June 28th, 2017
quigonejinn: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] quigonejinn at 11:24am on 28/06/2017
Spotify likes to do auto-generated playlists -- like, it'll pull tracks that you have on various playlists and group them into pop themed playlists and rock-themed playlists and classic music or whatever. But they've recently started doing ones based on tracks you've listend to a lot at various times, and uh.



Recently worked my way through all three books of Diana Wynne John's "Howl's Moving Castle" series, and they're as charming as advertised -- magic cats! Sisterhood! Babies! Domestic housekeeping being valued and not denigrated! The intro to the first book is one of the most effective openings that I've ever read in the genre of updated fairytales, because it's clean and tight and shows such awareness of the form, while also making smart, focused tweaks.

On the other hand, who gives a fuck about Howl? As usual, I'm apparently in the minority on this, because there's a bit at the end of one of the books where Jones mentions how many girls show up at readings with crushes on Howl, whereas I'm just ????????????????????????? WHAT IS THERE TO LIKE ????????????? SOPHIE WHAT DO U SEE IN HIM??????????????

I told Mr. Rhod this, along with the bit from Wikipedia about Howl being an interpretation of the Byronic hero ideal, and he started to laugh at how I was surprised at not liking Howl. Because it's completely true -- Howl, and his flashy, dramatic ways and inability to commit and unwillingness to take responsibility are things that actively repel me. I'm too old for that shit, and like, there's a bit in Howl's Moving Castle about him throwing a temper tantrum in the course of days-long sulk, and causing the whole house to be covered in green goo that Sophie has to work herself to the bone cleaning up, right?


Posted by Mark Sisson

Coconut oil and coconuts on a black backgroundI was beginning to rest on my laurels. It had been months since the inbox had flooded with upset readers asking me to address the latest episode of the conventional establishment’s attack on healthy food and living. Until last week, when people starting freaking out about the American Heart Association’s attack on coconut oil. As USA Today put it, “Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy.”

I was surprised. While I get most of my scientific references from USA Today (the “Works Cited” section of my upcoming keto book is just a single link to USAToday.com), and they’ve never let me down in the past, I didn’t know what to make of their coconut oil claims.

Had I entered an alternate timeline? Did the Tokelau people of the South Pacific obtain 50% of their calories from PUFA-laden soybean oil, and not saturated fat derived from coconuts? Did the Kitavans thrive on an admittedly high-carb diet not by supplementing it with coconut cream and meat, but by dousing their yams and fish in Unilever margarine shipped in from across the ocean?

I did some digging, revisited some other sources I’ve used in the past. Turns out I wasn’t crazy. Everything was the same. The Tokelau people really did show zero signs of heart disease despite eating a 50% coconut fat diet. They really did start getting fat and diabetic and heart diseased only after the introduction of wheat, sugar, and vegetable oils. And the Kitavans did eat a high-coconut oil, high-carb diet and thrived while doing it.

I could probably stop this post here. I mean, 50% of calories from coconut oil and pristine health is about as resounding a debunking of the AHA’s position you could produce. Let’s keep going, though….

When it boils down to it, the AHA’s condemnation of coconut oil is just another salvo in their futile war against saturated fat consumption. They focus only on the tendency of coconut oil to increase LDL and ignore everything else it does, even referring to coconut oil’s lack of “offsetting favorable effects.”

LDL has something to do with heart disease. Maybe it’s the LDL particles. Maybe it’s the oxidized LDL. Maybe it’s all that and more. I just wish the AHA would branch out a bit is all. For example, you’d think the American Heart Association would find it interesting that PUFA metabolites are actually biomarkers of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver + liver inflammation). If you want a non-invasive way to diagnose it, just look at how much PUFA they’re metabolizing. They don’t. Maybe they haven’t seen the research.

It’s hard to blame them; their entire world rests on the foundational axiom that LDL cholesterol drives heart disease. If they question that axiom, everything starts falling apart real fast. Their continued existence depends on them not noticing “offsetting favorable effects.” 

About those supposedly missing favorable effects, coconut oil does many different things besides raise LDL, many of which are “good.”

Coconut oil consistently raises HDL in humans who eat it. Higher HDL is linked to protection from heart disease, and higher HDL:Total cholesterol ratios are often the best predictors of protection from heart disease, beating the AHA’s favorite HDL:LDL ratio in predictive power.

It even improves cardiometabolic status in heart disease patients—the group the AHA is convinced coconut oil will kill. Patients who ate coconut oil saw reductions in waist circumference and body weight and increases in HDL. Another study also found that coconut oil reduces waist circumference, albeit with the biggest effects seen in males. That said, an even earlier study found that overweight women were able to reduce abdominal fat using dietary coconut oil. Seems to be good for goose and gander, even if the geese have heart disease.

