Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Maybe I Should Move to Canada

They seem to live in reality there.
Bob Marley (Part 2 by Guest Blogger Mark Nelson)

This is a continuation of Mark’s story about his time in prison in Venezuela.

In the morning the gang boss sent one of his men to fetch me. He was on the roof of the prison. He pointed across at another wing of the prison, and told me they were at war. He then pulled out a 9mm pistol and started shooting. This was my introduction to life in a Venezuelan prison.

Over the next few months, I met lots other Europeans: Dutch, Italian, French, Polish, Estonian. The Venezuelans kept all the foreign prisoners together in one prison. We were all mixed in with the locals, except they slept in the general cell, whereas the Europeans slept in boogaloos. We had to pay for these cells. The guy running my wing asked me for €300. I told him it wasn’t possible – I had no money and no-one on the outside supporting me. So he pulled out his gun.
I said, “If you want to shoot, you shoot, but there will be lots of problems with the guards.”
He knew that I got money every three months from Prisoners Abroad. King Kong told me that I could sleep in his boogaloo.
The guy then wanted money from King Kong, so I told him “You’re not the boss, you’re just his workman. Let’s go and talk to the boss.” Thankfully, the boss let me sleep there until I managed to get some money from my family to get my own cell – which was about 3 metres by 2 metres.

Being in prison was a whole new experience for me. There were bundles of drugs everywhere: cocaine, marijuana, speed, crack. The police, prison guards and prisoners were all in it together. There was a lot of corruption.

King Kong and I, together with some of the other foreigners, all worked together. We had a routine for meals – who cooked, who prepared. A Dutch guy who was fluent in Spanish helped me learn the language. I also met a local woman, who was visiting her brother in the prison, and she got me a Spanish text book. It’s not like a British prison – the visitors are free to mingle with the prisoners – there were even rooms for couples!

The prisoners are also free to wander where they want to – there are no guards or locked doors inside the prison. This could be a problem, as some of the local gangs liked to walk around looking to make trouble with foreigners. They saw foreigners as weak prey. I saw gangs walk up to foreigners who are just sitting down and start hitting them with their guns, for no reason. It happened to me one time.

One guy called Thomas came up to me and started calling me every name he could think of.
I tried to stay calm, and said “Que pasa?” – what’s up?
He responded by hitting me with his gun. I reacted by pushing him away, and he fell over. Some of the other gang members came over to find out what was going on. I told them that Thomas was a big problem, causing trouble. I told them that if he kept on troubling me it would end with him and me fighting – which it did. He pointed his gun in my face, but I managed to knock the gun away and punch him in the face. The others managed to stop the fight, as fighting wasn’t allowed without the permission of the boss.

The boss came, and said to me, “Do you want to fight him?”
“Yeah, I wanna fight,” I said.

Click here for Part 1

Click here for some of the best stories at Jon's Jail Journal

Post comments and questions below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun Attwood

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh Noes!!!

Please don't take our finite, and thus fundamentally flawed no matter how complex they are, models away from us! Weez needs them so people don't realize our profession is a simple one hiding behind advanced math and SAS programs! Give us money and we'll give you complicated programs with lots of greek symbols!

Online Schools

These teachers are definitely paid differently than those who teach in online schools.

The Escapist

As most of you know I have more or less retired from blogging, making occasional quick posts here and there. If you really want to see genius, read some of my older stuff when I actually thought there might be hope for the country if there was somebody who pulled all the economic data together and spelled it out for people. Now I just chase after Natasha and play video games.

Regardless, there are new people hitting blogosphere and you should check them out. The Escapist is one of them.

So I'm reading some GCBC again ...

... and on p. 408 of my Sony ebook version (this will not coincide with the hard copy, but it is after the glycerol 3P section), Taubes writes:

By the mid-1960's, four facts had been established beyond reasonable doubt:  
(1) Carbohydrates are singularly responsible for prompting insulin secretion.
(2) Insulin is singularly responsible for inducing fat accumulation.
(3) Dietary carbohydrates are required for excess fat accumulation.
(4) Both Type 2 diabetics and the obese have abnormally elevated levels of circulating insulin and a "greatly exaggerated" insulin response to carbohydrates in the diet ...
Note the wording "facts".  Kinda hard to use the weasely "it's a hypothesis" defense for all the misinformation when one words things this way.  But let's consider these in order:

(1) We know this isn't true, protein elicits an insulin response.  Furthermore fats have been shown to at least amplify insulin responses by, for example, stimulating GLP-1.

(2) Insulin is key regulator in the Fatty Acid/Triglyceride cycle, but when you think about it, aside from moving glucose into the fat cells, it is not heavily involved in policing the entry door.  This appears to be ASP which itself can stimulate glucose uptake.  Insulin does have an indirect role in this as it has been shown to increase ASP activity approximately 2-fold, but this is a much lower response than to chylomicrons (dietary fat).  Fat accumulation (net flow in) occurs each and every time fat is ingested.  Whether or not it stays accumulated depends on energy requirements.   Eat too much, gain fat mass.  Simple.  Taubes acknowledges the continual nature of the FFA/trig cycle then goes on to make absolute statements of how the fat is "trapped" in the fat cells.  How can as much as 60% of mobilized fat get re-esterified to triglycerides in a continuous cycle be explained??  If you eat too much fat it will stay in the fat cells, and if it is mobilized, elevated NEFA/FFA are NOT a good thing!

(3)  Patently false.  Since Fred Hahn is advocating dietary experiments over at weightology at the moment, I've got one for him and Gary.  Drink 5000 cals of olive oil a day  and protein to meet needs for a few weeks.  Report back on your fat mass.

(4)  True, but they also have elevated NEFA's!
Bob Marley (Part 1 by Guest Blogger Mark Nelson)

This is one of the most gripping true stories I’ve ever read. I came across it while doing some editing for Prisoners Abroad. Reading it, I kept thinking, Thank God I didn’t get arrested in Venezuela. It’s a tribute to Mark’s spirit that he made it out alive. I’m going to run the parts back to back this week.

I went to Venezuela on holiday to see some friends. One of them introduced me to a drug deal, and I made a decision. Unfortunately, I got arrested at the airport. The arresting officers quizzed me about what I did in England. I told them that I was involved in music, and that I was a religious man, a Rastafarian. Hearing this, they decided that my new name was Bob Marley.
“My name is Mark,” I told them.
But they just said, “In England your name is Mark, but in Venezuela your name is Bob Marley!”

I was taken to San Antonia prison, on Margarita Island, which is in the Caribbean. When I got there, I couldn’t believe what I saw. It didn’t look like a prison to me. It looked like a smashed up building or factory. In the reception there was a cage with lots of people, all with their hands outstretched, and they were all shouting at me “Gringo, Gringo.”
One of the women officials took me to one side and told me, “You ain’t seen nothing yet. This is just your first day. Keep your money safe, and be careful as there are some things you won’t like inside, so be strong.”

As I went in the front door into the prison itself I saw four inmates, and they all had guns. They called me over, and asked if I spoke Spanish. One of them spoke a little English and translated for the man who I later learnt was the boss, the gang leader. I told them that my name was Mark, but they said “No – the guards have told us that your name is Bob Marley.” So for the next four years I was Bob Marley. They asked if I was a “bad boy.” I told them I wasn’t, but they wouldn’t listen. He said, “Listen Gringo. You see that guy over there? I want you to fight him,” and he gave me a knife. He said, "These are the rules in San Antonio – anyone who comes in has to fight a guy so that we can see what type of man you are, a bad boy or a wimp." So I said to myself, this is survival, picked up the knife, and stood up. The other guy came for me, but I managed to hit him.
The boss put up his hand to stop the fight and said “Bob Marley, you are a bad boy.” He then introduced me to another English guy, who went by the name of King Kong.

As I went into the main cell block, the room was so dark I could barely see. I could just make out all these heads poking out from behind little curtains. This was the way they divided the one big cell into lots of mini cells which they called boogaloos. I found King Kong, an English guy called Wesley, and he simply said “Welcome to hell.” I asked him what he meant, and he said “In the morning you’re going to see.”

Post comments and questions below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun Attwood

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Definition of Stupid

They're about as smart as our youth in this country. Protesting over increasing the retirement age to (GASP) 62 SO THAT THEY MIGHT ACTUALLY HAVE SOME FREAKING MONEY WHEN IT COMES TIME FOR THEM TO RETIRE!!!!!

