Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Day Camp

Training wheels for backpackers.

It starts with kids whose parents drop them off at a place where their kids can safely enjoy outdoor activities with other kids. The parents meanwhile go off to drink, carouse, and play cards with other adults.

Some kids escape and take to the woods, teaching themselves the survival skills that will be handy when they become real backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts.

But most of the kids don't. They stay at camp and learn how to think inside the fence. Some of them will grow up to be lawyers. Some will be politicians. Some will speak in thundering sanctimonious tones in front of congregations.

The rest will be plumbers and schoolteachers. Bank tellers. Middle managers. Retailers. Normal people.

Fate. It can eat you. Shun conformity. Defeat fences.


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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Sounds Kind Of Like


First, the state of nutritional science in 107 words:

The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

Conclusion: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is what kills you.

That's about the sum total, folks. No one really knows nothin', outside of a few hints.


Dhoti? Dhow? Dia? Dido? Die? Die Away? Die Out? Diode? Dit? Ditto? Ditty? Do Away With? Do It? Doh? Doha? Doodad? Doodle? Dot? Dote? Dotty? Dowdy? Dud? Dude? Due Date? Due To? Duet? Duty? Dye?

Nope. Diet. Let's talk diet.

A diet is a way of eating to achieve a purpose. All diets exclude. Every general-purpose diet, intended to cover people in general, is a fraud. Let's label that fraud as "fad". There are three broad classes of diets. Two of them are not fads, and they are critical, but those two classes are so narrow and so tiny that they are almost non-existent. We'll start with them.


Class One Diet

What works for you. Like the woman who eats only beef, with water, and a bit of salt. Perfect.

I'm happy for her. Whatever she says is fine. I cannot judge what she does, and I also have no interest in even trying to eat this way because I don't want to. I also don't think that it would help me in any way. Probably the opposite.

This diet is exclusionary.

I know that I could not eat cow brains, cow livers, cow kidneys, or cow hearts to get at their essential fatty richness, which is required because lean meat will not sustain life. I wasn't raised on organ meats and could not even force myself to eat them now. I also know that I could not afford to buy enough beef to keep myself alive, and I have no interest in spending hours each week cracking open long bones to get at marrow.

This diet is an interesting data point for me but nothing else, a curiosity. Some people are more oriented toward vegetables and grains, or fish, or meat. Some can't handle milk. Some can. Evolution has worked in different directions in different parts of the world. We have all been tuned differently. We come from separate sub-species. We need to eat differently, accordingly.

My people are flatlanders. They are tough and stupid, hard to kill. They can stand out on the prairie in their underwear, at night, in a blizzard, just to see what it feels like and say things like "Hey! This is the real deal then, not?" And then go back inside to watch more TV. They eat potatoes and meat and butter and milk and cheese and eggs and dumplings and a little cabbage and some borscht now and then, and grow very old and feel utterly fine, while remaining skeptical of those vegetable things lurking in the garden. And they love gluten, passionately.

Maybe not you, but who's asking?


Class Two Diet

This one is prescribed by a qualified, knowledgeable, experienced medical professional for exactly one person, based on a diagnosis backed up by verifiable, quantified data, to treat a real medical condition. It is exclusionary.

End of story.


Class Three Diet

The fad.

I break this out into "fad", "fantasy", "fetish", and "cult" subclasses, but they are really all the same. They claim to be applicable to one and all — just "Do this, and everything will be perfect." That's the hook. Always with the hook.

These are also exclusionary.

Some exclude sugar, some exclude all fat, or only "bad" fat. Some exclude protein. Some exclude starches. Some leave out fruit, leave out everything but fruit. On and on. All of them promise. Promise big time. Lovely promises, all.

  • Cult
    • The Jim Jones Kool-Aid diet. Ends all your problems in mere seconds. Drink up.
    • Breatharian. Ditto — Death, but slightly slower to arrive.
    • Vegan. Guaranteed to kill you as well, but it could take a decade or two, due to deficiencies in vitamins K2 and B12 (B12 is not produced by plants).

  • Fetish
    • "Detox" diets, as if the body didn't do this, day and night, forever, on its own, relentlessly.
    • "Clean food" diets. (Which apparently prevent everything you eat from turning to shit.)
    • "Macrobiotic". Do anything you want, because the food will protect you, because it makes you holy.

  • Fantasy
    • Want a butt like Kim Kardashian? Then eat what she does.
    • Want a husband like Kim Kardashian? Then eat what she does.
    • Prefer Suzanne Somers? Then try Somersizing. Works for me! Ya-sure-you-betcha-right.

  • Fad
    • Almost anything, really — too numerous to list them all.
    • Mediterranean. (Enjoy sunny, lazy days the yacht, guzzling olive oil).
    • Baby Food Diet. (Yeck. You know how hard it is to hire a diaper-changer?)
    • Cabbage soup diet. (Like starving in the old country, when we felt blessed to find bugs in our soup.)
    • Gluten-free. (As if.)
    • Fruitarian. (Recommended by Sir Shitsalot.)
    • Grapefruit. (Or his wife.)
    • Master Cleanse. (Cf. Sir Shitsalot.)
    • Morning banana. (What — apples are out?)
    • Paleolithic. (Drag them knuckles, Knut. Grunt and fart like you mean it.)
    • And an infinite number of others.


Class Act Diet

This isn't a diet. It is inclusive.

The trick is you just eat. Food doesn't really matter that much unless you fork with it. Like by not eating it, which is what each and every "diet" mandates. Or by obsessing over it. There is a line spouted by some that goes "Don't eliminate, replace." But replacing one food with another is eliminating. Fish isn't beef, isn't chicken, isn't tofu, isn't pork. Each is similar to the others in some ways, but no food is a drop-in substitute for any other. Better to add or maybe alternate than to either eliminate or replace.

Instead of all this crap, go back to step one, but not to eating only beef. Rather, pick a cuisine that appeals to you — Vietnamese, Peruvian, Icelandic — anything. Just pick one. Or what your grandmother ate, if she was born before the 20th century, before food became big business.

What you'll get is good food that has been vetted for centuries, possibly millennia. Guaranteed to make you happy and keep you well, because it tastes good and because it also supplies everything you need to keep going. Because it's what people have voted for, with their mouths, and because they stayed alive and happy and healthy on it.

Cuisines are continuously evolving, but they do so slowly, by adding new items, and seeing a few items gradually fade out. This is good. Because, if nothing happens suddenly, then there is plenty of time to make corrections. And because there are millions of mouths involved, the cuisine gets voted on by all sorts of people with varied lifestyles, body types, and nutritional needs, constantly.

That means that you yourself are guaranteed to be well treated by a cuisine, any cuisine, and if you just eat it you will be OK. That's it, all there is.

But I bet that much more depends on getting lots of sleep, shunning dangerous chemicals like tobacco and other drugs, avoiding contact with communicable diseases, and getting a lot of exercise. This last one is probably the most important. A good goal might be a tithe — exercise for 2½ hours a day, every day. Pant and break a sweat. Repeat tomorrow, forever.

Even a hundred years ago most people were physically active most of the time. Imagine being on your feet for 10 or 12 hours a day, at a job, moving, using your muscles, and then walking home and doing chores. We don't do that now. Maybe we should. Fewer of us might be crazy.

And food would be just something to eat and enjoy.


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