The Gift

Keller with Anne Sullivan in July, 1888.

I happened upon this piece about Helen Keller, from a lecture Keller gave when she was 36. Keller was deaf and blind, caused by an illness when she was 19 months old. When she was 7, Ann Sullivan was hired to be her instructor:

Sullivan arrived at Keller’s house in March 1887, and immediately began to teach Helen to communicate by spelling words into her hand, beginning with “d-o-l-l” for the doll that she had brought Keller as a present. Keller was frustrated, at first, because she did not understand that every object had a word uniquely identifying it.

In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller graduated from Radcliffe, becoming the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

This is the piece I wanted to share:

On January 22, 1916, Keller and Sullivan traveled to the small town of Menomonie in western Wisconsin to deliver a lecture at the Mabel Tainter Memorial Building. Details of her talk were provided in the weekly Dunn County News on January 22, 1916:

A message of optimism, of hope, of good cheer, and of loving service was brought to Menomonie Saturday—a message that will linger long with those fortunate enough to have received it. This message came with the visit of Helen Keller and her teacher, Mrs. John Macy, and both had a hand in imparting it Saturday evening to a splendid audience that filled The Memorial. The wonderful girl who has so brilliantly triumphed over the triple afflictions of blindness, dumbness and deafness, gave a talk with her own lips on “Happiness,” and it will be remembered always as a piece of inspired teaching by those who heard it.

When part of the account was reprinted in the January 20, 2016, edition of the paper under the heading “From the Files”, the column compiler added

According to those who attended, Helen Keller spoke of the joy that life gave her. She was thankful for the faculties and abilities that she did possess and stated that the most productive pleasures she had were curiosity and imagination. Keller also spoke of the joy of service and the happiness that came from doing things for others … Keller imparted that “helping your fellow men were one’s only excuse for being in this world and in the doing of things to help one’s fellows lay the secret of lasting happiness.” She also told of the joys of loving work and accomplishment and the happiness of achievement. Although the entire lecture lasted only a little over an hour, the lecture had a profound impact on the audience.[25]

Eating Cheese Is Not Good For You, Even Though Time Magazine Says It Is

Bill sent this article which sings the praises of cheese:
Eating Cheese Every Day May Actually Be Good for You, Time, 5 December 2017

Here’s the study it was based on:

Cheese Consumption And Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-analysis Of Prospective Studies, European Journal of Nutrition, December 2017

Meta-analyses and population-based studies are prone to manipulation. There’s no cause-and-effect in them. For example, as the Time article stated:

It could be that people who eat cheese on a daily basis are healthier overall, or have more disposable income and higher socioeconomic statuses.

The study is out of China. It took me all of one minute to Google Yili Industrial Group, the business behind the study; 3 of 7 authors are listed as affiliated with Yili. Here’s what I found:

Inner Mongolia Yili Group: China’s Pioneering Dairy Brand, Harvard Business School, 2011

Setting up the goal to become one of the top 20 enterprises in the world dairy industry by 2010, the Inner Mongolia Yili Group had ambitious plans. As one of China’s biggest national dairy companies, its main challenge was competing as a local company against joint-venture rivals who benefited from perks granted to “foreign” companies. To set itself apart, Yili focused on research and development and innovative ways to improve the industry. Proving that it could shift industry standards and lead a country not accustomed to dairy consumption, to a point where demand is outpacing supply, the Yili Group is making its mark to go global. As an Official Sponsor of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the Official dairy supplier of the games, it is betting that the brand can go further beyond China. Will the day that tykes from Topeka have a bottle of Yili milk in their hands be coming soon?

So, this is not a study. It’s an advertisement. Time should not be promoting advertisements as science. You might call it fake news.

Starch-Based Diet Leads To Remission Of Arthritis

Here’s a story about Syd Wyemann, told by Syd Wyemann, whose arthritis went away after going on a starch-based diet. If it’s not the diet, then it’s one heck of a placebo effect.

