The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. ... In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Study: add more carbs be more hungry!

A new study: "A Paleolithic diet is more satiating per calorie than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease"

What is remarkable about it, is that the patients felt more satiated and thus ate automatically 24% less by their own choice, and the only major difference between the two tested diets was the amount of carbohydrates (grains)! Everything else was very similar.

Think about it: both groups eat some typical basic foodstuff, then just let one group add 82g more carbohydrates (grains!) plus 13g more fat (oil) per day and what is the main result? - THEY FEEL MORE HUNGRY!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Definition of money and the time-symmetry


A few thoughts:

1) Gold Money = Past Work.

A money system that is 100% backed by tangible products such as gold or by some real consummer produce such as food, cars, seashells etc is the symbol or equivalent substitute of work done in the past. A found pot of Roman gold coins represents work done by some people 2000 years ago. To create a monetary system like that you first have to mine out and accumulate some gold, copper etc or make some products and then you can have a "money" backed by it. It is mildly deflationary (in a harmless way, probably) since the amount of goods and products generally accumulates faster than gold.

A monetary system based on the assets produced in the past is inherently stable for the same reason that the automation control systems based on the "feed-forward" principle (as opposed to "feed-back") have to be. That is because past products are inherently more solid that the promise of future products! (I was just about to write "because the Past is Immutable" but on the second thought decided not to).

It's downside (or perhaps an advantage?) is the fact that it is very difficult to generate new investment credit and lend money very quickly for large projects, other then through a slow process of accumulation of capital. In particular, it is very difficult for governments and large corporations to obtain large amounts of capital without direct taxation or outright confiscation of capital from productive business entities. Such activity cannot be easily concealed by authorities and if attempted, it would be declared illegal as well as incompatible with the democratic principles. This type of monetary system probably enforces honesty and encourages work-oriented culture (if backed by the effective legal system). This is probably the main reason why the gold backed monetary system was first subverted and finally abolished by most governments.

2) Debt Money = Future Work.

Money based exclusively on debt is the present equivalent substitute of a work promised, a work that will be done in the future. Other than this difference, the system works (initially) the same way as #1! It is typically mildly inflationary because it is always easier to borrow more and generate excessive debt. The system tends to generate more of the debt-backed money, than can be reasonably predicted to be covered by the productive work in the future. In addition to the inherently poor money issuance control, unpredictable disasters or business failures tend to undermine a balance tilting it towards inflation.

When the future comes and some debt proves to be defaulted, then the equivalent amount of debt-backed money must by law be destroyed. This 'must' NEVER happens! It's a Keynesian's fallacy, for example that a government is supposed to be counter-cyclical, restraining its spending during a boom. In theory it must be done but never gets done! At least, not when the big governments run by incompetent collectivists have their way! :)

Eventually, excessive unbacked phantom money keeps accumulating because nobody is destroying it! Nobody likes becoming the first one to burn their paper banknotes, admit that their bonds (held or issued) are worthless etc. In the event of mass defaults, business closures or just corporate downsizing, the debt-backed monetary system seems to give all players an incentive to maintain a fiction and pretend that the paper assets backed by the defunct debt still have some value. It encourages the players to cheat, and punishes honesty. This honesty disincentive is also compounded by massive leverage through banking lending multiplier (it's name is '33') and derrivatives (I think the system would probably still remain inherently unstable even without the multipliers and derrivatives).

The main advantage (or perhaps its main fault) is the fact that it is very easy to generate additional credit to finance some urgent projects or startups. It's main alure is probably the fact that the very large players such as governments and some very large corporations, may generate and use gigantic amounts of new credit/money without actually producing anything useful co-measurate with the amount of resources they are appropriating. They can do all that in plain view without breaking any law, and without breaking principles of democracy.

3) Present Time Money

Can Present Money be defined as the average of #1 and #2?  One can envisage a 50%-50% mixture (or similar ratio) of both forms of money-backing asset classes (hard assets from the past or gold,  plus debt counted as an asset), but it is not really equivalent to any product being produced in the present! The 50-50 money backing scheme has no relation to the current work being done in the present time! Such monetary systems have been used in the past and are called "fractional reserve gold backed currency". It is like standing on two boats with one foot in each.

I think, the nearest equivalent of a "money" system that reflects a work being done in the present time is barter - which in fact uses no money at all! Such a system did work in the past, but only in a very primeval economy. Could such a system have worked in an industrialized economy such as during the Industrial Revolution in the last 200 years? Absolutely not! Would such a system work in the future information based economy? Perhaps, I don't know but I would not exclude a possibility that it may work!  We have to get used to a habit of challenging the old "wisdoms" because the new ways of global information access make certain formerly impractical ideas possible, for example a direct democracy! I have a gut feeling that this could be the key point behind the future economic revival!

I think, that kind of systemic classification based on the symmetry patterns is always helpful in science, it may even have some predictive power.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Drug trial success - anacetrapib did not kill significantly more than placebo!

