Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Rhymes with banker truckwits

Two of the things that I like to entertain myself with are the world of finance (stock markets, mainly) and the field of nutrition.

I therefore find it rather annoying that these two areas of interest are both infested with similar amounts of corruption and wanker f*ckwits

There are differences of course; investment bankers don't give two shits that you and everyone else knows they are greedy psychopaths on a feverish quest to rip off everyone they come in contact with and furnish their empty lives with shiny objects and mega-yachts. They're insanely rich and the Government (doesn't matter which one) lets them get away with it. Why would they care, even if they had a conscience? 

I find it both amusing and sad that a filthy-rich investment bank gets fined $20 Billion for playing "silly buggers" and their response is to sack a bunch of their lower-level employees and give their megalomaniac CEO a massive pay rise. 

Trust me, I'm rich
That this isn't surprising behaviour for an investment bank should make me and everyone else furious. But it doesn't, because after the massive bailouts of 2008, a time that spawned a new reality where more debt and printing money made sense, there are no more surprises.

Stock markets cheer when a shitty economic statistic is released because it usually means the wizards with the money printing press will keep on printing (or buying bonds). Bad news is good news. Good news is good news. More debt is something to be embraced, not feared. We live in a new reality where investment banks trade and speculate with abandon, knowing that if/when their shitty investments go bad, the Government will be there to bail out these "too big to fail" millionaire factories. A precedent was set and there's no going back.

The field of nutrition on the other hand, which is another name for investigating the effects of what you put in your mouth, is a little cagey about who knows what their true intentions are. We all suspect that the massive food/pharmaceutical companies are using their power and influence to keep the wider population fat and sick, but they rarely come out and say it.

The latest study that was funded by StatinsRus Pty Ltd may conclude that the recently developed Zabadabadooticor is so fantastic it should be supplemented in all baby formulas and vitamin water - but until the scientists and the StatinsRus money men post instagram photos of themselves rolling around nude in a big pile of money, we won't really know for certain that they're corrupt rather than just incredibly stupid. And you won't see anyone with influence actually asking these sorts of questions, because well, it's too inconvenient.

Technological advancement allows us access to all sorts of information in 2014. A few keyboard strokes and we have data, analysis and opinion like never before. We should be more aware of corruption and scandal, but it seems even if we are, the protestations are few and quickly silenced. Rich people have the upper hand, and they'll be damned if they're giving up their fleet of Ferraris without a fight.  

Owning this might make me a little crazy with power too

At least this seems to be case in the world of investment markets. In nutrition, I have a little more optimism. The playing field is more level, the games more transparent and the lies are much easier to pick. Assuming you have your eyes open, of course. Sure, the propaganda is stronger than ever, but the nutritional label on a can of fizzy soft drink is much easier to decipher than the latest debt offering from MegaBank Inc. 

At MegaBank, the investments you consume are not just loaded with trans fats - the ingredients also include asbestos and DDT and will have you bleeding money out of your arse before you can say "collateralised debt obligation".

In the world of finance, the apathy is chronic. The wanker f*ckwits are winning and that makes me very sad. I truly believe that a day of reckoning is inevitable, but whether the idiots in charge will have learned anything from history remains to be seen.

In the field of nutrition I feel we are much closer to something resembling a sane discussion. The voices of reason are getting louder and the facts are becoming harder to conceal. Information is power and we are learning to wield it with a force that will enable positive change. 

It's nice to have something to look forward to.  

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

3 legged cat - free to good home

Filed under "shit I post on my work noticeboard".

Free 3 legged cat!

No, that’s not a euphemism

OK, so you've clicked on this ad, thinking it was a joke or that “3-legged-cat” is one of the endless and ridiculous non-words that Gen Y seem to come up with every other day. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not about to give you a trendy new term to share with your 657 friends that you've never actually met in the flesh.

But… if I was trying to ‘reach out to today’s youth’, 3-legged-cat would probably mean something totally pointless, because there are already plenty of proper words that accurately describe “feeling a little wonky from the 15 schooners of tia maria and coke I drank last night”. Like, “I’m hungover”, for example. “I’m a bit 3LC” is not only inane and pompous, but its probable acceptance into popular vernacular is yet another example of why society is rapidly accelerating down the toilet.

Why I would be giving away a free hangover, I have no idea, but I don’t think making sense is that important these days if the internet is to be believed.

So, there you have it, this ad is definitely not about the slow extinction of the English language. It is actually to offer you a cat with one leg missing. If the first question that pops into your head is “how did it lose the leg?”, then you are unlikely to be an appropriate recipient of said cat. If, on the other hand, you were to think “a cat, no matter how many legs it has, would be a wonderful furry tool to fill the void in my life, to be the subject of the many cuddles that are currently going to my pillow”…then you may be at the top of his potential new owner list. A little sad and tragic, but still capable of saving the life of this wonderful cat.

Particulars – the animal is a Felis Catus. His slave name is “Hello-Welcome” although he also comes to the sound of a spoon tapping on a tin, so, whatever. HW is not micro-chipped or council registered – he’s a proud cat and strenuously objected to having Big Brother’s mark on him. Especially considering Big Brother has a tendency to waste millions of dollars on nonsensical “improvements” to the city CBD.

