Moving Forward: My Approach to Evaluating the Science and Knowledge of the Gut Biome and Resistant Starch

Time to look forward. There's no question that since my very first post on resistant starch in April, 2013, things have changed in a number of ways. I like to think that the more than 130 posts related to resistant starch or the microbiome in some way—many including contributions by others, like Tim Steele and Grace Liu—have contributed to the general impact of recognizing the importance of gut health and the role of resistant starch in the whole picture. Since there's now a number of voices out there on the topic and some dispute about some things, I thought I might put some rules or guidelines out there I'm going to use to evaluate things moving forward.

The MetaRulz

  1. The vast majority of what's to be known and understood about the complex workings of the human microbiome and its interactions with the host remains to be discovered.
  2. The things we think we know and understand are mostly wrong or incomplete in some way.
  3. The struggle is in the process of becoming less wrong over time, not in searching for ways of being right.

The ThumbRulz

  1. We don't know what the "ideal" gut microbiome looks like. It's more likely there's no such thing.
  2. Gut bug composition changes meal to meal and season to season. RNA sequencing, then, is perhaps best done in a fasted state of at least 24 hours to get a better idea of an individual's "metagut."
  3. RNA sequencing is flawed, where even the same sample taken in the exact same spot yields some vastly different results.
  4. Hunter gatherer guts are probably of limited value to non huntger-gatherers. Perhaps better would be the sequences of people in your neck of the woods, same age and gender, who are lean and have a clean medical history (esp. no signs of autoimmune disorders).
  5. Just because a particular species of gut bacteria is generally associated with good things doesn't automatically mean that more of it is better. 1% of 100 trillion is a very big number.
  6. Excluding testing error (#3), a decrease in a species associated with good stuff could have a number of explanations: all good, all bad, or a mix. For example, if Akkermansia drops in population, could it be because something else good increased and the previous levels of Akk are no longer necessary, or needed?
  7. Is a different mix and relative proportion of bugs called for in a diseased person than a healthy person; and moreover, is it possible that the mix in the diseased person is actually helping them from getting worse, rather than a direct cause of their state of disease?
  8. Horizontal gene transfer is a factor in all of this, and I don't think sequencing is yet sophisticated enough to detect that. In other words, it's the genes and their expression in the gut that's fundamentally important, not species classification (just a way for us to...um...classify).
  9. Some humans, owing to their specific human genetic makeup, i.e., what needs expressing and what needs repressing, and control of specific pathogens, will require different sets of genes in their gut.
  10. Some species associated with good (or bad) stuff may have significant members of their ranks "hiding out" in mucosal layers, biofilms, whatever, and be relatively undetectable in sequencing tests.
  11. One thing we do seem to have a pretty good handle on is clear pathogens (or overgrowths of even "good" bugs) and this should dominate therapeutic intervention for now. Once that's out of the way, we'll have all the time in the world to worry about boutique bugs.

There may be more. Feel free to suggest. I already incorporated some stuff by Gemma in the last few rulz.

Ok, so one issue at hand now, spearheaded by Grace (link removed), is questions over the propriety of using raw potato starch as a supplement, or perhaps more poignantly, in high dose. It's important to go back to the beginning, the very first post, and look at how this all got started. In the words of Tim Steele.

Most scientists used 20-50 grams RS per day in their human studies. Most recommendations are for the ingestion of 20-40g/day for maximum benefit, and there seems to be an upper limit of about 60g where it stops being effective, and a lower limit of about 20g where it has little effect.

My next step was to target RS in the 20-60g/day range from common foods...this proved difficult.

I learned there was a bit of RS in cooked and cooled rice, like sushi rice, but only a small amount, like 5g per cup.

He goes on to lay out the RS content of a bunch of common foods, then suggests potato starch at the end as supplement, alternative. Check it out. And, later on, Tim painstakingly put together a 5-page PDF listing RS in a whole bunch of foods, by weight.

And yes, in spite of that, a lot of people ignored trying to get much from foods, because they come in grains and starches. You know why? The Very Low Carb Menace, that's why. In Tim's case, he was already eating lots of cooked and cooled potatoes, beans, and his own dried green plantains. In my case, I did the 4 TBS daily for a while, then went intermittent (1, 0, 3, 6, 0, 0, 0, 2, etc.). Now, sometimes I go a week or more with zero and a while back went more than a month with zero. Why? Because I eat plenty of beans and potatoes. Rice sometimes. Even bread...very only sometimes (doing my part for hormesis).

Nonetheless, if we are to look at studies showing that high dose raw potato starch is a questionable practice, which I'm willing to do, we have to look at anecdotes or, more accurately, the relative lack thereof. But, one thing out of the way: I agree, a regime that's like 4 TBS every morning at 6:38 am, with the exact same smoothie or food, is not the best approach. Intermittency and variation in all things, please.

This morning, I scanned through all sales via my Amazon shopping link (13,200 orders) from April, 2013 to today, looking for products associated with gut health. Here's the list with order totals:

Tons of other things gut related, but I excluded anything with less than 10 orders. There's also the case of commenter Wilbur, who takes all manner of various powdered fibers and claims impressive results.

