How to win the war on Christmas

The war on Christmas is real. Some Christians suspect that the “war on Christmas” is just a symptom of a “war on Christians”, and they might be right. Christians are being mislead who is really behind it. There’s been a lot of propaganda to blame it on Muslims, in order to foment a war between Christians and Muslims that the Muslims are favored to win. Actually, it has to do with your own ruling class who set up the confrontation. Except for Wahabists in Saudi Arabia, and among them only the leadership—a tiny minority—the vast majority of Muslims worldwide don’t care if Christians celebrate Christmas. There are problems in Pakistan too, but that’s largely due to Saudi Arabs who ended up there after waging jihad in neighboring Afghanistan. They’re the same ones who blew up the Buddhist statues in the Bamiyan valley, so don’t feel too singled out.

Contrary to propaganda you might have heard, the Islamic Republic of Iran does not persecute Christians or interfere with their religious observations. Here’s a traditional Christmas celebration in Iran, broadcast by the state television network:

You can find more of them from private sources, so it’s not “Potemkin Village” propaganda.

Aleppo, Syria, has a large Christian population. Their Muslim neighbors don’t stop them from celebrating Christmas, only Saudi-backed ISIS did that while it occupied the country. Aside: please notice the colors on the flags, and compare them to the colors you see on flags in the institutional media. You are constantly being lied to regarding what really happened there. Your ruling class secretly sponsors ISIS; one of their objectives was to wipe out religious and ethnic minorities from Syria and Iraq in order to placate the xenophobic Saudis and ostensibly stabilize the region under Saudi rule.

It would be strange if Buddhists generally were offended by Christmas, given that typical Buddhist practices include training themselves not to react negatively to their experiences, and practicing empathy. Buddhist-majority countries like Thailand typically tolerate Christmas celebrations by Christian minorities.

There are some Hindu nationalists who resent religious minorities, but not a critical mass of them to impact Christmas celebrations in Goa and other Christian enclaves of India.

The Chinese government is repressive, but Chinese culture per se has long been fairly tolerant of many different religious practices, usually casual and often mixed together. In some parts of China Christmas is fairly jolly and more ostentatious than in the USA.

As far as I can tell, even most atheists don’t object to a secularized Christmas that many of them choose to celebrate. That might be a problem in itself since it displaces the actual religious holiday, but the two can certainly co-exist to the extent that practitioners are mindful of secularization and commercialization of their own practices. In other words, nobody’s forcing Frosty the Snowman on you.

Regardless of widespread tolerance for Christmas among most non-Christians, it’s pretty obvious that there are some influential people and groups who find Christmas distasteful. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, or groveling for acceptance of your holidays, I suggest a much different approach. One that might actually improve the situation. But first, bear with me as I put the situation into perspective, which has a lot to do with how the situation actually came into being.

Imagine a society in which:

  • Christians are mostly peasants or low-skilled workers.
  • Christians are not welcome at 1st or 2nd-tier universities, regardless of grades or test scores, especially not if their religious affiliation is easy to spot, such as if they graduated from a Christian high-school. It’s worth noting that in the Soviet Union, the lack of welcome was explicit.
  • If they do get in, they’ll keep their religious affiliations quiet.
  • There have been instances of professors harassing students for their Christian beliefs, and in a few cases, they’ve been expelled.
  • When Christians do become prosperous, they usually stop observing, and possibly even become hostile to their former affiliates.
  • Christians are relatively sparse among the professional classes compared to their numbers in the general population, and other-than-Christians are much more heavily represented relative to their numbers in the general population.
  • The few professionals who are Christian tend to keep quiet about it, out of fear or shame.
  • Aside from appearances for the sake of pretending to have something in common with average people, the political and ruling classes are almost entirely non-religious, and the highest of their ranks are almost entirely atheistic.
Showed up in an Afroamerican church with a photographer, then handed story to publicist, while exploring feasibility of political campaign. What do you think?
Photo courtesy Presidência do México (Flickr) via Wikimedia Commons

All of these bullet points are or have been true in various times and places. The ruling classes in most of the western countries have been usually been somewhere in the range between casually practicing but not particularly devout, to profoundly atheistic, for some centuries now. Scholars have noticed that some of them used formulaic God-talk in public speeches, but rarely or not at all in private letters. There have been some notable exceptions, but that’s just it, they were exceptions. Nowadays if anything the rule has fewer exceptions.

The Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands is a blatant fraud; the party marketed itself as Christian as a trust-building measure in the aftermath of WW2. This is a secular party actively replacing the Christian population of Germany with Muslim immigrants and shutting down or secularizing traditional public displays of Christian culture.

It’s also worth noting that the religion which the rich and famous and the political classes no longer practice is often something other than Christianity. These days a lot of them have pedigrees that never included any Christians.

What I am trying to get at is

Christians are an underclass in most countries where they live. More to the point, increasingly they are an unappreciated and even unwanted underclass. It has long been an illusion that the people in charge are like you and care about you and about the same things you care about. It doesn’t make sense to simultaneously accept an inferior role AND complain about losing the culture wars to post-Modernists and neoMarxists; things are going against you because you don’t run the system, you take orders and contribute to your own demise.

That’s an observation intended to be helpful, not critical. Some Christians have a sense that they should be an underclass, like the kinds of people that Jesus ministered to. If that’s the case, they have no basis to complain about the war on Christmas (or Christians), which explains their passivity. Regardless, that’s the basis of your war on Christmas. Your ruling class is overwhelmingly non-Christian, and furthermore, even the ones whose ancestors practiced Christianity are ashamed to associate with you.

If Christians believe that they should be poor, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy. You will never become prosperous unless you seek prosperity. You’ll never seek prosperity unless it occurs to you to do so.

Are Christians obliged to be poor, according to the gospels? Here are some Gospel stories and references that have been (mis?)interpreted that way:

  • The story of the rich man and Lazarus
  • The story of the rich man who congratulated himself for his abundant harvest and planned a life of luxury and ease, only to “lose his soul” that evening
  • The saying that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven
  • Jesus telling the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor

Calvinistic sects of Christianity tend to have the opposite idea: they tend to believe that wealth is a sign of God’s favor. One peculiarity of Calvinistic Christian sects is that they were early to ignore the Biblical prohibition on lending money for interest. As a result, they were early participants in the banking industry and therefor capitalism generally. One specific Calvinistic sect adhering to Dominionism goes further and asserts that Christians should actually take over and become the ruling class. (This is a lightning-rod for outrage, but to me seems no worse than the ruling class that actually is being the ruling class. You’ll report to one boss or another, and it’s to your advantage to report to a ruling class that is at least somewhat similar to yourself).

The result was not, however, Christian domination of wealth and finance but instead, former Christians abandon their religious practice wholesale as they become wealthier and obtain formal education from what are now overtly anti-Christian universities.

Often it turns into a strange cycle:

  • Poor people are more religious, and have more children, than rich people.
  • Some of them become rich.
  • If so they abandon religion.
  • Sometimes they devolve into coke-snorting party animals (ie, more present-oriented).
  • They stop having children, or sometimes if they do have any, they revert to poverty after the family wealth has been squandered.
  • They are replaced by formerly poor and religious people who repeat the cycle.

The full cycle usually takes several generations: grampa worked hard and put his children through college, dad got rich, son was lazy wastrel who lived off dad and then his inheritance, great-grandson (if any) grows up fatherless and impoverished.

Similar cycles occur among other religious sects, including ones that don’t embrace poverty as a virtue. It probably has to do with a correlation between religious practice or belief and present versus future-orientation, but the correlation is segmented:

  • Specific Christian sects that emphasize that your fate is a result of Divine action, instead of your own choices, tend to be present-oriented and tend to stay poor.
  • Other religious sects, Christian or otherwise, that emphasize more of a sense of conscientiousness and responsibility, that give their adherents reasons to look forward to rather than fear the future (ie, death), tend to be more future-oriented, produce better performers, and often accumulate wealth and education.
  • More generally, wealth is strongly correlated to specific religious affiliations. Zoroastrians aka Mazdayani are some of the wealthiest people on earth per-capita. Reform Jews include the highest concentration of billionaires worldwide. Hindus in the USA have the highest per-capita income but I suspect not net worth. I’m the other way around; high net worth but modest income. Lousy at finding compelling reasons for other people to give me money except when they make the mistake of taking the other side of a wager in asset markets.

