Another Sat Fat Study

No, you don’t increase your saturated fat by eating saturated fat. It’s the carbs, stupid:

The fatty acid called palmitoleic acid, which is associated with “unhealthy metabolism of carbohydrates that can promote disease,” went down with low-carb diets and gradually increased as carbs were re-introduced, the study said.

An increase in this fatty acid indicates that a growing proportion of carbohydrates is being converted into fat instead of being burned by the body, the researchers said.

“When you consume a very low-carb diet your body preferentially burns saturated fat,” Volek said.

“We had people eat two times more saturated fat than they had been eating before entering the study, yet when we measured saturated fat in their blood, it went down in the majority of people,” he said.

The finding “challenges the conventional wisdom that has demonized saturated fat and extends our knowledge of why dietary saturated fat doesn’t correlate with disease,” Volek added.

You don’t say.

Also, how the mindless theory of calorie counting has harmed public health.

[Update a while later]

Nine lies about fat that have destroyed the world’s health.

Orion

I’m not as excited about this flight as NASA and its booster want me to be, certainly not enough to get up at 4 AM. It just passed apogee, and things seem to be going well.

Meanwhile, PBS (with Miles O’Brien, of course) is the only major network to look at the serious programmatic problems. Lori doesn’t hold back.

[Update a while later, as the post-flight presser is about to start]

The Empire strikes back, briefly, but it won’t last:

The Orion launch has been be a triumph of engineering, hiccups and delays aside. But the Empire may not love the sequel. SpaceX is planning a historic launch of its own next year – the rocket is called the Falcon Heavy. Yes, Musk named his rocket after the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars, and he promises it will take twice as much payload into space as the one Nasa launched on Friday, and at one-third the cost. So far his claims about SpaceX have come true, and soon he’ll be fighting, with the lobbyists and the politicians who play favorites, for satellite contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Combine that kind of force with Elon Musk’s capsule full of actual people returning to space – under a Nasa contract to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station – and you have a private startup that can beat Nasa or any other government agency back to the moon, if it so chooses.

And so far, it does seem to so choose, though Elon will try to skip the moon and go straight to Mars, unless someone pays him for a lunar mission.

[Update a few minutes later]

No Sarah Zhang, Orion is not the answer to our space stagnation, it’s a continuation of it.

[Saturday-morning update]

Lori on MSNBC.

Putin’s Kremlin And Oil

He’s losing the price war:

Well before Crimea, European nations resented Russian natural gas price gouging. The Kremlin used pricing threats to bully Ukraine, Poland and even Germany into political concessions.

After the Crimean travesty, the Baltic States and Poland demanded alternative gas supplies. The Obama administration quietly agreed to permit U.S. gas exports and the development of a liquefied natural gas exporting facility.

American LNG supplies might reach Poland in three years. That’s good news. Here’s the bad news: Putin has three years to exploit E.U. divisions and politically split NATO.

Or he had three years. Enter Saudi Arabia. America’s “fracking” success challenges Saudi global oil dominance. What’s the price point where fracking becomes unprofitable? Estimates run from $55 to $70 a barrel for oil. The Saudi oil ministry intends to find out and says it will not cut production. The market will determine price.

Though Russia can strangle Ukraine by denying gas supplies, the stunted and corrupt Russian economy survives on energy sales. Without its cash crop of oil, and gas, Russia is a big cabbage farm with a second-rate armaments industry. Cabbage, tanks, ICBMS and nuclear weapons mean Russian is not quite a petro-emirate writ large, but the cruel analogy has instructive utility.

If Russian nukes mean open war with Moscow is too risky, then attacking the Kremlin’s cash generator is war by appropriate means.

The question is, how long will the Saudis be able and/or willing to try to break the US energy industry? Regardless, OPEC is dead. Which is bad news not just for Russia, but Venezuela and Iran. It’s a shame that the administration has been doing almost everything it can to hamstring us.

Empty Integrity

Thoughts on a declining culture:

…it’s hard to find a children’s cartoon or movie that doesn’t tell kids that they need to look inside themselves for moral guidance. Indeed, there’s a riot of Rousseauian claptrap out there that says children are born with rightly ordered consciences. And why not? As Mr. Rogers told us, “You are the most important person in the whole wide world and you hardly even know you.” Hillary Clinton is even worse. In her book It Takes a Village, she claims that some of the best theologians she’s ever met have been five-year-olds (which might be true when compared with a certain homicidal Ukrainian priest).

Such saccharine codswallop overturns millennia of moral teaching. It takes the idea that we must apply reason to nature and our consciences in order to discover what is moral and replaces it with the idea that if it feels right, just do it, baby. Which, by the by, is exactly how Lex Luthor sees the world. Übermenschy passion is now everyone’s lodestar. As Reese Witherspoon says in Legally Blonde, “On our very first day at Harvard, a very wise professor quoted Aristotle: ‘The law is reason free from passion.’ Well, no offense to Aristotle, but in my three years at Harvard I have come to find that passion is a key ingredient to the study and practice of law — and of life.” Well, that solves that. Nietzsche-Witherspoon 1, Aristotle 0.