This is great news for Merck regarding their new HDL-boosting-LDL-busting drug Anacetrapib.  Published about a week ago:

Safety of Anacetrapib in Patients with or at High Risk for Coronary Heart Disease

Quote: "The prespecified Bayesian analysis indicated that this event distribution provided a predictive probability (confidence) of 94% that anacetrapib would not be associated with a 25% increase in cardiovascular events, as seen with torcetrapib."

See also this:

Merck’s Risky Bet on Heart Drugs May Yield Lipitor-Like Success

Interestingly, the company's stock declined by about 5% in November to date.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lack of social skills made us human

[Part 2 of 2]

Continuing on Sapolsky's lecture, see this video:

Robert Sapolsky: Stress, Neurodegeneration and Individual Differences

About 50 minutes into this lecture, Sapolsky changes slightly the subject and describes his stress research on baboon monkeys in Africa, describing their society's structure and detailed habits. This was discussed in the context of biochemistry and stress hormones (glucocorticoids), with blood samples taken and analyzed, correlated within the context of the social interaction. Over 20 years of solid experimental and observational research, really impressive piece of work!

Brief summary.

Baboons in the reserve (Serengeti) need only about 3 hours a day to gather their food. They live in baboons' paradise, their health is good and infant's mortality is lower than among neighboring human villages. They spend the rest of the day, 9 hours every day on average making each other miserable and stressing each other to the limits of their adrenal biochemistry, using social interplay, emotional and physical harassment. They follow a very elaborate and rigid social hierarchy with a strong male gang leader and a score of lesser levels. At each position within the gang, a member is continuously subjected to harassment and being picked on by higher member, while at the same time, they are compelled by their biology to release their own stress by picking, incessantly upon the weaker members of lesser position.

I strongly recommend to watch this video to give you a better idea what it is really like. I have to admit I couldn't help by noticing how similar is their structure to the structure of the human subculture in:

- criminal gangs
- government institutions,
- large corporations
- armed forces and paramilitary organizations,
- large religious institutions
- academic institutions

Comments and thoughts

If one ever wondered about any of the above cultures, then watching Sapolsky's video will neatly illustrate what is that all about. In contrast, one wonders what kind of culture would rather protects the weaker members and work creatively to build tools, shelters and grow food rather then spend all their time on social warfare? I think, it can't possibly be a culture solely focused on social interplay, with a rigid hierarchical structure. I think the pattern is the same, regardless whether we are dealing with intelligent humans or monkeys. The main dichotomy is I think clear: a group either focuses most of their free time on perfecting the social interaction and learning practical social manipulation skills to the detriment of other skills, or it follows a decentralized model allowing their members to develop and use individual skills in creating technology, art and science (individuals being free to keep the results of their work!). This dichotomy can be seen in both individual characters and on the scale of the herds, tribes, societies or countries. This dichotomy is expressed in two different approaches towards problem-solving. For example, take a lack of something like food: one approach is to steal food from others. The second approach is to search or grow more food - to fix the actual problem! Another example that we keep hearing so often is energy and resources' shortage. The "monkey" way would be for Mr. Leader to make me and you use less energy, while conserving what is left for his elite friends and his electorate. The other less fashionable but natural human way is to use technology to tap into a source of energy that is thousands of time more abundant than oil or coal. One mindset is about controlling the people; the other is about controlling the environment.

Coming back to the title of this note: I think there is a snowball-in-hell chance that any society behaving along the pattern described in Sapolsky's lecture on baboons, would ever develop technology, art or science. It is also doubtful, if they ever managed to capture the fruit of modern civilization by force, that they would be able to keep and maintain those achievements!

The fact that humans did achieve a highly developed technological civilization means that the periods of herd-like rigid hierarchical social structures must have been a rare anomaly rather than the rule! Otherwise we probably would never evolve creative skills and would be living today in a tropical "paradise" living off wild fruit and spending our time plotting how to became "herd-managers".

No it is not the society and the social skills that made us human, it was the lack of it! Those who spend their time partying and socializing create no wealth and no value. Those who tinker, build, experiment and learn science - do! It was the "nerddom" that drove us forward while social skills held us backwards towards social competition, stress, warfare and death.

[see also Dozent's comment underneath]

(Style and grammar edited 7/02/2011)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ketone bodies protect neurons from stress hormone-induced damage

[Part 1 of 2]

This is inspired by this video presentation:

Robert Sapolsky: Stress, Neurodegeneration and Individual Differences

Scrolling to minute 26 of the video, reveals a slide summarizing the results of an experiment, where neural tissue was exposed to an "insult" (damage cause) equivalent to hypoglycemia.

