# Vani Hari, a.k.a. "The Food Babe," doubles down on the misinformation in her response to the New York Times

To put it mildly, I'm not a big fan of Vani Hari, who has achieved Internet notoriety as a highly misguided "food activist" better known as The Food Babe. As The Food Babe, Hari has improbably become a minor celebrity by attacking food companies over various ingredients their products and, unfortunately, seems poised for more. Indeed, given how media- and social media-savvy she has become, it's not inconceivable that she could become the Dr. Oz of food. The problem with that, of course, is that what she pushes is not good information but rather misinformation. Indeed, she appears to live by the adage that if you can't pronounce a chemical's name, it shouldn't be in food, a particularly brain dead adage if ever there was one. Even for ingredients that she'd demonized that are inarguably natural, such as isinglass, which is derived from the swim bladders of fish, she seems to apply a standard that can best be characterized as an "appeal to yuckiness." In practice, this means that if it grosses Hari out, for whatever reason, similarly it shouldn't be used in food, even if there's a long history of its safe use. Basically, it it's a chemical with a difficult-to-pronounce name or an ingredient derived from a less than savory-sounding animal part, to Hari it is evil.

Examples abound. The first time I encountered Hari was when she attacked Subway for using azodicarbonamide, which is a chemical commonly (and safely) used as a foaming agent in bread, because it's also used in making foam rubber. That led her to the admittedly clever tactic of referring to azodicarbonamide as the "yoga mat chemical." Of course, this tactic was intellectually dishonest as well, because it implied (intentionally) that Subway was putting yoga mat foam rubber in bread. Of course, chemicals are used for different purposes all the time, some of which might be in food, and food scientists and skeptics were very vocal about the lack of science behind The Food Babe's attacks. It's not for nothing that I pointed out that The Food Babe is to food as Jenny McCarthy is to vaccines. Her ignorance of basic chemistry is epic, too, the most famous example occurring when she became concerned about what's in beer, leading her to confuse propylene glycol (used in antifreeze) with propylene glycol alginate, an ester of alginic acid, which is derived from kelp. That was the same incident in which she attacked isinglass, a gelatin-like substance derived from fish swim bladders used to clear the beer of yeast and solid particles.

So it was with much amusement and a bit of schadenfreude that I saw on Friday an article in the New York Times by Courtney Rubin entitled Taking On the Food Industry, One Blog Post at a Time. It's a fairly balanced article that ends up making Vani Hari look not particularly good, which is not difficult because she is so clueless. Of course, I am a bit biased because Rubin quoted a fair number of Hari's critics, including yours truly at my other blogging gig on my not-so-super-secret other blog, including the bit where I referred to her as the "Jenny McCarthy of food," which was a modified version of the same post crossposted there. In fairness, I can't take credit for that comparison because Steve Novella made it first, but such is life. In any case Rubin's article also quoted other Food Babe critics more notable than I, such as Joe Schwarcz, a chemist at McGill University and Director of McGill's Office for Science & Society and Kevin Folta, chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, who almost out-Oracs Orac by referring to Hari's lecture at his university last October as a "corrupt message of bogus science and abject food terrorism" (which is why I like him). To her credit, Rubin also prominently mentioned what is arguably the most ridiculous Food Babe post of all, "Food Babe Travel Essentials":

In another much-mocked post, “Food Babe Travel Essentials — No Reason to Panic on the Plane!” Ms. Hari criticized the air on an airplane. Because of cost concerns, the air “pumped in isn’t pure oxygen, either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes at almost 50 percent,” she wrote. Except ambient air isn’t pure oxygen, either. It’s roughly 78 percent nitrogen. The widely discredited post, where Ms. Hari also complained about the flight attendants’ stinginess with water in first class, was removed swiftly.

In an interview, Ms. Hari said she didn’t remember the post, which Mr. Cook brought up by name. She then said it would have disappeared from the blog because it was old. Weeks later, in an email, she admitted that it had been removed because of mistakes, and said that she planned to start noting when she clarified or corrected posts.

Steve Novella and I have both discussed this particular post, which, although she removed it from her website, is still available because the Internet never forgets. It reveals a misunderstanding of science so unbelievable that when in the same article Hari brags about how her undergraduate major was actually in the College of Engineering at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and she took "hard science," I laughed out loud. Either she's forgotten everything she's learned or she knows she's peddling chemical misinformation. Take your pick. Actually, what she neglects to note is that her major was computer science, which requires almost no knowledge of chemistry or biology. (Indeed, in the NYT article she boasts about taking Physics and Calculus, but those disciplines are not really relevant to her activism; chemistry, physiology, and biology are.) One also notes that she's been promising to note clarified or corrected posts for a while now, and has yet to do it, although it's been noted that she did admit her mistake in publishing this article, albeit buried on her Facebook page; in other words, nowhere easy to find.

Hilariously, her response to that is:

Ms. Hari said the these particular posts (which she wouldn’t acknowledge as having been discredited) were a feeble exercise in nit-picking that detracted from her mission.

“If you’re going to pick apart every little sentence I’ve written ,” she said, her voice trailing off. She added of her critics, “They have to dig so far and deep to find something to make me look crazy because what I’m saying now is so sane and is so real.”

Of course, this is about as disingenuous as it gets. Her critics are just "digging far and deep" to "nitpick" when we point out massive errors in science in her posts that are obvious to many people with a high school education. Of course, we didn't have to "dig so far and deep" to find examples of Food Babe idiocy when she was in the middle of her "yoga mat chemical" and beer campaigns. Those were front and center on her blog and activism, and her errors of science and fact were almost as egregious as the post about airplane air. Oh, wait, they have been just as bad, such as her claim that microwave ovens somehow destroy the nutrient content of food irretrievably and her most risible claim of all, namely that "there is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever.." Given that food is made of chemicals, I wished her good luck surviving living by that particularly dumb adage.

The pressure must be finally getting to her again, because she actually responded to the NYT article. Unfortunately, she responded to it on Sunday after I had already written my posts for both this blog and my not-so-super-secret other blog; so I was unable to respond until now. Predictably, Hari entitled it Response: NY Times Lets Biased Freelancer Attack Food Babe and makes it clear that she's learned absolutely nothing from the legitimate criticism of her science and dishonest tactics and calling Rubin's article a "hatchet job." (To be honest, from my perspective, it was, if anything, too mild. But, then, it was in the NYT.) Predictably, Hari also goes straight for the "shill" gambit:

The reporter featured only the views of certain academics who attack us – every single one of whom has a conflict of interest due to their associations with the food or chemical industries (and this is not disclosed). Although I gave Ms. Rubin the names of scientific, medical and consumer experts who support our work, these did not appear in the story, with one exception (Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group) and even his quote was chosen to support her obvious bias.

Yes, it's a variation of the pharma shill gambit, something I first wrote about nearly a decade ago, except in this case it's the the food industry shill or the chemical company shill gambit. It's also particularly amusing to hear her accuse anyone of being a shill given how skilled she has become at using affiliate-marketing arrangements to monetize her activism. Truly, Hari is not particularly creative, certainly no more so than an antivaccinationists. Not surprisingly, she's been known to spout off some antivaccine views from time to time, particularly about the flu vaccine.

First up, Hari attacks Joe Schwarcz:

Dr. Joseph Schwarcz is the Director of McGill University’s “Office for Science & Society”, which has in the past received funding from the biotech (GMO) industry Dow, Monsanto, and Dupont through the Council for Biotechnology Information (1). Dr. Schwarcz is also on the Editorial Board for the magazine of the Chemical Institute of Canada, ACCN. Based on his advocacy, one could say Dr. Schwarcz hasn’t met a chemical he doesn’t like.

That bit about "never having met a chemical he doesn't like" is particularly silly, as though chemicals are things to be "liked" or not. (On second thought, I do rather like ethyl alcohol from time to time.) One could far more accurately retort that The Food Babe has never met a chemical she did like. As Schwarcz wrote in his reply, the ACCN is not an industry group and his office's funding from the Council of Biotechnology Information was over a decade ago for student interns, none of whose work had anything to do with biotechnology.

It is also true that I have questioned her mental abilities. How could I not when she wrote a piece about believing that the properties of water were affected by a label on the bottle that had either loving or hateful words written on it. Let me also mention that on numerous occasions I invited her to be a guest on my radio show to air her views and she refused. I stand by my opinion of her. She is a possibly well-meaning, scientifically illiterate publicity hound who bullies companies to conform to her mostly ignorant demands. As far as being addicted goes, the only thing I’m addicted to is proper evidence-based science. And the Food Babe most assuredly does not fall into that category.

