Author Archives: Bix

Remember When Obama Awarded Biden The Presidential Medal Of Freedom?

… And Biden cried? I do. Biden always came across to me as a person who wore his heart on his sleeve. A bit vulnerable, and it got him into trouble at times. But really, it’s not a bad way to be.

Obama: “He is as good a man as God ever created.”

Society Drives People Towards Less Healthy Food Then Derides Them For Their Choices

Photo: Fooducate

When I mentioned on Twitter recently that eating healthier food is more costly (“cost” does not refer solely to money but also to time, labor, transporation, and other social determinants), a PhD nutritionist reponded that it is not more costly. She said she shows people an ad for a food store and points to how they can save money.

Many people who choose less healthy food do so because their choices are limited.

Food Choices and Diet Costs: an Economic Analysis

There is a persistent belief that low-income consumers have made wrong or inappropriate food choices and need to be educated, taught, or motivated to behave otherwise. In reality, their food choices are quite rational from an economic standpoint and are confirmed by computer modeling of diets, once food costs are taken into account.

Low-income families attempting to maintain food costs as a fixed percentage of diminishing income will be driven in the direction of energy-dense foods and a higher proportion of foods containing grains, added sugars, and added fats.

The abstract:

Obesity in the United States is a socioeconomic issue. It is related to limited social and economic resources and may be linked to disparities in access to healthy foods. Added sugars and added fats are far more affordable than are the recommended “healthful” diets based on lean meats, whole grains, and fresh vegetables and fruit. There is an inverse relationship between energy density of foods (kJ/g) and energy cost ($/MJ), such that energy-dense grains, fats, and sweets represent the lowest-cost dietary options to the consumer. Good taste, high convenience, and the low cost of energy-dense foods, in conjunction with large portions and low satiating power, may be the principal reasons for overeating and weight gain. Financial disparities in access to healthier diets may help explain why the highest rates of obesity and diabetes are found among minorities and the working poor. If so, then encouraging low-income households to consume more costly foods is not an effective strategy for public health. What is needed is a comprehensive policy approach that takes behavioral nutrition and the economics of food choice into account.

Society drives people to purchase less healthy food then derides them for their choices.

Yet Another Article in The New York Times About UAPs/UFOs

Do We Believe in U.F.O.s? That’s the Wrong Question, New York Times, 28 July 2020

This first paragraph was what started me on my journey back in 2018. No one has answered the question yet, “What Is It?”:

We were part of The New York Times’s team (with the Washington correspondent Helene Cooper) that broke the story of the Pentagon’s long-secret unit investigating unidentified flying objects, the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, in December 2017.

The Pentagon is being briefed on, studying, and “arranging access to” … “UFO crashes and retrieved materials.”:

Since then, we have reported on Navy pilots’ close encounters with U.F.O.s, and last week, on the current revamped program, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force and its official briefings — ongoing for more than a decade — for intelligence officials, aerospace executives and Congressional staff on reported U.F.O. crashes and retrieved materials.

Here’s the kernel of the article (I like that Margaret Mead quote.)

We’re often asked by well-meaning associates and readers, “Do you believe in U.F.O.s?” The question sets us aback as being inappropriately personal. Times reporters are particularly averse to revealing opinions that could imply possible reporting bias.

But in this case we have no problem responding, “No, we don’t believe in U.F.O.s.”

As we see it, their existence, or nonexistence, is not a matter of belief.

We admire what the great anthropologist Margaret Mead said when asked long ago whether she believed in U.F.O.s. She called it “a silly question,” writing in Redbook in 1974:

“Belief has to do with matters of faith; it has nothing to do with the kind of knowledge that is based on scientific inquiry. … Do people believe in the sun or the moon, or the changing seasons, or the chairs they’re sitting on? When we want to understand something strange, something previously unknown to anyone, we have to begin with an entirely different set of questions. What is it? How does it work?”

That’s what the Pentagon U.F.O. program has been focusing on, making it eminently newsworthy. And to be clear: U.F.O.s don’t mean aliens. Unidentified means we don’t know what they are, only that they demonstrate capabilities that do not appear to be possible through currently available technology.

It’s all classified. Which is why we’ll probably never get to see the evidence. Which will just feed the conspiracy theories:

Numerous associates of the Pentagon program, with high security clearances and decades of involvement with official U.F.O. investigations, told us they were convinced such crashes have occurred, based on their access to classified information. But the retrieved materials themselves, and any data about them, are completely off-limits to anyone without clearances and a need to know.

The Pentagon’s U.F.O. Program has been using unclassified slides like this to brief government officials on threats from Advanced Aerospace Vehicles — “including off-world” — and materials retrieved from crashes of unidentified phenomena. Credit: Leslie Kean

In that Pentagon slide above:
AAV = Advanced Aerospace Vehicles, “AAV does not refer to vehicles made in any country — not Russian or Chinese — but is used to mean technology in the realm of the truly unexplained.”
CONUS = Contiguous United States

In 2017 when the New York Times published their first article detailing pilots’ encounters with … things flying in restricted airspace that aren’t bugs, birds, drones, or any identifiable phenomenon, according to the Pentagon … I asked, “What are these?”

No one is coming forth with an answer. The Pentagon acknowledged the things but can’t identify them. (“Navy spokesperson Joseph Gradisher: “the Navy considers the phenomena contained/depicted in those 3 videos as unidentified.”)

