Archive for May, 2010

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

Posted: May 28, 2010 in Book Notes
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  • Science knows a lot less about nutrition than you would expect – nutrition science is a very young science.
  • Two indisputable facts about the link between diet and health:
    • Western diet consists lots of processed food and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grain, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
    • Traditional diet suggests that there is no single ideal human diet but that the human omnivore is exquisitely adapted to a wide range of different foods and a variety of different diet – the relatively new Western diet that makes its people sick.
  • Instead changing the diet, we tried to identify the evil nutrient in the Western diet – leaving the diet undisturbed.
    • The more you process any food, the more profitable it becomes.
    • The healthcare industry makes more money treating diseases than preventing them.
    • Confusion too is good business – the nutrition experts becomes indispensable, the manufactures can reengineer their products to reflect the latest findings, media can report these issue – everyone wins except the eaters.
  • Journalism is in the explaining business and if the answers to the questions got too simple, they’d be out of business.
  • There is a deep reservoir of food wisdom out there, or else humans would not have survived and prospered.
  • Foods are more than the sum of their nutrient parts – we have yet to understand how these nutrients work together.
  • Rules are hard-and-fast laws; personal policies supply us with broad guidelines that should make everyday decision making easier and swifter.
  • Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.

What should I eat? Eat Food

  • Distinguish real foods from the highly processed products of modern food science.
  • Today foods are processed in ways specifically designed to get us to buy and eat more by pushing our evolutionary buttons – our inborn preferences for sweetness and fat and salt.
    • These tastes are difficult to find in nature but easy for the food scientists to deploy.
  • Cut down your sugar intake.
    • Especially avoid high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
    • Labels list ingredients by weight – avoid products that list sugar as the top three ingredients
  • Simpler, less ingredients is better.
  • Avoid food products that make health claims.
    • Generally it is the products of the modern food science that makes the boldest claims. Growers don’t have the budget or the packaging.
  • Removing the fat from foods doesn’t necessarily make them nonfattening.
    • Carbohydrates can also make you fat.
    • Eat the real thing in moderation rather than bingeing on “lite” products packaged with sugars and salt.
  • Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not – margarine, artificial sweetener, fake fats, soy-based mock meats.
  • Eat only food that will eventually rot.
    • The more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious it typically is – nutrients are removed so the food is less appealing to fungi, bacteria and insects – thus extending the shelf life.
    • Real food is alive and therefore should eventually die.
  • Snack on fruits and nuts rather than chips and sweets.
  • If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
  • It’s not food if it’s called the same name in every language. (Big Mac, Cheetos, Pringles)

What kind of food should I eat? Mostly Plants

  • Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
    • Plants are typically less “energy dense” – fewer calories
  • Treat meat as flavoring or special occasion food.
  • The water in which vegetables are cooked is rich in vitamins and other healthful plant chemicals.
  • Eat organic and local.
    • Soils rich in organic matter produce more nutritious food.
    • Nutritional quality of any kind of produce will deteriorate in time.
  • Eat wild foods when you can.
    • Contain higher levels of various phytochemicals – they have to defend themselves without our help.
    • Historically we tended to select and breed crop plants for sweetness.
  • Mackerel, sardines, and anchovies > tuna, swordfish, shark (high mercury content)
  • Fermented food – foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi.
    • Transformed by live microorganisms.
    • Yogurt, soy sauce, sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough bread
  • Eating fruits > drinking its juice
    • In nature, sugars almost always come packaged with fiber, which slows their absorption and gives you a sense of satiety before you have ingested too many calories.
  • “The whiter the bread, the sooner you will be dead.”
    • White flour is not much different from sugar.
    • Whole grains contain fiber, B vitamins, healthy fats.
  • Regard nontraditional food with skepticism.
  • Have a glass of wine with dinner.
    • Be aware of your drinking pattern – better to drink little and often, and with food.

How should I eat? Not Too Much.