The success of those who accumulate wealth and education erodes as first it’s passed along to generations that didn’t earn it themselves. They lose faith in future rewards, start becoming very present-oriented, and succumb to the temptation to pursue wealth for the sake of hedonism or power, and to assume or at least hope that hedonistic pleasures or power over others will lead to lasting happiness and fulfillment. Wealth is spiritually dangerous because it leads to temptations poor people don’t have to worry about. That’s what the Gospel is warning you about. Poor people don’t have to worry about cocaine addictions, high-maintenance mistresses, obsessions about money, or abusing their employees.

Poverty is not a virtue. The poor simply have fewer choices and temptations. If you’re impotent, chastity isn’t a virtue. Being virtuous is when you make good choices despite bad ones being within easy reach.

You could, as a conscious choice, pursue prosperity as a way of having choices and power to do good, without illusions that being rich will make you happy, or feel fulfilled.

Imagine:

  • Having lots of money in the bank and not spending it on reasons to be happy.
  • Being grateful for what you already have.
  • Saving money for opportunities when they happen.
  • Having money to have choices.
  • Doing what you want to do for a living, instead of what you have to do for a living. This will contribute far more to your happiness than “stuff”.
  • Leveraging your wealth for good. You could, for example, own a company that sells people products that improve their lives, employ people who need jobs, and treat your employees respectfully.

Now, how this strategy applies to Christmas:

  • Don’t buy stuff, from people who don’t respect you, with money you don’t have, for people who don’t want it, hoping they’ll reciprocate with feelings they don’t have.
  • If the beneficiaries of your gifts reciprocate at all, it will be with an ugly tie.
  • People love you, or not, because of the way they feel when you are in their lives.
  • Avoid giving wives, kids, or friends stuff. Give them your time and attention.
  • If you must give gifts for face-saving reasons, give small token gifts that will contribute to their enjoyment of life.
  • Preferably, things that aren’t bad for them, like candy or booze. Don’t give vices as gifts.
  • Don’t host extravagant parties.
  • Don’t buy gifts if you are already in debt! Tell your friends and family that you can’t afford gifts, because it’s the truth.
  • Don’t borrow money for gifts and entertaining! Don’t shop with a credit card!

Something I have heard is that the best gifts are things that people would buy for themselves. The problem with this theory is that they already do.

Even when they don’t, I’ve heard:

Don’t buy me anything. Give me the money so that I can buy myself exactly what I want.

People used to be ashamed to sound entitled like that, but they’re not anymore. Now we know what they really think.

Headline news:

An alarming number of shoppers are still paying off debt from last Christmas

Majority Of Americans Would Skip Holiday Gift-Giving, Survey Says

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For many people, giving and receiving gifts are one of the big parts of the holidays. However, a new survey shows that 69 percent of Americans would skip exchanging gifts if their family and friends agreed to it. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Bank, also showed that 60 percent of those surveyed said they would spend more time with friends and family if they didn’t have to worry about buying or making gifts.

Then celebrate Christmas in ways that are meaningful (that usually means “non-commercial”):

  • Take your kids to visit elders. Sing carols to them like people used to do in the old days.
  • Take a goodie-bag to a sick friend or relative.
  • Call or write to someone you know to be lonely. When people are lonely, there’s usually a reason, such as having little value to offer others in exchange for their time and attention. So you give them enough time to make a call or letter and expect nothing in return.
  • Be kind and respectful to someone you don’t particularly like.
  • Invite military personnel to your home for Christmas supper.
  • Or buy gifts of necessary items (eg warm cloths) for military orphans.
  • Dedicate your acts of service to the Divine.