Oh, Karl Marx is laughing in his grave right now.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Is a disease.

More to come. Get your pen and paper ready.

Fort Bachelortude

As the recessionary woes plague the nation your beloved Captain, now on permanent Galt vacation, has had the time to observe a couple trends or phenomenons occurring. Most notably the young man who now sleeps on my couch on account he is a friend and he is in a time of need because, well, his wife is an insufferable pain in the ass. This has resulted in my abode becoming what I like to call "Fort Bachelortude" - an oasis for bachelors as they battle against life's daily onslaughts.

Go to the neighboring town of mine and you will see two other bachelors forming a brother fort on account one of them is a pilot (whose industry is not known for long term, stable employment) and needs just a place to sleep and a stall to shower in. The owner of the house (a bachelor) does not have a wife nor kinder and therefore has an extra room by which he can rent out for very cheap to the pilot bachelor. This is a mutual advantageous relationship in that the room has gone unused and why not generate at least a pittance of rental income while splitting chores.

Of course these are merely anecdotal stories of bachelors shacking up, but enough anecdotes make a trend, and trends make statistical fact, and so allow me a prediction;


Both the pilot and my romantically beleaguered friend are empirical evidence of two traits of society that are going to drive this "bachelor fort" trend. A trend by which bachelors minimize their expenses, just try to get by as cheaply as possible, and therefore form MANLY coops (because most coops are pretty effeminate) of residency by which to save money.

For example my friend who now resides on my couch is suffering from one of society's trend whereby the entire courtship/romance/marriage or whatever you want to call it industry is completely biased and tilted against men. Divorce courts, child custody, and forget law. Just look at the purified hell a young man must go through in the US when it comes to dating the American Idol worshipping prima modannas. Inevitably a man comes to the realization that he is finite and he is going to die. Does he spend his time slaving away to make daddy's little princess happy? Or does he decide to find a couch, play some video games, smoke some cigars, drive a motorcycle and do what he wants to do? I could go into this in infinite detail and no doubt I will receive many complaints from women, but it doesn't change the fact that courting and marriage for the average American male is so horrendous that it should not be surprising that the trend of men opting to never marry will not just continue but increase.

This trend of course is great for Fort Bachelortude in that without a wife demanding a brand new 3 story suburbanite dream home and children crying and screaming and bringing communicable diseases into the house, the sole, lonely bachelor only needs a couch and a bathroom for his living needs.

The second trend is what my pilot buddy faces - unreliable employment. Not because he is an unreliable employee. Oh no no no. Scott Adams has long ago proved corporate America is to blame for the lack of loyal employees. But because employers, for the most part, are just as incompetent as the employees they love to blame their incompentence and quarterly losses on. The WWII generation is no longer at the helm. It's the baby boomers at the helm, the even-more-entitlement-mentality-driven Gen X'ers seeping into middle management, and the even-more-entitled-than-that Millinials at the entry level. And you people wonder why there's 10% unemployment and no private sector growth.

Regardless, this poses a quandry for your conventional bachelor. Simply;


You also combine that with the fact that this latest recession has disproportionately affected men more than women to the point it's called the "mancession" it leaves a populus of bachelors out there looking to minimize expenses as much as possible. This drives American men NOT to go back home and live with mom at the age of 40 (like many of our southern European counterparts do), but rather shack up with other impoverished bachelors to pool resources and share expenses.

Now at first, most people would look at this and say, "My god, what a bad thing. How could this be happening?" But permit me a couple observations.

First, bachelors, if they're real tough, traditional American men, do not have their lives nor base their lives on their homestead. Their lives are defined by what they do OUTSIDE of their place of sleep. Ergo, a single male WHO HAS NO KIDS, does not call home "where he rests his head" but rather "home" is his network of friends, his hobbies and what defines him as a man. And whlie in our ignorant youth some of us may have thought a house in the suburbs with a June Cleaver wife (who was actually pretty hot by the way) was the "goal" as we've aged we've realized there's more to life than just doing what literally billions of people have done before us. And instead of having the majority of our finances tied up paying for a mortgage and family we can't afford, with minimal living expense and a lot of free time (thanks Barack!) we can now actaully pursue interests and hobbies that interest us. This is the key thing to Fort Bachelortude - trading labor for leisure. Since there are no jobs, if we can master the art of cost-minimalization, we can enjoy a higher standard of living at a much lower income in that we have all that much more free time.

Second, Fort Bachelortude is not a frat house. I'm not talking about a bunch of rowdy teenagers, getting drunk, living off of daddy's dime while they major in "business." I'm talking men in their 30's and 40's who can actually shack up without any drama or chaos about who left the puking donkey in the living room. Men who are forced to join Fort Bachelortude are much more mature and make any kind of traditional roomate dramas a thing of the past.

Thirdly, it forces bachelors to rethink what's really important in life. I know women are not going to like this, but men, you are a factor too. And not just any factor, a very important factor. Matter of fact a completely necessary factor in by that default you are 1/2 the factor. Your life and your happiness should come first as long as it does not expense or hurt somebody in the process. I know we've been trained to put family and household ahead of us, but please. That doctrine was established in the 40's and died once conventional feminism took hold. There is a whole world out there for you to explore, and as I mentioned before in point #1, you may be forced through divorce or dumping, combined with economic realities, to not just minimize expenses, but that you will also have a wake up call forced upon you. If you have such minimal resources to pay for your living, what are the most important things for you to spend your money on?

In other words, Fort Bachelortude is not just a means by which you get cheap rent and your landlord buddy gets beer money, it makes you take inventory of your life and ask how do you want to spend it.

Now the ramifications of this trend are very politically incorrect. Men just going and doing what they want? MEN abandoning the courting/dating/marrying market and pursuing hobbies of leisure? Men not walking up the isle and instead just renting a room in the basement of some other heathen bachelor while he plays video games all day???

Sadly (or perhaps maybe happily) yes.

For you see, men don't really have a choice. The economy has been feminized to the point safety is put ahead of any kind of innovation or production. Equality is more important than excellence. And harmony has replaced competition. This is not a welcoming environment to the traditional American male simply because it goes against a male's nature. And when this is the environment a male doesn't go forth and try to produce huge amounts of production or start up a new company or become the next Tony Stark, because...well...why should he? (First, he can't, second, you'd tax him to death) Instead, and this is the real threat to the conventional way American thinks, what if the real men of society, just plain gave up, decided to play video games, decided to minimize expenses, and never work hard again? What if they stopped marrying, working, and instead put their own happiness ahead of everybody else's and simply pursued a life of leisure and hobbies that they wanted? What would be the long term economic consequences if such a large percentage of the labor force just plain gave up or didn't try their best anymore?

I'll let that thought fester in your mind, in the meantime, doors are open at Fort Bachelortude. BYOB.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Non-Ivy League Observations

Was having an e-mail conversation with a student and noticed this might be worth posting;

"Yes, correct. I tune into CNBC every once in a while and I'm amazed how in general the gurus of Wall Street have horse blinders on. They look at financial statements, they look at balance sheets, they run their little models and they only look at the industry. They never go BEYOND the industry and incorporate the ecnomy.

What is ironic about this is (ESPECIALLY in the past 4 years) the majority of stock price movement has had NOTHING to do with individual companies, but rather the overall economy. Even with the housing bubble, subsequent crash, debt crises in Europe, these Wall Street drones just keep looking at the industry and drone on.

You could also see it in the build up to the housing market bubble. Economists such as Shiller, Roubini, not to mention my humble self, were trying to warn people and banks about the housing bubble, but all the TOP FINANCIAL GENIUSES AT THE TOP FINANCIAL FIRMS DIDN'T SEE IT COMING. I remember the chief risk officer of Merrill Lynch (I think) being interviewed by The Economist about 2007 and he was quoted as saying, "We looked forward, didn't see any risks to the economy." I was sitting there thinking, "How on earth did you NOT see any risks?"

Well, again the reason is they're trained as Ivy league MBA's to just do DCF, look at what they've always done and ignore the larger economic picture.

I'm afraid, given what I see on CNBC, these geniuses are still missing the boat. The larger economic threats are debt, a "perma-retirement" bubble in the stock market, and scloretic eocnomic growth that will impair entitlement programs in the future and undermine the entire retirement planning philosophy (ie-the stock market may not grow by 12.5% per year "like it always has.")