  • The French Paradox
    • Their eating behaviors compensates for the food they eat.
  • The American food system has for many years devoted its energies to increasing quantity and reducing price, rather than to improving quality.
  • Pay more and eat less.
    • Choose quality over quantity.
    • Americans spend less than 10% of their income on food, less than the citizens of any other nation.
  • Eat less!
    • Stop eating before you are full – when your hunger is gone.
    • Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
    • Pay attention to what your body, not just your sense of sight – is telling you.
    • Eat slowly – it is a food experience.
    • Law of diminishing marginal utility – for as you continue to eat, you’ll b getting more calories, but not necessarily more pleasure.
    • Smaller portions – use smaller plates and glasses.
    • Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds (or at least wait several minutes before you go for seconds – you may discover you don’t need it).
    • Eat meals and less snacking.
    • Better to go to waste than to waist.
  • Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
    • America gas stations now make more money inside selling food and cigarettes than they do outside selling gasoline.
  • Do all your eating at a table.
  • Try not to eat alone – when we eat alone, we eat more.
    • Shared meal elevates eating from a biological process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community.
  • By growing your own food, you repair the relationship to food and eating.
    • You escape the culture that implies that food should be fast, cheap, and easy; that food is a product of industry, not nature; that food is fuel rather than a communion with other people, with other species, with nature.
  • Cooking for yourself is the only sure way to gain control of your diet.
  • Cultivate a relaxed attitude toward food – don’t stress over breaking food rules.
  • All things in moderations; including moderation.

Gone by Jacky (Belize)

Posted: May 27, 2010 in Poetry
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She is gone
As sudden as she had came

I feel a yawning void
Of which I did not know existed

She is gone
Yet she is with me
She has invoked my humility

Now
Every smile I flaunt will contain a residue of grief
For she has revealed to me the splendor of vulnerability
Every tear I shed will contain traces of joy
For we have taken part in a cherished encounter

She is gone
Only to continue down her path…

…Until we are whole
Once again

Posted: May 24, 2010 in Quotes
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The real contentment comes only when there is no desire, no hankering in your mind for anything. How can you say that you have got everything and do not want anything more when you are holding an empty vessel in your hand? You might be saying this with your mouth, but there would always be the worry in your mind about how the pot could be filled, always looking from side to side with the expectation that somebody will come and fill it up. Well, how can you call this contentment? When one sees that when the pot before him is full to the brim, it is emptied, and when it is empty, it is refilled of its own – that is contentment. If anyone wanted to give him anything, he would show that the pot was full already. What would he do with anything more? Even if he wanted to share it with others, where would he put it? This is the real contentment and it comes only through the grace of God. When you have full faith in Him, full reliance on Him, when you can surrender everything to Him, then that grace comes to you by itself – you do not have to ask for it or make any effort. Such is the value of faith in God.

– Maharaj-ji

  • The words of human language allude to things of which we have experience through our own physical senses. Death, though, is something which lies beyond the conscious experience of most of us.
    • The general understanding we have of language depends upon the existence of a broad community of common experience in which almost all of us participate.
    • …the experience is so indescribable, so far beyond human language and human modes of perception and existence…
  • Some say death is annihilation of consciousness; others say that death is the passage of the sour or mind into another dimension of reality.
  • No matter how old you are, don’t stop learning. For this is a process that goes on for eternity.
  • Death is a transition into a higher state of consciousness or of being…Death is like graduating from one thing to another…Death is such a release.
  • It is a well-known psychological phenomenon in which a person may start with a fairly simple account of an experience or event and over a period of time develop it into a very elaborate narrative – so embellished as to bear little resemblance to the original.
  • Most numbers and quantities one hears quotes in medical practice are means, averages, and are not to be taken as absolutes.
  • From the pure philosophical point of view, an infinity of hypotheses could be constructed to explain any experience, observation, or fact.
  • We cannot fully understand this life until we catch a glimpse of what lies beyond it.

