Friday, 5 May 2017

Remembering the clowns on ANZAC Day

I have the utmost respect for anyone who has been tasked, voluntarily or involuntarily, with participating in war. I can't imagine what that must be like and I never want to find out.

April 25 is our national day of commemoration for all those that have served in our armed forces - ANZAC Day. ANZAC being the acronym for the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and the date being a reference to the day in 1915 when our troops landed on Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula. 

On April 25 we honour the soldiers and their families who have been affected by their service in war or peacekeeping efforts (except our Indigenous peoples during the British invasion, but that's a tangent for another day). We may choose to do this by attending services at dawn, watching ANZAC parades that operate down almost every town and city main street or by wearing a red poppy. It is said that during the First World War, red poppies were among the first things to grow in the devastated battlefields of France and Belgium.

The respect shown to the diggers and their families on ANZAC day is fantastic. My Dad is one of the unlucky sods who's birth date was pulled out of a hat in the late 1960's and won a trip to Vietnam in 1968. The acknowledgement and respect he receives on that day, after almost 50 years of suffering its psychological fallout, is priceless. When he returned home in 1969, he was simply expected to forget about his tour and get on with life. 

Those scars don't heal.  

So, it's tricky to word a post about the negative aspects of ANZAC Day without looking like an ungrateful prick; an accusation easily thrown at those who are quite happy about the acknowledgement aspect, but not so thrilled about the media, retailers and the major sporting bodies celebrating the financial benefits that inevitably go hand in hand with 'remembering'.

Then, of course, there are the politicians. 

I think you'd be hard pressed to find a sane person who doesn't think war is shit. Despite it being shit, a lot of people also view it as sometimes being necessary. In my experience, that viewpoint is typically a prelude to vague and tenuous reasons as to why the war is justified and why our country had to be involved. 

So, what are the reasons we, as a country, should participate in armed conflict?

  • to help out a country that's been invaded;
  • in an effort to stop a lunatic from slaughtering lots of people;
  • because one of your allies says that you should;
  • to prevent an apparent lunatic from developing nuclear weapons, the same weapons that you or your allies have shitloads of;
  • to stop communism;
  • to stop terrorism;
  • to provide the wonders of democracy to countries that don't currently enjoy it;
  • because you're an elected politician and your popularity will improve;
  • to prevent all the helicopters, jets, ships, subs, tanks and soldiers, that you've spent billions on, sitting idle.
Politicians of many countries use these reasons, despite most of them not having any logic whatsoever. But, being politicians, you never know the true reason and it certainly seems to me that the reasons for Australians being involved in any war, ever, can be summarised as follows:
  1. because the UK and/or US asked us to; or
  2. we volunteered to, so that we were seen to be supportive of the so-called democratic West.
Since the Korean War, if the American Government decides to pick a fight with someone, our democratically elected clowns dutifully tag along. 

I'm not saying there will never be a good reason to participate in war, I'm trying to point out that the decision to do so is inherently clouded by the fact that the people elected to make that decision are corrupt liars with more than one agenda, which is further complicated by the corrupt liars in the mainstream media.

How on earth are the average people meant to commit to an act of war when they are being fed blatant lies by scumbags who don't have any skin in the game? The scumbags are not the ones who have to don a helmet and risk their lives. They're not the ones who are left physically and psychologically damaged for life. They're the ones who benefit from death and destruction and then gather 'round on days like ANZAC day and piously lay wreaths as if they had nothing to do with the deaths of all those people, both in our country and the countries we effectively trespassed on.

As Paul Hogan once said (or the writer of a certain TV show in the 80s) - the politicians belong in B Company. They'll B here when the troops leave and B here when some of them come back.

Our schools teach kids about how many lives were lost in war, where they were lost and selected tales of bravery, but the reasons for joining the war are usually fairly light on for details.

Why did we join the Vietnam War? The official line is that "Australian support for South Vietnam in the early 1960s was in keeping with the policies of other nations, particularly the United States, to stem the spread of communism in Europe and Asia".

That's it. Because communism.

Which sounds very familiar to recent wars that are fought because terrorism. Because we don't like the ruler of another country or we don't think they should have the same weapons that we do. Don't we, especially our soldiers, deserve a better reason than that? 

I don't know why it is any of our business what social system another country rules by. Why does it matter for some countries and not others? Why can the US Government continue to do whatever they want, international law be damned?

US exceptionalism is maddening; it's like the world is one big school yard and they're the over-grown bully. The Australian Government is the skinny weakling, hanging on to his back pocket, taunting the other unpopular kids who, one day, might decide to throw their considerable weight around. We're really that confident that the bully will help us out, if it does come to that.