It’s a win-win situation. Your lower-key Christmas will attract less unwanted resentment. It’s less expensive, so it doesn’t contribute to impoverishing you and thereby relegating you to a despised underclass. And you put the meaning back into it, to make it really a special time of year, instead of a disappointment that makes people grumpy and depressed.

Enjoy a safe & jolly CHRISTMAS.

Facing a life-threatening condition without despair

The problem is never the problem; the problem is your reaction to the problem.

If we had a big party just before we expired, with friends and family, all smiles and laughter to the end, and went out with a song in our hearts, then even death wouldn’t seem particularly tragic. It would just seem like the end of a mundane process.

It IS just the end of a process.

Death is not a problem; the problem is suffering as a result of pain and fear.

It’s not the end of any thing. As far as we’re aware, nothing comes into existence, nothing goes out of existence, things just change form. There is no self; it’s just a purposeful illusion that helps us to maintain biological integrity. When our life’s work is finished, nothing that’s real disappears!

तत् त्वम सि — Thou art that
You are the Kosmos looking back on itself. Not just part of it; you are the whole thing experiencing itself. Your sense of separateness is an illusion caused by thoughts localized around lots of different perspectives that don’t communicate directly.

There is no separate “self”; it’s an illusion. You needn’t fear losing something that doesn’t exist.

We are Awareness experiencing streams of sensory input. Sensory experiences come in and out of Awareness. But our true nature, Awareness, exists outside time and has no moving parts to wear out!

What happens is that we fall in love with individual streams of sensory input, start identifying with them, and develop an “ego”. The ego is a purposeful illusion, that helps us maintain biological boundaries and give us an incentive to fight for survival as long as possible. That part is good.

The only bad part is identifying with something that never did have any tangible existence, and then worrying about something going away, that never actually existed.

Ultimately, it’s all good. Suffering implies enjoyment. Death implies birth. Sickness implies health. We tend to think of all these conditions as “opposites”, but they are necessarily two sides of the same coin; only in your imagination, within conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind, can you have one without the other. It’s mind-boggling, but if we never experienced suffering, we wouldn’t recognize bliss. As any artist can tell you, there’s no foreground without a background!

Without suffering there is no compassion. There wouldn’t even be love, because love implies feelings like care & loss that wouldn’t exist if there was no need for care and no possibility of loss.

Mindfulness of suffering reminds me to be compassionate to everyone, including even people I don’t like. I remember that they suffer too, and that their behaviors that cause me to suffer are a result of trying to avoid suffering themselves.

Without suffering, there would also be no compassion; we’d all be completely selfish. Some would argue “no loss”. Are they so sure about that? Would our experiences be that much less rich for not ever having experienced compassion?

What about courage? Is that worth experiencing?

If you can experience life from something closer to a God’s-eye point of view, you embrace it all, even the suffering. You kiss the wheel of Samsara, the cycle of birth, suffering and enjoyment, and death. Samsara is nothing more or less than the other side of Nirvana. Their dual nature is an illusion of your mind, which separates things out with conceptual boundaries that exist only in your mind so that it can process reality in workable chunks.

Ask for help handling pain

Pain is our friend; its purpose is to alert us to harm that needs our attention. If it’s chronic and associated with a condition you already know about, then it’s no longer needed. You can ask your doctor for help to at least take the edge off it.

Handle pain by handling suffering

I am myself in chronic pain. I don’t take any pain medications because I don’t feel any need. Maybe someday I will, but not today.

Suffering is not the same thing as pain; suffering is more like mental anguish. If you can reduce suffering, your tolerance of pain increases. This isn’t my opinion; it’s an experimentally-derived empirical fact. If people are in a good mood, their tolerance of pain is much higher than if they’re already miserable. This is how my own pain is quite tolerable to me. I am content, and happy most of the time.

You can reduce suffering by dissociating from the body. Sri Ramana Maharshi maintained peace of mind through the process of cancer. He would look at his aching arm, where the tumor was, and calmly remark “poor arm”. I do the same thing with my chronic pain. “My body is in pain. I’m OK. I enjoy life. I have work yet to accomplish (finishing raising a young daughter!), and I am grateful for the time I have left to work on it”.