Of course, I don't have enough gray hair and went to just a Big 10 school, but your observations of where their analysis was lacking was indeed spot on."

Again, my services are available for the now failing, taxpayer-bailed-out bulge bracket investment banks who eschew those icky gross Non-Ivy-League commoners - at a premium of course.

Speaking of Taubes and the Pima ...

I feel honored that James Krieger stopped by my little corner of the LC blogosphere recently!  He is a fellow critic of Gary Taubes and posted links to blog posts in comments here.  As he updates this series I'll link to them. 

Here was James' first installment:  Good Calories, Bad Calories: The Mythology of Obesity, or The Mythology of Gary Taubes?

In reading this I was reminded of a call-out I wanted to make on Mr. Taubes regarding the Pima Indians.  If one goes to ~7.5 minutes into this presentation, you will see a picture of the Pimas. 

EDIT 1/12/11:  The presentation appears to be broken.  I'm not sure if this is the same presentation, but it is available on You Tube (7 parts). 
The slide in question appears around the 7 min mark.  I've posted the slide in question below.

Now the picture quality is poor, but the abundant food atop those heads seems to resemble that of carbohydrate extraction (looks like grains of some sort to me) more than anything else.  Certainly not a collection of rump roasts up there.  This is but one example of where Taubes shoots himself in the foot.   Right there on the screen (presumably much much larger in life) he depicts a society plentiful with carbohydrate-laden foods that is not obese.  This example does demonstrate that food availability on its own does not result in gluttony and obesity.  But at the same time it also demonstrates that carbs in and of themselves, even lots of 'em, don't necessarily lead to obesity.  Perhaps Mr. Taubes should be even more selective in his presentations of relatively obscure cultures.

I've also got to say that either Taubes has not a clue regarding "poverty" in America or he's practicing willful ignorance of why obesity is so prevalent amongst the poor in this country.  I suggest the man go to a lower class neighborhood and see how many eat and live.  There's no great mystery to obesity running rampant in these communities.

Triglycerides and Leptin Resistance

Been reading a lot about leptin and leptin resistance lately and the recent theory that triglycerides cause leptin resistance.  Leptin is secreted by fat cells essentially in correlation to fat mass and it is supposed to tell us to stop eating when we have accumulated too much fat.  The leptin resistance theory of obesity is that our brains don't receive the leptin signal so we keep eating and get fatter.

Triglycerides Induce Leptin Resistance at the Blood-Brain Barrier

Obesity is associated with leptin resistance as evidenced by hyperleptinemia. Resistance arises from impaired leptin transport across the blood-brain barrier (BBB), defects in leptin receptor signaling, and blockades in downstream neuronal circuitries. The mediator of this resistance is unknown. Here, we show that milk, for which fats are 98% triglycerides, immediately inhibited leptin transport as assessed with in vivo, in vitro, and in situ models of the BBB. Fat-free milk and intralipid, a source of vegetable triglycerides, were without effect. Both starvation and diet-induced obesity elevated triglycerides and decreased the transport of leptin across the BBB, whereas short-term fasting decreased triglycerides and increased transport. Three of four triglycerides tested intravenously inhibited transport of leptin across the BBB, but their free fatty acid constituents were without effect. Treatment with gemfibrozil, a drug that specifically reduces triglyceride levels, reversed both hypertriglyceridemia and impaired leptin transport. We conclude that triglycerides are an important cause of leptin resistance as mediated by impaired transport across the BBB and suggest that triglyceride-mediated leptin resistance may have evolved as an anti-anorectic mechanism during starvation. Decreasing triglycerides may potentiate the anorectic effect of leptin by enhancing leptin transport across the BBB.

Discussion (reformatted)
Here, we showed that:

  • Starvation-induced inhibition of leptin transport was caused by a circulating factor

  • The fat component of milk (which is 98% triglycerides) as well as specific triglycerides could induce inhibition of leptin transport across the BBB in vivo, in situ, and in vitro

  • The FFAs comprising those triglycerides were ineffectual

  • Manipulation of triglyceride levels with diet or fasting in normal or obese mice had an inverse effect on leptin transport

  • Reduction of triglycerides by pharmacological intervention reversed the impairment in leptin transport.

  • Taken together, these findings show that triglycerides directly inhibit the transport of leptin across the BBB and so could be a major cause of leptin resistance at the BBB.
    Perhaps the article should have been entitled "Dairy triglycerides" or "Some", because one part of this study pitted milk fat against intralipid (veggie derived triglycerides - soybean oil-based source of triglycerides containing the essential FFAs linolenic and linoleic acid, purified egg phospholipids, and glycerol).  The milk-fat produced what is described as "an immediate long-lasting impairment in leptin transport", while the (Omega 6 rich) intralipid is described as being "without effect".  They also tested non-fat milk and got no response thereby implicating the triglycerides in milk fat as the culprit.

    The other triglyceride that produced the transport effect were triolein (oleic acid, olive oil) that produced the effect at similar and lower doses.  Three others were tested DPOG (palmitate), DSOG (stearate) and DMOG (myristate).  The latter did not produce the effect while the other two (longer chain sat fats) did at similar doses as milk fat.

    So to summarize:  The triglycerides that induced leptin resistance were longer chain commonly circulating saturated fats (palmitate, stearate) and MUFA (oleic).  While the shorter chain sat fat (myristate) and PUFA (essentially soybean oil) did not.  The free fatty acids (NEFA/FFA) of any of the triglycerides do not produce the effect.

    One thing I find interesting is that short term fasting -- that reduces endogenous triglyceride levels -- does not induce leptin resistance, while starvation (48 hr fast) elevated triglycerides and produced the impaired transport effect.  In my crazy days I have fasted several days in a row and I can attest that hunger usually subsides somewhere after the 2nd day.  This is in contrast with leptin action, so it's not the leptin that is suppressing hunger in that scenario.  This is interesting to me because some describe leptin as the controller of all things having to do with maintaining homeostasis, and yet something else has to be responsible for greater hunger early in a fast and substantially reduced hunger in "starvation".  But if our ancestors got a bit pudgy, this makes sense in that theoretically their leptin levels should be elevated and so early in a fast leptin gets to the brain and suppresses hunger, but as the fast lengthens resistance builds so hunger builds.  Like I said, this makes sense, but contradicts what we pretty much know to be the case with fasting.  OTOH, if there's anything to this leptin resistance theory upsetting the fat-mass apple cart, it may explain why some have success doing intermittent fasting (IF).  The short term fasts would reduce the triglyceride levels for a sufficient period to reverse leptin resistance and allow the brain to "read" that the fat stores are still full? 

    OK -- So ... what do we make of this?  The interpretation I've been reading is that HC diets elevate triglycerides, and LC diets lower them.  Therefore an LC diet should be ideal for reversing leptin resistance, re-setting one's metabolic homeostasis.  However this study pretty clearly illustrates that it is certain triglycerides circulating that induce the effect.  Therefore it would be total circulating trigs that would be associated with this.  Those eating even a lower fat version of LC, and especially those eating a higher fat version would have significant postprandial trig levels. 

    Eating certain fats seems to inhibit the signal indicating one's level of stored fat.  Velly intellesting ... 
    Letter to Mom (by the Occult Killer)

    Dubbed the Occult Killer by the media, Brandon is serving 6 to 12 years in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. His crime: he killed his best friend in a drunk-driving accident. When police investigators discovered Gothic paraphernalia in his bedroom, they naturally concluded Brandon had committed a sacrificial murder for the benefit of Satan.

    There’s no need to feel that stopping by less often needs any justification. There were times when you’d visit that I could plainly see how worn out and exasperated it made you. Not the visit itself, but the circumstances of it. The anxiety of the night before, driving to the end of the state to come here of all places, then back home again. There are times I’d like to just have a video conference, so I could see you guys in a natural setting. All the hectic stuff going on, trying to have a sit down dinner, random people running through the house at odd intervals. I’d like to say “hi” via satellite to someone who just woke up, rooting around for cold cereal in a bathrobe. On the other hand, I could show you my crappy little cell. I’ve gotten rather comfortable with it, actually.

    Click here to read the Occult Killer’s previous blog.

    Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

    Post comments and questions for the Occult Killer below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

    Shaun Attwood

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    A Cartman Moment

    There is no limit to the number of men and women I run into who upon finding out that I ballroom dance on the side are immediately intrigued and interested. I then say, "well, why don't you come out dancing with me and my friends? Or perhaps take a class?"

