Tinfoil overload

Author payment time is coming.It’ll be a day early this quarter since I can’t stay up late on the 31st to catch any last minute sales because I have to be up in the horrible earliness the next day. I’ll explain why after it’s over. So, any sales on the 31st will be paid next quarter. In September I’ll start assembling the Halloween anthology, and no writer can possibly claim they are short of horror story ideas this year! Just read the news.

Blogging has been light because this ‘hobby publishing’ idea of mine has become almost full time, because there have been issues with family getting sick, and that even includes the car which has suffered with ‘lockdown rot’ from not getting much use. Also, the dog is stoned again on multiple medications and seems to have become addicted to painkillers.

Another reason is that, rather than nothing to talk about, there is currently far too much to talk about. Many things happening at once, most, if not all of them, interconnected.

When they told us they wanted us to eat insects, I thought ‘pfft, I’ll hunt rabbits, pheasant, partridge and go fishing’. Well the rabbits have seen a sharp decline, the pheasants have gone quiet and I haven’t seen a deer around here since the early days of lockdown. At least there are still plenty of pigeons.

As for fishing, it turns out that those sewage outflows have killed thousands of fish in one of the Thames tributaries. Raw sewage dumping isn’t new, it’s long been part of our rubbish sewage system and exacerbated by the import of several million more people with absolutely zero improvement in infrastructure to support that extra population. It seems to be in the news now, not because it’s new, but because it’s scary. Who’s going to go fishing if they risk catching a botty-log instead of a brown trout?

So the ‘hunter-gatherer’ option is systematically being erased. What other options do we have?

Recently, a Swedish scientist (I suspect he was called Svenibbal Lektersson) stated that eating human flesh was the most sustainable option for meat. Well, that’s not going to go well. If we were to get a taste for it, ‘Eat the Rich’ won’t be just a slogan and visiting enforcement officers might never be seen again. It’s a very risky proposition. ‘The Hills have Eyes’ was supposed to be just a scary film. Maybe Ed Gein wasn’t a monster after all. Maybe he was just ahead of the curve.

Another scientist has claimed that burying corpses is bad for the environment. You know, putting our bodies back into the ecosystem just like every other form of life, to be recycled, is suddenly somehow bad for the world. Well, I guess they have that solution already – the big ovens at Auschwitz would have clued them in – but wait! Won’t that produce more CO2?

Ah, not if you use the ovens to cook rather than incinerate them. You can then slice and package it and call it lab-grown meat, which is something that will never work on a large scale but provides a perfect cover for the new Soylent Green.

Getting those Halloween story ideas yet? There is one more twist in the insect food story but I’m keeping that one for myself.

Then we have the whole ‘net zero’ nonsense. The ice caps are not melting, the polar bears are not going extinct, the current weather events are just that – weather. Although the usual mantra is ‘climate change’ when things get rough and when it’s normal, ‘weather is not climate’. It’s true. Weather is not climate. A drought in one place is not proof that humans are affecting the climate. As if we were even capable of such a thing.

I’ve seen a few people try to argue that carbon dioxide is ‘beneficial to plants’. It’s not. It’s absolutely essential to plants. It’s what they use to make every part of the plant, carbon dioxide and a nitrogen source (normally from the soil, they can’t use inert atmospheric nitrogen although legumes have made a deal whith Rhizobacterium, the plant feeds it sugars and the bacterium fixes atmospheric nitrogen – but I digress).

Carbon dioxide is very, very low at the moment. It’s been far higher in the past. It doesn’t stay in the atmosphere for years, most of it is absorbed by nearby plant life within hours, if not minutes. That’s why it doesn’t accumulate. You’ve seen how fast grass grows in summer, right? Every carbon atom in every blade of grass on every rolling hillside came from CO2. Including the sugars they metabolise. Remove CO2 from the atmosphere and all the plants die. Shortly after that, so does everything else.

Except the anaerobic bacteria. Once the oxygen is used up and there are no plants producing any more, the world belongs to the anaerobes once again. They’ll rebuild it but there won’t be a single one of the existing animal, plant or insect species in their new world. It’ll all be new, and we won’t be in it. Maybe a semi-intelligent species like ours will eventually arise again and fuck it all up again. The anaerobes will fix that too. Maybe it’s happened before.

We are supposed to embrace the electric car. It’s useless. There isn’t a power grid in the world that could charge them all, and when the battery dies in a few years a new one costs as much as a new car. The batteries won’t be recyclable and they’ll end up in massive toxic dumps while cars that should have lasted decades are scrapped in a few years. There won’t be any second hand sales either – the old ones will cost as much to fix as just buying a new one.

And what will you charge them with on a windless night?

If the lunacy persists, my ideas for a land yacht backed by a steam engine might make me the next Henry Ford. On a reasonably breezy day you can start it moving using the sails while you wait for the steam boiler to reach operating pressure. Just needs wood and water, and it’ll use a lot less of those things than ‘green’ Drax power station.

There is so much more, but I’ll just add the current influx of illegal immigration – yes, they are illegal. They are not fleeing war-torn France, are they? They have apparently walked from Africa, all across ‘war-torn’ Europe and scrounged a dinghy to cross to the UK. On the way they picked up fully charged cell phones, clean clothes and a smart haircut. Oh and they were so brave they left their wives and children to deal with the ‘war’ they ran away from.

If I tried that trip I’d be a hairy stinking skeleton by the end of it. Wouldn’t you?

They are not refugees. They are being well fed and cared for and causing nothing but trouble. So why is our government importing so many of them and refusing to send any back?

Well, the food shortage looms, we are being told we should eat human flesh and healthy fit flesh would be far better than stringy old Grandad, burial of bodies harms the environment, and there’s the nonviable ‘lab meat’ cover for…

I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Pleasant dreams.

Chitin

Okay, let’s start this with ‘what the hell does this guy know about chitin’.

When I started my PhD on the metabolism of ciliate protozoa living in the rumen of cattle and sheep, it was a hot topic. Three years later, I finished, and science had moved on. Rumen protozoa had become a niche topic and there were no openings for a new scientist. So, I diversified. What transferable skills did I have?

Well, I knew a lot about microbiology by then, having gained two degrees in it, and especially about anaerobic metabolism – and I had no qualms about working with stinky things. So my first job after the PhD was a three year post doc on… well this should explain.

That wasn’t the only paper to come out of that project but it was the main one. Anyway, yes, I do know a good bit about chitin and it’s important to know about it because if the idiots in charge get their way, you’re going to be eating a hell of a lot of it.

Its biochemical name is poly-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, a homopolymer (no it’s not gay, it’s a polymer of one type of molecule repeated over and over). Rather like cellulose or starch, except those are just polymers of glucose.