  • Happiness solves all problems. Keep your spirits as high as you can.
  • Start noticing blessings. What you are grateful for, contributes to your happiness. What you take for granted, doesn’t.
  • Spend time with family and friends, doing things you enjoy, up to your ability. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Just a phone call will raise your spirits. If that isn’t possible, recall warm, happy memories. Think loving thoughts of them, and they will ease your own mind.
  • Mindfulness training can help reduce anxiety caused by over-thinking things you have no control over.
  • Exercise if you’re up to it, and just time outdoors, at least 10 minutes twice a day, can help keep your spirits up.

You are a part of the team that’s fighting for your life. Your immune system is working hard to destroy disease and heal your body. Enjoy the comfort of rest and relaxation when you need them. This fight is part of your divine purpose.

This post is dedicated with love to my wife, who has been living with stage 4 cancer for about 5 years now, and with the warm hand of friendship across the aether that connects us to Justin Raimondo who has been diagnosed with late-stage adeenocaricinoma cancer. Justin is the editor of Antiwar.com. He has dedicated his life to the causes of peace and freedom.

Learn more:

Who is raising your kids?

ho spends more time with your kids: you, or daycare workers and teachers? What about you versus the television or computer? American elementary school students spend about 6 1/2 to just over 7 hours in school each day. Some of them stay after school for after-school programs, some come home to an empty house, and…

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What’s stealing men’s mojo?

There’s been a lot of bad news for men about plunging testosterone levels. That’s the hormone that makes them manly, and gives them a healthy appetite for sexual activity.


News headlines:

Men’s testosterone levels declined in last 20 years

JANUARY 19, 2007 / 3:32 AM
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new study has found a “substantial” drop in U.S. men’s testosterone levels since the 1980s, but the reasons for the decline remain unclear.

Modern life rough on men

August 18th, 2011 07:30 AM ET
(CNN Health) Didn’t men use to be more masculine? …studies show that testosterone levels in men have been on the decline for decades.

Today’s men are not nearly as strong as their dads were, researchers say

By Christopher Ingraham August 15, 2016
Washington Post

Why don’t Japanese men like having sex?

By Gareth May11:41AM GMT 22 Jan 2015
(The Telegraph)

The Japan Family Planning Association interviewed 3,000 subjects about their sex lives (both men and women). The study revealed that nearly 50 per cent of those quizzed didn’t have sex in the month previous to the interview. 48.3 per cent of men had not had sex for a month (an increase in 5 per cent from 2012).
Most startling of all, however, was that 20 per cent of men aged between 25 and 29 – the period of a man’s life usually dedicated to the spreading of wild oats – expressed little interest in sex at all.


There is also the probably related problem of plunging male fertility. The same organs that produce most of a man’s testosterone also produce sperm.

Male Fertility Countdown

Dec 8th 2012
Yet another study suggests sperm numbers are falling in rich countries
(The Economist)


The problem is so bad that that it may very well contribute to the demise of entire countries where birth-rates are already well below replacement level. It’s also causing pathological imbalances between the ying and yang of several cultures.

The problem has actually been going on for a long time, but it’s been getting worse at an accelerating pace in recent generations. My geeky personality is not one to let a problem go unsolved if I can help it, not if it might impact me, my sons, or anyone else I care about. So I decided to collect information, follow leads, and come up with a list of lifestyle changes to reduce exposure to the most common known and suspected endocrine disruptors.

Then I wrote up what I discovered into a report. Enter your name and email address, and an answer for the bot trap, and you’ll receive the report and a subscription to our newsletter. Don’t worry, there’s no catch, and no spam involved; the newsletter is just an occasional summary of recent articles from my online magazine. That way, you don’t have to keep visiting to find interesting articles to read; they’ll come to you by mail. If you decide it’s not for you, you can just unsubscribe.

  • Discover how something you probably do every day might be damaging your man-parts (no, not that…).
  • Learn about the class of endocrine disruptors known as phthalates, and what the biggest source of ingesting them is.
  • Find out what to do about the endocrine disruptors in your food and possibly your drinking water.

