Saturday, February 25, 2017

Trump, Milo, and the War on Cops

We can expect more riots like those in Berkeley unless police show unwavering determination to restore order.
February 23, 2017
Related image
Protesters patricipate in a rally against Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos in Berkeley, California, USA, 01 February 2017.
On February 1, rioting broke out in Berkeley to prevent a flamboyantly provocative Donald Trump supporter from speaking on the University of California campus. Black-masked anarchists beat and pepper-sprayed supposed attendees of the event and hurled explosive devices at police officers; the vandals ransacked and torched banks, retail businesses, and campus facilities. University and city police did nothing to quell the mayhem.
The Berkeley riot is a wakeup call, representing several converging trends in American culture: the virulent anti-cop hatred spread by the Black Lives Matter movement; police departments’ withdrawal from proactive policing in response to that hatred; academic victim culture; and anti-Trump hysteria. Such political violence is likely to spread if law enforcement does not resolve to suppress it at its first outbreak.
The roots of the police inaction during the recent anarchy can be traced back to a vicious, four-day anti-police riot in Berkeley in December 2014, in which Black Lives Matter and other radical groups participated. City police had used tear gas on the first night of violence to stop rioters from throwing bricks, rocks, metal pipes, glass bottles, and other dangerous objects at them. Nearly a dozen officers were injured; one officer, hit with a bag of gravel, sustained a dislocated shoulder. The next day, local leaders sharply criticized the police for what activists termed a “police riot.” So on the second night of anarchy, the department refrained from any crowd-control tactics, such as skirmish lines, that allegedly rile up protesters. The violence against civilians worsened, including multiple assaults, a robbery at gunpoint in the name of “No Justice, No Peace,” and shots fired at a homeowner trying to prevent damage to his backyard. Nevertheless, the second night of riots was deemed a relative success from the police perspective because officers had not had to use force to protect themselves. The official takeaway from the four-day breakdown of law and order was that it is better to allow widespread property damage than to use preventive tactics that risk confrontations with rioters and that might require officers to forcefully (and untelegenically) defend themselves. The department would only intervene in group lawlessness to protect life.
This distinction between preventing property damage and preventing personal assaults is of course specious. Rioters do not compartmentalize their behavior; allowing attacks on property will regularly lead to attacks on persons, in a literal demonstration of Broken Windows theory.
Fast forward to 2017 and the planned speech at Berkeley of Milo Yiannapoulos, an in-your-face provocateur who revels in violating politically correct taboos. (Scandal engulfed the Yiannapoulos brand this week, with the revelation of an interview in which he coyly jokes about adult sex with minors, including his own underage experience with a priest. The Conservative Political Action Conference disinvited Yiannapoulos from its annual event—he had been slated to speak—and he resigned his position at Breitbart News.)  On February 1, both campus and city police were woefully understaffed in preparation for Milo’s speech, undoubtedly due to the prevailing law enforcement philosophy of not looking “confrontational.” Bay Area activists had complained during the 2014 “F—k the Police protests,” as such anti-cop riots are locally known, that seeing police in riot gear made them feel anxious. But serious conflict at the Milo event was a certainty, and the appearance of dozens of so-called “black bloc” anarchists should not have been a surprise; these lawless assailants have been a regular feature of Bay Area protests since the early 2000s.
When flaming rockets started flying at the student union where Yiannapoulos was scheduled to speak, the University of California campus police retreated to the inside of the building and never reemerged. When the rioters fanned out to city streets (even though Milo’s speech had already been cancelled), police commanders had neither the tactical tools nor the manpower to crack down on the chaos. Only one arrest was made the entire night, by school police, for failing to disperse. The rioters most certainly took notice of their unimpeded reign. The violence continued the next day, with physical assaults against Berkeley student Republicans, both on and off campus.
