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Of mice and mankind : why dietary studies on mice have less than zero relevance to humans.

There have been quite a few studies on the effect of low carb diets on mice recently, and there has been quite a fuss with some (extremely stupid) journalists and researchers extrapolating that what is bad for mice is bad for people. There are a few things I should point out about mice and humans.

Mice eat a grain and seed based diet. They always have, and have done so for millions of generations. They do not, ever naturally, eat a high fat or protein diet. Humans however, evolved for the past few million years as stamina hunters, scavengers and foragers. Their diets were mainly made up of (drumroll) fat and protein. Hunter gatherers to this day eat a diet that is roughly two-thirds animal (see the work of Cordain on this). The swap over to an agrarian lifestyle high in carbs/grains is extremely recent for our species. It started about 20,000 years ago in the Levant when foragers swapped over to gathering wild grains as their main food source (the Kebaran Ohalo site), and didn’t start spreading to other populations until about 10,000 years ago. Northern Europe started eating a large amount of grains as little as 5,000 years ago, and other modern hunter gathers have never, ever, ever in their entire evolutionary history eaten a grain/carb based diet.

In fact, different human populations respond differently to different diets. East Asians and many others can’t digest milk, Pima Indians are massively insulin resistant and all almost entirely obese and diabetic in adulthood.

Which really demands the question; why the hell does anyone think the biological response of another species that evolved to eat a completely different diet to humans will be anything like our own?

Some prime examples of stupidity… all mouse based.

Atkins ‘affects conception chances’

Eating a high protein diet – such as Atkins – could reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving, researchers suggest.

I’d like to point out that low carb diets are well recognised as a treatment for Poly-Cystic Ovaries Syndrome, a common cause of fertility problems in women. This item is scientific crap.

High protein diets casue Alzheimer’s

Researchers found that mice fed meals similar to those of the original Atkin’s Diet had brains five per cent lighter than all the others.

Low-carbohydrate Atkins-style diets could increase risk of heart disease and stroke

Atkins diet potentially unhealthy, study finds.

And just for a laugh.

A High Fat, Low Carbohydrate Diet Improves Alzheimer’s Disease In Mice

ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2005) — Mice with the mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease show improvements in their condition when treated with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet

Anyone curious about how HUMANS respond to low carb diets should check out the links below.

The effects of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet on the polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study

In this pilot study, a LCKD led to significant improvement in weight, percent free testosterone, LH/FSH ratio, and fasting insulin in women with obesity and PCOS over a 24 week period.

Low-Carbohydrate-Diet Score and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women

Our findings suggest that diets lower in carbohydrate and higher in protein and fat are not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in women. When vegetable sources of fat and protein are chosen, these diets may moderately reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Low-Carb Diets and Heart Disease

Low-carb diets are better at boosting ‘good’ cholesterol than low-fat diets and the weight loss is the same, according to a new study.

The low-carb group had a substantially greater decrease in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number that measures the heart at rest, in between heartbeats) than did the low-fat group at three and six months.The difference still remained after two years.The low-carb group also had greater increases in HDL cholesterol than the low-fat group throughout the study.

Restricted-carbohydrate diets in patients with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis.

Abstract

Many current popular weight-loss diets advocate restricting carbohydrates, but risks and benefits of these diets for patients with diabetes is unclear. We searched for articles published in English between 1980 and April 2006 regarding carbohydrate-restricted diets that included and reported separate results for adult, nonpregnant patients with type 2 diabetes. Articles were limited to studies completed in the United States and Canada. Available data on study design; carbohydrate composition of diet; duration of diet; and the outcomes of weight, lipid levels (total, low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides), hemoglobin A1c percent and/or fasting glucose were extracted. A total of 56 studies or reviews were evaluated. Thirteen studies met our inclusion criteria. Meta-regression analyses show that hemoglobin A1c, fasting glucose, and some lipid fractions (triglycerides) improved with lower carbohydrate-content diets. Overall effect on weight was equivocal among the studies evaluated in this meta-analysis. Randomized, controlled studies of restricted-carbohydrate diets in patients with diabetes need to be conducted in order to evaluate the overall sustainability of outcomes and long-term safety.

So there you go. The studies on the mice actually seem to be the reverse of what you’d find in humans on the same diet. Less than zero relevance.

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The starving future of Egypt.