Absolutely.

There was indeed a time that the Food Babe Dr. Masaru Emoto's amazing water woo with complete credulity. That was part of her post on microwave ovens. Emoto, if you remember, liked to claim that he could "imprint" emotions and messages on water just by thinking about it and writing various words on the label of the bottles holding the water. He did some hilariously pseudoscientific "studies" in which he claimed to show that "intent" changed the shape of water crystals. The Food Babe invoked his work as though it had any merit and was later forced to take it down. Couple that with her airplane oxygen post and her blunt statement that"there is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever" and, if anything, Schwarcz was being too kind about Hari's scientific knowledge base. She goes way, way beyond scientifically illiterate, her bragging bout having taken a major at an engineering college notwithstanding.

As for people posting stuff on her Facebook page, I would suggest that Hari just deal with it. I've been critical of misogyny posted on her Facebook page, which is unacceptable and which she has every right—even duty—to delete. Ditto abusive comments. However, to encounter links to articles posted on her page deconstructing her nonsense is just par for the course. Readers post links criticizing me all the time; I either respond or not. Either way, I generally leave them up. It says a lot more about her that she immediately removes them than it does about anyone posting them.

Not surprisingly, she fires up the shill gambit into overdrive for Kevin Folta, chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida, mainly because he studies genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and Professor Dr. Fergus Clydesdale of the University of Massachusetts is on the Board of Sensient Technologies, a “global manufacturer of colors, flavors and fragrances” – which means they make synthetic food additives. She might have have had a reasonable point that perhaps Dr. Clydesdale's affiliation should have been mentioned, but unfortunately she just goes all-in for the shill gambit and these are her only complaints about these two; she can't refute a single criticism they make of her (or, in Folta's case, that he's ever made of her). She's never been able to refute valid scientific criticism.

Perhaps Hari's most hilarious inept attempt at a shill gambit comes here:

The piece mentions Dr. David Gorski, who also has received pharmaceutical industry funding (6). He likes to vilify “quackery”, and has even attacked the venerable Cleveland Clinic for using some alternative medicine (7). He is simply wrong that there is no propylene glycol, the antifreeze kind, in some beers and alcohol. We know Fireball Whiskey contains it (8) and it’s listed as an approved ingredient in alcohol on the government website ttb.gov (9). This is easy to prove if you aren’t looking to discredit someone. I answered this previously in a response to my critics back in December 2014 (10), but this was ignored and has been re-hashed time and time again.

Wow! Guilty as charged, at least with respect to vilifying quackery and having criticized the Cleveland Clinic more than once. (She says that as though it were a bad thing!) As for the pharmaceutical company funding, it was modest, for one year, and what on earth does that have to do with the food industry or anything said about the Food Babe anyway? It's not as though I've ever worked on GMOs. At least, I've never worked on GMOs for food. Certainly over the years as part of my experiments on cancer and cell biology, I've genetically modified plenty of organisms (specifically, bacteria and mammalian cells) with various plasmids and viral vectors, but no one ever ate them. There are strict OSHA rules against that, you know.

Her second bit is, not surprisingly, a rather massive straw man about propylene glycol. For one thing, it was never claimed that whiskey didn't contain it. The discussion was about beer, and this is what Hari wrote in response to criticism that she was exhibiting chemical ignorance when she claimed that there was propylene glycol in beer:

There are a few blog posts circulating that indicate propylene glycol is used in the external chilling system at breweries and that it’s never is added to beer. They go as far to say that the only way it could be in beer is if there is a tank leak. Well, I’m not talking about leaking tanks here. The chemical Propylene Glycol Alginate (PGA) is added to some beers as a stabilizer for foam control and it is sold as an additive under various commercial names such as Stabilfoam. Another potential source of PGA is as a carrier for some “natural flavors” in fruit-flavored and cider beers. Propylene Glycol is added to many foods and drinks, it’s a very common food additive and I see it on ingredient lists everywhere at the grocery store. I know this because ingredient lists are on those items – but rarely on beer. In Germany, Propylene Glycol Alginate is listed as an ingredient on this bottle of Corona as “E405 Alginat” (the European food additive number for Propylene Glycol is E405), and you will also find it on this ingredient list on Sinebrychoff’s website in Finland. So, I’m really curious to know if and what other beers Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors may add this ingredient to.

Propylene glycol alginate is not the same thing as antifreeze. It's alginic acid (which is derived from kelp) to which propylene glycol is attached as an ester to some of the carboxyl groups. If you're not a chemist or haven't taken organic chemistry, don't worry about it. Just realize that, as I said at the time, it is not the same chemical as propylene glycol, not even close. It is not antifreeze.

Back to Fireball Whisky. It's odd that she should mention that particular whisky, because my wife and I were in the supermarket the other day and saw it on the shelf. I remember this because I distinctly remember saying that the thought of cinnamon in whiskey did not sound at all appealing to me. Be that as it may, whisky wasn't under consideration. More importantly, I find it very telling that the best Hari could come up with was a reference to whisky and a link to a government website, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and a list of Flavoring Substances and Adjuvants Subject to Limitation or Restriction, which lists propylene glycol.

Interesting, no, that this is the best she can come up with? I mean, seriously, if Hari had been able to find a single example of honest-to-goodness propylene glycol (and not propylene glycol alginate) in beer—or anything other than in Fireball Whisky—you know she would have mentioned it. I can just picture her furiously Googling to look for such an example, and the best she could come up with were an article in a men's magazine about propylene glycol in Fireball Whisky and this government web page. Even if there were beers with actual, honest-to-goodness propylene glycol in it, that doesn't mean they're unsafe. Indeed, propylene glycol is considered "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA up to 5%. In the end, Hari's harping on "antifreeze" in beer is no different than the way antivaccinationists try to claim there's "antifreeze" in vaccines. It's intellectually dishonest fear mongering.

Finally, what about that bit where it's claimed that she responded to criticisms of her "antifreeze in beer" gambit but was ignored. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Of course, the funny thing is that this response of hers is basically a rehash what was already responded to back in December.

It's good to see that the heat is finally getting to Hari. I tend to agree with Joe Schwarcz's characterization of her. She's probably well-meaning, definitely self-righteous as hell (and not in a good way), and, of course, completely illiterate about chemistry. None of this would be a problem if she hadn't, through a combination of social media and marketing savvy coupled with an accident of fate that led her to her particular new calling, figured out how to effectively bully companies into making public relations moves that have no discernable real effect on food safety, all in the name of saving us from scary-sounding chemicals and gross-sounding natural ingredients. There are many things the food industry does that could benefit from reform, and a true, science-based activist would be a useful contributor to the entire debate about nutrition, food additives, and the food industry. Such people exist, but unfortunately they appear to be nowhere near as famous as Vani Hari. Equally unfortunately, The Food Babe is about as far from science-based as an activist can be, not to mention that she doesn't even practice what she preaches when it comes to selling products.

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the European food additive number for Propylene Glycol is E405

What say you, easily-googlable European additive list?
E 405 Propane-1,2-diol alginate
E 1520 Propane-1, 2-diol (propylene glycol)

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@HDB

Fact checking... how does it work???

Not well for the Fraud Babe.

Wow. -- that cabin air remark takes the cake, and a big and tasty cake it is too (though probably pumped up with the yoga mat chemical). Somehow I think that living with a high partial pressure of pure oxygen would be a Bad Idea. I"m sure Mssrs. Grissom, White, and Chaffee would agree if they were still with us.

If I ever have an attack of "imposter syndrome", the best therapy will surely be to think of Hari's bone-ignorance about of chemistry. It'll make it much easier to forgive myself for never quite mastering some details of quantum physics, or whatever.

By palindrom (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

"The Jenny McCarthy of food?" Not a bad analogy - but I'd also like to think of her as the Sarah Palin of food - each just as clueless in her own bailiwick as the other.

Brace yourself for a shock. Vani wants us to eat grub tainted with a toilet bowl cleaner active ingredient ! How could you, Vani ?
Yes, it's true, she recommends spinach for human comsuption, although it's schock-full of that nasty chemical, oxalic acid. See for youself -here

I bet if you look into this Gorski's past as an ER doc, you'll find out that numerous times he administered or made someone else administer ethyl 3-[(1R)- 1-phenylethyl]imidazole-5-carboxylate (and note that particular name hides the fact there's carcinogenic benzene in it), possibly made by the HOspital conSPIRAcy company, dissolved in propylene glycol, straight into the veins of hapless patients, and then took satisfaction when they slumped into unconsciousness.
He has expressed a liking for a flammable chemical that is cytotoxic, a broad spectrum biocide, an industrial solvent, an antifreeze, a motor fuel, a teratogen - and on and on.
Clearly he's in the pocket of Big Chemical.

