Saturday, April 28, 2012

"The Gods of the Copybook Headings"

The "copybook headings" to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students' special notebook pages, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page. (From Wikipedia.)

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Rudyard Kipling

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are Fevers Paleo?

Most definitely yes.

Fever is one of the body's self-defense mechanisms. Since many pathogens can only exist in narrow temperature ranges, the body attempts to raise its temperature above that range, and bake them out. As Wikipedia explains:

There are arguments for and against the usefulness of fever, and the issue is controversial.[22][23] There are studies using warm-blooded vertebrates[24] and humans[25] in vivo, with some suggesting that they recover more rapidly from infections or critical illness due to fever. A Finnish study suggested reduced mortality in bacterial infections when fever was present.[26]

In theory, fever can aid in host defense.[22] There are certainly some important immunological reactions that are sped up by temperature, and some pathogens with strict temperature preferences could be hindered.[27] Fever in children is believed to train the immune system and prevent asthma.[28] White blood cells also rapidly proliferate due to the suitable environment and can also help fight off the harmful pathogens and microbes that invaded the body.[citation needed]

Research[29] has demonstrated that fever assists the healing process in several important ways:

  • Increased mobility of leukocytes
  • Enhanced leukocytes phagocytosis
  • Endotoxin effects decreased
  • Increased proliferation of T cells[30]
  • As we learned with barefoot running, the body doesn't evolve mechanisms for no reason. Evolution is efficient. And just as hindering your Achilles' tendon's proper function with a block of foam under your heel is unlikely to improve your running performance, so too is it unlikely that interfering with your body's immune system is likely to improve its function.

    "Many parents experience fear and anxiety when their child comes down with a fever, unaware that fever is an ancient, often beneficial, response to infection. The fever response is conserved across all mammals and many vertebrate classes. (Even reptiles and other cold-blooded animals fare better against infection when they develop fever by soaking up the sun's heat. [See P.P.S. below]) Among other potential adaptive benefits, a higher temperature can inhibit the growth of bacterial strains that lack sophisticated mechanisms for coping with heat shock...."
    (That paper is fascinating: you can apparently induce a fever in a mouse by introducing "bacterial endotoxins". In other words, upon detecting the signs of bacteria, the body starts heating up.)

    However, fevers are unpleasant, and some of the effects of fever, like febrile seizures, can be alarming. For the most part, however, my philosophy is to let them run. I've been through some pretty unpleasant illnesses that gave me high, multi-day fevers, and I just let 'em rip. Often I'll wear a hat just to help my body bake the little pathogens out. Happily, since adopting a paleo diet, this is necessary much less often.

    The medical profession, despite knowing intellectually that fevers are almost always harmless if not beneficial, tosses out immune-supression pills at the drop of a hat. I found the following paper:
    "Fever Phobia Revisited: Have Parental Misconceptions About Fever Changed in 20 Years?

    "Fever is one of the most common reasons that parents seek medical attention for their children. Parental concerns arise in part because of the belief that fever is a disease rather than a symptom or sign of illness. Twenty years ago, Barton Schmitt, MD, found that parents had numerous misconceptions about fever. These unrealistic concerns were termed “fever phobia.”...

    "...Forty-six percent of caregivers listed doctors as their primary resource for information about fever. Caregivers who stated that they were very worried about fever were more likely in the past to have had a child who was evaluated for a fever, to have had blood work performed on their child during a febrile illness, and to have perceived their doctors to be very worried about fever...."
    So people are scared of fevers because their doctors are scaring them. That's logical, at least, even if it's incorrect. Amusingly, the doctors are the ones blaming the patients they've scared for being scared. The paper winds up with:
    "...Fever phobia persists. Pediatric health care providers have a unique opportunity to make an impact on parental understanding of fever and its role in illness...."
    That's a polite way of saying: Pediatricians, stop scaring your patients' parents about fevers. Convey correct information.

    And yet even fever-friendly pediatricians dose kids with anti-pyretics... Despite studies like this:
    "The effect of antipyretic therapy upon outcomes in critically ill patients: a randomized, prospective study."

