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Dudes On Diets, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 5 2015 @ 4:52pm

A reader brings a personal touch to this topic:

This subject is near-and-dear to my heart. I was a college athlete who never had to even think about what I ate to maintain low bodyfat. Then my workouts dropped to, say, 20% of what I had been doing when I stopped playing college bball and started working a full-time job. Typical story, I guess. The pounds crept on slowly, 5-10 a year, until, at 29, I was 50 pounds overweight. The weight came slowly but the realization came suddenly. I remember the first time I went to the beach and felt hesitation about taking my shirt off. Within a month, I was cringing every time I looked at myself shirtless in the mirror. I wasn’t obese, but I was fat, and I just didn’t like it, at all.

So I started doing actual research into what makes people fat, and it turns out, it’s not actually lack of exercise.

A sedentary lifestyle makes you very unhealthy, but it doesn’t really make you fat. The composition of your body is ~80% diet, ~10% exercise, and ~10% genetics. Upon realizing this, I started getting my diet under control. As a part of that, I started counting calories, and which macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) I was getting those calories from.

Two years later, I am down 60 lbs, ~11% body fat, and I will count calories every single day for the rest of my life. Far from a marker of female vanity, knowing what you are putting in your body should be one of the basic life skills that every single person possesses. The idea that people are shoving food into their mouths without even thinking about what’s in it or how much they’re eating is, when you think about it, insane.

Would people do that with their cars? Would they just start throwing into the tank different kinds of gas and oil and anything that looks like gas or someone told them was gas, without even keeping track of what they were putting in or how much? Of course not! That would be a crazy way to treat a valuable thing like a car. And it’s even crazier to treat your body that way. I’m not judging people who do; I did for a long time. But, when you think about it, it’s wild that people do that so blithely.

We have a food problem in this country. It’s destroying our health. It’s making people depressed. It’s going to cost us billions in health care over the coming decades. In order to solve this problem, we’re going to have to confront some basic realities that are currently being ignored. Such as: 1) The fast food joints and related businesses that litter out neighborhoods are actually selling poison. It seems strange, because they’re everywhere and advertise on TV, but that’s literally true. It’s a slow-acting poison, but if you keep putting it in your body, it makes you fat, unhappy, sick, and eventually dead.  2) Regular soda is the worst offender of all.  And 3) It is crazy to go through life without tracking the fuel that you’re putting in your body.

Thanks as always for airing frank discussion.

Update from a reader:

I’d like to echo from a different perspective the former college athlete on the junk we put in our bodies. Eight years ago, when I was 54, I was told at my annual physical that I was diabetic. I didn’t fit the typical criteria for Type 2; in fact, I had just mysteriously dropped about 12 pounds. I went home from that appointment thinking, “What the hell do I eat now?”

Fewer carbs, of course, and just less. I put less on my plate to begin with, and found that I’d be fine without going back for seconds. No more “finishing off the last bits so there are no leftovers”. No desserts. (This from someone who definitely had a sweet tooth.) It sounds grim, but it wasn’t. We’re good cooks, and we make most things from scratch anyway. It gradually dawned on me that most carbs are just filler, and knowing that I was poisoning my body by eating them reduced their appeal significantly. (Potatoes and New Haven-style pizza excepted.)

It turned out I was Type 1, with my insulin production gradually declining. By the time I finally had to start taking insulin, four years later, I had lost another 25 pounds. Everyone thought I was too thin. I gained back about 15 pounds once I started on insulin, and it’s been steady for the last three years.

I believe everyone should eat like a diabetic.

The Promise Of Psilocybin

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 5 2015 @ 10:48am

Michael Pollan’s New Yorker piece on the medical benefits of psychedelics is well worth a read:

3567431472_f8414a7ea1_oAs I chatted with Tony Bossis and Stephen Ross in the treatment room at N.Y.U., their excitement about the results was evident. According to Ross, cancer patients receiving just a single dose of psilocybin experienced immediate and dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, improvements that were sustained for at least six months. The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review, but the researchers expect to publish later this year.

“I thought the first ten or twenty people were plants—that they must be faking it,” Ross told me. “They were saying things like ‘I understand love is the most powerful force on the planet,’ or ‘I had an encounter with my cancer, this black cloud of smoke.’ People who had been palpably scared of death—they lost their fear. The fact that a drug given once can have such an effect for so long is an unprecedented finding. We have never had anything like it in the psychiatric field.”

