Friday, January 16, 2015

Should we all live on beans?

There is a book called “The Blue Zones” which researched areas of the world that have an unusual concentration of centenarians (people reaching the age of 100).  Let me put up a brief summary of its conclusions before I comment:

    All long-lived people live on a high-carb, low-fat, plant-based diet

    All long-lived people eat a lot of vegetables, including greens.

    Whenever they can get it, long-lived populations eat a lot of fruit and it seems to contribute to their longevity

    When animal products are consumed, it’s occasionally and in small amounts only. But the 7th Day Adventist study also showed that vegans live longer than vegetarians or meat eaters, so the ideal is to avoid all animal products. If you do eat animal products, it shouldn’t be more than a few times a month (paleo eaters take note).

    All long-lived people had periods in their life when a lot less food was available and they had to survive on a very sparse, limited diet. For example, the centenarians in the book in Okinawa describe a time during World War II when they lived on sweet potatoes for three meals a day. When discussing the centenarians in Italy: “When their family was young, in the 1950s, they were very poor. They ate what they produced on their land — mostly bread, cheese and vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and most significantly, fava beans). Meat was at best a weekly affair, boiled on Sunday with pasta and roasted during the festivals.” This reinforces my concept of periodic fasting. Because we live in a society of such abundance, we have to force ourselves to go through periods of restrictions with periodic cleanses and fasting.

    All long-lived people live in a sunny, warm climate — but not necessarily tropical. They got plenty of vitamin D from natural sunshine. The warmer climate probably also contributes to less stress and a more relaxed lifestyle.

    All long-lived people consume beans in some form or another.

    Nuts appear to be good for health. The 7th Day Adventists who ate a small serving of nuts several times a week had about half the risk of heart disease of those who didn’t.

    The typical centenarian diet is very simple. If you analyze all these diets from long-lived people around the world, they essentially eat the same simple foods every day. It appears that you do not need a wide variety of foods in your diet to be healthy. Quality food over variety is more important. Also, rich foods like meat and cheese are reserved for special occasions, and eaten at the most a few times a month if at all.

    They did not constantly change their diet or jump on the latest superfood fad. They ate the same seasonal things every day of the year.


Those conclusions were derived from a study of just 5 populations -- and from a statistician's point of view a sample size of 5  is most unlikely to support accurate generalizations.

But let us accept that the generaliations are accurate and ask whether there are other factors that explain the findings.  One such stood out to me as I read it: Food shortage.  Note that  the groups above lived on very  little.  A sub-demand food intake  both increases longevity and reduces stature. It get you lots of long-lived short people  -- as in Japan, where the food supply was very sparse for most people up until about 1960.

The effect of food shortage on stature can be extreme -- as we see in North Korea today, where the average North Korean army recruit averages  out at around 4'6".  And in reverse we see that the young people of Japan today are much taller than their grandparents.  From memory the average has increased from about 5' to about 5'6"

So my theory that the long lives in the study groups are  attributable to food shortage is thus easily testable.  It follows from my theory that the individuals concerned will be very short.  That should be easily testable if the authors want to advance their claims.  I think there is a fair likelihood that they won't need to go back with tape-measures, however.  I think they will recollect themselves towering over their study populations.

The next question concerns the California Adventists.  They presumably had no food shortages, living in one of the great centers of agricultural productivity.  That may be so but the Adventists could be a special case for reasons other than their food.  They are also members of a very religious group and it has been observed that very religious people (also the Mormons, for instance) tend to live long and healthy lives -- presumably because both the religion itself and the community that usually comes with it de-stresses people.

But, again, let us assume that both food shortage and religion were  irrelevant to the findings above. We then come to the policy decision:  Is it worth it to live longer on a much less palatable diet than what we are used to?  I think there is not much doubt that the majority answer is a resounding: "No". I happen to like beans but that is certainly my answer


Revolutions Eat Their Parents

Left-wing revolution is one of history's biggest bait-and-switches. Both for the intellectuals who hanker for the grapeshot, and for the marginalized peoples who get concentration camps instead of the anti-capitalist utopia they were promised.

"Revolutions eat their children." This observation, by a journalist during the French Revolution, was only partly true. In reality, revolutions eat their parents. In particular, history’s left-wing revolutions eat the left-wing intellectuals who made them happen. By “left-wing” here I mean revolutions that explicitly aim to use government power to reshuffle society. To remake society so it matches whatever version of “justice” strikes its promoters as attractive.

