Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Species Diet

I came up with a diet called the Species diet.  With all the diets out there, why did I invent a new diet? It's because my whole life I've been a victim... of second hand dieting. From fake meat made with soy to brownies made with apple sauce.

What is a diet? The definition is "The kinds of food that a person eats". Our, in three words, "food people eat".

Why do we eat food? Imagine if your automobile used gasoline to create spare parts and put tread back on your tires. Besides providing raw energy, the gasoline would also need to provide raw materials.  It's the same with our bodies. We are continually regenerating cells, on average replacing our parts about every 7 years. We need food to do this. 

What if we could avoid the food provides the raw materials for the scars of life: wrinkles, gray hair, etc.?  Of course, that's a ridiculous idea.  However, that's what other diets are based on: the mistaken idea that you can be healthier by eliminating certain foods.

For example;
The paleo diet, don't eat grains, beans, peanuts
Atkins and South Beach - don't eat certain carbs
Vegan - don't eat meat or any animal protein
Jenny Craig - don't eat anything that Jenny Craig isn't selling.
Slimfast - don't eat anything that isn't a shake
Metafast - don't eat anything that resembles real food.

I say, forget all these restricting diets.

Remember the definition of diet: food people eat. There's a entirely different word for food you don't eat.  It's called Fasting. The definition of fasting is "To abstain from all or some kinds of food".  At least Slim-"fast" and Meta-"fast" got that right.

How do we make sure we get the raw materials we need?  In the early 19th century, William Prout, an English doctor and chemist identified the three principal constituents of food - pizza, diet coke, ... I mean protein, fat and carbohydrates.  Then Justus von Liebig, a German scientist added a couple of minerals and concocted the first baby formula. Babies fed exclusively on this first baby formula failed to thrive.

This is called the reductionist view of nutrition:  break food down into the chemical parts.  And it doesn't work.

To illustrate this problem, let's consider the menu with two choices:

Choice #1
Filet of beef/chicken/fish with
A side of Asparagus spears sauteed with roasted pecan nuts
Garlic mashed potatoes
A fresh bowl of cut strawberries, pineapple and mango.

Choice #2
Filet of protein with omega 3 fatty acids and essential amino acids
A side of carbohydrates high in fiber with folate, antioxidants sauteed with roasted betacarotenes and lutein
A fresh bowl of carbohydrates with magnesium, niacin, potassium.

Choice #1 is obviously more appetizing because it's food that comes from an animal or plant species. Each species is highly evolved. Plants collect nutrients with their roots and animals graze and forage. The result is tasty food.  The more species from which you get food, the greater the variety of nutrients. Thus the Species Diet.

What are the rules?
  1. You get a point for each species that you eat.  You decide when to reset your points. For me it's every day.
  2. If it's not a species, then it's zero points.  You decide what qualifies. For me, the species must be recognizable without reading a label.  You can still eat it, you just don't get points.
The goal is to get as many points as possible.

Example:
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, orange (3 points)
Lunch: Apple, ham. Only 1 point since you have bacon (the same species) as ham.  

Does the species diet make any sense?
The focus is on eating unprocessed foods and the most points are available from eating fruits and vegetables since there aren't as many choices for meat. Makes sense to me.

In conclusion,
I may not be the most qualified person to invent a diet, but hopefully I convinced you that there it is a fun, healthy, non restricting way to eat. You can do it however you want. Just don't go crazy. Like the guy that tried to get points by eating a bald eagle. Of course, he got arrested and was convicted. At his sentencing, the judge said "I'm curious. What does a bald eagle taste like?" The man replied "a cross between a spotted owl and a California condor"


Saturday, May 16, 2015

When the Free Market Fails Us: The Story of Toenail Fungus and Windshield Wiper Blades

I'm all about capitalism.  It's got its problems but has proven itself to be the best system at providing the goods and services we need to maintain the best quality of life possible.  One of the problems (and the inspiration for this post) is revealed in a recent experience.  I have an embarrassing condition (apparently not too embarrassing since I announced it in the title of this post).  So here's the story:

Toenail fungus makes your toenails thick, powdery white and sometimes brittle.  So I went to the doctor (who turned out to be a PA, NOT an MD) and he said he could give me a pill that I have to take for a year and that will damage my liver.  Oh, and it only has about a 50/50 chance of working.  Or, he found the most effective thing is to rip the toenails off.  He didn't actually say "rip".  Instead he made it sound like it was simple enough that I could play soccer the next day.  So I said "rip them all off".  He wisely had me do only one foot.  If I were a woman and had given birth, I could compare the pain to having a baby.  Since I'm not a woman, I guess for now on I'll just have to say "it hurts as bad as having your toenails ripped off".