    BACKGROUND: Despite the large body of evidence suggesting a beneficial role of fever in the host response, antipyretic therapy is commonly employed for febrile critically ill patients. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of antipyretic therapy strategies on the outcomes of critically ill patients.

    METHODS: Patients admitted to the Trauma Intensive Care Unit over a nine-month period were eligible for inclusion, except those with traumatic brain injury. Patients were randomized on day three of the ICU stay into aggressive or permissive groups. The aggressive group received acetaminophen 650 mg every 6 h for temperature of >38.5 degrees C and a cooling blanket was added for temperature of >39.5 degrees C. The permissive group received no treatment for temperature of >38.5 degrees C, but instead had treatment initiated at temperature of >40 degrees C, at which time acetaminophen and cooling blankets were used until temperature was <40 and="" br="" c.="" complications="" daily="" degrees="" demographics="" dysfunction="" infections="" inflammatory="" multiple="" organ="" patient="" recorded.="" response="" scores="" syndrome="" systemic="" temperatures="" were="">
    RESULTS: Between December, 2002 and September, 2003, 572 patients were screened, of whom 82 met criteria for enrollment. Forty-four patients were randomized to the aggressive group and 38 patients were randomized to the permissive group for a total of 961 and 751 ICU days, respectively. There were 131 infections in the aggressive group and 85 infections in the permissive group (4 +/- 6 vs. 3 +/- 2 infections per patient, p = 0.26). There were seven deaths in the aggressive group and only one death in the permissive group (p = 0.06, Fisher Exact Test). The study was stopped after the first interim analysis due to the mortality difference, related to the issues of waiver of consent and the mandate for minimal risk.

    CONCLUSIONS: Aggressively treating fever in critically ill patients may lead to a higher mortality rate.
    I think it's safe to say that if you expire due to an infection succeeding because your doctor has disabled part of your immune response, you've suffered from a Disease of Civilization.

    (Also from that Wikipedia link above:
    "Hyperpyrexia is a fever with an extreme elevation of body temperature greater than or equal to 41.5 °C (106.7 °F).[14] Such a high temperature is considered a medical emergency as it may indicate a serious underlying condition or lead to significant side effects."
    If you were wondering when you should start worrying about a fever...)

    P.S. After reading this, my wife wrote:
    "So the test was stopped because of the mortality rate, yet hospitals & Dr.s continue to practice the aggressive treatment?"
    Yeah, pretty much. Here's an article on treating fever, and the notion of letting the fever run its course to let the body heal itself isn't even mentioned as an option, nor is the fact that the fever is part of the body's defense protocol. The author:
    " a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the [sic] MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications."
    Sadly, medical professionals prescribing courses of action that have no support in, or are contradicted by, the scientific literature is par for the course.

    He doesn't look feverish...
    P.P.S. This is a cool link, expanding how even cold-blooded animals that can't control their body temperature well benefit from fever:
    "...In a dramatic demonstration of fever's benefits, researcher Matthew Kluger infected desert iguanas with bacteria.

    "Because these lizards are cold-blooded, they could only warm their bodies by seeking outside heat — in this case, sunlamps. All except one of 13 iguanas sought the warmth to raise their temperatures, and those 12 survived; the other one died.

    After that, Kluger injected 12 other iguanas with live bacteria, and also gave them a fever-fighting drug. Five of them failed to develop a fever, and died as a result. The other seven, which somehow became feverish despite the drug, survived.

    Despite experiments like this, scientists haven't yet answered all their questions about this common and ancient body symptom."
    So if your doctor suggests you take medicine to lower your fever, you should ask him whether he wants you to get well or not.

    P.S. A follow-up of sorts: Fevers and Cancer.