The next week, the Berkeley student newspaper invited several current and former columnists to justify the anti-Milo violence. It was an easy assignment. The writers needed merely to recycle the maudlin victimology rhetoric that university administrators and faculty had fed them for years. It is a given on college campuses that an ever-expanding congeries of victim groups is under virtually lethal assault from all-encompassing racism. Allegedly “marginalized” students need “allies” in order to survive their college experience, as if they are attending classes in a war zone. Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion has erected banners on campus that urge students to “create an environment where people other than yourself can exist,” as if anyone is at risk of not being allowed to “exist” on Berkeley’s welcoming campus.
Image result for milo berkeley riots
People protest against Milo Yiannopoulos' planned appearance at UC Berkeley
So it was no surprise that one of the pro-violence columnists wrote that he would “fight tooth and nail for the right to exist.” (And fight he did, by his own proud confession.) Allowing Yiannapoulos to speak “could have endangered campus students . . . over their identities,” he said. Another columnist opined that the black bloc’s attacks were “not acts of violence. They were acts of self-defense.” Such thinking accords with the hundred-plus faculty who sought to close down the speech on the ground that Yiannapoulos “actually harms students through defamatory and harassing actions.”
The police were the real culprits, according to another columnist. They are “violent agents of the state” who “create an atmosphere that perpetuates violence on community members” merely by their presence in riot gear. The expectation of “peaceful dialogue” was itself a “violent act.”
Several Berkeley professors circulated emails downplaying the significance of the violence. Déborah Blocker, associate professor of French, reported to her fellow profs about the anarchy on campus: “Mostly this was typical Black Bloc action, in a few waves —very well-organized and very efficient. They attacked property but they attacked it very sparingly, destroying just enough University property to obtain the cancellation order for the MY event and making sure no one in the crowd got hurt” [emphasis in original]. (In fact, a woman was pepper-sprayed while giving an interview and her husband was beaten so badly that several ribs were broken, among other assaults on campus.)
San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Otis Taylor, paid poetic homage to the “soft raindrops” and “artificial snow” of the riot’s shattered glass and echoed the notion that it was Yiannapoulos who “incites” violence; the rioters were merely rejecting bigotry. Taylor correctly observed that the “protest” (a.k.a. riot) was as much about Donald Trump as about Yiannapoulos: “If the president thinks his inauguration was a celebration of his views, the after-party taking place in the streets should be a potent reminder of how differently people view the world. And him.”
Taylor’s analysis provides a window into the future. Absent a radical change in police morale, periodic rioting and assaults on perceived Trump supporters and other disfavored persons will likely continue. Those assaults began before the inauguration; they have continued since then. In the Black Lives Matter era, police officers are hunkered down, fearful of using lawful tactics that will be labelled racist by politicians and the mainstream media. This is not just a Bay Area phenomenon. The listless response to the Baltimore rioting in 2015 anticipated the Berkeley passivity. The ideology of victimhood, pumped into the body politic by universities, easily morphs into a justification not just for the suppression of speech but also for violent resistance to imagined oppressors. College graduates have been told for years that the U.S. is systemically racist and unjust; the rioters’ nauseating sense of entitlement to destroy other people’s property and to sucker-punch ideological foes is a natural extension of this profound delegitimation of the American polity.
In 1838, speaking at the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln warned that “there is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.” When the perpetrators of such injustice go unpunished, Lincoln said, “the lawless in spirit are encouraged to become lawless in practice.” The nation’s police must show an unwavering determination to restore order when it collapses; intelligence officers, including the FBI, must pay particular attention to rooting out mask-wearing anarchists. California and other states have laws against wearing masks to facilitate the commission of crimes. Politically correct concerns about head scarfs should not inhibit a crackdown on this pernicious trend.
Various pro-Trump groups have announced a freedom of speech march in Berkeley for March 4; By Any Means Necessary, a left-wing organization that participated in the Milo riots, has declared: “Bring it on.”  Depending on who shows up, it may be the next test of the condition of law and order in the U.S.
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and the author of The War on Cops.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Today's Tune: Lord Huron - Meet Me In The Woods (Live on KEXP)