I have so many questions and the only answers that make any sense to me, get so little exposure. 

I'll continue to have mixed feelings about ANZAC Day. I'm grateful that my Dad came back from war in one piece and I'm proud of his strength to battle through life with mental scars he didn't deserve to receive. But until the day comes, when after the last post is sounded and the soldiers are acknowledged, we take a minute to remember the clowns who sent them all off to war...I'm not sure I'll be able to wholeheartedly get into the spirit of the day.

Maybe that makes me shallow and spiteful. I can't help it...it shits me that so many people are forgetting to ask some very important questions.

Why? And who decided why?


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Low density lipoproteins cause heart disease. Fo' sho'.

Clearly, there is no shortage of people who believe that LD lipoproteins are evolution's booby trap for those of us silly enough to trip over it with our pharmaceutical free eating habits and you could waste an extraordinary amount of your life reading every paper and blog post and watching every vegan YouTube video that purports this to be true. I wouldn't advise it, but every now and then something comes along that is both bemusing and breathtakingly ballsy, and is worth a look, if only for entertainment value.

Case in point:

TLDRCGAF: Drugs will save everyone from the LDL booby trap and the earlier you fools take them, the safer you'll be. LDL is causative. Not correlated. Not a risk factor. Not an innocent bystander. CAUSATIVE. 

Some highlights:
skeptics be damned

It doesn't matter how you lower it, just lower it.

unequivocal


I know it's usually poor form and lazy to point out conflicts of interest, but the list of conflicts in this paper were impressively lengthy. And I can be lazy because I'm not seriously trying to counter any of their arguments, because...well...I have a certain amount of self-respect. 

Propaganda dressed up in nice formatting and pretty graphs is still bullshit, just that little bit funnier.
 
what?



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Toddler Paradox - Nutritional Guidelines for Infants

Nutritional Guidelines for Infants – a little drop of sanity in a cesspool of nonsense, or simply further proof of the conflicted and confused world of the nutrition expert? 

From the 2012 Australian Infant Feeding Guidelines:

“Low fat diets are not recommended for children under 2 years of age. Babies and young children grow very rapidly and need the fat supplied in whole milk, cheese and yogurt, and in foods such as eggs and meat, to give the energy they need for growth and development. Young children also need some fat in their diet to provide the essential fatty acids required for healthy brain development.” 

But, unless you are new to this planet, you will be very familiar with the recommendations made for anyone who lives beyond their second year of life:

“Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:
• Plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours, and legumes/beans
• Fruit
• Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties, such as bread,      cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
• Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
• Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat.”

You may be thinking "yeah, so what?", but I've had a hard time grasping the rationale behind the conflicting advice for members of the same species. 


Maybe I'm just slow, but I'm not aware of another species who instinctively, and almost universally, believe that babies and infants require specific nutrition for optimum health and growth, but then, in the very early stages of their offspring’s development, behave as if those same food sources are harmful.

Of course I'm talking specifically about dietary fat, which is essential, but then quickly becomes 'atherogenic' and something to avoid.

I guess there may be animals that do this, but even if there are, I'm well aware of the dangers of transferring what happens in one species, to what happens in humans. Nonetheless, in an attempt to get my head around the logic, I can't help but imagine an African Wild Dog providing its newly-weaned pups with the internal organs of an impala for the first few weeks, and then deciding it is no longer suitable and instead giving them the lean muscle meat of the impala’s rump. Or stuffing savannah grass into their mouths.

Mate, what the fuck are you talking about?
In the age 2+ recommendations above, I've emphasized in bold those two areas where the adult African Wild Dog is removing the impala’s internal organs and visceral fat, dragging them out in the open and away from her pleading pups, to where the vultures can eat them. 

“Let the vultures have a heart attack”, I imagine her thinking.

But no, those dogs clearly aren't as intelligent as humans, so it would be ridiculous to suggest that you’d ever hear David Attenborough describing such a scene.
If my Mum did that, I would bite her. Really hard
Pointless animal comparisons aside, we’ve all had enough exposure to Nutritional Guidelines to understand that they’re a bit like reading a text book entitled “Ethics in Investment Banking” - both have almost zero relevance to what actually goes on in the real world and there is an inherent pious grandstanding by the authors in terms of what they advise is the route to Valhalla and what worth their nonsense has to the human race.

So, springing from a platform that presumes expert committees who produce nutritional guidelines are a special breed of conflicted, I would like to repeat their, unarguably, excellent advice for little kiddies:
  • Babies and young children need fat for growth and development. 
  • Young children need essential fatty acids for healthy brain development.
  • Babies and young children need the fat supplied in whole milk, cheese and yogurt, and in foods such as eggs and meat.
Cue applause.