Heh -- and now conflating beer with whiskey? On St Patrick's Day in particular this seems very amusing to me, as many today will be consuming both things in large quantities. Probably best not to get them confused. Although, if she does confuse whiskey and beer, that might explain a few things about her "fact" checking.

:-D

I love how her rebuttal to "no, there is not propylene glycol in beer; it's a different chemical with a similar name" boils down to "IT IS SO THE SAME CHEMICAL BECAUSE REASONS!"

:-P

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Doug @ 6: I cannot decide if this is a post mocking Hari's way of thinking or if you are serious. I suppose Poe's law is proven accurate once again.

If you conflate beer with whiskey do you get a boilermaker?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

GregH, I'm mocking Hari.
The compound I refer to is etomidate, which is a fast acting very short duration IV anesthetic often used for ER procedures like insertion of an endotracheal tube. Hospira is a major supplier. The IV preparation is typically 35% propylene glycol.
She has babbled about additives in beer, but totally missed the fact that ethanol is an important and widely used chemical that isn't entirely benign.

Yep. And most beer is around 5-6% ethyl alcohol. Wine, which Hari likes drinking, is usually around 12% ethyl alcohol. Whisky tends to be around 40% ethyl alcohol.

Perhaps in response to people calling her out, Food Babe has been leaving up some threads that have been critical of her and also responding to some.

Someone was very angry at her for allegedly making the Subway bread worse: "Thanks for making the bread at Subway suck. I mean it's really bad now. It crumbles and has a horrible feel/ texture to it. I have never seen so many crumbs. Next to that, I have never thrown away a sandwich from them til now. Thanks for ruining my favorite lunchtime food. "

And her response was "Maybe try eating real food for a change? It's still highly processed ;-)"

So she admits it: She would never have eaten Subway, with or without her yoga mat chemical.

Then she tries to say that it was more about "creating awareness" and protecting workers!

Orac:

Yep. And most beer is around 5-6% ethyl alcohol. Wine, which Hari likes drinking, is usually around 12% ethyl alcohol. Whisky tends to be around 40% ethyl alcohol.

And it's . . .*gasp* . . . a CARCINOGEN!

A major cause of liver cancer is alcoholism, right?

She's not just stupid, she's also a grandstanding diva. Her only dog in this whole fight is just whether or not she can preen and look smart and clever and anti-establishment for her adoring fans. It's about boosting her ego. Nothing else.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

A major cause of liver cancer is alcoholism, right?
</blockquote?

Actually, alcohol's implicated in quite a number of cancers - mouth, esophageal, even breast cancer.

I still like the stuff, though. I'm debating whether I'm going to go out drinking today - a holiday is a good excuse to get drunk, I suppose, but it's also amateur's day, and things can get obnoxious quick in a college town.

If Ms Hari ever saw this page, she'd probably never eat chocolate again.
http://www.sacredchocolate.com/scientific-cacao-chocolate-health-resear…
Aspariginase - a cancer chemotherapy drug! Chromium and copper - toxic metals! Formic acid - that's the stuff that makes ant bites so painful! Histamine - it makes allergic reactions so unpleasant! Oxalic acid - mentioned above, in toilet bowl cleansers! Coumarin - used to make anticoagulant drugs! Palmitic acid - used to make napalm!!!! Spermine - found in semen - yuck!
Oh well, more chocolate for the rest of us.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Beware of those sexism allegations. I'm sure not every use of the word "boob" in writings about Ms. Hari is a reference to her secondary sexual characteristics.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Yes, propylene glycol is an antifreeze, but it is not ethylene glycol, the primary ingredient in the antifreeze in your car's radiator, which is toxic. It actually takes a lot of propylene glycol to make you sick. That is precisely why it is used as a circulating refrigerant in cooling tanks in the food industry like in the wine tanks here in California. If there is a leak, it doesn't constitute a hazardous waste emergency; you just rinse it down the drain with no harm done, even if it goes to a septic tank and out to a leach field.

Calli Arcale, it's not just "about boosting her ego". Yoga Mat-a Hari's nonsense is more about boosting her bank account.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Yes, propylene glycol is an antifreeze, but it is not ethylene glycol, the primary ingredient in the antifreeze in your car’s radiator, which is toxic. It actually takes a lot of propylene glycol to make you sick.

Yep. That's why the antivaccine claim that there's antifreeze in vaccines is almost more plausible than The Food Babe's claim that there is antifreeze in beer because polyethylene glycol, ethylene glycol, it's all the same thing, right? (Yes, I'm being sarcastic.)

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/04/14/jenny-mccarthy-thinks-in-s…

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/06/03/the-jenny-mccarthy-rally-t…

Amusingly, propylene glycol is commonly used as a vaporizing agent in e-cigarettes, but Jenny McCarthy has no problem with that:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/08/19/jenny-mccarthy-and-the-sel…

:-)

IIRC propylene glycol has been associated with a blood disorder IN CATS which led to it being removed from cat food whilst it is considered safe for dogs and people.
But I doubt that many of Hari's readers are cats.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Yeah, don't criticize her looks. Don't attack her for being a woman. Those are good rules to live by if you want your counterarguments to stick. However...

Has the Food Babe justified her use of the word "babe"? A babe to me has to have brains on top of looks. I once thought Dominique Swain was a babe, and then she asked what "P.E.T.A." stood for just as she was about to pose for their "I'd rather be naked than wear fur" campaign. Very disappointing.

So I wouldn't classify Vani as a babe. But that's just me, I don't find dumb people attractive.

A babe to me has to have brains on top of looks

Marlene Dietrich springs to mind.

I think the Food Babe is overlooking a far more dangerous chemical than ethyl 3-[(1R)- 1-phenylethyl]imidazole-5-carboxylate, or propylene glycol, or anything else.

She should bring public awareness to the dangerous chemical dihydrogen monoxide. It is a colorless, odorless chemical found in all kinds of foods and liquids used in human consumption. Inhaling it can kill you. It is used as an athletic performance enhancer. It is allowed to be introduced freely into our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

She is totally overlooking the dangers of this chemical.

On the matter of "ick", I'm not even convinced that Hari realizes the alcohol in her wine is fungus pee.

If you root around on the web, you can find an article comparing propylene glycol to its more ol'y cousin glycerine as a solvent in pharmaceuticals. I have to run off to get poked in the eyes right now. May post link later.

Panacea, she should also warn of the dangers from oxidane and hydrogen hydroxide.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Although her looks have nothing to do with her views or intelligence (or lack thereof), her looks would have had some bearing on her success, i.e. the halo effect. Both male and female woo peddlers leverage this, though female peddlers probably attract more censure for it.

She should be called the FUD Babe from now on.

By ryanodine (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Here's the problem. Like many woman who post publicly on the Internet, Hari has faced a lot of misogyny, which is to be condemned in no uncertain terms. She does, however, use that misogyny, purposely cherry picking the most vile attacks directed at her in order to tar her critics as knuckle draggers making rape threats:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/vani-hari-a-k-a-the-food-babe-final…

Besides its being just wrong to be sexist, it's also better to avoid giving her more ammunition which making this about her looks as a woman rather than the pseudoscience she peddles can do. At least, having learned my lesson dealing with Jenny McCarthy, I won't do it with Vani Hari and recommend that others avoid it as well.

I still like the stuff, though. I'm debating whether I'm going to go out drinking today – a holiday is a good excuse to get drunk, I suppose, but it's also amateur's day, and things can get obnoxious quick in a college town.

Being the old fart that I am, I plan on being nowhere near any bars today (not that I go to bars very often on a weeknight—almost never). The most I'll imbibe tonight might be a single beer, and probably not even that. As I said, it's a work night and I have to get up early tomorrow, not to mention that I have a late meeting that will keep me at work later than usual tonight.

@JP, I'll second the comment about Marlene Dietrich with a bonus point for Hedy Lamarr, but my current favorite is Danica McKellar.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@23 (JP):
Hedy Lamarr also comes to mind.

@28 (ryanodine):
Around here, FUD is the brand name of a line of processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, bacon, cold cuts) sold in Hispanic stores. I haven't tried them, but I'm sure the Food Babe would disapprove of them.

By Derek Freyberg (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I also find her promotion of apples (contain arsenic) and pears (contain high levels of formaldehyde) quite hypocritical.

