Author Archives: Bix

Speaking Of Alien … Here’s A Comb Jelly (Ctenophora)

If you’re pressed for time, fast forward to 37 seconds. (Sadly, it meets its demise in the end.)

A comb jelly is a distant relative of the jellyfish. From Smithsonian Ocean:

Jellyfish and comb jellies are gelatinous animals that drift through the ocean’s water column around the world. They are both beautiful—the jellyfish with their pulsating bells and long, trailing tentacles, and the comb jellies with their paddling combs generating rainbow-like colors. Yet though they look similar in some ways, jellyfish and comb jellies are not very close relatives (being in different phyla—Cnidaria and Ctenophora, respectively) and have very different life histories. Both groups are ancient animals, having roamed the seas for at least 500 million years.

Wikipedia, Ctenophora:

The comb rows of most planktonic ctenophores produce a rainbow effect, which is not caused by bioluminescence but by the scattering of light as the combs move. Most species are also bioluminescent, but the light is usually blue or green and can only be seen in darkness.

There are just too many sizes and shapes of living things here on our planet to assume that creatures from another galaxy, or even our galaxy, if they exist, look like us.

Congressman Walker Receives Reply From Pentagon On Unexplained Craft Sightings

Rep. Mark Walker. Source: Politico

Congressman Walker sent a letter to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on July 16 asking specific questions about these unexplained craft. It looks like he received a reply 2 weeks later. Politico had a copy of it:

Navy Withholding Data On UFO Sightings, Congressman Says, Politico, 6 September 2019

Excerpts:

Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina, the ranking member of the Intelligence and Counterrorism subcommittee, asked Secretary Richard V. Spencer in July to outline what resources the Navy is dedicating to investigating the sightings. He also asked if officials have found “physical evidence” to substantiate the claims, and whether they are aware of any foreign nations or private companies that have introduced breakthrough technologies that could explain them.

Navy Undersecretary Thomas Modly responded in a brief letter on July 31 that “the Department of the Navy takes these reports very seriously and continues to log sightings and fully investigate the accounts,” according to a copy provided to POLITICO.

“While I am encouraged the Under Secretary of the Navy confirmed that UAP encounters are fully investigated, there is frustration with the lack of answers to specific questions about the threat that superior aircraft flying in United States airspace may pose,” Walker told POLITICO in a statement.

Members of Congress on several oversight committees have also sought classified briefings from the Pentagon on the research in recent months.

In a recent interview, Walker said he believes Congress needs to know what more the military has been doing since the Advanced Aerospace Identification Program set up by Reid was officially wound down in 2012. “Has it ended? If it has ended are we documenting anything? Where are the resources coming from?” Walker asked. “That’s a fair question that constituents and the American people would like to know.”

Walker told POLITICO that his abiding interest is mainly out of concern that a potential adversary like Russia or China could have leapfrogged the United States in aerospace technology.

“If the Navy believes that China or Russia possesses advanced aerospace technologies that represent a national security vulnerability, the American people have the right to know what their government is doing about it,” he said in his statement to POLITICO.

We are going to stay on the issue and follow through like we said we wanted to do.”

The Navy never answered Walker’s questions. Where’s Tim Russert when you need him?

Former Defense Official Says Pentagon Should Be Investigating Pilot Sightings

Remember those super-maneuverable drones I was talking about, the tic tac and the sphere-encasing-a-cube, the ones that so far defy explanation? I saw an article a few days ago that said:

The now-established data on unexplained aerial phenomena is undeniable. Since at least 2004, numerous U.S. Navy aircrews have seen hypersonic- and anti-gravity-capable unidentified aerial phenomena with their eyes and on their gun cameras. This phenomena evidences technical performance capabilities far in advance of any national military. In some cases, that data is matched by satellite tracking, sonar, and radar data sets. This issue is real and significant.

So, these craft do exist. A former Defense official, Christopher Mellon, also says they exist. Mellon was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (the third highest intelligence position at the Pentagon) and later for Security and Information Operations. He was also Staff Director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Says Mellon:

We know that UFOs exist. This is no longer an issue. The NAVY itself has publicly acknowledged the fact that they exist, and NAVY pilots ― active duty pilots ― have gone on the record in the New York Times acknowledging the fact that they exist. So the issue now is: why are they here, where are they coming from and what is the technology behind these devices that we are observing?

Before I go on, it’s important to state that UFO does not mean alien. It’s just something that hasn’t been explained. Here, again, is the government’s official stance on aliens:

In November 2011, the White House released an official response to two petitions asking the U.S. government to acknowledge formally that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings.

According to the response, “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.” Also, according to the response, there is “no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

The response noted “odds are pretty high” that there may be life on other planets but “the odds of us making contact with any of them — especially any intelligent ones — are extremely small, given the distances involved.”