Take home points:

  1. There is one hell of a lot of people worldwide experimenting with potato starch and to lesser extent, other fibers. And probiotics (the soil-based ones as Grace harped on almost from the beginning) are pretty huge. Add to that their mention now on hundreds of other blogs and websites, using their own associates links. Add to that, the the folks who just grab it at the supermarket, as I sometimes do. Very lots.
  2. If the argument that ritual supplementing of 4 TBS or thereabouts daily is not the best approach, zero argument from me. More on that below.
  3. If the argument, however, is that this stuff is really going to harm you (and some have been using it for 20 months), then I need to see some really compelling anecdotal evidence of that. Instead, what we have is thousands of positive anecdotes in comments (and I get many emails), compared to a relatively small percentage where some level of discomfort was experienced, like bloating, joint pain, rash, etc.
  4. I don't think that a changed gut RNA sequence cuts it, for reasons outlined in the thumbrulz, above, and especially if not accompanied by some sort of clear physical downstream effect that shows up significantly in a lot of people. We are still bound to the scientific method, here.

But again, this may not even be worth arguing because I am all on board with expanding the mix. First of all, eat the damn food! Second, if you do supplement, then keep it real, use a mix of the prebiotics, and incorporate the probiotics, especially the dirt.

So, right now, I'm experimenting with mixes of a variety of stuff. Usually, it's about a third to half PS, then a bunch of other stuff from above, and Wilbur's list too. And yes, I hope to develop a product once I nail down proportions I like and do some beta testing. Yes, you'll know the ingredients, but the proportions will be my trade secret. The idea is that by using economies of scale to purchase bulk, I can get you a single product with a mix of about a dozen things that costs less than buying all of them, saves space, saves the trouble of spooning out individually or mixing yourself, and ads convenience to your life. Of course, anyone can develop such a product, BUT ONLY ONE WILL BE CALLED..."ANIMAL FARTS!" :)

Now, when I have a smoothie, which is maybe 3-4 times per week: it's 1 raw egg, two heaping TBS of my mix (roughly 40% PS), 3-4 oz orange juice, the rest of the 14 total oz topped off with whole milk. I don't bother with blenders anymore and I'll just eat fruit. I put all that in one of those 14 oz shakers with an agitator ball in it. Comes out perfectly smooth, tasting creamy like an Orange Julius. It's the only smoothie recipe I need; might use other fruit juices sometimes.

A final note, about my Hashimoto's announced here, and expounded upon here, with input by Chris Kresser. Some points:

  1. Since I've had elevated TSH since about 1998-2000 when it first showed up on a blood test, it's likely that it was the same autoimmune condition.
  2. I can't recall what those numbers were back then, but in 2008 my TSH was 16 in a 1-5 reference range.
  3. One would expect the condition to get worse over time. TSH was in normal range in the 2009-2011 timeframe because I was on Armour Thyroid, which of course does not address the underlying issue of the elevated TPO antibody.
  4. While I don't have a TPO AB reference point, since my TSH went from 16 to just under 10 from 2008 to now, and I haven't been on any meds in 2-3 years, it's more likely that I have LESS TPO antibody now, not more.
  5. ...Meaning that the WORST one can say about my supplementation with raw potato starch over the last 20 months is that it almost certainly did not make this autoimmune condition worse (and if there's any effect at all, it's far more likely to have been a positive one).

But, now I'm interested in fixing it. First, I have to get rid of things I don't need that may be adversely impacting my gut: all alcohol, gluten, processed and fast foods. It's not like I do a lot of the latter, but I can get pretty sloppy. Thankfully, I've been pretty weight stable at around 185 for months now.

So, gonna eliminate all that stuff, drop 20 pounds, get off my ass and exercise more, and really target the gut with foods and my powder mixes and probiotics and a few other supplements, do it for 90 days and retest in mid-March.

With me ruck.

Update: Well, the truce didn't last long. I have permanently severed all ties with Ms. Liu:

Fear of Raw Potato Starch Ingestion is Probably Irrational

Beautiful Anarchy: I Had A Public Dispute. She Asked Nicely. Resolved

Way way back, among the many other ways I've tried to drill into heads in my Internet activities, I had an idea one day.

...When you engage in political and social discourse, and you do it enough, you'll find an odd thing. People argue about the most effective or practical way to force somebody else to behave in accordance with their own values and senses of propriety. I'm not talking about self defense, here. I'm talking about humans going about their days of life.

As a result, America is the "land of the free" with more laws, statutes, regulations, cops, and people in jail than any country on earth, including the "unfree" ones. America is more accurately a pay-to-play country, but that's a subject for a different day.

Lots of you saw this, and lots commented: For Better or Worse: Honesty Log Time; Grace Liu and the History with “Paleo King.”

Grace called me on the phone today out of the blue. Conversation got immediately off on a wrong foot and I hung up. She called back. We started again.