You can digest starch, mostly, but it comes in two forms. Amylose is just straight chains of glucose and very easy to digest. Amylopectin is straight chains but with branches coming off the chain, like a tree. If you have amylase enzyme you can digest it back as far as the branch points but you need a different enzyme to break those branch points. If you don’t have it, you basically shit out pollarded starch molecules. You’ll still get some energy from it.

‘Oh, so smartass knows all about starches too’. Indeed I do, since I returned to gut microbiology after three years of delving into stinky mud and, a few years later, supervised a PhD working on retrograde starch and its effects on pig digestion.

Cellulose is also poly-glucose but the chains are cross-linked. Humans can’t digest it, in fact neither can cows and other ruminants even though they live on it. Bacteria and protozoa can, and this is what the first stomach of a cow is for. The rumen (actually reticulo-rumen in case a pedant arrives) doesn’t secrete any enzymes. It’s a big bag of bacteria, protozoa and even anaerobic fungi. They do all the work of turning indigestible grass into highly digestible microbial protein and organic acids. The cow absorbs the organic acids and its liver makes glucose from them since the cow gets little to no direct sugar from its diet. The microbes get it first.

Then, once the microbes have turned the lousy food into every known amino acid, the cow moves a batch of them into its omasum/abomasum where they are digested. You can feed a cow with newspapers soaked in piss (bacteria will make amino acids from urea) and it’ll survive on that.

You can’t digest the stuff a ruminant eats. You don’t have a rumen. There are certain amino acids and vitamins you cannot produce and you have to get them in your food. Sure, you can eat grass but almost all of it will come out of the other end. The bacteria in your colon can use some of it, although we don’t all have cellulose degrading bacteria, but it’s the colon. The end of the digestive system. You can’t digest those bacteria.

So, humans can digest amylose starch, partially digest amylopectin starch, can’t digest cellulose. What has this to do with chitin and why should you care?

Chitin is the animal world’s version of cellulose. It’s tough and very hard to digest. Human digestive systems won’t touch it, colon bacteria might get something out of it but like grass, it’s mostly going right through. It’s what the exoskeleton (hard shell) of insects is made of.

So when you hear that insects contain more nutrition than an equivalent weight of beef, that’s discounting the fact that you can’t actually access most of that nutrition. The exoskeleton is made of a sugar, N-acetyl-D-glucosamine which is basically glucose with an amine group and an acetyl group tagged on. But it’s in a form you simply can’t digest, like the glucose in cellulose. Everything in beef is digestible. A large proportion of an insect is not. If you put both in a calorimeter to measure caloric content, the insects would win – but it’s not about how many calories a food contains. It’s about how many are actually accessible.

The ‘eat ze bugs’ pushers don’t care about that. Just like the Pharmers, your health is none of their concern. They just want the money.

Nobody is set up to eat insects. Ruminants can possibly digest them, they don’t hunt them but they probably get a few from eating the grass. It doesn’t matter to a ruminant. They just need a carbohydrate and a nitrogen source and their rumen microbes will make all they need. Human digestion will not work that way.

There has been some indication that too much chitin in your diet can lead to some serious problems. That’s possible – I have a small bottle of pure amylose (starch) that is marked as a potential neurotoxin in its pure form.

‘Oh, but some cultures eat insects all the time’. Sure. They do that because they live where there’s bugger all else to eat. And they generally eat grubs which are soft bodied and don’t have a chitinous exoskeleton until after they pupate. No humans, anywhere, eat insects unless there is nothing else.

We have, over millenia, put a hell of a lot of effort into keeping insects out of grains and flour storage. Why didn’t we just let them eat the grains and flour and then eat the insects? Because that makes us ill. We have known this for thousands of years.

Suddenly, insects are the food of the future. If you really believe insect food is your future, there is one thing you really should understand.

You have no future.

Three wheels on my wagon…

Remember that song? I doubt many do.

Anyway. I have sent the PDF of the whole interior of UA17 to the authors, with instructions to check their parts very carefully indeed. The real world distractions here have come thick and fast and none of them good. If any UA17 author reading this hasn’t seen it, check your spam folder and if it’s not there, let me know.

The cover image is set. I purchased the rights to an image from a very nice Australian cobber and will suitably distort it to make the cover. The book, being so late, will be called ‘The Wrong Kind of Leaves’ which fits that cover in so many ways…

I am again behind, but trying to get this wagon rolling again even if it’s down to one wheel. It won’t be easy but then I’ve come back from worse.

The world truly has gone to Hell in a handcart, although it’s a handcart attached to a Jensen Interceptor with a brick on the accelerator. I once saw the remains of an Interceptor in a scrapyard. The engine was indeed a sight to behold. Unfortunately I was a student at the time, only there for a window winder for an Austin Princess, so could do no more than ogle that engine… but I digress.

The WHO, faced with what they pretend is a pandemic of monkeypox (there are countries whose annual tally of infections is four times the current global scare story and they just let it ride because it’s really not a big deal) have a priority.

Cure it? Find a cure? Isolate the infected?

No.

Their priority is to rename it because it’s ‘racist’.

Monkeys are not a different race. They are a different species. This is exactly the same as calling chickenpox ‘racist’, Exactly the same. But nobody gives a shit about how poultry feel, it seems. And how about smallpox? I think the short people might have something to say here. Then we have Yellow Fever. The Chinese and Japanese *ahem* in the corner. And of course German Measles…

Oh come on, we all know why they want to change the name. It’s not scary enough. It has to be called Deathpox or RipYourFaceOffPox or FloppyWillyPox or YourPhoneBatteryDiesPox. Something to make the sheep shit pile higher. Something to scare people, since that’s the name of the game and always has been. Always will be.

The scare game has been silly for a long time but it has plumbed depths of silliness where the silly is under such pressure as to become almost a singularity of silly. A silly black hole from which no sense could ever escape.

Look at this. Just look.

I remember, a little under sixty years ago, we’d use a blade of grass to push aside the froth to reveal the insect beneath. This is nothing new.

The story is pure scare. So this froth-producing insect ‘could’ damage olive groves – how many olive groves are you personally cultivating? It ‘might’ damage your plants even though it never has before. It’s never been more than a curiosity and now it’s the greatest threat ever?

Report it, and your vegetable garden will be flame-sterilised ‘for everyone’s safety’.

China has been eradicating home vegetable gardens for ‘covid’. Australia has made it illegal to grow your own food. See it yet? You will have nothing but what those ‘in charge’ allow you to have. They have been making this very clear for years now.

I would say ‘get ready’ but I said it years ago and everyone laughed. It’s too late now.

