Bacterial pneumonia, once a leading killer of the old and the very young, is caused by (duh) bacteria.  If you kill the bacteria, the pneumonia goes away.  It doesn’t really matter how you kill the bacteria, either.  If a patient is allergic to one drug that kills the bacteria, a doctor can prescribe a different drug that kills the bacteria and – bingo! – the pneumonia goes away. Why?

BECAUSE THE PNEUMONIA IS CAUSED BY THE BACTERIA, FOR PETE’S SAKE!  

And how do we know that?

BECAUSE IF WE KILL THE BACTERIA, THE PNEUMONIA GOES AWAY, FOR PETE’S SAKE!

Okay, but let’s suppose we kill the bacteria we believe causes the pneumonia, but the pneumonia remains and the patient dies.  And let’s suppose this happens with multiple patients.  Then what would we conclude?

IF KILLING THE BACTERIA DOESN’T MAKE THE PNEUMONIA GO AWAY, THEN THE PNEUMONIA ISN’T CAUSED BY THE BACTERIA, FOR PETE’S SAKE!  WHAT ARE YOU, AN IDIOT?

No, I’m just pointing out some basic logic here.  If we kill the bacteria but the pneumonia remains, we have to conclude that while a bacterial infection may be associated with pneumonia, it isn’t the cause.  That’s what we’d expect any honest scientist to say.

But strangely, this basic logic seems to escape researchers when a cholesterol-lowering drug fails to prevent heart attacks. Here are some quotes from a New York Times article:

It is a drug that reduces levels of LDL cholesterol, the dangerous kind, as much as statins do. And it more than doubles levels of HDL cholesterol, the good kind, which is linked to protection from heart disease.

That’s the Lipid Hypothesis in a nutshell: LDL is dangerous.  It causes heart disease — just like that nasty bacteria causes bacterial pneumonia.  HDL, meanwhile, protects against heart disease.

As a result, heart experts had high hopes for it as an alternative for the many patients who cannot or will not take statins.

Everybody sing: “Oh, we’ve got hiiiigh hopes.  Yes, we’ve got hiiiigh hopes …”

But these specialists were stunned by the results of a study of 12,000 patients, announced on Sunday at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting: There was no benefit from taking the drug, evacetrapib.

No benefit?  But LDL causes heart disease!  Did the drug fail to lower the LDL that causes heart disease?

Participants taking the drug saw their LDL levels fall to an average of 55 milligrams per deciliter from 84. Their HDL levels rose to an average of 104 milligram per deciliter from 46.

Well now, that is an amazing improvement in lipids.  The American Heart Association would be delighted with those numbers … although strangely, I can’t find recommended LDL levels on the AHA site anymore.  Perhaps they hired the former KGB artists who used to make people disappear from official photos once they became an embarrassment to the Kremlin.  Anyway …

Yet 256 participants had heart attacks, compared with 255 patients in the group who were taking a placebo.

In other words, no difference.  A total fail.

“We had an agent that seemed to do all the right things,” said Dr. Stephen J. Nicholls, the study’s principal investigator and the deputy director of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide.

Yup.  If high cholesterol – and specifically high LDL – causes heart disease, then you did indeed have an agent that seemed to do all the right things.

“It’s the most mind-boggling question. How can a drug that lowers something that is associated with benefit not show any benefit?” he said, referring to the 37 percent drop in LDL levels with the drug.

Boy, that’s a real head-scratcher.  Let me think for a minute … uh … uh … perhaps the fact that two things are associated doesn’t mean one is causing the other?  I seem to recall a good scientist or two saying as much.

“All of us would have put money on it,” said Dr. Peter Libby, a Harvard cardiologist. The drug, he said, “was the great hope.”

And how are those Enron shares working for ya?

Researchers have hypotheses, but no one is certain what went wrong. “It may be that the LDL level is less important than how it gets changed,” said Dr. Paul Thompson, a cardiologist at Hartford Hospital.