It took an hour. We both still disagree about tons of stuff and completely disagree on our own takes, in terms of personal justification over various ways things played out. Reconciliation on everything isn't worth it for either of us, probably impossible in any case. But, a curious thing happens when each party lets the other go off in rant, shuts up and listens for a while. It's tantamount to agreement, per se:

  1. I care.
  2. You care.
  3. I care what you think.
  4. You care what I think.
  5. I care that you'll be OK.
  6. You care that I'll be OK.
  7. I wish you the best.
  8. You wish me the best.

If the foregoing were not true, conversations like that would not even happen. ...Just to make something clear: the "sexy" talk Grace and I engaged in, that I included in my post, has been off the table for a couple of years at least, completely.

To round out my point of this post, Grace asked nicely. She didn't threaten legal action. She didn't threaten a tit-tat (in fact, explicitly said she'd not go there no matter what). She asked that I take down the post. I rarely agree to anything without some consideration. My demand was that she read the comments, particularly the one by Gemma, and take some heart in that. She did that to my satisfaction.

I further asked that we all focus on clarification and getting more understanding out there on gut bug stuff (can't recall how I phrased that, you get the idea). There's no way I can hold her to any of this, but I said my piece. I'm glad she called, I'm glad we hashed out a bit. I'm glad she asked nicely. I'm glad it's not hanging out there forever.

Anyway, there you go. Always remember that when you have disputes with other human beings, both people can ask nicely. Both people can be gracious. Both people can get a little over themselves and let the other vent a little. Let anarchy begin at home.

The human condition is one where we're really all  just opposable thumbs, all the while regarding ourselves as pianists. — Richard Nikoley

Update: Well, the truce didn't last long. I have permanently severed all ties with Ms. Liu:

Fear of Raw Potato Starch Ingestion is Probably Irrational

Delicious: American State of Torture

Just stated getting wind of the news and I love it. Bring it on. I say let the other countries have their just reward: China, Russia...resurrect Stalin and Pol Pot, maybe. They tortured too, but they did so according to practical calculations.

Here's the rub: America always professed a principled stand against torture, ruling out arguments of scale. Big Fucking Lie, and all you voters are Big Fucking Fools. And, you no longer have the Big Fucking Home you thought you did, in the way you thought, because this is for sure: when you abandon a longstanding principle like that, and then so very obviously lie, and so very obviously waffle, doing so so very obviously pathetically—as is going on now—as though you actually know that The Usual Fucktards will believe it—you're a fucking pathetic joke.

I welcome a world where America is as fucked up as every other country, and worse than a few.

End the faux hubris; laf at doG & country Refucklicans. Fuck patriotism and nationalism.

One last thought. This will go away, because the US is too important economically (they all laf at our faux professed principles, knowing we'll be practical too). America will be praised for its "openness" in "getting to the bottom of it" by all other interested State parties, rather that taken to task for commanding it from the Oval Office, as was most certainly the case, and with every Pres as far back as you can remember.

It's not just TV and Movies, anymore. You do live in a police and torture state you refer to as "The Land of the Free."

North Korean theocracy has nothing on Americans, anymore. Principally, of course. If that's any comfort.

Chris Kresser Gives Me Deep Insight and Confirms My Hashimoto’s Amelioration Approach

I titled it that way because in an email I got from Chris this morning, he wrote/confirmed much of what I was seeing in comments over my last post about my clinical diagnosis of my subclinical Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, on top of my own Googling. I shot him an email yesterday. Recently, we've been loosely sharing info (not collaborating) in terms of gut biome stuff, resistant starch, and people being more sane about carbohydrate intake...more skeptical of Keto "Clarity."

Not meaning to take up lots of time. First, the good news. A lipid panel after some months on moderate carb instead of LC. I’m pretty tickled by it. Looks pretty gold standard to me and the graphs pretty dramatic. I’ll bet that with a more relaxed carb intake, mindful eating and less fat gluttony, others are no longer going to have need of finding out why their C is so high, and have to buy a copy of Cholesterol Clarity. :)

OK, I got the thyroid tests you recommended. Thank you very much. Pretty clear Hashi’s, right? I have a history of elevated TSH. Back in 2008/9, it was 16. Now just under 10.

Chris' take:

Yes, that’s Hashimoto’s. Unfortunately treating it is a little more complex than I can get into in an email, but here are a few considerations:

1) Remove any immune triggers. You’re on the right track with what you suggested, but you might also consider autoimmune Paleo for a 30-day period to see if it has any impact on your thyroid numbers and symptoms (if you have any).

2) The goal with Hashi’s or any autoimmune disease is promoting t-reg cell function. Butyrate, as I’m sure you know, is a major t-reg cell promoter/differentiator. So keep it up with the prebiotics/RS. But you also want to focus on optimizing glutathione and 25D levels, since they play an important role in t-reg fx as well.

3) Watch your intake of goitrogens. I doubt you’re having a raw kale smoothie everyday, but that would be a bad idea. Eating a moderate amount of raw or steamed cruciferous veggies is fine; just don’t overdo it.