If you’re in the habit of feeding your brain the fatty acids it needs, regardless of your age, I'm guessing there are a few questions that should be popping into your well-fed head by now, namely:
  1. Do these people really believe that body and brain development ceases at age 2?
  2. Why are humans given the all-clear to eat fat for the first 24 months of life when the rest of us are told it will lead to inevitable destruction?
  3. Do they hate babies?
  4. Wooah, did they really just say that vegan parents are child abusers? That is so politically incorrect. But yet so true.
  5. If French people are considered by some ‘experts’ as a nutritional paradox, does that mean French infants are a paradox inside a paradox? Enigma wrapped in a paradox’s swaddle cloth? A paradox squared?
Stupid jokes aside, and while it’s quite easy to imagine the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells chairing the guidelines working committee, it still doesn't explain why they've decided to pick this subset of 0-2 years, the population of which, they provide a completely contradictory set of rules.

I like to think I'm not silly, potential Dunning-Kruger notwithstanding, but when I decided to have a closer look at their reasoning, I wasn't expecting to find any intelligent answers. 

But did I find any? Maybe. Maybe not. 

This is so fucking exciting. Read on!!

From page 73 of the Australian Dietary Guidelines (click to zoom):

You only have to look at the titles of their references to understand that the rationale for low fat foods at age 2+ is because they think that dietary fat will result in heart disease. There is no other plausible reason for them using these papers as supporting evidence, and if there is, they haven’t explained it even remotely well.

Bugger brain development, these people clearly want us to believe that the tenuous, and I believe incorrect, hypothesis that eating fat causes heart disease, is more important than the need for appropriate physiological and neurological growth. 


If that makes any sense to you at all, then I feel a great depth of sorrow for your dearly departed ability for cognitive reasoning.

From reference 719 - "it is increasingly clear that cholesterol concentrations can be elevated during childhood and adolescence and that increased concentrations in childhood are associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis and CVD in adulthood."

"For children between 12 months and 2 years of age for whom overweight or obesity is a concern or who have a family history of obesity, dyslipidemia, or CVD, the use of reduced-fat milk would be appropriate."


So, now it's from age 12 months that low fat foods are appropriate. Fascinating.


Here’s where I try and make this post shorter than the guidelines themselves. On my quest for logic, I started with the Australian Nutritional Guidelines, the moved to the Infant Feeding Guidelines, which strangely is hard to locate in its original location, but is fairly similar to the overarching guidelines. 

There is also a food modelling publication, t
he front page which suggests it is put together by the Dietitians Association of Australia, so I guess it’s not surprising that it suggests that low fat dairy should be given to kids even earlier - from age 13 months. 
Low fat dairy after age 1. Plus the joys of polyunsaturated margarine. Yay.

There is also a 1,105 page document entitled "The Australian Dietary Guidelines Evidence Report" which is chockablock full of papers that supposedly back up the guidelines and most references to infants inevitably lead to cholesterol levels as the ultimate guide to health. Brilliant.


They do briefly mention on page 398 that Ness et al, a paper on the Boyd Orr cohort, found that saturated fat and total fat in childhood diet was found to be protective of all causes of mortality and deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease."
"not consistent" with the dogma...next!

But of course this was fobbed off and thrown on the "not included studies" list. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, that they don't deserve, that the study was crap (it seemed on par with a lot of the other papers they used), but i
t eventually becomes evident that reading thousands of pages of justification for recommendations that don't make any sense is a waste of life. 

Specifically, mine.

Fortunately, I found an interview of two of the experts involved in formulating the guidelines and they happened to be talking about the very issue I was trying to clarify.

Unfortunately, because I thought I had the logic sussed, they didn't mention cholesterol levels or heart disease at all. It was all about kilojoules and the extra energy in full cream milk.

apparently 98% of what kids' eat is not required for growth - take that fact to the bank, people.


Sounds terribly convincing
I did waste time checking out the American Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, where they made it similarly unclear:

"There is near universal agreement that human milk is the preferred complete nutrition source for healthy full-term newborns and infants for the first 6 months of life, with continued breastfeeding recommended until age 12 months…Human milk is high in fat (45–55 percent of total calories), saturated fat, and cholesterol."

But then, in the same publication: After age 1 - "However, the dairy fat in whole cow’s milk is a major source of atherogenic saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories and a poor source of the essential fatty acids LA and ALA."

Saturated fat and cholesterol in human milk is good, but if it comes from a cow, it's atherogenic. I had no idea cows were so dangerous.