To the AHA’s credit, a doctor quoted in the USA Today article noted, “You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body.” You just got permission to rub it on your skin as lotion, make it into deodorant and apply it to your armpits, and use it to condition your hair. 

Personally, I put stock in actual clinical research into the topical effects of coconut oil—without the same fear-mongering around its dietary intake.

In hair, the shorter-chained fatty acids allow coconut oil better penetration to the hair proteins. This protects them from sun damage and results in less hair protein loss when compared to mineral oil or sunflower oil.

On the skin, coconut oil performs admirably against mineral oil in the treatment of scaly skin. It also beats mineral oil in dermatitis patients.

Oil pulling with virgin coconut oil (swishing it around in your mouth, making sure to get between the teeth, before brushing or eating in the morning) reduces the presence of cavity-causing bacteria in the saliva. Just don’t swallow.

The late Seth Roberts eliminated toenail fungus with virgin coconut oil. He applied a thin layer to the affected foot each day, then covered them with socks. This is just an anecdote, but we know that lauric acid—one of the primary fats in coconut oil—is antimicrobial.

In the interest of fairness, I’ll follow up with some negatives. Coconut oil isn’t a panacea.

It’s terrible for frying eggs. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but my eggs always stick when I try to use coconut oil as the frying medium. No, I’m not adding the eggs too early. This doesn’t happen with other fats. The taste isn’t great with eggs, either, to be honest.

Coconut oil is not the same as whole coconut. The cultures that did so well on high-coconut fat diets weren’t eating spoonfuls of refined (or even virgin) coconut oil. They were by and large processing and using the whole coconut—flesh, juice, fiber, and all. It’s one of the reasons why I’ll often turn to coconut butter over oil, like if I’m making a curry. Coconut butter is flesh and fat and fiber. If you intend on emulating the Tokelau diet with 50% of calories from coconut fat, stick to whole coconut, not straight oil.

It does raise LDL. This doesn’t worry me, especially given all the “offsetting favorable effects,” but it may be an issue for certain people. Anytime you make a big dietary change—like suddenly eating a bunch of coconut fat—you should track changes to your physiology and biomarkers.

I will say this for the AHA: At least we can dispense with the accusations of conflicts of interest. After all, the coconut industry of America just pledged to donate up to $500k from coconut seed sales to the American Heart Association. For the AHA to come out strongly against coconut oil after getting such a sweet deal only confirms the objectivity of the assessment. Even if they’re wrong, they’re not biased.

Oh, wait. It was the soybean industry that pledged to donate the money to the AHA? Never mind.

Anyway, that’s my take on the latest AHA attack on coconut oil. What’s yours?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!


The post Coconut Oil Is Going to Kill Us All (or Maybe Not…) appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

Posted by Steve Benen

With increased visibility comes increased scrutiny. In Jay Sekulow's case, that's not necessarily good news.
hokuton_punch: Text icon captioned "Unfailingly delighted by the absurd." (delighting in the absurd)

Posted by Cory Doctorow

Yesterday's massive ransomware outbreak of a mutant, NSA-supercharged strain of the Petya malware is still spreading, but the malware's author made a mere $10K off it and will likely not see a penny more, because Posteo, the German email provider the crook used for ransom payment negotiations, shut down their account. (more…)

alexseanchai: Purple lightning (Default)

What was once described as ‘one country, two systems’ is now being called ‘one country, 1.5 systems’ as Hong Kong citizens feel increasingly stifled under a tightening Communist grip. 

Appointed special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes announced accusations against one current and two former police officers suspected of covering up evidence to protect each other and other officers after the shooting of Laquan McDonald.

peartreealley: (tea)
posted by [personal profile] peartreealley at 03:24pm on 28/06/2017 under , , ,
It's not all tea shop glamour... Journaling at a kitchen sideboard while making chicken soup for my sick household. (Me included.)
musesfool: boxing!Kara (but you can see the cracks)
Wednesday! Books!

What I've just finished
The Five-Minute Marriage by Joan Aiken, which is delightful! If a little short on true romance. But the shenanigans are pretty hilarious and enjoyable, so I didn't mind the lack of feels too much.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, which was very charming. The funny thing is, I never really knew what it was until I read Between Silk and Cyanide (which I highly, highly recommend), because Leo Marks, the author of that, was the son of the owner and he mentions it in his book, and I was like, "wasn't that a movie? or something?" but now I have read it and I feel like a gap in my cultural knowledge has been filled. *g*

What I'm reading now
Speaking of gaps in my cultural knowledge, I never did manage to read The Three Musketeers, though god knows I tried, and I have seen numerous adaptations (I didn't keep up with the most recent BBC one, but gosh, it had a super pretty cast), so I have a sketchy outline of the story in my head, and it seems like Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts is following it pretty well, except D'Artagnan, Aramis and Porthos are LADIES (and numerous other characters have been genderflipped as well) and it all takes place IN SPACE. So I am utterly enchanted with it, though I kind of wish Constance had been left a lady too (I am very fond of Constance and Constance/D'Artagnan). I guess the dude version here is all right. And Athos is somehow more enjoyable here than I usually find him. It seems like it should be ending soon and yet somehow I'm barely halfway through, so maybe there is more stuff I just don't know about coming! I'll report back next week! *g*

What I'm reading next
*hands* I know I mentioned The Lie Tree last week, and there's a ton of other stuff on my iPad, so we'll see. My recent viewing choices may have an influence.

