Friday, 30 January 2015

The cure for heart disease

I know, right? Hard to believe we didn't see it before now, but before I get to it, here’s a recent paper out of China that I would like to make fun of.

There are so many things wrong with this paper, it is hard to know where to start. I s'pose the introduction is as good a place as any, and it certainly contains plenty of gems:

“dyslipidemia”…”is the major cause of atherosclerosis and atherosclerotic cardiovacular diseases”

“Increased PUFA consumption”…”retards the progress of atherosclerosis”

And this beauty:

“since nearly almost every patient with dyslipidemia is treated with statin currently, therefore whether the benefit of PUFA render to lipid-modification is independent of or is overlapped with stain therapy is deserved to be further investigated”

I’m not one to judge their grammar because I can’t speak or write Mandarin/Cantonese, but it is clear they live in a world where statins are unquestionably brilliant and rabbits are excellent human substitutes. Just what the cholesterol-rich diet they used is comprised of is not easily obtainable - but it's sort of irrelevant if you're not working in their lab or tripping on acid. 
Which leads us closer to the CVD cure.

The aspect of this paper that surprised me most was the use of rabbits for testing. I admit that my knowledge of biology and the suitability of certain species for studies on human health is abysmal, but I’m reasonably sure I’m on solid ground when I suggest that using a drugged-up herbivore to predict changes in a human body is ludicrous.  
The whole ‘cholesterol-fed rabbit’ thing started over a century ago and I had no idea it was still going on. There’s a good reason we laugh at the lab geeks who did it 100 years ago - rabbits eat grass. Most humans don’t. Feeding a rabbit anything but grass and then suggesting the result has any relevance to human physiology says more about you than it does the rabbit.

At least I thought so, until reading this paper resulted in me having an epiphany.

Rabbits don’t have heart attacks.

Rabbits eat grass and not much else.

Stay with me now…

What if…are you sitting down?

What if…humans just ate grass and not much else?

Not only would we not have heart attacks but fertility problems would be a thing of the past.

Such a pity I'm too lazy to write an e-book or start a grass supplement business.

This thing where you look at one species and apply it to another and then say that you've actually discovered something intelligent is fun.
help is at hand for your bacon-addicted rabbit

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Ostraya Day

I suppose every country has their own national day of celebration. January 26th happens to be the day set aside for the Australia Day public holiday. On that day in 1788, an English man by the name of Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney with a bunch of his mates and ship-loads of convicts, waved the Union Jack around a bit and claimed the pretty piece of dirt in the name of King George III.  

Two hundred and twenty seven years later, we are a nation of relative beauty and prosperity, filled with many interacting cultures. We are not without our problems – ignoring the morally-void politicians for a second, the tragic plight of our indigenous population is a significant one.

For somewhere in the ballpark of 40-60,000 years, the indigenous peoples of Australia (consisting of many hundreds of tribes and languages) had existed quite happily before the arrival of Arthur and his mates, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to non-indigenous Australians that not everyone feels like celebrating on the 26th of January. 
Australia was apparently deserted when the Brits arrived
But it does surprise some and they appear quite hurt and offended when it is referred to as “Invasion Day”. Surely the Aboriginals should stop living in the past and stop being such whiney killjoys. 
More First Dog here
The list of atrocities and injustices perpetrated against indigenous Australians over the last 227 years is a long and reasonably well documented one. 
Making up only 2-3% of the country’s population, it is estimated they account for around 25% of total prison populations. Life expectancy for indigenous men is roughly 11.5 years less than non-indigenous men. For women, it is around 10 years less than non-Indigenous females. Rates of obesity, diabetes, alcoholism, kidney disease, respiratory disorders and ear and eye problems are disgracefully high. In remote communities it is not uncommon for families to live in overcrowded houses with little to no access to the amenities and services that other Australians take for granted.

According to some, this is all their own fault. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should stop complaining, stop drinking grog, stop sitting around on their arses and get a job. Apparently if they live in the middle of nowhere, they should move to a bigger city and bugger the namby-pamby “connection to country” bullshit that is clearly an excuse to claim more money for doing nothing.  So their people were systematically slaughtered, bred-out and ignored for a couple of centuries…surely it is time to move on and stop playing the ‘poor bugger me’ card.

Unfortunately it's 'unethical' to breed out stupid people who think this way. It seems they feel someone is asking them to feel perpetually guilty, rather than simply acknowledging the situation and showing a little compassion and understanding.

I don’t know what the answer is to Indigenous disadvantage. I do know that the choice of January 26 for a day of celebration is a poor one.

This a wonderful, beautiful, fortunate country and I’m very glad to be part of it. We have a confusing flag, a ridiculous anthem, just as many dickheads and fuckwits as any other country, but overall we are good people and I’m proud to be Australian. We have lots to celebrate and be grateful for.

Surely doing it on a different day is not too much to ask? 

