Thursday, 22 December 2011

The DOMINIC System: Part Two

Once you have animated each playing card with a person and action according to the DOMINIC system (part one), you then need to think of a familiar journey.  You should identify 52 specific places along that journey where you will place each card/character each time you perform this trick.

The DOMINIC System: Part One

The DOMINIC system was devised by Dominic O'Brien.  It is not particularly unique but is an excellent system nonetheless.  First of all we need to encode the digits 0-9 with a letter (we will start off with the first ten cards of each suit and then move on to picture cards at the end):

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


I use Supradyn's 'Morning Energy Alarm Clock'.  It is a 'light' alarm clock, imitating sunrise.  You can set the sun to begin rising prior to your wake-up time, whereupon your phone gets increasingly brighter at reveille.  You can also set an audible alarm of birdsong.

I am a big fan of sounds from nature and sometimes listen to an MP3 of waves crashing on a beach (with seagulls circling overhead), to provide a degree of isolation at work when I need to concentrate.

For me 'natural sounds' seem to facilitate concentration in a non-distracting way, unlike songs (classical or otherwise).  Even something as relaxing and placid as Nick Drake will lead my mind to float off on to contemplation of his voice, guitar tuning, technique etc...

To this end The Guardian featured an article on a three year program of research by the University of Surrey in to the effects of birdsong on our creativity and on our sense of wellbeing,
  • "The study will examine the psychological impact of being exposed to birdsong, including whether it helps us relax, can assist our ability to complete tasks and even think creatively.

    Eleanor Ratcliffe, the researcher undertaking the study said while there was a growing body of environmental psychology looking at how the natural world affects people, there was still a lot to understand about the power of specific natural sounds."
For those who value wild places and the species that live there, it is time to give up grains, abandon veg*anism and more importantly, start eating indigenous meat.

Meat and Sex

In the great debate about whether man is primarily a meat eater or vegetarian we often lose sight of the subtler utility of animals.  I blogged previously about this in Waste Not, Want Not.  Forage for a plant and you have food.  Kill a bison and you have food, leather and hide for clothing, tendons for bow strings (and musical instruments), bones for handles and tools, and so forth.

In The Red Queen, Matt Ridley draws attention to the work of Kim Hill.  Firstly you might want to bone-up on sexual selection.  Natural selection is indeed powerful, but that is only half the story - or rather the impact of sexual selection is omitted in preference for the 'survival of the fittest' sound-bite we've ended up with.

Hill worked with the Ache people of Paraguay and found that meat was used a form of payment,
  • Ache men would donate any spare meat they had to women they wanted to have sex with.  They were not doing so in the hope of helping to feed children they had already fathered but as a direct payment for an affair.  It was not easy to discover.  Hill found that he was gradually forced to drop questions about adultery from his studies because the Ache, under missionary influence, became increasingly squeamish about discussing the subject.
For a hunter-gatherer society we shouldn't underestimate the pressure to obtain meat, not just from a survival perspective, but also as a means to securing a mate.  Powerful drivers are at work here that may not leave much archaeological evidence.

As I said before, this is a great book!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Division of Labour

My earliest posts saw me romanticising about HGs navigating over wild terrain.  I'd learned to memorise a shuffled pack of cards (still an awesome trick, but one I've not practised for a while), using the 'Journey' method courtesy of Dominic O'Brien where each card position, 1-52, is assigned a position along a familiar route.  The two seemed to be related.

What got me was how easy this trick is - and why did it work so well when done under the framework of a journey?  Why was this geographic angle superior to a method based upon the senses?  It is known that extreme images/scenarios help memory recall as do smells and music, but a journey as outlined above, is by far the most practical approach.

In The Red Queen, Matt Ridley looks at the general differences between men and women when it comes to visuo-spatial tasks.  Putting aside the idea that men have generally superior visuo-spatial skills due to polygamy (a phenomena seen in some mice, so not without precedent), the work of Silverman and Eals suggest that our HG past has left indelible imprints upon the modern self due to a division of labour.  Whereas men looked for food sources that were 'mobile, distant and unpredictable', women foraged closer to home,
  • ...[Silverman and Eals] asked themselves: what special spatial skills would women gatherers need that men would not?  One thing they predicted was that women would need to notice things more- to spot roots, mushrooms, berries, plants - and would need to remember landmarks so as to know where to look.  So Silverman and Eals did a series of experiments that required students to memorise a picture full of objects and then recall them later, or to sit in a room for three minutes, and then recall what objects were where in the room (the students were told they were merely being asked to wait in the room until a different experiment was ready).  On every measure of object memory and location memory, the women students did sixty to seventy per cent better than the men.
Given the evolutionary drivers that must have shaped these behaviours the obvious question is how deep do these differences run physiologically?  I wonder if women would benefit more from a broadly vegetarian diet (still excluding NAD), with some supplemental meat, and men the contrary?  This is just speculation mind.  personally I am still meat-centric with a side order of veg and some starch.  I dial the starch up and down as required and with an eye on season.  If I feel I've put some weight (particularly over summer) I assume that I am doing things right!

Testosterone & The Immune System

I've come across a few interesting articles and papers on the compromise between testosterone and the immune system.  High T comes at a price.  A graphic example of this in the animal kingdom can be found in Matt Ridley's The Red Queen

The comb of a cockerel can be used to judge health by both a potential mate and by farmers.  The comb itself is an adornment, evolved through sexual selection, and so in many ways is a burden to survival:
  • [The] comb is red because of the carotenoidpigments in it...The peculiar thing about caretinoids is that birds and fish cannot synthesise them within their own tissues; they extract them from their food - from fruit or shellfish, or other plants and inverterbrates.  But their ability to extract caretinoids from their food and deliver it to their tissues is much affected by certain parasites.  A cockerel affected by the disease coccidiosis, for example, accumulates less carotenoid in his comb than a healthy cockerel - even when both animals have been fed equal quantities of carotenoid.  Nobody knows exactly why the parasites have this specific biochemical effect, but it seems to be unavoidable and it is therefore extremely useful to the female: the brightness of carotenoid-filled tissues is a visible sign of the levels of parasite infection....The size and brightness of such combs may be affected by parasites, but they are effected by hormones.  The higher the level testosterone in the blood of a cockerel, the bigger and brighter will be his comb and wattles.  The problem for the cockerel is that the higher his level of testosterone, the greater will be his parasite infestation.  The hormone itself seems to lower his resistance to parasites.  Once again nobody knows why, but cortisol, the 'stress' hormone that is released into the bloodstream during times of emotional crisis, also has a marked effect on the immune system.  A long study of cortisol levels in the children in the West Indies revealed that they are much more likely to catch an infection shortly after their cortisol levels have been high.  Cortisol and testosterone are both steroid hormones and they have a remarkably similar molecular structure: of the five biochemical steps needed to make cholesterol into either cortisol or testosterone, only the last two steps are differentThere seems to be something about steroid hormones that unavoidably depresses immune defenceThis immune effect of testosterone is the reason that men are more susceptible to infectious disease than women, a trend that occurs throughout the animal kingdom...It is as if male animals have a finite sum of energy, which they can spend on testosterone or immunity to disease, but not both at the same time.
Great book!

Sunday, 18 December 2011


I'd taken this photo back in November and an item on BBC news this morning reminded me of it which reported on the marketing 'food' to children online.  I say food, but I am not sure Krave meets the definition of anything but neo-poverty food.

I'm looking forward to marketing my own cereal called "Addykt" based upon a similar recipe.  Meantime:
  • crave (krv) v. craved, crav·ing, craves

    1. To have an intense desire for. See Synonyms at desire.
    2. To need urgently; require.
    3. To beg earnestly for; implore. See Synonyms at beg.
A massive social media campaign has been launched to back Krave.  You have to be 16 to sign up for Krave's newsletter and 17 to play their games on Facebook but lets not kid ourselves as to who will be buying this stuff - after all, it is not on a top shelf, nor does it bear any kind of age restriction on the packaging.  In fact I found it on a shelf easily accessible to a toddler and tucked in next to "children's" cereals.  I cannot think of a worse start to the day.

Follow this link to see the nutritional profile of Krave.  What I like about the dumb-ass nutritional information on the box is that it is based upon a 30g serving.  This is the intellectual equivalent of selling alcohol in smaller measures to alcoholics.

I'd like to see the modal demographic that buy this stuff.  Perhaps if we saw those folk on a billboard the penny would drop...

Baise moi.