But hey, keep laughing. I’m sure you’re going to love the punchline.

Farm Animals

CStM’s choice of book in the previous post seems almost prophetic. The Vaccinators are all set to force the experimental vaccine on children… and then pets.

Found here

My bet is that all of these will need ‘booster shots’. Someone is getting very rich indeed out of all this, and they don’t care at all how the experiment turns out. Well, some have an interest in how it turns out, and they don’t have our best interests at heart.

My bet is that their next target will be livestock. Farm animals. For their protection? Hell no. For profit and for another reason.

Remember the big scare about growth hormones in beef cattle? Then mad cow disease? It put a lot of people off beef. How do you think they’ll react when they find out the experimental vaccine is now in every single piece of meat on every shelf, everywhere? Remember, one of the primary objectives of this insane ‘great reset’ is to stop meat-eating. All meat.

Of course, the vaccine in meat is meaningless. Every living cell contains DNA and mRNA (except red blood cells so black pudding is totally safe). Every one. All animals – and all plants too. Ever hear of anyone suddenly being able to photosynthesise after eating a salad? Of course not. Your digestive system breaks all that DNA and RNA into bits. Your cells can use the bits – the basic blocks are the same – to build its own RNA and DNA. It doesn’t use the genes, just the bits.

The same is true of proteins. These are broken up into amino acids and reassembled into proteins your own body needs. If you are on a low-carb diet, some of that protein is burned for energy too. Eating a sheep does not turn you into a sheep. The education system does that.

As an aside, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Those fats are broken and mostly used for energy. The fats in your own cells are human fat, made in those cells, mostly from carbohydrates. You do not have a store of beef fat in you.

So I’m not going to be at all concerned about jabbed beef. If cooking doesn’t destroy the vaccine and its products, digestion will. I was never concerned about beef hormones for the same reason.

The mad cow disease was a bit more of a concern since the prions were shown to be heat resistant, but it turned out to be a very rare event with around ten cases a year. Still, all you had to do was avoid the main nervous tissue, brain and spine and although I have eaten cow brain in the past (being a broke student opens all kinds of interesting culinary options) I don’t need to eat that cheaply now. I still like liver though. Very good source of vitamin D and a very nice meal too.

If they can convince you that your pets have covid, it is a tiny step to convince you that farm animals have it. Then they can inject all the farm animals and once those side effects start to really get under way, many, many people will suddenly be too scared to eat meat.

There is a horrifying logic in this plan. It has to fail before they get to children, but then they are already running trials and have already ruined a few little lives before they really started. That won’t stop them. They don’t care.

The ‘vaccines’ are still experimental. They are still only allowed under emergency authorisation and that is in itself already illegal. Covid is not a highly lethal disease and there are effective treatments available. There is no need for these vaccines at all. The authorisation also only applies while there is an emergency. Stop the emergency and they can’t sell any more vaccines, and you know what that means.

Lockdowns are here to stay.

Monsters from the Id

Well, everything is running slow here. We had a heating boiler failure while the temperature dropped to -10C, now it’s fixed and the temperature barely gets below 5C. Still, it was good exercise for the wood burning stove. That’s now back in ‘supplemental’ mode but at least it’s been properly tested. The landlord has also provided a log-basket fireplace for the utility room (which has no heating of any kind) so that 18th century fireplace with the iron swing-arm pot holder should soon be back in use. It’s actually at least 100 years younger than the one in the living room…

We could indeed use it, and the living room wood burner, for cooking if it came down to it. Yes, we can party like it’s 1699. With rabbit, partridge, pheasant and possibly venison. The guy who runs the local deer cull is known to us – and before you start shedding Bambi tears, have you ever turned a corner in the road and faced a deer staring at you? If you hit one at speed it will die and there’s a very good chance you will too. Since there are no longer wolves in Scotland, the only predators deer get are ticks and the population can quickly get out of control. I’ve had quite a few near misses since they seem to find it funny to jump out in front of cars.

It could well become neccessary. There is currently a massive push to get us to live on locusts, mealworms and/or vegetables. You know, that green shit that grows in the dirt and the nasty crawly things that live in it. No meat. Not for us plebs anyway. Although if a few of the New Stasi go missing, who’d notice?

Anyway, we’re being pushed into a Brave New World. Aldous Huxley took the title from a line in Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, you know, a line spoken by the deformed maniac Caliban. The title of this post comes from ‘Forbidden Planet’, a film based upon the same play. Sometimes the connections are obscure but I think this one was too easy for a competition.

The Monsters from the Id (subconscious) are all around us now, dragged from the shadows by the manipulations surrounding Covid. Manipulations that lead to a new world indeed, a world of misery and despair in which we will own nothing and be happy. Or dead. The Righteous Ones are fine with either outcome.

I recall when butter was demonised to make way for the New Spreadable Plastic Crap In A Tub, culminating in ‘I can’t believe anyone is daft enough to think this is butter’. Lard, too, was replaced by the various cooking oils. The old ways were deemed Bad even though obesity and other ailments were far less prevalent in those days. It was always about money of course. You can’t sell something new when a perfectly good alternative already exists so you have to make the alternative bad.

So it is today. Massive investment into edible insects means meat must be demonised. Nobody is going to swap a bacon sandwich for bread with wrigglies in it willingly. They have to be convinced that the meat is going to kill them. Incidentally, proper bread recipes include a bit of lard…

Well, the whole ‘cows cause climate change’ thing hasn’t worked, so cows have not yet been rendered extinct. We can still get a burger. Now of course you can get a burger made of massively processed plant material instead of actual meat. Well, not for me, thanks all the same.

So what’s next on the ‘meat is deadly’ agenda? Simple. Recycle something we’ve known about for many years as a new and terrifying development.

When I was at university, 1978-1981 for my first degree, we examined plasmid transfer in a practical class. I have since run such classes myself. Bacterial genomes are not like plant or animal genomes. They are made of the same stuff – DNA – but they are not organised into chromosomes. There’s no structure. A bacterium does not have a nucleus, its DNA is one long circle that just floats about in the cell.

It can also have little circles of DNA separate from its main DNA. These are plasmids and they can be transferred between bacteria. They send a copy of themselves along a tube called a pilus when two bacteria connect and if you break the connection at set times, you can work out the order of genes on the plasmid. But I don’t want to get into full lecture mode. Suffice to say, this is nothing new.

The non-structured circular DNA of a bacterium has another feature. Unlike the rigid-ish structure of plant or animal chromosomal DNA, it is very, very easy to insert an extra bit into the main DNA in a bacterium. They can pick up fragments from the environment, they might insert them, they might not. The scale of numbers we are talking about with bacteria means that the chance of a few insertions is actually pretty high.