Ah, yes, that must be it.  LDL causes heart disease, ya see, but lowering LDL only works if you do it exactly the right way.  And if you have bacterial pneumonia, it’s not wiping out the bacteria that cures you; it’s how you kill them.  Kill them the wrong way, and you’ll still have pneumonia … even though bacteria cause the pneumonia.

Here’s an alternate hypothesis about why the latest study was a big, fat fail:

LDL DOESN’T CAUSE HEART DISEASE, FOR PETE’S SAKE!

That would be the most logical conclusion:  we beat people’s LDL levels down, but they didn’t have fewer heart attacks.  So LDL doesn’t cause heart disease.  But beating cholesterol levels down is a $36 billion per year (and climbing) business.  So we’re getting the illogical conclusion instead:

Cardiologists still have high hopes for a new class of cholesterol drugs, known as PCSK-9 inhibitors, that cause LDL to plummet to levels never seen in drug treatments.

Try to wrap your head around that one:  in a multi-year study of 12,000 people, dramatically lowering LDL levels didn’t prevent heart disease.  But cardiologists have high hopes for a new class of drugs that lower LDL levels EVEN MORE!

Everybody sing: “Oh, we’ve got hiiiigh hopes.  Yes, we’ve got hiiiigh hopes …”

And here’s the reason for those high hopes:

The PCSK-9 inhibitors can cost more than $14,000 a year …

Fourteen grand per patient, per year, year in and year out.  Yeah, that would generate a lot of hope.

… while statins can cost just pennies a day, so determining what portion of patients are truly statin intolerant has become an important question.

Yeah, about that “statin intolerant” problem: funny how research funded by drug companies is starting to demonstrate a real problem with statins isn’t it?  In one of his many great posts, Dr. Malcolm Kendrick predicted this would happen:

For years the experts have informed us that this is utter rubbish, statins are wonder-drugs, and adverse effect free. All of a sudden, now that the pharmaceutical industry is about to launch new cholesterol lowering agents, we are suddenly going to find that, why, after all, statins do cause a whole range of nasty adverse effects.

I watch this stuff with a kind of morbid fascination. The marketing game is on, billions are about to be spent pushing PCSK9-inhibitors. The Key Opinion Leaders who tirelessly promoted the wonders of statins, and who told us that they were virtually side-effect free, are now singing a completely different tune.

Sure enough, a big ol’ study just concluded that lots and lots of people have real problems with statins.  The study was led by Dr. Steve Nissen, one of the long-time pimps for — er, promoters of statins.  Returning to the New York Times article:

A second study presented at the cardiology meeting on Sunday and published online in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed just how vexing the issue is.

The study, directed by Dr. Nissen and paid for by Amgen, a pharmaceutical company, included more than 500 people with extremely high levels of LDL cholesterol who had tried two or more statins and had reported aching or weak muscles so severe that they said they absolutely could not continue taking the drugs.

[The result] indicated that 57 percent of patients actually could tolerate statins. Researchers then randomly assigned the remaining 43 percent to take either Amgen’s PCSK-9 inhibitor, evolocumab, or another cholesterol-lowering drug, ezetimibe, which is often taken by statin intolerant patients but has never been shown to reduce heart disease risk when taken without an accompanying statin. The patients tolerated both drugs.

My, my, my … statins go off patent (thus reducing the cost to just pennies per day), and through sheer coincidence, we get a major new study showing that nearly half of all people can’t tolerate statins – but they can tolerate the new drug that costs $14,000 per year.

And of course, we know this new and very expensive drug will prevent heart attacks because it lowers LDL.  High LDL cholesterol causes heart disease, ya see.  We’ll just continue believing that even when a drug that dramatically lowers LDL fails to prevent heart attacks.

Perhaps someday, after yet another LDL-lowering drug fails to prevent heart attacks, researchers will respond by going before the cameras and announcing that it’s time to bury the Lipid Hypothesis once and for all.

