Thursday assorted links


"the aetiology of increasing body weight may involve several as-of-yet unidentified and/or poorly understood factors (e.g. viral pathogens, epigenetic factors)." So it's not just that brown sugar-water to blame? No doubt the medical trades will find ways to ignore the results.

P.S. "epigenetics" makes me chortle - a wonderful rag-bag explanation for everything.

"P.S. “epigenetics” makes me chortle – a wonderful rag-bag explanation for everything."

I always translate it to mean, we don't know for sure, but we suspect Environmental effects on gene behavior. Is that correct?

"Epiproteomics" gets only 413 hits on Google. Still time to get ahead of this trend!

The biggest reason to think that obesity may be pathogenetic is due to the evidence from fecal transplant experiments. Put skinny person poop in a fat person's gut and they'll lose a lot of weight quickly. Vice versa. The emerging evidence is that out gut flora influence our appetite (and our brain chemistry in general) to a much greater degree than was ever believed. Different strains of bacteria thrive on different nutritional sources. Post fecal-transplant, its commonly reported that the patient's cravings and favorite foods completely change.

However, this doesn't necessarily let brown sugar-water off the hook. As we switch our diets from lean proteins, whole grains and fiber to high-glycemic carbs and dense fats, it selectively favors the bacteria that thrive on those options. That creates a re-inforcing cycle, where that new population alters our brain chemistry to push us in the direction of those choices. In fact, if anything the impetus to tax/regulate bad food choices is now even higher (now that I agree with it). Bob's poor diet changes the balance of bacteria in his gut as well outside (particularly if he doesn't wash his hands properly), increasing Alice's chances of becoming obese regardless of anything she does.

All of this also informs us, about why most modern dieting is unsuccessful. A short-term push to lose weight is probably unsustainable, as the composition of gut bacteria hasn't changed significantly. Also the prevailing model of "calories in/calories out", encourages occasional "cheat meals". But even intermittent consumption allows the bad strains bacteria to survive much longer, and drastically lengthens the time for gut-recompisition. The best approach to losing weight for the long term: 1) Eat massive amounts of fiber (psyllium seed husks are great) because it accelerates gut re-compisition by feeding bacteria. 2) Take a high quality probiotic (> 15 strains, > 20 billion colonies) regularly. 3) Focus initially on eating healthier food rather than losing weight, once your get recomposes the latter will be much easter. 4) Avoid any sort of cheating for as long periods as is possible; the more you crave certain foods the more you need to avoid feeding it to the bacteria manipulating you.

You shittin' me?

Seriously, I'ma try it.

Thank you, Doug. That sounds more intelligent than anything I've read about weight loss these many years. Experiments really are better than quasi-theological diet propaganda, aren't they?

I am not aware of any evidence that gut bacteria is contagious

Some gut bacteria might only pass from mother to child at birth. But presumably others have some mechanism to get to another gut before its host dies. Certainly C. difficile is contagious through varies means such as fecal oral route.

Yes well I would imagine the normal route is feces to food and then back to the gut, but hopefully not for human beings. Maybe if you can avoid performing analingus on fat people?

What are the implications for GMOs? Baceteria exchange genetic material. It would be bad if they picked up some modified DNA that, say, encoded for the production of pesticides.

Gut bacteria are mostly going to acquire outside genetic material from other gut microorganisms that have mechanisms not to be digested. I have heard of bacteria incorporating random DNA in the environment but DNA in the food is broken down by DNase during digestion because the body doesn't want the whole genes of another species, but wants to reassemble the DNA to form its own genes. Non GMO food can produce plenty of toxins of their own such as solanine in potatos.

"Finland will experiment with a guaranteed annual income."

I'd like to see a large scale test of the idea.

Finland is not going to experiment with a guaranteed annual income in any near future. The article only says that the prime minister has praised and expressed support for the idea and a limited test of the idea. But those are his private thougths, nothing supported by the majority of his party or nothing close to any actionable plan. No one has any idea what guaranteed annual income would mean, so the debate about it is very abstract and nowhere near to any experiment.

There is no recent development in Finland that should have prompted such article, but the article has prompted some attention and debate about basic guaranteed income. This is not news about policy, but news trying to make policy.

#6: Pshh, that ain't no "actual rock star professor". You wanna see an actual rock star professor, check out
this interview with Taimur Rahman.

>An accomplished academic, party organizer, musician, and internet activist, Rahman works as an assistant professor of political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences; serves as the General Secretary of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP), a small socialist party popular with trade unions; and plays guitar for the popular Pakistani rock band, Laal (Urdu for “Red”).

Also oppresses the dwindling population of Hindus and Christians iin Pakistan, but it's all cool bc he says he's secular.

