Archives for: August 2008
Spent the last week lolling around Lancaster County Pennsylvania, one of my favorite places in the world. If the twenty-four hour news media leaves you with the notion that there is nothing that America can do right, visit Lancaster County. There is a lot of tourist stuff, but there are also fields and fields of the great agricultural bounty to be found in America. Corn, beans, lettuce, you name it. Rows upon perfect rows, fading endlessly into the horizon. Sturdy stone houses and hideously expensive (but quite beautiful) hand made quilts.
I was happy to learn that almost 100% of the fertilizer is natural manure-based; which, although it can be a problem with ground water runoff if improperly managed, is still better than the Monsanto-based explosives we've relied on in the past.
We were looking at schools for my oldest child, Claudia, a high school senior who will start college next year. We toured Franklin and Marshall and Gettysburg colleges. Both are gorgeous, small and inviting; just what a liberal arts college should be.
The usual protocols prevailed, typically a slide show ‘orientation’ followed by a tour headed by one of the students. I learned that at both schools, the washing machines in the laundromat will send you a text message when your wash is finished, and that at 12:00 midnight the week of the final exams, you can get free hot chocolate at the library. When I asked about the number of technical and scientific journals each library subscribed to, nobody knew the answer.
Of course, nobody ever talks about the 8000-pound elephant in the room: “Hey, just how much is this going to cost?” For kicks, I'd typically gesture to raise my hand when it got to question and answer time, at which point my legs were vigorously kicked by my younger daughter, nervously anticipating future mortification at the hands of dad's latest déclassé question.
Gettysburg College almost did the ‘anti-orientation.’ The assistant dean of admissions just went up to the front of the auditorium and proceeded to do 30 minutes of shtick. Some of it was tedious, but a lot of it was peppered with great advice, good tips to the kids about how to write the application essay and comport themselves during the interview.
- “If you don’t know Winston Churchill personally, please don’t write about how he is a role model”
- “Make a point to provide at least 50% of the total conversation.”
- “Look me in the eyes.”
- “This is not a good time to be shy or modest.”
If you have a teenage child, you will understand the benefits of this sage advice.
Gettysburg is of course the site of a famous Civil War battle, one of two that provided the turning point in fortune for the forces fighting for the maintenance of the Union. It is also the home of The Gettysburg Address, which I was surprised to discover, was not used as a name by any of the town shops or restaurants. By the way, the restaurant eating is much better than I remember from years back.
I fancy myself a fairly knowledgeable on the battle and tactics and looked forward to driving the park and discussing the history of the battle with the kids. It was pretty rough at first, since neither child is all that much into history. Sort of like our earlier trip to Cordoba. However a trip to the new Gettysburg National Visitor Center did sort of hook them in, especially the very cool 3-D type movie narrated by Morgan Freeman, which takes you through the battle, causes and aftermath, all in the very teenager friendly time-frame of 24 minutes.
Tonight is the first of the NAP Professional Webinars, and I’m told that it is standing room only (25 people are the maximum). We are using a service called GoToMeeting that allows people to hear what I’m saying on their computer speakers, see my desktop, and ask questions. Hopefully I can get the thing under my belt by show time. I'm told that it can be 'recorded' and if so, we will make it available to doctors and other professionals.
The Connecticut Post ran a very nice article on me the other day. Unlike that terrible article in Time a while back, this reporter actually took the time to try and understand the material. Of course, the comment sections of these online articles always seems to attract a screwball or two. Like Sister Marie Francis used to tell our fifth grade class at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Brooklyn, “Empty barrels do make the most noise.”
While on the subject of criticism, we’ve finally got round to developing a standardized response area for the myriad of articles on the Internet that are critical of all the blood type and GenoType theories. In time, we’ll just keep adding to it.
Other news: I’ve just received test batches of the skin toner, cleanser and moisturizer. People who have tried the day crème are usually pretty enthusiastic about the line, and they will probably like these as well.
Have been re-reading Vivian Perlis' great book Charles Ives Remembered: An Oral history.