Wait... isn't that PEG stuff I drank 4l of before my colonoscopy Polyethylene Glycol ? You Mean I DRANK 4 liters of Antifreeze! Help! Call a Doctor! Call a Surgeon! Somebody Call me a Cab! Oh wait. . . you mean it's not the same as ethylene glycol? I'm not poisoned and waiting to die ? okay, a half liter of it did come back out the way it went in. but damn. you try drinking 4L of that stuff ! but seriously folks... 4 liters of PEG was the worst ever procedure prep. worse even than the 2 fleet "Green" enemas. next colonoscopy, can't I just like, go on a clear liquid diet for 2 weeks or something ?

Calli

Heh — and now conflating beer with whiskey?

I will let Corb Lund answer that eh.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@DLC: Ugh. I need to have my first colonoscopy (which I've been procrastinating on), and your description reminds me why I've been procrastinating. Still, I need to do it sometime in the next couple of months. Ugh.

Oh God, you just reminded me of my PEG experience - had to do it twice in three days because of a mis-diagnosed rupture appendix.....I never want to go through that again.

Orac: "Still, I need to do it sometime in the next couple of months. Ugh."

Definitely put in the Crystal Light flavoring that is okay, and make sure you use enough. Dear hubby put only one packet for the entire four liters and pretty much gagged (fortunately he only needs to do this every ten years, I have to do every five years).

Then park yourself near a toilet, and get some videos to watch to just pass the time. The first time I did it I had a laptop on the bed, and was on the side nearest the toilet. The second time I stayed in the basement between the TV and toilet. Fun times.

At the appointment they do cover with a warmed blanket.

But I doubt that many of Hari’s readers are cats.

Cats aren't that dumb.

Re: Colonoscopy prep.

I added artificial cherry flavor to mine and thought of Ms. Hari as I eliminated it. Made the process almost enjoyable.

Old Rockin' Dave:

Calli Arcale, it’s not just “about boosting her ego”. Yoga Mat-a Hari’s nonsense is more about boosting her bank account.

She's so strident (and so defensive) that I honestly think that for her, the boost to her bank account is a happy side effect. The ego really is the main thing. She's a self-absorbed narcissist who enjoys having power and influence. Money comes with power and influence, of course, but I think the power and influence is what she really wants.

That's just an opinion, mind you, but she strikes me as extremely full of herself, and not just a basic money-grubbing con artist.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

It's frustrating how much influence the Food Babe has and her food babe army are, alas, effective. I do hope the mainstream press start realising how off base she is and do a 'Gillian McKeith' on her.

Being the old fart that I am, I plan on being nowhere near any bars today (not that I go to bars very often on a weeknight—almost never). The most I’ll imbibe tonight might be a single beer, and probably not even that. As I said, it’s a work night and I have to get up early tomorrow, not to mention that I have a late meeting that will keep me at work later than usual tonight.

The only thing I have in the "mornings" is an 11 am Ukrainian class, which does at least get me out of bed and out of my apartment 4 days a week.

I probably won't go out, either. I'm sure the bars are going to be packed, loud, and obnoxious, which is not my favored drinking milieu. Plus it occurred to me that I'm actually meeting with my advisor tomorrow afternoon, provided that his plane gets in on time, and I should probably be firing on all cylinders.

Definitely put in the Crystal Light flavoring that is okay, and make sure you use enough.

Having had two last year, I'm down with just well-chilled, unflavored, and gulped. I wasn't minding it in the slightest that way the second time around. (The talents of the GI fellow doing the scope that time is another matter.)

Let's get this straight:

She complains that her critics "have to dig so far and deep to find something to make me look crazy" but then criticized Orac for receiving some small pharmaceutical industry funding.

She complains that her critics have associations with the food or chemical industries, and then sells products on her website.

Self awareness is not one of her most notable characteristics.

Ms. Hari also complained about the flight attendants’ stinginess with water in first class

Given the amounts I've been served in cattle class, I find myself wondering just how much she was asking for, and how much of the flight she spent on the toilet.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

herr doktor bimler

E 405 Propane-1,2-diol alginate

E 1520 Propane-1, 2-diol (propylene glycol)

Well, duh, the word alginate must be an adjective or something, not part of the chemical name.
From the NYT article

Ms. Hari said that chemistry shouldn’t be necessary to decipher what to eat.

Maybe not, but it would help you from making mistakes such as this one.

Ms. Hari also complained about the flight attendants’ stinginess with water in first class

Given the amounts I’ve been served in cattle class, I find myself wondering just how much she was asking for, and how much of the flight she spent on the toilet.

Maybe she should learn not to waste her money on domestic F.

I just had a colonoscopy Fri 13th. Prep was not that bad. Mag citrate and of course PEG. I just mixed with Powerade. First time I was completely under though. Done for 10 years assuming I'm still around. I'll be 80 then. BTW I love the blogs.

Apparently I'm being way too serious for this comment thread.

Nomenclature, especially organic chemistry nomenclature?

“I mean, who likes those?”

Given the amounts I’ve been served in cattle class, I find myself wondering just how much she was asking for, and how much of the flight she spent on the toilet.

I'm reminded of a fight to Russia a few years ago - I took some crappy airline, United or something. We ended up sitting on the tarmac for at least 2 hours because there'd been a screw-up with one of the back-up generators, and they had to draw up a different route "to fly closer to land just in case something happens," which is not a nice thing to hear if you're a nervous flier.

So at some point, everybody's a bit disgruntled of course, and a stewardess starts walking up and down the aisle offering everybody "free water." "Oh, great, guys, there's free water!"

I missed my connection in Zurich, of course, and had to be rerouted through Paris. The Charles de Gaulle Airport, incidentally, has to be pretty much the worst airport in the world.

I know everyone likes to complain about United, but they've been fine to me. And fill me to bursting with water and Diet Coke in cattle class. Not as good as Hawaiian (actual meals and guava juice!), but they go more places.

Still, they're really stingy with their oxygen. I don't think it's ever been more than ~20% of the air on their flights.

The Charles de Gaulle Airport, incidentally, has to be pretty much the worst airport in the world.

I think Brussels, Dulles (the tall people movers are fascinatingly SF, but not if you're trying to make a connection), Newark, and Guangzhou are worse than de Gaulle. Arriving at terminal 4 at Heathrow from the US is always an adventure in queuing theory as well.

The best airport in the world in my experience is Changi Airport in Singapore.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I know everyone likes to complain about United, but they’ve been fine to me. And fill me to bursting with water and Diet Coke in cattle class. Not as good as Hawaiian (actual meals and guava juice!), but they go more places.

I've had several really bad experiences with United. The actual transatlantic flights aren't bad, it's the stateside connections that go haywire. I once got to spend an extra 24 hrs, and get shipped between three different airports, just trying to get from the D.C. area back to DTW. I couldn't even get a freaking hotel voucher out of them.

^ But hey, they're usually the cheapest, and I'm a grad student, so...

Squirrelite @31 -- Didn't know who Danica McCkellar was, but now I do, and amen. I love it when girls talk "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on \mathbb{Z}^2" to me.

By palindrom (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

The Charles de Gaulle Airport, incidentally, has to be pretty much the worst airport in the world.

It's worse if you're coming down from mushrooms used to pass the time on a trans-Atlantic leg. But as others have noted, it has some stiff competition.

DLC
Somebody Call me a Cab!

OK. You're a cab.
I don't know you well enough to call you a Hansom cab.
By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I love it when girls talk “Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on \mathbb{Z}^2″ to me.

At the risk of venturing too many tangents too early, there's a reason it's called blackboard bold, you know.

It’s worse if you’re coming down from mushrooms used to pass the time on a trans-Atlantic leg. But as others have noted, it has some stiff competition.

Yeah, I've only really experienced European and USian airports, but I've found it to be the worst among those. Something about riding around that freaking little shuttle/train thing five or six times trying to get to your gate just gives you some real insight into the Gallic mind.

I've heard there are some real contenders (for worst airport in the world) in Central Asia. This airport, thankfully, is imaginary.

I remember Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg being particularly unpleasant, but that was in part because my luggage had gotten lost, and I spent a fair bit of time getting yelled at by the lady in the lost-and-found booth thingy because I didn't understand the Russian word for "boarding pass." (I definitely know it now.)

I feel like there should be a sign when you deplane in Russia:
"Welcome to Russia. Your troubles have just begun."

Yup, in the original wiki article it looked like the "Z" used on a blackboard to represent the complex plane.

I've never had cause to use such a symbol in anger, except when explaining the easy way of solving the harmonic oscillator to very skeptical intro physics classes.