    P.P.S. 2020:
    "In animal models, treatment with antipyretics for influenza infection increases the risk of mortality. There are no randomized placebo-controlled trials of antipyretic use in influenza infection in humans that reported data on mortality and a paucity of clinical data by which to assess their efficacy."
    "The effect on mortality of antipyretics in the treatment of influenza infection: systematic review and meta-analyis"

    Leatherman's Loop Race Dedicated To Caballo Blanco

    This is cool.

    Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco) was the guest of honor at this race last year, and I got to meet and speak to him, and to run the race with him. (He was a lot faster than I.) A very gentlemanly individual, who is missed.

    "Human Feet Originally Used For Walking, Anthropologists Report"

    They've got some interesting research on the brain, as well.

    Thursday, April 26, 2012

    Follow-up To "America Is Fat"

    I found this article via Instapundit:
    "The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle.

    "Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”

    "Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive....

    "...Where it crosses the line, Burill said, is when a blogger “advertises himself as an expert” and “takes information from someone such that he’s performing some sort of assessment and then giving it back with some sort of plan or diet.”

    "...Cooksey posts the following disclaimer at the bottom of every page on his website:

    “I am not a doctor, dietitian, nor nutritionist … in fact I have no medical training of any kind.”

    "In fact, he brags about his lack of formal training throughout his blog....

    "...“If that language appeared in a book or a magazine article, do you think the board would complain?” McCullagh asked. “How about if someone said that to a friend over dinner at a restaurant? Of course not. But because it's on the Web, they seem to think that the First Amendment no longer applies.”...
    The point of Cooksey's blog, of course, is that the approach to treating diabetes promoted by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition makes the disease worse. They certainly can't have anyone pointing that out...

    Clearly he shouldn't be allowed to speak
    But what this is really about, of course, is protecting dieticians' incomes. Most licensing schemes are, after all. Under the definition listed in the article, any parent would be in violation of the law. No doubt that's next.

    Before and after pictures of Steve in the original post. Instapundit (who is really Glenn Reynolds, a leading authority on constitutional law; and who's coming around on this dietary stuff...) sums it up well in the title of his post: "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH NORTH CAROLINA?"

    Of course the sadly funny part of this whole thing is this:
    "The mission of the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of North Carolina from harmful nutrition practice by providing for the licensure and regulation of persons engaged in the practice of dietetics/nutrition and by establishing educational standards for those persons."
    Sounds like they should fulfill their mission and shut themselves down.

    Steve's gotten the attention of the legal community:
    "Because he answered readers’ questions and recommended the paleo diet the Board determined he was “practicing nutrition” without a state license, despite the existence of disclaimers on every page."
    The Volokh Conspiracy is the foremost legal blog I'm aware of.

    P.S. A friend of mine pointed me to this, which I'll quote in full:
    "Recent Press Inquiry

    "The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition has a duty to investigate all complaints that it receives. On January 13, 2012 a written complaint was submitted to the NCBDN alleging that Steve Cooksey was providing nutrition care services in North Carolina without a license. Mr. Cooksey is not a licensed dietitian/nutritionist in the state of North Carolina. On January 18, 2012 the NCBDN contacted Mr. Cooksey to inform him of the complaint and to seek further information. That same day, Mr. Cooksey made the disclaimer on his blog more prominent and took down his diabetes support services, for which he was charging a fee. After further review, on April 9, 2012 Mr. Cooksey was sent a certified letter, stating that the NCBDN was satisfied that he had come into substantial compliance with the requirements of the law and that the NCBDN was closing the complaint it received against him. Mr. Cooksey signed for this letter. Currently, there is no active complaint or action against Mr. Cooksey on file with the NCBDN."
    This is a reasonable conclusion under the law as it stands. However, it's a shame that Steve can't help diabetics in the state of North Carolina. Hopefully this isn't the end...

