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Posts Tagged ‘Obesity’

The freedom of speech is an important democratic value, but it’s not the only one.  In the liberal tradition, free speech is usually understood as a vehicle — a necessary condition for achieving certain other societal ideals: for creating a knowledgeable public; for engendering healthy, rational, and informed debate; for holding powerful people and institutions accountable; for keeping communities lively and vibrant.  What we are seeing now is that when free speech is treated as an end and not a means, it is all too possible to thwart and distort everything it is supposed to deliver.
Creating a knowledgeable public requires at least some workable signals that distinguish truth from falsehood.  Fostering a healthy, rational, and informed debate in a mass society requires mechanisms that elevate opposing viewpoints, preferably their best versions.  To be clear, no public sphere has ever fully achieved these ideal conditions — but at least they were ideals to fail from.  Today’s engagement algorithms, by contrast, espouse no ideals about a healthy public sphere.
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The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech.
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Some scientists predict that within the next few years, the number of children struggling with obesity will surpass the number struggling with hunger.  Why?  When the human condition was marked by hunger and famine, it made perfect sense to crave condensed calories and salt.  Now we live in a food glut environment, and we have few genetic, cultural, or psychological defenses against this novel threat to our health.  Similarly, we have few defenses against these novel and potent threats to the ideals of democratic speech, even as we drown in more speech than ever.
The stakes here are not low.  In the past, it has taken generations for humans to develop political, cultural, and institutional antibodies to the novelty and upheaval of previous information revolutions.  If The Birth of a Nation and Triumph of the Will came out now, they’d flop; but both debuted when film was still in its infancy, and their innovative use of the medium helped fuel the mass revival of the Ku Klux Klan and the rise of Nazism.
By this point, we’ve already seen enough to recognize that the core business model underlying the Big Tech platforms — harvesting attention with a massive surveillance infrastructure to allow for targeted, mostly automated advertising at very large scale — is far too compatible with authoritarianism, propaganda, misinformation, and polarization.  The institutional antibodies that humanity has developed to protect against censorship and propaganda thus far — laws, journalistic codes of ethics, independent watchdogs, mass education — all evolved for a world in which choking a few gatekeepers and threatening a few individuals was an effective means to block speech.  They are no longer sufficient.
   —  Zeynep Tufekci
From his article: “It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: February 2018
On-line at: https://www.wired.com/story/free-speech-issue-tech-turmoil-new-censorship/
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On This Day In:
2018 The Births Of Spring
2017 Drug Epidemic In America
2016 Word Up, Chuck!
2015 Sometimes I Wonder About Things
2014 Still Racing
2013 Anew
2012 Make Both
2011 Are You Happy Yet?

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The end of day six and the start of day seven…  Today completes the first week of blend fasting.
Morning weight: 362lbs.  (on Day 7)
I am down / down “2/11”.  As in, 2lbs down from yesterday and 11lbs down from my fasting start weight: 373lbs (the morning of Day 1).
Yesterday, was a peculiar day.  I had to give a blood sample in the morning for a doctor’s appointment on Friday.  This meant I had to “fast” (no eating of drinking of my blend) for 12 hours.  I stopped about 9pm the night before.  I got up and walked the dog about 9am, so I was on time.  I got to the office about 10:15am and gave the sample a little after 11am.  I almost never make an appointment to give blood.  I just bring a book or read email on my cell.  In this case, I did both.  Some time this week, I’ll get my results with my cholesterol and triglycerides levels and the doctor will review them with me to see where I stand.  Hopefully, both will be down (at least slightly) and I’ll be able to avoid any statins.  I was taking them in pill form for a number of years and been having a negative reaction (muscle pains and joint stiffness), but my cardiologist feels I will need to go back on something.  He’s recommending some new drug (new to me) which is administered via shot.   I’m not keen on drugs or shots (in particular), so I have another reason to make a go of fasting and losing weight.