But I don’t have high hopes.

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As part of last year’s big garden-and-chicken-yard project, we created “chicken moats” around the garden area. The chickens can run around in the area between the two fences, which gives them access to a fresh supply of bugs – and of course keeps said bugs from eating up the garden.

The chickens are quite enthusiastic about scavenging in the moats. Hawks are quite enthusiastic about swooping down to kill chickens (as I witnessed once), so we draped nets over the moats. The nets do the trick, but they’re low enough to ground to make it a pain for Chareva to walk around in there. It’s even more of a pain for me, since I’m four inches taller than she is.

Chareva told me she had plan … and somehow I just knew it would involve cattle panels.

Yup. With the book and all, we don’t have time for a big spring project. But she pointed out that we could create arches over the moats and cover them with a net.  Then she can plant squash, beans, and other climb-the-fence plants right up against the panels on the garden side.  She has visions of beans hanging down inside the arches, just waiting to be picked.  So we installed some panels on Sunday.

She already has the net, which we’ll pull tight over the arches and connect to the fences. Then we can walk around in there without ducking and pluck those beans and squashes. Meanwhile, the chickens can still roam the moat without becoming dinner for hawks.

With my part of that job done, I spent the rest of Sunday enjoying my first Dog-Tired Satisfied chore of the year: cutting the grass in the back fields.  Here’s one them.

The mowing job took four hours. Fortunately, the weather was perfect, right around 60 degrees. As always, I listened to a book while mowing. My current audio book is Fooled By Randomness, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Several of you mentioned how much you enjoyed his books and thought I would as well. You were right. Great stuff, and although he mostly relates the concepts to financial markets, I see how they apply quite nicely to science as well.

Now and then Taleb comments directly on science and medicine.  It was interesting to learn during Sunday’s working/listening session that four out five doctors failed a quiz to test their understanding of medical statistics.  No wonder so many doctors think statins are wunnerful, wunnerful drugs.

So thanks for the recommendation. Listening to an enlightening book makes working myself into a state of Dog-Tired Satisfied even more satisfying.

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Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

PETA wants our kids to get cancer!

Okay, just kidding with that headline. Now and then it’s fun to act like a True Believer vegan and accuse those who don’t agree with me of being horrible, horrible people – you know, the weenie mentality I described in the previous two posts.

Anyway, check out this article from the U.K. Telegraph:

Long term vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations which raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, scientists have found.

No, no, no! Vegetarians don’t die of heart disease or cancer! Just ask them. (Or don’t … there’s a good chance they’ll tell you anyway.)

Populations who have had a primarily vegetarian diet for generations were found to be far more likely to carry DNA which makes them susceptible to inflammation.

Scientists in the US believe that the mutation occurred to make it easier for vegetarians to absorb essential fatty acids from plants. But it has the knock-on effect of boosting the production of arachidonic acid, which is known to increase inflammatory disease and cancer. When coupled with a diet high in vegetable oils – such as sunflower oil – the mutated gene quickly turns fatty acids into dangerous arachidonic acid.

So PETA wants you to follow a diet that will give your kids and grandkids cancer. Or something like that.

The finding may help explain previous research which found vegetarian populations are nearly 40 per cent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer than meat eaters, a finding that has puzzled doctors because eating red meat is known to raise the risk.

I see. So eating meat raises your risk of colorectal cancer, but vegetarian populations are nearly 40 percent more likely to suffer colorectal cancer. So that means … uh … uh … something.

Researchers from Cornell University in the US compared hundreds of genomes from a primarily vegetarian population in Pune, India to traditional meat-eating people in Kansas and found there was a significant genetic difference.

“Those whose ancestry derives from vegetarians are more likely to carry genetics that more rapidly metabolise plant fatty acids,” said Tom Brenna, Professor of Human Nutrition at Cornell.