Parallels

  • The Bible
  • Plato
    • Ultimately truth can only come to one in an almost mystical experience of enlightenment and insight.
    • Time is not an element e realms beyond physical, sensible world. Time is the moving, unreal reflection of eternity.
    • Human language is inadequate to express the ultimate realities directly.
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead
    • His thought and perception are less limited; his mind becomes very lucid and his senses seem more keen and more perfect and closer in nature to the divine.
  • Emanuel Swedenborg

Common stages and events of the experiences of dying

  1. Ineffability
  2. Hearing the news
  3. Feelings of peace and quiet
  4. The noise
  5. The dark tunnel
  6. Out of the body
  7. Meeting others
  8. The being of light
  9. The review
  10. The border or limit
  11. Coming back
  12. Telling others
  13. Effects on lives
  14. New views of death

Many and More by Maya Angelou

Posted: May 20, 2010 in Poetry
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There are many and more

who would kiss my hand,

taste my lips,

to my loneliness lend

their bodies’ warmth.

 

I have want of a friend.

 

There are few, some few,

who would give their names

and fortunes rich

or send their first sons

to my ailing bed.

 

I have need of a friend.

 

There is one and only one

who will give the air

from his failing lungs

for my body’s mend.

 

And that one is my love.

 

Changing by Maya Angelou

Posted: May 20, 2010 in Poetry

It occurs to me now,

I never see you smiling

anymore. Friends

praise your

humor rich, your phrases

turning on a thin

Dime. For me your wit is honed

to killing sharpness.

But I never catch

you simply smiling, anymore.

The first woman said One thing about me, I’m little and low, I find me a man wherever I go.

The second woman said They call me string bean ’cause I’m so tall, men see me, they ready to fall.

The third woman said I’m fat as butter and sweet as cake, men start to tremble every time I shake.

The fourth woman said I’m young as morning and fresh as dew, everybody loves me, and so do you.

The fifth woman said I’m little and lean, sweet to the bone, they like to pick me up and carry me home.

The sixth woman said When I passed forty, I dropped pretense ’cause men like women who got some sense.

The seventh woman said fifty-five is perfect, so is fifty-nine, ’cause every man needs to rest sometime.

However I am perceived and deceived,

however my ignorance and conceits,

lay aside your fears that I will be undone,

for I shall not be moved.

I’d call a place

pure paradise

where families are loyal

and strangers are nice,

where the music is jazz

and the season is fall.

Promise that

or nothing at all.

Posted: May 20, 2010 in Quotes
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The path to enlightenment is not a group trip. It is between you and God. This means you’ve got to go inside. The fewer external distractions and the more concentration you have, the easier it is to get there.

– Bhagavan Das “It’s Here Now (Are You?)”

Faith

  • All is possible, faith is possible, even necessary.
  • Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.
  • It cannot be proven that God exists…one believes in God, as one believe in a friend – or one believes nothing…this whole business depends on faith in God, each reader must be left to wrestle with his own, her own doubts and beliefs.

Moshe (Moses)

  • To God he speaks on the people’s behalf, to the people on God’s behave.
  • In his humility he has been hollowed out like a reed, so that there is nothing in him – no pride or quirk of personality – to distort God’s message.
  • He can serve, therefore, as an authentic medium, a true channel.
  • Who is open enough to hear God’s words and courageous enough to speak it aloud?

Bible

  • The Bible is a collection of books, a various library written almost entirely in Hebrew over the course of a thousand years.
  • The Bible is a believer’s history, not a history of art or culture.
  • To go the way one has never gone before, and yet to go home.
    • Joshua leads the Israelites into the Promised Land.
    • The Psalms…are treasure trove of personal emotions from poets acutely attuned to their inner states…
    • The story the Hebrew Bible has to tell is the story of an evolving consciousness, a consciousness that went through many stages of development and that, like all living things, sometimes grew slowly and at other times in great spurts.