After giving blood, I had a shot of OJ and then went out to mow the front lawn.  That took about an hour.  I settled in to drink at least a quart of my blend.  I watched a bit of TV and read a bit and then took a nap for about 2hrs.  After that, I watched some Netflix and then went to the pool for an evening swim (60 minutes / breast stroke).  I felt like it was exhilarating but (again) I tired quickly (after about 30 minutes).  So, it was another gut check to finish the time.  I just set a nice relaxing pace and got through it…  I can pretty easily do 40 lengths (25 yard lenghts) in under 55 minutes, so I say I’m doing 42 to 44 lengths an hour.  That’s a little more than one half mile (36 lengths).  It may not sound great to any young readers, but I started out in April taking between 75 and 80 minutes to do just 40 lengths, so I’ve made reasonable progress for an ol’ geezer.
Today is actually Day 7 of the fast and tomorrow I’ll be posting a photo of my progress.  Tonight I’ll make a decision about going for another week or just going day to day.  At this moment, I’m feeling great, so I’m leaning towards committing to a second full week and then switching.  The thing about “committing” is if I fall off the wagon, I’ll start beating myself up about it, whereas “day to day” is just until yesterday.  I know it’s psychologically wrong, but that’s the way (formerly) A+ personality types think.  “Set a goal.  MUST make it.  MUST make it. MUST aaauurrgghh!”
Why Studying Dieting Doesn’t Work…
On this journey I’ve struggled with dieting for most of my adult life.  I’ve almost always succeeded (for a while) in losing some weight, and then rebounded – sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly.  I’ve tried every diet plan I could reasonably afford, and almost all of them have worked (for a while).  For me, the problem has been, “What’s next?”  Sure, this or that diet works for a week or two, but what happens next?  I don’t want to “diet” forever.  This means over the last 20 years I’ve used “fasting” as my hack to a non-healthy eating lifestyle.  I either eat too much or I eat too frequently – or both.  For the longest time I’d felt this was some kind of psychological failure / adaptation on my part.  Although not poor while growing up, we certainly didn’t have the quality or quantity of food which I experienced when eating over at my friends houses.
It’s only in the last ten years I’ve thought maybe it’s not me with the problem.  Okay.  Yes, it is ME, but it’s not necessarily my brain’s (a lack of self-discipline) fault.  It’s not that I’m weak.  It’s that modern food is addicting and it’s promoted in advertising as a substitute for happiness.  I don’t mean psychologically addicting, by the way, although there is definitely some of that, too.  I mean modern food is full of chemicals (mainly) – sugar and flavor enhancers – which are meant to stimulate our appetites without giving us a sense of fullness (to tell us to stop stuffing our faces / stomachs).  I mean that modern food is physically addicting.  (Our stomachs, in fact, have sensors which tell our brain “we’re full, stop eating for a while”.  This is why drinking water before eating somewhat deadens our appetites.  The water – which has zero calories – takes up space and generates a sense of fullness in the stomach.)
The human body has served us well for thousands of years and until fairly recently, obesity (and in particular morbid obesity) has been rare.  The trend over the last ten to twenty years has been to blame what we eat (junk food / fast food), how much we eat (portions and frequency), and, everybody’s favorite culprit:  High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  The problem we (as individuals and as a society) have is correlation is not causation and food science is closer to a “soft” science (like psychology) than it is to a “hard” science (like chemistry).  This is because we have little to no ability to create valid controls for a scientific test.  The primary variable is the human body and, despite appearances (we all “seem” pretty much the same), in fact, we have wildly different individual reactions to different types of food AND we have no longitudinal studies (that I am aware of) which show the same person has the same reactions to different types of food across their individual life spans.  What longitudinal studies we do have tend to be voluntary, subjective and self-reported.  We are, therefore, highly dependent on the person reporting to provide accurate and honest information / data for our analysis.  We then use statistics and hope accuracy and honesty will level out under our Bell Curve.
More of my random thoughts to come…
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On This Day In:
2018 Just Trying To Be Me
Day 39: Half This Game Is 90% Mental
2017 A Letter To 45
Some Small Place
2016 REDs
2015 Cities
2014 Still
2013 Dare = Hope
2012 Check My Math
2011 Just Asking

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Anybody who has browsed around my blog or read my posts over the years is probably aware I’ve been struggling with weight issues for years (decades).  I am – “health wise” – clinically morbidly obese.  A little while back, I weighed in at 363 lbs and my waist is a size 50″.  Over the last forty years I’ve lost weight and gained it back (plus some) numerous times (including three strict fruit juice and vegetable broth fasts of 30 days).  In the great “yo-yoing” of dieting for life, I’ve been steadily going up and up in weight and down and down in overall health.  I currently have low cholesterol (statin based) but high triglycerides, irregular / non-persistent AFib, and I am taking blood-thinner to prevent strokes.