Today's Tune: Lord Huron - I Will Be Back One Day (CARDINAL SESSIONS)

Getting Lost in Lord Huron’s Immersive Worlds

April 14, 2015
Related image
Every track on Lord Huron’s 2012 debut Lonesome Dreams took its title and lyrical inspiration from an anthology of old western adventure tales. George Ranger Johnson, a prolific, but relatively underappreciated writer, wrote 10 installments of his series between the ‘60s and ‘80s, with an eleventh incomplete work that never saw the light of day. Though Johnson does maintain a relatively sparse website, those interested in his writing will inevitably hit a brick wall in finding any of his out-of-print books, because Johnson does not actually exist.
Inspired by Kilgore Trout, the shapeshifting sci-fi writer referenced throughout Kurt Vonnegut’s novels, Johnson is but a piece of band founder Ben Schneider’s longstanding fascination with narrative world-building. When conceptualizing music videos for the various singles featured on Lonesome Dreams, Schneider and his bandmates Mark Berry (drums), Tom Renaud (guitar) and Miguel Briseno (bass) went so far as to re-enact the adventures described in Johnson’s stories. Naturally, Schneider played the role of the recurring protagonist “Lord Huron.”
“I really like when I work on something to have as much background and context as I can possibly have,” says Schneider in the backyard of his Mount Washington home located just outside downtown Los Angeles. “It helps me write the songs and and feel like it’s more fleshed out. The concepts are more real.” Providing listeners with several layers of meaning is key for Lord Huron. “I’ve always been drawn to stuff I can really inhabit and immerse myself in. We wanted to create projects that you engage on multiple levels. If you’re just interested in the music that’s totally cool. Just listen to the music. But if you’re interested in getting into some of the ephemera that we create around it, there’s this whole sort of world you can dive into. I’ve always sort of appreciated storytelling and these days it’s really easy to craft a very rich world across multiple media.”
Lord Huron is once again exploring this interconnectivity of art forms on their sophomore LP,Strange Trails. The 14-track album was recorded at Whispering Pines, a formerly abandoned studio Schneider and his bandmates renovated themselves last year. Located down an alleyway behind an auto shop in L.A.’s West Adams neighborhood, the space was discovered by the group after answering a Craigslist ad. Left unused for over 20 years, the place was in significant disrepair. But after stripping out a lot of old gear, cabling, and other equipment, the fixer-upper now functions as a legitimate clubhouse for recording, rehearsals and upcoming in-house performances.
No longer faced with the time-constrained restrictions that come with renting someone else’s space on a per diem basis, Schneider says recording lent itself to more experimentation. “It felt a little more natural,” he says. “We were able to live with the material a little bit more and I think that tightened up the songwriting and the arrangements.” The extra time also allowed Schneider to expand on the setting and tenor that was established with the group’s first record. Whereas Lonesome Dreams glided exclusively on a frontier, man-with-no-name romanticism, Strange Trails takes that same pulp aesthetic and broadens its scope. Here Lord Huron veers narratives into weirder, darker places such as vintage sci-fi or horror. From being confronted by a “visitor…from the great beyond” on “Until the Night Turns,” to a living corpse that refuses to buried in “Dead Man’s Hand,” to a cursed spirit on a path of vengeance and death in “The World Ender,” the band’s campfire cast of characters all endure more otherworldly journeys.
Schneider says horror genre comics such as Alan Moore’s run of Swamp Thing and the work of Charles Burns—best known for the graphic novel Black Hole—were a large influence on this tonal shift. “On the road touring I was reading a lot of comics. When we were in a new town I would go to the record store and the comic store and I’d come back with a couple things.” As the rollout for Strange Trails kicks into gear, Schneider has already begun building the album’s multi-media world around this comic book inspiration. The artwork for their most recent single, “The World Ender,” consists of an aged comic book cover starring a protagonist decked out with a Ghost Rider skull and leather jacket. Taking things even further, Schneider says he plans to publish his own limited comic series, co-written with his sister, featuring characters and connective threads born out of certain songs. With his own chapter-based music videos and short films also in the works, Schneider says, “We’ll see what else we come up with. We started this whole other world with Strange Trails that revolves around the stories in these songs.”
As Schneider and his band continue to push the boundaries of an album’s visual element beyond a well-crafted cover sleeve, the focus of Lord Huron always returns to the music and its ability to transport audiences somewhere else—like any good tale should. “For me it’s more about communicating a story,” Schneider says. “If it’s not a literal story, some sort of mood and vibe which communicates a narrative in its own way. That’s the main thing I’m trying to do: communicate a narrative that comes in varying degrees of storytelling.”

Meet Lord Huron, a Musical Project That Is Also an Alternate Reality Game
February 19, 2014

Image result for lord huron

OAKLAND, Calif. — Ask Ben Schneider to name the inspiration for his band, Lord Huron, and he will name George Ranger Johnson, one of the more prolific Western adventure novelists you’ve never heard of.

That’s because Mr. Schneider, Lord Huron’s frontman, made him up. He made up George Ranger Johnson’s website, too. Admirers looking to buy one of Mr. Johnson’s novels will be disappointed to find they are all, conveniently, out of print, and that all the book titles are identical to Lord Huron songs.

George Ranger Johnson is, in fact, just one character in the digital fantasy world Mr. Schneider has created for his band, Lord Huron.Lord Huron songs have accompanying video “trailers” on YouTube, each featuring the band’s protagonist, Lord Huron, played by Mr. Schneider, his trusty companion, Admiral Blaquefut (drummer Mark Berry), and band members Miguel Briseno (bass, percussion), Tom Renaud (guitar, vocals) and Karl Kerfoot (guitar, vocals) as they venture across deserts, mountaintops and tundras re-enacting the adventures of a fake novel series written by an author who does not exist offline.

“People are always lamenting the loss of the record sleeve, which I understand,” Mr. Schneider said recently over coffee. “I loved looking at the artwork and imagining the people who made the music and the lives they inhabited. But now I think we can create an even richer experience with new technology available to us.”