Disclaimer: this report is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice. This report is about lifestyle changes designed to reduce environmental hormone disruption and promote natural hormone production. It’s not about diagnosing or treating any medical condition. Consult with a physician before starting a diet or exercise program.

Your free report should show up within an hour of submitting the form, as an attachment to an email.

Secure your kids’ unfair advantages NOW!

When the media want to express a potentially controversial opinion, they turn it into a question:

Is having a loving family an unfair advantage?

What the headline editor actually means is

Having a loving family is an unfair advantage.

This is an opinion piece published by ABC in Australia. Australia, like the rest of the Anglosphere, is culturally messed-up. It’s basically about how families should be abolished because they create “unfair” advantages for children growing up in nurturing families, as if it were the fault of good parents that some other parents can’t or don’t provide as many advantages to their own children.

For the record, abolition of the family has been tried several times. The Communists (you know, the biggest all-time mass murderers on the planet, in all of history) intentionally broke up at least some families in several countries, and the Zionists tried it on themselves on their Kibbutzim (agrarian or semi-agrarian collectives in Israel). Kibbutzim still exist, though collective child-rearing was apparently mostly phased out by the late 1980s. It is extremely taboo to criticize Kibbutzim in Israel, but apparently some people who grew up in one didn’t appreciate the “favor” and would rather have had a nice, normal family.

Back to the editorial:

Some still think the traditional family has a lot to answer for, but some plausible arguments remain in favour of it. Joe Gelonesi meets a philosopher with a rescue plan very much in tune with the times.

Beware of media references to anonymous authorities. Beware of people who tell you that they’re trying to save something from itself, especially if its none of their business! That’s typically a pretext for a controversial change, or getting rid of it altogether.

So many disputes in our liberal democratic society hinge on the tension between inequality and fairness: between groups, between sexes, between individuals, and increasingly between families.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

The editorial goes on with some kiss-off suggestions for “rescuing” the family as opposed to just abolishing it outright, that entail parents doing less for their own kids, and more for kids collectively, presumably through government institutions.

  • Why should these people get to decide what’s best for the rest of us?! By what right?! Who died and left the philosophers God?!
  • They claim to be motivated by a desire for equality. If that’s even true, which I doubt, so what? Equality isn’t a value. It doesn’t make the world a better place.
  • People aren’t equal, and you can’t make them equal. Whoever has the power to take away from one and give to another is obviously above the peasants who don’t have that power. That’s presumably rather the point!
  • More likely, they want to abolish families for the same reason that farmers don’t usually let their livestock raise their own broods anymore. This is an assault on your personal autonomy. Do not allow this!
  • Aside from thinking of the rest of us as their livestock, the real reason the rich and powerful are open to ideas like these is that they don’t raise their own children anyway; nannies do. It sounds like a good idea to them because it’s similar to something they’re already doing.
  • These philosophers want to take something away from you. The correct response is to defend what’s yours.

What would really happen if these philosophers got their way would be:

  • The wealth gap would INCREASE, not decrease, because you wouldn’t be allowed to make choices for your own benefit.
  • The winners would be cheaters and sociopaths, like in the former Soviet Union where a few high-ranking members of the Communist party ended up as billionaires through mafia activity, and everyone else was a peasant living in squalor.
  • This scheme creates a backwards dependency chain. Quarks do not depend on electrons to maintain their integrity. Electrons do not depend on atoms to maintain their integrity. Atoms do not depend on cells to maintain their integrity. Individuals should not depend on collectives to maintain their integrity; that’s not sustainable. This scheme and others like it are already destroying the integrity of the system.

Obviously, don’t feel guilty giving your children every advantage that you have earned through your own effort!

Coming soon: tips for subscribers from a book about how to help your children, and yourself, survive in the post-employment economy. It’s full of ideas about how to learn marketable skills faster and cheaper than conventional ways.

 

Stop calling heart-attack food “paleo”

I keep seeing on social media where some guy will post photos of his ribs-and-booze supper, someone else will chime in warning him that his diet is unhealthy, and he insists that “no, no, food pyramid is all wrong, this is the way you’re supposed to eat. It’s paleo.”