By palindrom (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I remember Pulkovo Airport in St. Petersburg being particularly unpleasant

My experiences departing from there were definitely exacerbated by the discovery, having taken the bus to Pulkovo 2, that Condor Air was unique among mezhdunarodnij airlines in flying out of Pulkovo 1 (which was a domestic terminal at the time).

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Going back to this comment about Hari:

Ms. Hari said that chemistry shouldn’t be necessary to decipher what to eat.

That much may be true, but chemistry is necessary if your proclaimed vocation is commenting and criticizing the chemistry of food.
It seems to me the Hari has launched into a war without realizing that’s basically unarmed. She seems to think that vocal activism and charisma replace actual knowledge of your subject matter.

One of the issues here is that her premise is actually plausible - a profitable industry is harming the public’s health by hiding their production practices – and that her audience lacks the same scientific knowledge she lacks. They just get on board with “wow – that sounds bad.”

I mentioned organic nomenclature. Your average high school student in the US isn’t likely to know how to name an ester, even if they know what one is. They’ll be lucky if a small amount of organic chemistry is included at the end of a full year chemistry class, and that goes for the first year of college general chemistry (and high school AP classes) as well. Students need to take organic chemistry – majors or non-majors level – before they are presented this level of information in detail.

How many students outside of science or health related fields take organic chemistry? Maybe we need to rethink what we include in general science courses in this country.

JP:
I read somewhere that United knowingly includes nitrogen in their cabin air. As some people may be aware, nitrogen is one of the main ingredients in NITROUS OXIDE, a Big Pharma anesthetic! They do this to keep the SHEEPLE FROM WAKING UP and asking for more water.

By CTGeneGuy (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@CTGeneGuy:

Nitrogen is also a principal ingredient in CHEMTRAILS.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I read somewhere that United knowingly includes nitrogen in their cabin air. As some people may be aware, nitrogen is one of the main ingredients in NITROUS OXIDE, a Big Pharma anesthetic! They do this to keep the SHEEPLE FROM WAKING UP and asking for more water.

I wish you could get nitrous oxide on flights; it'd make the whole experience much more enjoyable. As it is, I stick to liquor.

@DLC, Orac and Chris,

Thanks for the suggestions. I have my colonscopy prep next month. They gave me Gavilyte G, but it's still polyethylene glycol with a bunch of electrolytes.

I'll probably be using raspberry lemonade Crystal Light since that's what we have.

No fun, but they found benign polyps the last two and my dad had colon cancer which was successfully treated with chemo and radiation, so I need to get it out of the way.

They've been 10 years apart with a bit of a delay for this one, but I'll see what they recommend for the next.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I’ll probably be using raspberry lemonade Crystal Light since that’s what we have.

I'm pretty sure pink colorings are out.

I am surprised that the Food Babe is not mentioning the most dangerous chemical in beer, CARBON DIOXIDE. This chemical can be used as a refrigerant, in its gaseous form it is toxic in small concentrations, and it is a significant contributor to global warming!

Let's start a petition requesting Chiquitas (TM) to remove Ethyl Butyrate from their Organic all-natural Banana.

Reason #1: It's not listed as part of their ingredient. But it's there, and we required transparency in the food industry.

Reason #2: It's hard to pronounce therefore it is a toxic chemical. We don't need that in a banana.

Reason #3: It is use as artificial flavor, but also as a plasticizer for cellulose. Cellulose is one of the main component for Cellophane. It's like they are feeding us with plastic bag.

Oh, my, I just took a look at her latest entry:

Paleo: Watch out for the ingredient “carrageenan” found in alternative nut milk products. This ingredient is linked to intestinal inflammation. Don’t overdo the meat consumption which can make the body overly acidic – the emphasis should be on whole plant based foods. Consider eating beans, they have been shown to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and help keep you slim.

"It’s worse if you’re coming down from mushrooms used to pass the time on a trans-Atlantic leg."

We flew into and out of Amsterdam on our big Euro trip. At the time, we did it for cost, but the side bennie was having space cake right before the flight back to the US. I'm not one to pretend that marijuana cures cancer, but it sure helps with a long flight.

Unlike our last flight, where the only free movie we could both agree on was Fog of War. It didn't exactly get us in the holiday mood.

Thankfully I have a few years until my first colonoscopy. My older brother has hit that golden age where he's due. I sent him a 5 pound bag of sugar free gummi bears (xylitol) to 'prep' him for it.

Vani is just a clusterf*ck of stupidity. I'm sorry. The more she opens her mouth, the more I just hear rattling.

And as far as airlines go, Air France is the worst ever.

I refer my first colonoscopy as my "concussion colonoscopy." I passed out while on the toilet and fell forward and cracked my head on the tub. The second one was less eventful.

Nope, Aeroflot is.

By Selena Wolf (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

And as far as airlines go, Air France is the worst ever.

Granted, it's been a few years (about thirty, in fact) but I have unpleasant recollections of what is now called Air China.

Nope, Aeroflot is.

It's definitely up there.

What is the problem people have with seaweed extracts?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

But isn't seaweed supposed to be a health food or something? But I mean, it's not like we can expect Food Babe or her ilk to be self-consistent or anything, I guess.

Orac: "Why, seaweed’s gross, like fish swim bladders, of course, silly."

Then Ms. Hari should stay away from Japanese restaurants.

But seriously, Orac: event the *name* carrageenan is derived from an ancient Irish word for "little rock" and those selfsame ancient Irish, living naturally on the seaside, harvested this lovely flower of the sea and ate it, saving themselves from starvation. That's not gross- it is living in harmonious accord with Nature.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

And here I've been putting seaweed in my homebrew...

I have to admit the first time I tried instant seaweed soup I was a little apprehensive. It was pretty tasty, though. I'm sure the home-made is better.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

the *name* carrageenan is derived from an ancient Irish word for “little rock”

Wait, so it's from Arkansas? Now I'm confused.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ Mephistopheles O'Brien:

No, it's Gaelic. Different 'little rock'.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Re: colonoscopy...use a thick straw (like the ones they give you at McDonalds) to drink the goop. You can bypass most of your taste buds by placing the straw mid-tongue and as far back as you can stand it. This was in the actual instrucitons from Gundersen-Lutheran Clinic.

By Melanie Reap (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Actually, altho' I know about the uses of this crappy stuff in Ireland for a long time, I just saw a cooking show where one of the chefs lovingly gathered it from a tidal pool and the other chef cooked it up with some really miserable looking fish and sea creatures. But it was all natural.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

It's simple. If it is whole seaweed or sold by Big Organic or Big Supplement it is healthy.

If you extract something out of it and use it and are part of Big Pharma or Big Phood then it must be bad for you.

Orac,
Granted, the stuff you drink before is kinda gross,
but if you mid it with some Gatorade and pinch your nose,
It's much easier to take. The procedure's a breeze and they
Knock you out with the good stuff. Go out for pacakes and bacon after.

Further to the colonoscopy routine, split-dose prep fares well. I'm still irritated that I received a "fair" grade on both occasions, though, despite the nurse's assurance that "Dr. X never gives anyone a 'good'."

Next time, I'm going low-residue for a few days, to boot.

I'm probably due for my second colonoscopy, so it's about time I got my first, I guess. That's two days wasted in my life coming up.

Is there a chance that, like screening mammograms, screening colonoscopies will be found to be over-rated?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

All this discussion of chemicals in food makes me recall the time when, as a fresh young chemistry grad student, I decided to check out the closest supermarket.

This turned out to be a health food store called "Bread & Circus", in Cambridge MA. Anyway, everything in the meat dept. was labeled with little stickers reading "contains no chemicals".

"ROFL" sort of described my reaction.

B & C was later bought out by Whole Foods. While I don't think Whole Foods puts the silly stickers on the meat anymore, they do contribute to this kind of silliness.

I don't think commenting on her appearance should be off-limits, when calling herself a "babe" seems to be the only true claim that she's ever made. Beautiful, but unfortunately either very dishonest, or very stupid.

Elliott - So, wait, what happened to Purity Supreme?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Perhaps those stressing about colonoscopies could spend this odd day of the celebration of the exploits of an Englishman abroad getting in the spirit(s) by drinking poitín and watching PEG o' My Heart. - in preparation for future drinking PEG and wanting the potty.

Is there a chance that, like screening mammograms, screening colonoscopies will be found to be over-rated?

I'm going with probably not.

Jeff F - I respectfully disagree. I think any comments related to her babeitude (such as, "if she were president, she'd be Baberaham Lincoln") would be held against you.