Why do you say that ? I couldn't find anything online

4 b) (Finland to consider guaranteed income) and 7 c), d): "We must implement an ambitious immigration plan..."

(tents hands) "Eeexcellent!"

When Macedonia get back into the business of mobilizing army as immigrants, then we can start worrying.

3,4,5,7. Perhaps Mexico will pay for the new TVs with revenues from its sugary drink tax. Better TVs are unlikely to help lower Mexico's rates of obesity and diabetes but they will be light enough to carry into the USA in a backpack.

This is part of the shift to digital TV and does not seem much different the old US program to give away free converter boxes when the US shifted from analog to digital signals

It's a lot more expensive and the country is a lot poorer

Yay, Opium for the masses! Berlusconi should have done this years ago in Italy, but with the TV sets only able to tune in to his own channels. He'd still be president.

(3.) Instead of this "mystery factor", how about: pets are directly fed by humans; feral rodents are indirectly fed by humans (rubbish). More humans, and wealthier humans (disposable income): mystery solved. As for lab rats, intriguing, but I suspect over time a more humane treatment means they are better fed, too.

Super-intelligent mice will escape from the lab and render such questions moot. Hail our murine overlords!

Carp. You have discovered the real secret of NIHM.

"An analog television consumes 320 to 340 watts, and if you add a decoder then it’s another nine watts,” said Javier Lizárraga Galindo, an adviser behind the program at the Communications and Transport Secretariat."

Well, no, it doesn't. CRT TVs do use more power than LCD ones (I assume that's what he means by "analog," but 90-120 watts is typical.

How hard would have been for Javier Lizárraga Galindo to find a CRT TV and plug into a Kill-A-Watt meter?

Greg Graffin is the gold standard for rock star professors, being the lead singer for Bad Religion and having taught biology at UCLA.

#7 As a Slovak, let me say that it annoys me when people start a sentence with the "As a ..." construction in a lame effort at credibility.

Netik's point is that Slovakia has no Muslim cultural infrastructure (and sure as heck isn't going to build it out for 100 refugees) and those Muslims shouldn't be forced to live in that situation. Instead, Slovaks are taking Syrian Christian asylum seekers. That's the story anyway.

Facing an assortment of refugees it seems rather sensible to accept one sort, rather than many sorts who will then fight and kill each other given half a chance. Whether Slovakia can pull it off is another matter.

In the US, you would get called a bigot for suggesting that.

Best of luck to the Slovakian people. I hope they haven't been infested with the PC cult.

How many refugees from the Syrian war does the US take in?

"In the U.S, you would get called a bigot"

So what? You can get called a bigot for anything these days. In for a penny, in for a pound. Not one more Mahometan savage should be allowed anywhere in Christendom, and any non-citizens who are here should be instantly and summarily deported for even the smallest criminal infraction or demonstration of jihadi tendencies.

There was a photo in one of the newspapers today of some Pakistani migrants who, on reaching a Greek beach, prostrated themselves in the direction of Mecca and began to pray.

So they know where their rich religious brethren live, but chose to seek protection from the infidels.

Why doesn't this incongruity compute with these guys? They know more than most the failings of religious fundamentalism.

As a matter of fact, inside everyone is not an Occidental social democrat just waiting to get out.

The Pakistanis have no such delusions. They are economic migrants who do their part in the jihad by populating the West with themselves.

5. Reading AA papers yields great rewards. He could easily have been granted the prize in economics.

#6 A real rock star professor "keyboard player for the bands D:Ream" "had a UK Number One hit with "Things Can Only Get Better" in 1994 as well as eight more top 40 hits"

Academia is full of former rock stars who wanted steady paychecks (ordinary level rock stardom is not as remunerative as some think). Frequently quoted cranky anti-Strunk & White grammarian/linguist Geoff Pullum is only one example of many. A few others: Mark Leary (social anxiety pioneer), Alex (Box Tops singer), Blue Cheer guitarist, Brian May (Queen guitarist). Stevie Ray Vaughan was rumored to be aiming at an academic post at Dallas City College before he passed on.

I wonder whether the story of the guy living like David Bowie, will end up in a Pierre-Menard-esque style. I.e. the guy writes "Changes" exactly word-for-word as Bowie's original, and the critics find it better than Bowie's.

4(b). At the very end of the article, the author states that one obstacle to performing experiments with basic income is Finland's constitution's requirement that every citizen is "equal". Apparently, having equal probability of being selected in a randomized experiment, i.e., equal opportunity, is not considered equal; equal must refer to equal results.

I think the problem was with awarding different amounts to different people

reminds me of this tweet by Garett Jones:
Pet obesity, child obesity at all-time highs. Shouldn't I seek same explanation-corporate greed, parents, etc.-for both?

BTW Seems mostly likely it is abbondanza.

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