While I was limping around work in recovery, someone asked what happened.  After my reply, they asked why I didn't get laser treatment.  Apparently it takes 5 minutes and is painless.  I really don't know how to explain my emotional reaction to this news.  After about 6 months of waiting for my toenails to grow back, only my pinky toe was better.  The others seemed worse than before.

Time to try the laser treatment.  I found a Groupon deal for $360.  They did two treatments.  In this treatment, the doctor shines a laser on the toenail till it heats up, then moves it over a tiny amount and repeats until he's done the entire toenail.  I learned after the first spot that you have to tell the doctor when its hot enough. He told me this after I yelled "Ow!".  Two treatments, I waited 6 months.  NO BENEFIT.

Then I spent about $20 in over-the-counter treatments.  An oil you brush onto the nail.  I was diligent doing it every morning and night for 6 months.  The nails looked good, but were not 100%.  So I quit.  And they started looking bad again.

At this point (if you made it this far), you're probably asking "What does this have to do with the Free Market?" (Be patient and thanks for hanging in there)

This is the point that I decided to cast my search far and wide.  The consensus was that there is no cure yet I found a website that compared several products.  The top product claimed a 94% success rate.  On Amazon.com, it had a high user rating.  I always read the 1-star ratings when reviewing products.  They confirmed my suspicion.  The product was a scam with a bunch of fake user ratings and fake websites reviewing the product.

Instead, I decided to try and discover my own treatment.  We have a bottle of Castor Oil that we purchased for $2  It's about 5 times the size of the $20 bottle of special toenail fungus treating oil.  I drenched my toes in Castor Oil and put plastic bags over my feet (for about an hour).  I also do the daily application.  After about a week, my toes look better than they have with any of the other treatments.  They aren't cured yet, but this is where I make my point about the Free Market.

Getting information to the public is expensive.  Google and Facebook are mega billion dollar companies because of all the money other companies spend trying to connect to the public.  No one is going to get rich selling $2 bottles of Castor Oil to treat toenail fungus.  I'm sure there are many other cheap alternatives to our everyday needs, but companies aren't interested in providing cheap alternatives unless they can make good money.  Selling expensive lasers to podiatrists and selling tiny bottles for $20-$30 at Target or online is what makes money.

Years ago I bought a set of silicon rubber windshield wiper blades.  Best windshield wiper blades I ever owned.  They worked great for years.  The only reason I no longer have them is that I sold the car they were on.  The company that sold them is out of business.  You don't stay in business by selling something that lasts forever.  You stay in business by selling lousy windshield wiper blades that last for a year or two and then need to be replaced.

Conclusion

Skip the cures with the painful side effects, sexy technology, scamming self-promoters.  Just give me the simple pleasures.  I wish our Free Market system had a way to promote the truly economical solutions to life's needs, but instead I'm worried that these ideas are the endangered species in our competitive society.




Friday, May 1, 2015

Social Jenga

I was thinking about recent news events and the image of a Jenga game popped in my head.  If you already understand Jenga, you can skip to the next paragraph.  In the game, a tower is made of alternating layers of tiles stacked on each other.  The players then take turns taking tiles from the lower portion of the tower and placing them on the top of the tower.  At first, the "easy" tiles are selected: tiles that don't seem to be supporting the tower and can easily be slid out.  As the tower gets taller, it gets less stable and there are fewer "easy"tiles.  But the game must continue until the last tile is removed that causes the entire stack to collapse.

This reminds me of the social engineering that is taking place in politics.  At first we admire the stable tower built on hard work, discipline, and time proven principles.  The benefits are comfort and stability.  "What about the people that aren't included in the tower?  Wouldn't it be nice if they had some of these same benefits?"  So we take from the bottom of the stack to make the tower taller (i.e., add more people to the middle class).  Other voices warn that doing this makes the tower less stable.  "Non-sense!  We're just taking the excess and redistributing it so more people can benefit."

Specifically:

  • More people should be homeowners.  So we put allow for risky lending practices putting our financial institution at risk.
  • More people should have college educations.  So we use debt to pay for it, to the tune of over $1.2 trillion. [12
  • The government should provide more for more people.  So we borrow $18 trillion dollars from what used to be a stable system to make the tower taller.  [See debt clock
  • More people should have healthcare.  So we mandate that everyone pay for healthcare, including the young and healthy, hardworking people just trying to start out.  We fine them 2% of their income if they don't.[See Individual Mandate]
  • The joys of sex shouldn't be limited to marriage.  So we make it easy and acceptable to have cheap sex.  We provide financial support for unwed mothers.  There are record numbers of single parent families and we take the lives of over a million fetuses a year in the U.S.  These "benefits" no longer demand the commitment of marriage, so a stable "tile" is removed and added to the top.
  • This last Tuesday, the Supreme Court was arguing about removing another marriage "tile" so the stack could be larger.  
Is it possible to go in reverse and put the pieces back to restore stability?  or Do we continue playing the game until the stack collapses?