South Coast - Glenelg beach

Friday, 23 January 2015

When vegans come for dinner

I've been known to sledge vegans for no particular reason other than it is lots of fun. In all honesty, I’ve never knowingly cooked a meal for someone who deprives their body of animal products. If I was ever required to, and wanted them to enjoy it, this is what I would make. 
Dahl - looks like spew, tastes pretty good
Don’t get me wrong – I haven’t gone out of my way to research vegan food - I used to eat dahl a lot because it serves as a brilliant side dish to curry and I love curry. It hadn't even occurred to me that vegans could eat it until recently.

If I eat more than a few mouthfuls of lentils these days my colon transforms into a wind tunnel for the next 12 hours – whether that was the case before carb restriction, I can’t remember, so maybe I’m just more of a sensitive little flower these days.

Despite my aversion to wind-pain, it’s still pretty damn tasty so I still partake in very small amounts. There have never been any complaints apart from the lazy people who don’t like, and can’t be bothered picking out, the curry leaves.

So, while the handful of people who turn up on this blog are extremely unlikely to ever bother with this, it might be handy to keep up your sleeve in the event that a plant person turns up at your house out of the blue and, for reasons I can’t foresee right now, you need to make a good impression. Your spouse’s new vego boss, maybe. I dunno…use your imagination.

This is a big batch but you can divide up into portions and freeze if your new vegan friend keeps coming back. If you don't want them to come back, you should just steam some broccoli and serve.

1 kg split red lentils
about 2 cups water
2 tins coconut cream/milk (400ml each)
1-2 tsp turmeric
2 sticks cinnamon
8-10 pieces of whole dried red chilli
1-2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
2 red onions, diced
3 sprigs curry leaves (roughly 30 leaves)
8 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed (pestle and mortar, or just a quick buzz in a spice grinder)
4 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 medium tomatoes, chopped.
1-2 Tbs kecap manis.
oil (ghee or lard if you have a weird sense of humour)

1 -Wash lentils in plenty of water and drain – I use a colander and rinse a few times, until water is relatively clear. Into a large saucepan add the lentils, water, coconut milk, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, paprika, dried chillies and cook over medium heat. Lower flame when it starts to boil and simmer while stirring until the lentils are cooked/soft (about 20-30mins)- add more water if necessary – I like it a bit like runny but lumpy mash potato - up to you. Stir through kecap manis and remove from heat. Do not be concerned if this mix has very little flavour – that is what 2 is for.
one and two
2 -While your lentils are simmering, heat the oil in a large fry pan. When almost smoking hot add the mustard seeds and wait until they start to pop. Then add the curry leaves Рthey will make a loud sizzling noise Рthis is normal. Immediately add the onions and saut̩ until well cooked (brown). Next add the garlic, then the tomatoes and cook through. Turn off heat and add the crushed cumin and salt. Pour this mixture over the cooked lentils and stir until uniform.
where most of the flavour comes from

one plus two equals dahl

I cook this amount and freeze in zip lock bags in batches. Pull a bag out whenever we’re having curry and throw it straight into a frypan with a bit of water over it. Keep turning and it’ll be ready in about 5-10minutes.

Some people get put off by the curry leaves, but pfft, whatever. They can always pick them out. Or they can bitch about them and get a slap in the face. Their choice.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Xenical - the IQ test in pill form

Working in a typical office environment, I imagine I’m not unique when I observe that my overweight colleagues are extremely persistent when it comes to finding new and interesting ways of flushing money down the toilet.

Maybe I’m not paying enough attention, but it came as a bit of a surprise when a co-worker returned from holidays proclaiming joy over a weight loss pill she’d discovered that apparently absorbs some of the fat she eats and...allows her to shit it out before it hits her waistline.

That grown people believe there is logic and reason to this is staggering. That it costs $120 for a bottle of 84 tablets is...well, intriguing.

Somewhere there is a lab geek rolling around in a mountain of money. I salute you, sir or madam - making a fortune by giving people the runs is fucking genius. 

I'm not a huge fan of laughing at desperate people, but Xenical is clearly the wonder drug for stupid people. 

Sold by Roche as Xenical and by GlaxoSmithKline as Alli, the active ingredient in both is Orlistat, an inhibitor of intestinal lipases that your body produces for very good reason - to absorb nutrients. It is therefore hardly surprising that the possible side effects are considerable and I wager none of them involve long term weight loss.

Roche says:
And they also suggest it doubles as a statin:

Speaking of which, I don't know whether this is interesting or just doubly sad for the research subjects - When orlistat was added to simvastatin, this proved to be more effective for weight loss than either drug used individually.

All this sounds fantastically tragic, but when taking Orlistat it appears that oily poo is the least of your worries. Subacute liver failure, kidney damage, gallstones, blisters, depression and a long list of other nasty conditions are what you may possibly pay for the chance of losing a few pounds.

Besides, who needs fat soluble vitamins anyway?

Apparently it is 2015, not 1815. I would not be surprised to learn of medical practitioners in those times prescribing leeches to suck the fat out of your fat cells. I'd suggest this is just as ridiculous and many times more dangerous.

