Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Competition -vs- Cooperation

Today's post features the Art of Manliness, #376, When to Compete, When to Cooperate

Friend and Foe

The podcast features an interview with Adam Galinski discussing his book Friend and Foe:

What does it take to succeed? This question has fueled a long-running debate. Some have argued that humans are fundamentally competitive, and that pursuing self-interest is the best way to get ahead. Others claim that humans are born to cooperate and that we are most successful when we collaborate with others.

In FRIEND AND FOE, researchers Galinsky and Schweitzer explain why this debate misses the mark. Rather than being hardwired to compete or cooperate, we have evolved to do both. In every relationship, from co-workers to friends to spouses to siblings we are both friends and foes. It is only by learning how to strike the right balance between these two forces that we can improve our long-term relationships and get more of what we want.

In the podcast Adam makes several points:

  • Most relationships are both cooperative and competitive
  • Social comparisons natural to primates
  • Comparisons are never absolute but relative to others
  • We tend compare ourselves to those we are most connected to
  • On the plus side, they drive us and motivate us
  • On the minus side, they create anxiety and resentment
  • To be motivating, a goal must be attainable.
Professor Galinsky also recommends several tactic when trying to work with teams:

  • Do not be afraid to expose vulnerability to connect with team. rather than trying to constantly project perfection.
  • The best strategy is to project perfection first then show vulnerability later.
  • Avoid humble bragging.

Power Corrupts

Power and bad behavior go hand in hand. Power tends to corrupt. People do not feel same moral constraints with power. They become unfettered by morals. People need perspective to gain power but tend to lose perspective once power is attained. We need to have way to hold powerful accountable to connect them with us.

The Talent Trap

Teams with too much talent suffer from problems with coordination, no discernible alpha. With teamwork that requires a lot of coordination among member like basketball too much talent causes issues. Baseball is more specialized so talent causes less issues.

Making the Most of Hierarchies 

Hierarchy are needed for coordination. They make clear who makes decision, who needs to be approached for approvals.

One needs take lower level people into account. Some strategies to allow this are to:

  • Let low power people speak first in meetings.
  • Create rules that allow bottom up ideas to surface such a no criticizing during initial idea generation.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Fat America, Part I: Snack-O-Rama

Gluttony is the source of all our infirmities and the fountain of all our diseases. As a lamp is choked by a superabundance of oil, and a fire extinguished by excess of fuel, so is the natural health of the body destroyed by intempe diet. -Marion LeRoy Burton

In March 2000, Greg Critser published a ground breaking article in Harpers Magazine covering the reasons for the American obesity epidemic:

Harpers, March 2000 - Let Them Eat Fat

Greg later expanded the article into a full length book on the subject:

Fat Land by Greg Critser

Fat America

Fat America is a multi-post series on how American went from thin to fat in a couple short decades. This is the first post in this series. This book is base on Fat Land on article by Greg Critser that was later expanded into a book on the subject.

In this post, we focus on how several factors combined to pack on the weight of the average American:

  • Corn production soared in the 1970's providing the cheap starch required for snacks.
  • Industrial science also figured out how to turn corn starch into a rocket fueled sweetener, High Fructose Corn Syrup.
  • Palm oil started flooding into America from overseas providing a cheap, highly saturated fat used to increase the palitability of cheap snacks.
  • Grazing was pushed on American's a good form of dieting when it is actually the way animals are fattened up.

Corn From Fence Row to Fence Row

In the early 70's US agricultural output soared. This was the deliberate result of Earl Butz, Agriculture Secretary under Nixon, scrapping New Deal programs that had previously paid farmers not to grow. Instead discouraging production, Farmers were encouraged to expand output of staple crops like corn and soybeans. This was meant to curb soaring food prices that were caused by inflationary pressures during the time.

The ultimate result of this policy was an abundance of calories available to US consumers at bargain prices.


At roughly the same time corn production expanded exponentially, a process using enzymes to transform corn starch into a sweetener was developed called High Fructose Corn Syrup. HFCS was initially produced in the United States by Richard O. Marshall and Earl R. Kooi in 1957 but it was not until  1966 that is became economically viable to produce when Dr. Yoshiyuki Takasaki at the Japan’s Agency of Industrial Science and Technology perfected the process.