So, hoping to put the issue to bed, it would seem that the people who wrote the Australian guidelines think that eating fat will make anyone over 2 overweight, but the actual guidelines suggest, by the references they provide, that it's actually the arterycloggingsaturatedfat that is the problem.

Whether it's the former or the latter, or a combination of both, I have come to the conclusion that the way they've gone about explaining it makes about as much sense as the Goldman Sachs employee who would dearly love you to believe that they have been recommending you invest in a specific collateralised debt obligation (CDO), but then putting their own money in an investment that bets your CDO will fail, all because it's in the interest of 'making markets' and it's all for the greater good. 

Look, anyone who is convinced of the diet-heart hypothesis or the 'calories in, calories out' hypothesis is not going to be convinced of any list of studies that I can provide that contradict either - so I will not waste my time. That might sound like a cop out, and it probably is, but we’re all guided by our individual biases. I may seem sarcastic and flippant about it all, and yes, I understand that you can’t relate the biology of a dog to a human, but I’m not seriously trying to. I'm talking about what constitutes logical thought processes and what your gut is telling you.

Not your macrobiome community, the other one.

Our biases are based on our upbringing, research and personal experiments, as well as the relentless back and forth between people on the internet who think they know the truth, and when you've taken all that into consideration, you have to make a decision. What it all boils down to is - does the recommended advice make sense to you or does it smell like stupidity wrapped in bullshit?

What is plain to see, when you dig through the opaque reasoning, is that the Nutritional Guidelines Working Committee, whose job it is  to guide the health of our nation, base their recommendations on the beliefs that: 
  • Eating fat, even saturated fat, provides essential nutrients for physiological growth.
  • Saturated fat may be nutritious but it also causes heart disease, makes you obese, and will start damaging arteries at a young age and lead you to chronic diseases in later life (fuck you, evolution!)
  • The trade off in this perplexing scenario is to recommend humans eat fat, but only for the first 2-2.5% of expected life span.
  • They really hope that this hedging of bets works. 



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Choosing your identity

January 26 marks the Australia Day public holiday, a day when most of us don’t have to go to work or school, and when some of us celebrate the fact that we live in a privileged and relatively free country, where we aren't subject to a rich man sitting in a big white building, thousands of kilometres away, deciding he would like to drop a bomb on us because terrorism

The choice of celebration this Thursday will typically range from staying home and doing fuck all to wrapping yourself in an Australian flag, getting drunk before noon and generally making a complete cock of yourself. 
          
I wrote some words a couple of years ago about why January 26 is not an ideal date to celebrate the beginning of a 220+ year demolition of our Indigenous peoples’ culture, so I won’t repeat it today.

A.B. Original (Briggs, Trials and featuring Dan Sultan) eloquently explain the general feeling in the video below.

Lyrics (for context) are here  

You can buy a copy of their album - Reclaim Australia - here or here.

It may not be surprising to you that the plentiful supply of cocks on the internet will voice their displeasure at humans such as Briggs and Trials. As is typical with sad, pathetic cowards, they’ll try to convince you that it’s not the artists’ message they are offended by, that they suggest (jokingly) that they’ll piss on your late Nan’s face, it’s the fact that their skin is not as dark as the cocks would like it to be. 

They will say that, because Briggs and Trials are “almost white”, that they have no right to be angry or to stand up for their cultural beliefs.

Of course, to an ignorant moron, that opinion might have some sort of perverted merit, but to anyone with a skerrick of common sense and knowledge of Australian history, it’s absolute nonsense.

For obvious starters, Aboriginal melanin is not a dominant gene. There is no atavism or ‘throwback’ to dark skin in offspring whose parents are from differing racial backgrounds. This fact was identified fairly quickly by colonists who thought it was mighty handy in their attempt to breed the Aboriginals out of existence. Pair female Aboriginals with white men, and after a couple generations, no more black fellas.

Blaming Aboriginal people for something the white man did to them is a common theme among ignorant cocks.

We therefore have a situation in Australia where some Aboriginal people, with strong Indigenous identity, but relatively light skin, are made to feel inadequately Aboriginal or undeserved of the attitude they may hold toward the disadvantage their people are subject to. 

In the eyes (eye?) of the cock, the fair-skinned Aboriginal is not allowed to feel aggrieved at the widespread poverty and chronic diseases that are rife in their people. Yes, it is clearly fucked up.