“In such individuals, vegetable oils will be converted to the more pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid, increasing the risk for chronic inflammation that is implicated in the development of heart disease, and exacerbates cancer.

Okay, now I’ve got it: if you’re a vegetarian living in India and come from a long line of vegetarians, you need to move to Kansas. I knew there had to be a logical conclusion in there somewhere.

You can read more of the article, but I’d put this one in the “so what?” category … even though it would be fun to wave it in the face of the next vegan zealot who shows up here predicting my demise from colon cancer.

Sunbathing will extend your life and perhaps also kill you

More fun with observational studies … take a look at this article from Shape Magazine: (If you’re in the sun, you may want to put on your sunglasses first.)

You’ve made it a point to regularly choose the shade over the sun (right?!). Well, new research from the Journal of Internal Medicine challenges the whole “avoid the sun like the plague” thing.

According to the study, women who regularly sunbathed had lower mortality rates than those who tried to stay out of the sun. They also had a lower risk of developing heart disease and dying of non-cancer and non-cardiovascular-related causes than the shade seekers.

They were also linked to more boyfriends because of their nice tans.

The researchers, who followed nearly 30,000 Swedish women for 20 years, determined the sun avoiders reduced their lifespan by .6 to 2.1 years.

I wonder if those 30,000 Swedish women got tired of researchers following them around for 20 years. I’m thinking by around year 18, some of them were yelling, “Hey! Piss off and leave me alone! I’m trying to get a tan here!” (I’ll ask Dr. Eenfeldt to translate that into Swedish when I see him on the cruise.)

Researchers even went so far as to conclude that avoiding the sun is just as bad as smoking since nonsmokers who stayed in the shade had a lifespan similar to smokers in the sun-loving group. Cue confusion.

“Hey! Piss off and leave me alone! I’m trying to enjoy a smoke and get a tan! Go follow that pale-skinned lady around for a change!”

Not everyone’s on board with the study’s findings. “They could have dangerous repercussions,” says Stuart Spitalnic, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine at Brown University School of Medicine. The results may be skewed since women who sunbathe likely come from the upper class, which is a group that tends to be healthier to begin with, he says. “You could then make a case that sunbathing perhaps shortens the life of sunbathers compared to similar people who avoid the sun.”

Yes, of course. You can speculate every which way, because it’s an observational study. We don’t know why the Sunbathing Swedish Stewardess—er, Swedish women had longer lifespans. (Sorry, I had a brief flashback to drive-in movies from my high-school days.) Could be they got more vitamin D. Could be that women who are lean and fit are more likely to go sunbathing because they look good in a swimsuit – and also live longer because they’re lean and fit.  Could be the upper-class connection the good doctor mentioned. There’s no way of determining cause and effect.

But I wish doctors and researchers would be consistent in their opinion of observational studies. Because I have a feeling if the sunbathing women died younger, we’d be hearing all about how getting a tan will kill you – an idea the doctor floated even though the sunbathers had longer lifespans.

Finally, a health magazine I like

While sitting in my chiropractor’s waiting room some weeks ago, I thumbed through his magazine collection. Usually the magazines in medical offices just annoy the bejezus out of me. Article after article (placed strategically opposite the ads for Weight Watchers meals and various drugs) proclaiming the wonders of whole grains and low-fat diets, stuff like that.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I began reading articles in a magazine called Experience L!fe. The focus was all on real foods, good sleep, quality exercise, meditation, etc. I wasn’t in the waiting room long enough to read the whole thing, so I asked the receptionist if I could pull out the subscription card and take it with me. Sure, she said.

Here are some article titles from the issue sitting on my desk:

The Cortisol Curve
Rebuild Your Back
How to Measure Your Resting Heart Rate
Resistant Starch for a Healthy Gut

Here’s a bit of advice from the article on cortisol:

A low-carb diet can support weight loss, but it’s not idea for those with disrupted cortisol. In a 2014 clinical trial, subjects with cortisol issues were able to reset their curves by eating low-carb breakfasts, moderate amounts of health carbs in the afternoon, and higher amounts of healthy carbs (think sweet potatoes, not bread of pasta) in the evening.