Unlike sugar which is comes from refined sugar cane juice, HFCS is produced by an enzymatic process that rearranges corn starch molecules in a manner that it not found in nature, one that acts much differently within our bodies than sugar:

The sugars are extracted through a chemical enzymatic process resulting in a chemically and biologically novel compound called HFCS. Some basic biochemistry will help you understand this. Regular cane sugar (sucrose) is made of two-sugar molecules bound tightly together– glucose and fructose in equal amounts.The enzymes in your digestive tract must break down the sucrose into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed into the body. HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form.

Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called “fatty liver” which affects 70 million people.The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin–our body’s major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more.

Source: 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You - Mark Hyman MD

Palm Oil Worse Than Pig Oil

Hand in hand with the expansion of crop growth in the United State was the growing agricultural trade between countries. Earl Butz realized that the United States needed to open its markets to foreign countries if it wanted to export its corn and soy beans to them. One product that started to flood into the United States was cheap palm oil from Malaysia.

While technically a vegetable oil, it contained more saturated fat than pork fat and is likely worse for your health. Palm oil is attractive to food manufacturers for many reasons like the fact that is cheap, provides foods with a smooth creamy texture and has a long shelf life. It is so popular with manufactures that is it found in roughly half of packaged food products.

Despite being in a lot of foods, one may not know it as it is often labeled under a variety of confusing names such as

Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat, Palm Kernel, Palm Kernel Oil, Palm Fruit Oil, Palmate, Palmitate, Palmolein, Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

Source: World Wildlife Federation


Despite all the hype about grazing, it is actually better to eat fewer meals a day and to avoid snacking due to a myriad of reasons:

  • Humans are horrible judges of satiety and calorie intake so snacking encourages overeating.
  • Convenient foods for snacking tend to be junk foods.
  • Grazing conditions your body to be hungry all the time.
  • Historically, humans evolved to eat one or two communal meals a day of a day and these meals less energy dense, they consisted of foods that took time to digest.
It is better for adults to eat a light breakfast, medium lunch and healthy dinner with twelve hours between breakfast and lunch.


Time - You Asked: Should I Eat 3 Big Meals Or Lots of Small Ones?

Snack Food Revolution

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Look Like Tarzan. Play like Jane.

Today's post reviews common mistakes that athletes make when training and other sports topics. It is a summation of advice given by Dan John, a coach and holder of several records in the discus. He gave this advice on the excellent Art Of Manliness Podcast #354, Brains & Brawn:

The Common Mistakes

Here are common mistakes athletes make when training per Dan John:

Problem #1: Looks like Tarzan plays like Jane.

Stack Exchange - Origin of the phrase “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane”?

Scouts, coaches, and fans use the phrase “Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane” to describe a player that appears physically imposing, but plays at a level not consistent with their apparent physical gifts.

Many athletes today are focused on hypertrophied weight training, focused on building large muscles. These athletes are part of the post Arnold Schwarzenegger generation that thinks athletes to look the part require out sized muscles. They are lifting to gain muscle mass without lifting appropriately to the particular requirements of the athletic task at hand.

Problem #2:  Over Conditioning


One of the poorest trends in strength and conditioning for team sports is an over-emphasis on cardiovascular conditioning.  Speaking from experience, this mindset is most prevalent in ice-hockey and swimming, where “dry land training” is synonymous with “let’s kick the crap out of our athletes”. However, this is also beginning to make its way into other major sports like basketball and football, where speed and power should be the main emphasis once an adequate cardiovascular base has been developed.

In terms of conditioning, coaches have lost the sense to know when enough is enough. Much of the supposed conditioning is, in fact, garbage conditioning. situational preparation beats over conditioning when it oess to sports.

Problem #3:  Early Specialization

NBCI - Sports Specialization in Young Athletes, Evidence-Based Recommendations

For most sports, there is no evidence that intense training and specialization before puberty are necessary to achieve elite status. Risks of early sports specialization include higher rates of injury, increased psychological stress, and quitting sports at a young age. 

Sport specialization leads to burn out and increased likelihood of injury. Despite evidence that specialization at an early age is counter productive, it is becoming increasingly common that children are pushed to excel in specialized athletics at an early age. Kids just want to play and parents need to learn when enough is enough.

Nature VS Nurture

Two books in recent years have opened up the debate on nature versus nurture when it comes to talent in activities such as sports. Dan Johns cautions athletes that progress comes in increments. One can only do little in a day, that adds up to a lot in a year, progress comes bit by bit. Humans are impatient for visible progress and often give up when this does not occur. 