So last night, I finished season 1 of The Expanse. Unfortunately, I can only get the last 5 or 6 episodes of season 2 streaming on Syfy or via on-demand. What even is that model of streaming shows? If I can't watch the beginning of the season of a highly serialized show, why on earth would I watch the ending? Maybe if it didn't cost $30 for 13 episodes I'd spring for the season, but as it is, I'm just annoyed.

ANYWAY. That has nothing to do with the show, which I enjoyed, even though I can't say I'm all that invested in most of the characters.

Otoh, I am really digging the whole "Amos is kind of a sociopathic hothead whose first resort is always violence, so he uses Naomi as his moral authority" thing they've got going on. I haven't gone looking for fic because I don't want to be spoiled, but surely someone must be writing stuff where she doms the hell out of him, yeah?

spoiler )

Otoh, I want to know EVERYTHING about Naomi Nagata. And her service sub, Amos, who I like way more than I probably should. I think it's the fact that he looks like the love child of Aaron Douglas and Stephen Amell, and he has such dewy wide eyes. And great biceps. Idek. *facepalm*

On the third hand, the world-building is a lot of fun, Jared Harris is clearly having a ball, I yell CUTTY every time Fred Johnson appears, and Shohreh Aghdashloo is a joy to behold. If you are looking for a show to fill the BSG-shaped hole in your heart, this could do it, though sadly the characters are nowhere near as viscerally endearing as Starbuck, Roslin, and Adama were for me from the start.

Now I have to decide if I want to spring for season 2, or just wait until it shows up on Netflix, though even season 1 isn't on Netflix atm. Sigh. I think I have the first book in the series - is it worth reading?

Mood:: 'cold' cold
Music:: American Spirit - Tom McRae
watersword: Sophie Devereaux in a museum, looking up and over her shoulder (Museum)
posted by [personal profile] watersword at 11:07am on 28/06/2017 under
Hi Dreamwidth! If you have a DRM-free ebook or ebooks you would like to share, I would be very interested. My tastes are summed up in this post from 2016, but I am willing to explore pretty much any genre (I'm set for The Great Western Canon, I think, thank you Project Gutenberg), with a particular fondness for SFF and historical fiction.

Comments screened.


Posted by Steve Benen

Trump's EPA chief ignored his scientists' advice and approved use of a controversial pesticide after a private meeting with its manufacturer's CEO.

Posted by Steve Benen

One of Trump's favorite phrases, repeated in tic-like fashion, is "fake news." There's new evidence, however, of Trump touting fake news in a rather literal way
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posted by [personal profile] tree_and_leaf at 04:02pm on 28/06/2017 under ,
Pick any story I've written, or, in the case of my longer, chaptered works, any chapter from any story I've written, and comment to this post with that selection. I will then give you the equivalent of a DVD commentary on that snippet: what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I wrote it in the first place, what's going on in the character's heads, why I chose certain words, what this moment means in the context of the rest of the fic, lots of awful puns, and anything else that you’d expect to find on a DVD commentary track.

My fic is here.
steepholm: (Default)
So far this diary has been a bit thin on mentions of actual people – but they do exist here in Japan, and I’ve been hanging out with quite a few of them, primarily Miho (who’s my sponsor here and has helped me in all sorts of ways), her assistant and student, Mikako, and her ex-student Satomi. (Satomi and Mikako I met two years ago at a conference in Worcester, which is how I came to have this Japan connection in the first place.) I haven’t yet had occasion to photograph any of them, but if you’re interested here are Mikako and Miho at Miho’s house last year, and here I am with Satomi earlier the same day, enjoying a hanami picnic. Natsukashii indeed – for now the rainy season has arrived in water as well as words, and I write this to the free-style jazz tom-tom of heavy rain bouncing into an avant-garde architectural feature from the mid-1920s. Reminiscing, as is proper in these conditions, I reflect on the vagaries of fate, which made a wayward railway ticket machine in Newcastle-upon-Tyne its instrument to bring me to Japan. For, had said machine not double-charged Satomi for a ticket to the conference in Worcester, I wouldn’t have helped her get a refund over the phone; she wouldn’t have mentioned me to Miho, Miho wouldn’t have discovered our shared research interests, and so on. (The refund came through, too, just six months later - which is the real miracle.)