Endocrinologist Alan Christianson, NMD, author of The Adrenal Reset Diet, directed the trial. He now prescribes carb cycling to his patients who are dealing with any type of cortisol disruption.

Lots of good stuff in the issue – and not one ad for Weight Watchers or Healthy Whole Grains!

Just thought I’d mention it in case any of you still enjoy the feel of an actual magazine in your hands, as I do.  Seems well worth $21 per year.

Serve the food we tell you to serve – or else!

Recommending good magazines, books, blogs and other educational material is one way to change people’s eating habits. Now here’s the government method:

The federal government is taking steps to fine schools that do not comply with first lady Michelle Obama’s school lunch rules.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service issued a proposed rule Monday to codify parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by Mrs. Obama.

The regulation would punish schools and state departments with fines for “egregious or persistent disregard” for the lunch rules that imposed sodium and calorie limits and banned white grains.

We are The Anointed. We know what’s best for you. Bow before us and obey.

A West Virginia preschool teacher was threatened with fines for violating the rules by rewarding her students with candy for good behavior in June 2015. The teacher ultimately did not have to pay, but the school had to develop a “corrective action plan” with training on the policies.

I don’t like seeing teachers reward kids with candy. But the proper response is to explain to her why it’s a bad idea … or just explain to your kids why they shouldn’t eat the candy. Or just let your kids eat the candy on rare occasions and serve them real food at home.

The government now seeks to make fines enforceable by regulation. Section 303 of the law requires that the federal government “establish criteria for the imposition of fines” for all the Department of Agriculture’s child food programs.

The fines would be the latest consequence of the healthy eating law that Mrs. Obama lobbied for in 2010. More than 1.4 million students have left the lunch line since the rules went into effect, as students have complained of small portions and unappetizing fare. The standards have been blamed for cafeteria workers losing their jobs, and some kids have even resorted to creating black markets for salt to add flavor.

We The Anointed commanded you to serve kids tasteless, low-salt, low-fat, low-calorie foods. Millions of your rebellious offspring responded by refusing to buy school lunches .. so YOU, YOU WORTHLESS PEONS, responded by trying to break our commandments. We The Anointed do not tolerate peons making their own decisions. You will submit. You will obey. We know what’s best for your children.

The Food and Nutrition Service is targeting schools that refuse to comply with Mrs. Obama’s lunch rules and said monetary penalties are a “useful tool” to get noncompliant cafeterias in line.

I’m afraid the federal officials have confused useful tool with useful idiot.

So let’s see … there’s no good scientific evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease or obesity, yet the USDA is mandating low-fat meals in schools.  There’s no good scientific evidence that salt causes health problems — in fact, a study commissioned by the CDC concluded that low-salt diets may be dangerous — but the USDA is mandating low-salt lunches.  Studies show that kids who drink skim milk are no leaner or healthier than kids who drink whole milk, yet the USDA mandates skim milk … but allows sugar in the skim milk, in spite of all the scientific evidence that sugar is bad for kids, from their teeth on down.  And now schools that refuse to comply with USDA commandments will be fined.

Well, at least the people imposing and enforcing all this unscientific nonsense don’t belong to what one reader insists is the “anti-science” party.

But I’ll stop now before I commit a microaggression.

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How’s this for perfect timing? The day after I wrote a post about weenies, Politico.com posted a news item that demonstrates the weenie mentality in action:

In a sign that the nutrition space is as defensive as ever, Nina Teicholz, an author who has publicly criticized the science behind the government’s low-fat dietary advice, was recently bumped from a nutrition science panel after being confirmed by the National Food Policy Conference. The panel instead will include Maureen Storey, president and CEO of the Alliance for Potato Research and Education. The event is set to take place in Washington next month.