According to Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the death of God and the coming of the übermensch was going to require the new kind of inner-directed hero to become his own god. As a result, anything society did to inconvenience the heroic individual was morally suspect, a backdoor attempt by The Man to impose conformity. This is pretty much exactly what Robin Williams teaches in Dead Poets Society. But that ethos has traveled a long way from Mork. When Barack Obama was asked by a minister to define “sin,” he confidently answered that “sin” just means being “out of alignment with my values.” Taken literally, this would mean that Hannibal Lecter is being sinful when he abstains from human flesh in favor of a Waldorf salad. As you can see, when you take the modern definition of integrity all the way to the horizon, suddenly “integrity” can be understood only as a firm commitment to one’s own principles — because one’s own principles are the only legitimate principles. Heck, if you are a god, then doing what you want is God’s will.

This won’t end well.

The Elizabeth Lauten Nonsense

Dear Media: This is why everybody hates you:

There are many wonderful reporters. They work hard to get the story right and provide a valuable service to their readers and viewers. But we have a serious problem — and it’s a problem at the editor level at least as much as it’s a problem at the reporter level.

Republican media operative Rick Wilson went on a beautiful rant last night about this embarrassing Lauten debacle. You can read the whole thing here. This is edited down but he wrote, “Reporters and media folks wondering, ‘Why don’t people trust us?’… The last couple weeks should be clarifying for you… But the endless, agenda-driven games are repellent to readers/viewers. Your sins are of omission and commission both… You used to be able to claim news judgement and ignore stories you hated. You still do, but now people see it, and you loathe it… So you’ll do one piece on Gruber, then pretend you dug in hard. But god forbid a staffer dings the Obama kids. Then you flood the zone… You pick and choose when to provide context… I love pros in the business. Love them. And most of you ARE pros. Most of you DO work stories, look for interesting angles… But you tolerate (and your editors tolerate) a lot of outrageous, absurdly bad practices. Gruber? Unforgivable… the frustration Americans feel about media isn’t getting any less acute, and some introspection might go a long way…”

Indeed it would. There are some tenacious and wonderful reporters. But the overall picture in many newsrooms is getting worse. Under no circumstances should scarce newsroom resources be diverted from real stories onto fake ones that have already been covered more than a Beatles hit.

There is a huge liberal bias problem in the media (fun recent graph related to the problem here). Pretending it’s not there is not going to make it go away. But pointing out the problems year after year isn’t making things better. Some of the media behavior post-election seems more like a toddler temper tantrum than a dispassionate news judgment.

It’s ironic, when one recalls Peter Jennings (or Tom Brokaw, I forget exactly which) characterizing the 1994 vote that gave Republicans control of Congress for the first time in four decades as a “temper tantrum” on the part of the voters.

Obama’s Executive Amnesty

How to push back:

These two steps would have strong public backing. While a majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally, 77 percent oppose making them “eligible for government benefits such as Social Security, food stamps and Medicaid before they become citizens.” And even those who believe illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay support the deportation of criminals such as child predators. Obama would have a very hard time explaining why he opposed the deportation of illegal immigrants convicted of, let’s say, a violent misdemeanor against a child or a misdemeanor involving child pornography.

Some will object that such a course rewards Obama’s lawless action. But it also has the benefit of affirming that those benefiting from Obama’s amnesty do not have the privileges of legal permanent residents or citizens. And it puts Obama on the defensive, while putting Republicans squarely on the side of the American people.

Which has always been the case.

Orion’s Mission

Paul Spudis deflates a lot of the hype about this week’s flight. The notion that this is a significant part of a Mars architecture is, and always has been, ludicrous.

[Update a while later]

Sorry, I’ve solved the problem of the missing link.

[Update a few minutes later]

More from Joel Achenbach:

You don’t need an advanced degree from MIT to grasp that this is a very stately, deliberate program, one free of the sin of haste and the vice of urgency.

Has there ever been a piece of human space hardware developed so slowly?

Or so expensively?

Serious question: Is it not a fact that Orion is the costliest capsule in human history?

Yes, it has lots of bells and whistles that the Apollo capsules lacked. This one has XM/Sirius radio built in, butt-warmers in the seats, four-way adjustable mirrors and Big-Gulp-sized cup-holders. It’s got a guest room, a fully stocked bar, a laundry room and 24-hour concierge service. It’s a really nice spaceship!

…Orion could, in theory, be used for such a mission, but it’s a single piece of what would be a complex array of technologies and hardware. Yes, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, but only if you keep walking, and are seriously committed to the journey — no pretending or arm-waving allowed.

(I drive to the store and buy an onion. I drive home and cut it up and put it in a big pot on the stove and then go watch television. Someone asks me, “What are you doing?” and I answer, “I’m making gumbo.” And the someone says, “What about the garlic, the peppers, the celery, the fresh okra, the andouille sausage, the grilled chicken, the fish, the shrimp, those special blended peppers you always use, and the roux, not to mention the fresh French bread on the side?” I answer, “I can’t afford that right now.”)