Of course, in such reformist revolutions the eggheads are just an appetizer. History's reformist revolutions move straight on to the main course: the marginalized and minorities who were often the revolution's most passionate supporters to begin with.

The left-wing revolutions of the twentieth century have all followed this pattern: midwifed by utopian intellectuals, power is quickly seized by political entrepreneurs who play to the basest instincts of the common people. Even in the most “civilized” places, such as “anything goes” Weimar Germany or 1950s “playground of the stars” Cuba, these newly enthroned are happy to see those eggheads and their “perverted” friends interred, tortured, hung from the nearest lamp post.

The litany is depressing. Especially for any tenured radical drawing taxpayer money to cheer on the violence. Mao famously boasted of “burying 46,000 scholars alive” meaning he shipped them wholesale to concentration camps so they would shut up and die. Pol Pot’s radical communist movement famously executed intellectuals in the thousands, extending to anybody who wore glasses. Even the supposedly “cool” regimes like Fidel Castro set up concentration camps for homosexuals, while the Soviet Union illegalized homosexuality for over fifty years, outdoing by a mile that light-weight hater Putin.

Most ironically, given his campus stardom, radical hero Che Guevara gleefully and personally executed homosexuals, whom he detested, while helping set up Fidel's network of camps across the county to torture gays and effeminate men into renouncing their allegedly wicked perversions that were supposedly the product of morally corrosive capitalism.

Why do reformist revolutions enjoy executing both left-wing intellectuals and the very “vulnerable groups” so near to the leftist heart? Because power has its own logic. Because any government based on violence has to constantly watch its back. And that means it has to appeal to the basest instincts of the masses. If the masses hate gays, or Jews, or the eggheads, then the government will do what it's told, stuffing the Gulags with gays, Jews, and eggheads. What the basest people hate, omnipotent government hates.

Why are intellectuals so blind to this horrible pattern? Presumably, they hope this time is different and that the campus radicals and their pet politicians will hold on this time. If history is a guide, they will not. Instead, their revolution will get snatched from them by political entrepreneurs and turned into their worst nightmare: a revolution that is anti-intellectual, anti-gay, racist, and anti-Semitic. No matter how pure the birth of the revolution, history suggests this is what it will come to.

This gives no pleasure to point out. None of us want radical leftists hanging from lampposts, or executed in Che's office for his entertainment. What we do wish is that violence-promoting reformers would have a bit more respect for the fire they play with. For them to study a bit more history. To understand why it is, always and everywhere, so dangerous to ride the tiger of unlimited government.

The left thinks it can control the tiger of the masses unleashed. It cannot, and indeed it will be the first to hang. And that would be very sad for us all, left and right.



A Leftist-Islamic Alliance

The twin massacres in Paris were, according to the perpetrators themselves, payback for blasphemy. In other words, Islamists believe in the “right not to be offended.” If that sounds familiar, maybe it’s because the American left believes exactly the same thing.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) latest report reveals that of the 437 colleges and universities they surveyed, more than 55 percent maintain what FIRE refers to as “red light” restrictions on free speech. In 2012, FIRE president Greg Lukianoff offered examples of those “speech codes,” noting that they may consist of restricting speech that “feels offensive,” “demeaning,” that which will “discredit the student body” or any language deemed to be “abusive, indecent, profane or vulgar.”

And that’s just a small sampling of the official stances taken by colleges themselves. As revealed by Healther Mac Donald, "microaggressions,“ a laughably pathetic concept defined as "a form of unintended discrimination…depicted by the use of known social norms of behavior and/or expression that, while without conscious choice of the user, has the same effect as conscious, intended discrimination,” has become entrenched on college campuses as well. Thus one no longer has to make a conscious effort to offend. As long as someone else feels offended, it is more than enough to engender criticism, or as Mac Donald chronicles, the sacking of a 79-year-old UCLA college professor for creating “a toxic, unsafe and intellectually stifling environment at its current worse (sic)” in his classroom – according to a “Day of Action Statement” written by “Scholars of Color.”

Note that even the most rabid Islamists require some kind of overt blasphemy to instigate their murderous rampages. At campuses like UCLA, where the commitment to “social justice” conquers all, the thought police are out in full force. And they have more “ammo” to work with than just microaggressions. “White privilege," defined as "a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances,” is another hammer designed to induce guilt in the unsuspecting. Such privileges are defined (I kid you not) by such things as flesh-colored band-aids and pantyhose, and shampoos that “are in the aisle and section labeled ‘hair care’ and not in a separate section for ‘ethnic products,’” according to Jennifer R. Holladay, M.S., author of  "White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap.“

The effort pursued by both the Islamists and the American left is exactly the same: the deconstruction of Western culture and one of its bedrock principles, free expression.