It’s looking very much like Egypt is going bankrupt, and given about six months more will be unable to buy in any food (they recently import about half, too many people, not enough food). This will lead to 83 million Egyptians being chronically short of food, and I’d expect a mass emigration from the area by early winter if no-one sends them food aid (the Americans and others are proposing huge amounts of aid to prevent this population movement). While I’m not keen on handing over resources to fundamentalists who despise us, it’s better than having them trying to force their way North and starting WWIII in the process. Or trying to force their way south into the greener Sahel of Africa. Looking at it rationally, feeding them will be less expensive than a huge war or dealing with mass illegal immigration, and they might finally get the idea that they need to use birth control and improve their farming methods. And on an unpleasant (but valid) note; if they realise how dependant they are on us for their survival, they may tone done their aggression. It’s possible it would give us enough leverage to impose human rights/democracy etc in the country. On the upside, being that broke means that they could’t fund any kind of major war against Israel, which means all the current Muslim Brotherhood rhetoric will remain just that.

 

The hunger to come in Egypt
By Spengler

Egypt is running out of food, and, more gradually, running out of money with which to buy it. The most populous country in the Arab world shows all the symptoms of national bankruptcy – the kind that produced hyperinflation in several Latin American countries during the 1970s and 1980s – with a deadly difference: Egypt imports half its wheat, and the collapse of its external credit means starvation.

The civil violence we have seen over the past few days foreshadows far worse to come.

The Arab uprisings began against a background of food insecurity, as rising demand from Asia priced the Arab poor out of the grain market (Food and failed Arab states, Asia Times Online February 2, 2011). The chaotic political response, though, threatens to disrupt food supplies in the relative near term. Street violence will become the norm rather than the exception in Egyptian politics. All the discussion about Egypt’s future political model and its prospective relations with Israel will be overshadowed by the country’s inability to feed itself.

Egypt’s political problems – violence against Coptic Christians, the resurgence of Islamism, and saber-rattling at Israel, for example – are not symptoms of economic failure. They have a life of their own. But even Islamists have to eat, and whatever political scenarios that the radical wing of Egyptian politic might envision will be aborted by hunger.

The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice is already forming “revolutionary committees” to mete out street justice to bakeries, propane dealers and street vendors who “charge more than the price prescribed by law”, the Federation of Egyptian Radio and Television reported on May 3.

According to the ministry, “Thugs are in control of bread and butane prices” and “people’s committees” are required to stop them. Posters on Egyptian news sites report sharp increases in bread prices, far in excess of the 11.5% inflation reported for April by the country’s central bank. And increases in the price of bottled propane have made the cost of the most widely used cooking fuel prohibitive.

The collapse of Egypt’s credit standing, meanwhile, has shut down trade financing for food imports, according to the chairman of the country’s Food Industry Holding Company, Dr Ahmed al-Rakaibi, chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries. Rakaibi warned of “an acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally, as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meats and oils”. According to the country’s statistics agency, only a month’s supply of rice is on hand, and four months’ supply of wheat.

The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by US$13 billion, or roughly a third during the first three months of the year, Reuters reported on May 5. The country lost $6 billion of official and $7 billion of unofficial reserves, and had only $24.5 billion on hand at the end of April. Capital flight probably explains most of the rapid decline. Egypt’s currency has declined by only about 6% since January, despite substantial capital flight, due to market intervention by the central bank, but the rapid drawdown of reserves is unsustainable.

At this rate Egypt will be broke by September.

Egypt imported $55 billion worth of goods in 2009, but exported only $29 billion of goods. With the jump in food and energy prices, the same volume of imports would cost considerably more. Egypt closed the 2009 trade gap with about $15 billion in tourist revenues, and about $8 billion of remittances from Egyptian workers abroad. But tourism today is running at a fraction of last year’s levels, and remittances are down by around half due to expulsion of Egyptian workers from Libya. Even without capital flight, Egypt is short perhaps $25 billion a year.

The  full article is worth a read (link in title). Essentially if we don’t intervene financially, there will be millions of deaths among the poorer Egyptians, as well as a wave of humanity trying to escape Egypt. I’m predicting that the current wave of violence against the Copts (which is kept curiously quiet by the BBC) could escalate into full-blown genocide very quickly, as starving people get very aggressive and will try to get rid of any minority group to reduce competition for food. This is one of the few cases where I’m going to suggest a blanket granting of asylum to a large number of people (Copts), fairly shared between the developed nations. It will reduce the Egyptian population by about 10%. It will take a some stress off their limited food supplies, and prevent  the horrific annihilation of millions.