    To which they predictably respond, "oh, well I don't know how to dance."

    And thus I feel like Cartman talking to Butters in the episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft" (see here).

    You see (ladies and gentlemen who are interested in dancing but then never take a dance class because you innately don't know how) you CAN'T LEARN TO DANCE UNLESS YOU EITHER TAKE A CLASS OR GO OUT AND TRY!!!

    I file my complaint today primarily because of the lost amount of fun people could have if they just went out and at least TRIED dancing. They're missing out a great world simply because they somehow magically think all ballroom, swing and salsa dancers somehow were just born dancing and we never ever had to train or learn the basic steps in the first place. As if just after college, BOOM, the Magic Salsa Fairy took her wand and went "pwaaaaannng!!! You can now dance, Captain!"

    The other reason I bring this up is for the younger men in the Capposphere. I have retired from the courtship/dating game and now never ask a girl I don't know to dance. And the reason is simple - they always say the same thing - "Well, I'd love to, but I don't know how?"

    This you understand has happened at least a hundred times in my life. But understand the irony of it.

    The Young (and highly accomplished ballroom-dancing) Captain, goes up to girl X. There is a nice open wood dance floor. There is a GREAT band playing. And everybody is dressed to the nines looking sharp.

    I say to girl X, "Girl X, would you like to dance?"

    She says "I'd love to, but I don't know how" to the ballroom dance INSTRUCTOR.

    "Well I'll show you how to dance" says the ballroom dance INSTRUCTOR.

    "Oh, well I don't know the moves." invariably says girl X.

    "Yes, but that is why I would SHOW YOU THE MOVES" says the ballroom dance INSTRUCTOR.

    By that time inevitably the situation deteriorates to a cackle of girls are wooing and giggling, pointing to one another jesting the other should dance with the "foolish" dance instructor, who leaves the table and takes with him what was a genuine and great opportunity for these girls to learn to dance.

    So to the younger ballroom-dancing men in the Capposphere - don't bother asking girls to dance unless it is at a bonafide ballroom dance and they are bonafide dancers. You're just wasting your time.

    Regardless, the overall lesson for the aspiring, junior, deputy, official or otherwise economists out there is to just try dancing ONCE. Go take a class, especially if you don't know how, because that's why you take a class. Or if you're particualrly shy, the Captain does sell instructional DVD's which you can practice to in the security and safety of your own home. And ladies, the dirty little secret of the ballroom dance world is that you don't even need to take a class because there is no limit to the number of men who like to use it as a means by which to hopefully get your number or pick you up.

    Alas, I fear I shall still be Cartman in this regard.

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Oh am I Good

    See, now it's legitimate. BEforehand I was just a crazy kook, now since the WSJ has ordained this as a possibility, I am a visionary.

    Enjoy the Decline!

    You mean all that monetary policy, low interest rates and stimulus hasn't made my house worth millions?

    Enjoy the decline!

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Ooo! Spank!

    Those blasted forefathers and their "balance of powers!" Don't they know who I am!!!
    Question Time

    Matthew asked: Your presentation at Cromwell Communiy College has left a question in my head that I really want to know. When you came out of prison and got back to England, what was the first thing you wanted to do/eat?

    Shaun: The first thing I wanted to eat was Indian food. I used to eat it almost daily before my arrest. According to the police reports, undercover cops used to sit in Indian restaurants to spy on me, and try to record my conversations. Before getting to London as a free man, I’d been in prison transport, travelling for days with hardly any food, so I was starving. My family took me to an Indian restaurant, and I ate till I was so full I could barely move. After the "red death" meal at Arpaio's jail that sometimes had dead rats in it, I'm still a vegetarian to this day. The first thing I did when I got off the plane was give my mum, sister and dad a hug.

    Anonymous asked: Have you had any word about Two Tonys' health?

    Shaun: I haven't heard from Two Tonys in a while, but I got news from another prisoner that he is no longer in a medical unit, he is back on a regular yard, so I can only take that a sign that his health has improved.

    Anonymous asked: I would be really interested in a write up from you about the HBO TV series ‘Oz’ about a prison in America (it may cut a little close to the bone – or else you might think it is ridiculous).

    Shaun: I haven't watched Oz, but I did catch some Prison Break last Xmas. As an ex prisoner, I found it fascinating even though a lot of it was impossible. They nailed a lot of detail, but the fact that the two brothers would end up in the same prison is implausible as there are numerous prisons in California, and you generally don't get short timers rubbing up with guys on death row. But having said that, I still really enjoyed it, especially the characters and the staff. They represented some of the types I met in prison.

    Anonymous asked: Why are there bits left out of your blog?

    Shaun: There were things I wrote that I couldn’t post to the Internet when I was in prison as they could have caused immediate danger for me and other prisoners. I have what I wrote in a collection I call The Parallel Blogs. This could be material for a third book.

    Click here for the previous Question Time

    Excess carbs coverted to fat?

    Thanks to reader LynMarie for prompting me to exhume this post that has been in the "draft" hopper for months!  I'll probably update with some comments at a later time, but wanted to get this article/link out there.

    This is a repeated mantra in the LC community ... if only it were true to any significant extent.

    We've heard it from Taubes, and Sisson, and -- the worst offender -- Nora Gedgaudas who goes so far as to claim that all fat in the body comes from glucose!  I even emailed her once about this and she stuck by this claim -- "I didn't make it up"

    The model of the human macronutrient energy economy that emerges from the study of McDevitt et al is consistent with previous work (2,3,8,9). In the hierarchy of fuels, dietary carbohydrate appears to have a higher priority for oxidation than does dietary fat; when both are present, carbohydrate is chosen. The 2 major macronutrient energy sources (carbohydrates and fats) are not, however, interconvertible energy currencies. Fat cannot be converted to carbohydrate in animals because animals lack the enzymes of the glyoxylate pathway, and carbohydrate is not converted to fat because of a functional block of uncertain cause.
    Read more »

    Wheat & Sugar & Overeating

    Wheat and sugar are oft-cited culprits in the obesity epidemic.  This isn't going to be a science-backed post -- although I've read a good deal about this.  This is more an observational post. 

    I'm was a child in the sixties and early 70's.  Raised in a "healthy household" we didn't eat Wonder bread and Sugar Frosted Flakes (back when you could use the word for what the frosting is made of!), but most of my classmates did.  I look back at class pics from elementary school and there's one or two "fat kids" --  by today's standards these kids aren't even all that large.  And yet, I think back on what most of my classmates had for snacks -- fruit rollups (yeah, not much fruit in those) and saltines were big items.  For lunch it was usually a sandwich of some sort on white bread (PB&jelly were as popular as cold cuts), milk or juice, and a Twinkie or cookies.  Does anyone remember Pixie stix and Lick'm'ade?  These were nothing more than straws full or pots full of colored flavored sugar.  We didn't have sodas as much, and the juice box had yet to be invented, but small cans of juice were popular.  When I would go to friends' houses after school usually I got a glass of lemonade or punch made from a sugary mix.  Anywhere refreshments were provided usually included "bug juice" (KoolAid).  Tang was pretty big too.  Breakfast at a diner wasn't just bacon and eggs, it was pancakes (with butter and lots of syrup), waffles (same), etc.

    Bottom line:  Refined carbs were accessible and consumed.  Margarine and veggie oils were already in fairly widespread use -- I don't remember my friends' Mom's cooking much in lard and tallow.  Although my Mom tended more toward whole grain breads (sprouted often times) and brown rice, she didn't soak or ferment grains and such.  And I actually don't remember the Buttertons either, although fat phobia hadn't set in.

    So why did my generation not overeat similar foods on a regular basis while we do today?

    Why didn't being subjected to such foods cause obesity in us kids?  We're often convinced that kids get addicted to sugar at an early age and eating these refined carbs is driving our hunger is causing us to eat 150-350 more cal/day on average.  I'm sure there are those with greater sensitivity to these things, but something else would have to be responsible for a dramatic increase in the proportion of these people in the population to finger these foods specifically as triggers for overconsumption and obesity.

    I can identify a number of lifestyle changes in our culture as a whole that have allowed for overconsumption of such foods. I tend to believe it is these changes, and not the macronutrients themselves or government recs, etc., that are responsible for the obesity epidemic amongst children in this country.

