From The News …

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Interesting items from my inbox and elsewhere …

Wedding Bells

Sorry if I was slow on my replies the past few days. I was out of town for a rather important event.

Remember this guy? The one with the abs? That’s my son Zack during a visit back when the girls were wee toddlers.  I used that photo in Fat Head.

I was nearly 42 when I finally got married. For years, I thought Zack was going to beat my record. Nope, he only made it to age 37. He married his longtime girlfriend Chelsy on Saturday.

Here he is with Alana, Sara and Chareva:

And with The Older Brother and me. I’m the one who has more head than hair:

The wedding was originally scheduled to take place near a scenic covered bridge. Pounding rains in Illinois put the kibosh on that location. We would have needed boats. So it was an indoor wedding, but we had a great time.

Facebook pushing veganism

Here’s another reason not to like Facebook, as reported on the Raise Vegan site:

Tech giant, Facebook has launched a new pilot program with vegan company, Raise Vegan, Inc. to bring the classroom to parents, in a push to encourage raising children on plant-based diets.

The new subscription-based groups that launched this week, are the virtual classrooms, run by experts in their fields of medical, nutrition and birth.

If Facebook is going to sponsor virtual classrooms, perhaps they can offer one that teaches reporters how to use a damned comma. Anyway …

The vegan company that started just a year ago, is an all female-led team based in New York, with offices in Ireland, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Seeing a much needed service for parents, they grew from just a few members, to millions of parents around the world in a matter of months.

Of course it’s an all-female team. Most vegans are women. And by the way, when you’re not chewing on sprouts or whatever, LEARN HOW TO USE A COMMA!

The introduction of their first virtual classroom led by vegan nutrition experts and registered dietitians, Dahlia Marin and James Marin, a husband and wife team who own the vegan company ‘Married to Health‘, describes how it will help parents be armed with expert information for raising vegan children, offer short masterclasses and provides daily interaction with experts to ask questions and gain knowledge.

Yeesh. I don’t know if there’s a correlation between a vegan diet and lousy grammar skills, but let’s not take a chance. Eat your meat and stay away from these Facebook groups.

Eat Your Grains And Obey Your Rulers, Part Two

Last week, the head of nutrition science at Public Health England pinpointed the reason so many people are overweight: it’s because those of us who disagree with government recommendations are confusing people, so they don’t follow government advice. Yup, I kid you not. Here’s part of the perfesser’s essay published in iNews:

Last week Dr Aseem Malhotra criticised an evidence-based paper published in the Lancet medical journal.

That “evidence-based paper” would be the piece-of-crap observational study that didn’t actually look at low-carb diets, but nonetheless concluded that low-carb diets shorten lifespan.

Dr Malhotra’s article fails to recognise the wider condemnation of low carb diets from across the mainstream scientific community, both when he launched his diet book and within the Lancet study.

Hmmm, let’s see if we can follow the (ahem) logic: Dr. Malhorta has to be wrong because the mainstream scientific community condemns low-carb diets. This would, of course, be the same mainstream scientific community that once told us the cholesterol in eggs will kill us, then backed off 35 years later with a simple statement that cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern.

The gains of short-term loss must not cloud the dangerous impact of excluding entire food groups or consuming diets that are implicated by longer-term conditions such as heart disease.

Excluding an entire food group is dangerous. Just hold onto that thought for now ….

We are facing an obesity crisis because, in part, people are increasingly confused about what is good for them, being fed inaccurate information and ultimately not following well-founded government advice.

Riiiight. It’s the confusion that’s the problem, ya see. Back when pretty much everyone was on board with that well-founded government advice, recommending heartheathlywholegrains! and scaring people away from arterycloggingsaturatedfat!, people just kept getting leaner and healthier, by gosh.

Then for some reason, people started looking for alternative advice. It’s almost as if that well-founded government advice didn’t work for them.

Celebrity diets come and go but our advice remains consistent – eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables a day; base meals on higher fibre, starchy carbohydrates; eat some beans, pulses, eggs, fish, meat (or vegetarian alternatives) and dairy foods; choose unsaturated oils and spreads; and consume foods high in salt, saturated fat and sugars infrequently and in small amounts.

Yes, government advice has been remarkably consistent for the past 40 years. So has the growth in rates of obesity and diabetes.

By the way, perfesser, I noticed you’re okay with vegetarian alternatives to meat. Wouldn’t that be excluding an entire food group?

What have I been saying all along about The Anointed? When the Grand Plan fails, it’s never because the plan was a bad idea. Failure is always proof that 1) people didn’t actually follow the plan because they’re evil and/or stupid, or 2) the plan didn’t go far enough.

The perfesser wants us to do the same thing again, only bigger. No thanks.