The government wrote that in 2011. In 2012 they stopped funding research into these unexplained craft, even though sightings by pilots continued. Mellon wrote an essay for the Washington Post last year decrying that fact:

The Military Keeps Encountering UFOs. Why Doesn’t The Pentagon Care?, Washington Post, 9 March 2018

The videos, along with observations by pilots and radar operators, appear to provide evidence of the existence of aircraft far superior to anything possessed by the United States or its allies. Defense Department officials who analyze the relevant intelligence confirm more than a dozen such incidents off the East Coast alone since 2015. In another recent case, the Air Force launched F-15 fighters last October in a failed attempt to intercept an unidentified high-speed aircraft looping over the Pacific Northwest.

Is it possible that America has been technologically leap-frogged by Russia or China? … Unfortunately, we have no idea, because we aren’t even seeking answers.

(A Pentagon spokesman did not respond to requests from The Washington Post for comment, but in December, the military confirmed the existence of a program* to investigate UFOs and said it had stopped funding the research in 2012.)

On several occasions, I have met with senior Pentagon officials, and at least one followed up and obtained briefings confirming incidents such as the Nimitz case. But nobody wants to be “the alien guy” in the national security bureaucracy; nobody wants to be ridiculed or sidelined for drawing attention to the issue. This is true up and down the chain of command, and it is a serious and recurring impediment to progress.

* [That program was called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which ran from 2002 to 2012. It was first made public in 2017.]

Here’s what Mellon says in answer to the question, “Could these crafts be ours?” from May of this year:

I served in a capacity in which it was my job to conduct oversight of our black programs, and never saw anything of this kind on the books. Moreover, I was once actually specifically asked to determine whether we had a capability along these lines, in response to a query from the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Bobby Byrd.

I ran that all the way up the flagpole with the Air Force and others, and believe me, everyone respected Senator Byrd. No one was going to lie to him and risk his wrath. And the answer was, “Absolutely not. We don’t have a super-secret black triangle that can go at hypersonic speeds and all that sort of thing.”

So, they probably aren’t ours. They might belong to another country or to a private enterprise. Or they could be some natural phenomenon. It’s odd that the government chooses not to investigate them.

By the way, Mellon says, “nobody wants to be “the alien guy” … nobody wants to be ridiculed or sidelined for drawing attention to the issue.” Tell me about it. I almost didn’t post this. But I’m curious. Who wouldn’t be? I don’t even believe in aliens, certainly not the ones depicted that are bipedal, oxygen-breathing, human-looking creatures, designed specifically, it seems, for Earth’s gravity. The leap is too great.

So, we’re back to the question … What are these things?

Limit Raw Ground Flaxseed To A Few Tablespoons A Day

Flaxseed is one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. But:

Are Cyanide Levels in Flaxseed Safe?, Tuft’s University, August 2011

Q: I recently read that flaxseed contains cyanide. I have been consuming two to three tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily for several years. Should I be concerned? Does this quantity of flaxseed provide a clinically significant amount of cyanide?

A: Lynne M. Ausman, DSc, RD, director of the Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition Program at Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, says you have nothing to worry about. Many foods, including not only flax but cashews, almonds, some beans and other plant products, naturally contain very small amounts of cyanide compounds. You’re more likely to ingest these trace amounts of cyanide when such foods are consumed raw, as heat breaks down the compounds. Even when flaxseed is eaten raw, the body has a natural capacity to break down a certain amount of these cyanide compounds. A 1994 study found that, in healthy individuals, daily consumption of as much as 60 grams of raw flaxseed — more than eight tablespoons — was safe.

Study: Animal Protein Intensifies Insulin Resistance, Predisposing To Diabetes (Even During Weight Loss)

Effect Of Diet Composition On Insulin Sensitivity In Humans, Clinical Nutrition ESPEN (European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism), October 2019

Abstract

Diet composition has a marked impact on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Prospective studies show that dietary patterns with elevated amount of animal products and low quantity of vegetable food items raise the risk of these diseases.

In healthy subjects, animal protein intake intensifies insulin resistance whereas plant-based foods enhance insulin sensitivity. Similar effects have been documented in patients with diabetes.

Accordingly, pre-pregnancy intake of meat (processed and unprocessed) has been strongly associated with a higher risk of gestational diabetes whereas greater pre-pregnancy vegetable protein consumption is associated with a lower risk of gestational diabetes.

Population groups that modify their traditional dietary habit increasing the amount of animal products while reducing plant-based foods experience a remarkable rise in the frequency of type 2 diabetes.

The association of animal protein intake with insulin resistance is independent of body mass index. In obese individuals that consume high animal protein diets, insulin sensitivity does not improve following weight loss. Diets aimed to lose weight that encourage restriction of carbohydrates and elevated consumption of animal protein intensify insulin resistance increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The effect of dietary components on insulin sensitivity may contribute to explain the striking impact of eating habits on the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Insulin resistance predisposes to type 2 diabetes in healthy subjects and deteriorates metabolic control in patients with diabetes. In nondiabetic and diabetic individuals, insulin resistance is a major cardiovascular risk factor.