The effect is a digital scavenger hunt of sorts with multiple entry points to the band’s music beyond Pandora, Spotify and old-fashioned tours and radio. Some of the band’s YouTube trailers have received half a million views. Fans also find their music on Vimeo and via Lord Huron’s digital “postcards,” short snippets of song and art the band posts to its Facebook page and Twitter account.

“The more places you are, the more people you can reach,” Mr. Schneider said. It also explains Lord Huron’s diverse audience, which ranges from enthusiastic 16-year-old girls to 60-year-old men.

Mr. Schneider, the soft-spoken digital artist who started Lord Huron as a solo visual and musical project four years ago, is a long way from his hometown, Okemos, Mich. Lord Huron is now headlining its first tour, after touring with Alt-J, the futuristic indie band, last September. The band made the rounds at the Coachella, South by Southwest, Outside Lands, Bonnaroo and Firefly music festivals last year and popped up on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live and, conspicuously, in a recent Zales ad.Four years ago, Mr. Schneider was working in a job he loathed as art director at a small advertising agency in Los Angeles, developing projects for pizza chains and an online poker outfit.

He found a creative outlet in alternate reality games, or A.R.G.s, interactive games that use multiple media and game elements to tell a story. A.R.G. designers will often leave digital crumbs and puzzles on various websites — some for fake organizations or fake people (like Mr. Johnson) — for players to follow. Players often try to solve the games communally by pooling clues together in online discussion forums, where commenters are often suspected of being the game designers themselves.

A.R.G. historians often pinpoint Pink Floyd’s “Publius Enigma” as the first Alternate Reality game, which began when someone named “Publius” began posting enigmatic messages in a Pink Floyd Usenet forum in 1994. Later that year, the words “ENIGMA PUBLIUS” appeared in the band’s concert lights at a New Jersey concert. (Spoiler alert: the Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason said in his biography that Publius Enigma was the work of the band’s record label.)

Mr. Schneider designed visually elaborate A.R.G.s of his own. The most intricate involved a fake history exhibit for a fake scholarly society that believed Antarctica was once inhabited by a fake ancient civilization. He built a website for the society, which included biographies for some of its most respected scholars. At one point, the site promoted a real world exhibit, where Mr. Schneider hired actors to play members of the society and an opposing society who boycotted the exhibit outside. The exhibit included music, but mostly as an afterthought.

Not many showed up. Those that did were a little perplexed. “People really didn’t know what to make of it,” Mr. Schneider said. “The actors I could afford weren’t exactly the best. So people got there and they were just kind of confused.”

He never claimed authorship and, to this day, he will not name the project because he likes the idea of the puppet master remaining forever anonymous. (Perhaps this article will offer resourceful players the final clue.)

But his projects floundered and the day job was creatively draining. “I just couldn’t find a place for myself in the art world,” he said. “It wasn’t for me.”

In 2010, Mr. Schneider left Los Angeles for a week to regroup on the shores of Lake Huron, in his home state, Michigan. He recorded a few songs and created the artwork for what would later become Lord Huron. With some nudging from his sister, he left some of his CDs and art on a merchandise table at the Woodsist festival in Big Sur, Calif., where they were picked up by the San Francisco music blogger

Soon people were asking when Lord Huron would be going on tour. That presented a few logistical problems. “I didn’t really know any other musicians.”

He called up the only musicians he knew: His childhood friends from Okemos. They played their first show in May 2010 and are still touring together four years later.

Mr. Schneider says he was determined to give Lord Huron some of the immersive flavor of his multimedia installations. “You can enjoy the music on your own if you want to, but I also wanted there to be more to dig into.”The band worked with Jacob Mendel, a friend from Michigan, to create their first official music video, “The Stranger.” Videos for “Lonesome Dreams”, “Time To Run” and “Mighty” and followed. Lord Huron offered The New York Times an exclusive look at the new video for “She Lit a Fire”.

Each video claims to be based on chapters in George Ranger Johnson’s “Lonesome Dream” novel series. They feature the band wandering across icy plateaus, rocky coasts, and deserts, often in locations that are difficult to pin down. In one, Lord Huron is chased by a group of what appear to be Villista bandits yelling “We will kill you” in Indonesian. Lord Huron replies, “Kau tidak akan pernah membawaku hidup-hidup!” The band’s EP covers and Facebook page are filled with imagery that doesn’t quite make sense: elephants in oceans, rivers running backward, a palm tree-filled Machu Picchu.

Mr. Schneider said the band’s videos and art were intended to be disorienting and foster a sense of dislocation, like his music. His lyrics dwell on lonesome themes and strange places, and though Lord Huron’s sound has been compared to indie bands like My Morning Jacket and Fleet Foxes, it has an undeniable world influence, too.