(Find out how much energy there is in breakfast cereal with this experiment.)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Impromptu Workout

Warm Up (15 minutes)
Main (25 minutes).
1. Sprints (5 x sidewinders to straight sprint, 1 min rest btw)
2a. Snatch Grip Deadlift off a Deficit (5x5xBW)
2b. Chins (10, 10, 6, 6, 5)

The SGDLs and Chins were interleaved with one min rest between each exercise.

Wit & Wisdom

"With every 72 virgins they get in paradise, they get 72 mother-in-laws!"

Christopher Hitchens (1949 - 2011)

“The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Sugar Ages Skin Prematurely

Another study backing what ADV has mentioned some time ago, high concentrations of blood glucose make people look older according to New Scientist!
  • A SWEET tooth does more than pack on the pounds. It causes your skin to age prematurely, making you look older than you really are. But how much older?

    A team led by Diana van Heemst at Leiden University in the Netherlands divided 569 healthy volunteers into three groups according to whether they had low, medium or high concentrations of blood glucose after a meal. They also studied 33 people with diabetes who had even higher blood glucose levels.

    Sixty independent assessors were then asked to view pictures of the volunteers and rate how old each looked. The results show that high blood sugar levels made people look older, even when other factors affecting appearance were accounted for, such as actual age, smoking and a history of sunbathing.

    The largest gap in perceived age was one year seven months, between the lowest glucose group and the diabetics, from an average of 59.6 years old to 61.2 years. But even among those without diabetes, there was a one-year gap between the lowest and highest glucose groups. Overall, there was a five-month hike in perceived age for every 0.18 gram increase in glucose per litre of blood.
The research paper can be found here.

    Wednesday, 14 December 2011

    Time Flies

    We spent this evening at a carol service in aid of a local farm trust.  The farm is a true working farm and offers residential and day visits to kids from inner-city infant schools (aged around 4-6).

    The kids are bussed out to the farm and spend a day or more working on the farm collecting eggs, watching the lambing/calving, or if it is snowy, simply sledging down the hills.  It gives them an escape from city living and offers them a chance to see sights, sounds and smells that would otherwise go unknown to them, and a chance to engage with real food.

    A representative from one of these infant schools got up to address the audience and offer thanks for our support,
    • "We've been running visits from our school since the early 1980's and the pupils and ex-pupils always reflect fondly on their time at the farm including those that are now parents and grandparents....."

    Drew Bezanson

    We like wild stuff on NM.  In this video Drew Bezanson follows the 'go big or go home' mantra and lays down some 'unbelievable tekkers' particularly at the 3:06 mark.

    Drew Bezanson from Justen Soule on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, 7 December 2011

    Short walk 'halves' Chocolate Consumption

    Hmm!  Not sure how this ties in with the hormonal effect of exercise and food reward:
    The abstract is here:
    • Workplace snacking can contribute to obesity. Exercise reduces chocolate cravings but effects on chocolate consumption are unknown. This study investigated the effect of brief exercise on ad libitum consumption during breaks in a computerised task. Seventy-eight regular chocolate eaters, age: 24.90 ± 8.15 years, BMI: 23.56 ± 3.78 kg/m2 abstained for 2 days. They were randomly assigned to one of four conditions, in a 2 × 2 factorial design, involving either a 15 min brisk walk or quiet rest, and then computerised Stroop tasks with low or high demanding conditions, in three 180 s blocks with a 90 s interval. Throughout, a pre-weighed bowl of chocolates was available for ad libitum eating. A two-way ANOVA revealed no interaction effect of exercise and stress on total chocolate consumption, or main effect of stress, but a main effect of exercise [F(1, 74) = 7.12, p < .01]. Mean (SD) chocolate consumption was less (t(73.5) = 2.69, 95% CI for difference 3.4–22.9, ES = 0.61) for the exercise (15.6 g) than control (28.8 g) group. Exercise also increased affective activation, but there was no mediating effect of change in affect on chocolate consumption. A brief walk may help to reduce ad libitum snacking in regular chocolate eaters.
    • ► Exercise almost halved ad libitum chocolate consumption among regular chocolate eaters, while performing a computerised task.
    • ► The level of task demand had little influence on the results.
    • ► Exercise also increased level of affective activation.
    • ► Changes in affective activation did not mediate the effects of exercise on chocolate consumption.

    Tuesday, 6 December 2011

    The Food Hospital: Interesting....

    Here is the rundown of this week's episode of TFH:
    • This week The Food Hospital welcomes patients with conditions from the common to the bizarre. Anne is a menopausal woman with hot flushes that are affecting both her daily life and her self confidence. Teenager Taigh seems to be a healthy fitness instructor but is terrified of eating vegetables. A photographer, Kate, also comes to The Food Hospital with a disabling disease that food may in fact be causing, and a pair of body builders with incredible appetites find out whether their diets really are healthy. Also Dr Pixie McKenna investigates how reliable DIY food intolerance tests actually are and the results of the Insomnia Big Food Trial are revealed.

    Saturday, 3 December 2011

    Why Not Eat Insects?

    Entomophagists rejoice.  Further to the topic of bug-consumption I talked about here, I offer this little gem, "Why Not Eat Insects?" by Vincent Holt and dated 1885! 
    • "Beginning with the earliest rimes, one can produce examples of insect-eating at every period down to our own age. Speaking to the people of Israel, at Lev. xi. 22, Moses directly encourages them to eat clean-feeding insects: "These ye may eat, the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind." Again, John the Baptist is recorded to have lived in the desert upon locusts and wild honey. Some critics, however, apparently considering locusts unnatural food, and ignorant of how they are relished in the East, have gone out of their way to produce long arguments to prove that the word which has been translated "locusts" ought to have been rendered as the name of a species of cassia-pod. This is not so. Almost every traveller of note has given us an account of how the Eastern nations enjoy these insects. Pliny records the fact that in his day they were much eaten by the Parthians. Herodotus describes the mode adopted by the Nasamones of powdering locusts for the purpose of baking them into cakes.

      The Hottentots, according to Sparrman, welcome the locusts as a godsend, although the whole country is devastated, for it is literally a case of the biter bit; and these locust-eaters grow round and fat from the incredible quantities they devour of their nutritious and appetizing persecutors. Cooked in many and various ways, locusts are eaten in the Crimea, Arabia, Persia, Madagascar, Africa, and India. Sometimes they are merely fried, their legs and wings plucked off, and the bodies eaten, flavoured with pepper and salt. At others they are powdered and baked into cakes; or, again, they are boiled, turning red, like lobsters, in the process. In India, like every other article of food, they are curried. (It has been cleverly suggested by Simmonds, in his "Curiosities of Food," that their very name, Gryllus, is in itself an invitation to cook them.) In Arabia, Persia, and parts of Africa there are regular locust shops where they are exposed for sale; and among the Moors they are highly valued, appearing in the menu at the best tables. Their method of cooking is to pluck off the head, wings, and legs, boil for half an hour, flavour with pepper and salt, and fry in butter. As I can myself bear witness, of which more hereafter, this recipe applied to our English grasshoppers renders that despised insect a truly tasty morsel. From the time of Homer, the Cicadae formed the. theme of every Greek poet, in regard to both tunefulness and delicate flavour. Aristotle tells us that the most polished of the Greeks enjoyed them, considering the pupae, or chrysalids, the greatest tid-bits, and after them the females heavy with their burden of eggs. Why this taste should have died out in modern Greece one cannot tell, for it is much more wholesome than many which have been assiduously perpetuated. Cicadae are eaten at the present day by the American Indians and by the natives of Australia.

      According to Pliny, the Roman epicures were in the habit of fattening for the table the larvae of the Cossus, with flour and wine. It is somewhat doubtful as to the exact identity of the insect represented by the word Cossus; but it was probably the large grub of the Stag Beetle {Lucanus cervins) or a large Longicorn Beetle {Prionus corioranus). The epicure of Rome was most dainty and discriminating in his food. Why, then, should we turn up our noses at what he considered as a great delicacy?
      Aelian tells us that in his time an Indian king served up, for his Greek guests, as dessert, a dish of roasted grubs, extracted from some tree or plant, which were considered by the natives a great treat. There is very little doubt that these were the larvae of the palm weevil (Calandra palmarum), huge grubs as large as a man's thumb, which are, at the present day, extracted from the palm trees and eaten with great relish by the negroes in the West Indies under the name of Grugru. Kirby in his "Entomology" says that a certain Sir John La Forey, who was somewhat an epicure, was extremely partial to this grub when properly cooked.