    Aerobic Fitness And Your Brain

    Get off your can and start running:
    "There's also epidemiological evidence to back it up: for example, this massive Swedish study of 1.2 million men found that cardiovascular fitness at age 18 predicted cognitive performance and subsequent educational attainment. On the other hand, there was no correlation between muscular strength and cognitive performance. And it's not just a case of smart kids being more likely to to aerobic exercise; they also found that the amount of improvement in cardiovascular fitness between ages 15 and 18 predicted cognitive performance. In other words, it's not just that fit people are smart (correlation); it's also that getting fitter makes you smarter."
    P.S. Or you can lift weights... ;)

    Feds Trying To Kill The Family Farm

    Read the whole thing:
    "Now comes the Department of Labor with proposed new regs forbidding farm children to do chores on their own farms. Seriously.

    "All my farm kid friends could drive cars by 5, tractors by 7 or 8 and big machinery by junior high. They could milk cows by hand or machine, and build a barn in a long weekend. They were more creative, more confident, more disciplined than us lazy slacker town kids who didn’t know how to raise a cow up from a baby cow (called a “calf” in farm talk).
    Family farms depend on their kids for cheap labor. Take that labor away, and you put the few remaining family farms out of business. The kids benefit as well, as one can see here, and they also have lower rates of the Diseases of Civilization, like asthma and allergies.

    So of course the Feds want to put a stop to it. The last thing in the world they want to see is capable, independent citizens. That's a threat.

    "Their desire to control every aspect of your and your children’s lives is a given."
    Exactly. It's all about control.

    Most of the food my family eats comes from local family farms. I don't really appreciate the government trying to put them out of business.

    We're well on the way to becoming a totalitarian state. Time to start yelling stop, and taking action.
    "If Americans don’t fight THIS, if we don’t draw a line in the sand HERE, then it’s over. We should send the Statue of Liberty back to France. In her place, erect a giant Mary Poppins statue, umbrella and all, squatting in Nanny Bloomberg’s harbor. No more huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Yearning leads to striving and we can’t have that because it leads to disparate outcomes; huddling is bad for your posture; and breathing — free or otherwise — produces carbon dioxide which will harm Gaia.

    P.S. I just saw on Drudge (4 hours after posting this) that the Feds have abandoned this effort (for the time being, no doubt). I would link to the AP news story, but in trying to read it myself I was attacked with Malware. So don't go visit the AP site! P.P.S. Here's an apparently-safe update from The Hill.

    Multiple Sclerosis And The Paleo Diet

    I just went looking for this video here on my blog, and was suprised to discover that it's not here; I never posted it. Whoops.

    So, to rectify that, here it is:

    The video is a talk by Dr. Terry Wahls. Dr. Wahls was suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune condition of unknown cause and with no known cure. Dr. Wahls, after trying all the best medical care, wound up consigned to a wheelchair. Now she enjoys riding bicycles and horses. Yes, I gave this away in the title to this post, but do watch the video, it's one of the most remarkable things I've ever seen.

    Here's Dr. Wahls' bio, and a published account of her case:
    "Neuromuscular electrical stimulation [NMES] and dietary interventions to reduce oxidative stress in a secondary progressive multiple sclerosis patient leads to marked gains in function: a case report.

    "Within 2 weeks of initiating dietary interventions, the patient reported singing for the first time in 6 months. The therapist noted an increased rate of improvements in her strength and endurance, including muscles groups not receiving electrotherapy. The number of minutes and number of muscle groups were increased gradually. Four months following initiation of NMES the patient routinely did 30 minutes of NMES while completing her home exercise program each day and another 4 to 5 hours of NMES at much lower intensity through out the day while working or at home. Five months following initiation of NMES the patient stopped using her scooter, and 9 months after initiation of NMES the patient was able to bicycle 8 miles, including hills. One year following initiation of NMES and nutritional interventions the patient routinely rode her bicycle five miles to work.

    "The NARCOMS quality of life responses indicated gradual worsening of MS-related symptoms and disability scale prior to the intervention. Six weeks following initiation of NMES, improvement in overall symptoms and decreased fatigue were reported...."