Teicholz, of course, is the author of the terrific book The Big Fat Surprise, which presents a detailed history of how we ended up with our current dietary advice. So why the heck would she be disinvited from a panel on food policy?

Teicholz said she was disinvited after other panelists said they wouldn’t participate with her.

I see. And who are the other panelists?

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, will speak on the panel, along with Barbara Millen, the former chairwoman of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and Angie Tagtow, executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Wootan said that “concerns were raised about Teicholz’s credibility, given the significant inaccuracies in her work.”

Um … as opposed to CSPI’s dead-on-accurate description of trans fats as safe and coconut oil as dangerous back when they were harassing restaurants and movie theaters into switching to trans fats? Or the USDA’s dead-on-accurate description of cholesterol in eggs as a contributor to heart disease?  (Maybe my memory is getting faulty in my old age … didn’t both organizations have to reverse those positions?)

If Teicholz doesn’t present credible arguments, then the non-weenie approach would be to welcome her onto the panel and point out where she’s wrong. But of course, this isn’t about credibility. It’s about avoiding a debate against a woman who would kick their asses all over the stage.

But hey, that’s part of the weenie mentality: they hate having to debate people who don’t agree with them. That’s why they demand “safe spaces” where they can’t be challenged. That’s why they accuse people who disagree with them of creating a “hostile environment” as a strategy for stifling dissent.  That’s why they’d rather attack the messenger than debate what the messenger has to say.

The Big Question is: if they’re convinced they’re right, why are they so afraid of debate? Why don’t they just stand up and vigorously argue in favor of their positions instead of trying to silence the opposition?

That’s the topic of this post. We’ll be venturing into the political/cultural realm again, so consider this your trigger warning. If you haven’t retreated to your safe space by the beginning of the next paragraph, don’t complain to me if you read something here that annoys you.

Still here? Okay, then.

The brief answer to the “why do weenies hate debates?” question is: their beliefs aren’t based on facts or logic, so they’re scared @#$%less of being challenged by logical people armed with facts … not because we might change their minds (we won’t) but because we might change the minds of other people listening.

Now for the expanded answer.

You may have heard the saying you cannot reason people out of a position they did not reason themselves into. Sooner or later, logical people discover that for themselves – because they end up in debates with illogical people and are stunned to see indisputable facts bounce harmlessly off their brains like little rubber bullets. Apparently it’s always been that way. Even Aristotle explained that some people form their beliefs based on logic and facts, while others form their beliefs based on emotions.  Logic and facts have no effect on the emotional thinkers, Aristotle explained.

In a lovely little book titled Explaining Postmodernism, philosophy professor Stephen Hicks wrote about the intellectual heritage of objectivists vs. subjectivists — that is, logical types vs. emotional types.

Objectivism traces its modern roots to the Enlightenment thinkers, most of whom were British: Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes (not British), John Locke and Adam Smith. Their works emphasized rationalism, the scientific method and individual freedom. Thomas Jefferson, to name one stellar example, was deeply influenced by Locke. To quote professor Hicks:

Individualism and science are thus consequences of an epistemology of reason. Individualism applied to politics yields liberal democracy … individualism applied to economics yields free markets and capitalism.

Subjectivism, by contrast, began as reaction against the Enlightenment thinkers — ironically, in part to save religious faith from the onslaught of rationality. Its proponents were mostly German: Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg W.F. Hegel, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (not German), Martin Heidegger, and of course Karl Marx. They specifically rejected reason and logic in favor of subjectivism.

Simply put, an objectivist thinks like this: If it’s true, I’ll believe it. A subjectivist, however, thinks like this: If I believe it, it’s true. Or the flipside: If I don’t believe it, it’s not true.  If you’ve ever debated a nitwit subjectivist, you may have had the experience of offering some objectively true fact, only to be treated to a reply of “Well, I just don’t believe that.”  Oh, okay, that settles it, then.

