As anyone who regularly reads this blog can tell, I’ve been a bit hit and miss in posting lately. The bride and I have been swamped with work on the Sous Vide Supreme project. MD has been working with chefs to develop recipes along with creating a bunch herself; she has been editing a book on sous vide for the home cook written by yet another sous vide expert; she’s been posting on the Sous Vide Supreme blog (eggs the sous vide way); and, as you can see at the left, she’s been talking sous vide to anyone who will listen. All this while she prepares for performing the Messiah in about two weeks. I’ve been heavily involved in the business end of things, which is a never-ending task. Plus, I’m the taster-in-chief. Neither of us dreamed that this would turn into such a time-gobbling project after the development of the machine. But it has. It seems that we are spending twice as much time now working in some capacity on Sous Vide Supreme than we ever did before – even when we were at our busiest. I’m going to have to work harder on my time management if I expect to keep up with all the other projects – including this blog – that I have going.
The sous vide time commitments have put a real hickey on my reading. I’ve probably read less over the past four months than in any four month period of my life. Instead of five or six books per week, I’m down to about two or three max. I hate it. I’m trying to keep up with my daily medical/scientific journal trawl, but that has even slacked off a bit. When I do find something of interest, instead of blogging on it as I used to, I stick it up on my Twitter page. I probably post 10-15 times per day on Twitter, so if you want to keep up on a moment-by-moment basis, follow me on Twitter. If you have a problem thinking of yourself as a Twitter person, give it a try. I dipped my toes in the Twitter waters with great hesitation, and now I love it. I’ve found it extremely valuable because I find all kinds of new stuff daily. You’ve got to be careful who you follow, however, or you can waste a ton of time. If you get started, start following people who provide you with information you can use. I avoid following people who do nothing but tell me what they ate for breakfast that day or what movie they’re going to see that night. Sign up an give it a go. You don’t have to write anything (or tweet, as it’s called) if you don’t want to. You can simply lurk and be the beneficiary of a ton of good info. The Twitter people take you by the hand and get you squared away. It takes all of about two minutes – if even that. Literally.
I have fallen way, way behind on dealing with comments. As I wrote a while back, I had to stop answering individual comments, and I’ve pretty much stuck to my guns on that. Problem is, I had about three hundred comments stacked up before I started doing that.
When comments come in and I post them, they go up in by date. So back when I was spending half my day dealing with them, I would often come across a comment that required some thought and a detailed answer. If I didn’t have time to deal with it right then, I put it off until later. Often when later came, I had 20 or 30 more that came in after the one requiring the time. I didn’t want to answer those and put them up ahead of the one I hadn’t answered, so I simply didn’t deal with any of them. Now I’ve got about 340 of them stacked up and it gives me heartburn whenever I even get on my blog administration screen. The sad thing is that some of these comments go back months and months.
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to do with them, and I’ve finally come to a decision. I’m simply going to post them as they are. I’m going to post about 30 of them per day until they’re all up. Why not all at once? Because I know many of you are set up to get comments emailed to you when I post them. I don’t want to clot email accounts with 340 emailed comments all at once, especially since some of these comments are lengthy. So, I dole them out over the next 10 days or so while keeping up with the new comments as they come in. I won’t start this process for a few days to get those of you who don’t want even 30 of them a day coming in to unsubscribe.
Since many of these hoarded comments contain very good questions, they are a trove of subjects for future blog posts. As I post them, I’m going to reread them and clip those that would make for good posts into Evernote or my new favorite plaything DEVONthink that I’m just starting to feel my way along with. (See this great Steven Johnson (whom I follow on Twitter) article about the virtues of DEVONthink.) After I’ve got these blogworthy comments in a format in which I can find them instantly, I’ll start working through them and posting.
Bloggers and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
I don’t know how closely blog readers attended to the recent announcement by the FTC that they were going to start riding herd on bloggers, but the bloggers went ballistic.
Among its other duties, the FTC patrols the universe of advertising in this country looking for anyone or any company engaging in, as they term it, deceptive practices. In other words, the FTC is on the prowl seeking out advertisers who make false claims in order to stop them and punish them. Which all sounds good in the abstract, but in reality is a whole other story.
As I pointed out in an earlier blog, it’s a valuable exercise to read Kevin Trudeau’s first book to see how the FTC operates. The nutritional and health information he presents is total garbage, but his description of the practices of the FTC is right on the money. (I’ve got to admit that some of the nutritional and health information presented in Trudeau’s first book (the only one I’ve read) is accurate, but I write that off to the law of averages. He presents so much information that odds are some of it just happens to be true. So, if you read the book and come across something that is nutritionally accurate, don’t write me about it. I know a few things are there, but not enough to justify reading the book other than the first part, which is an excellent treatise on the FTC.)
The FTC has the power to absolutely ruin anyone and/or any company it chooses to go after. If you read the first part of Trudeau’s book, you’ll see how.