Kleiman calls Pollan’s article “as good an introduction to the field as one could ask for”:

The central idea is that the mystiform experiences that psilocybin and other drugs can trigger under the right circumstances can be beneficial, not only in treating specific problems – end-of-life anxiety, for example, or nicotine dependence – but by enriching lives: making some people “better than well.” So far the studies are small, but the results are impressive.

It’s encouraging to see the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health taking a scientific attitude: cautious but interested. It’s discouraging, though – alas! – not at all surprising to see the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse responding to exciting research results by worrying about what might happen if someone tells the children.

The Dish has covered this subject extensively over the years. Update from a reader who contributed much of that coverage, especially on ibogaine:

The New Yorker‘s recent piece on psilocybin has been on my mind a lot lately.  I had a lot of reactions to the piece, but the most lasting feeling was a deep sadness.  I felt sad because I hoped this article would convince my 70-year-old parents to take psychedelics before they start seriously declining.  The author, unfortunately, bends over backwards to make readers frightened of psychedelics.

It depresses me to accept that the cutting edge of psychedelic research is generations away from acknowledging an obvious truth: that psychedelics are an incredible gift to humanity that could help billions of people deal with the overwhelming intensity of life.  We don’t need more expensive, intricate, double-blind experiments to know this. If we just approach what we already know without fear, then this is the only possible conclusion.

I have no doubt that psychedelics will one day be a completely normal part of a person’s life journey.  It is just a shame that billions of people will suffer before we get there: and the people who suffer will be our family, our friends, and ourselves.

PS  I am really going to miss you guys.

(Photo of Psilocybe Cubensis by Flickr user afgooey74)

The Generation Gap On MGM

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2015 @ 6:39pm

It’s significant:

Circumcision

You know we couldn’t end the blog without at least one more post defending foreskin. Previous Dish on male genital mutilation here. Update from a reader:

Since it’s my last chance, I just wanted to thank you for your posts on circumcision (and all the others over the years). I hadn’t thought to question the practice, and as a secular Jew, always just assumed any sons I had would be circumcised. But my son is due any day now, and it only took a 30-second conversation with my (circumcised) husband to decide not to do it.

Another reader:

“You know we couldn’t end the blog without at least one more post defending foreskin.”

Yes, you wouldn’t want to cut it off short, now would you? :)

The Way Americans Die

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2015 @ 3:45pm

It’s getting worse:

The number of Americans experiencing pain in the last year of life actually increased by nearly 12 percent between 1998 and 2010, according to a study released Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In addition, depression in the last year of life increased by more than 26 percent. That’s the case even though guidelines and quality measures for end-of-life care were developed, the number of palliative care programs rose and hospice use doubled between 2000 and 2009.

Jason Millman looks at why this is:

[Report author Joanne Lynn] sees two major possible explanations for her conclusion.

Patients and family members could be expecting more from the care provided and have “reset their thresholds” over the 12 years in this study. Another is that the number of treatments have increased, allowing patients to live longer with the diseases that ultimately kill them. “Maybe we’ve made more medical stuff coming at people that maybe let’s them live a little bit longer, but under much more burdensome circumstances,” said Lynn, who heads the Altarum Institute’s Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness.

 interview, Volandes spells out his complaints:

I want patients to understand what “doing everything” means. I’ve since heard from other doctors who’ve done the same thing. People just don’t know what it’s like in there. As doctors, we sometimes say to one another, “Would anyone want this? We are torturing these patients.” But patients don’t know. I wrote the book because… I want people to be outraged. I want people to understand what’s happening behind those hospital doors. This is not a patient-centered healthcare system.

Update from a reader, with a classic bit of Dish TMI:

I should be dead. I had an infection in 2002 that would have killed me before World War II. I’ve had a few since then. The major problem in modern life is picking which antibiotic to use. We have a lot. The last round was given to me because whatever I had wasn’t responding to the stuff they usually give me when my cum turns yellow. That’s the symptom I have for it. Most men are in pain. I never am. They gave me something that has been around since before WW II and it seems to be working. Well it’s got something else added that makes it work better, but it’s in the same class of the pre-WWII wonder drug “sulfa”.