      The family of Longicorn Beetles affords a rich store of luscious larvae, which are sought and eaten by the inhabitants of most countries where they are to be found in any abundance. As I mentioned before, it is considered by some to have been a member of this family {Prionus corioranus) that was fed up by the Romans for the table with all the care that is nowadays bestowed upon a prize pig. One of this tribe is also mentioned by Madame Merian as being eaten by both the native and white inhabitants of Surinam, who serve them up nicely roasted after being emptied and washed. In St. Pierre's voyages also, this, or some similar insect, is mentioned, under the name of the Moutac grub, as being eaten by whites and natives alike. In Java there is a species of Cockchafer (Melolontha hypoleuca) to which Wiedemann has drawn attention, as forming food for the inhabitants. The last instance from among the Coleoptera I will bring forward is the well-known meal worm, the larvae of a small beetle (Tenebrio), which Turkish women eat in large quantities for the purpose of acquiring that plumpness of form their lords so much admire. The Chinese, making use of "the worm, a thing that crept on the bare earth, then wrought a tomb and slept" as food, eat the chrysalids of the silkworms after the silk has been wound from off the cocoons. They fry them in butter or lard, add yolk of eggs, and season with pepper, salt, and vinegar. A certain Mr. Favand, a Chinese missionary, says that he found this food refreshing and strengthening. Dr. Darwin, also, in his "Phytologia," mentions this dish, and says that a white earth grub and the larvae- of the sphinx moths are also eaten, which latter he tried, and found to be delicious. The Hottentots eat caterpillars, both cooked and raw, collecting and carrying them in large calabashes to their homes, where they fry them in iron pots over a gentle fire, stirring them about the while. They eat them, cooked thus, in handfuls, without any flavouring or sauce. A traveller who on several occasions tried this dish, tells us that he thought it delicate, nourishing, and wholesome, resembling in taste sugared cream or sweet almond paste."
    Looks like Banting wasn't the only one holding a piece of the paleo jigsaw back in the 1800s.

    Friday, 2 December 2011

    Volume Week 6 W/O3

    The last formal workout of 2011. I will engage in a few periodic workouts over December, but it pretty much ends here until January 2012.

    I need to look back on my numbers for the year.  I don't want to come over all 'Quantified Self' - but it is important to review en route to your goals.  All the measurement will end once an OAC is achieved (off both arms), but for now I need to map the journey.  (As for 'Quantified Self', I recommend you read this article from The Guardian.)

    Warm Up (15 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1a. Deadlift (3x150, 4x135)
    1b. OACs (4X55kg, 5X50, 2-arm 10xBW with Straight-Leg Leg-Lift)
    2. Backbridge, Wall Walk (15s, 2)
    3. 321 (8L, 8L, 8M)

    Thursday, 1 December 2011

    The Food Hospital: A Horse by Any Other Name

    I have just watched this weeks' Food Hospital:
    • In the fifth week of The Food Hospital GP Gio Miletto, Dietitian Lucy Jones and Gastric Consultant Shaw Somers meet Ellie who suffers from a rare and chronic odour disorder. A teenager, Toby, comes to The Food Hospital hoping to find a solution for his extreme eczema which sparks teasing at school. Michelle is a mother in excruciating pain due to gallstones which she says is more painful than child labour. The team also demonstrates an easy to make recipe for hungover heads. Dr Pixie McKenna investigates the health claims on packaging and reveals the results of the latest survey.
    Surprise, surprise, Shaw Somers recommended a NEOLITHIC DIET ("Huzzah!).   Yep, Somers recommended we eat as we did in the stone age in a bid to help deal with gallstones - and what is more there is evidence that this kind of diet can 'reduce risk of heart disease'!

    Let's back up a minute and reflect upon the main problem with this program.  As I have said a few times already, unhappy with entertaining the idea that some consumer items masquerading as food can lead to malady, TFH assume that pretty much everything sold to us as food IS food, and that people who are sick (sickness that could NOT possibly come from poor nutritional choices), can seek remedy in the medicinal qualities of food.  This is 'arse about face'.  It is not so much that 'real food' food is curing us, it is that much of what is sold to us as food is poisoning us.

    Now let's back up once more.  What is a horse?  Well, it is big and white/brown/black/grey, a bit bigger than cow-sized, has a leg in each corner and goes "neigh".  We know a horse when we see it.  But do we know a Neolithic Diet when we see it?
    Well TFH get something right.  A Neolithic Diet is low in processed foods.  So far so good.  But then the voice over goes on to say that the cause of gallstones is a diet "high in fat and cholesterol and low in fibre" and as part of the Neolithic/Caveman Diet Michelle should eat fresh foods including 'low fat dairy'.

    Noooooooooooo!  The stupid, make it stop!

    Needless to say after 8 weeks Michelle had only one episode of pain (at the outset of the diet), was 'less hungry all the time', and felt 'generally better'.  (Only an ultrasound could conclude if the gallstones had disappeared.)

    Just imagine what a REAL Caveman/Neolithic diet could do eh?

    Baise Moi!

    Tuesday, 29 November 2011

    Volume Week 6 W/O2

    Heavy legs and some pressing vertically.

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (20 minutes).
    1. Pistols (20kg assistance/64kg working weight: 8, 8, 8)
    2i. (Slow Lower) Dumbell Press (17.5kg x 2 x 8)
    2ii. HSPU (lowers)
    3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
    4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
    5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (12)

    Sunday, 27 November 2011

    Volume Week 6 W/O1

    A big storm blew through here last night.  This morning we have blue skies and a fresh breeze - just what you need for workout!

    Week six see me trying to push it, but this will be my last week on this particular cycle.  I know that training will be a bit disjointed during December, so things might get a but haphazard.  I will certainly take some time to simply rest up over the next month.

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1. Stairgators (1)
    2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
    3. MU to Ring Routine (4, 4, 4)
    4a. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
    4b. Planche Variations (20s, 20s, 20s)
    5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
    6. 321 (8L, 8L, 8M)

    Friday, 25 November 2011

    Krebs / Citric Acid Cycle

    Courtesy of KhanAcademy:

    Volume Week 5 W/O3

    Continuing with the DGSS idea, here are my alternatives:

    Warm Up (15 minutes)
    Main (25 minutes).
    1a. Snatch Grip Deadlift off a Deficit (5x5xBW)
    1b. Weighted Chins (3x6xBW+25kg - 1 min rest btw)
    2. Backbridge, Wall Walk (15s, 2)
    3. Headstand Reverse Leg Lift (5, 5, 5)
    4. 321 (x/8L, x/8L, x/8M)

    Neuron Transplant Cures Obesity

    From New Scientist: Neuron transplant in damaged brain fixes obesity (in mice),
    • Jeffrey Macklis at Harvard University and his colleagues took healthy neurons from mouse embryos that had been labelled with a green fluorescent protein. They used them to repair a brain circuit involved in the regulation of food intake and body weight in response to a hormone called leptin in mutant mice born with damage to that area, which become dangerously overweight as a result.

      The fluorescent neurons survived the transplant, integrated into the brain circuit, and differentiated into mature neurons that could communicate with existing neurons and respond to leptin, insulin and glucose – suggesting that they had repaired the damaged circuit. The treated obese mice went on to weigh 30 per cent less than their untreated counterparts.
    I'm not sure if 'conventional human obesity' results from damage to the brain circuit involved in the regulation of food intake, but interesting nonetheless.

    Tuesday, 22 November 2011

    Volume Week 5 W/O2

    Some more alternatives exercises for week five:

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (20 minutes).
    1. Seated Leg Press  (240 x 8, 8, 8)
    2. Handwalking (1, 1, 1)
    3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
    4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
    5. Wrist Push Ups (12)

    Sunday, 20 November 2011

    Volume Week 5 W/O1

    Different gear, still speeding! I am still trying to go max but am selecting some alternative exercises which tax same/similar muscles (although I am not really sure what my maxes will be for some of these new moves):

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1. Stairgators (1)
    2. Weighted Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
    3. Rope Climb (3, 3, 3)
    4a. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
    4b. Planche Variations (30s, 30s)
    5. Weighted Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
    6. Hangboarding (10 min Intermediate)

    Friday, 18 November 2011

    Avoid Aging

    Aubrey de Grey has been on the scene for a while.  I first came across him in an article in The Guardian several years ago.  He has very thought provoking ideas.  On this TED Talk he discusses some of these ideas:
    • Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey argues that aging is merely a disease -- and a curable one at that. Humans age in seven basic ways, he says, all of which can be averted.