As it happens, my youngest has blue eyes and light brown hair. To the casual observer, he is a little white boy. And that he is, but from a genetic viewpoint, he has genes originating from cultures including Aboriginal, Dutch, German, English, Irish, Filipino and Welsh. As to what percentage of each makes up his whole, and what constitutes the largest proportion, is irrelevant to his identity as a person within his family and community. Calling him 10.45% Aboriginal is more indicative of your lack of intelligence than anything resembling reality.

My boy, and my other slightly browner offspring, will grow up knowing where their ancestors originated from. They will be influenced by their Dutch grandmother, Aboriginal mother, grandfather and cousins, and their white-mongrel Dad. Whether they will immerse themselves in their Gurindji ancestry and identify proudly as Aboriginal, I have no idea. They may just as easily travel to Maastricht, learn to speak Dutch and work in their distant relatives’ Tapas Bar. Either would not surprise or bother me in the slightest and they may not consciously make a decision either way.

What I can say with a fair amount of certainty is that, if they were to identify as Aboriginal, they would likely be mocked by stupid cocks for doing so. I would hope my kids have the strength of character and identity to ignore the stupid.

We should all ignore the stupid. 

For fuck's sake, change the date.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Accredited Practicing Dietitians - Humansplained

Dietitians travel through the mainstream nutritional advice system and deliver nutrients and other information to where it is required, and quite often, where it isn’t required. There are two types of Dietitian:

1.    The “bad” Dietitian who delivers advice and nutrients based on outdated, false or biased research, and who doesn’t question the source of this information or even attempt to investigate alternative options to the mainstream consensus. The levels of “bad” Dietitians in the system is indicative of insufficient fat soluble vitamins and animal flesh, which are essential for the brain and logical thought processes.

“Bad” Dietitians are wedded to the hypothesis that the advice they deliver is being ignored because people are “stupid and lazy and eat too much” and this leads to “advice-resistance”. The “advice-resistance” hypothesis is easily disproven by something called “logic and problem-solving ability” i.e. the fact that humans are getting a lot sicker and fatter on their advice.

The “bad” Dietitians over-consume “scientifically proven” nonsense on the goodness of low saturated fat, high carbohydrate foods and this leads to increased levels of “bad” Dietitians accumulating in the halls of the Heart Foundation and Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA). Eventually these clogged up hallways restrict information flow and progression of logical thought and this leads to high levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and dementia in the general public, as well as massively increased profits for food and pharmaceutical companies.

2.      The “good” Dietitian is one with an open mind, who spends time reading actual research papers rather than Heart Foundation propaganda and understands that advice equivalent to ‘eating less and moving more’ is about as helpful as a suggesting a tube of ringworm cream for melanoma. “Good” Dietitians are typically patronized, laughed at, subject to claims of negligence and condemned for the mass murder of little kiddies everywhere. They are also not invited to DAA Christmas parties.

“Good” Dietitians clear “bad” nutritional advice from the system by listening to their clients, investigating realistic solutions to problems and applying them in a tailored manner instead of a ‘one-size fits all solution’.

The best way to reduce your intake of “bad” nutrition advice is to ignore the “bad” dietitian and listen to the “good” dietitian. Or, even better, do your own research, listen to your body and adapt your food choices to suit.

Listen to less shit, exercise your brain. It’s not rocket science.
 
indeterminate possum, but it was 'bad' at not falling out of its tree
……………

Addendum

The whole “good” and “bad” cholesterol thing has been shitting me for years and it’s obviously evolved into a farcical joke whereby “good” can be “bad” and “bad” is only “bad” if they’re ‘small and dense’ or there are ‘too many’ “bad” particles, otherwise, “bad” is irrelevant. And the “bad vs good” paradigm goes completely out the window when you’re discussing Cholesterol Ester Transfer Protein (CETP) Inhibitors. Or just being sensible, for that matter.  
Bad dog, but he's light and fluffy, so he's a good bad dog

Maybe it’s just the inverted commas that are annoying. It’s pissing me off having to type them.

The impetus for this post was an article where the journos were referring to APOE E4 being the “bad” APOE and the E3 was the “good” APOE. It’s not enough that they are full of shit and shouldn’t be allowed to report on anything other than celebrity gossip, but they can’t even be original with their condescending explanation.

It was that article and also the increasingly ubiquitous reference to “good fats” and “bad fats” in mainstream terminology. Of course the inference is that saturated fats are bad and avocados, fish and vegetable oils are good, but they rarely specifically explain what their definition of good and bad is. I get the feeling it’s a conscious attempt to be vague because they're trying to distance themselves from decades of crap advice that all fat is bad. Maybe if they don’t get into specifics, they can change their story later on without feeling embarrassed. You know it's only a matter of time before they’ll have to.
 
Good fats in a bucket

Have a good one.