The USDA food pyramid might very well be wrong, but so is the idea that prehistoric people ate “lots of meat and no carbs”. Exactly how they ate depended on where in the world they were; they ate what was available locally. Most of them would have eaten a high ratio of foraged wild vegetables.

It would have some carbs too—just not as high a ratio, not refined, not fried, and not necessarily year-round. Simple sugars—like the ones found in that barbeque sauce those ribs are drenched in—are worse than starches, because they hit the bloodstream so fast. In excess, they trigger insulin desensitization. The ratio of carbohydrates increased once humans were civilized, because carbohydrates are easy to store, and stored food is what makes predictable processes possible. Those were mostly starches; until historically fairly recently, refined sugar was a luxury reserved for the rich.

This is closer to “paleo”, but balance probably not optimal.

Carbs supported the calorie-intensive heavy-labor lifestyle associated with farming and construction. Carbs are not as calorie-dense as either fat or protein, but they burn more efficiently. Hunter-gatherers don’t do heavy labor; by definition they don’t do farming or heavy construction. They spend their work hours foraging and sneaking up on prey, and a lot of their time is spent resting and playing. As people living in urban and suburban areas have shifted into more sedentary lifestyles, their need for carbs has shifted back down again.

To put this into perspective, life is all about maintaining homeostasis, or in other word, a balance between deadly extremes. Too hot, and you die of heat-stroke. Too cold, and you die of hypothermia. Too wet and you drown. Too dry and you die of thirst. As soon as your diet starts getting extreme, suspect that you are getting too much of one thing and not enough of another. Our ancestors knew this, but fat Americans, and increasingly Europeans, are falling for food fads.

“Diet”, by the way, is a noun, not a verb. Diet is what you eat regularly, not something you do only after you get fat again. Eat sensibly all the time, instead of starving yourself or eating fake diet foods to compensate for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle.

  • Whatever else you eat, eat a high ratio of green veggies to slow down your digestion and clean out your guts.
  • That’s not a serving of veggies, it’s a garnish! Most Americans should eat about 2 or 3 times as much green veggies as they actually do.
  • Watery, quick-growing vegetables like cucumbers, zucchini, and lettuce are insubstantial. Eat hearty cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage or collards, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli, daily, every meal. Generous daily servings of bok choi (and fish) are how people in Hong Kong live so long despite extreme urban stress.
  • Green veggies, not corn or potatoes, both of which are loaded with carbs. You can eat carbs but don’t count them as your serving of veggies.
  • Avoid fried carbs. Some of them are carcinogenic. Avoid potato chips and french-fries (chips in UK).
  • Favor low-sugar fruits like blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, and tomatoes over sugary fruits like grapes and pineapple.
  • Avoid processed foods and especially fast-food. Especially avoid sodas, even diet sodas.
  • Don’t eat preserved meat! It’s full of nitrates associated with heart disease and cancer. I’m looking at you, mein deutscher Junge! I’m aware that a lot of publicity has come out recently claiming that nitrates and nitrites are good for you, but I suspect that’s PR, not real science.
  • Don’t eat hydrogenated fats (“trans-fats”); your body’s mechanisms to get them out of your arteries can’t handle their broken structures. Not realizing that trans-fats were the real culprit was what triggered the anti-fat hysteria of the 1970s and 1980s. Fast foods are loaded with these; they’re created when oil is used for deep frying over and over again. Avoid deep-fried and breaded foods generally. Use coconut oil in lieu of shortening for baked goods; you’ll get used to and eventually start liking the flavor.
  • Polyunsaturated oils (like sunflower oil or safflower oil) are suspect; they go rancid easily and might be doing that in your body. Eat them in moderation and preferably in natural rather than refined forms. Use olive oil for salad dressing, and sauté in cold-pressed canola.
More of these, please

The problem with making generalities is that they obscure some important details. Diets are often grossly classified in terms of ideologies rather than in terms of optimal health.