There are viruses that infect bacteria. These are bacteriophages, and they only infect bacteria. Just like the ones we get, they are fussy about which bacteria they infect so one that bursts from an infected E. coli is hoping to find another E. coli nearby.

I’ve previously explained how viruses are mindless and inefficient copying machines. These are no different. The bacteriophage particles, when assembling inside the cell, don’t all get loaded with bacteriophage DNA. Sometimes they get loaded with bits of host DNA instead and when they ‘infect’ another cell, instead of making viruses they ‘gift’ the cell with some DNA from another cell. As a bonus, when one bacteriophage enters a cell it blocks all others from entering. So if it injects bacterial DNA, that bacterium is now immune to any real viruses.

As with DNA picked up from the environment, sometimes the bacterium inserts it into its own genome, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the new DNA forms a plasmid. Since we are always talking in billions with bacteria, it doesn’t have to happen very often to produce something new.

None of this entails new discoveries. We’ve known about all of it for a very long time. Sure, you can be scared of it if you want but it’s going to happen anyway. It’s been happening since long, long before we even knew DNA existed and there is nothing we can do about it.

Well, there is one thing. If meat is cleanly slaughtered it should not be coated with gut contents. Even if it is, cooking it thoroughly will kill any bacteria that might be on it. Chicken is a special case – nothing to do with gene transfer, it’s because Campylobacter can get into the muscle tissues. So chicken realy does need to be cooked through. You can get away with a rare steak, but rare chicken is taking a huge risk. Again, this is not one of my lectures (well, maybe a bit, old habits die hard).

I wonder if this is part of the Internet effect. When I did my first and second degree, the internet didn’t exist and computers were only just getting into homes. And I’m talking about Sinclair ZX-81’s and BBC’s for those who could afford them. A BBC computer with Cub monitor and Cumana disk drives was quite an outlay in those days. Some years later I bought three of them for a fiver each – they’re fun but the internet is way beyond them. But I digress.

When I did my degrees we had to go to the library to look things up, and often that involved going into The Stacks, in the basement, where the old stuff was stored. Once the internet took off, that changed rapidly. Now you can sit at your desk and search PubMed and other science databases – but certainly at first (and probably even now) the internet didn’t go very far back.

I started seeing papers published that made me look twice. Some Lactobacilli can grow in air? I had a reference to that from the early 1970s, it was not a new discovery in 1990. There were a lot more like this and I realised that the internet was only documenting research from around 1985. Earlier stuff was still on paper, in The Stacks, and nobody went there any more. If it wasn’t on the desktop and accessible online, it didn’t exist.

I have seen so much more of this since. An entirely unrelated one – when firing a bow, you don’t grip the bow because that will make your wrist twist when you fire and you’ll be off target. I’ve watched people fire bows and then slowly dip and raise them deliberately with a firm grip throughout. It’s wrong. It’s what it must look like in action but the ‘dip’ is because you weren’t holding the bow too tight. Not some little theatrical thing. It comes from an internet that doesn’t go back very far.

If I’m feeling generous I could accept that these researchers have only looked online for the past research and think they are onto something new. In fact this stuff stopped being publish-worthy a very, very long time ago. So it’s not in their searches because nobody has scanned those papers into the net yet. Or maybe they have, as PDFs, which won’t listen to a keyword search.

If I’m feeling cynical, as I usually am these days, I can see it as a deliberate attempt to scare people away from meats, by pretending we’ve only just found out how gut bacteria change while, naturally, ignoring one small detail.

Insects have gut bacteria too.

Double masks?

The lunacy around Covid is getting worse. You’d think the vaccine rollout would have calmed the rhetoric but no, it’s becoming even more insane.

The people who told us masks don’t work are now recommending we wear two. I guess they have to clear their stocks before the game is over. I’ve never bought the disposable surgical masks. You know, the ones that state on the box that they offer no protection at all from this specific virus. I have some fun ones to wear on my rare visits to local shop but they are wash and re-use ones (minimum 40oC, preferably 60 if they can take it, but as far as the virus is concerned it’s the soap that kills it not the temperature). I know they don’t do a damn thing but they give me an excuse to look scary while shopping. I’m actually going to miss the zipper mouth one and the Grinch.

If they want me masked up more I have a sugar skull, Bane, plague doctor and the little trike-riding puppet from Saw. As well as a few army surplus gas masks. Although the shop staff have trouble hearing me through the cloth masks as it is so I’d have to write down everything if I wear the gas masks.

Hmm. What if they insist I remove the plague doctor mask because it’s too scary, and I have the sugar skull on underneath? Look, the situation is ridiculous, I might as well have some fun with it.

Then there are the N95 masks. They won’t stop the virus either but they are better protection than the surgical or cloth masks. However, hospitals and other sites using these masks have technical staff to train people how to use them properly. You don’t just bung them on. They have to fit properly.

One of my nieces is a nurse. The shape of her face does not accommodate an N95. She cannot wear them effectively. Can you? How will you know? There is a way to test it, do you know what it is? Have any of those selling the masks mentioned it?

N95 masks are not re-useable. You can wear a properly fitted one for about two hours and then it’s done. Into the contaminated waste bin it goes and you can’t just put another one on right away. They really do restrict your breathing. Did the mask sellers tell you this? Did anyone tell you that used masks should be treated as contaminated material and not just put in a bin or worse – dumped in the street? It’s not just the virus. It’s been collecting bacteria and fungi while you’ve been breathing through it. It is now contaminated material.

Everything that left my lab went through an autoclave. Basically, a massive pressure cooker that uses high pressure steam to raise the temperature inside to 121oC for fifteen minutes. Nothing survives that. It’s then safe to put it in the trash. Not just bacterial cultures – absolutely anything that had the slightest risk of being contaminated, which was… everything. One accidental aerosol, without even realising it, could have contaminated everything. I took no chances.

Yet people are being sold these disposable masks which they wear, contaminate and throw away in the street. You can call them idiots but they aren’t. They simply haven’t been trained in the use of these things. They don’t know. Nobody is telling them. At the least, put them in boiling water for a minimum of ten minutes before putting them in the bin. That should kill everything apart from some bacterial spores. Oh, and don’t use that pot for anything else. Pick an old one.

Look. You are doing all this for a virus with a well over 99% survival rate and which is killed by soap. Its outer coat is made of fat with attachment proteins floating in it. Soap makes it fall apart. It really is that easy to kill. And now you have all these experimental vaccines and masks and anal swabs for a respiratory virus… you never had any of this for flu, and it’s killed many more than Covid. Although this year it seems to have disappeared. I”m sure you have your own theories as to why so I won’t bore you with mine.

