, and uncertainty. His 2007 book The Black Swan was described in a review by the Sunday Times as one of the twelve most influential books since World War II.

And here’s part of his Facebook post:

What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for.

With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30y of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, microeconomic papers wrong 40% of the time, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating only 1/5th of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Perfect. Now I have to go order at least one of his books.

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I have mixed feelings about technology. I’m a blogger, so obviously I appreciate the power of the internet to spread information. Heck, I gave a whole speech on how the internet and social media have enabled the Wisdom of Crowds to shove aside a lot of the official (and bad) dietary advice.

I also love having production tools at my disposal, stuff only professional studios could afford not long ago. Earlier in the week, I was going through interview footage for the film version of the book. I had to shoot much of that footage in less-than-ideal circumstances, using the available light in a hotel room, a cruise-ship room, etc. In at least one case – an interview with Dr. Ann Childers – something went goofy in the camera during the shoot.  Partway through the interview, the footage suddenly looked like this:

Yikes. I tried randomly fussing with the color wheels in Premiere but couldn’t get a natural-looking balance. Once again, internet to the rescue. I logged into my account at Lynda.com (an outstanding learning site) and watched some tutorials on using Adobe SpeedGrade. A few hours later, I understood what the various color scopes are telling me, how to work with gain, gamma, contrast, saturation, shadows, midtones, highlights, etc.  Then I opened the footage in SpeedGrade and adjusted it to this:

Not many years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to afford anything with the power of SpeedGrade, and even if I had access to the technology, I wouldn’t know how to use it.  Now we have the entire Adobe suite at our disposal for $54 per month.  When I need to learn a technical skill quickly, I go to Lynda.com and get instruction from working professionals who are excellent teachers.  Chareva’s been doing likewise to learn InDesign for laying out the book.

That’s the kind of technology I love. Now here’s the kind I can’t stand …

On my way to work this morning, I was sure I was going to get rear-ended by a woman in an SUV. I was sitting at a red light and saw her approaching in my rearview mirror. Hmmm, she doesn’t seem to be slowing down, I thought. Just as I was bracing for impact, she hit the brakes and managed to stop in time. Then I noticed the @#$%ing smartphone in her hand. Like millions of other people these days, she apparently can’t wait until she stops somewhere before checking that oh-so-important tweet, email or Facebook post.

That’s twice in the past several months I’ve almost been creamed by idiots with their eyes pinned to a smartphone while driving. I see plenty of other idiots with their eyes pinned to a smartphone while attending (physically, anyway) a baseball game or concert, or while sitting in a restaurant with three other people. I don’t get it.  I’ve yet to see the Facebook post would tempt me to ignore my wife while we’re out for dinner.

Love technology, hate technology. And then there’s technology that’s utterly pointless, like the one mentioned in a Science Daily article:

Carrots and apples not only taste different. They make distinct sounds when chewed.

I learned that years ago while sitting next to people who shouldn’t be allowed to eat in restaurants … even if they don’t check Facebook while eating.

This may seem like trivial knowledge, but it’s not in the laboratory of University at Buffalo computer scientist Wenyao Xu, who is creating a library that catalogues the unique sounds that foods make as we bite, grind and swallow them.

If I need a person chewing carrots sound effect in the film, I know who to call. Perhaps there’s a person who wasn’t told ‘chew with your mouth closed’ as a child chewing carrots in a crowded restaurant while checking Facebook sound effect that would work even better.

The library is part of a software package that supports AutoDietary, a high-tech, food-tracking necklace being developed by Xu and researchers at Northeastern University in China.

Described in a study published February by IEEE Sensors Journal, AutoDietary is like Fitbit and other wearable devices. Only instead of tracking burned calories, it monitors caloric intake — in other words, what we eat — at the neck.

Good grief. So this contraption says, “Hmmm, that sounds like carrots. Logging 30 calories into today’s record.”

AutoDietary wraps around the back of the neck like a choker necklace. A tiny high-fidelity microphone — about the size of a zipper pull — records the sounds made during mastication and as the food is swallowed. That data is sent to a smartphone via Bluetooth, where food types are recognized.

Then the data is automatically routed to the NSA, where super-computers run algorithms to see if you show a marked preference for falafel or other Middle Eastern foods.

“Each food, as it’s chewed, has its own voice,” says Xu.

I’ve noticed that.  I recently chewed some Brussels sprouts that sounded just like Christopher Walken.  Or maybe I was hearing my nephew across the table.  He’s a whiz with voices.

The device could someday help people suffering from diabetes, obesity, bowel disorders and other ailments by enabling them to better monitor their food intake and, thus, improve how they manage their conditions.

Uh … because it’s so darned difficult to write down what you eat? Or log what you eat into that smartphone you take into restaurants so you can ignore your dinner companions? I give it two years before this thing is covered by ObamaCare to assist people with diabetes, obesity, bowel disorders and other ailments.