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    "Merck’s Vioxx and the American Death Rate"

    "...We find the largest rise in American mortality rates occurred in 1999, the year Vioxx was introduced, while the largest drop occurred in 2004, the year it was withdrawn. Vioxx was almost entirely marketed to the elderly, and these substantial changes in national death-rate were completely concentrated within the 65-plus population. The FDA studies had proven that use of Vioxx led to deaths from cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, and these were exactly the factors driving the changes in national mortality rates...."
    Seth sums it up:
    "...This illustrates how Merck company executives got away with mass murder on a scale that the Khmer Rouge would be proud of. It also illustrates why I find “evidence-based medicine” as currently practiced so awful. Evidence-based medicine tells doctors to be evidence snobs. As I showed in my Boing Boing article about tonsillectomies, it causes them to ignore evidence of harm — such as heart attacks and strokes caused by Vioxx — because the first evidence of harm does not come from randomized controlled studies, the only evidence they accept. It delays the detection of monumental tragedies like this one...."
    Doctors don't understand the methods of science, and it's not a good thing.

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Cancer Research: Forty Years Down The Drain

    "...Cancer experts seeking to solve the problem have found that a fifth to a third or more of cancer cell lines tested were mistakenly identified—with researchers unwittingly studying the wrong cancers, slowing progress toward new treatments and wasting precious time and money.

    "In hundreds of documented cases that undermine a broad swath of research, cancer samples that were supposed to be one type of tumor have turned out to be another, through either careless laboratory handling, mislabeling or other mistakes....

    "...Nearly 40 years later, Dr. Masters, in a study of scientific papers published between 2000 and 2004, found nearly a 1,000 citations of the same contaminated cancer lines revealed in Dr. Gartler's 1966 findings, which have since been replicated many times using more advanced techniques. 'They are either crooks or stupid,' said Dr. Masters...."
    Why not both?

    Read the whole thing. Science is broken. It's a shame.

    Thanks to Seth.

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Caballo Blanco Memorial Fund

    I contributed.

    I had the chance to meet Micah in New Canaan, CT; and to run the Leatherman's Loop with him. He was fast! I'd love to run the Copper Canyon Ultra, sadly I'll have to do it without the founder.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Why Your Mitochondria Don't Electrocute You

    And other interesting tidbits. Exercise geeks, enjoy.

    This gets to the core of why Maffetone-style training is helpful. It trains your body to produce more power. Literally.

    "It's 'a free lunch that you're paid to eat,' in the words of Everett Shock."
    Thanks to Peter.

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Sneakers in Kenya

    Not many bare feet to be seen in this video from 2000 about the Kenyan running industry. The video's title? Born to Run - Kenya.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    "Celiac Disease: New Approaches to Therapy"

    In sum, there really aren't any:
    "Currently, adherence to a gluten-free diet is considered as the first line and indeed only therapy for coeliac disease, which has been proven to relieve the symptoms in most cases and effectively prevent potential complications. The availability of a readily applicable and safe therapy in the gluten-free diet has reduced the impetus for alternative therapies. However, the costly and restrictive aspect of complying with a life-long gluten-free regimen may have a significant adverse impact upon the quality of life of the patients. Human nature in dealing with temptation, motivation to resume regular diet especially with milder disease, and the hidden gluten in the diet are the main issues. In many cases, what should be naturally considered as gluten-free foods are widely contaminated with wheat. Moreover, even with achieving and maintaining a truly gluten-free diet, especially in adults, there might be a lack of complete recovery in the intestine which may impact survival.
    Thus emphasizing the importance of avoiding wheat if you think you might be genetically susceptible. If you have immediate relatives who have it, you're susceptible. And going wheat-free isn't really that big a deal once you get used to it, although avoiding wheat requires vigilance.

    But it's better than the alternative.

    And all this holds if you're only "gluten sensitive", as well...

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Rest In Peace

    "Don't fight the trail. Take what it gives you ... Think easy, light, smooth and fast. You start with easy because if that's all you get, that's not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don't give a sh*t how high the hill is or how far you've got to go. When you've practiced that so long that you forget your'e practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won't have to worry about the last one — you get those three, and you'll be fast." — Micah True (aka Caballo Blanco)