I should be dead because I had a heart attack that DIDN’T kill me in 1999. They made a small incision in my femoral artery, opened up the clog with a “balloon” and kept it open with stents. In 1989 they would have cracked open my chest and did bypass surgery. In 1979 they would have transported me to the regional hospital specializing in complex heart surgery and given me a bypass. In 1969 they would have told me I was very lucky to have this chance to make sure my affairs were in order. In 1959 the ambulance wouldn’t have made it there in time.

I’m going to be around to die a slow painful death from cancer in 2043. Or blow a brain artery in 2038. Which won’t be particularly painful, but not the way I would have died if they had never roto routed my heart.

Colon cancer “runs” in my family. Grandma died of pneumonia because when she got just a little slower because of the cancer the only antibiotic was “sulfa” and it didn’t work on whatever it was that was giving her pneumonia. It’s only been in the past few decades that me and the relatives have had to tell the doctors that we as the holder of the durable power of attorney have decided not to treat except for painkillers.

We live long enough for this to be a problem. And in there there may be a bit of a problem with end of life doctors being very cautious with the pain killers. More cautious than they were years ago.

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 3 2015 @ 3:59pm

IMG_20150131_221344 (1)

For the seemingly never-ending thread, a reader sends the above hathetic spelling for colitas – Mexican slang for marijuana buds:

I happen to be karaoking tonight in Korea Town for a friend’s birthday and we happened on what I think is a brilliant new subgenre: the karaoke eggcorn! Of course, we couldn’t let that go without thinking of Andrew and the rest of you at The Dish. “Warm smell of colitis?!!!”. I’m pretty sure that’s not what Don Henley and the rest of the Eagles were thinking when they wrote “Hotel California”.

Anyway, it made us double over with laughter and we hope it does the same for you guys. See? Where else would I be able to send these great gems that make you and my fellow Dishheads smile? #KeeptheDishgoing

Update from a reader, who sees that mondegreen differently:

For the record, my brother’s eggcorn for Hotel California was:

On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of coitus
Rising up through the air

I lost a couple of hours of sleep because I couldn’t stop laughing at this, particularly the visual it provoked for me of dark California roadways lined with people having intercourse.

Another reader points to this supercut on YouTube:

I don’t think it’s been mentioned yet, but the Canadian TV show Trailer Park Boys is a treasure trove of eggcorns. There are way too many to list, but Ricky (one of the main protagonists) has a few gems like “survival of the fitness” and “her mating name” (you know, the name she had before she started mating).

Another notes, “The recent eggcorn you mentioned (black ice/black guys) was actually the subject of a hilarious Key and Peele sketch.” An American history teacher writes in:

We were talking tirelessly of JFK and the 1960s. After a test, an essay I was grading pointed out how influential President Jay F. Kay was.

Another from the classroom:

When I was in first grade back in the ’60s, I missed several days of school and was concerned about returning, in anticipation of potentially embarrassing urgent visits to the bathroom. My mother instructed me to tell the teacher a specific phrase, and this would explain everything, problem solved. You can imagine the confusion experienced by that poor teacher when I whispered that I should be allowed to leave the classroom whenever I needed to because I had LOOSE VOWELS.

I do recall her as a very kind person, our Miss Grey.

Another childhood story:

When I was small, I was not the least bit interested in eating, particularly breakfast. But at my granny’s house there was a cow and freshly-made butter, every day, which I loved with toast. I was so enamored with her butter, and butter in general, that I heard “Row, row, row your boat” this way for years and years:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is butter dream.

Clearly A Cult

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 2 2015 @ 11:00am

Logan Hill reviews Alex Gibney’s latest film, Going Clear, which got a standing ovation at Sundance last week:

Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, The Armstrong Lie) powerfully adapts many of the most devastating accusations from Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright’s book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. First-hand sources, including Best Picture winner Paul Haggis, make emotional witnesses on the screen, dramatically offering their accounts of alleged physical abuse at the hands of Scientology leaders, including church head David Miscavige himself. The film draws a stark contrast between the group’s billion-dollar real-estate investments and the sub-minimum-wage pay most Scientology workers receive, which the film says averages about 40 cents per hour. There are awful stories of families torn apart and children separated from parents, a no-holds-barred critique of L. Ron Hubbard’s self-fictionalized biography (including allegations that Hubbard beat his wife, and comical mockery of the group’s belief in the “galactic overlord” Xenu).