I’ve drawn much comfort from Ives over the years; certainly through his music, but also with many of the corollaries between his life and my own. Our homes are within ten miles of each other, and we both shared the benefits (and challenges) of being the sons of men who were themselves geniuses ahead of their time.
Ives was a musical genius, anticipating the serialism of Schoenberg and many other elements of modern music, such as microtones, by many decades. Unfortunately, this placed him squarely in the path of the conventional musical minds of his time. What frustration he must have felt reading reviews of his work, where instead of seeing the horizon line of a new art, the reviewer merely saw an amateur composer who just wrote down the wrong notes!
Ives had no patience for these people. On top of one review, he simply scribbled the phrase ‘rot and worse.’ To Ives, these were just mediocre minds, steeped in the traditions of the past. Problem was, they taught in the conservatories, wrote the reviews and set the standards.
"Stop being such a God-damned sissy! Why can't you stand up before fine strong music like this and use your ears like a man?"
- At a 1931 concert when a man booed during one his friend Carl Ruggles's works
Reading about Ives has also reawakened in me a sense of outrage which I had sequestered a few years back. For example, as the previous blog described, I had never actually read the Wikipedia entry on The Blood Type Diet, trusting that somehow, a fair representation would emerge.
It's not that I can't handle the personal attacks, I can. It's the gratuitous assaults on the research and its benefits that I just refuse to put up with any longer. Basically if 'debunkers' are going to knock my work because it sounds like the wrong notes to their ears, they should be prepared to defend their assertions.
Like my favorite peripatetic scientist, Andrew Weil.
Dr. Weil, America’s holistic doctor and author of numerous books on the benefits of hallucinogenic drugs, seems to have a thing for the Blood Type Diet. Dr. Weil, whose book sales have been sagging for the last few years but appears to have no difficulty getting major media attention, now seems to have now taken the road common to many scientists at the twilight of their careers; that of ‘debunker’. In a short article on the AARP online magazine, Weil again argues that the Blood Type Diet should 'be sacked.'
Jettisoning his previous criticisms, including the rather odd observation that animals have blood types and yet don’t follow the Blood Type Diet, Dr. Weil, now a lectinologist and glycobiology expert, instead offers his opinions on lectins and blood types:
D’Adamo theorizes that the basis for such differences is our reactions to certain food proteins called lectins. Lectins are common in plant foods, especially grains and beans, and may be involved in food allergies and some immune disorders. But there is no convincing evidence for any interactions between lectins and the molecules that determine blood type.
Weil should really do his homework before committing himself to the further erosion of his nutrition credentials. Certainly he should have consulted the work of Boyd or Nachbar before making such claims, since he is essentially just plain wrong.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Dr. Joseph Mercola. Dr. Mercola, who for a time shared the same literary agent with me (at his request) and claims that his website is one of the most popular health sites on the internet with a very high circulation email newsletter. Mercola recently wrote in an email newsletter that following the blood type A diet and walking a lot gave him diabetes:
I am blood type A, so I switched to a high grain diet and changed my high intensity aerobic type exercises to walking like he suggested. Well, in a few short weeks my fasting blood sugar rose to nearly 130. This told me two things. The first was that I had diabetes, and the second was that Eat Right for Your Blood Type is a flawed theory that helps some, but can really harm and damage others.
Now, Dr. Mercola is a well-trained physician, so I have a hard time thinking that he actually believes this, since I doubt that any type A I know on the diet would ever call it ‘high grain.’ But imagine if you read the following; would you believe it?
I read in a book that people with legs should move around, so I walked down the street. Well, in a few short minutes I got hit by a car. This told me two things. The first was that I had to look at the stop signs more carefully, and the second was that moving around is a flawed theory that helps some, but can really harm and damage others.
What I find especially interesting is that if anybody advocates a high grain diet it is clearly Andrew Weil.
Now, I don’t have problems with either of these two guys; I just wish they would leave me out of their marketing plans. It would really be in their own best interests as well since one of the first things any salesmanship course will teach you is 'don't knock your competition.'