    Mastering Maths

    Knowledge is power.  Maths is the one universal language, yet perhaps the one we fear most.  Get yourself to Khanacademy for some excellent mathematics tutorials.
    • With a library of over 2,700 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 240 practice exercises, we're on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.
    Salman Khan at TED talking about using video to reinvent education.

    Volume Week 4 W/O3

    When it comes to training I am not feeling 'top dollar' today. I feel this is part of the cycle of human behaviour - sometimes I am up, sometimes down - nothing to worry about.  Of course motivation waxes and wanes.  We'll see how it pans out in the workout below.

    Next week I am going to change up all exercises for a week (week 5), and then plan to revert to my regular workout for week six.  After which, I will deload and start a training cycle once again.  This variation should prove reinvigorating.

    My last session of 321s lead to a fatigue-induced shortfall in reps and sets so I am going to rest the fingers today.  God knows the DLs give your grip a workout of sorts anyway!

    Warm Up (15 minutes)
    Main (25 minutes).
    1a. Deadlift (5/4x145, 6/5x130)
    1b. OACs (3X55/50kg, 4X50/45, 2-arm 10xBW with Straight-Leg Leg-Lift)
    2. Backbridge, Wall Walk (15s, 2)
    3. 321 (x/8L, x/8L, x/8M)

    Tuesday, 15 November 2011

    The Food Hospital: Making the Horse Push

    Why make a horse pull a cart when you can stick it at the back and make it push?  This is the metaphorical equivalent of what is happening on The Food Hospital.  After rant one and rant two, here is rant three.

    Unhappy with entertaining the idea that some consumer items masquerading as food can lead to malady, they assume that pretty much everything sold to us as food IS food, and that people who are sick (sickness that could NOT possibly come from poor nutritional choices), can seek remedy in the medicinal qualities of food.

    Baise Moi!

    Volume Week 4 W/O2

    Another day of heavy legs and some pressing vertically...

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (20 minutes).
    1. Pistols (20kg assistance/64kg working weight: 5, 6, 7)
    2i. Alternate Arm MBTs(5kg 8)
    2ii. (Slow Lower) Dumbell Press (17kg x 8)
    2iii. HSPU (unassisted 0/1)
    3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
    4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
    5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (12)

    Sunday, 13 November 2011

    Volume Week 4 W/O1

    It is dull, grey, damp and misty outside. Not the most inviting conditions for a workout...!

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1. Stairgators (1)
    2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
    3. MU to Ring Routine (4, 4, 4)
    4a. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
    4b. Planche Variations (20s, 20s, 20s)
    5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
    6. 321 (8/8L, 5/8L, 0/8M)

    Friday, 11 November 2011

    Volume Week 3 W/O3

    After today I will see if I want to cut back next week or keep pushing.  I am wary of injury - particularly when things are going well.  If I do push on for another week or two, I have come across a means of increasing serum testosterone - which in some cases has led to an increase 147% above baseline over the course of a week.

    Full cookies (pun intended)!

    Warm Up (15 minutes)
    Main (25 minutes).
    1a. Deadlift (4x145, 5x130)
    1b. OACs (5/4x50kg, 6/5x45, 2-arm 10xBW with Straight-Leg Leg Lift)
    2. Backbridge, Wall Walk (15s, 2)
    3. 321 (x/8L, x/8L, x/8M)

    Thursday, 10 November 2011

    A Recipe for Confusion

    So how do you confuse people in the area of diet and nutrition?  Try this;
    1. Come up with a blanket recommendation such as Reduce your salt intake - and get your government/NGOs on board:
      "The government has set a target of reducing the average salt consumption of adults to 6g per day by 2010. This is a challenging but achievable goal, which will bring measurable improvements in health. A study published in the scientific journal Hypertension in 2003 estimated that a reduction in salt intake to 6g per day would lead to a 13 per cent reduction in stroke and a 10 per cent reduction in ischaemic heart disease. "
    2. Find an association or organisation that is likely to back a contrary view for 'balance' - so in this case we'd go with the European Salt Producers Association.
    3. Broadcast research that detracts from the message in step one. 'Low Salt Diet May Increase the Likelihood of Heart Disease'.
    4. Follow the money.  Find a link between the researcher in step three and the association in step two.
    Here's the thing - don't eat anything with 'hidden salt' as it is unlikely to be 'food'; food-like maybe.  In fact don't eat anything in which contains 'additives' that could be considered 'hidden'.  Don't eat stuff that would require any kind of 'food labelling'.  What is hidden in a carrot?  Nothing.  Everything in a carrot makes a carrot a carrot.  Capiche? 

    A naive approach?  Probably.  A simplistic approach?  Yes - as should be your approach to food.


    Tuesday, 8 November 2011

    The Food Hospital: Still Shovelling It

    Following on from last week's (ranting) review of The Food Hospital, allow me to present a ranting review of episode two.

    The program itself is a great concept - exploring as it does, the relationship between a wide variety of illness and disease, and food.  But as usual in these cases, they get it 'arse about face'.  As I said last week, it is not that food is medicine, it is more the case that if you look at things from an evolutionary perspective, what you see is people who have poisoned themselves through malnutrition.

    So once again the advice boiled down to a 'balanced diet' that again I'd summarise as:
    • 'Eat low fat foods, avoid saturated fat, not much meat, and plenty of fruit,vegetables and wholegrains'
    We also got advise to eat several smaller meals - not forgetting to ensure we eat breakfast.  Again you have to wonder what they hell they think our fat stores are for!  We should be able to switch over to fat-burning (or rather ramp-up our fat burning), without a big palava outside of eating.  The producers really should read up on 'metabolic flexibility' - and perhaps intermittent fasting whilst they are at it.

    If idea of fasting makes you dread the ensuing hunger, your are NOT metabolically flexible.  Fasting should be painless and if it isn't, you should be worried because you are eating the wrong foods, eating too frequently or both.

    What was interesting about this program was the range of disease and illness that could be resolved by a dietary intervention.  There was talk about O6 and inflammation along with ailments as wide ranging as acid reflux, alopecia and rampant psoriasis.

    Sadly use of supplements in the course of the show will feed preconceptions about a pill to fix things - when the fish oil could have been subtituted by fish and the probiotics replaced by yoghurt.

    The BIG thing they miss in this program is the chance to show us what people are eating to make them so sick in the first place.  It is all very well showing folk what they SHOULD eat, but if you can actually show them that the stuff they are eating RIGHT NOW, the stuff that tastes SO DAMN GOOD, is what has lead to these ailments, then maybe you'd get more of a response.

    Unfortunately we  just get pretty much the same old crap.... 

    Remember guys, when flogging a dead horse, first whip harder, then change the whip, then change the rider. Finally get off and push the dead horse. Eventually the dead horse will move....I just know it.

    TV rant number two over. Baise moi.

    Aside:  I've add in a picture of my regular 'fucking awesome monster meal'.  I hope you can see the size of this bad boy - it has to have its own super-sized plate which is a few inches in diameter bigger than that used to host The Doctor.  What you can't really see is the amount of butter.  Eat less do more?  I don't think so! 

    Also I've just noted that this is my fifth year 'paleo'.

    Volume Week 3 W/O2

    Again I'm going to keep the variety in the shoulder work (MBTs and HSPU variations).

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (20 minutes).
    1. Pistols (28kg assistance/56kg working weight: 8, 8, 8)
    2i. MBTs(5kg 8)
    2ii. HSPU (assisted 10)
    2iii. HSPU (unassisted 1)
    3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
    4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
    5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (12)

    Monday, 7 November 2011

    We Are Baysian Inference Machines

    Daniel Wolpert: The real reason for brains,
    • Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert starts from a surprising premise: the brain evolved, not to think or feel, but to control movement. In this entertaining, data-rich talk he gives us a glimpse into how the brain creates the grace and agility of human motion.
    Why do we and other animals have brains, what is the brain for? To perceive the world or to think? No - well not according to Daniel Wolpert. Wolpert claims that we have a brain for one reason - to produce adaptable and complex movements.

    Yep, the brain has evolved to control movement.  Movement is the only way we have of affecting the world around us (apart form sweating). Everything else involves a contraction of muscles, from speech and sign language to sensory feedback...they're all due to muscle movement!

    Wolpert makes the case that unlike a game of chess where IBM's Big Blue will beat most players by processing a finite set of outcomes for each and every given move, making a robot physically move a chess piece is way more difficult as the movement itself has an almost infinite complexity such that the dexterity of a 5 year old is far superior to that of the latest robot.