The degree of damage to the neurons was asessed in volume units (vertical) while the 4 cases are represented by color bars:

green - damage caused solely by the original "insult"
yellow - damage caused by the "insult" in the presence of glucocorticoid (stress hormone)
red - damage caused by the "insult" in the presence of glucocorticoids and mannose sugar
white - damage caused by the "insult" in the presence of glucocorticoids and ketone bodies (beta-hydroxy-butyrate)

What do I make out of that? Basically, it shows that not only ketone bodies work better as the energy source than mannose sugar, but also protect against the damage caused by both factors combined: hypoglycemia and glucocorticoid: - the white bar is smaller than the original green bar on the left!

[part 2 essay inspired by the same video will be titled "Lack of social skills made us human!" ]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cow's milk formula triggers t1 diabetes, new study


Dietary Intervention in Infancy and Later Signs of Beta-Cell Autoimmunity

A journalist's write-up is here

Double-blind study on 230 infants with HLA-conferred susceptibility to type 1 diabetes and with at least one family member with type 1 diabetes, were split into test group fed casein hydrolizate based formula, and the control group fed conventional cow's milk based formula.

Autoantibodies to insulin, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the insulinoma-associated 2 molecule (IA-2), and zinc transporter 8 were analyzed, as well as monitored for the incidence of diabetes t1, until the age of 10.  

The risk of developing diabetes t1 markers in the casein hydrolizate group was substantially reduced - by  ~50%, compared with the control group reciving cow's milk formula!

Updated (14-Nov-2010)   This is going to be a story of two food villains and one food hero.

There is more to milk that 1 paper. Much more: a study involving a billion people. The China study. I am going to dump some facts here for the reference.

My source of data is Mono Mortality document. A cursory look at all diseases with the focus on correlation with milk reveals that milk correlates positively with almost all diseases! The same cursory look reveals also that two other food items: wheat flour and eggs correlate very consistently too across most diseases,
one positively one negatively. Note: positive correlation means that an increase in consumption is associated with more disease and more harm, whereas negative correlation means an increase in consumption is associated with less risk of a disease. The main bullet points of this review are these:

* Wheat flour correlates positively with almost all diseases (except pulmonary TB in adults)

* Milk correlates positively with almost all diseases (except diabetes)

* Eggs correlate negatively with almost all diseases (except cancer, diabetes and IHD)

One should keep in mind that a correlation is no causuation, however the fact that milk and wheat and eggs correlate simultaneously and follow the same consistent pattern, albeit with different signs, may indicate that something real is going on in the human biochemistry in relation to those foods. This is a strong indication that more reseaarch should be made to investigate the effect. This is also a indictment against Cornell University that sat on such a rich set of data for a decade without doing anything usefull about it. (Other than letting one of their staff profesor hijack the study title to propagate his veganism!)


Here are some examples, I will list correlation factors from the above linked document, for disease mortalities against wheat, milk and eggs only.  Correlation factors are given as two digit numbers in percentage, followed by the food item.

M015 Pullmonary TB (age 0-34):+34 Milk , -27 Eggs
M016 Pullmonary TB (age 35-69): -29 Wheat
M018 Other TB (age 35-69): +52 Wheat, -30 Eggs
M023 All cancer (age 35-69): +31 Eggs
M043 Endocrine (age 0-34): -36 Eggs
M044 Endocrine (age 35-69): -31 Milk
M045 Diabetes (age 35-69): -29 Milk, +26 Eggs
M050 Mental (age 0-34): +75% Milk
M059 All Vascular (age 35-69): +56 Wheat, +29 Milk, -26 Eggs
M060 Rheumatic (age 0-34): +37 Milk, -35 Eggs
M061 Rheumatic (age 35-69): +26 Wheat, -32 Eggs
M062 Hypertension (age 35-69): +43 Wheat, +75 Milk, -28 Eggs
M063 Ischaemic heart d.(age 35-69): +59 Wheat, +25 Eggs
M065 Stroke (age 35-69): +43 Wheat
M066 All vasc excl stroke (0-34): +33 Wheat, +42 Milk, -43 Eggs
M067 All vasc excl stroke (age 35-69):+65 Wheat, +50 Milk, -33 Eggs
M068 All respiratory (age 0-34): +50 Milk, -27 Eggs
M069 All respiratory (age 35-69): - (no correlation) -
M070 Pneumonia (age 0-34): +51 Milk, -27 Eggs
M071 Pneumonia (age 35-69): -32 Eggs
M087 Pregnancy and birth: +41 Wheat, +49 Milk, -48 Eggs
M104 Maternal mort.: +38 Wheat, +46 Milk, -42 Eggs


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is modern wheat variety more toxic?

This time I am posting some blog links, to indicate an important issue that we should really pay a very close attention to:

 Dwarf mutant wheat

Why do morphine-blocking drugs make you lose weight?

The second link discusses the addictive opiate-like properties of wheat exorphines.

Very interesting discussions of metabolic and biochemnical effects of wheat:

Hyperlipid Blog

To complete the picture, here is another must-read article by Denise Minger on this subject:

The China Study, Wheat, and Heart Disease; Oh My!

Last but not least my own simple graph presentation of China study heart disease versus wheat consumption:

China Study says wheat is associated with vascular disease