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All rapes in Oslo commited by immigrants

Although this doesn’t mention it directly, the vast majority of non Western immigrants in Oslo are mainly Muslim. The areas they come from are Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Morocco and Somalia (mainly).

Andd they wonder why ‘white flight’ exists.

 

Edit: this should read ‘all assault rapes’, as this doesn’t include things like date rape (which isn’t in the original article).

 

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Black women are seen as the least attractive by men: incendiary, tactless, and probably true.

I’m setting myself up for hate mail here.

Recently a researcher at the LSE ( Dr Satoshi Kanazawa) published study based on  on-line data that came to the conclusion men found black African women less attractive, and then had the sheer bad taste to put the result out for public use. Of course, the masses are now howling for his head on a plate. But this result has been found over and over in other studies of dating  and mating behaviour, and it ties well with the known male preference for facial features in females.

Last year OK cupid released data that supported the same thing, and another from the dim and distant past (2006) shows the same conclusion, (you also see from the data that women find East Asian men unappealing).

FRom OKCupid… “Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder.

It would probably be a good time to discuss what men do find attractive in women, in a non-race related setting from non-race related research into what humans find attractive. Generally, the less male looking a female face is, the more attractive it is to heterosexual males. This means a small jaw and chin, a narrow nose, high cheekbones, no dark circles under the eyes, thin arched brows, full lips, slightly paler skin than male, strong contrast between lip and eye colour (lips and eyes being darker) long dark lashes and a childlike flatness to the brow area, as well as the ubiquitous facial symmetry, and coming close to the ‘average’ face paradigm. Also no signs of overweight, no facial hair, perfect skin. Also important is glossy, long, straight hair. The preferred body shape has a BMI of 20.5, a hip to waist ratio of 0.7 (varies from culture to culture) and legs slightly longer than average, with little body hair, and not much more than average female height. Breast preference varies wildly across cultures.

It would be easy to assume (and a lot of people do) that the preference for lighter skin in women is due to the influence of European racism, but it’s a trait common to most human cultures, even those that pre-dated contact with European cultures and imperialism, and modern cultures that have little contact with Europeans. There’s very little preference for light skin in males; most cultures don’t care, or prefer men to be slightly darker (tall, dark and handsome). This is probably due to the fact female skin looks very slightly lighter than mens due to the extra fat beneath it. This gives a greater contrast between the lip colour and skin, the effect lipstick exaggerates. Skin bleaching is a common practise in women from darker skinned populations the world over.

This puts African women in conflict with the preferred feminine face paradigm on many fronts; darker skin with very little contrast with eyes and lips, wider noses,  particularly heavy brow ridges in some West Africans and a strong tendency to short hair. About the only area they do better in is fuller lips . So.. the reasons men find the average black women less attractive have nothing to do with racism, or iffy research.

So, can we all stop shrieking at Dr Kanazawa for simply saying what was already fairly well known?

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After reading Atlas Shrugged.

Out of curiosity I finally ordered it and waded through the brick-like book. I have a few comments to pass.

Firstly; style and readability. Well, not brilliant. Rand has a terrible tendency to rant/lecture in character monologues that last for pages. In one case, sixty pages. Which is more than a little tiresome. The other main defect of her writing style is that all her ‘Atlas’ heroes are the same in style and tone, there’s only one voice and one character between them. There are some parts I really enjoyed, like watching Reardon scrape off his parasite family, and the spiralling descent of Dagny’s brother. The studied cascade of failure of the social system was also worthy. However, the book should have been sent to a competent editor who could have sliced it into something more direct and less repetitive. If you’ve made a point well, which she does, you don’t need to repeat it a dozen times. I can’t see how it was made into a film,  the plot is just too unwieldly.

Secondly; politics. First a little background on myself to understand how I interpret this book. I am an escapee from the gutter, coming from a welfare dependent underclass family on a very bad council housing estate in the seventies, one of the few places in the UK to have gun crime. I then lived in some of the worst areas in London ( including Dalston, the armpit of England) before escaping to middle class-ness in the suburbs under my own steam. And I have always worked, even at mind numbingly low paid menial jobs like packing fruit.