The Six Foundational Strength Patterns

When it comes to strength training, we often focus only on a few aspects to the neglect of the others. There are six basic foundational patterns:

T Nation - 6 Foundational Movement Patterns

As a human, your body moves in pretty much the same way as other humans. In fact, there are six basic movement patterns. Naturally, if you want to be a strong, athletic, healthy human, you train all of these foundational patterns. 

But there's a problem. Not all the exercises that mimic these patterns are right for every body, at least not right away. For example, if you start with the wrong squat variation for your body type, skill level, injury history or goal, you'll wind up with a banged-up body.



Hinge - Hinge exercises involve the bend in you hips that brings your back/belly closer to your thighs. Hinge exercises which focus on the posterior muscles like the hamstrings and glutes are often neglected in favor of lifting that focuses on the thighs. The bend is focused more at the hips than at the knees.

Breaking Muscle - The Physics Of Lifting: Don’t Forget To Hinge

The Single Leg Romanian Dead Lift is an excellent way to get started with hinge exercises:

Squat - xx

Load and Carry - Loads and carries amps up ones work capacity and does what Dan Johns calls building the stone.

Anaconda Strength

Besides the foundational strength movements, there are other important c
Hammer (Hit or Strike) - Your striking force.
Stone - Your ability to take a strike without wobbling.
Anaconda - You ability to generate internal pressure.
Armor - Your exterior callousing required for collision sports.
Bow - Same as hammer described above.
Arrow - Some as stone described above.

T Nation - How to Build Anaconda Strength

"We humans are like bicycle inner tubes. Our performance depends on our inner pressure. Sadly, most of us ride around on underinflated tires. True, the world looks at our treads first, but what really counts is the pressure."


Back Fit Pro - Okinawan strength: Developing the “Iron Body”

Recovery, the Forgotten Art

In the interview, Dan Johns mentions recovery as one of the areas that most athletes need to pay more attention to.

Lack of sleep is probably the biggest problem. He mentions developing good sleep hygiene and associated sleep rituals.  He specifically recommends:

  • Blue blockers on electronic devices.
  • Heat like a hot tub followed by an ice shower
  • Darkened rooms
  • Using book relax and win
He also mention hydration as being a huge issue. Not all drinks are created equal and modern society often make poor choices like cokes, coffees and energy drinks. He recommends simply drinking more water

He is also a fan of the migun bed.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Word of the Day: Anthropocene

adjective: Anthropocene
relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed
as the period during which human activity has been the
dominant influence on climate and the environment.

Against the Grain
Today's post explores the new book by James C. Scott, Against the Grain

In it, Scott questions the long prevailing theory that sedentism, towns, and agriculture were great leaps forward in human well being. He attacks the myth that the early city states attracted people to them by offering better nutrition and leisure opportunities.

He contrasts this with newer theories that indicate quite the opposite. That early city states had to capture and hold large populations in bondage. That life as a barbarian was easier, healthier and freer.

One reason for this bias for the long prevailing view that city states and agriculture were good for humans is that these states kept written histories and the barbarians did not. These written histories were put down by the upper classes to emphasize their greatness.

The Noble Savage Redux

Scott points to a new genre of books questioning this establishment view of city states like ones by Charles Mann and Elizabeth Kolbert.

The - 1491 by Charles Mann

Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact - Without a Trace, The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

Since the origin of life on earth 3.8 billion years ago, our planet has experienced five mass extinction events. The last of these events occurred some 66 million years ago when a six-mile-wide asteroid is thought to have collided with earth, wiping out the dinosaurs. The Cretaceous extinction event dramatically changed the composition of biodiversity on the planet: Marine ecosystems essentially collapsed, and about 75 percent of all plant and animal species disappeared. Today, Kolbert writes, we are witnessing a similar mass extinction event happening in the geologic blink of an eye. According to E. O. Wilson, the present extinction rate in the tropics is “on the order of 10,000 times greater than the naturally occurring background extinction rate” and will reduce biological diversity to its lowest level since the last great extinction.

Writing, A Tool for Exploitation not Enlightenment

We often think of writing as a tool of creative expression but what if it was originally one of the main tools used to oppress and enslave man.

Levi-Strauss on the Functions of Writing from His 1955 book, Tristes Tropiques

Claude Levi-Strauss, the famous French anthropologist, speaks about how the development of writing invariably accompanies cities and empires. It is used to further the integration into a political system a considerable number of individuals into castes and classes. It is more often used seems as a tool for exploitation rather then enlightenment.

Grains and the Rise of Taxation

The taxability of cereal grains was what allowed for the rise of the state:


Other early staple crops were not suitable for taxation. Tubers (root vegetables) are too easy to hide (buried underground). Legumes (beans) are indeterminate, meaning there is not definite harvest time.