Time

  • Cyclical religion goes nowhere because, within its comprehension, there is no future as we have come to understand it, only the next revolution of the Wheel.
  • For the ancient, nothing new ever did happen, except for the occasional monstrosity.
  • For the ancient, the future was always to be reply of the past, as the past was simply an earthly replay of the drama of the heavens: “History repeats itself” – that is, false history, the history that is not history but myth. For the Jews, history will be no less replete with moral lessons. But the moral is not that history repeats itself but that it is always something new:  a process unfolding through time, whose direction and end we cannot know, except insofar as God gives us some hint of what is to come.
  • One come to inner peace by coming to terms with the Wheel.
  • Israel invents not only history but the New as a positive value.
    • The Israelites, by becoming the first people to live – psychologically – in real time, also became the first people to value the New and to welcome surprise.
  • Since time is no longer cyclical but one-way and irreversible, personal history is now possible and an individual life can have value.
  • …immense achievement: mankind’s first attempt to write history, a history that mattered deeply because one’s whole identity was bound up with it.
  • We do not control the future; in a profound sense, even God does not control the future because it is the collective responsibility of those who are bringing about the future by their actions in the present.
  • The past is irretrievable and the future is blank. The one is fixed, the other unknown. For the past, I can have only regret, for the future only anxiety. To live in real time, to live in history, can be a horrible experience – and no wonder that the ancients contrived to escape such torments by inventing cyclical time and the recurrent Wheel, leading only to the peace of death.
  • Present is the intersection of time and eternity, the moment where God is always to be found.
    • To stand neither in the storied past nor the imagined (or dreaded) future but in the present moment.
  • Each moment, like each destiny, is unique and unrepeatable. It is a process – it is going somewhere, though no one can say where. And because its end is not yet, it is full of hope – and I am free to imagine that it will not be just process but progress.

Other Topics

  • The people of the Western world, whose peculiar but vital mentality has come to infect every culture on earth, so that, in a startling precise sense, all humanity is now willy-nilly caught up in this “we”.
  • Avram would have been given the same advice that wise men as diverse as Heraclitus, Lao-Tsu, and Siddhartha would one day give their followers: do not journey but sit; compose yourself by the river of life, meditate on its ceaseless and meaningless flow – on all that is past or passing or to come – until you have absorbed the pattern and have come to peace with the Great Wheel and with your own death and the death of all things in the corruptible sphere.
  • But no one could maintain such pitch of feeling forever. Now that their consciousness has been altered, there must be a return to the business of ordinary life.
  • He seeks the things all sane men seek – pleasure and security – though he hopes for something more, something New.
  • When a human being arrogates to himself the role of God, he must fail miserably.
  • God does not see as human beings see; they look at appearances but YHWH looks at the heart.
  • Leisure is the necessary ground of creativity, and a free people are free to imitate the creativity of God.
  • If God was to speak to human beings and if there was any possibility of their hearing of him, it could happen only in a place stripped of all cultural reference points, where even nature (which was so imbued with contrary, god-inhabited forces) seems absent (i.e. desert).
  • Cultural exchange is seldom a one-way affair.
  • A man who loves a crowd is seldom as effective in intimate relationships as he is in the midst of the throng.
    • The history of politics, sports, and entertainment are replete with such figures, triumphant in public, tragic in private.
  • YHWH is in us, the still, small voice, the murmuring of personal conscious.
  • To serve God means to act with justice. For without justice, there is no God.
    • If you have more than you need, you are a thief, for what you “own” is stolen from those who do not have enough. You are a murderer, who lives on the abundance that has been taken from the mouths of the starving.
  • “Begging the question” – the logical fallacy that assumes as a given the very thing that must be proved.
  • Because of their unique belief – monotheism – the Jews were able t give us the Great Whole, a unified universe that makes sense that, because of its evident superiority as a worldview, completely overwhelms the warring and contradictory phenomena of polytheism.
  • The Jews gave us the Outside and Inside – our outlook and our inner life.
  • The belief system we have come to call Judaism is the origin of the processive worldview.