Well, it seems the end of lockdown may be in sight, but it’s been in sight many times this year only to be snatched away again. It’s not going to end. We might get a couple of weeks in summer but it’ll be back next flu season, and those couple of weeks in summer will be blamed. It will have popular support too. All those selfish people who went so far out in the countryside the police had to send a drone to find them were spreading it through infected butterflies or something. It doesn’t matter how bizarre the reasoning is now. People will believe anything.

I’ve already seen Twitter folk saying that the proposed (but conspiracy theory even though the government has firms working on it) Covid passport should be used internally in shops and pubs. So far it’s only being discussed for foreign travel and the government denies it exists at all.

Anyway. What pubs? They’re doomed. There are stories that they will be allowed to open in April as long as they don’t sell alcohol. Now, maybe restaurants could survive this. Their primary business is food. They could allow customers to bring their own wine and charge corkage. Their profits will be hit hard but it’s possible they could struggle along.

Pubs though? Food is secondary and not all pubs are equipped for it. Their primary business is alcohol sales and if they can’t do that, there’s no point opening. Besides, what’s beer going to be like when filtered through two masks?

Sure, pubs could charge corkage but how well will that work? When you visit a restaurant you are mainly there for the food. If you have to pay a small fee to bring your own bottle of wine, no big deal. If you go to a pub you are mainly there for the beer. You have to bring your own, and you have to pay more to drink it. It’s in cans or bottles, no draught, so why would you do that? You can drink the supermarket cans at home.

Well, taxes are going to rise to pay for all this crap. Yes, we’ve been locked in under house arrest for a year and now we’re going to pay for it. Boris is also considering taxes on meat and cheese to atone for our sins against the Green God. We’re going to be taxed harder and food is about to be taxed too. Taxes on certain foods are the same as one compulsory vaccination. It’s a foot in the door. You accept one and there is no limit. Don’t believe me? ‘One nonsmoking area in restaurants, that’s all we want’. Remember that?

Note that the Covid passports are actually called vaccine passports. It is not ending with one. It is not ending at all.

It has occurred to me that I have already written most of this. In Panoptica, physical contact simply doesn’t happen. It’s not even a conscious choice, nobody even tries. In 23-David and 81-Mohammed, set before Panoptica, 23-David considers a handshake as an assault. Back in Panoptica, 10538’s home and everything in it is reallocated when he is arrested. He owned nothing. Medication is centralised and not optional. 10538 has no personal agency, it does not even occur to him to not do as he is told.

Now I have to write a way out of all this. First though, I have to defeat lockdown ennui and get some editing finished…

Cooking with Lard

A conversation with CStM about deep frying this evening. Mostly because we’ve just bought a deep fryer. It claims it should be filled with vegetable oil and not olive oil – apparently that’s unsuitable. Has to be corn oil or sunflower oil. Well it uses so much that olive oil would be prohibitive anyway, due to cost.

Then again, olive oil has been shown to have health benefits whereas corn oil definitely doesn’t. Still the fryer says it won’t work.

Anyone my age will remember the ‘chip pan’. A saucepan with a mesh basket for deep frying – mostly chips, but basically anything. When it was cold you couldn’t get the basket out because it was in a saucepan full of set lard. It was only washed when the lard needed to be changed.

It didn’t really need to be washed. There isn’t a living creature, microorganism or otherwise, that could survive in boiling lard. Once the heat was turned off, that damn thing was sterile.

Yes it was a high-risk cooking thing. There were many TV ads about what to do if it caught fire and that childhood indoctrination is why I insist on having a fire blanket near the cooker. Never needed to use one but it’s there just in case.

It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time. Is cooking with lard really as bad as they say? Or is it going to one day be scoffed at, like the ‘butter is evil, buy our plasticine substitute’ has been debunked? I’ve always preferred real butter. No substitute comes close.

I’ve fried meat in butter and it’s well worth it.

I think the clincher for me was fried bread. Some years back, the radio in Local Shop (while they were still allowed to use it in the back room before the ‘public access’ licencing became silly) had a talk show on. The DJ didn’t believe ‘fried bread’ was a real thing. Really. The youth have no idea what that is.

So what is it? In the old days, you’d have a lot of fat left in the frying pan and fat is food. You can scrape it into the bin or you can use it to fry something else or you can have it right now by frying some bread in it. If you were poor, as many people were, you could get that extra energy rather than waste it.

Fried bread, done properly, is gorgeous. If you have never experienced it you’ve really missed out. However, it does not work with modern cooking oils. It has to be in hard fat.

Maybe there’s a food scientist who can help with this. If you try to make fried bread in vegetable oil, you get a soggy mess. If you do it with lard or butter or bacon fat, you get a crispy result like a fried version of toast.

I have wondered if the hard fats have to be hotter so the surface of whatever is fried seals quickly and goes crispy. The vegetable oils are already liquid, they don’t need to melt, so they are cooking at a lower temperature. So they don’t seal the surface and have more time to soak into the food.

Which would mean that cooking with lard gives you less fat intake than cooking with vegetable oil. Most of the fat stays in the pan, not in the food.

Incidentally, these days, after frying up some bacon, we clean the frying pan. My grandmother didn’t. That bacon fat cooked tomorrow’s food. A friend of mine once described how, after he left home, he couldn’t get his baked beans to taste the way his mother made them. He was following the instructions on the tin – heat gently, don’t boil…

Then he visited his mother while she was cooking up some baked beans. In a frying pan. His words, as far as I can remember them –

‘The pan was bubbling like bloody Vesuvius. I said you’re not supposed to let them boil. She said fuck that, there’s two ounces of butter in there as well as yesterday’s bacon fat.’

Try that. You’ll be amazed.

We didn’t have an ‘obesity epidemic’. We didn’t have pompous arses telling us what we should eat (well yes we did, but we ignored them). We didn’t have things we couldn’t believe were not butter, we had butter. Not the processed plasticine that isn’t even margarine now. We didn’t have corn oil, we had melted lard. So why were we not all Weebles?

Well we also didn’t spend twelve hours a day sitting in front of computers playing at imaginary lives. We were outside playing real ones. That might have more of an effect than anything to do with food.

The fryer we have doesn’t mention lard in its instructions. Maybe it can’t handle that.

Maybe we have to get an old style chip pan to get the real deal.

Extermoonate!

Around 1990, I worked alongside some scientists who studied methane emissions from ruminants, particularly (but not exclusively) cows. I wasn’t directly involved, I was working on probiotics for pigs, but we are talking the same scientific group.