One would have thought that the government was studying them, but they said they weren’t. (“A Pentagon spokesman did not respond to requests from The Washington Post for comment, but in December [2017], the military confirmed the existence of a program to investigate UFOs and said it had stopped funding the research in 2012.”) We now know that was a lie.

Now, here, in these back-to-back New York Times’ articles, there is discussion of “crashes and retrieved materials” possibly originating “off-world.” What?

Speaking about off-world intelligent life is not OK. Off-world life, say, bacteria, is OK, but certainly nothing more evolved and intelligent. Any utterance of it will invite ridicule. But, it’s wrong to tamp down curiosity. It’s certainly unscientific, as this recent article points out:

‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena,’ Better Known as UFOs, Deserve Scientific Investigation, Scientific American, 27 July 2020
UAP are a scientifically interesting problem. Interdisciplinary teams of scientists should study them.

I’m going to entertain my curiosity. It may lead me to something mundane. Or it may lead me to to something worthy of wonder.

Here’s Christopher Mellon, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, the third highest intelligence position at the The Pentagon, talking about the New York Times’ articles:

“… We have information from multiple radar systems, infrared systems, multiple naval personnel on the ground and in the air, and we’re tracking these objects performing maneuvers that clearly indicate they’re under intelligent control, they’re responding to our aircraft, they’re out maneuvering them, and they’re doing things that are far beyond any capability we possess.”

It’s not a bird.

Esther Lost 130 Pounds Eating Starch

Esther weighed 257 pounds in July 2016. She now weighs 127 pounds (July 2020). She credits her weight loss and improved health to the McDougall Diet. (The diet is starch-based, no animal foods, no dairy, no oils). Ester turns 75 in October.

Esther’s husband “I could never eat like you” Ben, gave up eating animals, dairy, and oil over a 12-month period and dropped from 220 to 160 pounds.

How Ester eats on a cruise:

We love to take cruises and I learned that I could have steel cut oatmeal (yes, I did have to ask for it) and fresh fruit for breakfast, a big salad with balsamic vinegar for lunch. … Most of the time [for dinner] I just asked for a salad, a sweet potato, a side of broccoli and a cup of fresh berries for dessert.

The McDougall Diet is based on starches: oatmeal, pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, rice, corn, peas, beans, squashes and pumpkins. Add fruits and vegetables to that and you’re done.

Ester’s Story

The UFO/UAP Program Which The Pentagon Said Does Not Exist Will Be Reporting Its Findings

Here’s an update to the discussion about UAPs that I was posting about. It’s an article just published in the New York Times.

No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public, New York Times, 23 July 2020

A group of former government officials and scientists with security clearances who, without presenting physical proof, say they are convinced that objects of undetermined origin have crashed on earth with materials retrieved for study.

For more than a decade, the Pentagon program has been conducting classified briefings for congressional committees, aerospace company executives and other government officials, according to interviews with program participants and unclassified briefing documents.

“After looking into this, I came to the conclusion that there were reports — some were substantive, some not so substantive — that there were actual materials that the government and the private sector had in their possession,” Mr. Reid said in an interview.

Eric W. Davis, an astrophysicist who worked as a subcontractor and then a consultant for the Pentagon U.F.O. program since 2007, said that, in some cases, examination of the materials had so far failed to determine their source and led him to conclude, “We couldn’t make it ourselves. … [Davis] gave a classified briefing to a Defense Department agency as recently as March about retrievals from “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.”

Either way, Mr. Reid said, more should be made public to clarify what is known and what is not. “It is extremely important that information about the discovery of physical materials or retrieved craft come out,” he said.

How can they say this? In November 2011 the government said:

The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. … [There is] no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.

The tic-tac sighting that Commander Fravor describes in the video below occurred in 2004, 7 years prior to the government’s statement above. So, the government has no craft, no evidence of craft, no information to even suggest there is craft. Nothing is being hidden. Without evidence, this is a conspiracy theory, right? Why are respected scientists, members of Congress and the military, and the New York Times, a typically above-the-fray news outlet, continuing to push a conspiracy theory?

Vegetarians Are Less Susceptible To Coronavirus? Not True.

Dr. Galea: “Proximity of animals and humans … will create the opportunity, indeed the certainty, of animal-human spillovers of infectious disease.” Photo: Stunning Before Slaughter, from Danish Technical Institute

The World Health Organization (WHO) never said that vegetarians are less susceptible to the coronavirus. The claim seems to have originated with a Dr. Gauden Galea, who purportedly said, “As long as people eat meat, there is going to be some risk of infection.” He clarified that:

“The statement was part of a longer discussion about the continued global risk of zoonotic viruses and the potential for ‘spillover’ into human populations. The intent was not to endorse any particular diet nor to condemn any other, but to recognise that as long as people eat meat, there is a need to rear animals, to slaughter them, and to distribute and sell the products. This proximity of animals and humans thus generated will create the opportunity, indeed the certainty, of animal-human spillovers of infectious disease. It is important therefore that the trade – in all livestock, from farm to table, be regulated in a One-Health approach looking at animal and human health as one continuum, with all sectors involved acting in unison.”
The Logical Indian

Dr. Gauden Galea is the WHO’s representative in China, a public health physician who has worked for WHO since 1998, widely published.

The ominous part of his statement:

“This proximity of animals and humans thus generated will create the opportunity, indeed the certainty, of animal-human spillovers of infectious disease.”

So, COVID-19 will be one of many infectious diseases, some mild, some like Ebola.