“It’s a hodgepodge of different music and cultures that you can’t quite put your finger on,” he says.

The band is working on its next album and experimenting with new digital entry points. Before heading out on tour last January, Mr. Schneider made a brief pit stop in Michigan to see his family and put together a treasure hunt for his 18-month-old nephew to discover when he turns 5.

He is trying to do something similar for Lord Huron. The band is contemplating using a smartphone app that would force listeners to visit a specific physical location — perhaps a strange mountain top, desert or icy tundra — to unlock a Lord Huron song.

“Maybe that’s what I’m trying to create,” Mr. Schneider said. “A musical place that is a little bit of a getaway.”

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Today's Tune: Lord Huron - Ends of the Earth (Live)

Health Authorities Continue to Fail Us

We’re told to listen to doctors and qualified professionals—but they’ve been preaching the same advice for 50 years now

February 16, 2017

Image result for eggs

For example, there is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Gary Taubes’ seminal The New York Times article, exposing the fraudulent research and advice from Ancel Keys, that saturated fats clog arteries and cause heart attacks. Titled “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” Taubes documented the history of the health advice we’ve been dished since the 1950s, the fact that the low fat dogma was decided by the government, the low fat diet’s increasingly negative impact on the health of the population, and the backdoor deals that provided certain industries with huge profits at the expense of everyone else.
We have since discovered that much of the research demonizing saturated fat—and fat in general—was in fact funded by sugar and cereal companies looking to keep the conversation away from their commodity’s place in everyday diets. Research conducted over the last 30 or so years reveals there is no evidence the consumption of saturated fats causes heart attacks or strokes; cholesterol’s role in developing heart disease is actually much more complex than we’ve been led to believe. In fact, despite constant protests from nutritionists and government authorities, the research actually shows that low carb diets are significantly more effective than low fat diets. And yet, the government’s dietary recommendations have changed very little.
Now, health authorities have attempted to cover up the fact that they are ignoring current research in favor of dated advice. In 2015, science and nutrition journalist Nina Teicholtz penned an editorial in the British Medical Journal criticizing the USDA’s dietary guidelines for failing to reflect the current scientific literature. After a year of scathing criticism from academics and authorities demanding the article be retracted, independent reviewers stood in favor of Teicholtz and her editorial. One of the most damning paragraphs is as follows:
In conclusion, the recommended diets are supported by a minuscule quantity of rigorous evidence that only marginally supports claims that these diets can promote better health than alternatives. Furthermore, the NEL (Nutrition Evidence Library) reviews of the recommended diets discount or omit important data. There have been at a minimum, three National Institutes of Health funded trials on some 50 ,000 people showing that a diet low in fat and saturated fat is ineffective for fighting heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Two of these trials are omitted from the NEL review. The third trial is included, but its results are ignored. This oversight is particularly striking because this trial, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), was the largest nutrition trial in history. Nearly 49, 000 women followed a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains for an average of seven years, at the end of which investigators found no significant advantage of this diet for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer of any kind. Critics dismiss this trial for various reasons, including the fact that fat consumption did not differ enough significantly between the intervention and control groups, but the percentage of calories from both fat and saturated fat were more than 25% lower in the intervention group than in the control group (26.7% v 36.2% for total fat and 8.8% v 12.1% for saturated fats). The WHI findings have been confirmed by other sizable studies and are therefore hard to dismiss. When the omitted findings from these three clinical trials are factored into the review, the overwhelming preponderance of rigorous evidence does not support any of the dietary committee’s health claims for its recommended diets.
Much of the nutrition research occurring even now is still muddying the waters. For example, we hear so often that red meat is bad, but it is almost always studied alongside processed meats and the results extrapolated for both. Look at any study and the actual line is “red and processed meats.” On what planet is it reasonable to consider a piece of salami, cured with nitrates and other preservatives, in the same category as unadulterated, grass-fed steak? Two entirely different meats, considered the same in most studies. That’s not to mention the number of studies relying on self-reporting diets, which is so far from accurate as to be pointless. Trusting someone to track their eating over a period of months, without fudging to make it look more healthy—for the purpose of scientific research no less—is ludicrously inadequate and a waste of funding.
It’s little wonder then that the general population, and anyone who has done a bit of reading, has trust issues when it comes to health advice.
We’re told to listen to the recommendations of doctors and qualified health professionals, but they’ve been preaching the same advice for 50 years with only minor changes over the last decade. Even Dr. Oz, the mainstream TV darling, has been touting that saturated fat “clogs arteries” because he says that sees it during his operations. All of the research contradicts this, and it isn’t surprising considering he is a heart surgeon—not an expert on nutrition or biochemistry. Yet that doesn’t stop Oz from using his platform to overstep his expertise and give advice that doesn’t align with evidence, which his viewers will take seriously because he’s one of the foremost cardiologists in the U.S.
The media certainly has their place in our current predicament as well. When it comes to nutrition, they don’t care what data and research is reliable—they care about what’s going to give them a great headline and arouse emotion in readers.