Their aim was to reduce methane emissions from cows, in the name of global warming, because otherwise we’d all be dead by 2000. Must have worked then, eh?

Nope. Not at all. The meddling kept getting funded but the cows farted and belched unhindered. My suggestion of adding a spark plug at either end to burn off emissions and simultaneously create double-ended dragons or self-cooking steaks was scoffed at. No imagination, those scientists.

Besides, the methane and CO2 belched and farted out of cows is as nothing compared to what comes out of mud flats, wetland, bogs, marshes, swamps… and when a subsea methane clathrate collapses, the cows become utterly irrelevant for that whole year. Sometimes you even get to see swamp methane as will-o-the-wisps when a bit of naturally-produced phosphine sets it off. Worrying about cow farts was, and still is, pointless but if you throw money at scientists they will find a way to use it.

To be fair, these days they have to accept funding. Their jobs depend on it. The days of pure research are gone and I count myself lucky to have been part of them. Now, you have to have a commercially viable aim for a project. Research for pure interest, and the inventions that came as byproducts of that, are gone for good.

Well, after a few decades of failing to stop cows farting (plugging the holes just makes them inflate and float away) the only solution left is the one that was obvious all along. In the name of conservation, in the name of ending animal cruelty, the plan is… kill all the cows.

The Amazing Occasional Cortex’s ‘Green New Deal’ is neither green nor new. There have been decades of research into stopping cows farting and belching methane and nothing has worked. Even if it did, all those wild ruminants would fill the void very quickly. So we’d have to kill all of them too.

If we do, their niche will be filled by other species and since most animals produce methane to some extent, and all of them produce CO2, the only way to save life on the planet is to exterminate all life on the planet.

Including insects and microbes. They represent an enormous biomass and they all produce CO2. They all have to go if we are to truly reduce CO2 emissions because shutting a few power plants is going to make no difference at all overall.

Makes sense? Has any of the ‘progressive’ claptrap ever made any sense?

No, it makes no sense. In the 70s we were heading into a global ice age due to rising CO2, then we were heading into a planet with a runaway greenhouse effect like Venus because of rising CO2, now we have ‘climate change’ because of rising CO2 so they can claim a win either way.

And they have an army of acolytes hanging on every word. Believe! Listen to our High Preists with their white coats and hockey sticks! Live as we direct or the Green God will smite thee! The End is Nigh!

I have tried to point out to these people that this is the basis of every major religion on the planet and that they are members of the Church of Climatology. Do they listen? Of course not. Who would willingly deny their own religion?

Now, the Occasional Cortex says we have twelve years to kill all the cows and abandon all technology. All those advances, all those innovations, must be discarded. Yes, she tweets this from an iPhone while drinking Starbucks and checking the time on a posh watch. And to think, people say Americans don’t understand irony.

Is that what happened to those who built the ancient structures we don’t know how to build now? Did they fall for the same scam? Did they abandon their technology because of farting cows and destroy all records of their inventions to make the world a safer place to bang rocks together and collect berries?

There are so many ruins under the Amazon forest that it is becoming clear that it’s not an ancient forest at all. It’s a runaway weed patch. The ‘lungs of the planet’ are not a discrete organ all in one place. It includes that lawn outside your window, the weeds growing in hte cracks in the pavement, the algae around your windows after a wet season. All of it is absorbing CO2 because all of it needs CO2 to live.

We are all to become vegetarian to save the planet by eating its lungs. Isn’t that a fun image? Well it can’t work. Those grasslands the cattle graze on are not used for crops because those areas are only good enough to grow grass. You can’t plough a field when the bedrock is six inches down but grass will grow there and cows will turn that into something you can eat. Vegetarianism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

There will be climate change, there always has been and always will be, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Not a thing. You adapt to it or you die. Nature doesn’t give a damn either way. If the human race is eradicated, another species will take our place. Just like the cows.

If you want to worry about humanity getting wiped out, you’d do better to worry about what’s currently happening between India and Pakistan than worry about half a degree of temperature change or a millimetre rise in sea levels. But hey, if that’s what floats your boat…

This planet has gone through changes that have put cities under the sea and the sea bed at the tops of mountains and humans have never, and will never, have any control over any of it. If the planet decides to have an earthquake or a tsunami or a volcano, the best you can hope for is getting enough warning to get out of the way. You cannot control this.

That is the part that the control freaks really cannot stand. We have absolutely no control over nature. None at all. So they have to pretend we do. They pretend we are ‘causing an ice age’ or ‘causing global warming’ or ‘causing climate change’ because they cannot stand not being in control. I’m surprised they haven’t blamed dinosaur farts for deflecting an asteroid so it crashed into Earth and killed them all.

We really don’t have hat much effect on the planet. Sure, we had cities with smog and some places still do but that’s a local effect. Not a global one. Cleaning up our cities to get rid of the smog is a Good Thing but really, only for ourselves. The planet does not care.

If we managed to get this planet to a state where we cannot live on it any more, nature will not care. It will replace us with species that can live on it in its new state and carry on going around the sun as usual.

Taxation will not affect that one jot. What does the rock we stand on care about our money? What does any other species on the planet care about it? Hell, there are whole populations of humans who don’t care about it.

Going back to living in huts made of dung and working dawn to dusk on subsistence farming is not going to make the slightest difference to climate change. It will only affect our ability to cope with it.

We really are not Gods. We do not control the weather and we have absolutely no control whatsoever over the planet. We are hairless monkeys with fancy toys and smugness and that is it.

The planet doesn’t care if we wipe out our species with our own self-importance. The loss of a species is nothing to Nature.

It can simply make another one.

New Year. Again.

This will be my 58th New Year although I don’t actually remember very many of them. I’ll remember this one for sure. I have to drive to the lab on New Year’s Day to (hopefully) complete the removal of all my stuff.

Actually I don’t care about the stuff left there now. It’s just that I don’t want to leave the junk for someone else to have to clean up. I won’t be leaving the lab as I found it – I had redecorated in there when I first moved in because it was a shithole – but I won’t leave any mess either.

This does mean driving on New Year’s Day so it sets a limit on the drinking. Once the lab is clear I can have my own little New Year. CStM gave me a bottle of Johnnie Walker’s ‘White Walker’ for Christmas and I’m saving it for when the lab is clear.

The date of the new year doesn’t really matter. The planet notices nothing, it doesn’t reset anything (unfortunately) and no global counter clicks up a notch. Hibernating animals don’t all wake up, murmur a bleary ‘Hooray’ and then go back to sleep. Nothing on this planet except humans has any regard for the moment the Western calendar adds another number.