Unlike my previous visits to Japan, this isn’t simply a tourist trip. For the first three weeks, at least, I’ve several jobs to get on with – so I suppose I won’t be blogging the days when I just sit in my room or Miho’s office preparing lectures or comparing The Borrowers with the UK and US dubs of Arrietty (my task of the moment). So far, I haven’t visited a single shrine or temple. Still, even ordinary life comes with its fair share of firsts. I’m enjoying listening to Japanese radio, and I’ve finally mastered the art of opening an onigiri with aplomb. Meanwhile, this is a view of my home as seen from Miho’s sixth-floor office:


If you have a machete, feel free to hack your way through to my front door and say Hello!

On Saturday I made a trip to Shinjuku – only twenty minutes on the tube, but a world away, in the the privy chamber of Tokyo’s pumping heart. This was where I’d spent my first ever day in Japan, mostly getting lost in Shinjuku station (the world’s busiest, or so I’ve read). This time, as an old Japan hand, I only had to stop and ask directions twice before I found my way to the Keio Department store. I was there to have tea with Yasuka, whom I’d met at Clémentine Beauvais’s York conference back in May. We had a good chat (where I was pleased to find a natural occasion to slip in the expression “kuuki wo yomenai”, which I’d been dying to do for some time); but here I’d like to record a culinary first: kakigoori (or shaved ice). It’s very much a summer treat, so I’d not had the chance to eat it on my previous visits, which were in spring. I went for matcha flavour, tricked out with adzuki beans. Yummy to eye and tongue alike:


(It has to be said that Yasuka’s choice was pretty lush, too.)

Yasuko Shirasu in Keio Depaato, 24 June 2017

Afterwards, I admired the hugely expensive clothes, kitchen appliances, etc., on Keio’s many floors, and played the “Irasshaimase!” game. You know those thrillers where people have to thread their way through a room without tripping any of the laser alarms (always coloured bright red for your convenience)? The “Irasshaimase!” game involves seeing how far you can walk through a Tokyo department store without triggering an "Irasshaimase!" from any of the assistants (“Irasshaimase!” being the welcome accorded, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to any customer who strays into their field of vision). My record so far is 20 metres. I don’t really mind being greeted, but like many Westerners I’m never quite sure how (or whether) to respond. Should I ignore the smiling assistant entirely, as many Japanese seem to? It certainly appears to be going too far to say “Thank you” or “Hello”, unless you’re seriously considering taking the relationship to the next level and buying something. In between lies a sickly repertoire of half-smiles, half-nods, subliminal body-swivellings and other such awkwardnesses, the mastery of which my nation has made its own.

I worked most of Sunday, but in the afternoon declared “No more - I must abroad!” and, having got a taste for urban living, tubed me to Ikebukuro (literally “Pond Bag” – no, I don’t either). I was particularly interested to see the street known, so NHK World had informed me, as “Otome Road”, the female answer to Akihabara, where girl geeks gather to buy figurines, cosplay, check out the latest manga, and perhaps be treated like a princess at the Swallowtail Butler café (Otome Road’s equivalent to Akihabara’s maid cafes).

Advert for Swallowtail Cafe, Ikebukuro

Perhaps four o’clock on a rainy Sunday afternoon wasn’t the best time to visit this demi-monde, but Sunshine City was still busy despite the rain:


(I like this couple the best.)


Otome Road took some finding, even though I picked up a map (two, in fact – in English and Japanese) at the nearby Tourist Information, on which it was clearly marked. When I reached the area where I believed it to be there were, indeed, drifts of teenaged girls, all dressed to the nines (Lolita fashion was their key note), but no lively street of shops that accorded with my mental image of the trendy Otome Road. I asked a couple of the girls and got blank looks, and it was the same story with the assistant in the combini next door. Eventually, someone pointed me down a street that did indeed have some otaku-ish shops here and there along one side (the other side was just car parks and offices) – and that, it appears, was Otome Road; but it seemed awfully thin pickings, compared to what their male equivalents have in Akihabara. (I was later told that “Otome Road” [Young Woman Road] is the term used by male otaku, not by the otome themselves – which perhaps explains the blank looks.)

Eatery of the day: Brasserie Edible. I do admire an establishment that doesn’t oversell itself:


Young girls are now starring in mainstream action films and TV shows, filling the roles of star characters and heroes traditionally occupied by boys. 

President Maduro classified an assault on Venezuela’s Supreme Court, strafed by a helicopter on Tuesday but injured no one, as a ‘terrorist attack,’ while social media users accused the president of staging the incident as a ruse to crack down on rebellious citizens.