Unfortunately, Western culture has demonstrated it is more than willing to go along for the ride, and nothing speaks to this more forcefully than open borders, coupled with the notion that we owe something to the 11 million people (or perhaps 20 or 30 million) that have ignored our immigration laws. Even more incredibly, our leftist-dominated ruling class continues down this road, even as the price of allowing millions of people more interested in preserving their own way of life rather than embracing a host nation’s culture is playing itself out in Europe at this very moment. And while one sympathizes with the current tribulations endured by the French, a daunting reality cannot be ignored:

They brought these atrocities upon themselves.

And not just with unrestrained immigration. In 2008, the European Union mandated religious hate-speech laws. France itself has laws against speech that "insults, defames or incites hatred, discrimination or violence on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sex or sexual orientation.” Moreover, the very same Charlie Hebdo staff characterized as “courageous chroniclers” by French President Francois Hollande was the staff who had hate speech charges leveled at them in 2006-2007 by then-president Jacques Chirac. “Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided,” he said at the time. “Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of responsibility.”

How to reconcile the difference between free expression and the spirit of responsibility is impossible to know, but it is telling that, on this side of the Atlantic, the same leftists who embrace campus speech codes are the ones more than willing to embrace expressions such as “nativist,” “xenophobic,” bigoted,“ "racist,” “Islamophobic,” and a number of other equally gratuitous insults all of which are designed – irony notwithstanding – to suppress the speech of those who would disagree with the leftist agenda.

It is the same leftist agenda that tossed the melting pot mentality on the ash heap of history and replaced it with the multicultural-inspired notion that immigrants should “celebrate their differences,” rather than assimilate American customs, culture, traditions and language.

That’s exactly what occurred in France last week. Islamists embraced their jihadist culture, in all suppressive and murderous glory. And even worse, they were aided and abetted by one “courageous” media outlet after another, all of whom refused to print the offending cartoons altogether, or pixilated the insulting parts. And then, adding insult to injury, they proceeded to warn us about “seething" anti-immigrant feelings and a rise in Islamophobia, both of which feed  the "far-right nationalist parties.”

In other words, nationalism and the desire to protect the prevailing culture is a bad thing.

And so we will endure the alternative. In France, “law enforcement officers have been told to erase their social media presence and to carry their weapons at all times because terror sleeper cells have been activated over the last 24 hours in the country,” CNN reports. In America, “Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and her party’s ranking member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, flatly stated that she believes terrorist cells are hiding in Europe and the U.S., waiting to be activated and carry out attacks similar to the ones that claimed 17 lives in France last week," reports the Washington Times.

Those would be terror cells undoubtedly inspired by the ongoing advances of ISIS and al Qaeda in the Middle East, the Boko Haram in Nigeria, and a host of other Islamic terrorist entities allowed to fester or flourish, lest terms like "overseas contingency operation,” “man-caused disaster,” “militants,” “insurgents,” “extremists,” “workplace violence,” etc., etc., are revealed for the utterly bankrupt frauds they truly are. And as long as the West continues to make politically correct war against this Islamist cancer, it will remain a source of inspiration for every wannabe jihadist-in-waiting – even as feckless Western leaders walk on politically correct eggshells to avoid making the direct connection between the two.

And perhaps no one speaks to that fecklessness better than our own president, who declined to attend the rally in Paris where more than 40 other heads of state, and 1.5 million people, convened to denounce the atrocities. Even Obama apologists such as NBC’s Andrea Mitchell noted the “stunning” nature of the snub, while the reliably leftist Ron Fournier insisted it was “mistake,” but not a “disgrace.”

More to the point, it was no accident. Obama has made it clear he disdains American exceptionalism and our nation’s role as the world’s last remaining superpower. And while apologists like Fournier insist it isn’t disgraceful that our president decided to watch NFL football instead of attending the rally, it is quite disgraceful when none of America’s top leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry or Attorney General Eric Holder – who was in Paris at the time – were there to represent our nation. Instead ambassador Jane Hartley, who raised more than $500,000 in campaign funds for Obama, was our highest ranking official on the scene.

In other words, Clint Eastwood was right on the money when he portrayed Obama as an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. And it is that empty chair America must endure for two more years, the one who will convene a Feb. 18 “Summit on Countering Violent Extremism” that makes no mention whatsoever of Islamic extremism.

No doubt our president doesn’t want to say anything that might offend someone.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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