It worked for Wayne's World, but comments about her looks will do you no good when discussing her ideas.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I’m going with probably not.

Damn.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Carrageenan is not something you would bother putting in your own home cooking and I for one am happy to avoid it.* Narad may have been more concerned with the advice that "meat consumption [...] can make the body overly acidic", in which Hari sidles towards the body-pH cancer scam.

* The Gazoogle leads me to a cornucopia of websites offering carrageenan-free almond milk, or advice on making your own unprocessed almond milk. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! Almonds have no uses except to squander aquifers.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

David Sedaris has an entertaining account of his first colonoscopy in Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls. I've been looking for an audio version - I went to a reading of his a year or two ago where he read that story - but so far, no dice.

The drugs, at least, are pretty nice, at least according to Mr. Sedaris.

I quite like some seaweed. I live above a sushi restaurant, which is nice. Also, one of the reasons I miss living on the east coast of Canada is dulse. Salty, wonderful purple stuff. Used to be able to get it in big paper bags, but the only time I see it now is in little tiny bags, often in health food stores.

The drugs, at least, are pretty nice, at least according to Mr. Sedaris.

I seem to react particularly, er, well to anesthetics. I was scoped through the other end a few years ago and was out for the rest of the day. I barely remember being walked out to the car and have no idea how I got home, much less upstairs to bed.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ HDB, I rather like Lewis Black's rant about the ridiculousness (is that a word?) of calling soy/almond/rice milk, milk. I won't repeat here in case of offence.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Science Mom - are there teats on an almond? I think not.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

JP:
"Nope, Aeroflot is.
It’s definitely up there."
Of course it's "up there". It's an *airline*. As long as their planes are "up there" when they're supposed to be, and not "down here", then they're definitely ahead of the game.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

The drugs, at least, are pretty nice, at least according to Mr. Sedaris.

I was pretty lightly sedated for the first one; the only discomfort was when they made the turn from the transverse to the ascending colon. On the second, they were early in the descending when I relented and said "this seems to be much more uncomfortable than last time." Then it was "better give him the rest," and I was a bit hazy for the remainder of the procedure. I still wound up taking the bus home on my own.

A quick check shows that it was 5 mg IV midazolam – fairly stiff – and 100 μg IV fentanyl, which ain't much. (Oh, and "patient tolerated the procedure well." Weirdly, the report from the first one was identical, IIRC.)

Irish seaweed may or may not be tasty, but it at least makes a nice song.

I flew Asiana to Manila and back a few times. Kenpo Airport looked like my old elementary school; Incheon has pretty much replaced it, and it was everything a US airport is not.
One caveat about Asiana - they were serving Korean wine. Don't. Just don't.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink
I’m going with probably not.

Damn.

Beats the alternative. I got a head start on the scopes because derm started wondering about Gardner syndrome, and now I'm on the five-year schedule.

On the other hand, no Gardner, so I get to keep the plumbing.

Of course it’s “up there”. It’s an *airline*. As long as their planes are “up there” when they’re supposed to be, and not “down here”, then they’re definitely ahead of the game.

There is a sort of charming tradition within former Soviet countries of giving a round of applause when the pilot lands the plane. It's actually a little bit disturbing, if you stop to think about it for a minute.

Anyone with an interest in air travel should check out Patrick Smith's "Ask the Pilot" blog: http://www.askthepilot.com/.
A while back, in successive posts he discussed airline livery and the old Soviet-era planes still being used by third-world airlines.
I said you could sum the two up with one line from Joe Jackson: "You gotta look sharp, and you gotta have no Ilyushins."

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Purity Supreme? Gone.
Bought out by Stop and Shop (one of the less pretentious, shall we say, New England chains)

Ren@21:

Has the Food Babe justified her use of the word “babe”? A babe to me has to have brains on top of looks.

Or at least an ego that isn't the size of Mr Creosote.

Then it was “better give him the rest,” and I was a bit hazy for the remainder of the procedure. I still wound up taking the bus home on my own.

Anesthetics are funny. I've had nitrous oxide once, at the dentist, and actually quite enjoyed it. Local anesthetics, for whatever reason, don't seem to work well for me, and usually require a couple rounds before I quit moaning. I had some dental work done in my first year of grad school, since I had the insurance to do it. After a couple rounds of local anesthetics, I started feeling woozy as all get out, and almost passed out. Nearly scared my poor dental student to death. I don't think that's normal, and I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I had recently started on an SSRI, and hadn't been eating much at all due to lack of appetite.

^ I'm also aware that nitrous is actually a dissociative - it was actually kind of a "party drug" on the Portland scene back when I was living there, which just doesn't make any sense to me at all.

I've got a better name for her... ;)

By thefoodboob (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

She is not even getting Paleo correct. Beans are to be avoided on this diet.

I’ve had nitrous oxide once, at the dentist, and actually quite enjoyed it. Local anesthetics, for whatever reason, don’t seem to work well for me, and usually require a couple rounds before I quit moaning.

I had nitrous when my wisdom teeth were removed (not quite enough, as I came up with a pair of pliers rocking back and forth in my mouth). The emergent babbling coupled with amnesia doesn't sit well with me.

As a recreational substance, it's a loser in comparison with ether, but all that was long ago.

I reject a local for fillings; fortunately, my dentist took over his dad's practice – "It's you and the 90-year-old Japanese guys." I get the impression that lidocaine poops out earlier than expected for derm surgeries in my case. So it goes.

I had nitrous when my wisdom teeth were removed (not quite enough, as I came up with a pair of pliers rocking back and forth in my mouth).

I was told at one point that I'd have to get my wisdom teeth out eventually. They're apparently enormous for the size of my mouth - I've seen an X-ray, and it's true - and they just sort of keep trying to come in and not quite getting around to it, so it'll probably require cutting my gums open, which I'm not looking forward to. OTOH, I'm 27, and so far so good, so who knows?

As a recreational substance, it’s a loser in comparison with ether, but all that was long ago.

As a recreational substance at parties, I find it's really hard to beat ethyl alcohol. It at least provides a certain conviviality, and makes people more animated, even if it can cause some interesting and stupid situations at times.

I’m also aware that nitrous is actually a dissociative

Only among Erowid types and their lower rent cousins, as far as I'm aware.

The last time I went to a dentist who gave nitrous was when I was a teen. I had my wisdom teeth out on a combination of nitrous oxide and Novocaine. However, it was never a particularly good feeling.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

4 liters is a lot of prep for colonoscopy. I couldn't even finish the 2 liters of the Mira-lax/Gatorade mix.

However, with the protocol my doctor was using, bisacodyl was given. And, it helped that I started fasting 12 hrs earlier than I needed to (because I did not want to have to return in a year because my prep was poor).

It ended up working well; during the procedure my doctor keep commenting on how "clean" I was. I recall this because there was no sedative or pain medication used. Not sure why sedation is even needed for a healthy individual but that's another subject.

DHMO !!
don't do it. Billions infected & ingested each year!

"... midazolam ..."
Mmmmmm! Midazolam. The nice man gave me some of those nice benzo's sublingually for my first round of burn, chop and emulsify (interspersed with stabbing with a sharp implement).
Alas, today I just got a couple of drops of Alcaine (registered trade name of the folks at Alcon). Just not the same, and they did nothing to make me feel any better about spending six thousand dollars for the premium plastic bits that at this time benefit me not the slightest over the free (well, ponied up for by the public purse) generic bits. I may see if I can't score some more Midazolam when I get around to using a sharpened melon baller to do what I should have done in the first place.

Only among Erowid types and their lower rent cousins, as far as I’m aware.

Okay, well, whatever. I mean, it's not ketamine or anything.

The high point of the spousal unit's colonoscopy (for me) was when he was coming back up out a drug induced fog and became very verbal.

Startling, because he's one of the most silent men I've ever known, doubly startling because his speech was very flowery and polite. Practically 17th century (French. Normally he's a 17th century Scottish, complete with glower and edged weapons).

"... dissociative ..."
Dissociative. You want dissociative? Get you some ketamine.
And then there is propofol, a.k.a. Milk of Amnesia.

And then there is propofol, a.k.a. Milk of Amnesia.

I do wonder what was used for induction when the nerve block was deemed to be insufficient ("I was twitching too much," according to the recovery nurse) back when I had arthroscopic knee surgery as a result of objecting to random street violence upon my person.

back when I had arthroscopic knee surgery as a result of objecting to random street violence upon my person.