China won’t care. They have their own calendar. So does Islam and so do many others. There are places in the world where humans don’t count the days at all. If you have always lived on the equator, the concept of ‘seasons’ might be hard to grasp. Oh there’ll be some change throughout the year but the idea of wildly varying temperatures just won’t figure.

Long dark winter evenings and summer nights where the sky is blue all night? Some equatorial peoples might well find that hard to believe. Just as those, like myself, who have never experienced the equator find it difficult to envisage a hardly-changing day length throughout the year.

Where we decide to start our calendar is entirely arbitrary. I’d have preferred New Year at a more pleasant time of the year, weather-wise, and distanced from Christmas so we don’t have two consecutive weeks of chaos. But then I’ve always been a bit of a Grinch…

I know, this is a major ramble. But it’s New Year’s Eve, so no bugger is reading it anyway. CStM and I might be the only sober ones in Scotland (aside from police, medics, firemen etc who are at work) by the time this autopublishes. Oh yes, it’s on a timer. We have some scary films to watch.

I think my decision to largely retire from science (I’ll still take consultancy work if it’s offered, but I have done my share of 60-sample marathons and I don’t want to do that any more) really took hold when I sold the gutbugs.com domain last April. Someone made an offer, I wasn’t using it and really wasn’t likely to now. I had set up sites in the past but meh, I was already considering retirement anyway.

The lab hadn’t seen very much action in years. I was paying rent for storage, basically. Not very harsh rent but letting the lab go will free up some cash. It has, unfortunately, also filled the utility room and garage with lab equipment. I’ll sell most of it but I’m keeping all my 5-litre flasks and maybe a couple of water baths for winter brewing.

Anyone need a peristaltic pump (Masterflex, none of yer crap) or magnetic stirrer? I have several, and other stuff too. I can’t let CStM get hold of my Gilson pipettes or lab balance – she is already over-precise with recipes and those things would let her take it to the edge!

I am now, primarily, a publisher and an author. Oh I’m still ‘doctor’, you don’t lose your PhD just because you stop using it. Although I rarely used the title unless someone pissed me off. I worked as a janitor for a year before anyone found out who I really was, and one member of staff called me ‘Alan’ for two years because I answered to it even though it’s not even close to my name. It never mattered to me.

Every member of staff in Local Shop who found out I was ‘Doctor’ had the same question – ‘What are you doing in here then?’ I had a variety of answers.

I finally tuned in and dropped out, man.

I know stuff, and I’m hiding.

I’m undercover.

Many more, but I did learn a lot from being one of the Untouchables in the shop. It validated what I had believed from day one of science work. The cleaners know everything so always make friends with them. Why do they know everything? Simple. Management treats them as equipment, not people. They are ignored. Polishing the woodwork while two managers discuss where the company is going? They don’t even know you’re there. You’re far too stupid to understand what they’re saying. You’re no more important to them than the brush you’re holding.

Cleaners are the core of every business. It can’t operate without them – especially in the food industry – but they are ignored and if spotted, treated as subhuman. Always befriend the cleaners. They know more about what will happen to the business than the managers do and if/when it goes down, they’ll be cleaners somewhere else.Their profession is secure, if way underpaid.

Most importantly, I now know exactly why food poisoning outbreaks occur, who is really to blame, how they could be stopped and why it is going to get progressively worse in the coming years. Naturally, I’m not going to tell anyone more than a few of the basic and obvious parts because that information has value.

Also, because Puritan Health want to hammer all prepared foods with more taxes. They want to ban bacon and ham because the curing process gives them nitrites. Nitrites were once encouraged because of their antibacterial properties, you know. It was in Nature, in the early 1990s, so it’ll be hard to find but if I do, I’ll post it.

Well I won’t be buying that stuff and it has nothing to do with the risk of obesity. There are rather more immediate risks in my mind now. I’ve been at both ends of this chain – I’ve been a lecturer and researcher in food safety/gut disease and I’ve been a cleaner in a food shop. When I took the janitor job I knew what to look out for, and found it. All of it. All its variations and nuances and why it will not go away.

How many like me are out there pronouncing on food safety? And yet I will say nothing. There is no point. People will believe ‘experts’ who have no idea of what is happening at the start of the chain they claim to understand. All they will see of me is four years of ‘the cleaner’ and not the thirty years before.

I am really glad that hard times forced me into that lowly, essential and underrated job. I learned so much more than I could ever have learned from scientific papers written by those who ignore the cleaners. I learned the structure of food shops and where the risks lie – and I know why they are increasing to very dangerous levels.

Maybe I’ll write it all down and make a book of it. Nobody will read it, of course, but at least I can say ‘I told you so’.

Or maybe I’ll take the information to my grave and just watch the world burn.

Anyway. Happy New Year to all, and if anyone is still alive and not shitting through every orifice in 2019, there’ll be a new Underdog Anthology at the end of March.

You might need extra pages 😉

Fat or sugar. Make your choice.

There is a current spat on Twitter about the low-carbohydrate vs low-fat diets. Which one is better for weight loss?

Neither.

Also… both.

Anything can make you fat. I have met the occasional fat vegetarian. I was once pretty fat because of whisky. Really. There are around 1800 calories in a bottle of whisky so a daily bottle plus all the food plus the fact that, back then, I spent most of my time in front of a computer, made me into a stunt double for Mr. Blobby. Some nights I became less intelligible than him…

I cut down a lot on the whisky, landed a job as a janitor (times were very, very hard). Very physical working 6 to 8 hours a day, 6, sometimes 7 days a week – the weight simply vanished. I made no changes at all to my actual food intake. It was the same ‘unhealthy crap’ I always ate and still do. Curries, pizza, lemon chicken, anything I can culturally appropriate, I’ll eat it. Except rat on a stick. Everyone has a limit. I’d try it once though.

It’s really simple (as long as we are talking solely in terms of weight loss and ignoring essential amino acids, vitamins etc). Calories in, calories used. If you take in more fuel than you use, your body will store the excess. If you use more fuel than you take in, your body will use its stored excess to make up the difference.

What should you eat to lose weight? It does not matter. Eat what you like but don’t eat more than you need. Eat less than you need and you will lose weight.

Do remember to stop dieting at some point though. Too thin is actually more dangerous than too fat. Having a little bit of reserve is always a good thing – you never know when you might need that little bit of extra energy reserve. Chubby Venezuelans will attest to this. So will all the currently-villified British fatties if Corbyn gets in.

There is much more to it than weight, of course. Healthy eating does not simply consist of calories. The above considers body weight in isolation, it does not consider what those calories consist of.