As Hicks explains, objectivists and subjectivists also have very different ideas when it comes to the function of language. Objectivists view words, ideas, logic, debates, etc., as tools we use to discover the truth. But  subjectivists (a.k.a. post-modernists) view language as a weapon to be wielded in the battle for dominance. Therefore, what you say doesn’t have to be true. It merely has to be effective in battle. (There is no “true” after all, except what you believe.)  Or as Hicks summarizes the subjectivist strategy when it comes to words, if you can’t debate your opponent on the facts, change the argument by calling him a racist instead.

Hicks explains these differences in the two mindsets to answer a question he poses near the beginning of the book:

A related puzzle is explaining why postmodernists — particularly among those postmodernists most involved with the practical applications of postmodernist ideas, or putting postmodernist ideas into actual practice in their classrooms and in faculty meetings — are the most likely to be hostile to dissent and debate, the most likely to engage in ad hominem argument and name-calling, the most likely to enact politically-correct authoritarian measures, and the most likely to use anger and rage as argumentative tactics.

Whether it is Stanley Fish calling all opponents of affirmative action bigots and lumping them in with the Ku Klux Klan, or whether it is Andrea Dworkin’s male-bashing in the form of calling all heterosexual males rapists, the rhetoric is very often harsh and bitter. So the puzzling question is: Why is it that among the far Left — which has traditionally promoted itself as the only true champion of civility, tolerance, and fair play — that we find those habits least practiced and even denounced?

Hmmm, doesn’t that sound just like college administrators promoting the weenification of students by demanding triggers warnings, safe spaces and speech codes?

Hicks doesn’t claim subjectivists never attempt to cite facts or offer what they consider persuasive arguments.  Of course they will.  Those are verbal weapons they’re happy to wield in battle.  The difference is that they’re just as happy to ignore facts and logic when it suits them. That’s why they cherry-pick their evidence.  They’re not interested in weighing the evidence to reach a conclusion; they’re only interested in selecting the weapons that support their cause.

Look at the vegan zealots who show up here now and then.  They’ll happily post a link to some weak study showing an association between meat and this-or-that disease.  But if I reply with links to studies where the association is exactly the opposite, or point out all the confounding variables, facts and logic become little rubber bullets bouncing off their brains.  Then they’ll yell “murderer!” and (if we’re lucky) go away.

Another lovely little book I’d recommend to anyone who wants to understand the weenie mindset is Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. (Sadly, it’s just as relevant now as when it was written in 1951.)  In a nutshell, here’s how Hoffer describes what he calls true believers:

  • They often have low self-esteem and are typically frustrated with their own lives or the world in general.
  • Fanaticism appeals to them because it provides a sense of idealism, identity and certainty.
  • They value the collective more than the individual and believe individuals should be willing to sacrifice themselves for the collective good.
  • They believe that by imposing their beliefs, they can bring about a better future.
  • They can ignore or rationalize away all contrary evidence, as well as logical inconsistencies in their own beliefs.
  • They consider anyone who doesn’t share their beliefs an enemy and want to silence those who disagree.

Here are some direct quotes from Hoffer:

They can feel free only by diminishing the freedom of others, self-confident only by spreading fear and dependence among others, and rich only by making others poor.

It is the true believer’s ability to shut his eyes and stop his ears to facts which in his own mind deserve never to be seen nor heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy.

The explosive component in the contemporary scene is not the clamor of the masses but the self-righteous claims of a multitude of graduates from schools and universities. This army of scribes is clamoring for a society in which planning, regulation, and supervision are paramount and the prerogative of the educated.

Sounds just like The Anointed, doesn’t it? It also sounds eerily like the loony-left fringe on college campuses.

