Of Interest for April 22, 2016

Of Interest is a place for things I think are interesting enough to mention and deserve more than a twitter retweet, but aren’t in themselves something that needs their own blog post. Of Interest postings will typically be posted 2-3 times a month, or whenever I find enough stuff to warrant posting it.

Watch your head

We are seeing more NFL football players retiring early in their careers, and that is a trend I expect to continue. As we learn more about the effects of head trauma on the human body, it gets harder and harder to support or root for sports where this kind of activity is tolerated, much less encouraged. Hockey is not immune to these issues and continues to grapple with how to protect its players, but football seems to be a sport that can’t legislate these hits out of the sport and remain football. I have to wonder if football will exist as a mainstream sport in 25 years as parents increasingly understand this problem and push their kids into other sports; except, probably, in Texas.

The NHL has its own mini-drama going on around release of internal emails unearthed during discovery in its concussion court case. Colin Campbell, at the time head of discpline in the league office, has been shown to be a real troll in his commentary found in the emails released so far — and worse, discussing internal disciplinary cases privately with media members like Bob McKenzie. Some froth has come out from his use of salty language, but folks, these are hockey players. They cuss. The brutal attitudes towards players and other people around the league he displays here, and the fact that he was leaking this info into the media on internal and private matters makes me ask a really serious question: Why does Colin Campbell still have a job with the league?

Everything You Know is Wrong

When I was growing up the medical and health establishment started pushing major changes to our diets in the name of reducing heart disease and making us healthier. Fat became evil, eggs were demonized, and we were all encouraged to eat more carbohydrates.

Here we are 40 years later, and the United States is in a massive obesity crisis and diabetes is an epidemic. In the last ten to fifteen years researchers have been looking into these dietary problems and more and more the data is coming back: everything we were told in the 70’s is wrong, and based on science that was full of badly designed or carefully interpreted studies pushed by prominent medical people who knew the answers before they started and only considered information that backed up their ideas.

And they were wrong, and it looks like a generation, perhaps two, are heavily impacted by those decisions. I’ve talked about this issue in the past a few times (for instance: here and here and here) but the bottom line is that we are in the middle of a massive re-think of what it means to eat healthy and be healthy, and much of what we’ve been told in the past is going to have to be thrown out. And that kind of sucks.

There are no easy answers here, and no, and there are times when this fiasco makes Woody Allen’s Sleeper start looking like a documentary, but it’s impacted a massive number of people’s lives in very bad ways.

Right now, all we can do is continue to watch the research as it comes out, and try to adjust our diets as the data starts explaining where what we’re doing can be improved. The article below has some new info on the ongoing issues with sugar that have been in and out of the press for years, but we’re starting to see the same kind of re-thinking for full-fat milk that we saw with eggs: basically, “never mind”. I long ago gave up on the whole “low fat diet” thing in favor of a balanced mix, and stopped using skim milk long, long ago. And that doesn’t mean the “burgers and fries” diet is okay, but it does mean not worrying about using some butter or eating cheese is okay. And if you think about it, the percentage of calories in your diet from protein is going to be fairly stable because there’s really only so much lean turkey or ham you can eat — so if you cut fat out of your diet, what you’re really doing is shifting to a high-carbohydrate diet. Which was what the medical establishment beat into us starting in the 70’s.

And it’s now increasingly clear that’s a strong underlying driver behind the obesity and diabetes crisis. Whoops.

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Out in Nature

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For Your Consideration