Kate Erbland found the film “deeply unsettling”:

Miscavige comes across as an insane megalomaniac, but Gibney also fixes his gaze on a more meaningful target: Tom Cruise.

The brightest star in the Scientology constellation, Gibney and the ex-members don’t balk at making it clear that Cruise doesn’t just know about the organization’s transgressions, he also directly profits from them. Moreover, Gibney asserts that the church was directly responsible for the end of Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman and that they additionally worked to turn the couple’s children against their mother.

Going Clear isn’t so much a call to action as a warning to Scientology that their methods and beliefs will no longer stand and that things are finally being done about it, people are no longer afraid to talk, and that the world will soon view them in a different manner — a shot, not a warning.

This shot came about a decade ago:

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Update from a reader:

In addition to Matt and Trey’s efforts, the movie Bowfinger (1999) took a pretty good and not too veiled shot at the cult by depicting an organization called “Mind Head.” There are some hilarious sequences of the control they wield over their members.

Back to Gibney’s film, Sharan Shetty takes note of the financial angle:

Going Clear ends by noting that the church has fewer than 50,000 members but still possesses more than $3 billion in assets. Most of this wealth can be attributed to Scientology’s long, tortured, and ultimately triumphant battle with the IRS to be deemed a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. That victory is perhaps Miscavige’s keystone achievement: as the film details, and as the New York Times reported in 1997, Miscavige used a combination of lawsuits, backroom negotiations, and private investigators digging up dirt on IRS officials to secure Scientology’s status as a religion.

Scott Beggs gets the willies over the PR push against Going Clear:

[Aforementioned film critic Kate Erbland] hooked me by talking about how unsettling it is. Then, we got an email from a spokesperson for Scientology, that sealed the deal on my wanting to see the anti-Scientology movie. In the email, the representative:

  • Implored us not to be a “mouthpiece for Alex Gibney’s propaganda”
  • Chastised us for not first contacting the church for comment before posting a review of a movie

For the record, it’s not our policy to contact anyone before feeling double plus free to post our takes on movies we’ve seen (although Chris suggested we should get a statement from Ultron before reviewing Avengers 2). Also for the record, asking someone to post your official statement without vetting often goes better if you don’t open by accusing them of being propagandists by proxy.

And Katie Rife gives us a glimpse of the “social media smear campaign”:

One day after the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, an account with the moniker Freedom Media Ethics, not quite as flashy as “Psychiatry: An Industry Of Death” but close enough, appeared on Twitter. The account, which as of this writing has 136 followers, links to a website credited to Church of Scientology International which contains a statement describing Gibney’s movie as “glorifying bitter, vengeful apostates expelled as long as three decades ago from the Church, [with a] one-sided result [that] is as dishonest as Gibney’s sources.” The website also compares the film to Rolling Stone’s UVA story and lists disparaging nicknames for each of Gibney’s sources in the film—The Soulless Sellout, The Hollywood Hypocrite, etc.

How Gibney has responded to such bullying tactics:

Great publicity. You can’t buy that, but they could, and we were the beneficiaries. 

Busted With An Eggcorn, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 2 2015 @ 7:35am

objectivist-tree

The Dish thread that keeps on giving:

As a tyke in the 1940s, I often heard grownups talking about a very bad foreign man named – unless my ears deceived me – Hair Hitler. I had seen newsreel footage of this fidgety fellow with his unruly mop flopping about, so it never occurred to me to question why he was called “Hair.” When I grew a bit older and saw him referred to in print as “Herr Hitler,” I was in no way made wiser. “Herr,” I assumed, was how the Germans spelled “hair.”

Another reader:

We live in Texas and my husband is a diehard University of Texas grad, both undergrad and law school. So when our son was about three, he came into the living room during a UT football game. My husband flashed him the hook-em horns sign and told him what it meant.  The kid started saying “honk em horns”. We laughed so hard and thought, well, it makes sense.

Another notes regarding our previous batch:

“Undertoad” is an eggcorn from John Irving’s The World According to Garp. I wonder if your reader traded it for their own memory or if they came to it on their own?