So, the FTC opined that they planned on monitoring bloggers to see if they disclosed the fact that they were paid to do reviews on products. Apparently, many bloggers make money by doing paid reviews on products without disclosing such, and the FTC doesn’t like it.
I’ve never reviewed products for pay, but I have read enough about it to know how it works. Companies provide bloggers products, then pay these bloggers for reviews of the products. I guess the fact that bloggers are given the products and possibly paid for the reviews as well might induce them to write positive reviews of products that they thought sucked. And I assume that’s what the FTC is concerned about.
The FTC’s actions certainly got the blogosphere in an uproar. So much so, in fact, that the FTC started to crawdad, which I never thought would happen. Just goes to show that if you turn the spotlight of public awareness on even the most aggressive and powerful of all government agencies, you can get results.
Not that I fear the FTC on this (at least not at this point), I’ll go ahead and disclose where I get dinero from this blog. Virtually all of the money that comes to me through the blog comes from readers buying products through Amazon.com. When they buy a book I recommend or go through one of the book thumbnails of Protein Power or the 6-Week Cure up at the top right or any of our other books I have up on the site, I get a little bit of lucre for it. And I get a little more if they buy anything else after entering Amazon through one of the portals in this blog. In a good month, it’s enough to cover my hosting and web guy expenses; in a bad month (as this one is turning out to be), it’s about enough to cover the hosting of the site and maybe an hour or so of the web guy time.
I get a little income from Google ads, but I’m trying to get them off the site. I’ve had several web guys working on the site over the years, and I guess code for these Google ads is stuck all over the place. I get rid of them in once place, it seems they pop up somewhere else. When I had Google ads everywhere, I made about $150 per month, which, in my opinion, isn’t enough to justify tacky-ing up the site with a zillion ads. Plus, I don’t have time to go through and spend time trying to figure out which ads to block. Many people, I’ve learned, don’t realize that these ads aren’t part of the site, and they wonder why, when I’ve just spent 2000 words bashing statins, an ad for a statin pops up.
A while back I was having lunch with Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple when he asked me what kind of a deal I had going with Atkins Nutritionals. I told him I didn’t have any kind of deal going with them whatsoever. I asked him why he asked. He told me that he gets my blog posts by email, and that at the bottom of each one is a banner ad from Atkins. I was embarrassed to say that I didn’t even know you could get the posts by email and that I didn’t have a clue why the Atkins ads were there. I went home and pulled up the blog (I usually never look at the actual blog – only the admin page), and sure enough, there was a way I could get the posts by email. I signed up to get my own posts, wrote one, and sure enough, here it came with an Atkins ad at the bottom of it. I thought I had it all taken care of, but I just looked moments ago and there is still a banner ad at the bottom of the emailed post. I’ve added it once more to the list of things to have my guy deal with when I get with him on Monday.
While on the subject of Amazon.com, books and book recommendations, I might as well recommend one.
I finished a terrific book not long ago called A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers. As the title implies, this is a treatise about the fall of the House of Lehman, one of the country’s oldest investment banks, and is written by one of the vice presidents who names names and points the finger.
Not only is this book chock full of great information about how Lehman Bros, Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs and others operate, it is extremely well written. The ‘author’ realized he didn’t have the skills to tell his own story in a readable manner, so he hired a writer. But he didn’t just go out and hire one of the non-fiction write-for-hire folks that are swarming around out there, he hired Patrick Robinson, a best-selling thriller writer. As a consequence, the book is absolutely gripping. Not only do you learn a ton about how the financial crisis developed, you learn it in a gripping, racing-through-the-pages fashion. You’ve heard people say about certain books that they read like a novel. Well, this one does. I had real trouble putting it down.
After reading this book, you will know exactly why we’re in the boat we’re in now and will be stupified at the mismanagement at the top. As I read through and learned about the perfidy of Moody’s, Standard & Poors, and the other financial rating outfits that gave the most worthless financial instruments triple A ratings, I was stunned that these companies hadn’t been prosecuted. Without their complicity, the whole house of cards couldn’t have been erected because no one would have purchased the products. I was interested to read in today’s Financial Times that at least Ohio is going after them. I suspect Ohio won’t be the last. According to the author, these companies made billions while failing to do their due diligence before passing out AAA ratings like they were candy at Halloween.
Not long after I read the book, I came upon a piece by Calvin Trillin in the editorial section of the New York Times that summed up the situation nicely. The problem was the enormity of the amounts of money waiting to be made drew smart people to Wall Street. A funny but insightful short essay.
After you read the book and Trillin’s piece, take a look at this video I posted about a year ago. It will make it all that much more funny. And sad.
The 6-Week Cure blog
All I can say is that it’s about up. And apologies for not having it up sooner. I hope we’ll have it operational this week and populated with a few posts.
Another vegetarian myth
I wrote in a bookish post (or maybe in answer to a comment on a bookish post – I can’t remember) a while back that I had read most of the mystery novels out there and was looking for a new series to sink my teeth into. Someone suggested the DI Charlie Priest mysteries by Stuart Pawson. I got one and liked it, so I’ve been motoring through those as time allows.