My mother is currently 88 years old and in very good health – no drugs at all, and still reasonably mobile for her age.  I believe if I am able to get better control of my weight, it will go a long way in getting me to a similar age.  I am currently 60 years old and am planning (hoping) to retire when I am 62- 1/2 years old.  That’s a little over 24 months away! (Yea!!)
Anyway, my wife is constantly worried about my weight and I’ve decided I’ll try to kill two birds with one stone and give her a birthday present.  I’m going to lose 30 pounds by her birthday at the end of October.  That’s right around 1.5 pounds per week, which I believe is very do-able.  So, that’s my goal.  At the moment, that’s my short term goal.  Of course my medium term goal is to keep the weight off until I retire and, hopefully, to use this as a jump-start to go beyond that to really get down to a “manageable” weight.  I don’t really know what that weight is just now, because it’s soooo far away and I really just want to make a start and then see how I get on.
Two weeks ago, I started on a combination juicing / blending diet.  I am currently completing day 14 of no solid foods and I’ve lost between 14-16 pounds.  Recognizing that the human stomach normally carries around 5 to 7 pounds of digesting food, that means I’ve lost about 7 to 10 pounds so far and 3 to 4 inches from my waist.
I am currently walking between 30 and 45 minutes per day and I “plan” to start doing a bit more exercise, but for now, it’s just the walking.  I’m currently drinking two bottles of “juice” (64 oz. each) and one bottle of water (64 oz) each day.  I’ve only had two “bad” days, so far – where I wanted to just drop the program and go gorge myself, so I think that’s pretty good.  Anytime I get hungry, I drink about 8 oz of juice.  I have three types of “juice”.  The first is actual “juiced” vegetables and fruit.  The second type is the pulp fiber from the juicing and some bottled fruit juice and water.  The third is just straight-up bottled smoothie juice from the store.
My “juice” blend is mainly kale, spinach, broccoli, carrots, lemons, onions and an apple or two.  My “pulp” blend is the fiber from the juice plus pineapple juice, apple juice, cherry juice and cranberry juice.  I also throw in whole bananas since they don’t juice well at all.  I also try to add one can of beans (usually kidney beans) to the blend.  This gives me some salt and some protein.  Finally, once a week, I add a bottle of regular “V8”.  This is to change the flavor and (again) to give me a little salt.  The “smoothie” juice is usually the “Naked” brand of juices from Safeway (my local supermarket).  I usually have the “Green Machine”, Mango, “Very Berry” and Strawberry/Banana.  None of the juices or smoothies have added sugar or high fructose corn syrup.  Of course, they all contain their own natural sugar content (about 1200 calories per bottle).
One observation about including the “V8”.  I’ve only done it once during these two weeks because I found the blend with it increased my water retention.  This tells me, there’s “probably” too much salt in the bottle –  for me, at this time.  I don’t use the “low sodium” version, because it frankly tastes foul.  But that’s just me…
As I said earlier, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep the juicing going.  For the time being, I’m dropping weight and not hungry so the only “problem” is I miss chewing and I miss the company of mealtime.  I don’t have the will-power to sit in the kitchen while the family eats, so I take my juice to my room and jump on the computer.  Obviously, this is not a sustainable lifestyle, but it seems to be working for my short-term goal.
Medium term, when I do stop the juicing, I’ll be starting back eating slowly and work to change my carnivore habits.  Ultimately, keeping the weight off will mean a sustained exercise program and more “healthy and raw” fruit and vegetables in my future.
Wish me luck and keep me in your thoughts and prayers!
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On This Day In:
2014 Pass The Soul
2013 Zapping Music And Art
2012 Not Quite Fantastic
That Kid Is Back
2011 Wolves At The Door
2010 I’m Feeling Patriotic… (Well, more than usual, anyway.)
Beating the Heat…

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