First, Do No Harm

Friday, Aug 21, 2015

When it comes to political issues, we usually should not fight for what we believe in. Fighting for something, as I understand the term, involves fighting against someone. If one's goal faces no (human) opposition, then one might be described as working for a cause (for instance, working to reduce tuberculosis, working to feed the poor) but not fighting for it. Thus, one normally fights for a cause only when what one is promoting is controversial. And most of the time, those who promote controversial causes do not actually know whether what they are promoting is correct, however much they may think they know... they are fighting in order to  have the experience of fighting for a noble cause, rather than truly seeking the ideals they believe themselves to be seeking.

Fighting for a cause has significant costs. Typically, one expends a great deal of time and energy, while simultaneously imposing costs on others, particularly those who oppose one's own political position. This time and energy is very likely to be wasted, since neither side knows the answer to the issue over which they contend. In many cases, the effort is expended in bringing about a policy that turns out to be harmful or unjust. It would be better to spend one's time and energy on aims that one knows to be good.

In Praise of Passivity, Michael Huemer, 2012,

Radical Optimism

Saturday, Jun 27, 2015

Interviews about Radical Optimism on the Freedom Lovin podcast: Part1, Part2

Lessons Learned Buying a Truck Camper

Friday, May 22, 2015

Lessons learned buying a truck camper:


Friday, May 23, 2014

It's often said that humans have a unique appreciation for death, compared to other animals, due to our advanced consciousness. I wonder if it's not the opposite. So often we don't live life to the fullest because of our abstraction of death. We can pass for months or even years in our safe, sheltered houses, doing minimal labor to get remotely packaged foods, with the only fears being what other humans think of us. Non-human understanding of death is probably more intuitive, but seems to be much more appreciative. Humans seem to appreciate death - and therefore life - the most when actually confronted by it. When it leaves the abstract and becomes real. I think death can be looked at optimistically, and ultimately happily, but it probably does good to consider it - and life itself - more often, in all of its light.

Memento mori.

My Experiments with Diet & Cholesterol

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

In my mid-20s, I slowly ballooned up to 210 pounds. I changed my diet to a high fat, high protein, low sugar/carbohydrate diet and lost 50 pounds. I ate a lot but didn't change my exercise routine (new research supports the theory that low carb diets affect metabolism and burn more calories at rest). In addition to losing weight, I felt better, and in particular, satisfied after meals, but my LDL (bad) cholesterol shot way up from 126 pre-diet to 317 (should be less than 130). My doctor told me that the medical consensus is that dietary cholesterol only affects LDL up to 15%, which meant the only thing I could do is to take a statin drug for the rest of my life. I did a lot of research and found some hints that this isn't true. After a lot more research, I changed my diet by adding a lot of carbohydrates back to my diet and taking a multivitamin, and got another test after 4 months. My LDL went back down to 134. My doctor was shocked, and so was I after just the first attempt! (Some scientists believe that high cholesterol is not necessarily bad and that the problem is inflammation/damage and only then does the LDL get into the arteries, but even if that's true, my research suggests it's good if it's low anyway and a huge life risk if it's not true.)

Next came the interesting part. I had started with the scattershot approach of adding both carbs and vitamins, and I guessed that it must have been one or the other that caused the change. First, I removed the carbs and left the multivitamins and continued that diet for 5 months and LDL went up to 201. So it didn't seem to be the vitamins, so it must've been the carbs. I removed the vitamins and added the carbs and continued that diet for 8 months but my LDL was still 170. Finally, I went back to the original, good test and added both carbs and multivitamins and LDL went back down to 128! My triglycerides are also better than before I started the diet.

I learned a few things:

My current diet is best described in the book Perfect Health Diet by Drs Jaminet. The basic idea is to start with our historical/evolutionary diets and conservatively add in whatever the science supports. This means a diet that is as close to nature as possible:

The book also goes over all of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Most can be found in natural sources and I plan to remove the multivitamin pills I'm taking so that I can get back to a food-only diet.

I also found using a genetics test that I'm lactose intolerant (as is much of the world), so I cut out milk, cheese, and butter (I cook with lard), although this change had no impact on my cholesterol.

Here's my diet:




I only drink water throughout the day (3 huge glasses, one at each meal). Sometimes I'll have a small dessert or cookie after dinner.

This is basically a French cuisine diet. And hey, what'dya know, the French have low heart disease: The French Paradox. The potatoes and yams, while likely most safe, are high on the glycemic index; however, that's probably mitigated by the rest of the diet.

Recently, I've also been convinced in a discussion with a philosophy professor that modern factory farming is immoral. As much as possible, I try to buy meat at Whole Foods that's at step 4 or above on their animal welfare rating, even if it's not the cut that I want. There's also the Certified Humane standard/label.

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