    Fun with Statistics ~ Mean vs. Median using Fructose as an example

    A bit of a ramble {grin}

    Lately, all the buzz is on fructose as being the root of all evil.  All of a sudden, all fructose from all sources is suspect for ills ranging from obesity to hang nails!  Many studies involve doses of 50g isolated at one time or up to 200g as part of the diet during the day.  Fructose consumption is often reported to average ~50g/day in Western diets.  And yet when I think what a "moderate" fructose consumption would involve, I just don't see lots of people around me eating like that.

    I believe that using the mean (average) as a measure of center for consumption is misleading and a better measure of center would be the median consumption.

    For those not fluent in statistics, the mean (average) and the median (physical midpoint separating the bottom 50% of a population from the top 50%) are different ways to represent the "center" of a data set.   In most applications, the mean is the number reported (usually along with the standard deviation to indicate variability) -- it is considered the most rigorous measure as each data value is included in the calculation and weighted equally.  However when you have a situation where the propensity for outliers is greater at one extreme or the other, and/or one extreme is bounded while the other is not, general practice is to report the median.

    Consider household incomes that are reported periodically based on IRS data -- almost always, the median household income is the reported value.  Why?  Because the least income one could have reported to the IRS is zero (or even a few thousand), but there's no theoretical limit to the high end of income.  All you need are a few outliers to make 10X, 100X, 1000X or even more to really throw an average.  Let's say you have 9 households, one each making 10K, 20K, etc up to 90K.  The mean income = median income = 50K.  Now let's say the highest earner made just double 90K = 180K  now the mean = 60K while the median remains 50K ... not too bad, but we see that now 5 households make less than the average while only 3 make more.  If just the highest earner makes 900K, the median remains 50K while the mean is now 140K!!  Only one household earns substantially more than the average, while the other 8 make substantially less.  Leaving Mr&Mrs BigBucks at 900K, what happens if our low earners make zero?  If 10K goes to zero the median stays the same, the mean is lowered an inconsequential amount to just under 139K; if 20K also goes to zero, the mean is only lowered to around 136.5K.  Now this is a small data set, but I think you can see the picture.

    By my calculations, Coke contains ~21.5 g fructose per 12 oz. can.  Let's say you have 9 people consuming 1 can through 9 cans/day.  The mean consumption would equal the median would equal 107.5g/day.  Is this how Westerners consume Coke?  I'm thinking not so much.  There are a good number of people who either don't drink soda or drink sugar free versions.  We would have to reduce the bottom 3 people to zero to get the mean down below 100g, but up the highest consumer to 15 cans/day (what Jimmy Moore claims he drank prior to going LC) and the mean is back to 107.5.  Two more numbers games -- let's say our 9 people consume on average 0,0,.5,.5,1,1,2,2,12 this amounts to an average fructose consumption just under 50g/day, but a median consumption of a reasonable approx 20g/day.  Moreover, only 2 consumers exceed average consumption while 7 consume quite a bit less.    Or we could have large numbers at the extremes -- the lowest 3 consume no fructose, the highest 3 consume 150 g/day and the remaining 3 somewhere in the middle.  We can easily get at the same mean (and probably the same median) but NEITHER statistic reflects what is really going on in such a society.  I tend to think this is typical of Americans when it comes to all sorts of dietary consumption.  We probably have some that eat a ton of something and just as many that rarely if ever touch the stuff.

    No doubt there are fructose outliers in our society.  Those who eat candy like ... well ... candy!  And those that drink a large portion of their daily calories.   But do we really know a lot of folks like this?  Maybe I'm the outlier here, but nobody in my family drinks regular soda, juice or sugary drinks on any sort of regular basis.  Same goes for candy consumption.  When I snoop a peek into the shopping carts at the market, I'll occasionally see a 2L bottle or two or a case of cans along side what appears to be food for the week for a family.  IOW, even if the shopping cart pusher is consuming all the soda it would amount to a can or two a day.   Where I see large numbers of bottles or cans piled into a cart it is usually diet soda or water.  Yes there are some people having ginormous sugary coffees at Starbucks daily, but I've never had one and most of the people I know drink coffee w/o sugar, with AS, or with a packet of sugar (2.5g fructose per).

    The mean consumption is easier to estimate based on food supply data, etc.  However the median is clearly a better measure of center here.

    So where am I going here?

    One of the stats looked at for fructose is comparing average consumption of various cultures.  We now have a threshold derived from this comparison of around 50g/day -- below that we see less disease, obesity, etc. and above that we see more.  But this has caused that value to be adopted as some "safe" level of consumption to avoid issues.   However, the bulk of a society averaging, say, 30g/day might just be consuming even less than that if there is a segment of over-consumers.  This can be interpreted two ways -- either the "safe" level of fructose consumption is considerably lower than the 50g number, or average consumption values for cultures are of very limited use in establishing fructose consumption recs.  I tend to be in the group that believes the latter.  It's like the fat consumption meta study that came out several months ago.

    When it comes to the optimal human diet for health and weight management, I don't put much stock into these cultural comparisons other than to look for lifestyle trends.  Why?  Especially the more isolated or traditional cultures tend to consume "ethnic" foods specific to the region and their society has adapted to this over thousands of years.   I'm much more swayed by well controlled studies where actual hormone, lipid, glucose, etc. levels are measured.  Unfortunately, we can't have any such studies that are truly considered long term for the purposes of maximizing health, but then the next best thing is the retrospective meta studies that looks for correlations between behaviors and markers etc.  Not perfect, but still better than comparing cultures as a whole because individual values are used.  If summary data from a group of studies is compared, this is again of limited value.

    I tend to think if one million Americans were randomly selected from all corners of the country (say selecting equal numbers from each Congressional district) and monitored consumption for a month, the "average" American diet would differ considerably from both the food pyramid, what we consider the SAD/"Western" diet to be, etc.   So when they compare disease rates for the US to other countries, or even to the US a century ago, there's not much value to this in determining what the optimal diet should consist of.

    Yep ... a ramble :)

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny, RAH RAH RAH!

    I was going to write something intelligent and insightful and then I realized too high a percentage of the population is too damn stupid to listen to what I say anyway. That being said, I refuse to degrade myself to an American Idol level of stupidity and entertainment, so permit me to post this so those of you in the Capposphere may enjoy an intelligent yet entertaining post.

    But He Means Well

    And intentions are all that matter in the world of the left.

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Fun Fed Charts!

    Today's exciting economic charts are brought to you today by the US Federal Reserve!

    Your thought of the day:

    "How much lost economic production have we have lost because 10% of the labor force is unemployed


    not just unemployed, but unemployed for a longer period of time than ever recorded


    also considering the labor force participation rate is going down?"

    Enjoy the decline!

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Question Time with Lifer Renee

    Renee - She was only a teenager when she received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. 15 years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

    Chris Phoenix asked: Could these things (screwdriver etc.) actually help in an escape attempt? Or is Jackie just suffering some kind of compulsive-theft syndrome, or perhaps stealing for resale, and the guards are claiming escape because it's the easiest answer?

    Renee responded: I guess a screwdriver could aid in an escape, and also from the staff’s point of view it could be used as a weapon or allow an inmate to jimmy locks and get into panels…
    I believe Jackie is a compulsive thief, but then this environment breeds thieves because no one is given anything.
    The guards claimed escape because it is the worst ticket you can get.

    Syncopated Eyeball asked: Hi again, Renee. Will Jackie be allowed back eventually? I guess that remains to be seen. I'm also wondering what you ARE allowed to keep in your cells?

    Renee responded: Fortunately, Jackie is back. God was looking after her or someone because the guards wrote the paperwork wrong, so she beat the disciplinary ticket on a technicality. Now they’re just preventing her from getting a decent job, but she is alright. She’s scared to death to get a ticket now. I think maybe she lost the sticky to her fingers.
    As to what we’re allowed in our cells. I have a 13 inch TV, a Walkman CD player, some CD’s and tapes, a small digital clock, 3 storage boxes (which is the maximum amount allowed per inmate), my bedding, 2 blankets, 2 sheets, 1 pillow case, a stinger, a 9 inch fan, a small lamp, 1 bowl, 1 cup, clothing (7shirts, 2 shorts, 3 pants, 4 bras, 10 panties, 7 socks, 2 sweat suits, 1 jacket, shoes), books, mail, store items (hygiene, food, writing material).
    As I look, all of these items are items I bought from the inmate store. I do not remember the last time the state provided me with something.
    When they do “clothing exchange,” they exchange items with used items, and I’m sorry but I draw the line at wearing someone else’s used panties. If you know someone who works in laundry, you can get the “homey hook up” i.e.) new stuff, but I’m not real good at kissing ass and playing nice.
    I take really good care of my stuff.