The last one I read was Deadly Friends about a murdered doctor, a serial rapist and a host of other minor villains. At a point about midway through, DI Priest and one of his underlings are walking around scoping out a pharmacy prior to entering to get info about the dead doctor. All these books – at least the four or five I’ve read so far – are written in the first person, so everything is from Priest’s perspective. Here’s what he says:
We completed our circuit of the block. Passing the back of the butcher’s I tried not to inhale and wished I had the willpower to go vegetarian. Trouble is, I like my steaks.
AAARRRGGGHHHH! Even in mystery novels I’m being reminded of how deep the vegetarian mantra has wormed its way into our collective brains. How many times have we all heard variations on this theme? One of the ideas the vegetarian movement has managed to get firmly implanted in the minds of many is that vegetarianism is a more healthful way to eat. I’ve heard numerous people wistfully say they really would like to be able to follow a vegetarian diet because it’s so much more healthful, but they just like meat too much to do it.
The truth is, as we all know, that vegetarian diets are decidedly less healthful than diets containing animal protein. But the great unwashed masses don’t seem to have figured this out.
But I’ve got to hand it to the vegetarian brigade: they’ve managed to successfully propagandize most of the population. And they’ve done so without any real science behind them. The most they can point to is a sheaf of observational studies that don’t prove squat.
The low-carb/Paleo movement, on the other hand, is producing more data almost daily that a lower-carb, higher-fat, higher-protein diet is infinitely better for a majority of the population. But, we don’t get the message out as well as the other side does, I suppose. I went to a Borders Books the other day and found an entire collection of free booklets written for children telling of the horrors of factory farming and encouraging them to go vegetarian.
We are starting to make some inroads into this nonsense, however, with the help of some former vegetarians who have seen the error of their ways. If you haven’t read Lierre Kieth’s book yet, add it to your Christmas list.
I’m girding my loins for all the hostile comments I’m sure to get from angry vegetarians. These comments will be from vegans telling me how healthy they are and how many miles they can run and how they could kick my butt in any endeavor I might wish to engage them in. And they’ll reference the idiotic China Study and a host of other meaningless observational junk. But wait. I don’t have to gird my loins. I’m not dealing with these comments any more. I’m just posting them as they come in. Give it your best shot.
To see under what conditions our genome developed, read on.
The hunter-gatherer lifestyle
Just to wrap this long, meandering post up, I want to end with a link to a great article in the December 2009 National Geographic. And to bring this post full circle, I’ve got to let you know that I found this article on Twitter. I wouldn’t have discovered it otherwise. At least not as quickly as I did.
The long article is about the Hadza who follow a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in remote Tanzania. The area the Hadza roam is being encroached upon by all kinds of agricultural and tourist businesses, and the author doubts these indigenous people can maintain their lifestyle for much longer.
The men hunt and the women gather. The Hadza went on a nighttime baboon hunt and took the author along. His account of the hunt makes for a riveting read. Once killed, the Hadza haul the baboon back to what serves as a camp and prepare to serve it up. I’ll leave you with the author’s description of the meal.
Ngaola skins the baboon and stakes out the pelt with sharpened twigs. The skin will be dry in a few days and will make a fine sleeping mat. A couple of men butcher the animal, and cuts of meat are distributed. Onwas, as camp elder, is handed the greatest delicacy: the head.
The Hadza cooking style is simple—the meat is placed directly on the fire. No grill, no pan. Hadza mealtime is not an occasion for politeness. Personal space is generally not recognized; no matter how packed it is around a fire, there’s always room for one more, even if you end up on someone’s lap. Once a cut of meat has finished cooking, anyone can grab a bite.
And I mean grab. When the meat is ready, knives are unsheathed and the frenzy begins. There is grasping and slicing and chewing and pulling. The idea is to tug at a hunk of meat with your teeth, then use your knife to slice away your share. Elbowing and shoving is standard behavior. Bones are smashed with rocks and the marrow sucked out. Grease is rubbed on the skin as a sort of moisturizer. No one speaks a word, but the smacking of lips and gnashing of teeth is almost comically loud.
I’m ravenous, so I dive into the scrum and snatch up some meat. Baboon steak, I have to say, isn’t terrible—a touch gamy, but it’s been a few days since I’ve eaten protein, and I can feel my body perking up with every bite. Pure fat, rather than meat, is what the Hadza crave, though most coveted are the baboon’s paw pads. I snag a bit of one and pop it in my mouth, but it’s like trying to swallow a pencil eraser. When I spit the gob of paw pad out, a young boy instantly picks it up and swallows it.
Onwas, with the baboon’s head, is comfortably above the fray. He sits cross-legged at his fire and eats the cheeks, the eyeballs, the neck meat, and the forehead skin, using the soles of his sandals as a cutting board. He gnaws the skull clean to the bone, then plunges it into the fire and calls me and the hunters over for a smoke.