    Unlike the mental part of a chess game which succumbs to a generalised algorithm, the phyiscal act of manipulating pieces on a chess board cannot be reduced to a simple algorithm controlling movement - roboticists cannot generalise from one task to another.

    Movement is medicine.  It's all about the feedback. 

    Like!  :)

    Sunday, 6 November 2011

    Volume Week 3 W/O1

    Off the leash!

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1. Stairgators (1)
    2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
    3. MU to Ring Routine (4, 4, 4)
    4a. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
    4b. Planche Variations (20s, 20s, 20s)
    5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
    6. 321 (8/8L, 8/8L, 8/8M)

    Friday, 4 November 2011

    Volume Week 2 W/O3

    Deloaded to about 90%.

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (25 minutes).
    1a. Deadlift (4x130, 5x120)
    1b. OACs (4x49kg, 5x44, 2-arm 10xBW)
    2. Wall Walk (2, 2)
    3. 321 (8/8L, 8/8L, 5/8M)


    Thursday, 3 November 2011

    Cavemen Do It on the Hoof!

    They just need to add in the concept of fasted training and 'eating close to the ground' and then they'll get there! 

    Less is more when learning 'The Once and Future Way to Run':

    • "...humans had thrived as running animals for two million years without corrective shoes, and asphalt was no harder than the traditional hunting terrains of the African savanna."

    Tuesday, 1 November 2011

    The Food Hospital: Bag O'Crap

    Well the Food Hospital did fulfill my expectations.  It really was rubbish - not because the 'remedies' failed, they worked, and in some cases fantastically, but because the whole premise that food is medicine is wrong.

    We are NOT born sick.  We have not evolved to be in some way faulty. We did not evolve in a permanent state of hunger.  Yet these are the subtexts of The Food Hospital; that food can fix you:
    • medicine /med·i·cine/ (med´ĭ-sin) 1. any drug or remedy.2. the diagnosis and treatment of disease and the maintenance of health.3. the treatment of disease by nonsurgical means.

    So people turn up to the Food Hospital with various illnesses and maladies.  But if you look at things from an evolutionary perspective, what you see is people who have poisoned themselves through malnutrition:
    • poison [poi′zən] any substance that impairs health or destroys life when ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by the body in relatively small amounts. Some toxicologists suggest that, depending on the dose, all substances are poisons. Many experts state that it is impossible to categorize any chemical as either safe or toxic and that the real concern is the risk or hazard associated with the use of any substance. Clinically all poisons are divided into those that respond to specific treatments or antidotes and those for which there is no specific treatment. Research continues to develop effective antitoxins for poisons, but there are relatively few effective antidotes. Maintaining respiration and circulation is the most important aspect of treatment. See also poisoning treatment. poisonous, adj.
    To a man, the bad teeth on display would have given anyone familiar with the work of Weston A Price enough of a signal as to what was at the root of most patients ill health.  When I say 'to a man' I also include the bearded woman whose insulin insensitivity was suspected of being behind her high testosterone (about 5 times higher than normal).

    As for the obese guy who snacked his way through 5000 calories of garage food a day, he was required to lose about 20% of his bodyweight to get his T2 in to remission.  So they put him on some protein drink, allowing him 800 calories a day.  Sure he lost weight.  Is it sustainable?  Nope.  Will his metabolism readjust?  Probably.  Is he losing fat and muscle mass?  Probably.  Is this a good thing?  Erm .....errrr.....well he is losing weight I guess....

    You just have to wonder what the hell goes through the heads of these doctors.  How the hell did we survive the past two million years without processed foods and shakes?  Do they really think that chronic hunger and a relentless life of activity kept us lean?  What turns hunger on or off?  What role does hunger have in making every other species participate in demanding physical activity?  Is calorie restriction really a good idea when it comes to changing ones dietary lifestyle?  Historically, where did we get vitamins from?  If you have to fortify food to make it nutritious - is it appropriate to regard it as food?

    But what really bugged me was the advice given out which could be broadly summarised as,
    • 'Eat low fat foods, avoid saturated fat, not much meat, and plenty of fruit,vegetables and wholegrains'

    Yes my friends - as you can see above, the advice of WHAT to eat has not changed much since the 1970s. That is not to say the REASON to eat as prescribed above hasn't changed.  Indeed there was plenty of talk of insulin sensitivity, hormonal maladjustment and so forth, but sadly the failed dietary prescription of the past 40 years will somehow now work in 2011 because the reasoning behind WHY IT SHOULD WORK has changed.
    Remember guys, when flogging a dead horse, first whip harder, then change the whip, then change the rider.  Finally get off and push the dead horse.  Eventually the dead horse will move....I just know it.
    TV rant over.  Baise moi.

    Volume Week 2 W/O2

    We did a lot of air squatting and kick work at Lau Gar last night (including jumping kicks), so my legs are a bit torched today. Auto adjust.

    I'm going to keep the variety in the shoulder work (MBTs and HSPU variations).

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (20 minutes).
    1. Pistols (35kg assistance: 8, 8, 8)
    2i. MBTs(5kg 8)
    2ii. HSPU (assisted 10)
    2iii. HSPU (unassisted 1)
    3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (12)
    4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
    5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (12)

    Sunday, 30 October 2011

    Volume Week 2 W/O1

    Another deloaded week, but at around 90%. Still having to be mindful of recent aches and injuries/tweaks. Nothing too bad and all healing well, but a reminder that it is easy to go too hard, to fast and for too long.

    I've been toying with the idea of just doing 4-5 weeks cycles rather than 6-8 week cycles. I'll see closer to the time.

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1. Stairgators (1)
    2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x15s)
    3. MU to Ring Routine (2, 2, 2)
    4a. Scissor Splits (3x '2L, 2R, 2C')
    4b. Planche Variations (20s, 20s, 20s)
    5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
    6. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)

    Friday, 28 October 2011

    The Food Hospital

    A heads-up for those in the UK.  Channel 4 are launching The Food Hospital next Tuesday.  Food as medicine?  More likely it is that food can be a poison - or that processed food can simply lead to malady. 

    I wouldn't bet against there being a load of 'eat 5-6 small meals a day', 'eat more fruit and veg', 'ensure you get enough wholegrain, complex carbohydrate in your diet' kind of advice.  You know, the same rubbish we've been advised for half a century, but let's give it the benefit of the doubt.
    • The Food Hospital doctors meet 24-year-old Lauren, who suffers from such an extreme case of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) - with symptoms such as weight gain, fertility problems and, most noticeably, excessive body and facial hair - that she fears living as a virtual recluse forever unless she can find help.

      Crippling migraines are destroying seven-year-old Harvey's life, and his mother will try anything to help her son.

      Twenty-five-year-old twin sisters Kristen and Maren are trying to use food as a weapon against breast cancer.

      And can 44-year-old single dad Chris turn around the world's fifth biggest killer, type 2 diabetes, with food?

      But it's not just about treating patients. Dr Pixie McKenna from Embarrassing Bodies investigates the truth about 'superfoods' and The Food Hospital launches a series of ambitious nationwide 'food as medicine' trials, kicking off in this first episode by investigating if chocolate can help fight high blood pressure.
    It has been a while since I've had a TV rant - so one is about due....

    Volume Week 1 W/O3

    Heavy day!  Deloaded.

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1a. Deadlift (4x122, 5x110)
    1b. OACs (4x40kg, 5x36, 2-arm 10xBW)
    2. Wall Walk (2, 2)
    3. 321 (Optional)

    Thursday, 27 October 2011

    Origin of Us

    More great output from the BBC.  The 'Origin of Us' is available on iPlayer (until 7:59PM Mon, 7 Nov 2011):
    • In this second episode Dr Alice Roberts charts how our ancestors’ hunt for food has driven the way we look and behave today – from the shape of our face, to the way we see and even the way we attract the opposite sex. Clues to our ancestor’s diet can be found in some surprising places. Alice goes in search of a lion kill to find out how the tape worms in lion’s food reveal our ancestors were eating the same diet of big game 1.7 million years ago. She puts her teeth to the test to reveal that our teeth have evolved to shear through meat. But by comparing her saliva with that of chimpanzees she demonstrates that our body is as much designed to eat starch as it is to eat meat.

    It's The Hormones Stoopid

    It has long been obvious in the paleosphere that it leaness is all to do with hormones.  If you exercise more, there is a hormonal consequence.  If you fast, there is a hormonal consequence.