Domesticated Humans

Early states domesticated not only animals but humans too. These states needed enormous amounts of save labor to survive. Even then, these city states were fragile and often collapsed due to disease.

An example of this is the Great Wall of China. While many people know that it was built to keep invaders out, it also served the purpose of keeping a large slave population trapped inside.

China Travelers - Who built the Great Wall, when and why?

Why was the Great Wall of China built?The Great Wall of China was built to protect China from its enemies and invaders from the North, especially the Mongols. The Mongols were a tribal group that would regularly conduct raids into China. Despite the wall, the Mongols eventually conquered China. The Wall also kept Chinese citizens from leaving China.

Rise of the Narcissist

Scott argues that early states dominate archaeological and historical records beyond their true weight.and that there is an institutional, narcissistic bias toward funding city state research

Hunter gatherer nomads, while comprising the majority of human populations historically, left thin archaeological records

Further, written, cuneiform records exacerbate this bias because they are state centric records of taxes, tributes, royal genealogies and foundation myths.

When Hunter Gatherers Dominated

Scott argues that our state centric view of human history overlooks the fact that, until fairly recently, the vast majority of humans did not live in city states. For example, when the first major city states were founded in Mesopotamia in around 2,000 BC, there were roughly 25 million human inhabiting the planet and only several thousand lived in cities. It was only around the year 1600 when the human population living in city states overtook nomadic peoples.

The natural mode of living for most humans until recently has been nomadic since only small portions of the globe were naturally suited to agriculture.

Missing the Point

By focusing on state, we miss the fact that most humans throughout history did not live within confines of it. These historical states were also relatively weak compared to the fierce nomadic bands that surrounded them but this too is often overlooked since historians most often focus on the classical ages of these states.

The peaks of city states were often short and state rule more often resembled what we all the dark ages when rule was fragmented and ineffective.


domestication of fire, plants, animals
concentration of food and population

fire rendered previously inedible plant digestible,
nutritious and palatable
large brain and small gut attributable to this

domesticated grains provided reliable calorie source

domesticated animals can eat things we find indigestible
this making these calories available to us

Rise of the Weak

domestication changed genetics of domesticated plants and
they became less robust requiring constant attention less
did domestication also not effect human
word of the day domus
compared to hunter gatherers agriculture was confined,
crowded, linked to calendar
burden #1 more onerous
burden #2 epidemiological diseases due to concentration
burden #3 taxes


why states collapse
often chain of events
rarely recorded in written record
3 main fault lines
urbanism leading to deforestation floods and siltation
intensive agriculture lead to salinization of soil

barbarians raiding states
spending on defense
spending on tributes (protection money)

became trading hubs for nomadic peoples
main commodity traded was slaves
state replenished work force via wars of capture


south africa case excavation shows
earliest layer cats eating hominids
later layers humans eating cats with fire
decisive factor in transforming fortunes of mankind
hominids used fire 400k years before modern humans

much of world's fauna fire adapted (pyrophyte) due to human
used it to clear old vegatation
and replace with grasses and desirable shrubs
that created desirable hunting grounds
***niche construction***

fire externalizes the digestive process
gelatinizes starch, denatures protein
chimpanzees require a gut three times as big as ours
humans eat far less food and expend a lot less energy
extracting nutrition from it
allowed us to eat a much greater range of foods
allowed neanderthals to colonize northern europe

Smaller Guts, Larger Brains

efficiency led to changes
guts less than have size
smaller teeth
brain three times larger than other mammals

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bourgeois Aspirations

Catching up with posts. These items date from October 2017 but are still just as relevant.

Deep State - Golden Shower Dossier

Daily 2017/10/15/wsj editorial board accuses beltway media and democrats of trump dossier coverup

Salient points....

Fusion GPS was founded by three former WSJ reporters:
  • Glenn Simpson
  • Peter Fritsch
  • Tom Catan
Fusion GPS paid former spook Christopher Steele to produce it.

The Justice Department covered up sourcing of dossier abetted by Glenn Simpson's media buddies who chose to ignore the story.

The dossier is the centerpiece of the ongoing Trump/Russia collusion investigation

Fusion gps was working for a hillary ally when it produced the dossier.

The US Government cited in application for surveillance of trump campaign chair carter page FBI paid steele 50k to continue investigation

Glenn Simpson has ties to russia. He worked to roll back magnitsky act under which the US punished Russian Oligarchs for the death of a Russian whistle blower.