She has some excellent observations about how unearned welfare breeds parasitism in  a society. I’ve seen it myself in the neighbours I used to have whilst working on a low wage. Unearned benefits breed a bizarre sense of entitlement in the  receiver, and understand, a lot of welfare dependents in the UK (can’t say for anywhere else) are very undeserving. One immediate family member springs to mind. Mid thirties, he has never worked but leeched of his parents and the state his whole existence, and he even once to hit me up for money (my hard-earned and saved) to fund a vanity film project. Which is probably why I cheered when Reardon’s brother came unstuck. There are families in the UK where no-one has worked in generations. That’s right, three generations of people who haven’t worked but who have been fed, housed, educated and cossetted at the expense of my husband and myself who have worked non stop our whole lives, in good health and bad, from minimum wage to managers salary. And having come from what is probably a worse background than most of these people, I find sympathy a little hard to muster when they start whining about their lot. Rand spotted that this would be the logical outcome of hand outs, and I do agree with her sentiment  of ‘why should I work for them?‘ It’s not like there isn’t work available – which is why we have to import immigrants to do the menial work (hard working people, the eastern Europeans). Our own underclass have now become so precious that they’d rather live on benefits (breeding like flies, they have more children than average) than demean themselves by cleaning a hotel room or working in a field. One thing you will observe in England, is that no one detests the perennial welfare recipients more than the working classes. They share the same housing estates, schools, and disposable income levels, but still have the morality to work. They are the people who want the cash flow to the parasites cut, not the guilt ridden middle-classes. Watch any political debate and you’ll see it’s the nice liberal middle class politicians who refuse to reform the welfare system. It’s the working class members of the audience who are screaming at them that the system has to be changed.

And this isn’t even going into the  people who claim disability allowances (mainly fraudulently). The govt during an unusual attack of sanity has decided most of the long-term claimants were actually fit for work, and about two million malingerers and slightly disabled people will now be expected to find work (but still supported at our expense until they do). I’d like to add that I’d actually like to increase the benefits slightly to the seriously unwell/disabled as I don’t see why they should live in grinding poverty through no fault of their own. So I’m not a completely heartless neo-con.

I differ with Rand somewhat in recognising that a decent basic social system can work well and improve the general wealth and welfare. Europe has had a functioning welfare state for many decades, and we haven’t collapsed into communist anarchy. I’m all for a good national health care program and basic education and disability care for the genuinely needy, and so should any self-interested person. I don’t want to be robbed by a desperate starving chav or catch endemic diseases off the great unwashed or my kids be left to die because I can’t afford chemotherapy. So a basic welfare state is in everyone’s interest, and no-one really objects to paying for it at that level. At least, not the people who have experienced one.

Another aspect in the book was the ingrained hatred of capitalists in the populace, something you still see shades of in the anti capitalism riots. I completely agree with Rand on this one. The rare people who can build up the multinationals are absolutely vital to the progress and prosperity of our culture. I just do not understand why their creating work for thousands of people and useful products that I want to buy makes them the bad guy. Anti capitalists seem to think that workers collectives and smaller producers will rush in to fill the gap if these ‘hogs’ clear out, but what will happen is that the quality of product will fall, it will get more expensive, and it won’t be done as efficiently.  Add to that no-one will step up to the plate to take on the new projects if there is no strong financial incentive.  These few sharp, driven and insanely hardworking people create the infrastructure that we’ve built our civilisation around. They’ve got to where they are by being competent. The success of any culture depends on the number and quality of these individuals (in science and politics as well as business), it needs them to drag the inertia bound masses forward into better standards of living.

One thing Rand didn’t prophecise was the large-scale influx of immigrants from poorer countries wanting a better life. In her vision, they stayed in their own countries and begged for handouts from the more successful nations  instead of individually smuggling themselves over the borders to work (or in the UK’s case, drain our welfare system and fill the jobs the underclass should be doing). But she did foretell the extraction of shale oil, and the US govt trying to force the lending of cash to the poorer masses without the necessary discrimination needed for the banks to stay afloat.

The general impression I got from Rand was that she always thought the extreme right-wing, ‘only I matter’ attitude was the right one to take. I agree with her on certain points, but I’ve got the benefit of knowing from past events that a capitalist culture can get by very well in  a welfare state, and that improperly regulated banking can cause massive global economic catastrophes. We’ve all – except for a few fringe idiots- figured out that communism just doesn’t work economically. This means that as in so many things, you need to take a middle path between welfare and wealth to get the best from both. If you keep being right or left-wing all the time you’ll just end up going around in circles.

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