    We all know people who are obese and who go through the following steps:
    1. They're overweight - say 20 stone, but their weight is quite stable at this level,
    2. They then diet and exercise down to 12 stone,
    3. Unable to sustain their new regime, they go back to their former ways and quickly balloon back up to 20 stone (plus a bit), 
    4. Their weight once again stabilises (albeit at 22 stone).
    CW dictates that their indolence and slothfulness has lead them to step one.  They just need to 'eat less and do more'.  CW dictates that the weight loss in step two is achieved from 'burning off their fat through exercise' and eating less.  CW dictates that step three is a direct consequence of a lack of willpower to sustain this new regimen.

    But here is where it gets confusing.  Why was the weight stable in steps one and four?  Are the obese showing willpower here that prevents them rapidly putting on weight.  How come they can stop inexorable weight gain at these higher weights - and I have seen this LOTS of times. 

    Isn't it odd that after all that hard work and self discipline (willpower), to get lean in step two, the obese often experience a drop in willpower?  A willpower that suddenly returns once they are obese again?

    It doesn't make sense to view obesity as simply a matter of 'eat less, do more' nor in terms of 'willpower'.  GCBC makes this perfectly clear.  Not to state the bleedin' obvious, there are exquisite hormonal factors that govern our weight.

    Gina Kolata's latest article, 'Study Shows Why It’s Hard to Keep Weight Off', covers new research which notes metabolic/hormonal changes as a consequence of dieting,
    • In the study, Joseph Proietto and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne recruited people who weighed an average of 209 pounds. At the start of the study, his team measured the participants’ hormone levels and assessed their hunger and appetites after they ate a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast. The dieters then spent 10 weeks on a very low calorie regimen of 500 to 550 calories a day intended to makes them lose 10 percent of their body weight. In fact, their weight loss averaged 14 percent, or 29 pounds. As expected, their hormone levels changed in a way that increased their appetites, and indeed they were hungrier than when they started the study.
      They were then given diets intended to maintain their weight loss. A year after the subjects had lost the weight, the researchers repeated their measurements. The subjects were gaining the weight back despite the maintenance diet — on average, gaining back half of what they had lost — and the hormone levels offered a possible explanation.
    I like the fact that at the outset they fed their patients 'a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast.'  I wonder what the consequence of feeding the patients just REAL FOOD would have been?

    Whatever is said I consider this whole study may well constitute a move towards a more sophisticated approach to health and nutrition - or at least a step away from the CW of the past 40 odd years.

    Tuesday, 25 October 2011


    Not many sporting occasions start with a dance. , but the Haka is one hell of a dance.  There are severeal versions of the Haka, usually we get 'Ka Mate', but recently the All Blacks have been running with 'Kapo o Pango'.

    As a master of ceremonies the imperious Piri Weepu (the guy prowling around like a caged lion in the video above), provides menace and drama in equal fashion.

    The French did a good job of matching the ABs on the psychological front (and also physically in the RWC final 2011).

    Wales adopted a similar approach back in 2008 as you can see below. The real action begins after the Haka when the referee tries to defuse the tension!

    Volume Week 1 W/O2

    Leg work focus today with some shoulder and arm rehab/prevention.

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (20 minutes).
    1. Pistols (40kg assistance: 8, 8, 8)
    2i. MBTs(4kg 8)
    2ii. HSPU (assisted 8)
    2iii. HSPU (unassisted 1)
    3. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (10)
    4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
    5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (10)

    Wave Washing

    The BBC's Frozen Planet is shaping up to be fascinating.  Hot on the heels of this epic wolf hunt, check out this hunt by orca.  Stunning.

    Monday, 24 October 2011

    The Calorie

    Seriously good 'Food Program' on Radio 4 today.  They still seem to sit a bit behind the paleo-curve but just to hear some of these ideas aired on prime time radio is damn significant:

    Volume Week 1 W/O1

    The beginning of another 6-8 week phase is nigh! I have split stuff up this time around to create a three day work week as I think I lose intensity once training-time gets to 40 minutes. Shoulder rehab/prevention and pistols are duly subbed out to there own day!

    As usual I am going to have a week or two deloaded, and then ramp it up for four weeks or so...chucking in some 'instinctive adjustment' and all:
    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (30 minutes).
    1. Stairgators (1)
    2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x15s)
    3ai. Rope Climb (1)
    3aii. MU to Ring Routine (1, 1).
    3b. Scissor Splits (1L, 1R, 1C)
    3c. Planche (20s, 20s, 20s)
    4. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)
    5. Barefoot Kill Carry

    Epic Wolf Hunt

    You've got to love the BBC.  Public service broadcasting at its best.  Check out this extraordinary footage of wolves hunting bison.

    Sunday, 23 October 2011

    The Beginning is Nigh

    I attended a wedding this weekend in London where a bus had been arranged to take all guests from the registry office to the reception.  It wasn't just any old bus but, but a classic 50's, red, London bus, adorned with wedding livery and flowers.  It was packed full with bride & groom, friends and family.  Did I mention the champagne?  Lots of.

    Spirits were high and everyone was becoming rather rowdy as the effects of the Bollinger took hold.  The bus kept slowing as it hit traffic and at one point we came to a standstill.  At the same time a rather dishevelled and mournful-looking guy shuffled past us holding aloft a sign on which were written the words "The beginning is nigh!".

    This slogan immediately caught the attention of me and my fellow revellers, and he received a rousing cheer/toast, flutes of champagne held aloft, before we all dissolved in to fits of laughter.  The contrast of our respective situations could not have been greater, and the irony of the phrase at the beginning of the bride & groom's marital life equally apt.

    It was good to see his pessimism evaporate, and he gave us a big wave whilst a broad smile crossed his face.  I think we made his day, and he certainly made ours!

    Friday, 21 October 2011

    Die Biting The Throat: Review of The Gnoll Credo

    I have read a few works of fanstasy and science fiction in my time, but since my mid twenties, this genre has lost my attention.  There are only so many times you can riff on the theme of Blark the orphaned child teaming up with a wizard/dwarf/elf/orc/thief (one of whom will be a sexy archeress/sorceress), and a half-human, half-giant side-kick called Thraxon, whom together, steel some magical gauntlets of ogre-power from Doomed Mountain and topple the ruthless Lord Shnoopapple.  (The above describes the fantasy genre.  change the names so they contain lots of 'x's and 'z's and you'll cast the sci-fi version.)

    So it was with some trepidation I approached 'The Gnoll Credo' (TGC), which I had seen variously described as a work of fantasy and science fiction.  I have long been a fan of J.Stanton's blog Gnolls, featuring as it does, a well reasoned and well written take on the whole approach to ancestral/evolutionary fitness with an unashamedly 'paleo' leaning. 

    Whereas some paleo enthusiasts are 'health and fitness' bloggers, those that interest me are the ones that see humans as animals (an angle arguably pioneered by Arthur DeVany), and as such, weave so much more in to the science of what it takes to be healthy (and human).  It is a rich seam to explore, a simple concept to understand and powerful in its execution, and is an approach that will see you rolling your eyes when scientists show that sprinting through a wood is WAY more beneficial than spending a similar time and intensity on a treadmill.

    The 'human as animal' concept seems to run deeply through the Gnolls blog, and so it does through 'The Gnoll Credo'.  In fact if there was EVER a line to pull me back in to reading a work of science fiction, it is the tenth and final belief of the Gnolls, 'Die Biting the Throat'!

    Broadly the book details the relationship between Gryka (an eight foot high female bipedal humanoid hyena), and a human called Aidan O'Rourke.  O'Rourke is an anthropologist who seeks to understand and document gnoll society. 

    And what of gnolls?  Well they exist in small hunter-gatherer groups.  They are resourceful, intelligent, skillful, social and occasionally savage.  They focus on group survival but can function with independence; maintain firm familial structures and observe sometimes brutal social mores.

    O'Rourke's relationship with Gryka begins in their youth and as the cycle of Gryka's life unfolds we reach a bloody climax - the nature of which I will not give away here..

    You get a feeling that there may well be some political under current to the book, pitched somewhere between an anarcho-survivalist manifesto and Orwell's 'Animal Farm'.  Perhaps even with a whiff of 'V for Vendetta' spliced with Avatar. 

    A gnoll wouldn't vote for a politician, nor enter anything as self-domesticating as a system of Western political governance.  That doesn't mean that gnoll society are anarchic and chaotic, just that they have to take responsibility for their own fate and that of those closest to them.  It is this strong bond with each other, and with their environment that makes them somewhat oblivious to their likely fate at the hands of humans led by a bloated and distanced elite whose rapacious desire for territory threatens the gnoll way of life.