Two russian partners of Fusion GPS were sent to meet with trump on 6/9/16 to try and entrap campaign.


99% Invisible had a great podcast about the long running plan by Los Angeles to contain homelessness to the skidrow section of downtown:

99 Percent Invisible - The Containment Plan

An interesting aspect of the show was the review of the origins of the term, "skid row."

Wikipedia - Skid Row

It comes from an area in Seattle, current Pioneer Square, where loggers used to skid (slide) logs up the skid road (log road), current  Yessler Way. This area in Seattle became notorious for as a den of squalor where lumber jacks would go blow their hard earned wages on booze, gambling and prostitutes.

Nowadays, Skid Row means an impoverished area where bums congregate full of drug dens, liquor stores and red light districts.

For many years, Los Angeles had its own skid row area downtown where there was an unofficial agreement to coerce homeless people to go in order to keep them away from other areas. It seems that this agreement is breaking down and the homeless are now gradually being driven away.

Crystal Nights - The Nazi Public Relations Machine

Mike Rowe had an interesting podcast on how sophisticated public relations techniques developed by Edward Bernaise, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, both Jews, were put to use by the Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels:

Mike Rowe Podcast - Episode 78 Give that Man a Cigar

It turns out that Goebbels was highly influenced by of book by Bernaise that dealt with Public Relations, a new field created by Bernaise with ideas taken from his uncle Freud:

Crystallizing Public Opinion

Terror Dactyl

Interesting Joe Rogan podcast with fellow stand up comedian Bert Kreischer:

Joe Rogan #1024 - Bert Kreischer

Bert talks about riding the Terror Dactyl ride when he worked on a Travel Channel show:

They also discuss Cameron Hanes finishing the Moab 200 Ultra Marathon:

They also discuss lucid dreaming:

lifehacker - Lucid Dream Workshop

I thought the Sensory Deprivation tanks were a long forgotten fad but, apparently they are making  a comeback. There is even a place nearby where I may even go check it out:

Mental Illness Myths

The Sword and Scale podcasts had an excellent episode on the Scrivo Murder:

Sword and Scale, Episode #100 - The Scrivo Murder

Most interesting is the interview with Sarah L Desmarais. Sarah is an Associate Professor of Psychology at North Carolina State University. One of her specialties violence risk assessments.

According to Sarah, surprisingly, mental illness only accounts for a small increased risk, 3 to 5%,  of violence. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, the mentally ill are more prone to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

Professionals currently use the risk eight most powerful risk factors identified by Andrews, Bonta and Wormith  in a 2006 paper and mental illness does not make the list:

1. History of antisocial behavior
2. Antisocial personality pattern
3. Antisocial cognition
4. Antisocial associates
5. Family and/or marital problems
6. School and/or work problems
7. Leisure and/or recreation problems
8. Substance abuse

Identity Politics and the Death of Progressisism

Sam Harris at Waking Up continues to cry salty progressive tears over the loss by Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. Here is actually gets over his ranting and tries to understand what really happened:

Sam Harris, Waking Up, What Happened to Liberalism?

Sam interviews Mark Lilla who recently wrote The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

It must gall Steve Harris to have Lilla quote Bannon on the fact that politics requires persuasion and a unified message, not self expression.

Unfortunately for progressives the more they fall under the spell of identity politics, the less unified is their message and the less others are able to identify with it.

Further, Lilla posits that non college educated people care much more about basic issues like wage, schools and economic problems than identity.

The question is why the Democrats are unable to focus on those items that the vast majority of people care about. Lilla posits that they live in a bubble and do not understand how much things like class and religion matter. Part of the problem is that Americans are less upwardly mobile than before so many liberals do not have any experience with people less fortunate than themselves.

Democrats move to the Left presents fundamental issues because the US has never favored socialism:

NYT Review Of Books - It Didn't Happen Here Why Socialism Failed in the United States

Werner Sombart wrote a book about this in 1906 entitled, Why is there no socialism in the United States. He stated that the US was not inclined to Socialism because we are are a country of Bourgeois aspirations. Our elites up have not tended to be hereditary.

Democrat's like Hillary push the wrong buttons with these types of voters. They do not talk or dress in a way that falls within this groups comfort zone. Trump, on the other hand, is aspirational since he matches a poor man's idea of a rich man.

Lilla notes that  male french politicians put on suit and tie when they speak but American presidents roll up sleeves. American politicians need to appear to be like regular people.