Feminism Meets “Vibrancy”

This one by Vox Day was too good not to mention.

The original story is pretty tragic: a 49-year-old woman, washing her car at 5AM, was killed by a gangsta who saw her as a target of opportunity. After the POS killed her–stabbing her several times and slitting her throat–he went to the home of a fellow gang member.

Vox adds the following commentary.

Consider the societal changes that have taken place in order for this incident to have taken place. McVay was likely unmarried, otherwise she wouldn’t have been washing her car, her husband probably would have done it for her. In pre-Vibrant America, there is a two-thirds chance she wouldn’t have been working at all, but would have been supported by her husband. In neither case would she have been at the car wash at 5 AM.

Prior to LBJ’s Great Society, the “teen” would likely have not been free to wander around at 5 AM, as he would have been sleeping or getting ready to go to his own job, as the various levels of government were far less likely to providing funds for unemployed youth to spend their days and nights in aimless partying.

And, of course, without the efforts of Senators Kennedy and Hart, and Rep. Celler, it is far less likely that either the murderous teen – who is almost certainly Hispanic – or his fellow gang member, Mr. Ortiz, would be in the country to commit the murders that Americans would not commit.

The picture of the future Vibrant America is becoming increasingly clear. It is shaping up to be a place where childless and unmarried white women will be expected to fend for their interests against the perceived interests of the growing third world underclasses. Somehow, I don’t think this was quite the gloriously liberated future that the feminists had in mind.

The only thing I’d add to Vox’s commentary: those same feministas are among the most ardent opponents of gun rights, and the poor gal–sadly–lived in an area that expressly prohibited concealed weapons by citizens. Had the poor gal been properly-armed, she’d probably be alive right now.

A raped, strangled woman is more valuable to the left than one who shoots her attacker.

Open for Discussion

Farmer Tom posted this on another thread. For the record, I agree with him. (Emphasis added.)

…the price of divorce has become a hidden problem, because of “no-fault divorce”.

The consequences of someone violating the marital vows, short of stoning, should be complete and total loss of all assets related to the marriage. In other words, you cheat, and you get nothing, absolutely nothing.

The way “no-fault” is done in our culture today, the guilty party is allowed to not only break their vows, they are [also] given marital property. So you cheat, you get half. Take your half and start another “family” with some other party. Using the resources of the first marriage to establish another. That’s theft in my opinion.

If I swindled my business partner out of half of the business assets, then started a new company with the swindled assets, partner number one would have every right to sue for damages. Why because I violated his trust, stole half of his money, and then used those things to establish a new entity in direct competition with the first.

Divorce would lose much of its attraction if the guilty part had to leave empty handed.

While much discussion has been had–with very strong merit–about the impact of no-fault divorce on the overall divorce rate, the resultant inequity of the process does not get nearly as much mention.

As it stands now, there is precious little justice in the divorce process. A cheating spouse can bolt from the marriage, take half the assets, get full or joint custody of the kids, build a new marriage while leaving a trail of damage, and the offended spouse gets no equity before the law.

Even a prenup is hardly airtight; with few exceptions–depending on state law–a judge can always toss the prenup and then the offended spouse now has at least half of his or her assets in jeopardy.

Campbell, Government, Big Food, Big Medicine, and Nutrition

In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell provides substantial insight as to the conflicts between science, government, the medical establishment, and the food industry in the fight over what constitutes proper nutrition. While he does a wonderful job articulating the mess we currently have, what he fails to understand is that this is exactly why we need to get government out of the business of recommending nutritional guidelines.

Right now, we have a system in which Big Food and Big Medicine–two establishments that wield the big money–pretty much dominate the ear of Big Government.

Big Food–which includes the meat and dairy industry, the fast food industry and related restaurant chains, as well as food companies that make products from meat and dairy–has a vested interest in protecting the status quo. They have hired guns in science and academia who wield a large degree of influence over government agencies, lawmakers, and their staffs.

Big Medicine–which includes physicians, insurance companies, medical services, and Big Pharma–is a similar opponent. While the medical world is increasingly aiming in the direction of prevention of disease, they place the emphasis on prevention that involves the work of medical professionals. Heart scans, angioplasties, bypass surgeries, radiological procedures, colonoscopies, pills, and injections–those are things that bring in the bucks for Big Medicine.