Full passage from Garp at the bottom of the post. Several more eggcorns from readers are below:

Though the eggcorn itself might not be suitable for Sunday Dish, I think the rest of the video is, since Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries in LA talks about how we belong to each other, how we need to be tender with one another, how important community is. (I can’t tell you how much I value the Dish community and the work you all do!) The eggcorn is at 20:45. Fr. Greg is relating a story about one of his staff, a former gang member named Louis, who now frequently gives presentations about the work of Homeboy. Fr. Greg:

He was giving me tips on how to give a speech. He said, ‘You have to pepper your talk with self-defecating humor.’ I said, ‘Yeah, No shit.’

Heh. Another reader:

Not sure if this qualifies, but here’s my submission from only a couple of weeks ago. During a typical weekend winter squall, my in-laws had to cancel their visit out of concerns for safety on the roads. A few days later I mentioned to my nephew that I was sorry he wasn’t able to visit the previous weekend. His reply was that his father was afraid to go out because there was “a lot of black guys on the road.”

After puzzling over that for a few minutes, I asked him to repeat that in front of his father. Turns out my nephew overheard his father say there was “black ice” on the road. I only hope my nephew didn’t repeat that at school!

Another:

After my father’s funeral, my uncle told me that he had enjoyed the sermon, because the priest wasn’t “holier than now.”

Another:

When I was in grade school, Jewish friends would sometimes bring in gefilte (pronounced ga-fill-tah) fish during Passover.  We had a fish tank at home, which I knew had a filter we changed from time to time.  I thought they were saying “filter fish” and naturally assumed they were eating their tropical fish on matzo bread.

Lastly, here’s that passage from The World According to Garp:

Duncan began talking about Walt and the undertow – a famous family story. For as far back UnderToad1as Duncan could remember, the Garps had gone every summer to Dog’s Head Harbor, New Hampshire, where the miles of beach in front of Jenny Fields’ estate were ravaged by a fearful undertow. When Walt was old enough to venture near the water, Duncan said to him – as Helen and Garp had, for years, said to Duncan – ‘Watch out for the undertow.’ Walt retreated, respectfully. And for three summers Walt was warned about the undertow. Duncan recalled all the phrases.

‘The undertow is bad today.’

‘The undertow is strong today.’

‘The undertow is wicked today.’ Wicked was a big word in New Hampshire – not just for the undertow.

And for years Walt reached out for it. From the first, when he asked what it could do to you, he had only been told that it could pull you out to sea. It could suck you under and drown you and drag you away.

It was Walt’s fourth summer at Dog’s Head Harbor, Duncan remembered, when Garp and Helen and Duncan observed Walt watching the sea. He stood ankle-deep in the foam from the surf and peered into the waves, without taking a step, for the longest time. The family went down to the water’s edge to have a word with him.

‘What are you doing, Walt?’ Helen asked.

‘What are you looking for, dummy?’ Duncan asked him.

‘I’m trying to see the Under Toad,’ Walt said.

‘The what?’ said Garp.

‘The Under Toad,’ Walt said. ‘I’m trying to see it. How big is it?

ToaddetailAnd Garp and Helen and Duncan held their breath; they realized that all these years Walt had been dreading a giant toad, lurking offshore, waiting to suck him under and drag him out to sea. The terrible Under Toad.

Garp tried to imagine it with him. Would it ever surface? Did it ever float? Or was it always down under, slimy and bloated and ever-watchful for ankles its coated tongue could snare? The vile Under Toad.

Between Helen and Garp, the Under Toad became their code phrase for anxiety. Long after the monster was clarified for Walt (‘Undertow, dummy, not Under Toad!’ Duncan had howled), Garp and Helen evoked the beast as a way of referring to their own sense of danger. When the traffic was heavy, when the road was icy – when depression had moved in overnight – they said to each other, ‘The Under Toad is strong today.’

‘Remember,’ Duncan asked on the plane, ‘how Walt asked if it was green or brown?’

Both Garp and Duncan laughed. But it was neither green nor brown, Garp thought. It was me. It was Helen. It was the color of bad weather. It was the size of an automobile.

Update from a reader:

Damn you, Andrew and Dish crew. You say you’re leaving, and then you copy Garp and I realize it’s been 15 years since I read that and I need to pull it out and read it again.

(Illustrations via Doug Salati)