Don’t go outside – they can spot obesity from space now

Okay, I admit it: when I saw the headline, I wondered if they were using AI to recognize large bodies walking down the street. Here are some quotes from Science Direct online:

Obesity is a complex health issue impacted by a range of factors, one of which is the physical, urban environment we live in. Now, scientists have used artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite images of US cities to map that link – in effect, detecting obesity from space.

The researchers, from the University of Washington, fed some 150,000 high-resolution satellite images sourced from Google Maps into a convolutional neural network (CNN) – a kind of AI that uses deep learning to independently analyse and identify patterns within the dataset.

The neural network the team used in this case was already pre-trained on approximately 1.2 million images – experience that helped it analyse the built environment across the cities, identifying features such as roads, buildings, trees, water, and land.

In addition, the researchers used estimates of obesity prevalence from the 500 Cities project to create a model that assessed the association between those features (plus points of interest like gas stations, shopping malls, parks, and pet stores) and obesity prevalence in the studied areas.

“Our approach consistently presents a strong association between obesity prevalence and the built environment indicator across all four regions, despite varying city and neighbourhood values,” the authors explain.

Good grief. After all that gobbledygook, what it gets down to is that there’s an association between living in a certain kind of neighborhood and obesity. Yeah, we knew that already. Before I even read the next paragraph, I knew they were going to blame obesity on the environment.

The research broadly supports a lot of what we already knew about the built environment’s impact on obesity: open, green spaces that enable physical activity are usually good for public health; densely packed neighbourhoods hemmed in by roads and lacking greenery are not.

Ah, it’s the lack of green spaces that make people obese. So plug this question into your artificial intelligence and see if you can get an answer: if a lack of green spaces make people fat, why are obesity rates higher in rural areas than in urban areas?

Just another side effect …

Boy, this almost makes the side effects of statins look tame by comparison. Here are some quotes from an article in Bloomberg online:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning doctors and patients that some widely used diabetes drugs may, in some rare cases, cause a flesh-eating bacterial infection of the genitals.

Seems as if half the commercials I see on TV these days are for drugs. The voice-over actor always prattles through a long list of side effects. I’d like to see them try to sneak that by.

Side effects may include headache, liver damage, dry mouth, insomnia, and a flesh-eating bacterial infection of the genitals.

The drugs covered by the warning include Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana, AstraZeneca Plc’s Farxiga and Eli Lilly & Co.’s Jardiance. Known as SGLT2 inhibitors, they were approved in 2013, 2013 and 2016, respectively. The drugs help the body lower blood-sugar levels via the kidneys, and excess sugar is excreted in a patient’s urine. Urinary tract infections are a known side effect.

All of the drugs in the class except Merck & Co.’s Steglujan, the most recently approved, have been linked to the condition. The manufacturers must add information about the risk to the prescribing information and medicine guides given to patients.

“I’m going to prescribe Farxiga to bring down your blood sugar.”

“Any side effects, Doctor?”

“Well, I’m required to warn you that you could end up becoming infected with bacteria that eat your penis.”

“I see. And wouldn’t that be highly traumatic?”

“No, I’ll prescribe high-dose Lipitor and you’ll forget it ever happened.”

I think I’ll skip the drugs and stick to a good diet instead.

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56 thoughts on “From The News …

  1. Orvan Taurus

    Hrmm.. has lack of ability to properly employ punctuation (esp. comma, or perhaps most esp. semicolon?) marks been found to be indicative of a B12 deficiency?

      1. Walter

        Real vitamin A — retinol inability to convert plant precursors is common and taurine is also conditionally necessary.

        There must be dozens if not hundreds of single gene mutations that only show up on a vegan or low animal food vegetarian diet.

  2. Dianne

    I’ll have to show that bit about the diabetic drugs to the little Nigerian aide at my husband’s nursing home. Recently she told me that when she moved to the United States everything tasted so sweet and everything looked so good that she just wanted to eat and eat and eat. Then her doctor diagnosed her with diabetes, and prescribed medication (of course). My friend doesn’t believe in taking a pill for every ill, and said she wouldn’t take these pills, but her husband insisted that she had to do what the doctor ordered. So rather than argue with her husband, every morning she would take one pill out of the bottle and hide it where her husband couldn’t see it. Meantime, she went back to her more natural diet, cut out the sweets, cut back on portions, and lost some weight. On the next trip to her doctor, there was no more diabetes.

      1. Dianne

        Especially since, as any expert can tell you, it’s impossible to reverse Type II diabetes once it’s been diagnosed.

        BTW, you do have mighty a fine-looking family. You look very much the proud papa, and with every right to do so!

    1. Walter

      Took me *decades* to figure out what the Nigerian aide figured out in months. I must have been under kult mind control. I should have noticed something screwy when I ate two packs of Snackwells and was still hungry.