If you go vegan, you may reduce your chances of a heart attack to zero, but it makes no money for your cardiologist or your primary care doc. You’ll also hit many players in the Big Food industry in the pocketbook.

Unfortunately, Campbell seems to think that getting government on the side of the vegans is the answer to all of this. In fact, the better answer is to get government completely out of the business of nutritional guidelines and recommendations.

Ultimately, it’s not the government’s place to control what doctors learn, what doctors discuss with their patients, what citizens wish to eat, or what products Big Pharma and Big Food market to us.

Fact is, in the Internet, we have the best free market of information ever known to the world. And nutrition is not rocket science.

    If you have heart disease, a vegan diet may save your life.
    If you have naturally high cholesterol, an Atkins or South Beach diet is tantamount to pouring gasoline on a fire.
    If you have a high diabetes risk, getting your weight down will go far toward preventing Type 2 Diabetes. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, getting your weight down–and keeping it down–may eliminate your diabetes.

Do we need government to tell us any of those things? Of course not. We don’t know the “causation”, but let’s not kid ourselves: if you’re at risk, the actionable intelligence is there, and it’s on you to decide what to do with it.

People can choose to make their own decisions about nutrition. Dr. Esselstyn found that patients–once they realized the control they had over their disease via diet–were very willing to make the changes they needed to make.

The medical establishment needs to start deciding which team they are on: the side of the patients or the side of their pocketbook. Docs need not advise all patients to go vegan, but if I’m a cardiologist and I have a patient who has heart disease, you can bet that I’m going to be telling him that going vegan may save his life. If I don’t do this, then shame on me.

If I’m a primary care doc and I have a patient with diabetes (Type 1 or 2), you can bet that I’m going to be telling him that going vegan and getting weight control will cut the amount of insulin needed (for Type 1) and possibly even eliminate the (Type 2) diabetes altogether. If I don’t do this, then shame on me.

If I’m a primary care doc and I have a patient that is showing some signs of Alzheimer’s or related dementia, you can bet that I’m going to be telling him that he has nothing to lose by going vegan. (While we have not determined the efficacy of this approach with respect to dementia, it’s not like other therapies are working worth a rat’s posterior.)

If I’m a neurologist and I have a patient with MS, you can bet that I’m going to be telling him that going vegan may improve his overall quality of life by mitigating his complications. The science is unmistakable here.

You can also bet that if I have a patient that has found weight control to be elusive, I’ll be telling him that going vegan may succeed where other attempts have failed. The science may not be perfect here, but the pointers are strong enough.

You can also bet that if I have a patient that is in otherwise good health, but who eats a “standard” diet, and he asks me about proper nutrition, I’ll be telling him that at least cutting back the proportion of animal based products–and replacing that with plant-based products–will provide a foundation for long-term health.

On a different take, the patient is going to need to start taking responsibility for knowing what is best and what is not. This information is not restricted from you; it is readily available and is but a mouseclick or two away. You need not spend thousands of dollars on specialists to learn what is available at your library, or via the Internet. I don’t need government to do this for me.

Moreover, by getting the government out of the business of making nutritional recommendations, we will make the landscape more of a true free market. As more people cut back on animal-based products, Big Food will invest more capital in developing plant-based products that are healthier and taste good.

We may also see a driving down of health care costs without costly legislation. Fewer heart procedures, fewer chemo treatments, fewer surgeries…all of that means less strain on insurance costs. It also makes medical pricing for routine services more competitive. Traditional physicians (MDs) may see more competition from osteopaths (DOs) and even chiropractors and nutritionists over basic prevention of disease.

The critics will complain–with some merit–that we will see a lot of quacks emerge. At the same time, we have plenty of quacks now. They exist in the medical establishment, government, and all levels of industry. In the current setup, they are protected by government.

By getting government out of the business of nutrition, we might see a badly-needed shakeup in this area.

Re-Assessing Nutrition, Part 2 (“Correlation does not equal causation” only goes so far)

At times, nutrition can seem like economics: get 3 nutritionists in a room, and you’re going to get 6 different opinions.

Anyone with an opinion can cite one or more studies that give them credibility. If you want to eat a high-fat/high protein diet, there are studies that appear to support you. If you want a low-fat/high-carb diet, there are plenty of studies that appear to support you. If you want something in between, there are studies that appear to support you.

The problem is that when we assess the question–“what is the best dietary regimen”–we often don’t qualify it appropriately. The proper question is, “What is the best dietary regimen for my given activity level and health situation?