HW is about 4 years old and was born with four legs. He now has 3, but his ability to function as a cat has not suffered as a result. He still walks around, eats and likes cuddles. He is an overall healthy cat.

Special talents – sleeping, HW can speak 5 cat dialects and also understands English and Thai. I’m not aware of any language that sounds like a tablespoon tapping on a cat food tin, but if there was one, he would understand that too. HW is an outside cat, so if you plan to lock him up in a small one bedroom apartment, then there’s a chance he may try to suffocate you in your sleep. Three legged cats are not that fantastic at catching and killing wildlife so your local birds and lizards should be safe.

Why is he available? The owner is moving overseas and cannot take HW with him.

Not convinced? Seriously, if you are a single male, imagine for a second the spontaneous conversations you could start with potential partners about your 3-legged-cat. You could even tell the lame, but mildly amusing joke about not eating a good cat all at once. 

I’d probably draw the line at keeping a photo of HW in your wallet, though, because that would just be weird. 

This is what HW would like like if he had 4 legs. And was born a horse.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Apolipoprotein E4 under your bed

Apoliprotein E (ApoE) is a fascinating protein. It performs many functions and yet so little is known about its role in several serious health conditions. The general sciencey view is that ApoE plays a role in lipid metabolism, neurobiology and immune function. So, in other words, it’s bloody important.

Why do I care about ApoE? Well, I take a stab in the dark when I say that there are likely many more people who know that:

Apolipoprotein E4 = oh shit

than there are people who know whether they have it. I believe this is a good thing, but not for the reason you may think.

But to answer the question - I care because I know I am blessed with an E4/E4 genetic profile. And SPILCs (smart people in lab coats) keep telling me I’m doomed because of it - most likely due to Alzheimer’s or heart disease or possibly both.


But before I get all teary-eyed and blather on about how selfish my parents were for breeding, it’s worth taking a step back and explaining a few things. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into specifics on lipoprotein metabolism, because I’m not a lipidologist (thank goodness) and many people have done an excellent job of it already:

A handy little animation for all you lipid groupies  – lipid metabolism

My intention is put up a few posts on what I've learned about ApoE and why I think knowing you have one or two E4s is not as devastating as the SPILCs will have you believe.

You see, SPILCs have this fascination with breeding mice that have no ApoE or human ApoE4 just to see what happens. I imagine the quality of life for these poor buggers isn't that flash, but the lure of a new drug with multi-zillion dollar profits is obviously a strong one – so if a few mice get broken in the process…so be it.

Anyway, the sad mice papers that I've read usually conclude with some brilliant observation that, although they're not exactly certain why or by what method, E4 must have been some evolutionary joke and that great steps must be taken in order to rid this toxic protein from the human race.

That they come to this conclusion without also considering why or how the E4 population has avoided extinction this long is perplexing. Does environment not factor in here somewhere? Do they not think that perhaps we have some biological advantage that is no longer advantageous considering the food we now tend to eat?

I don’t know, but I thought that would be worth a study or two. 

This post is simply a primer for what will be spewed forth in the coming weeks and months. Even if you don’t have E4, you might be interested in the brilliant little protein that has taken up so much of my spare time.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of some very annoying people who seem to be enjoying their apples just a tad too much. 

They are probably high. Or drunk. Or possibly just some of those irritating people who like eating apples and want everyone to know how healthy they are because of it. I imagine they have annoying names like Brad and Crystal and are genetically faultless. Which is why eating apples all the time is apparently not having an outward effect on their appearance.

I am not liable for the replacement cost of your pc monitor, so try to resist putting your fist through Brad’s teeth. 

Have a good one.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Your margarine will probably get five stars

This will be a short one, because quite frankly, my care factor is bottoming out on this - Healthy Food Star Ratings.

To be as concise as possible - as far as I can tell;

  • My Government has decided to spend millions on a healthy food star ratings initiative. The healthier they think the food is, the more stars it gets (out of five) on the label. 
  • The star rating is calculated using an algorithm, the inside workings of which are a mystery. But you don't have to be a genius to take a guess what they take into consideration.
  • They launched a website explaining all this not long ago. They then took it down a day or so later because there is some bullshit drama about one of the people responsible for it being married to someone with links to the food industry.
  • It's all a big yawn.

This rubbish system was apparently announced mid-2013, but I've only just noticed it - most likely because this sort of shit is a waste of my precious brain cells and I instinctively don't bother with it.

Searching the net for examples, you find stuff like this:

I hope to hell that someone is taking the piss with that one, because anything with 25g of sugar doesn't deserve one star, let alone four. We won't really know until they reinstate the website, but I'm betting all the sausages in my freezer that it will be same expert nonsense that suggests anything with low saturated fat and low sodium should be gorged upon and force fed to your kids.

I would love to be proven wrong, however my gut tells me it's basically just another side show run by clowns and they're directing the unsuspecting punters into the lion cage instead of the grandstand.