So of course the weenies want to stifle debate. In their weenified minds, words are not tools we use to discover the truth. Words are weapons, and if other people are allowed to wield those weapons freely, by gosh, the wrong side might win. People in the audience might be swayed to abandon the “correct” position. They might decide The Anointed got it all wrong about saturated fat and cholesterol and salt and red meat and whole grains.  Heck, they might decide The Anointed were wrong about all kinds of things.

That’s why Teicholz was disinvited. It’s also why so many colleges – the supposed centers of free and open inquiry — have become such a joke.

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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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The annoying thing about a farm – even a small one – is that it doesn’t know or care if you’ve got a book to finish. When spring comes around, the spring-time planting and weeding has to be done, period. So in addition to drawing for several hours per day, Chareva has been preparing raised beds and planting vegetables.

On the weeding front, she at least had help from the girls. The previous owner extended the driveway somewhat with paving stones.  Probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but poison ivy grows up around the paving stones every spring. The whole thing becomes a poison-ivy patch by mid-summer.

Chareva is determined to get rid of the stuff by ripping up the ground and planting grass. Her hired hands spent part of the weekend pulling up the paving stones and stacking them.  Good outdoor exercise for the rugrats.

I’ll take on the task of ripping up the ground because … wait for it … I have a tiller now.

Yeah, I know: life doesn’t get more exciting than that. Back in the day, I dreamed of owning all kinds of cool toys. There were no farm implements on that wish-list. Now Chareva suggests we buy something like a tiller, and I think, A tiller?! Wow, that would be awesome!

We bought a Countyline model at our local Tractor Supply. Since I’ve become intimately familiar with Tennessee soil, with all the rocks and clay and tough roots, I chose a bigger model than the one Chareva researched online.  I wanted the extra horsepower.

Now that I’m a born-again Tool Man, I no longer consider some assembly required to be the scariest three words in the English language. But I did have the usual complaint when I started putting the thing together: the manual was apparently written by engineers who think everyone else is an engineer. To name just one example, the manual instructed me to secure a plate with “four M-8 bolts and locking nuts.” So I opened the bag containing all the nuts and bolts and looked for “M-8” stamped on something.

Nope. Some of the bolts had numbers stamped on them, but there wasn’t an “M-8” to be found on anything. (I’m sure the engineer who wrote the manual would reply, “What kind of moron doesn’t know what an M-8 bolt is?!”) So I ended up doing what I often have to do when faced with clear-as-mud manuals: figure it out by counting.

Let’s see, add up the number of M-8 bolts in all the assembly steps … it’s six total. Now separate the nuts and bolts by size … yup, there are six of these and four of the other size, so these have to be the M-8 bolts.

Heaven forbid I do that someday and find equal numbers of different-sized bolts. Anyway, I got the thing put together on Saturday afternoon.

I took it out for a test drive on Sunday. We plan to grow our own tiger nuts in at least half of the abandoned chicken yard in the front pasture. I had to clear a jungle out of that yard with The Beast last fall. Now it was time to till the soil.

Any worries I had about cheating myself out of exercise by using a tiller disappeared right away. With all the rocks and tough roots in the soil, the tiller bucked like a rodeo bronco. I had to hold on for dear life and man-handle it along a straight (more or less) path. Sometimes the thing wanted to bounce right over a tough patch, and I’d have to drag it back and hold it still so it would dig in.

But it did dig in. And I have to say, I’m impressed with how tough those blades are. Again, this is Tennessee, where the state song is Rocky Top for good reason. Here’s what you find when you dig up the soil:

I checked the blades after my first pass through the yard and didn’t find so much as a dent. After a brief rest, I fired up the tiller again and made a second pass. With the roots and hard topsoil already broken up, the tiller mostly glided right along. It felt a bit like wading through waves of dirt. Here’s the chicken yard afterwards.

And here it is from a different angle.

Now I just have to plant those tiger nuts. I’m told they grow like weeds, so with any luck, there won’t be much work involved after planting.

Meanwhile, Chareva is spotting all kinds of patches around the land that could use a good tilling.

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