  3. Walter

    RE: Genital Flesh Eating Bacteria

    “No, I’ll prescribe high-dose Lipitor and you’ll forget it ever happened.”

    And a high tofu diet so you won’t care, even if you do remember.

  4. Tom Welsh

    “Side effects may include headache, liver damage, dry mouth, insomnia, and a flesh-eating bacterial infection of the genitals”.

    Tom, I swear you must be some kind of black magician. That is *absolutely not funny* – so why did I nearly fall off my chair laughing?

  5. Tom Welsh

    “Funny how that works, eh?”

    You people! Do you really want to ruin the pharmaceutical industry?

    Seriously, as a British citizen I honestly believe that the NHS’s much-hyped problems with funding and resources would evaporate if somehow we could get 20 million people to emulate the Nigerian lady.

    1. Walter

      Quoting myself, “What kind of question is that — Rhetorical?!
      Yes, I want to ruin the phama industry and industrial farma as well.
      OK, I answered a rhetorical question.
      You know they don’t work for cures; they want treatments they can sell you for the rest of your life and forget improving health by better diets — that would kill their prophets. Big Pharma won’t work on new antibiotics unless paid off, usually by the government, because their is no business case for something that actually cures anything. IIRC that was the case for penicillin.

    2. Thomas E.

      It is funny to see the looks on people faces when I explain to them the perverse, or inverted, incentives that have been created in the medical system, and for that matter many companies that work for, or with, the government.

      The US is easy to see. The sicker the patient is, the more they use medical services. And sadly, the more medical mistakes there are, the more the medical system makes. Think of this example, you go into to get a joint replaced, you wind up with an infection in the bone at the now joint. Often times the hospital stay is greatly increased, with antibiotics, with removing the new joint for the area to heal then yet another surgery to put in an even newer joint. I know of at least 3 people who have had a knee or hip replaced and wound up having to have the joint removed for at least a month to get rid of the infection. This will turn a $30k bill into a $150k+ bill. More profit for the hospital.

      As far as the insurance companies, their absolute profit is relative to the money spent. So, for the executives to maximize their absolute profit, share holder value, and growth targets, they need to keep the money coming in and going out increasing.

      So, in Canada, at least Ontario, the hospitals and doctors offices are independent corporations. They are NOT non-profit. And this the same inversion in incentives is going to happen there as well.

      As far as the UK, I would not be surprised, that there is similar perverse incentives. Hospital administrators salary likely depends on the size of the hostpital, and if the dam doctors fixed all of the coronary and type II diabetes patients, well, their kingdoms would be greatly decreased.

      All you have to do is look at the infection rates at the Oklahoma Surgical Centre, to my knowledge that have almost no post-operative infections. Why? Any care for post-operative infections would have to be covered in the pay-up-front price. So, that do everything that we know medically to eliminate infections inside the centre.

  6. Jennifer Snow

    “So plug this question into your artificial intelligence and see if you can get an answer: if a lack of green spaces make people fat, why are obesity rates higher in rural areas than in urban areas?”

    Maybe because, in an urban environment, green, open space correlates strongly with higher wealth, and higher wealth correlates strongly with better health? But they didn’t even bother to say that the green space “correlates with”, no, they jumped straight to “X CAUSES Y”.

    Great job on the sciencing there!

      1. Firebird7478

        Not for nothing, but I’ve yet to see functional medicine doctors set up their practice in low income areas.

          1. Firebird7478

            There is one in my area who opted out a couple of years ago…set up in an affluent town. I asked him if he ever volunteered his services to a low income area the way a dentist or an eye doctor would.

            He didn’t answer.

          2. Matt

            I thought Medicaid (or Medi-Cal as it’s known here in California SSR) would be more relevant. I live in a poor area and some doctors seem to make something called “Medicare Advantage” their core business.

          3. Walter

            Seems like the best medical carefor chronic condition is not covered by insurance or certainly not government, because it’s time consuming and is against conventional “wisdom”.

  7. Susan

    IF ONLY, the lack of “comma sense” were limited to vegans. Unfortunately, it seems to be the rule rather than the exception.

  8. Jason

    Hey Tom,

    Congrats on your son getting married! As a parent myself it’s such an exciting thing to see your child take the next step in their journey. It really makes you wonder where all the time went 😛 I’m glad you reconciled and got back in touch with him, he seems like a great guy. You did the right thing.

  9. Nathan

    I hear ya on the punctuation frustration, Tom! I’ve noticed a real degradation of proper punctuation these days. And yes, probably the worst area is comma usage, for sure. Overuse, as well as under-use. It’s bloody ridiculous.

