On Vitamins and Minerals

Pop music is aspirin and the blues are vitamins.
– Peter Tork

What could be more interesting than learning about vitamins and minerals. Chris Masterjohn is an expert resource to help understand  the role they play in your health. He offers a tool to identify and correct nutritional imbalances, as well as other informational resources through his website and blog. One of these resources is an email series designed as a 101 on vitamins and minerals. Its excellent and I copy his email summaries below. (more…)

On Populism

“They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side, but no matter which set of waiters bring you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street Kitchen.”

Huey Long (1932)

Its hard to miss the rise in populism – examples on the right include Trump in America, Party for Freedom (PVV) in Netherlands, Freedom Party (FPÖ) in Austria, on the left Podemos in Spain, Five Star Movement in Italy. But populism isn’t something we’re familiar with or understand well, because it was last common in the 1930s. What is populism exactly, and what does history teach us? In an excellent paper, Ray Dalio from Bridgewater Associates and Economic Principles explains what populism is, and gives case studies in a dozen odd populist movements from the last century. (more…)

On Skincare

“Beauty is only skin deep.”
Sir Thomas Overbury (1613)

Its fair to say I’ve never bothered with skincare besides sunscreen when I go paddling. My wife tells me I have a nice weather-beaten look that identifies me well with my waterman crowd. Never too old to learn new tricks, I listened to a Peter Attia podcast with guest Brett Kotlus , a plastic surgeon, who makes a few simple suggestions for skincare I’m trying out:

  1. Protect your skin from the sun
  2. Retinoic acid for skin protection and maintenance
  3. Vitamin C to reverse sun damage

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Why I Admire Mandela

“Goodness, armed with power, is corrupted; and pure love without power is destroyed.”

Reinhold Niebuhr

Mandela was not a passivist. In 1955 Nelson Mandela reversed his position on non-violent protest and concluded that violent action would be necessary to end apartheid and white minority rule. This lead him to found Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC and to lead the armed resistance. He was ultimately arrested in 1962 and convicted and jailed in 1964. Some people criticize him for embracing the armed struggle, but it was a realistic response to a situation where the white minority government used the power of the state to maintain their entrenched interests. (more…)

On Science, Religion and Naturalism

I have atheist friends who share posts on Facebook that poke fun at religion and take a dig at believers like me. Like this – Lord knows, Christians need a sense of humor these days, right?  They say belief in a God was understandable back before we knew how the world really worked. Unable to explain the world around us we’d attribute cause to an imagined deity. Afraid of life’s random cruelty we’d take comfort in an afterlife. Then came enlightenment, science the accepted method for investigating and understanding the physical world, and religion a less valid way of thinking. We are rational and skeptical and we should, they argue, reject a worldview incompatible with science. Science and religion conflict.

Alvin Plantinga, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Notre Dame, challenges this post-modern narrative in his book Where the Conflict Really Lies.

‘My overall claim in this book: there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism.

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On Bullshit

One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit
– Harry G. Frankfurt

[Update: Sadly, labelling Trump’s lies as bullshit is too kind. Its more insidious. He’s a populist with authoritarian tendencies who lies in an ongoing and cynical fashion. Its more than bullshit, its propaganda.]

Donald Trump has the rational world equal parts baffled and dismayed (dear God I hope he doesn’t win the election). One reason is that he simply talks nonsense. He makes claims that are patently false and then doubles down defending them. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about yet believes it true because he said it. Kindly put, he is full of it. (more…)

On Life at the End

“To this he must come pure, at peace, ready to depart, in unforced harmony with his fate.”
Marcus Aurelius

As my parents approach their 7th decade I’m more aware of their advancing age. The awareness came quietly, unwelcome, like shadows at the periphery of my vision. My Dad doesn’t do the back-to-back golf days he used to and my Mom’s knee prevents her walking too far. They’re reluctant to travel, and I live half the world away.

Athul Gawade, in this excellent book Being Mortal, offers a framework to think about advancing age and what matters in the end. A practicing physician, he explores how modern medicine steps in as our bodies being to fail, but ultimately fails to offer us a good life at the very end.

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