    The book is quite short and easily finished in an evening or two.  Having read it the once I feel the need to read it again straight away.  The swift one-two of the plot and the pace in general have left me thinking that there is much more in there that I missed the first time.  It is hard to classify and difficult to describe but it is a truly engaging work!


    Thursday, 20 October 2011

    Pursue Mastodon with Diligence

    Let's get this sorted right now.  If you are a headhunter looking to crack the skye, go here.  If you are looking for some interesting anthropology, read on (courtesy of Nature):
    • "About 13,800 years ago, a mastodon in North America met a somewhat ironic end. It died at the hands of humans wielding a bone projectile made from the skeleton of another mastodon. A study of the remains of this unfortunate trunk-bearing beast add weight to the theory that the downfall of the megafauna may have been more gradual than previously proposed


      Most previously discovered mammoth and mastodon kill sites have been attributed to humans of the Clovis culture, who used finely honed stone tools. These people were thought to have been the first major hunters of Pleistocene wildlife in North America. But the bone tool found in the mastodon rib was created by a culture that was hunting mastodons at least 800 years earlier.

      The humans who killed the mastodon were "carrying a toolkit that was durable, lethal and portable", Waters says. The Manis site may even be a two-for-one discovery. "These people either scavenged bone from a fresh carcass," Waters suggests, "or they had killed another mastodon to make the bone point."
    Fascinating stuff!  And don't forget to pursue happiness in the same fashion!

    The Ghost Map

    I heartily recommend Stephen Johnson's The Ghost Map, not least for the sense of deja vu.  The book covers a terrifying epidemic of cholera which gripped Victorian London:
    • At 6am on 28 August 1854, the city of London struggled to sleep at the end of an oppressively hot summer. But at 40 Broad Street, Soho, Sarah Lewis was awake tending to her feverish baby girl. As she threw a used bucket of water into the cesspool at the front of her lodgings, it marked the start of a cholera epidemic that would consume 50,000 lives in England and Wales - and become a battle between man and microbe unlike any other. Steven Johnson takes us day by day through what happened and re-creates a London full of dust heaps, furnaces and slaughterhouses; where a ghost class of bone-pickers, rag gatherers, dredger men and mud-larks scavenged off waste; where families were crammed into tiny rooms and cartloads of bodies wheeled down the streets. And at the heart of the story is Doctor John Snow: vegetarian, teetotaller, anaesthesiologist and Soho resident, whose use of maps to prove that cholera was spread by water - and not borne on the air as most believed - would bring him into conflict with the entire medical establishment, but ultimately defeat his era's greatest killer. Steven Johnson interweaves this extraordinary story with a wealth of ideas about how cities work, ecosystems thrive and cultures connect. He argues that, with half the planet's population set to be urban, today's megacities could soon be wrestling with the same problems as John Snow and that, just as in 1854, science could be our salvation.
    As with Johnson's Emergence, he manages to weave a gripping narrative from a rather dry subject matter.  But what caught my eye in The Ghost Map was the following:
    • "No one died of stench in Victorian London.  But tens of thousands died because the fear  of stench blinded them to the true perils of the city, and drove them to implement a series of wrongheaded reforms that only made the crisis worse...practically the entire medical and political establishment fell into the same deadly error: everyone from Florence Nightingale to the pioneering reformer Edwin Chadwick to the editors of The Lancet to Queen Victoria herself.  The history of knowledge conventionally focuses on breakthrough ideas and conceptual leaps.  But the blind spots on the map, the dark continents of error and prejudice, carry their own mystery as well.  How could so many intelligent people be so grievously wrong for such an extended period of time?  How could they ignore so much overwhelming evidence that contradicted their most basic theories?"
    Does this remind you of anything?

    Wednesday, 19 October 2011

    More Bits and Blogs

    Want to be bigger, faster and stronger? Then head over to Bigger, Faster, Stronger!  There are loads of programs targetting strength, speed, agility and so forth.  I've only just found the site so I'll do some more digging, but basically it looks pretty interesting on first glance.

    Second find is SuppVersity.  yes, yes I know it is a crap name, but it looks to be the real deal.  It covers topics as broad as staying healthy, boosing athletic performance, building muscle, losing fat and improving yoru sex life!

    *Bits and Blogs

    Tuesday, 18 October 2011

    The Evolutionary Argument

    Ever wondered How to Win an Argument With a Meat-Eater? Me neither.  VegSource lists the following arguments:

    •The Hunger Argument
    •The Environmental Argument
    •The Cancer Argument
    •The Cholesterol Argument
    •The Natural Resources Argument
    •The Antibiotic Argument
    •The Pesticide Argument
    •The Ethical Argument
    •The Survival Argument

    Which begs the question, where is the evolutionary argument?  Epic fail.

    Friday, 14 October 2011

    "worthless, regurgitated, patronising rubbish"

    Jamie Oliver has waded in to the argument about the governments current program for action on obesity, which resolves to:
    • "Reducing the number of calories we consume is essential. It can happen if we continue action to reduce calories in everyday foods and drinks, and if all of us who are overweight take simple steps to reduce our calorie intake."
    Oliver called this approach "worthless, regurgitated, patronising rubbish".  Good man Jamie.

    There are a few questions to ask of those in government who keep pushing the idea to 'eat less and do more':
    1. What is the purpose of hunger?  What is its evolutionary context?
    2. What should signal to us that we are 'full'?
    3. If the obese are guilty of 'mindless eating' - ie eating when not hungry, why do we pursue food rather than drink, or read ,or partake in some other activity like simply watch TV to alleviate the boredom? 
    4. Why don't the obese stop eating until they are lean once again?  I mean it is not as if the obese have a lack of energy (albeit in stored form) so why can't they go further between refuelling?
    5. If 'eating less' is the answer why not simply 'do more'?
    6. If you wanted to compel yourself to eat more than usual (perhaps in the context of a celebratory meal), would you recommend we 'do more' activity in the preceding period to 'work up an appetite'?
    7. If you wanted to compel yourself to eat more than usual (perhaps in the context of a celebratory meal), would you recommend we 'eat less' in the preceding period to 'ensure we don't blunt our appetite'?
    When I need to drink I trust my thirst to tell me, when I need to sleep, I trust my sense of fatigue, and when I need to eat, I trust my sense of hunger. I am lean (190cm, 84kg and 30 inch waist). I don't have to count calories nor restrict intake, and I eat a large amount of food (cuts of lamb that are badged up 'feeds 4-5').

    Could it be that I rarely eat food that, from raw, could not be prepared over a campfire with little more than a knife and a pan?

    You could frame mineral and vitamin deficiencies in the same manner.  Where do pill-pushers think we evolved a dependency on vitamins and minerals and where do they think we used to get them from?  If you are short of particular vitamins and minerals you are NOT eating the 'right' foods (or in the case of vitamin D, not getting out in to sunshine sufficiently often).  It is NOT the case that you are not eating enough vitamin pills!

    Bits and Blogs

    Check out Stefanie Seneff's website.  She is a Senior Research Scientist in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT and has recently turned her attention to the relationship between nutrition and health and has authored two publications in 2011 in medical journals, relating to excess carbohydrate consumption with adverse health outcome.

    In addition she has penned a few articles, of which my choice is "The Obesity Epidemic: is the Metabolic Syndrome a Nutritional Deficiency Disease?".

    Secondly, Escape the Herd has brought to my attention a five part series investigating the benefits or otherwise of a Caveman Diet.  At the very least this will explain why I have holes in the foot well of my car.  Yabba dabba doo.

    *More Bits and Blogs

    Thursday, 13 October 2011

    Epic Fail

    There is nothing like flogging a dead horse.  You can flog the horse harder, kick the horse, change the whip and even get off the horse and give it a push, but if the horse is dead....

    "'Eat less, exercise more', says government on obesity**":
    • People need to be more honest about how much they eat and drink if obesity levels are to be reduced, ministers say. The government's obesity strategy said on average adults are exceeding their calorie intake by 10%. Ministers said it was up to individuals to make sure they consume less and exercise more. They ruled out using legislation such as introducing a fat tax to change behaviour.
    Thank god for that last sentence.

    For anyone interested in getting lean, forget volumes of food, think quality of food*.  Eat close to the ground.  Fast once in a while.  Don't force exercise -  but DO self locomote, a lot. 