    Click here for Renee’s previous blog

    Post comments for Renee below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

    Shaun Attwood

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Stock Market Valuation

    Read the following as if you were a suburbanite young girl who always speaks as if she's asking a question;

    So like, I think I should um, like invest in my 401k????

    Becuase um, like the HR person said it was good thing to doooooo???

    And, um like, I'll buy a stock and it will, like, you know, go up?????

    Because that's what I've been told and everybody should be throwing their, um, hard earned money into the stock market because the government said we should???

    But then again, never listen to me. What do I know.

    Wells Fargo Wouldn't Do That Now Would They?

    I remember my youth working at Wells Fargo where the text on my computer screen was green. I also remember having to print off reports on a DOT MATRIX COMPUTER. We would then fax these reports long distance to bankers in far away lands. This was the year 1998 when not only did laser printers exist, but so did scanners and this new-fangled thing called "e-mail" with brand "Attachment Capability."

    I was foolish enough to suggest that they spend some money on some new PC's, have the IT set everybody up with e-mail, get a couple scanners and we could save some money and time. I also did a NPV calculation to prove how much it would increase not just the net worth of the company, but for each share.

    I was summarily told I did not run the company and I was to get back to data entry and filing.

    Later that year the bank closed down that branch and fired everybody, but not before I quit and went back to working security at nights (which is a great job by the way because nobody is around to bicker and moan about how you do your job).

    Good to see Wells Fargo still has great minds at work for them
    Shit Slingers I (The Early Years Part 2 by Polish Avenger)

    Polish Avenger – A software-engineering undergraduate sentenced to 25 years because his friend was shot dead during a burglary they were committing. In Arizona, if a burglar gets killed, the accomplices can get 25-year sentences.

    Picking up from part 1, we saw that I’d been hired as a Biohazard Porter. At the time it hadn’t really sunk in that there were five of us. That meant there were frequent and large enough spills of poop, blood, urine and phlegm to actually justify a five-man mop-up crew.

    And yes…there was. And then some!

    So the question naturally comes to mind: just where was all that gooey organic matter coming from? And why? This was a supermaximum prison after all, where you hardly ever got out of your cell to even make a mess. The source of all these biodegradable stink cookies was a particularly nasty subculture of the prison community known as “shit slingers.”

    Shit slinger: the name is appropriate. Note the similarity to gun slinger; a high degree of skill and creativity is implied – no animalistic poop flings here! No, we had certified Masters of Weaponized Fecal Distribution. Truly the cutting edge of Defecatory Ballistic Science. To be sure it was a veritable think tank – nay, stink tank – of methods to douse one’s enemies in a thick layer of drippy infectious ooze.

    What’s that? It was deliberate, you ask? Most assuredly! Since it was ultra-lockdown, the usual methods of conflict resolution (beating, stabbing, etc.) were very seldom an option. How do you assault someone from behind a steel mesh door? You got it – liquid poop soup!

    Here’s the official recipe shit slingers use:


    1 empty shampoo bottle, 16 oz
    1 ballpoint pen tube (the outer part)
    1 plastic spoon or other stirrer – disposable!
    1 razor blade or nail clippers
    tape (optional but recommended)
    large amount of poo – adjust to taste

    1) Defecate liberally into container of your choosing (baggie, floor… hell, even the toilet, if you’re into that sort of thing!) When enough has accumulated, carefully hand pack into shampoo bottle. Add a dash of water. With spoon or stirrer, whip into a smooth frappĂ©. Set aside.

    2) With razor or clippers, make an X-shaped cut in the cap of the shampoo bottle. Jam the pen tube quarter of the way through. Seal with tape if available.

    3) Screw the cap on. You now have a Dookie Uzi.

    4) Point the pen barrel out of the mesh at the front of the cell, take aim, and forcefully squeeze. You can easily get a solid stream to 30 feet away with great accuracy.
    Hint: For added ick factor, let the poop sit for a couple of weeks until mold forms on the top. It’s really infectious then!

    OK, OK, I hear you shouting at me: PA, are you serious? Surely no one in their right mind would build such a diabolical and degrading weapon of ass destruction! Sigh. If only I were making it up. No, friends, it is all too real in prison. These fellows were not in their right mind! And I cleaned up after hundreds of such devices.

    In the next post we’ll explore just why somebody would go and do such an impolite act.

    DISCLAIMER: I in no way encourage or condone drenching anyone in fecal matter. I’m just a historian!

    Click here for “The Early Years Part 1” by Polish Avenger

    Click here to read why Polish Avenger is in prison

    Click here for Question Time with Polish Avenger

    Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

    Post comments and questions for Polish Avenger below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

    Shaun Attwood

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Now That's Not Nice

    Pointing out Obama's fiscal policy has failed. How dare he!

    And as always, enjoy the decline!

    Consult the Captain

    Hello fellow Aspiring, Junior, Deputy, Official or otherwise Economists!

    As you know your beloved Captain is gifted with Super-Awesome Economic Genius. And as you know your humble Captain dispenses this Super-Awesome Economic Genius on a regular basis on this here blog. However, a couple of you have recently contracted the Captain out for specific or unique consulting projects which has prompted him to officially offer his consulting services to anybody who may be in need.

    The range of services can entail anything from general personal financial advice to specific and unique corporate projects. Most of it has been personal financial advice to help navigate and prepare for these difficult economic times, but as you've seen from the blog we here at the Capposphere cover pretty much everything.

    Pricing is done on a project by project basis, and yes, the Captain is going to charge enough to make it worth his while. However, it will be nowhere near as pricey as Bain, McKinsey or Accenture and it will be infinitely better (simply on account they do not have Super Awesome Economic Genius, let alone independent thought).

    So shoot the ole Captain an e-mail if you have a question or a problem that needs resolving and we'll see if we can't help you out!

    CAPTcapitalism - a.t. - yahoo dot com
    Question Time

    Lonnie: Shaun, were you allowed to shave your head in prison, or would that cause you beef with skinheads?

    Shaun: In prison, I did shave it. Nearly everyone did. Hair is not a good thing to have if you get attacked, plus the less hair then the more your head cools off in the heat. With nearly everyone shaving their heads, it is not a problem for the skinheads.

    Lonnie: I had no idea they would let you shave your head in prison because I thought they would be all worried about you turning the razor into a shank or something.

    Shaun: In America, jail and prison are different. Jail is where you are held unsentenced, and after you are sentenced you go to prison to serve the balance of your sentence. In both jail and prison, there are many different security levels ranging from minimum security to supermaximum, and your security level dictates what you can or cannot have.
    You asked about prison. In prison, as you work your way down to the lower security level yards, there are more things available. In medium and minimum security, I had a Norelco plug-in razor. At the higher security levels, there were very few things allowed, so I had to rely on an inmate barber.
    In the jail, the guards brought really useless razors in the middle of the night, so you had to wake up if you wanted one. They gave us so many minutes to shave, and we had no mirrors, so we had to shave by touch. There were people going around with all kinds of gashes and cuts on their faces. To get a haircut you could see the inmate barber or find someone who knew how to cut hair with a stolen razor. There was usually a Mexican with a stolen razor offering haircuts for a couple of items of candy.

    Click here for the previous Question Time

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    High Protein LoBAG Diet for Type II Diabetes

    When doing some protein research in the whole high protein v. high fat LC debate, I came across the following article:

    Effect of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Blood Glucose Control in People With Type 2

    These researchers call their diet LoBAG which stands for Low BioAvailable Glucose.  

    This particular study was on moderately overweight men (average weight in the high 2-teens) with untreated T2 diabetes.  For five weeks, the men followed one of two diets:  
    LoBAG = 30% Protein / 50% Fat / 20% Carb
    Control = 15% Protein / 30% Fat / 55% Carb

    The LoBAG diet was designed to provide enough carbs to prevent ketosis which was checked with ketostix to confirm the absence of this.  The study was intended to be consuming a weight stable diet, but both groups lost around 4 lbs during the course of the study.  Unfortunately the actual diets are not stated, but for men of this weight I would presume around 2500 to 3000 cal/day to maintain.  This would equate to 188 - 225g protein and 125 - 150g carb for the LoBAG group.  This was a cross-over study so each participant served as their own control consuming both diets with a "washout" period between.