Heh.

That UVA Rape Story

Is it a gigantic hoax?

There seems to be some legitimate reason for skepticism. To me, it has the ring of a lot of the “satanic cult” stories, that the FBI never managed to actually confirm.

[Tuesday-morning update]

Jonah Goldberg is skeptical. And Megan McArdle says that if the story is true, the police should be involved.

Yes.

[Bumped]

[Update a while later]

Tom Maguire has more thoughts (and skepticism).

“Anti-Government” Militias

Why not?

In the United States, police forces exist as a public service, not as a replacement for civil society. As the Supreme Court has made clear, police are under no obligation to help or to protect you. They can choose to, certainly. But they do not have to. And, even if they did have to, it would still be the case that they could not possibly be everywhere at once.

Nor are they intended to be. For much of American history, there was no serious distinction drawn between the citizenry, the militia, the military, and the police. Instead, there were a few elected or appointed roles — watchmen, constables, sheriffs, etc. — and then there was the people at large. Those people were expected to bandy together and to help one another, to be responsible for their own protection, and to help to keep the peace — both under the control of authorities and of their own volition. When standing police forces came into being, Americans did not give up this system; they added to it.

Which is to say that there is no reason whatsoever for us to abandon either our penchant for self-reliance or our preference for volunteerism simply because we have a series of professional police forces running in parallel to civil society. Nor, for that matter, should our out-of-control licensing systems and incomplete self-defense protections be permitted to become an impediment to our security. I’m no great fan of Oathkeepers as an outfit. But if they wish to help out during a protest, so be it. If a collection of black Ferguson residents wishes to protect a white-owned gas station from looters, so be it. If the Huey P. Newton Gun Club wants to march around Dallas protecting black citizens, so be it. If a spontaneous, unlicensed group of Korean Los Angelenos wishes to take up arms and protect their property from rioters, so be it. The United States represents a collection of free people who elect to have police forces — not the other way around. So some of our actors don’t much like the government. Who cares?

People who think that the country is a government with people, instead of people with a government.

As Glenn notes, this seems ripe for a federal civil-rights law, if protecting yourself and your property is a civil right (as it always has been under English common law). It would be amusing to see if Obama would sign it.

[Afternoon update]

An update on the Oath Keepers in Ferguson, from Jesse Walker.

My Cell Phone

I have a Motorola Droid Global 2, almost four years old. I haven’t seen any reason to upgrade it, but it’s starting to flake out on me (sometimes won’t boot).

So I guess it’s off to the Verizon store to see if they have any new models with keyboards (they’ll take my keyboard away from my cold dead fingers).

[Update Tuesday morning, with much-needed rain in LA]

So I went to the store, and it turns out that no one puts keyboards on smart phones any more. The only way to get one is to buy a “basic” phone (that is, all it does is voice and text). So my options are to give up the keyboard with a new phone, or…go buy a replacement on Ebay, where they’re going for about $25. Or I could look for a more recent (but not current) phone with a keyboard, so I could at least get some improvement.

ClimateGate, Five Years Later

Thoughts from Judith Curry on the legacy:

By the time 2011 rolled around, my ostracization by the climate establishment was pretty complete, so I redefined (broadened) my academic peer group to include physicists, social scientists and philosophers (not to mention the extended peer community developed on my blog). I found this much more stimulating and interesting than circled wagons of the climate community.

To assess the personal impact of Climategate, I’m trying to figure out exactly where my head was at prior to Climategate in 2009. Wherever; I’m not sure it matters anymore. In 2014, I no longer feel the major ostracism by my peers in the climate establishment; after all, many of the issues I’ve been raising that seemed so controversial have no[w] become mainstream. And the hiatus has helped open some minds.

The net effect of all this is that my ‘academic career advancement’ in terms of professional recognition, climbing the administrative ladder, etc. has been pretty much halted. I’ve exchanged academic advancement that now seems to be of dubious advantage to me for a much more interesting and influential existence that that feels right in terms of my personal and scientific integrity.

Bottom line: Climategate was career changing for me; I’ll let history decide if this was for better or worse (if history even cares).

I think history will judge her well.

“Reality Has A Liberal Bias”

Yeah, right:

“If you look at the most credible evidence [of Michael Brown's death at the hands of a Ferguson, Mo., police officer], the lessons are really basic,” Lowry said during an appearance on Meet the Press. “Don’t rob a convenience store. Don’t fight with a policeman when he stops you and try to take his gun. And when he yells at you to stop, just stop.”

Those comments elicited gasp from a panel that included the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson and MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. Mitchell exclaimed “Whoa, whoa” during Lowry’s comments, while Robinson said his recitation of the known facts in the case was an attempt to “relitigate” Brown’s death.

Do they ever listen to themselves?