    A healthy body autoregulates bodyfat and will adjust intake/output accordingly - but some physical activity is an important signal to the body.

    *This can depend on how damaged your body is!

    **Update:  This article has been renamed since I originally linked to it.  It is now titled 'Public 'need to be more honest about eating habits'.

    Human Body Subway Map

    Check out this subway map of the human body from CoolInfographics (created by the talented Sam Loman):

    Wednesday, 12 October 2011

    We Want Real Food

    Graham Harvey's We Want Real Food, whilst perhaps not as technical nor as comprehensive as Colin Tudge's So Shall We Reap, will quickly bring you up to speed on 'broken agriculture'.  (Ultimately Tudge proposes we move to what he calls 'enlightened agriculture' whilst Harvey wishes us to pursue something more traditional as prescribed in G Henderson's 'The Farming Ladder'.) 

    WWRF ticks the usual boxes, flying the flag for locavorism, empowering the growers and moving away from commoditisation of food production.  In fact Harvey's pithiest line is his observation that rather than growing food, farmers now produce 'a raw material for an industrial manufacturing operation'.  Take a bow Mr Harvey!

    Thursday, 6 October 2011

    Agree to Disagree

    One for those currently confused by the whole reward/insulin axis of paleo evil!  Disagreement is a good thing:
    • When scientists wish to speak with one voice, they typically do so in a most unscientific way: the consensus report. The idea is to condense the knowledge of many experts into a single point of view that can settle disputes and aid policy-making. But the process of achieving such a consensus often acts against these goals, and can undermine the very authority it seeks to project.
    It addresses the political end of scientific integrity very nicely,
    • The very idea that science best expresses its authority through consensus statements is at odds with a vibrant scientific enterprise. Consensus is for textbooks; real science depends for its progress on continual challenges to the current state of always-imperfect knowledge. Science would provide better value to politics if it articulated the broadest set of plausible interpretations, options and perspectives, imagined by the best experts, rather than forcing convergence to an allegedly unified voice.
    It would be nice to see a similar article on the importance of transparency in trials/experiments, and on the (often) malign influence of business interests in research (and funding).

    Read more of Daniel Sarowitz article here.

    Volume Week 5 W/O2

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (40 minutes).
    1a. Deadlift (3x140kg, 4x130kg)
    1b. OACs (3x50kg, 4x45kg, 2-arm 10xBW)
    2. HSPU (assisted 10, 10, 10, short rests)
    3. Wall Walk (2, 2)
    4. 5-Way DB Rotator Cuff (10)
    5. Reverse DB Wrist Curls (10)

    Monday, 3 October 2011

    Volume Week 5 W/O1

    We've just had a bit of an Indian summer here in the UK.  Family Asclepius headed off to the local river for a swim.  It is crazy to think that wild swimming in October should be as hot as wild swimming in April - both of which were hotter than any UK-based wild swimming I did over summer!

    The photo above of Captain Kid and I, and the one in the link, were taken at the same venue from pretty much the same position.  The foliage behind pretty much tells its own story - along with the detritus washed down to the damn in the April-shot.

    Warm Up (5 minutes)
    Main (40 minutes).
    1. Stairgators (1)
    2. Barefoot Sprinting (1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s, 1x10s)
    3a. MU to Ring Routine (4, 4, 4)
    3b. Pistols (assisted: 10, 10, 10)
    4a. Scissor Splits (2L, 2R, 3C)
    4b. Planche Variations (20s, 25s, 20s)
    4c. Golfers Elbow Drumstick Rotation (10)
    5. Barefoot Kill Carry (1)
    6. 321 (All 4 down the rung sizes)

    Sunday, 2 October 2011

    Denmark's Fat Tax

    If a picture can paint a thousand lies then this Getty image above certainly fuels the fabrication, pushing as it does, the common misconception that saturated fat is bad for us.

    Friday, 30 September 2011

    Nutrition and National Health

    Sir Robert McCarrison's Cantor Lecture 'Nutrition & National Health' makes fine reading.
    • "Man is made up of what he eats. The constituents of his food are those of which his body is composed. His foodstuffs, derived from the vegetable and the animal kingdoms, consist, for the most part, of matter that is living, that was formerly living or that is derived from matter that was formerly living. Man cannot himself build up living tissue from materials which have in themselves no necessary connection with living protoplasm. This, plants do for him. Out of the earth and air, and under the influence of the sun, they transmute certain inorganic substances -- mineral salts, water and carbon dioxide -- into organic foodstuffs suited to his use and to the use of the animals whose produce or whose flesh he uses as food. He is, indeed, created out of the earth; and according as the earth provides, by way of plant and animal life, the materials needed by his body, so is that body well, ill or indifferently made and sustained."
    Nothing new here, but ahead of its time for the early part of the 20th Century.  Let's look at McCarisson going 'paleo' on our collective ass:
    • "Disorder of the function of nutrition, brought about by faulty food, causes the body to react in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of the food-faults that give rise to it, the part or parts of the body effected by it, and the intervention or the non-intervention of toxic or microbic agents of disease. These reactions, involving as they do disturbance in structure or in functions of various parts of the body, manifest themselves as subnormal states of health or as actual disease in great variety of form"
    So whilst dentists may advise those with tooth decay to 'brush better', and obesity specialists tell the obese to 'eat less, do more', and an skin specialist may advise those with acne to 'deep cleanse', McCarisson may well be open to the advise in each case to 'address the quality of your nutrition'.

    Looking at the physique and stature of Indians, quoting McCay, McCarisson notes,
    • "'As we pass from the North-West region of the Punjab down the Gangetic Plain to the coast of Bengal, there is a gradual fall in the stature, bodyweight, stamina and efficiency of the people. In accordance with this decline in manly characteristics it is of the utmost significance that there is an accompanying gradual fall in the nutritive value of the dietaries."
    Here he suggests that grains are actually one of the reasons for the superior physiques of the Northern Indians:
    • "In general the races of northern India are wheat-eaters, though they make use also of certain other whole cereal grains. Now the biological value of the proteins of whole wheat is relatively high; and the wheat is eaten whole, after being freshly ground into a coarse flour (atta) and made into cakes called chapattis. It thus preserves all the nutrients with which Nature has endowed it, particularly its proteins, its vitamins and its mineral salts. The second most important ingredient of their diet is milk, and the products of milk (clarified butter or ghee, curds, buttermilk); the third is dhal (pulse); the fourth, vegetables and fruit. Some eat meat sparingly, if at all; others, such as the Pathans, use it in considerable quantity"
    One assumes traditional techniques of food preparation would be employed.  Now comes an interesting point; contrary to Paleo 2.0 McCarisson seems to disfavour rice consumption,
    • "White flour, when used as the staple article of diet, places its users on the same level as the rice-eaters of the south and east of India. They are faced with the same problem; they start to build up their dietaries with a staple of relatively low nutritive value. If their health and physical fitness are not to suffer, they must spend more money on supplementary articles of diet in order to make good the deficiencies of white flour than if they had begun to build on the surer foundation of whole wheat flour (Fig 2). So it is with rice, which is the staple article of diet of about ninety millions of India's inhabitants. The rice -- a relatively poor cereal at best -- is subjected to a number of processes before use by the consumer; all of which reduce -- some to a dangerous degree -- its already sparse supply of certain essential nutrients. It is parboiled, milled or polished; often all three. It is washed in many changes of water and, finally, it is boiled. It is thus deprived of much of its proteins and mineral salts and of almost all its vitamins. Add to this that the average Bengali or Madrassi uses relatively little milk or milk-products, that by religion he is often a non-meat-eater, that his consumption of protein, whether of vegetable or of animal origin, is, in general, very low, that fresh vegetable and fruit enter into his dietary but sparingly, and we have not far to seek for the poor physique that, in general, characterizes him. In short, it may be said that according as the quality of the diet diminishes with respect to proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, so do physical efficiency and health; a rule which applies with equal force to the European as to the Indian"
    There is something about these old-skool doctors.  They have clinical experience and seem to have been driven by curiousity whilst being unencumbered by modern commercial drivers (they did it for the King and Empire).  Nor were they burdened with modern dietary dogma, which unlike the dogma of their time, would not have had the investment of big pharma nor agribusiness - well certainly not in the capacity it has today.

    All five sections are available here:

    1. Food, Nutrition, and Health
    2. Relation of Certain Food Essentials to Structure and Functions of the Body
    3. National Health and Nutrition
    4. Introduction to 'Studies in Deficiency Diseases'

    5. Diseases of Faulty Nutrition