Speaking of which, I am getting a bit buzzed at the moment, in hopes it will loosen me up for a tango lesson I've been roped into going to (long story). My bum ankle, resulting from a similar situation in my youth (or further back in my youth) is giving me some grief, probably because I'm not wearing the tightly-laced Doc Martens which help that ankle out, again, in anticipation of the tango lesson.

4 liters is a lot of prep for colonoscopy.

I think it's pretty standard. I'd have happily gone more for a better grade (and, I mean, the report contains snapshots). Nothing but the PEG here.

@Science Mom – are there teats on an almond? I think not.

Exactly!

My bum ankle, resulting from a similar situation in my youth (or further back in my youth) is giving me some grief, probably because I’m not wearing the tightly-laced Doc Martens which help that ankle out, again, in anticipation of the tango lesson.

Oh but think of how much more fun and interesting it would be to keep the Docs on? But for the sake of not being a sadist, run by your local pharmacy and grab a neoprene ankle support.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ Denice

That’s not gross- it is living in harmonious accord with Nature.

Some years ago, me and a Chinese friend compared name and composition of many of our respective cultures' most outlandish dishes.
Nothing fancy, really. Just using about everything as a source of meat.
A vegetarian Indian friend was listening to us. I don't think that "harmonious accord with nature" was how he characterized our culinary examples.
And I didn't even mention snails.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Re carageenan and chemical ignorance in general:

I don't yell at the TV very often, but one commercial that always made me do it was the old one for Breyer's ice cream, with some gomer reading ingredients off other brands' labels: "Care-uh-gheenan? Guar gum? etc."

I would always yell: "Yes, jackass! The fact that Breyer's doesn't have carageenan or guar gum in it is why you need a hammer and chisel to get it out of the carton until it quite suddenly melts!" infuriated me to no end.

By The Very Rever… (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

JP,

David Sedaris has an entertaining account of his first colonoscopy in Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. I’ve been looking for an audio version – I went to a reading of his a year or two ago where he read that story – but so far, no dice.

There's an active torrent out there, should you be so inclined, either way it's evidence that a commercial version exists somewhere, though I don't know if it's him reading it. It must be, surely. Who else could do it justice?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

MOB - If you are really averse to anesthetics you can do it without any drugs. Our next door neighbour has polyps and does his frequent colonoscopies without drugs.

I had to drive myself from the only one I have had, so I did it without any drugs. Except for going around the corners it wasn't bad at all. For the corners, the nurse was using her elbows in way that would put Gordie Howe to shame. I got to see everything including some stray coffee grounds that had to be sluiced away. At the start I told the doctor I wanted to make sure he he didn't implant a New World Order mind control chip during the procedure. I am definitely not a "tough guy", with at best and average tolerance for pain (hen I had a root canal the dentist was surprised at the number of injections he had to give me), but everybody there seemed to think I was a major hardass. The prep was worse than the procedure.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ JP:

Tango in Doc Martens? OK. But they're HEAVY!
I tried to find decent shoes for my own dance classes and settled on a pair of very light exercise shoes made by a tennis company that feel like ballet shoes. It's amazing. I realise of course that *real* Latina dancers doing these routines would probably wear heels and I have tried ( at home only). My instructor wears lightweight running shoes that are supposed to be just like being barefooted (now made by various companies).
You need something that doesn't stick too much because you have to pivot or turn. ( Real tennis shoes usually have a circular stamping at the ball of the foot for this reason).
Have fun!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ Helianthus:

Heh. I have it on good authority that my grandfather liked pickled eels. My mother ate diverse concoctions involving fish in jars- usually herring.
My aunt enjoyed eating cakes of baker's yeast.. I dated a guy who would occasionally order sea cucumber in Chinese restaurants.
No thanks. But I do really like blue/ bleu cheeses. And salmon.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

The colonoscopy prep doesn't work well for some people. It hardly works at all for me. For my last colonoscopy, I did a low residue diet and the prep. I show up for the procedure and wasn't cleaned out enough, so the Gastroenteroligist sent me home with a prescription for different prep. and an appointment for another scope the next day. Even with the second attempt I still wasn't cleaned out enough for the doctor to do a good scope, but he said he had prescribed the maximum amount of prep. (I've been looking for some of the sugar free Haribo gummy bears to see if they might work. See comments on Amazon). In my city the Outpatient Surgery Center has started using Propofol and then a fast wake up drug of some sort. I felt pretty alert after this last colonoscopy so my husband and I ate lunch at a restaurant and shopped a little. Somewhere along the way I picked up a stomach virus and two days later I had one of the worst stomach viruses I've ever had. This was not a good week.

I had to drive myself from the only one I have had, so I did it without any drugs. Except for going around the corners it wasn’t bad at all.

I was honestly confused enough that it took me a moment to get to the next sentence.

The colonoscopy prep doesn’t work well for some people.

The nurse tried to console me with the notion that it was probably just the diverticula, but I'm not convinced. And I really need to hide this report before I freak right the hell out.

@Krebiozen:

Ah-ha. Thank you.

@Denice:

Oh, the things I do for the sake of pretty girls. I honestly have two left feet, really, and if I'd gotten Science Mom's message before the class, I would've stopped off and gotten an ankle support before the class, 'cause I was dancing in my socks, and now my ankle is killing me.

One has to imagine that an invitation to a tango class is a come-on, though nothing happened immediately after it tonight, but when you've been instructed to "lean into each other, about five pounds of weight," and you're standing there going, "Oh geez, your hair smells like vanilla," I mean... yeah.

^ I'm generally pretty clueless when it comes to issues of romance, though. I recall my first date, which I didn't realize was a date.

he Charles de Gaulle Airport, incidentally, has to be pretty much the worst airport in the world.

I think Brussels, Dulles (the tall people movers are fascinatingly SF, but not if you’re trying to make a connection), Newark, and Guangzhou are worse than de Gaulle. Arriving at terminal 4 at Heathrow from the US is always an adventure in queuing theory as well.

Midway. Don't get stranded there.

(It was only once, and maybe I just had bad luck. But I still shudder at the memory.).

it’s evidence that a commercial version exists somewhere

@ JP:

I would venture that being invited to tango is more likely than not, a come on.
If anyone invites you to do anything with her/ him, it means that she/ he is interested: the romance part may or may not be involved. BUT tango? If it were folk dance, I'd say it's only a friendly gesture. But it is tango.
And it takes two, you know.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

There is a slight problem, which is that I am her part-time research assistant. (On the payroll and all.) Because the Slavic Department and the Judaic Studies Department just roll like that, I guess.

But we'll see.

Midway. Don’t get stranded there.

They used to have a decent tiki bar, a long time ago. Given that there's a White Castle across the street at 63rd and there used to be Marzano's Clearing Bowl a little west, it was a decent trip.

I imagine the Soundproof Motel on Cicero across from MDW is also long gone.

^ But wouldn't you have to be on Southwest to actually be stranded there?

Because the Slavic Department and the Judaic Studies Department just roll like that, I guess.

Not on Shabbos?

Sometimes. But today's Tuesday.

My good Polish-Jewish friend and colleague has somehow managed to get money out of an organization called "Moishe House" for all kinds of parties she has hosted, usually coincidentally happening on Friday nights or on Jewish holidays. She's a real kombinatorka in the Polish tradition.

Sometimes. But today’s Tuesday.

Something something thinking about long-gone bowling alley something Lebowski something something.

honestly have two left feet, really, and if I’d gotten Science Mom’s message before the class, I would’ve stopped off and gotten an ankle support before the class, ’cause I was dancing in my socks, and now my ankle is killing me.

Well do it anyway, it will help.

I, for one am amazed at the loops this comment thread is taking. And that coming from a long-time commenter here. I mean, food kemiculz, colonoscopies, bad airlines, tango lessons, acceptable footwear and now an invocation of "The Dude".

By Science Mom (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

IT'S ALL MY FAULT.

I was honestly confused enough that it took me a moment to get to the next sentence.

After I typed that sentence I realized it could be misconstrued. However, I am glad that I manged to confuse you for a change. Usually it is the other way around ;).

On an an episode of Drew Rae's Disastercast podcast he describes how a China Air crew turned an engine failure in a 747 into a 5 g aileron roll and dive. They became disoriented in cloud and assumed their artificial horizon was malfunctioning instead. They managed to land the somewhat bent aircraft without killing anyone.

http://media.blubrry.com/disastercast/p/s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/disa…

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

I think all of you are assholes. Why do you pick on the food babe? She's doing us a huge service to us helping us understand our food and stand up to Monsanto who is ruining the world. Further, she investigates chemicals that could harm us. Why is that bad? You elitist scientists are all shills funded by the man anyway. I used her food babe way and was cured of both Cancer and autism.