I live in the Highlands of Scotland with my Californian wife Rhonda. For the last ten years plus I suffered with ever increasingly painful arthritis in both wrists, with swellings at the bottom thumb joints, and on the other side of the wrists. It was very painful and increasingly debilitating, culminating about five to six months ago in severe pain day and night. I couldn’t sleep because no restful hand position was comfortable. I was unable to use my computer (used to work from home) for extended periods without so much pain that I had to stop and soak my hands and wrists in hot water as the only relief. It was so painful that every single task, down to using a towel after a shower, had to be thought about and worked out beforehand to cope with the pain. I had a garage full of tools that I couldn’t use anymore and over $150 worth of wrist supports, just to get a little sleep. I honestly thought my life, as far as being able to use my hands at all, was over. And I am not kidding! I was in permanent pain.

A friend in South Africa emailed me with two of your videos and my wife and I were sold. We were already kind of aware of the misinformation told everywhere and were trying to ‘eat healthy’ but your informational videos blew us away and exposed all the myths and lies about food in general – not forgetting the information on a starch based diet. We went immediately onto a plant-based diet with NO animal products whatsoever.

I told you above that I have suffered for ten years and more – well, within TEN DAYS, my wrists started to get better and I stopped wearing braces of any kind. Within a few weeks, the pain in my wrists was 95% gone.

Dr. John and Mary – you are the real deal. We thank you sincerely. We have not spent one red cent with you, and yet you freely and without any thought of personal gain, have completely changed our lives for good.

Syd Wyemann

It’s just a testimonial, and it looks and feels like an advertisement here on my advertisement-free site. So what. I happen to believe in this diet.

First Photograph Of A Human Being, 1838

Boulevard du Temple, Paris, 3. Arondissement is the first ever photograph of a human being. The daguerreotype was taken in Paris by Louis Daguerre (1787–1851), on a date that has been calculated as between 24 April and 4 May 1838. It is of a busy street, but because exposure time was over ten minutes, the city traffic was moving too much to appear. The exception is a man in the bottom left corner, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show. Less discernible, but also visible, is the boot black. As Geoffrey Batchen has noted, this is therefore also the first photo to illustrate both labour and class difference. See also Jenkins, who notes the possibility that there are one or two other people also discernible.


What strikes me about this is the date, the year 1838. That means everything we know about what humans looked like before then is from something other than a photograph. It comes from artist rendition, reconstruction from remains, perhaps molds and casts. People’s descriptions. Not a photograph. Nothing that could reveal the glint in someone’s eyes, or the way they held their face and body at a particular moment. Do you think? It’s been less than 200 years that we could see ourselves as we do. I wonder how this has changed us.

The Atlantic, In Debunking Myths, Promulgates New Myths

The narrator of this video, in a jolly and rather condescending voice, which I believe is used to lend authority, says that eggs and butter developed a bad reputation during the “anti-fat diet craze” of the late 1970s. But new research, she says, (research conducted by the egg and dairy industries, which she does not say) has brought eggs and butter “back to the table.”

So, minimizing eggs and butter is some kind of crazy diet regimen. Silly old folks.

How To Roast Chestnuts

How to cook fresh chestnuts. In a nutshell:

  1. Score the chestnuts.
  2. Boil the chestnuts.
  3. Roast the chestnuts.
  4. Steam the chestnuts.

Fresh chestnuts:

Chestnuts boiling:
First, score the chestnuts in one slice along the rounded side. Add the nuts to a pot, cover with cold water and a dash of salt, bring to a boil.

Chestnuts roasting:
After the nuts come to a boil, fish them out and immediately transfer them to a hot oven, about 425 degrees F. I was already roasting potatoes so I decided to let the oven do double duty.

Chestnuts ready to pop open and eat:
After the chestnuts roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, transfer to a bowl and cover for 15 minutes so they steam-cook the rest of the way. They’ll be warm and easy to handle.

The one departure here from tradition is boiling before roasting. I’ve tried roasting without boiling and I have to say, boiling them first makes a moister, not chalky, nut that cooks evenly. They’re also less apt to singe if you leave them in the oven too long.

By the way, chestnuts are very low in fat. These 3 have about:

  • 69 calories
  • 1 gram total fat
  • 15 grams carbohydrate
  • 1 gram protein
  • 1 gram fiber