Who could forget in late 2015, when the WHO announced bacon and other processed meats as a level-one carcinogen in the same category as cigarettes? The news immediately broke everywhere that bacon was as bad for you as cigarettes, when the reality is that 50g of bacon a day is going to increase the absolute risk of cancer by a 0.01 percent—hardly something to get worked up over. Unfortunately, the headline, “Bacon isn’t too great for you as we all suspected, so don’t eat it too often, isn’t as good as, “Bacon is in the same category of carcinogen as cigarettes, so eating it gives you cancer!”
But let’s get back to the boogeyman of the last four decades: saturated fats. We are still recommended to steer clear of them in favor of poly and monounsaturated fats. Yet some of of the foremost cancer researchers in the world, such as Dom D’Agostino, recommend ketogenic diets—20 percent protein, 70 percent fat and 10 percent carbs. Take a look at the below picture of multiple elite powerlifter Mark Bell, who has been on a ketogenic diet while continuing to train at a high level in his sport for a number of years. Are we to believe that the fat he eats is somehow eating away at his insides, clogging his arteries, and increasing his cancer risk, when his physique is better than 99 percent of the population? Health authorities keep telling us to keep the amount of fat in our diet low (RDI for saturated fat is 20g) despite the research showing that isn’t a good idea, yet we have living proof that it works just fine.
This raises the biggest question of all: what evidence is there for any of the current recommended daily intakes of food by health authorities? For instance, we now know there is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day. Why? And why are these recommendations always so absolute? It makes no sense that regardless of whether one is a 50kg, slender female, or a 120kg male athlete that the recommended intake is the same. Whether it’s macronutrients, micronutrients, or vitamins and minerals, how is it that we have a single RDI (recommended daily intake) for the entire population? Is this really the state of nutritional science in 2017, that we can’t even distinguish between male and female, manual labour/white collar, and at least a couple of weight ranges as well? We deserve better.
The worst part is the fact that no one seems to want to admit their advice was wrong. Instead, dietitians and nutritionists now speak in a sort of code that voids any culpability for their mistake. I’ve heard nutritionists and dietitians on numerous TV shows saying things like “research is now showing us” when giving dietary advice, while disregarding the full extent of what the research actually shows. Fats are apparently okay now, but only monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Saturated fat should still be limited—for what reason is unclear. The National Heart Foundation of Australia, on their own website no less, states that they “maintain there is a clear link between saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease, despite ABC media reports questioning the vast evidence base.” So despite all credible research and meta analysis—which they admit is “vast”—showing that there is no evidence to suggest that saturated fat is linked with heart disease, the National Heart Foundation has done the equivalent of stick its head in the sand and act as though nothing has changed.
At the same time they have given their tick of approval to McDonalds.
Of course, no one in the USDA, the AHA, the AMA, or other such authority can admit they got it all wrong, can they? The backlash would be enormous—we’d have class action lawsuits and an entire body of professionals would lose their credibility instantly and completely. If that controversy over fat wasn’t bad enough, we’ve also got the continued push by authorities to have us consume less salt, despite the evidence being at best ambiguous as to its effects. The war on salt would appear to be yet another case of the health authorities giving us one size fits all recommendations without hard evidence, but based on a logical progression that if high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, and salt increases blood pressure, then reducing salt intake would reduce the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, the Cochrane review found actually found an increase in risk when following a low sodium diet such as that recommended by the American Heart Association.
There is, yet again, far more to the story. Fructose consumption increases the uptake of sodium by the kidneys, and by reducing consumption of fructose by 350ml (an average small bottle of soda or juice) blood pressure lowers. Potassium intake is also a factor, with research indicating that the ratio of potassium to sodium a more important marker than absolute level of sodium. So if you eat a diet that mostly consists of fresh, whole foods (not packaged or processed) and don’t eat fruit or drink fruit juice, the insistence that one must reduce salt intake is ludicrous. The take home message once again is that one size certainly does not fit all, and we need specialized recommendations based on our individual makeup, lifestyle, diet, and genetics instead of messages like “you must cut saturated fat to 20g and reduce sodium intake at all costs.”
Considering the above, no one in their right mind would take any kind of dietary advice provided by the authorities at face value. It’s little wonder then that so many are taking matters into their own hands. Thirty years ago, if the USDA, AHA, or AMA told you something was bad for you, you stopped eating it. You didn’t question, because they were the ones with credibility and years of study. It was simply too much trouble for the average person to find the information they needed. Thankfully with the internet, all of the information needed is now available to anyone who wants it. We no longer have to put blind trust in authority figures because we can sift through the information ourselves and ask the right questions. If anything, the glut of information shows that the public’s trust in nutrition advice given by the authorities and media was sorely misplaced.
So who are we to trust then? The list would appear to be getting smaller every day.
Now more than ever the message is clear: if you want to truly be healthy, it’s up to the individual to do their own research and come to their own conclusions. There is a mountain of information out there to go through, and you’ll need to sift through the bias of people selling you diets, fringe groups promoting their social agenda, and the media misinterpreting real research findings.
While it may sound like too much trouble, is your health really of that little importance that you’d trust it to anyone else but yourself?
Pete Ross deconstructs the psychology and philosophy of the business world, careers and everyday life. You can follow him on Twitter @prometheandrive.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Problems? What problems?