Sugar, the naked truth – you don’t need any, other than what’s already in the food. Now before you get all outraged, hear me out. I don’t need to smoke, I don’t need to drink whisky. In fact I know that those things are likely to be bad for me one day. I do them because I like them. I know the risks and accept them because to me, the enjoyment outweighs the risks. Okay I don’t drink as much as I used to by any means but I do still like my whisky. One of the advantages of reduced whisky intake is that I don’t need the swill at the bottom end of the market. I now have smaller amounts of the good stuff.

I like sugar too. I will not buy aspartame sweetened things because I know, from personal experience over many experiments, that aspartame will make the world drop out of my bottom. My guts don’t like it at all.

Then there are the energy drinks, or ‘wakey water’ as I call them. I have, again, restricted my intake to one or maybe two a day and never after midnight. But I still like them. Actually I prefer most of the cheaper ones to the full-fat Red Bull but that’s a matter of personal taste and also wallet strain. One for about £1.50 compared to a pack of six for £1.50, it’s not a heavy decision for a one-time homeless guy in Scotland.

As I said before, calorie-free ‘energy’ drinks are a joke. If you drink those and believe they give you energy you are insane. And probably awake and tired.

We use sugar because we like it. Yes, too much is bad for you but too much of anything is bad. The dose makes the poison – even too much water will kill you. It will kill you faster, too. We do not, however, need raw sugar in the same way that we need water. In an internal sugar shortage, your body can make the sugar it needs from fatty acids produced by bacteria in the gut, and even from protein. There is also sugar in a lot of foods anyway, especially plant foods. Your body can get all the sugar it needs from a salad but, well, salad… chocolate… no contest really.

Oh I eat salad sometimes. With salt, because everything is better with salt.

That’s another issue. The healthists insist we have a daily salt allowance. I do not accept any kind of ‘allowance’ because I’ve always been a rebellious little goblin and always will be. I live by my own rules and often break those too.

The salt thing is bollocks on many levels. If you have a job that involves a lot of physical work you will sweat a lot. If, like me, you really don’t like hot weather because it makes you sweat to the point where you have to replace your eyebrows with rain gutters: If you labour day in, day out at heavy lifting… you lose salt as well as water in that sweat.

If your job involves sitting at a desk in an air conditioned office then you don’t need to sweat much. If you are one of those Satanic hybrids who like hot weather and don’t feel like you’re melting whenever the sun hits you then you probably don’t sweat as much as those of us from normal, cold places. So you don’t lose salt and water so quickly.

A one size fits all approach is horrifyingly wrong. In anything, if it comes to it. I eat a lot of salt. I’ve no idea how far over the ‘allowance’ I am because I don’t care enough to measure it. I carry little salt packs from takeaways with me everywhere and I have been known to just open one of those packs and eat the contents as raw salt. On very hot days, usually.

Your body regulates its salt/water balance. Too much salt and your urine is salty. Too little salt and you die of hyponatremia. It takes a hell of a lot of salt intake to wreck that balance, and you’ll know if you’re heading that way. Your kidneys will tell you with pain.

It doesn’t take very long to die if you have too little.

There is no point drinking water on hot days if you’re not also taking in some salt. You lose water and salt in sweat, you have to replace both, not one, or your body will simply piss out the water to keep them in balance. Modern medicine makes no allowance for this, nor for differences between individuals. Modern medicine uses the British Standard Human as their model and if you don’t fit the manual, well tough. They will let you die.

It used to be enough to have a bag of peanuts or crisps to get plenty of salt. I have, in recent years, had to add salt to peanuts and crisps when I eat them because it’s now been reduced to silly levels. Like the calorie-free energy drinks, we now have ‘ready salted’ crisps to add to our list of false advertising. I remember when crisps were unsalted but came with a litle blue twisted bag of salt to add as much as you wanted. Sometimes a pack had two bags of salt by mistake. I loved getting those.

Let’s talk about fat.

You do not get fat from eating fat, unless you are eating human fat. Or you are eating too much fat. Your fat is not the same as cow fat or pig fat or sheep fat or nut fat. Yes, bags of nuts now have a ‘high fat’ warning. Sigh. They are seeds. The plant has to start growing underground, in the dark. It has to have energy reserves in the form of fats and starches until it can get its leaves into the light and start making its own.

Seeds are full of stored energy. That’s why we eat them.

In fact seeds – cereals, grains – are so full of stored energy that you can get very fat indeed eating those things. Even if you never eat any meat based fat at all.

When you eat a bag of nuts or cereal or rains you are not eating pure carbohydrate. You are also eating some protein and a lot of plant fats. So don’t tell me you are ‘avoiding fat’ by eating those things. You are avoiding certain types of fat by eating loads of another type.

In the end it doesn’t matter. Any fat you eat is broken down by your cells and if it doesn’t need to be used, it is reassembled, along with any excess carbohydrate, into human fat and then stored. Fat does not make you fat. Carbohydrate does not make you fat. Taking in more calories than you use is what makes you fat.

There’s a lot more – there’s enough for a series of lectures in this topic!

Some vitamins are fat soluble and you will not get them at all on a fat free diet. They only exist in the fat. They are insoluble in water. Vitamin K – ever tried to make a bacterial growth media where that was an essential ingredient? It just sits on top in a little blob.

So much more, but this is just a little backwater blog and putting whole lectures up feels somewhat futile.

Protein is worth a mention. Some years ago, the Atkins diet was all the rage. No carbs, just protein. Everyone on it was instantly recognisable because they had acetone breath. Their bodies broke the protein to make sugar and dumped the excess parts as nitrates and acetone. Sure, you can live like that but if your only goal is weight loss it’s pointless. All it does is make you smell like cleaning fluid.

All you need for weight loss is to take in fewer calories than you use. That is all there is to it. There is nothing more complex involved and it will save you money, not cost you money. You spend less on food. Alternatively you can spend more to have someone else to tell you to spend less on food. Can you see how silly that sounds?

Diets are expensive. You pay people to tell you to spend less money on food. You pay more than you save. Does anyone see the scam in this?

Look, it’s really simple.

Are you happy with your health on your curent diet (ignore weight)? No? See a dietician. A proper, quialified one. Yes? Your diet is fine.

Are you feeling like you have to lose weight but answered ‘yes’ to the first question? Just eat less and/or exercise more.

Are you feeling like eating a cake of yourself and don’t give a shit? Good. Carry on.

All of those are correct answers. If you want to lose weight, take in less than you use. If you are feeling bad, and you think it’s because of what you eat, see a dietician. If you are happy as you are, carry on.

Modern medicine will never get it.

So the diet scammers have an open field for profit, when losing weight should, by any definition of logic, cost less than whatever you spend on food now.

You can change your life and body without outside help.It does not depend on how much you want to spend.

It only depends on how much you care about it.