4) Make sure you’re getting enough zinc, selenium, and iodine. That said, too much iodine can trigger or flare Hashi’s in a small minority of cases so I’d limit to about 1 mg/d. Sea vegetables like kelp, wakame, hijiki, arame, etc. are generally the best option, along with fish head soup.

5) If you’re symptomatic, you might want to consider low-dose naltrexone. Check out my interview with Amy Myers which was part of her autoimmune summit; we went into a lot of detail on LDN.

6) Keep this in mind: right now you have what’s called “subclinical hypothyroidism” (high TSH and normal thyroid hormones). There’s a debate about whether that should even be treated at all. Not all people with subclinical hypothyroidism progress to clinical hypothyroidism, and studies generally don’t show much measurable benefit from treating, especially when there aren’t symptoms to begin with. Something to consider.

Other key things to do are to figure out if there’s anything more fundamental that is triggering immune dysfunction, i.e. SIBO, leaky gut, parasite, heavy metal toxicity, etc. But for that stuff you may need to work with someone.

So, does this look like a lot of sound advice to me, to you—kinda like in the vein of your doctor being a partner, not an authority that just prescribes you pharm from the schedule? And do note: I've met Chris in person and he's very familiar with my medical history. We live in the same state. And it's perfectly fine to put his guidelines to me, out to you for chewing. His advice to me is not advice to you.

...But did you take very particular note of #6, my lovable HYPOCHONDRIACS?

"Keep this in mind: right now you have what’s called “subclinical hypothyroidism” (high TSH and normal thyroid hormones). There’s a debate about whether that should even be treated at all. Not all people with subclinical hypothyroidism progress to clinical hypothyroidism, and studies generally don’t show much measurable benefit from treating, especially when there aren’t symptoms to begin with. Something to consider."

This goes to something I've told myself for decades, in any situation where some action seems called for:

One Option is to Do Nothing!

This is in stark contrast to the typical human knee-jerk, whenever a problem presents: DO SOMETHING!

So here's Chris' NTY Bestselling book. Perhaps you said before, "I have lots of Paleo books already." Me too. Being on all the publisher's lists, I recently went to a used bookstore in Campbell and got $300 for two hand carts stacked to the top. My bookshelf is pretty sparse now.

But given the contrast I see here, this one will stay there along with just a few others, and a few amazing cookbooks in hardcover.

Also, take note that Chris' book will be coming out in paperback soon, with a new title, The Paleo Cure. Fortunately, it's already subsumed that the cure is personal, not one for all. You might want to snag a hardcopy, before they're all gone. Or, just get the kindle. :)

Thanks, Chris. ...I still recall when you approached me way back about a GERD series you were doing. I'm so glad you did, and I could not be happier for your marvelous success. You're one of the very good guys for sure.

And The Winner Is…Hashimoto!

 So, looks like I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an auto-immune disease.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland is attacked by a variety of cell- and antibody-mediated immune processes. It was the first disease to be recognized as an autoimmune disease.[1] It was first described by the Japanese specialist Hakaru Hashimoto in a paper published in Germany in 1912.

Wish I'd have bothered with the full tests years ago when an elevated TSH showed up. Oh, well, water under the bridge and I like a challenge. Here's the panel:

  • TSH: 9.86 (0.10 - 5.50 uIU/mL)
  • T3, Total: 112 (50 - 170 ng/dL)
  • Free T4: 1.0 (0.8 - 1.7 ng/dL)
  • TPO Antibody: 216 (<=35 IU/mL)
  • Thyroglobulin: 7.6 (0.0 - 55.0 ng/mL)
  • Thyroglobulin Antibody: <20.0 (<=20.0 IU/mL)

So, the smoking gun is the TPO (thyroid peroxidase) antibody. It's an enzyme in the thyroid gland important in the production of thyroid hormones. So, I've got an auto-immune condition where that enzyme gets attacked by my own immune system, causing my TSH (thyrotropin) to be elevated to overcome the effect of the antibody.

The one thing that has me intrigued is with everything else so stellar in my blood work (best ever in my blood-test life), I'm interested to see what I might do about this without meds, shits & giggles like. Here's the other reason, my previous TSH tests.

Screen Shot 2014 12 07 at 3 15 40 PM
 

The 2009 - 20011 tests were when I was taking 90mg Armour most days. Then I just stopped. I had no apparent symptoms (cold hands/feet, primarily), plus I wanted to see where it would be. Problem is, I wish I had a reference point for when I began with adding starches, supplementing resistant starch, and also adding the soil-based probiotics. That it's 10 now, instead of 16 back in 2008, indicates something has improved. Was it 16 (or worse) before I started feeding my gut bugs in 2013?

I think I want to take a few more steps for 90 days, retest, and see where I am before going back on meds.

All suggestions welcome and appreciated.

UPDATE: Chris Kresser Gives Me Deep Insight and Confirms My Hashimoto’s Amelioration Approach

For Better or Worse: Honesty Log Time; Grace Liu and the History with “Paleo King”

By mutual agreement, this post has been taken down.