February 23, 2017

Related image

Well, I knew I shouldn't have said anything. A few days ago I bragged in this space about having overcome my years-long addiction to the New York Times. Then, in the wake of President Trump's remark on Saturday in Melbourne, Florida, about “last night in Sweden,” I noticed on Facebook that the Times had run a “news story” by one Sewell Chan headlined “‘Last Night in Sweden’? Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation.” I couldn't resist. 
As it turned out, of course, Trump hadn't baffled the entire Swedish nation. What had really happened was that a great many members of the Swedish establishment – politicians, journalists, business and academic elites, and so on – had professed that they were baffled. “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” asked former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt. Chan himself maintained that some news media (those, you understand, that lean right and have less rigorous journalistic standards than than the august Times) had presented “numerous exaggerations and distortions” about Sweden, “including false reports that Shariah law was predominant in parts of the country and that some immigrant-heavy neighborhoods were considered 'no-go zones' by the police.” (False reports, min röv.) Chan went on to quote various Swedish officials who roundly denied that Muslim immigrants had had a significant impact on crime and rape statistics. 
To be sure, I was puzzled at first by Trump's reference to Sweden, and rechecked a few news sources to see if I'd missed something. Then I realized he might have been referring to a segment I'd watched the night before on Tucker Carlson Live. One or Carlson's guests was filmmaker Ari Horowitz, who had made a documentary about all those non-existent Swedish no-go zones and all that imaginary crime. Sure enough, Trump later tweeted that this was exactly what he was talking about: he'd been watching Tucker Carlson, too. (Which, incidentally, was nice to know.)
But one article calling Trump out on his Sweden remark wasn't enough for the Times. The next day it ran another. “The Swedes were flabbergasted,” claimed Chan and co-reporter Sewell Baker. Again we heard from Bildt, who this time said: “We are used to seeing the president of the U.S. as one of the most well-informed persons in the world, also well aware of the importance of what he says....And then, suddenly, we see him engaging in misinformation and slander against a truly friendly country, obviously relying on sources of a quality that at best could be described as dubious.” The piece went on to cite this incident as yet another example of Trump alienating “American friend[s]” (something that the Times hadn't been particularly worried about when Obama was sticking his fingers in the eyes of our allies and sucking up to our foes). 
At the Times, of course, as I wrote the other day, “fake news” is old news. And “fake news” about Trump has been a staple at that newspaper ever since he rode down that escalator in Trump Tower. But this new bout of “fake news” about Sweden was even more transparently fake than usual. If everything's fine in Sweden, then why the hell are the Sweden Democrats rising in the polls? Hell, if everything's fine in Sweden, why do the Sweden Democrats exist at all? Chan and Baker interviewed a couple of leading Swedish politicians and other top members of Sweden's cultural elite, but they didn't quote any Sweden Democrats. 
Image result for sweden muslim ghetto
Nor did they quote any ordinary Swedes like my many Swedish friends on Facebook, every one of whom gave Trump a full thumbs-up. (Example: “Trump may be clumsy but it is true that we have a crisis in Sweden. It is not about what happened or what didn't happen on a specific night. It is a crisis which has lead to a complete U-turn in the debate about immigration. The self-proclaimed humanitarian superpower has zealously introduced border checks and tougher asylum laws. Attitudes are changing by the hour.”) They didn't quote anybody from the Australian version of 60 Minutes whose crew was physically attacked last year when they tried to report from one of those non-existent no-go zones (pictured above). They didn't quote the Bosnian immigrant to Sweden who calls himself “The Angry Foreigner” and who has recorded a number of highly informative videos about the Swedish crisis. (On Monday, he posted a new video responding to the whole Trump debacle.) 