We also have to qualify it–as economists do–by indicating ceteris paribus (all things being equal). This is because some people have food allergies, others have metabolic issues, others have Type 1 Diabetes, and so forth. Dietary needs can vary. This is perhaps the main factor that makes the field of nutrition a difficult one.

Given that a third of Americans are obese, the common question is, “What is the best dietary regimen for getting off these #$%! pounds???”

If you have heart ailments, a better question may be, “What is the best dietary regimen for keeping my ticker tocking?”

If you are an athlete, the question might be, “What dietary regimen puts me in the best position to get my best performance?”

For me, the proper question is, “What is the best dietary regimen that minimizes my risks of cancer, heart disease, and dementia?”

In the world of sports–especially those that require high endurance–the science is indicative of high complex carbs/low-moderate protein/low-moderate fat. In the endurance world, vegans are not uncommon. While weightlifters and bodybuilders are still steeped in protein-mania–and science appears to support that approach in those sports that are dependent on strength–the rest of the sports world is not as big on steak and eggs as was the case 30 years ago.

But what if you are not a full-time athlete? What if you don’t run marathons? What if you’re only getting a couple hours of cardio per week? What if you just want to stay healthy, keep the excess pounds off, keep autoimmune diseases in check (i.e. arthritis) and mitigate your risk of cancer?

What if you’re like me: you want to do all those things, but still do the occasional 100-mile bike ride, or half-marathon, or half-Ironman?

It’s fair to ask what the science says about all of this.

Enter two excellent reads–Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell Esselstyn, MD and The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell.

Esselstyn did his own 20-year study while he was a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. He took a set of patients with advanced heart disease–many of them had already had bypass surgery and/or angoplasty–and put them on a strict vegan diet. He monitored the results over a 20 year period. The results were breathtaking: those patients overwhelmingly were able to avoid further cardiac incidents, and in many cases the heart disease was even reversed.

The skeptics, however, can look at Esselstyn’s work and punch holes in it: (a) there was no “control” group, (b) it’s only one isolated study, (c) perhaps Esselstyn was personally biased.

Even then, the results are what they are. It’s a Cleveland Clinic study. Esselstyn’s credentials are impeccable. Any bias-centered criticism of Esselstyn would have to be balanced against his record of intellectual integrity as a physician.


(a) Esselstyn has provided ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE for those who have heart disease and wish to avoid future surgeries and/or premature death.
(b) Esselstyn has provided ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE for those who wish to mitigate their risks of heart disease and complications thereof.

And that’s what we’re all about here: ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE.

And that brings me to Campbell and The China Study (TCS).

In TCS, Campbell makes a more comprehensive case for a vegan nutritional regimen. He begins by highlighting his scientific work, analyzing carcinogens (aflatoxin), and nutritional approaches in various undeveloped nations. It was in the course of studying the dynamics of aflatoxin that Campbell stumbled into the dilemmas between plant versus animal proteins. His first two chapters are foundational in this respect.

As Campbell made his case for the vegan approach–highlighting links between animal-based diets and a myriad of ailments–the skeptic in me often screamed, “Correlation does not equal causation!” Everyone with a bare-bones-basic knowledge of statistics knows that.

Unfortunately, while that statement is indeed true, it only goes so far. And every physician worth a penny knows that.

Want an example? Type 2 Diabetes.

While we have a plethora of scientific evidence correlating obesity with Type 2 Diabetes, we still have not verified conclusively that obesity causes Type 2 Diabetes. At the same time, (a) every good physician in America will tell diabetes patients to get their weight down and keep it down; and (b) when a Type 2 Diabetic drops the pounds, the diabetes usually goes away.

Correlation does not equal causation, but–if the correlation is strong enough, that constitutes ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE.

If dropping the pounds eliminates the diabetes, does it really matter–for your own health–if causation has not been established?

If you have the choice between eating a vegan diet or enduring painful, costly, and debilitating heart surgery, does it matter if causation has not been established?

Now some of Campbell’s proposals are controversial. For example, we have not determined that a vegan diet will keep you from getting Alzheimer’s, or Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Multiple Sclerosis.

Still, given that medical treatments for those diseases have not shown much promise, if eating less meat and jacking up the veggie intake might mitigate that risk–assuming it is a risk that you feel passionate about–then Campbell has given you ACTIONABLE INTELLIGENCE.