Beautiful Anarchy: I Had A Public Dispute. She Asked Nicely. Resolved

Update: Well, the truce didn't last long. I have permanently severed all ties with Ms. Liu:

Fear of Raw Potato Starch Ingestion is Probably Irrational

My Blood Panel Update: Starch and Resistant Starch Version

[Do check out the two posts I put up this weekend, if you didn't see them. I especially like the post on gun fear and ignorance. A post every gun control lefty ought be forced to recite from rote memory. And as a sort of prelude to this post, I've been clandestinely cycling high protein/high fat, with high carb/lowfat. Check out this lipid panel in that context.]

Been a long time since I had any blood tests. I was having a 6:40am MRI Saturday for my probable lumbar herniation...BUTT BUTT BUTT BUTT...UPPR UPPR UPPR UPPR...BRK BRK BRK BRK... (Ha! well that's how I entertained myself for the last half of 25 minutes in "the tube," after getting bored spending the first half thinking of all the film and TV "buried alive" scenarios I could remember.) So, since I was there and fasted, I had the doc order up standard blood work and I hit the lab right after the torture chamber.

Cholesterol is pretty non-dramatic. Hard to really say "better" or "worse" than before. Total = 179; Trigs = 84; HDL = 89; LDL (Friedewald) CALC = 73.

Screen Shot 2014 12 07 at 9 00 05 AM
Yes, my doc Bradley is an avocado farmer on the side.
 

Here's how it graphs with past results.

Screen Shot 2014 12 07 at 9 00 34 AM
 

Basically, everything went down except Trigs. I suppose it's generally taken as "good" that total went from 220-230 down to 179. It's probably taken as generally "just fine" that HDL "good cholesterol" went from highs of 110-140, down to a still pretty high 90. Some people struggle like hell to get to that > 60 sweet spot. LDL from 110 down to 73 probably assures that my doc is boxing up some confetti for me as we speak, and won't be recommending a statin drug. (I did have an LDL direct measure in 2011 and it came in at 82.)

I think my favorite number is the Trigs, though. In the 80s, it signifies—to me at least—that my starch, carb, resistant starch, modest sugar and fruit juice intake is just about right. Not crazy (after all, the reference range for Trigs is < 500 mg/dL). I'd probably be fine with anything up to 150. Doesn't that strike you as a more healthful and balanced approach than where I was, in the 40s, suffering lethargy, cold hands, cold feet?

So, let that put to rest the idea that I've gone high carb vegan on you. In terms of other results, no surprises, with liver enzymes and all other mundane stuff in normal ranges. Vit D is 56.

The only adverse result is TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), and doc didn't want to do the full Thy panel unless TSH was still elevated (I stopped my Armor T meds long ago), so I have drilling down to do. Why? Because back in 2008/2009, TSH was 16 (normal is about zilch to 5). Got on Armor and three tests—2009-2011—had it in normal range (free T3/4 normal range as well). Now, it's 9, almost halved from the high of 16, and with no meds in a few years. Thing is, I have no data point for where it was between 2011 and 2013, before I began my gut bug therapy (was it back near 16?). So, open Q on this, still, but I'm intrigued enough to be interested, so I'll pursue. Incidentally, I have zero of any hypoT symptoms, anymore.

...One other topic I thought I'd address is the matter of 16S rRNA sequencing of your shit. I'm not sure why, and to each his own, but the idea hasn't really been compelling to me (I have not had it done by either American Gut or uBiome). I kinda go with how I feel and unless I end up with chronic runny or tough shits—rather than the odd, random event of either as everyone does accutely—I'm not sure what it's going to tell me.

Or, perhaps the standard blood tests, as above, gives you more valuable downstream information? Of what value is a "good" gut sequence if your blood work is all jacked? Of what value is is a "bad" one if your blood work is all within normal ranges? Do we really know what constitutes a good or bad gut bug sequencing?

Now, here's another dot to connect, from Tim Steele's Vegetable Pharm blog: American Gut and uBiome Compared.

I did things a bit differently. I did my "#2" in a new, food grade, plastic bag. Kneaded it thoroughly. Then I touched the exact same spot lightly with the swabs provided by the two companies. [...]

Strange. Some really big discrepancies and also some eerie similarities. I'd say overall they did a pretty good job, but when they were off...they were WAY off.

Tim does maintain a good perspective, though, saying, "And anyway, this is all just for fun."

Exactly, so that perspective perhaps ought to be kept in mind when you decide how many bucks you want to spend on this form of entertainment. ...Also, keep that in mind as increasing numbers of opportunists come on line to tell you how jacked your gut is, and begin diagnosing all sorts of health issues over the Internet, based on this evidently fuzzy data.

Just one more thing. Does a runny nose, sneezes and congestion signal anything more to you than that you caught a virus and your body is employing its mechanisms in response? Not unless you have a runny nose, sneezes and congestion chronically. Otherwise, we call it a "cold," as a very awful, harmful misnomer with adverse behavioral consequences.