Figure 1 and Table 1 from the study. Click to enlarge, The Table on the right is something else. Every characteristic of the Metabolic Syndrome is made worse by animal protein, while vegetable protein improves these traits.

A Vegan Can Get Enough Omega-3 Without Taking A Supplement

Just 7 walnut halves contain most of the daily recommended intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

We probably need to eat between 1 to 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day (as alpha-linolenic acid/ALA because ALA is the only omega-3 that is essential, EPA and DHA can be made from it). That’s a pittance. There are only 9 calories in a gram of fat. NIH: Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Here are some non-animal foods I looked up on NutritionData. This is their total omega-3 content, most of it is probably ALA. I purposely chose smaller, more realistic serving sizes. What I learned is that ALA can be found throughout the plant kingdom. Even very low-fat foods like spinach and cauliflower contain respectable amounts. For insurance you could eat a few walnuts or a teaspoon of ground flax seed.

Walnuts, 7 halves, 1282 mg
Flaxseed, ground, 1 teaspoon, 570 mg
Chia seeds, whole, 1 teaspoon, 350 mg
Kidney Beans, boiled, 252 mg
Frozen spinach, 1/4 cup, 176 mg
Brussels sprouts, 1/2 cup, boiled, 135 mg
Cauliflower, 1/2 cup, boiled, 104 mg
Broccoli frozen, not cooked, 82 mg
Pistachios, raw, 25 nuts, 36 mg
Oatmeal, dry, 1/3 cup, 27 mg
Red sweet pepper, 1/2 cup, 19 mg
Zucchini, 1/2 cup, cooked, 12 mg

EPA and DHA are the longer-chain versions of ALA. The body converts ALA to EPA or DHA by elongating it. That conversion rate varies, but it’s enough that most people don’t need to take supplements:

There are no known cut-off concentrations of DHA or EPA below which functional endpoints, such as those for visual or neural function or for immune response, are impaired.

Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses, including a Cochrane review, have assessed the effects of omega-3 supplementation on cognitive function and dementia in healthy older adults and those with Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive impairment [126,141-143]. Overall, the findings indicate that long-chain omega-3 supplementation [e.g. EPA and DHA] does not affect cognitive function in healthy older adults or in people with Alzheimer’s disease compared to placebo.

You can get too much by supplementing:

High doses of DHA and/or EPA (900 mg/day of EPA plus 600 mg/day DHA or more for several weeks) might reduce immune function due to suppression of inflammatory responses.

Doses of 2–15 g/day EPA and/or DHA might also increase bleeding time by reducing platelet aggregation [5].

I put myself through this exercise because I take issue with Dr. Greger saying vegans require a EPA/DHA supplement, an expensive, contaminant-free, intensively-farmed, algal-based type no less. It’s not necessary. I hope he revisits this.

Is Dr. Greger Saying That Vegan Diets Are Inadequate? It Sounds Like He Is.

Algae Bioreactors for cultivation in a controlled environment. Pressing and the addition of a hexane solvent are used to extract omega-3 oils from algae. Photo Source: Vice

Vegans Should Consider Taking DHA Supplements, Dr. Michael Greger, Nutrition Facts, 27 August 2019

The problem is that people who don’t eat fish may be under 4.4. Nearly two-thirds of vegans may fall below 4.0 [an omega-3 index less than 4.4 was associated with accelerated brain loss in the Framingham study], suggesting a substantial number of vegans have an omega-3 status associated with accelerated brain aging.

I recommend everyone consider eating a plant-based diet along with contaminant-free EPA and DHA.

Here’s an algae-based, vegan, non-GMO product by Nordic Naturals that costs $30/month. For a family of 4 that’s $120/month. It does not say it is “contaminant-free.” You can shop around for a better price but when families spend less than $600/month on food, the cost for these supplements is not inconsequential.

There’s also the issue of rancidity. This is an extracted, processed product. As an unsaturated fat it is vulnerable to oxidation, that is, rancidity. Rancid fat contains free radicals that damage DNA and increase risks for cancer and atherosclerosis.

“[Rancid oils] can develop potentially toxic compounds” that have been linked to advanced aging, neurological disorders, heart disease and cancer, says lipid specialist and University of Massachusetts professor Eric Decker.

“[Rancid oils are] carcinogenic, pro-inflammatory and very toxic,” says Dr.Andrew Weil.

I’ve tried algae-based omega-3 supplements in the past and they were all rancid – and they were not bargain products.

Even if vegans experience accelerated brain loss compared to omnivores, and that’s a big if, I don’t think an expensive, refined, and likely rancid supplement is the answer.

Did some ciphering … If the body only converted 15% of the 2 grams ALA you might eat in a day to longer-chain omega-3, that’s 300 mg of EPA+DHA. That’s more EPA+DHA than you can get in one of these Nordic Naturals algal-based pills.