    Select Excerpts:

    This was a decrease {of 24-h total integrated insulin area} of 40% from the pre-LoBAG value (P < 0.01). The mean 24-h total integrated insulin area response decreased by 25%.
    In the present study, the diet contained the same 30% of food energy as protein. However, the carbohydrate content was further reduced from 40 to 20% of total food energy. The control diet in both studies is a diet that is recommended for the general population as a means of reducing one’s risk for coronary heart disease (9).
    In the present study, the lower carbohydrate diet not only reduced the postmeal glucose concentration but also considerably reduced the overnight fasting glucose concentration. It is interesting that the 29% decrease observed in the present study is similar to the 34% decrease that we observed previously after a 36-h fast in people with type 2 diabetes (5). The overall result was a striking decrease in the 24-h integrated glucose concentration (Fig. 2). In addition, the percentage of glycohemoglobin concentration at the end of the 5-week study period was decreased from a mean of 9.8 to 7.6 (Fig. 4).

    1.  Cutting carb levels somewhat in their previous study did not alter fasting glucose, but this relatively moderate further carb restriction reduced FBG 29% -- similar to 36 hr fasting!

    2.  The probable protein consumption was considerable and likely in excess of needs.  The reduction in FBG and 24-h integrated area glucose response would seem to indicate that this excess does not get converted to sugar in these diabetics.  

    3.  This was not intended to be a weight loss study, but modest losses (avg ~0.8 lb/week) occurred with each diet.  Yet the 24-hr insulin area (total exposure) decreased 25% averaged over the 5 week period for LoBAG, and a whopping 40% by the 5th week.  Such a change should have resulted in more weight loss if insulin levels are the controlling factor for "fat accumulation".  

    Protein for Energy

    I've held off on posting this for a while because it's a screen shot and I have no idea whom to credit. But, since the metabolic pathways are common knowledge, I've decided there's no real harm done "publishing" any depiction of them on my li'l old blog. (If anyone recognizes the graphic, please notify me so I can extend credit)

    An enduring point of controversy exists in the LC community over higher protein intake vs. higher fat. My personal experience is that the former works for me, but there are plenty of folks doing well on high fat controlled protein approaches.

    One of the advocates of lower protein intake is Dr. Bernstein the diabetes specialist. Most that advocate his approach agree with his central premise that excess protein is converted to sugar or metabolized as such. While theoretically possible, I've been doing some "re-educating" of myself where protein metabolism, specifically what becomes of any excess is concerned.

    OK, so here it is:

    This is the most concise depiction of the various amino acids and where they can feed into metabolic pathways.  The "green boxed" AA's are termed glucogenic AA's because they can be turned into glucose under certain conditions.  The "white boxed" AA's are ketogenic as they cannot be converted to glucose entering the metabolic paths at these junctures.  You will note that certain AA's are potentially ketogenic or glucogenic because they can be converted to different substrates.

    The blue-arrowed cycle here is the Citric Acid Cycle, aka Kreb's Cycle.  Of note is that the central linking molecule of carb and fat metabolism, Acetyl CoA, is the primary "external substrate" feeding into this cycle (black arrow).  The primary substrate for glucose formation (gluconeogenesis) is oxaloacetate -- the last "stop" on the cycle.  Pyruvate is the product of glycolysis -- glucose metabolism -- but it's both a product and substrate for other metabolic pathways.

    The pink arrows are gluconeogenesis (and we know there's also glyceroneogenesis from pyruvate).  However  my research points to these pathways being stimulated in response to the carbohydrate restriction component of fasting and not to amino acid levels although that might be possible.  This seems to be the concensus in the LC community as well -- our bodies will only turn protein to glucose to meet needs.  Some of the excess may be "burnt like sugar" because it enters the Krebs Cycle by going through the pyruvate pre-cursor, but this really just means another step to get to the ultimate central molecule of Acetyl CoA.

    So, excess protein gets used for energy like ... well ... excess amino acids (as opposed to glucose or fatty acids).   Or if you want to get semantically picky, some feed into metabolic pathways involving glucose, and some into pathways for fatty acids, and some like neither of the other macronutrients.  Too much available energy from any source and Acetyl CoA gets converted to fatty acids -- de novo lipogenesis!  In this regard, protein would be the least lipogenic of the macronutrients.  For a while there I was under what I now realize to be an incorrect assumption, that protein-to-fat would go through glucose to AcCoA to fatty acid by DNL.  But this seems an unlikely path except, perhaps, in the diabetic with issues of over-active gluconeogenesis.  Still, I'm unsure if that path would be further enhanced simply by an excess of pyruvate and/or oxaloacetate made available by excess AA's.

    Limiting protein for weight loss does not seem to be a very good strategy unless someone wants to lose muscle mass, particularly for someone consuming a VLC diet.  The VLCer's body will make glucose and get the necessary AA's from where it will -- better the diet than the body IMO.  Protein is almost impossible to overeat.  For diabetics, however, relying on protein as an energy source may present other issues as relates to various complications of that disease.

    Previously I've characterized protein as a poor energy source.  However, I no longer believe this to be true.  It is not a preferred energy source, perhaps, but it seems to feed pretty efficiently into Krebs.

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    Credibility of Authorities

    A rant, if you will :)

    One need not delve very deeply into the LC blogosphere, websites and discussion forums to find an enormous contempt for "mainstream" nutritional advice, etc.  Several darlings championing LC alternatives have emerged and their writings are taken as indisputed "truth" spurring almost cult-like followings.  Anyone who dares to challenge these *authorities* risk the wrath of these followers.

    I didn't discover this LC world until almost 2 years into my most recent lifestyle change to low carb.  This was my third major try at this after discovering Atkins more than a decade ago.  I mostly just did the key components of Atkins from memory.

    My rhetorical question here is this.  How many times does an authority of the LC "Movement" need to be wrong for their credibility to be questioned?   I agree that FAR too often mainstream thought has been flat out wrong about one thing or another in terms of dietary advice, blood lipids and disease risk.  However they are not wrong about everything.  

    I find that quite often, excellent well-controlled studies conducted by reputable scientists are often instantly discounted based on a boilerplate line in the introduction or abstract along the lines of "high fat diets are associated with obesity ...".   Laypeople and those with relevant backgrounds alike will then go on mini rants against the researchers calling them names, disparaging their work, etc.  Occasionally this is fair (that study about a year ago comparing various diets comes to mind because that was an extremely poorly designed study that did not include a truly low carb diet in the mix).  But more often than not, the study supported conclusions that the LC'er just don't want to hear.  Fall back position is basically they can't be trusted because they may buy into some mainstream nutritional/medical dogma. 

    But all too often this approach is like the information equivalent to reactive hypoglycemia (where insulin response is exaggerated leading to hypoglycemia following acute hyperglycemia from a carby meal).  Eyes and ears are covered to see and hear no "evil".

    So back to LC "Authorities".  Let's start out with Dr. Atkins, the first of the modern LC gurus.  So many see GCBC and the research of those like the authors of The New Atkins (Westman, Volek & Phinney) as vindicating the long suffering Dr.  He was right all along.  But was he?  Actually, on the central concept of caloric balance, Dr. Atkins was WRONG.  He proposed that LC'ers lost more weight eating more calories than standard reducing diets because below some carb intake level, the LC'ers essentially urinated out large unused calories in the form of ketones.  This is acknowledged to not be a considerable amount by even some of the staunch defenders of Metabolic Advantage such as Dr. Mike Eades.   In the initial book there was talk of some mysterious fat mobilizing substance.  I can only surmise that this was disproven in advance of DANDR because it wasn't in that book.  Indeed Atkins' ketone loss theory is notably absent in TNA.

    Does this mean LC is dangerous as some of Atkins' critics contended?  No.  Does this mean Atkins doesn't work for weight loss?  No.  But it does mean that not everything Atkins contended turns out to have been correct.  What is it about LC that renders so many championing the research or succeeding through its implementation unable to acknowledge when underlying theories are wrong?  I don't see anything shameful or derogatory to point out that new  research shows that Atkins was wrong about points A, B, & C.  It doesn't mean he was wrong about other aspects or the overall utility of LC nutrition for weight loss, diabetes management, etc.

