Busy writing weekend-- made more enjoyable by having finally migrated to topics that do not require much of an educational pre-buildup; just good old simple depictive writing. Grab this, measure this, do that. Went over to my little sailboat yesterday with Martha and together we managed to get most of the jackets, bottles, and whatnot out and into the garage. It was a great summer sailing around Long Island Sound. The winds were kind and consistent and the kids are now old enough to savor the experience. Winter just seems extra long and dreary when you can sail with your family and friends in such a great body of water.
Getting the boat over to the winter mooring was a scream. Literally. That day featured absolutely stupendous seas and 30 knot winds. Photographs never seem to do justice to the height of waves, but this photo of your humble blogger (with two sweaters underneath his coat) gives a slight idea of the beating my friend and I took that day. I don't normally wear my hats "homeboy style", but if the visor was in front I can assure you that the hat would have been floating some place in the background.
The other night we made salmon on a plank of cedar wood. I used a ginger-soy dressing that was wonderful, plus lots of garlic. You soak the plank in water for 15 minutes, then put the fish on it, add the fixings, then pop into the over at about 450 for about 15 minutes per pound. Some sautÃ©ed squash and onions, rice and we had a feast. Be advised though that the plank does make some smoke and if you have smoke alarms, you'll need to get your exhaust fans going!
After a week home writing, it's nice to be back in the clinic. The combination of the two (writing and seeing patients) rounds out the day nicely, especially if I can get in a bit of exercise. Someone showed me an article in one of the glossy weekly magazines about how an actress named Jennifer Lopez is following the BTD as an aid to having a healthy pregnancy. Good for her! It can't hurt, and often accomplishes miracles by itself when other methods of fertility have failed.
Speaking of miracles...
Time magazine had a discourse between Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins breathlessly advertised on the cover as "Science Versus God" or some similar dribble. In a rather underwhelming exchange, atheist Dawkins seemed to come out ever so slightly the worse, since Collins appeared every bit as rigorous a scientist, but felt compelled to admit that there were things in existence that he felt could not fall under the realm of scientific scrutiny. On the other hand, I got the impression that Dawkins rules out the existence of God simply because he feels that God is an improbability. Thus my problem with cover sales pitch: It should have been titled, "Science Without God Versus Science with God", since Collins (the coordinator of the US Human Genome Project) is not exactly the type of guy to go around blowing smoke out his mouth, dancing in a grass skirt.
I rather enjoy both of their writings, but each for different reasons. Dawkins, best known for his book The Selfish Gene, has a great clarity of vision that I admire and his thoughts are usually laid out in a rational step-wise order that a computer programmer geek (such as I) can appreciate. However, there is a persistently Cromwellian vehemence to some of his writings; especially when it comes to having a belief in anything other than the belief in having no belief.
Collins, who recently wrote The Language of God, is far cuddlier. He feels that "moral law" (as characterized by the writings of Kant) indicates there is such a thing as right and wrong, and there are some things that you "ought" to do, and some things that you "ought not" to do. In the Time discussion Dawkins pretty much makes it clear that he views things as having the ability to be bad or good, but denies that there is a bad or good.
I bring this point up because these types of media discussions just further convince me of the relative bankruptcy of language --which itself is a sure sign that the discussion is headed towards philosophy and away from any sort of objectivity.
My advice is to, skip the Time article, read Dawkin's The God Delusion and Collins' Language of God. Finally, read Stephen Jay Gould's classic article on nonoverlapping magisteria and draw you own conclusions.
Thomas Kuhn's little book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions identified the problem almost fifty years ago: Normal science tends to reward "puzzle-solvers" who choose only to work within the existing paradigm. Rival paradigms are incommensurable; they simply cannot understand each other through their own conceptual framework and terminology.
That's good news for Time. They can do this again next year.
Made an all-vegetable curry for dinner last night. Martha picked up some bok choy, which I used to use in my cooking many years ago, so we threw it in, with onions, garlic, tofu and a few other ditties. I made an effort to use more of the bulb or fleshy part of the plant, as opposed to too much of the top leaves. If you're using regular bok choy you'll want to cut the leaves from the stalks because the stalks will take longer to cook, however if your cooking with the â€˜baby bok choy' you can just chop up everything and throw it all together. What I liked about the taste of bok choy was its kind of silvery texture; smooth but not slimy. Try it sometime. It's pretty much neutral for everyone.
Neutral has been pretty much on my mind these days. I've been hanging out on the message board a bit more than usual, this attendance being occasioned by my current stationing at the computer for lots of other reasons (writing, tech stuff, etc.)
A recent blog discussed my frustration with the depiction of my work on the Wikipedia Encyclopedia site, where the prime author, in a work of titanic stupidity, characterized the BTD a â€˜flim-flam.' He is apparently a medical doctor with some expertise in menopause. Now, what that does to qualify him as an expert in what I do is still open to question.
One of the things I like best about the Wikipedia concept is that the knowledge base is additive; we all can add information to entries on the site. If we disagree with the biased point of view of an entry, we can contest it. In general, it is better with technical stuff, but some of the pop culture information is pretty good as well.
One of the best concepts put forth over there is the idea of the Neutral Point of View (NPOV), the ideal of representing all majority and significant-minority views fairly and without bias.
The article on the BTD is missing some NPOV.
Now, I think a lot of us in alternative medicine can benefit from a good dose of the NPOV, since much of the alternative health information flying around the internet these days is emotionally charged and tinged with personal experience. Witness the â€˜soy is bad' stuff all over the internet. I've spent hours looking at some of the supposed problems with soy (glutamate and excitoxins, â€˜dangerous hemmaglutinins', thyroid interactions, etc.) and almost all of these points are routinely presented as absolute truth when in fact they are often over extrapolated from basic research which never actually said what many of these people claim it implied.
Now before you go ahead and think I'm a soy defender, I'm not. It's not for everyone. But then again, it's also not, not for everyone.
So with that in mind, I share with you my new* Three Aphorisms on Nutrition Information:
- If you think something could be either good or bad for you, do it with the acceptance of the reality that with a thought like that, it probably is.
- If your preaching villianizes a particular food for everyone, you must also accept and realize that, right now, someplace on the planet it is probably getting somebody better.
- If your preaching glamorizes a particular food for everyone, you must also accept and realize that, right now, someplace on the planet it is probably making somebody sick.
And this final thought:
We should always evaluate recommendations in the light of what works for each of us as individuals. Similarly, we should also guard against the inadvertent foisting off of our own specific results as any sort of universal truism. That is what makes the whole individuality thing so great.