In the same vein, having the shits could be a sign of health, so long as acute. So, when you begin getting the other 70% of your immune system up to snuff by targeted feeding and spend a night on the can, perhaps that information is positive, not negative.

Food for thought and for a gut feeling.

Potato Soup Recipe; Cycling High Protein and High Carb

I have a post I'm drafting that's about blood work I just had done that I find interesting. Still waiting for some of the results, so I'll put this up in the meantime.

You saw what I was eating in Mexico recently (here and here). Reasonably carbby. Then we went to Vegas for a couple of days, and it was more LC, high protein.

IMG 2758
Enormous Prime Rib

I had this two nights in a row at Primarily Prime Rib, perfect medium rare pink. In this case, I opted for their demi-glace, which was quite good, though different. Second time, the standard "au jus."

IMG 2805
Big Ribeye

This was at CV Steak in the Carson Valley Casino, Gardnerville, NV. Since I was in high protein mode, I ate only half of that dressed half of the tater. Bea didn't eat any of her giant potato, so the 1 3/4 potatoes went home with us where, the next evening I used them and two other taters to make soup in under 30 minutes, entering my low protein, high-carb mode.

Quick Potato Soup

  • As many potatoes as you want, peeled and cut into thirds
  • 1 slice of bacon per potato
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion per potato, chopped (substitute or mix leeks or shallots, as desired)
  • 1/2 clove fresh garlic per potato, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley per potato
  • 1/4 cup whole milk per potato
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Chop your bacon and fry it to a "medium sweat." You're not looking for bacon bits. Remove with a slotted spoon to your pot.
  2. Add your potatoes, onions, and garlic.
  3. Cover (just barely) and bring to a boil.
  4. When soft, mash the whole thing up.
  5. Add milk, dried parsley, reduce to desired soupy consistency, salt and pepper to taste.
IMG 2806
 

You can, of course, use cream or H&H, but I'm preferring whole foods these days and plus, I like to keep the fat lower during my high carb excursions.

Here's a typical breakfast, no meat. Sometimes it's potatoes, sometimes beans.

IMG 2809
 

Eggs scrambled in a little butter, boiled and cooled potatoes, then lightly fried. Slice of rye toast with a single pat of butter (not WAPF tooth mark levels), small glass of orange juice.

I'll show you my new lipid panel from a few months of cycling things like this, later tonight or tomorrow.

doG Save Me From Gun Control Abject Ignorance

This began as a comment reply to PZO, but got long and involved enough that I had a what the hell? moment, and plopped it up here as a full post, for fun and profit.

Geez, Evan. What do you think happened in medieval Europe? In ancient China? In modern Somalia? In our own western frontier before “the law” would come in? Plenty of well armed people, plenty of violent crime.

I know that the comparisons aren’t exact overlays, there were no firearms in feudal Europe or China, but the historic principle remains the same: Those bent towards power and control will use violence, will take away power and control from everyone they possibly can.

I will also offer up the recent spate of accidental discharges by approved and trained conceal carry idiots that there is at least one other, never discussed, downside to your desire.

As with so many issues, people get a meme in their heads and it never changes (e.g., "If you don't love America, why don't you move to Somalia?"). But hell, even a BBC documentary series had to admit that Solamlia is doing pretty well without a central government—and I say arguably better than with one.

Since 26 January 1991, most of Somalia has had neither, yet the economy has not only been resilient, some sectors have shown remarkable growth.

Or how about this comparison, same BBC source?

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PZO continues:

"but the historic principle remains the same: Those bent towards power and control will use violence, will take away power and control from everyone they possibly can."

I'm aware of that. To wit:

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The US has not only the world's highest prison population, but highest per capita (excluding Seychelles, a tiny island nation). Compared to Somalia? Well, according to this UN report from 2012, there were 950 prisoners in a population of 10.5 million (9.5 per 100,000), compared to 2.2 million in a US population of 316 million (868 per 100,000).

It reminds me of something I recall reading in Solzhenitsyn once, paraphrasing:

"Where there are laws you will find crime."

...And it's not so far fetched as concluding that firemen are the cause of fires—since they're always found at the scene (...or that cholesterol causes heart disease because you always find it in atherosclerotic lesions).

"I will also offer up the recent spate of accidental discharges by approved and trained conceal carry idiots that there is at least one other, never discussed, downside to your desire."

I'm sure it's far more prevalent than the recent spate of accidental automobile crashes by approved (licensed) and trained driving idiots. Actually, more people still die in automobiles, but just barely. For obvious reasons (safety engineering) automobile deaths have been declining for decades. Gun deaths have been flat as a total number, meaning that population adjusted, they're decreasing too...doubly good considering gun ownership rates have increased substantially, owing to liberal gun laws since 1995ish. I looked for a graph with all firearm deaths adjusted for both population AND gun ownership (both having increased substantially), but didn't find. If someone else can, please pop it in comments.

There are more firearms in the hands of ordinary citizens than ever (and far more than in ancient times), combined with less violent crime, ever.