    I contend that when LC Gurus make scientifically unsubstantiated claims this will ultimately thwart progress and maybe even set it back.  Why offer up easy fodder to the "LC diets kill" contingency?  Shouting them down with cries of "you just don't understand blah blah blah" may work to silence the opposition on a discussion forum, but it will not impress scientists.  I find it  ESPECIALLY off-putting (can you tell by my recent Taubes posts? LOL) and counterproductive when said LC "expert" refuses to acknowledge when they are wrong about something and/or continues to preach known falsehoods.

    To wit I will call out the dynamic duo of LC fauxscience:  Gary Taubes and Dr. Mike Eades.  I haven't mentioned Eades much (if at all) here yet, but I've caught him in a number of embarrassingly incorrect statements in the past year or so.  Most of which are comments and blog posts where he has denigrated other professionals (and laypeople too) while making himself a laughing stock in the process.  He has been challenged on one of the more egregious examples (I'll blog on that one soon) but promptly dropped the subject.  Then we'll sprinkle in a duo of emerging primal nutrition "experts" Mark Sisson and Nora Gedgaudas.  The former is mostly not on my radar for his informative and generally sound advice, but for the core of his theoretical basis that it is excess carbs  turned to fat that causes obesity, and over 150g carb/day invariably leads to catastrophic weight gain.  Gedgaudas, OTOH, has made such absurdly ridiculous statements as "all body fat comes from glucose" (a contention she made on her blog and defended in an email reponse to me) that I can't take her seriously about anything.  

    So I leave you with food for thought.  Nobody is 100% correct 100% of the time, least of which scientists.  The major thrust of my MS thesis was that certain environmental factors did not result in the implicated mechanism of degradation proposed.  It happens more often than not, but, such things generally do not make good fodder for peer review journals.  If I have a major criticism of the science research publishing field it would be that more of the "this didn't show any difference" sort doesn't reach the journals.  It would save a lot of scientists time, money and frustration were this the case.  I'm sure many a negative has been re-established many times over in fruitless efforts we'll never know about.  After all, when you propose a study, the first thing you do is a literature search to see if it's been looked at before.  But I'm rambling a bit ...

    Mostly, scientists and "interpreters of science" can and will be wrong from time to time.  The important thing is the response.  Just as I would love to see the mainstream come clean about margarine, saturated fats, fat intake per se and cholesterol, I too would love to see the leaders of the LC movement come a bit more clean when they're proven wrong.

    Taubes says we shouldn't trust him.   Trust is a fragile thing.  Often times it only takes once to destroy one's credibility.

    Deleterious Effects of Elevated NEFA - I: Monocytes and Vascular Adhesion

    Elevated Concentrations of Nonesterified Fatty Acids Increase Monocyte Expression of CD11b and Adhesion to Endothelial Cells

    First, a layperson friendly description of Monocytes:
    Monocytes are a type of leukocyte or white blood cell which play a role in immune system function. Depending on a patient's level of health, monocytes make up between one and three percent of the total white blood cells in the body. They can be counted as part of a blood test, and changes in their levels can indicate changes in a patient's health. As a general rule, a low monocyte count is a good sign, and a high count indicates that a problem is present...
    ... Levels of monocytes in the blood tend to rise when someone has an infection, because more of these cells are needed to fight it. Monocytes can also increase in response to stress and other factors. A high monocyte count may be referred to as monocytosis, and it is typically addressed by determining why the count is so high, and addressing the problem. For example, if monocytes are elevated because of an inflammation caused by a viral infection, the patient would be given medication to kill the virus and bring down the inflammation.

    My Study Summary:  The investigators incubated human monocytes with NEFA (physiological FA composition) and measured adhesion and the expression of a protein associated with adhesion.  NEFA increased adhesion in a dose and time related manner.  In other words, the more NEFA in the incubation medium and the longer the incubation, the greater the increase in adhesion (although it did peak at 48 hrs then fall off at 72 hrs).  NEFA also increased CD11b, a protein termed an integrin involved in the adhesion of monocytes to endothelial cells (vessel walls).

    From the Discussion:

    Monocytes from subjects with diabetes have been demonstrated to bind to endothelial cells in greater numbers than monocytes isolated from subjects without diabetes.15 ....However, there is increasing evidence that elevated levels of NEFA may have numerous proinflammatory effects on vascular cells in subjects with insulin resistance and diabetes. The goals of this study were to test whether elevated levels of NEFA could contribute to the enhanced adhesion of monocytes to endothelial cells and to ascertain the mechanism by which NEFA may achieve this effect.

    We first demonstrated that exposure of monocytes to a physiological mixture of NEFA for 48 hours led to maximum monocyte adhesion; adhesion increased in a concentration-related fashion. This is the first report to our knowledge of increased monocyte adhesion resulting from prolonged exposure to a physiological mixture of fatty acids. Although NEFA-treated monocytes showed increased adhesion to unstimulated endothelial cells, pretreatment of endothelial cells with LPS greatly enhanced monocyte binding as has been previously reported.17This indicates that one consequence of prolonged exposure of monocytes to NEFA may be to prime these cells to bind to activated endothelial cells. This may be particularly relevant for the development of atherosclerosis where monocyte accumulation is enhanced at sites of vascular inflammation, where upregulation of a variety of adhesion molecules occurs. Monocyte firm adhesion usually requires interaction of integrins ... Our studies indicate that NEFA stimulates the expression of both message and protein for CD11b [one such integrin]...

    Our studies also demonstrate that NEFA-induced generation of ROS may mediate monocyte adhesion to endothelial cells. This was demonstrated by several lines of evidence. First, maximum stimulation of ROS by NEFA occurred after the same duration of exposure and at the same concentration as that of monocyte adhesion (Figure 1). Second, addition of glutathione or BHT, 2 structurally different antioxidants, prevented both production of monocyte ROS and monocyte adhesion (Table). Moreover, depletion of GSH with diethyl maleate before addition of NEFA further increased ROS generation and monocyte adhesion. Third, inhibitors of NADPH oxidase (a major producer of ROS in monocytes), but not those of nitric oxide synthase, xanthine oxidase or the mitochondrial electron transport pathway were shown to be effective inhibitors of monocyte adhesion. These latter experiments also demonstrate that NADPH oxidase appears to be an important and specific source of NEFA induced ROS in monocytes. Our results are consistent with those of previous studies that have indicated that inhibitors of NADPH oxidase, but not various mitochondrial complex inhibitors, inhibit ROS release from THP-1 cells induced by high glucose conditions, and that inhibitors of PKC, a recognized stimulator of NADPH oxidase, also reduced ROS generation and monocyte adherence.18 ...

    Although levels of NEFA are increased in individuals with diabetes, similar degrees of elevation are frequently present in individuals with insulin resistance and might be expected to increase adhesiveness of monocytes in individuals with insulin resistance as well as in those with diabetes. Consistent with this notion, insulin resistance, as measured by a direct measure of insulin mediated glucose uptake, was a significant predictor of monocyte adhesion to endothelial cells.19 Although adipose tissue is a major source of serum NEFA, triglyceride-rich lipoproteins may also provide free fatty acids directly to the artery wall. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are associated with increased levels of just such lipoproteins, resulting primarily from increased hepatic secretion of triglyceride-rich very-low-density lipoprotein and exaggerated postprandial hyperlipidemia.20 ...

    In summary, these studies demonstrate that elevated levels of NEFA, as frequently occurs in conditions of obesity, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, may contribute to increasedmonocyte expression of CD11b and enhance their adhesion to activated endothelial cells. These data provide another example of elevated levels of free fatty acids inducing inflammation and support the concept that modalities that will diminish levels of NEFA or inhibit their intracellular signaling may contribute to reduced atherogenesis in these individuals.

    There's a LOT of info in this discussion -- I excised some of it to focus on the direct NEFA response.  If a low carb diet results in chronically elevated NEFA this does not seem to be a healthy outcome.  If, however, the impact is more acute, perhaps this is not sufficient to "prime" the monocytes.  However since the carb-restricted state is metabolically analogous to the fasted state, I fear this is more chronic than acute.

    Therefore in deciding the proper macronutrient composition of a "healthy diet", NEFA levels, IMHO, should not be overlooked.