I'm aware that desperate people sometimes do strange things. But surely they should know by now all they have to do is eat less and move more - it's not rocket science.
Requires double dosing

Monday, 19 January 2015

Tom Rim

This is one of my favourite prawn recipes, from Luke Nguyen's "Secrets of the Red Lantern". Secrets is not your typical cookbook because it is a good read with the recipes as a bonus. Written by Luke's sister Pauline, interspersed with Luke and Mark Jensen's recipes, it tells the story of their family's move from Vietnam to Australia and the inseparable bond between their food and culture. 
Whether they admit it or not, brown people travelling to our country in a shitty little boat is at the top of quite a few Australians' "what scares the crap out of me the most" list. Of course stupidity prevents these same people from realising that the diverse cultures making up our population are a big part of what makes this place so wonderful. 

Personally, I can't imagine anything more torturous than living in a country full of the white descendants of British criminals. 

The book has many fantastic recipes. This one is easy, quick and packed with flavours of pepper, chilli and tomato, with a strong balance of sweet and sour so common in Vietnamese food. I've tweaked it slightly to include an easy prawn stock, to reduce the sugar and I added some green beans and capsicum.

20 decent size raw prawns
fish or prawn stock
3 Tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp tomato paste
1 medium size tomato, chopped (the riper, the better)
half red onion (or some shallots) finely sliced
clove garlic chopped/crushed
chopped chilli to your liking
1.5-2 tsp freshly ground black pepper corns.
2 tsp sugar (palm or brown if available)
chopped veggies of your choice - I added green beans, red capsicum.
pretty colours

Peel all the prawns and put the heads and shells minus the poo-chute* in a small saucepan. Cover with water and boil for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. This will be your prawn stock. 
The easiest and quickest stock you'll ever make
Fry onion until clear, almost light brown.
Add garlic, chilli and fry for a minute or two.
Add tomato, tomato paste, sugar, pepper, fish sauce, some stock. 
Simmer and reduce until thick. 
Keep adding stock and reducing for about 10-15 minutes. Judge the amount and liquidity of the sauce to your liking. Not too thick, but not watery either.
When you're happy with the sauce add the prawns and cook until they've changed colour - only 2-3 minutes. 
almost done, turn off the heat and stir
Overcooking prawns until they are rubbery or powdery is an insult to crustaceans.
Serve in a bowl with or without rice. You don't really need it, but a little bit can be good to soak up the delicious sauce.
Flavour galore

*poo-chute being a colloquialism for the digestive tract that runs down the back of the prawn. 

2014 in a nutshell

To be filed under ‘I'm too lazy to write a proper journal'. 

Because, realistically, a proper journal is guaranteed to be a massive waste of time. This shitty little blog post, on the other hand, is small enough to ignore completely and crappy enough to skim and realise within the first few sentences that it's not worth reading.

Gotta start 2015 somehow - might as well make it short and bitter.

Two thousand and fourteen

If you’re not learning or experiencing new things on a regular basis, you may as well chuck it in and check out. I went through a series of shitty, dead-end jobs when I left high school, and while standing at the petrol station counter, I’m pretty sure I could hear my brain atrophying. It was depressing and soul-destroying, so I went back to school and fed my brain.

Things I learned (or that were reinforced) in 2014:
  • Bitching on the internet is fun.
  • If you buy a chicken that is half the size of your other chooks, it is probably a bantam.
  • Bantam eggs are much smaller but have a larger yolk:white ratio.
  • There's a limit to how long you can reply "we'll get a dog next year, when you're more responsible".
  • I am very lucky for many reasons. One of those is that my family and friends are wonderful people.
  • Life is very short and money is only money.
  • How to use a VPN.
  • Humans, in general, will continue to prove their stupidity, selfishness, greed and irrational fear.
  • Our nation’s political leaders have no moral compass - despite their pious religious beliefs.
  • Stock markets can defy logic and reason for a lot longer than I imagined.
  • Carbohydrate restriction appears to be gaining traction in the mainstream, albeit in the name of “Paleo”.
  • Governments may admit to torture and past injustices, but there is no sign they will stop their bloody-mindedness or invasion of our privacy.
  • The war on terror is like the war on drugs – expensive, arguably a charade with ulterior motives, and without visible end.
  • I have a rather severe and ongoing statin deficiency.
  • Planting bamboo in your garden is a really, really stupid thing to do.
  • My life is good.

Books I read:
  • Survival in Auschwitz – Primo Levi
  • The Big Fat Surprise – Nina Teicholz
  • Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox – Kate Rheaume-Bleue
  • Death by Food Pyramid – Denise Minger
  • Flash Boys – Michael Lewis
  • Whole Grains, Empty Promises – Anthony Colpo
  • Holidays - William McInnes
  • Two Brothers - Ben Elton
I vow to read more books in 2015 instead of gossip and arguments on blogs. I'm not optimistic about my chances of succeeding, but I will try. 

As per the last 2 years, I will also vow to learn Italian beyond "vorrei mangiare qualcosa".
Adelaide has lady bugs