PZO's assertion would require the opposite in order to form a reasonable hypothesis. Moreover, as John Lott's studies have demonstrated, states that have concealed carry, "shall issue" laws (burden of proof shifts to the State), there is no more crime. He and others have claimed that it's less crime, but the important thing is that it can't be claimed there's more (more or less guns, more or less crime). Again, it would be necessary to show a statistically significant increase in violent crime for such an assertion to rise to the level of hypothesis worth giving a shit about, rather than one deserving of dismissal out of hand.

Here's the current state of concealed carry in the US. 42 of 50 states are now either unrestricted carry (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Vermont and Wyoming) or shall issue, where a permit for concealed carry can neither be delayed or denied unless the State can show cause (criminal convictions, domestic violence, etc.).

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Before the mid-90s, most States had laws making it very difficult to get a concealed carry permit. You had to demonstrate a "legitimate" need according to the State's definition of legitimate. Between 1973 and 1995, per capita violent crime in the US bounced between about 40 and 51 per 1,000. Since 1995, the rate has consistently decreased to now LESS THAN 4 per 1,000 (2013, FBI data: 387 violent crimes per 100,000)! Violent crime less than a 10th of 1995, in the face of the most liberal gun laws nationwide since the early 1900s, and more guns in the hands of more people than ever.

I'm not claiming more guns are the cause of less crime. I'm claiming that there's less crime and more guns, i.e., more guns are definitely not causing more crime, because there is less crime. Can minds wrap?

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So what of PZO's assertion now? Legitimate hypothesis? And now, consider that graph above, and the continuing decrease in violent crime since 2009 to a level under 5 per 1,000, and compare that to estimates of total private ownership of guns in the US. It was about 200 million guns in 1999 compared with a violent crime rate of about 30/1,000, to about 300 million today (estimates range from 300-330 million—I took the BATF figure) compared to a violent crime rate of under 5/1,000.

And yet, enormous swaths of the population remain as gullible of the facts and their interpretation, as do these Gallupers in 2011 (probably even worse now, in the face of violent crime dropping by another 50% since).

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Now, let me predict exactly what's going to happen, if it hasn't already. Stand by for headlines showing that VIOLENT CRIME INCREASED! And, should we get a year were it falls to 1-2 per 1K, but then next year is 2-4 per 1K: VIOLENT CRIME DOUBLES!

There will always be some violent crime somewhere, but we're enjoying the lowest rates ever in history, in the face of average citizens having more financial means and freedom to own and now, carry their weapons, than ever.

Now, let's have some more lafs at the expense of ignorance.

Disarming the Myths Promoted By the Gun Control Lobby (Forbes)

A widely-known study conducted by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz in the 1990s found that there were somewhere between 830,000 and 2.45 million U.S. defensive gun uses annually. A National Crime Victimization Study (NCVS) which asked victims if they had used a gun in self-defense found that about 108,000 each year had done so. A big problem with the NCVS line of survey reasoning, however, is that it only includes those uses where a citizen kills a criminal, not when one is only wounded, is held by the intended victim until police arrive, or when brandishing a gun caused a criminal to flee.

For these reasons, the Cato researchers investigated published news reports which much more often reveal how Americans use guns in self-defense. The data set is derived from a collection of nearly 5,000 randomly selected incidents published between October 2003 and November 2011. Still, the authors also recognize limitations with this approach, since many defensive incidents are never reported by victims, or when they are, never get published. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the successful self-defense outcomes are those where the defendants’ guns are presented but never fired.

Most of the actual self-defense shootings in the Cato study didn’t involve concealed carry licenses, but more typically had to do with responses to residential invasions. Of these, 488 involved home burglaries. In addition, there were 1,227 incidents where intruders were induced to flee the scene by armed inhabitants, circumstances that might otherwise have resulted in injurious assaults including rapes and murders.

Yes, I know: "news" media outlets are not going out of their way to report or highlight these events. A blurb on local news is about all I ever see.

From the same article, a really good laf, comparing citizens with police.

Then there is the argument that more private gun ownership will lead to more accidents because the average citizen isn’t sufficiently trained to use a weapon defensively. While gun accidents do occur, the Cato study indicates that they are the most overstated risks. There were 535 accidental firearms deaths in 2006 within a population of almost 300 million people. Although every lost life is tragic, the proportion is not particularly startling.

On the other hand, Newsweek has reported that law-abiding American citizens using guns in self-defense during 2003 shot and killed two and one-half times as many criminals as police did, and with fewer than one-fifth as many incidents as police where an innocent person mistakenly identified as a criminal (2% versus 11%).

When seconds count the cops are only minutes away.

This one is not a lafing matter at all. Those poor Great Britains.

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The same Forbes article addresses that, too.

Finally, on the subject of public safety, just how well have gun bans worked in other countries? Take the number of home break-ins while residents are present as an indication ["hot break-ins"]. In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, nearly half of all burglaries occur when residents are present. But in the U.S. where many households are armed, only about 13% happen when someone is home.