The study describes how 12 test subjects, male and female, ages 13 to 49, were given water and six types of food: apples, carrots, potato chips, cookies, peanuts and walnuts. AutoDietary was able to accurately identify the correct food and drink 85 percent of the time.

Well, that’s going to be a HUGE problem. According to the calorie freaks, miscounting your calories by 10% can lead to obesity. So we’re going to have people getting fat and then yelling, “That @#$%ing necklace logged my nightly serving of apple pie as a carrot!”

While promising, a wearable necklace that measures sound has limitations when used alone. For example, it cannot differentiate similar foods such as frosted corn flakes and regular corn flakes.

Another HUGE problem. If you have corn flakes for breakfast, you’re eating crap. If you have frosted corn flakes for breakfast, you’re eating crap frosted with crap. Once again, you’ll get fat and you’ll have nobody but the necklace to blame.

To address these limitations, Xu is planning a biomonitoring device which would complement AutoDietary. The device is underdevelopment but it would be activated once the necklace recognizes that the user is eating a general category of food.

The biomonitor would then determine the nutritional value of the food via blood sugar levels and other measurements.

So buy a blood-sugar meter. You don’t have to wear it, which means you don’t have to accessorize it tastefully during the fashion season.

The system then gathers and presents this information on a smartphone, while providing suggestions on healthier eating.

And I bet that will be sterling advice … something like “eat more whole grains.”

Here’s my suggestion for healthier eating: don’t eat corn flakes, with or without sugar. Don’t eat bread, cereal, chips, sugar, or chemically extracted “vegetable” oils. In fact, don’t eat any “food” substance that only exists because of industrial processing.

Do that, and you can live without the necklace … even if you can’t live without your smartphone while driving.

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I finished my almost-final edit of the book last night around 9:00 PM, then drove home from the office. It’s an almost-final edit because Chareva read the whole thing today and told me she has some minor suggestions to offer. Words here and there, stuff like that.

She now has rather a lot of drawing to do, plus the book layout. Crunch time. I had it in my head that the low-carb cruise is near the end of May, like last year’s. Nope. We set sail on May 1st. So if I’m going to take copies with me – and I’d dearly love to – we need to have a final ready to print in April.

With my part of the book done (or almost done), I’ll be turning my attention to the film version next. Way back when I conceived of this thing, the plan was to release the book with a DVD companion. Then the reality of work, kids, farm, etc. set in. If I wait to have them both finished, lord only knows how many more months it will be. So it’s book first, film later.

I’ll get back to real blogging next week.

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Still rounding the bend on finishing the book, but I wanted to post this brief bit anyway.

I’ve mentioned the late, great Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko before. Back in the day, he was by far and away the most-read journalist in the Windy City. He was also amazingly prolific. For most of his career, he pounded out five columns per week. He commented on everything from Chicago politics to national fashion trends, usually with a biting sense of humor. I envied his way with words.

Anyway, I stumbled across a column he wrote back in 1987, which was when the whole low-fat craze was really taking off. A friend of his had invited him to a pasta party, and the column recounts their conversation. Here’s an excerpt:

I could tell he was serious. “You bought a pasta machine?”

“Sure. It’s the latest thing. Electric. That’s why I’m having the party.” ”

But you’re not Italian,” I said.

“Of course not. If I was Italian, my mother would make pasta for me.”

“You really have a pasta machine?”

“Sure. It’s right next to my Cuisinart.”

“But you don’t even live in Lincoln Park. You’re from the Southwest Side.”

“What has that to do with it?”

Obviously, he was another victim of pasta chic, a craze that has gripped the city and the nation.

When Slats Grobnik was a kid, he always knew when the old man was having a losing streak at the racetrack.

“We ate spaghetti every day,” he said. “Or macaroni. Or some of those other damned noodles.”

If the streak was prolonged – and old man Grobnik had a fondness for horses that ran backward – Slats would start moaning: “The only fresh meat in the house is our dog. And I’m too weak to chase ‘im.”

It was that way all over the neighborhood. You knew when the paycheck was running out: the noodle appeared. There was no cheaper way to feed a family.

Poverty meant starch. Prosperity meant meat. That’s why so many poor people are fat.

But now that has been reversed. Pasta is in. Meat is out. (At least red meat. You are still fashionable if you eat the flesh of a dead fish or chicken.)

I remember chuckling at that column, but also thinking, What the heck is he talking about? Fat makes people fat. The problem isn’t the noodle, it’s the fatty sauce on top.  Everybody knows that now.

Yup, and everybody was wrong.

Back to that final rewrite of the book.

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Yup, I’m busy working on what I hope is the final draft of the book.  The goal is to have copies available by the time I leave for the low-carb cruise in late May.  Chareva needs time to draw, lay out the book in InDesign, etc., etc., so I have to wrap up the writing side of the equation — yesterday, if possible.

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