    In addition to the kind of misuse noted in the excerpts here, I’ve seen many people basically using periods in lieu of commas. They construct sentence fragments. Instead of using commas. (The prior is a good example of what I’m talking about. Pardon the infraction.) It’s maddening!

    And it’s quite often otherwise very intelligent people doing this. And they’re not just young people either. I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m guessing that it’s just a general devolution that comes from the relaxed standards of the internet.

    And of course if you point it out you’re just a grammar nazi who needs to relax*. And so it goes…
    *(Which I get in terms of the pedantic correction of typos and other apparent mistakes. But the repeated grammar errors of this type need to be pointed out, or else we get this result. Those corrections would be best done in private communication, not comments. Trying to look smart in the comments is usually quite off-putting.)

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m proud to be a grammar Nazi, and here’s why: proper punctuation is what makes a sentence understandable. As many people have pointed out, the comma makes a world of difference in the meaning of these two sentences:

      Let’s eat grandma.

      Let’s eat, grandma.

      I don’t expect people who don’t work with words for a living to have perfect grammar. But it drives me nuts when reporters and editors can’t get it right. They should know better.

      I saw this on TV last week: Saban plans to sure up Alabama defense.

      Sure up? Seriously? How does anyone get a job in network television without knowing the difference between “sure up” and “shore up”? Who even thinks “sure up” is an actual term?

      My favorite (or least favorite) example of declining language skills was a line I saw in a print ad for sunglasses: “When your ready for the look!” To appear in a print ad, that line had to be approved by several people.

      1. Dianne

        My “favorite” is the use of “I” where it should be “me,” as in, “After we mowed the lawn she brought cookies and lemonade to Bill and I.”

        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          I hear that one all the time. Rule of thumb for those who are confused: take the other person out of the sentence. Would you say “She brought cookies to I”? No, you’d say “She brought cookies to me.” So she brings cookies to Bill and me.

          1. JillOz

            In linguistics, that phenomenon is known as hyper-correction.
            People think it sounds right even though it’s wrong, so they use it.

            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              I think that’s the reason people confuse “its” and “it’s” as well. “It’s” looks like a possessive, but of course it’s a contraction.

            2. Matt

              Is that the same as when you get so used to seeing something spelled wrong (or phrased wrong) that it looks weird when you see it actually right? In health/nutrition discussions, I immediately think of “lose” vs “loose” of course, but there are others.

      2. Nathan

        Yes, the decline in proper grammar and language usage in our society – even amongst the people whose JOB is effective communication – is rather depressing. Just another of the many signs of our degenerate (in more than one way) times.

      3. Firebird7478

        It drives me nuts, too. Having been in the business for 20 years, it infuriates me. Even in a newscast, they cut out words to fit content. A lot of what they say aren’t complete sentences, ie. “Action News at the scene..” instead of “Action News WAS at the scene…”

        The worst part is that you have reporters with over 25 years experience doing it.

    2. Walter

      “They construct sentence fragments. Instead of using commas.They construct sentence fragments. Instead of using commas. (The prior is a good example of what I’m talking about. Pardon the infraction.) It’s maddening!”

      This is a device for emphasis, punctuation as they would speak. It’s just a longer pause. I must get into trouble with the rules. In conclusion I would like to thank my parents — Ayn Rand and God.

      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        Sometimes it’s employed as a device, yes. I’ve used it myself. But when you see fragments in the same paragraphs with other grammar mistakes, you pretty much have to conclude it’s not a device.

  10. Bob Niland

    re: To appear in a print ad, that line had to be approved by several people.

    Assuming that would be an error.

    When desktop publishing became pervasive around 1990, and the web economy spooled up, MARCOM departments got gutted (reducing both the authoring support and the count of skilled eyes), and review cycles got truncated.

    In too many cases today, the product manager in marketing authors the copy. No one on the mailing list has time to review it, and they’re increasingly expressing literacy competency damaged by decades of government school trends.

    But, hey, we now have emojis; the nuevo hieroglyphs for our post-literate age.🤦

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Good point, but it was a poster ad with the ad agency’s name in itty-bitty type near the bottom. Agency and client both had to approve. So of course I called the ad agency and told whoever answered the phone about it. Then I had to explain why it was incorrect.

  11. Walter

    Most Vegans® are women or want to be.

    I’m seeing a lot of apparent men with big knocers, sometime hanging down half way to their navels. I don’t think there are many bearded people who identify as women who sport a beard.

    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I believe if you eat meat but identify as a vegan, you should be able to use a vegan’s bathroom.

  12. chris c

    Louis Levy. His name belies his occupation. We have another UK dietician called Cashin and I’m sure I’ve seen a US one with a similar type of name, like Mr Bun The Baker – Mr Levy the Dietician (kerching!)

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