Stop being Fucktards about guns. Go out to an indoor or outdoor range and get some education and training such that you can get over your childish, irrational fear. Otherwise, have the true courage of your convictions.

@Project_Veritas: Journalists, Politicians Refuse to Post Lawn Sign saying "HOME IS PROUDLY GUN FREE"

Update: It occurred to me after posting this that one valid objection to my post might be: could the lower violent crime rate be positively associated with our highest-in-the world prison population (absolute and per capita)? Always good to argue against yourself, sometimes, if clarity and understanding is the aim. Well, I didn't search exhaustively, but this HuffPo article breaks things down. Of the US prison population, about 50% are over drug offenses (16% in 1970), and 10% immigration. While there's undoubtedly some crossover with violence, I doubt it could be significant, since no DA is going to prosecute a dope charge when he has murder, aggravated assault or robbery at gunpoint to prosecute.

So, near as I can tell, about 60% of the US prison population is in there for non-violent "offenses." Just another day in "The Land of the Free."

Update 2: It occurs to me that at a number of guns in the US estimated at 300-330 million, that's a gun for every man, woman, child and infant. Tell me when that sort of statistic has ever been true in the history of mankind. And we have the lowest violent crime we've ever known of. Kinda tears it: gun control people of every conceivable stripe are every conceivable color of Fucktarded. I wasn't going to do this, but, my arsenal:

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One handed handgun practice (yes, I know it's a hostage target...two heads are better than one, economically).

Why You Should Focus On Gaining Understanding, Not Knowledge; Honesty, Not Truth

First, juxtapose the two concepts: knowledge; understanding. Chew on it for a bit. What's similar? How are they differentiated?

Here's a second bit of homework. Juxtapose truth and honesty.

...

Done yet? Don't continue unless you've given your best at distinguishing each set.

Alright, ready? Understanding subsumes knowledge (or makes of them anti-knowledge), and honesty subsumes truths (or renders them half). In other words, if you strive for honest understanding, knowledge and truth are just part of your dirty-face, ugly stepchildren (sometimes they're good, sometimes bad). Accounted for.

Why make a distinction? Simply, because knowledge and truth can be easily taken out of context and manipulated for gain; understanding and honesty cannot.

It's actually pretty simple. Let's take the former set, first. Let's do a trial setting.

"The" facts:

  1. John Doe killed 8 people.
  2. John Doe premeditated the killings.
  3. He devised a plan, executed it, and killed them.

The above is 100% truthful; meaning, no lie is being told—and this is precisely how the legal profession works to its own gain. If—given powers that be: political environment, public opinion, or how Fox News or CNN pundits judge ratings potential—this could be the only facts the jury sees, you have a certain conviction. If you think that's far fetched, look into the innocence project. Here's a purported truth: if you're innocent, you have nothing to worry about. But it's a dishonest statement.

In voire dire now, it's a clandestine fight between prosecution and defense to sneak in jurors who will be truthful in terms of what they're fed, but dishonest in terms of demanding full context and accounting (both sides want dishonest, malleable jurors in many cases). It's a fight to get "their best" past the judge...and perfunctory gift cards.

It's also a fight on the part of the prosecution to weed out anyone who won't follow the judge's instructions as to application of law (jury nullification). This is the game of criminal prosecution. It's a match over who can get the most loyal folks willing to look only at a given set of truths. Neither side wants honest jurors. They get them anyway, since we're still left with the human condition, and conscience is a crazy evolutionary adaptation that has caused lots of people to be ultimately unsatisfied with packages of truth handed down from professional predators. In other terms, the State is always in battle against evolved human conscience.

So, via a process of jurisprudence—some of which involves motions and objections to allow or exclude convenient or inconvenient truths (depending on the flow of tidewaters)—some defendants—often turning on skin pigment—don't get other truths admitted: such that dishonest people sitting on a jury can just do their jobs, civil duty, or whatever excuse they can muster for being dishonest and inhumane.

  1. The setting was WWI, 1945, Allied invasion of Germany.
  2. John Doe was a regular solder, found himself separated from the rest of his unit, who were pinned down in a ravine by German gunfire.
  3. John planned and executed, surreptitiously flanking those German gunmen, killing them from behind, saving his entire platoon.

It's just an object lesson and you could construct it in any way you like. In this case, everyone understands that John Doe is a hero in the context of the time (he was a WASP, too), not a premeditated murderer.

Hey, how about a bunch of SWAT raiding a house of colored people who like to grow herbs, smoke them, engage in trade for what they don't use themselves? Eh?

How about when a baby gets a shock genade in his crib?

None of that ever faces honest justice, either way. But there will be no lies told, either way.

...Knowledge is touted. Understanding is not.

Knowledge is to understanding what truth is to honesty. Or, knowledge is to truth what understanding is to honesty.

Think hard.

Update. Afterthought, but what if Richard is a friend of a Japanese philosopher who got only the Eastern way, but educated himself more widely? He knows Ayn Rand (with significant respect) more than you do. All the Greeks, too. He integrates; i.e., honest man.

We had a mutual friend that influenced both of us, now deceased.