There is simply no point making an attempt to guide people in the right direction if you don't first know where that is.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Scrambled Brilliance

Heston Blumenthal is a legend, and it's quite possible, despite his stupid-looking glasses, that I have just a teensy bit of a man-crush on him. I once saw him make scrambled eggs on TV and it blew my mind. 

You can go for decades without having your mind blown by something so ordinary as scrambled eggs. In fact, of all the plausible mind-blowing subjects, scrambled eggs is probably among the least likely. Which, for me, made it a damn-eye-popping-epiphany. 

Anyway, BH (before Heston), I thought scrambled eggs were bland and boring. Turns out, I was doing it wrong.

Which is probably why as kids we smothered them with tomato sauce (ketchup). I know, right? Fucking insane. That's what happens when you use skim milk in any recipe. The Devil's Water has no place in any recipe, let alone your fridge.

Heston will tell you that the best way to cook them is in a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water - aka a bain-marie type set up and stir for about 15 minutes. Heston may be a mad genius, but there is no way I have that sort of patience. As long as you cook the eggs over low heat and continuously stir, it works out just as good. 

I kid myself that it does, and that's all that matters to me.

To the point- for a single serve, crack 3 eggs into a bowl and add about 3 or 4 tablespoons of full fat cream. 
yes, the lighting in my kitchen is shithouse

Dump 2-3 tablespoons of real butter into a hot pan. When the butter has melted and is starting to bubble, turn the heat down low and add the eggs and cream.


Stir some more. 

What you get, after maybe 6-10 minutes, is delicious, velvety, perfect scrambled eggs. The temptation to turn up the heat and get it over with can be overwhelming...but stay your hand, it'll be worth the wait. 

Season with salt and pepper and digest. If you really need toast, go for it, but I'm not sure I see the point.

If you're reading this and thinking "what the fuck is he on about? It's scrambled eggs, not lobster thermidor." Try it. I dare you.

Putting tomato sauce any where near these eggs gets you a slap in the face. At least, in my house it does. As does using margarine or low fat cream.

Heston also suggests you make a separate brown butter sauce (beurre noisette), which I admit is delicious, but I rarely have the time most mornings. If you do, why not?

Searching the net will get you the recipe and videos - I'm sure I don't need to tell you how the internet works. Here's one of a few relevant links. Measurements will vary. If in doubt, add more butter.

Below is this morning's brekkie, complete with bacon and black pudding. Guaranteed to keep you full until lunch time. 

Over 200g of freakingawesome per serve!

I find that if I'm ravenous, adding any more than 3 egg whites for a single serve can be protein overkill and have a bit of a washed-out taste. 3 whole eggs plus one or more egg yolks is better. 

No, this is not going to be a cooking/recipe blog. Some serious non-food stuff is coming soon. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Mystery bags no more

It's 2 am and the power has gone out. You know where your one and only torch is - it's lying near your son's bed, an important emergency tool easily doubling as an amusement piece and just one more toy with which to channel funds to Energizer or Duracell. 

You can't see an inch in front of your face, but sense of direction is the easy bit- what makes this quest challenging is the fact that you know full-well the usual state of your kids' bedroom floor. 

The probability of stepping on a piece of Lego or a truck with little sharp exhaust stacks pointing upward is exceptionally high. But you need the torch, so you bravely venture through the minefield and when you do inevitably pick that plastic 'whatever' out of your foot, the knowledge that you had expected it makes it no-less unpleasant. 

Of course it's an over-dramatic comparison, but that is roughly how I feel when eating a sausage bought from a shop. Any shop. I love sausages, little plastic cases full of fatty meat and who-knows-what-else, but I absolutely hate the inevitable sensation of biting down on some unknown animal part - collectively known to me as 'gristle'. Gristle is probably bone or cartilage, but also possibly some random piece of offal or anything the butcher swept off the cutting bench and into the grinder. My brain doesn't really care that I don't know what it is, all it cares about is the message it is getting from my gums, teeth and tongue i.e. "ewww, that was bloody awful". 

So despite my love of the mystery-bag/snag/banger, the nagging thought in the back of my head has grown into a knocking intruder who shouts "you're a bloody idiot for putting that shit in your mouth".

So I got one of these, the Tefal LaHachoir 800W meat mincer:
Presumably an image to send shivers down the back of a vegan's spine
La Hachoir is apparently French for "The Chopper", which I thought was brilliant. If it was made in any English-speaking country I'd expect it to be called something ridiculous like the Gladiator 3000. 

Adding some nice fatty pork shoulder and some sheep and pig intestines from an online supplier:

It's probably wrong on a number of levels that the intestines remind me of both umbilical cord and a foreskin, but anyway, I got to work:
They're not uniform or pretty, but it was my 2nd attempt so give me a break
And my love for sausages has bloomed. Partly because when I make something myself I am inherently biased, but mostly because I can safely bite into these wonderful fatty meat sacks, secure in the knowledge that I will definitely not strike a gristly, nasty, funky glob of yuk. 

100% fatty meat, herbs and spices in an intestine casing:
Presentation is not one of my strong points

Granted, if you don't like sausages, you're unlikely to go to the effort I have here. If you are partial to some piggy deliciousness, I can attest to the satisfaction of making your own.