They didn't quote Stephen Jerand, chief of police in the Swedish city of Östersund, who three weeks ago urged Swedish women to “adjust their behavior” in order to avoid rape by you-know-who. They didn't quote Swedish police inspector Lars Alvarsjö, who warned last year that the country's police departments and courts were on the verge of collapse because of the crush of immigrant crime. They didn't quote the Swedish cop who told one reporter just the other day that he would never drop his daughter off at the central train station in Stockholm because of the abusive conduct of the Moroccan youths who congregate there. They didn't quote Peter Springare, a police investigator in Örebro, Sweden, who got in trouble with authorities for stating publicly that virtually all of the criminals he deals with are Muslims. They didn't quote Stefan Sinteus, police chief in Malmö, who has complained about the “upward spiral of violence” by Muslim immigrants in that city, Sweden's third largest. They didn't quote any of the other Swedish police officers who last year told Norway's NRK that more than 50 neighborhoods in Sweden were, indeed, no-go areas where “lawlessness reigns.” 
They didn't talk to John Dübeck, who teaches English, considers himself a leftist, and recently reported on Facebook about students of his who admit freely that they want sharia law in Sweden and look forward to a world “where all the whites have been killed.” (Wrote Dübeck: “I know students who've been raped by relatives, but don't dare report it because they're convinced other relatives will kill them....I know students who don't dare remove their hijab because they're afraid of being abused and raped....I know ethnic Swedish students who speak with a [Muslim immigrant] accent, just to avoid being frozen out. I know students who use 'fucking whore' or 'fucking faggot' to address ethnic Swedes.”) They didn't talk to the gutsy Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist, who has powerfully spelled out the truth about Sweden for the Glazov Gang and for Gad Saad. They didn't quote the indispensable Pat Caddell, who in a memorable November 2015 video summed up the Swedish nightmare quite succinctly. 
Nor did they quote any of the dozen-odd pieces I've written on Sweden in the last few years, most recently last week. “Sweden is self-destructing,” I wrote here in December 2013, adding that “even as concerned observers in neighboring Denmark and Norway are sounding the alarm about the fallout of Swedish immigration policies, Sweden's own mainstream media – and the rest of its cultural establishment – are laboring overtime to silence the truth-tellers and keep the rabble from openly questioning the wisdom of their betters.” In the same piece I quoted recent pieces by two savvy Danish Sweden-observers. One of them, Morten Uhrskov Jensen, had published an op-ed entitled “Sweden's Race to the Bottom” in Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's biggest newspaper. It began: “Sweden has chosen to break down.” Jensen proceeded, as I explained, 
to outline the steady slide in the quality of education in Swedish primary schools over the last decade or so...and to link that decline to what Jensen bluntly called the country's “insane immigration policy.” Sweden, warned Jensen, “will have to pay a very high price for its experiment with permitting excessive immigration from dysfunctional states.” 
The other Danish Sweden-observer, Mikael Jalving, published an op-ed headlined “A Land of Ghosts and Shadows,” also in Jyllands-Posten. It was about a new book, The Immigration Cover-Up, that elaborately catalogued the socially, culturally, and economically devastating consequences of Sweden's immigration policy. Jalving called the book “underground literature” and said it was being read “only behind closed curtains.”
On Monday, in the midst of the hullabaloo over Trump's Sweden remark, Tucker Carlson spoke again with Ari Horowitz, who stood his ground. Carlson then interviewed two shameless party-liners: Anne-Sophie Naslund, a U.S. correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Expressen, and Azita Raji, who served as America's ambassador to Sweden under Obama. Both of them served up nothing but nonsense. Listening to them, you'd think this was all fantasy. You'd think there was no such thing as the Sweden Democrats. You'd think Ingrid Carlqvist and all the others were just making stuff up. 
Granted, nothing special took place in Sweden last Friday night. But as it happens, on Monday night quite a bit happened. “Violent riots” (as even Swedish television put it) erupted in Rinkeby, one of the Muslim-heavy Stockholm suburbs whose names have become very familiar to those of us around the world who follow these matters. Locals set cars on fire, threw stones at police, looted stores, and beat people up. One witness called it “a war zone.” But don't worry: this sort of thing happens all the time there. It's just a matter of getting used to it. And learning to deliver Orwellian lies about it to the outside world – learning to insist, smoothly and charmingly and with a genial smile on your face, that war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. All, needless to say, in the name of a higher moral duty.