With that qualification, “pescatarians” average the greatest longevity (all other factors being the same), followed by strict vegans. That makes sense, because pescaterians are getting more (preferably cold-water) fish oil, and therefor a more nearly optimal ratio of omega fatty acids. Eating a lot of fish is probably what contributes to Japanese longevity despite a lot of other bad habits. The vegans are probably getting more fiber, and they are probably more conscious of everything they eat; in other words, it’s probably not eschewing animal products altogether that contributes to their longevity; it’s all that brown rice, quinoa, and kale that they do eat.

If meat-eaters avoid preserved meats, the longevity gap between themselves and vegetarians narrows, which is why I am wary of preserved meats.

One of the world’s healthiest cuisines

“Vegetarian” doesn’t mean much; it’s a diet defined by what is not eaten rather than what is. It’s a diet defined by ideology, not optimal health. It could be very healthy or unhealthy. I would guess that roughly the healthiest vegetarian diet on the planet would be that of southern India; that and the relative rarity of vices among Indians (drugs and booze less common than in Europe and the Americas; satellite porn usually the worst of it) are why southern Indians live longer than most people who live at same level of poverty, and even longer than many people who are more affluent but have unhealthy habits.

Additional reading:

I’d post some cookbooks if I didn’t think they would probably be faddish, and the authors not lousy cooks. Maybe someone else can recommend one, and I’ll post it later. I think I eat healthy but my diet isn’t mainstream enough to recommend to a broad audience. You probably already know what is healthy; if you just do more of your own cooking, and stop eating processed foods and fast foods, that would be enough to get you back to the trimmer physiques of your recent ancestors.

This is worth reading to understand some of the mechanisms, even if you don’t have heart disease or cancer yet. It’s sort of like needing to buy insurance before your house burns down. It’s also worth mentioning that the author is a bit of a shady character, but that doesn’t bother me. He’s recommending a low-inflammation diet because he thinks it works, not because he’s trying to be a goody-goody.

Meditation works just fine for men

Professor Jordan Peterson tweeted a link to this article:

Mindfulness meditation helps women but not men, first study suggests

Researchers have found that mindfulness meditation doesn’t work as well to treat depression in men as it does for women.

That’s an interesting result, but it needs to be put into perspective:

Curing depression is not the primary purpose of meditation. Mindfulness meditation has been found to relieve symptoms of depression in at least some people, but that was not the purpose for which it was developed.

By the same token, it’s worth noting in passing that it wasn’t developed as a relaxation technique either. Relaxation is part of the process, but it’s a means, not an end.

A man who meditates is likely to develop something usually translated as “equanimity”उपेक्षा (upekṣā) in Sanksrit. It’s when you don’t respond to your experiences with strong (and especially negative) emotions. We know that meditation promotes equanimity in men because nearly every guru or pandit who has weighed in on the subject is a man, and that that was his experience.

Equanimity takes longer to develop than the typical short-term clinical research study. Modern medicine as a child of Modernity is  fixes that don’t require commitment: “here, take this pill”.

I would conjecture that equanimity reduces the risk of stress-induced depression.

The article conjectures that the reason that meditation “doesn’t work” (that is, doesn’t give instant gratification) for men is because men tend to deal with their problems through distraction.

I don’t think that’s universally true; back when I had problems, I never felt sufficiently in control of my life to come up with ways of distracting myself. Luckily though I have a naturally resilient personality; I sprang back quickly after falling apart.

That said, I know that a lot of my buddies do in fact distract themselves from problems. It keeps them from over-reacting to their problems long enough to keep them from doing something rash, but it also leads them into temptation to develop an addiction to whatever they’re distracting themselves with, plus problems that are not dealt with don’t usually just go away.

Meditation is a perfectly worthwhile activity for men. It has a lot of interesting side-effects, including helping you train your attention so that you’re paying attention to what is important, instead of wasting your life channel-surfing while bored when you could have been organizing your life to save time for things you really care about. It can also lead to something called “Enlightenment”, but if you don’t know what that means you’ll have to wait until I have enough bandwidth for a complicated explanation.

Meditation is also a good way for a man to learn how to stabilize his mood, as long as he understands that it’s not a quick cure for depression. Instant cures usually involve popping pills, but then you pay a high price later.