Correlation isn’t causation, but it is useful in forming testable hypotheses. At the very least, Campbell provides a nice basis for a myriad of such hypotheses.

Another aspect of TCS that is refreshing is the way Campbell provides insight into how the government has influenced nutrition education in ways that are harmful to Americans. While Campbell strikes me as a left-of-center type, his analysis is without respect for political parties and is more centered on the fascistic, incestuous relationship between lobbyists for the food industry, government agencies, and lawmakers. Campbell also provides a stark picture of how government influences nutrition: from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Education, and how the food lobby has fought to stack the advisory panels with their own hired guns.

One does not have to be a vegan to appreciate the fact that the government’s recommended daily allowances are too fat-heavy and do not include enough fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. And Campbell provides an honest assessment as to why those recommendations are what they are.

At the end of the day, Campbell is no hack. He’s an honest scientist who has gone where the evidence took him. That evidence has led to many correlations, some of which have statistical significance.

We don’t have causation established, but we have the same smoking guns that appear to be showing up whenever a malady gets studied. You can decide, “Correlation does not equal causation, so I don’t care.” And that is your business. Or you can decide that you have enough inherent risk that this intel is worth acting on. That is also your business.

I would argue that it is not the government’s place to tell you what you must do, but it is on you to decide for yourself if Campbell and Esselstyn are on the money.

Maybe there’s a risk that is important to you; perhaps not. Does everyone need to go vegan? Not by a long shot. Is a total vegan approach required to mitigate the risks highlighted by Campbell? No (although Esselstyn insists on it himself.) Do we need government telling us to go vegan? No.

But if mitigating your risks of cancer, heart disease, stroke, autoimmune disorders, Type 2 Diabetes, and perhaps dementia is important, then it’s worth a look.

My only gripe with TCS: Campbell provides no vegan recipes. He does a wonderful job extolling the virtues of the vegan approach, but does a crappy job of providing a portrait of how appealing and enjoyable it can be. (Esselstyn, however, devotes a large part of his book to providing recipes.)

Campbell, however, has started a larger discussion: to what extent ought government be involved in the promotion of nutrition?

I’ll try to tackle that one next week.

The Gestapo Are in Force

Irrespective of what you think of pilot Chris Liu’s decision to make a video showing terrible airport security standards, the federal reaction to his video is particularly disturbing.

Liu had been part of a federal security program allowing him to carry a gun in the cockpit. But after he posted the video, federal agents showed up at his house Dec. 2 to confiscate his weapon and suspend his Federal Flight Deck Officer credentials.

So let me get this straight. Because Liu made such security issues public, the federal government is stripping Liu of his ability to keep his passengers safe.

Effectively, they have reponded to Liu by saying, “F*** you!” to his passengers.

That would sum up my response to the TSA.

NYT Reporting on State Budget Crises

This is one more reason why I just don’t see us anywhere close to a recovery in the near future.

These looming budget crises are hardly pie-in-the-sky: state governments have promised far more than their taxpayers will ever be able to deliver. A large amount of this problem is the result of financial malfeasance at best, and outright fraud at worst.

Illinois borrowed $10 billion so they could invest the pension system on margin. This is a serious breach of fiduciary duty. Where are the prosecutors? Does anyone care?

It’s not much better here in Kentucky, where past governors–seeing the need to reduce the number of state workers–offered sweet pension deals to get employees to retire early. The Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) normally requires 27 years of service, but Governor started a deal–not challenged by his successors–that allowed State employees to “buy” 5 years, allowing them to retire at 22 years, with health insurance benefits to boot.

While the front-end goal was realized–the state was able to get many employees to retire–the unintended consequences have been very staggering:

(1) Many of those retirees came back as contractors–or simply rehired as state employees–to the same jobs, and are now drawing double the money or more.

(2) The mass retirements have created a financial structure that–with the existing taxpayer base–is not supportable.

Kentucky is not as bad as Illinois on that front; OTOH, we will still have our reckoning.

And the solutions to this range from bad to downright ugly. Yes, the states made promises to their workers on behalf of the taxpayers. Yes, there are retirees who acted under the assumption of that promise–making retirement decisions that would not be otherwise prudent. Yes, they could sue for the money and probably win in court. But you know what? It’s a moot point.

This is because the laws on our books cannot overturn the laws of economics, which shall not be up for repeal in the forseeable future.

Oh Goody!

(HT: Vox Day)

Get a load of this.

If you have been feeling uneasy about having to be X-rayed by a Transportation Security Administration goon who can look under your clothes every time you fly, consider this: at least you can say no, and agree to be subjected to an old-fashioned full-body search.

No opt-out for the latest in anti-terror technology though, with reports just out in Forbes Magazine and the Christian Science Monitor that the Homeland Security Department has purchased 500 mobile X-ray vans called ZBVs that can scan cars, trucks and homes without the drivers even knowing that they’re being zapped.

Oh wonderful…we’re going to have government perverts camped outside of people’s homes, watching them have sex at night.

Getting a Christian Roommate

Has gotten much harder over the years. (HT: Matt Kaufman of Boundless)

When I was in college (Embry-Riddle), I was active in the Christian Fellowship Club. I had my issues with them–they were dominated by the fringe charismatic types–but overall they weren’t bad folks. Some of the faculty were very involved in it as well. Two of the flight instructors were regulars.

One of those flight instructors was wanting to rent a room from his house. That was not uncommon, nor was the gesture unwelcome, as very few students–outside of freshmen and ROTC students–lived on campus. As a result, students were always looking for good deals on housing near campus.

That flight instructor was insistent, however: he wanted only a Christian, preferably one with good references. This was not unreasonable: (a) it was his house, (b) he did not want people living there who would upset the peace of his house, and (c) he wanted someone who was reliable.

No one thought anything of it, and he was able to find someone to whom to rent that room in his house.

It’s pretty sad that, today, that same flight instructor might have to hire a lawyer to PROVE–to the Federal government no less–that he was not violating any non-discrimination law.

Some of you might say, “Well, Amir, what if he didn’t want to rent to blacks or Asians?” I would not like that, but–you know what?–IT’S HIS HOUSE!

Freedom of association is a two-edged sword indeed.

Applied rightly, the flight instructor ensures that he gets good clientele who are reliable with rent payments, and who do not trash the house and make lots of noise that irritates the neighbors.

Applied wrongly, a bigot denies a black, Hispanic, Asian, or other minority–solely because they are minorities–a chance to establish himself.

(I’ve been on the receiving end of this: as a single, several years ago, I was denied for a rental because the owner only wanted to rent to a married couple. I didn’t like that fact, but I felt it was his business and left it at that.)

Freedom has its upsides and downsides. I don’t like the downside, but–you know what?–I loathe even more the idea of having to hire a lawyer to fight local, state, and federal authorities, all because I want to rent my house to someone who is like-minded.

This “Big Brother” culture of local, state, and federal government is marginally tough on the little guy, and–sadly–only hinders the creation of mobility for people who will need it in the increasingly-fragile economy.

End the “War on Drugs”

Well, not really. But we do need to change the way we think about “fighting” this war. Seriously, we are no closer to winning it since Nixon declared it.

For nearly 40 years, we have succeeded in empowering a federal governmental apparatus that spans multiple agencies, to include the Department of Defense, ICE, FBI, CIA, and the DEA.

We have succeeded in creating jobs for police officers. State and local governments now depend on federal money for their “anti-drug” efforts.

We have succeeded in filling jails with non-violent “criminals”, many of whose “crimes” consist of having a drug habit.

As for the economics: we have only made the industry more profitable to those manufacturing and dealing the product.

Mexico has lost 30,000 people in the last 4 years. In Afghanistan, the number one economic product–which goes a long way toward financing terrorist operations–is opium.

And yet the the United States is the top market for these drugs, providing the lion’s share of the demand.

The quasi-military approach to this “war” has been a total disaster, as it has done nothing to remove the profitability from the drug trade. This article in Newsweek provides a portrait of what is happening in Mexico, and what is in store for our cities unless we do something about the economic dynamics.

We can win this “war”, but only by slashing the profit margin. Our hard-force approach has failed to accomplish this.

If we allowed people to grow marijuana here, it would jack up the supply and cut into the profit margins by creating more competition.

If we decriminalized other drugs–cocaine, heroin, even meth–and started slapping taxes on the products (at the local and state levels) and using those proceeds to fund rehab for those who wanted it–we would also create more competition that would cut profit margins.

This would hit the Mexican cartels–and the terrorists–right in the pocketbook.

We might actually start winning against these bastards.

Besides, I don’t know about you guys, but I’d rather have our cops chasing after real criminals, like murderers, child molesters, and other predatory derelicts.