Just kidding. She's actually a total fucktard. She makes a pile of shit look smart.

By Toucan Sam (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

Abstract of paper Dietary effects of propylene glycol alginate in humans
"The study therefore indicates that the ingestion of propylene glycol alginate at a high level for 23 days caused no adverse dietary or physiological effects ..."
Which again demonstrates Hari is a liar or incompetent at so-called research.

As regards my general incompetence in romantic matters - it's a mildly entertaining and cute story, my first date:

I was 16 or so, a college kid, fresh off the farm. There was a girl in my class, we sort of hit it off:

"Oh, you like old movies?"
"Yeah, I love that kinda thing. Laurel and Hardy, Jimmy Stewart, old movies and stuff."
"You should come over some time, we can watch old movies!"

So we went to the video store, we settled on Singin' in the Rain.

Afterward, we said we could go up to her room to talk. And we went up to her room and actually talked. And at some point I was like, "Geez, Lauren, it's getting pretty late, I hafta get up early in the morning for work, I mean."

So she walked me to the bus stop. And on the way, she said,

"You're so cute."
"Well, Lauren, I think you're cute too."
"No, I mean, I think you're really beautiful."
(Oh.)

I'm still fond of Toronto City airport (previously known as Toronto Island): there was something charming about the plane landing, them setting up the Customs/Immigration counter for 30-odd passengers, and then a two-minute ferry ride puts you downtown. If I ever have another excuse to visit Toronto...

Krebiozen: "There’s an active torrent out there, should you be so inclined, either way it’s evidence that a commercial version exists somewhere, though I don’t know if it’s him reading it. It must be, surely. Who else could do it justice?"

Well it was broadcast a few months ago on BBC 4, though not presently on their iPlayer (nor RSS podcast feed).

I see Narad posted an hour long YouTube reading based on the book. I do not know if the colonoscopy is on that, because I turned my laptop speakers off since it is bedtime (and dear hubby complained I woke him up talking to night owl daughter at 10pm yesterday).

Science Mom: "I mean, food kemiculz, colonoscopies, bad airlines, tango lessons, acceptable footwear and now an invocation of “The Dude”."

It is Respectful Insolence. An antidote to Facebook.

@51 JP - I fly a lot for work and have to agree that Charles de Gaulle Airport is not a very nice airport.

@53 Mephistopheles O'Brien - I don't really mind Brussels airport. My main criteria for airports are 1) how fast can I shoot through customs 2) did I get lost finding my gate 3) Ease of getting to the airport. Brussels worked well for me using these criteria.

@162 Vicki - I too am partial to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, so close to the city centre and a nice little terminal building. These days I'm quite partial to the international terminal of Tokyo Haneda ... not the prettiest or newest airport by any means but when evaluated by the criteria I wrote above then it is a match made in heaven (and I get to take a 1.5 hour Hitachi Joban line train to the lab rather than a 3 hour bus journey from Narita).

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

This blog post is in serious need of proper proof reading. It is painful to read.

JP: thanks for the Eddy Izzard link, it made my day! Wish my mind worked as fast as his...

By Sheepmilker (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

That said, per any alleged sexism from Schwartz, at the same time, by her moniker, the "Food BABE" partially leaves herself open to this does she not?

Sheepmilker,

JP: thanks for the Eddy Izzard link, it made my day! Wish my mind worked as fast as his…

I have read that Izzard has to practice a lot to make it look improvised ;-) However, that may just be sour grapes from another envious comedian. Improvised or not, I love his work. Don't miss his skit on the Death Star canteen.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

I wouldn't be so quick to criticize Dr. Joe as sexist on this issue. Part of her shtick is to exploit her attractiveness in calling herself a babe, for heaven's sake. She, thus, invites people to take note of her as nice to look at. Her beauty serves to mask her ignorance, at least from the less savvy.

By Richard Waite (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

This blog post is in serious need of proper proof reading.

Would you care to specify a preferred decade while you're at it?

Kreb -- re Eddie Izzard

Don’t miss his skit on the Death Star canteen.

$\times \hbox{a million}$

By palindrom (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ Gryph

This blog post is in serious need of proper proof reading. It is painful to read.

I know, right?
Reading the Food Babe's unscientific assertions always give me an headache. I too wish she uses a proof reader.

Oh, you meant Orac's post? I didn't notice anything.

by her moniker, the “Food BABE” partially leaves herself open to this does she not?

It's true that she is using her good looks as part of her sale pitches. But criticizing her on this is still too close to sexism for comfort - it's talking about the package, where the issues are mostly about the content.
Using one's appearance to persuade is common to all genders , so focusing on this part could also qualify as double standard.

We have been guilty of this too on past threads of this blog, when talking about Jenny McCarthy. That her only credentials behind her "expertise" on vaccines is her Playboy bunny past should be irrelevant in judging her claims.
To start with, a number of very smart women have been known to pose in the nude (if asked for examples, I will plead the 5th). And even someone - man or woman or whatever - who is under average intelligence/wisdom may still come with pertinent observations.
Sometimes being smart results in being very good at deluding oneself.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

It's an awfully silly way to go about it.

^ The \hbox, that is.

Actually, if she wants to take a journey on an airplane full of 100 % oxygen, i have have the same advice i have for people who want a diet free of "foods containing DNA": Give it a shot! Let us know how it goes!

I figure if we let these people try their ill-informed schemes, the problem will resolve itself in a hurry, thus removing the problems from our gene pool.

(I am not normally this callous, i promise. I do not actually want anyone to die in a fiery plane crash. Sadly, she would need a pilot to pull off her stunt, and that's the death of an innocent, which i cannot condone.)

By Double Shelix (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

Unlike many others, I seem to have had little to no horrible experiences at airports except for cold, late night waits and worries about being arrested ( long story- I did nothing wrong but a doctor gave me meds that may have been illegal where I would land and I didn't want to toss them).

Recently, I had a delay of an extra 6 hours or so because there had been a runway crash the day previously and many flights were cancelled or re-routed but it was surprisingly tolerable altho' my companion b!tched for most of the extra 6 hours. Lovely fellow.

Then there was that time that the air seemed unbreathable inside Salt Lake terminal where one would expect pristine mountain purity or suchlike.

-.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

Helianthus, I agree that discussing Hari using her appearance might veer close to sexism but I think that we can stipulate that it ISN'T because she's a woman. Men do it as well. And perhaps they all suggest that by following their lead into woo-dom, customers might also improve their own looks without resorting to more drastic means.

In other words, they are misleading people into thinking that they look as they do BECAUSE of the woo. They sell youth and beauty and THINNESS which may have nothing to do with their diet plans or bizarre supplement rituals. There is heredity and perhaps, additional assistance from exercise trainers, stylists and cosmetic surgeons. I don't think that she looks as she does in photo shoots when she wakes up in the morning.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

I would submit that any woman who refers to herself as a "Babe" in order to exploit her own sexuality for the purpose of selling her "product," is thereby appearing to invite sexist comments.

I am not excusing sexism or misogyny, simply pointing a fundamental reality of the human psyche.

By Matthew Randles (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

Hi Narad -- I'm a troglodyte who still uses plain TeX for a lot of things. As it is I already spend too much time on what I describe as "tool-sharpening", i.e. tuning software to some task I have in mind.

I'm reminded of a grad school acquaintance from the South, who once memorably expressed his impatience with certain arcane galactic structure analyses he was being marched through in class, as his instrument project remained unbuilt, by exclaiming

Who wants to re-derahve effin' Oart's Limit when there's SAHNCE waitin' to be done!!

(Bowdlerized slightly.)

By palindrom (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

I am not excusing sexism or misogyny, simply pointing a fundamental reality of the human psyche.

Actually, excusing sexism and misogyny strikes me as being exactly what you are doing, all while denying it with a dismissive, "It's just human nature."

Actually, if she wants to take a journey on an airplane full of 100 % oxygen, i have have the same advice i have for people who want a diet free of “foods containing DNA”: Give it a shot! Let us know how it goes!

In fairness, it would be possible to eat a diet free of foods containing DNA. However, it would require eating highly artificial, processed foods, such as protein extract and processed sugar. There couldn't be an fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, or meat. Not quite what those people had in mind. :-)

20 years ago we flew on Air China from Nanchang to Shanghai. The plane was delayed while I watched the flight crew literally duct tape over a section of the fuselage.

I don't remember anything else about that flight--in fact, I don't think I thought about anything else for the entire flight.

Re: The principle of " if you can’t pronounce a chemical’s name, it shouldn’t be in food"

Does that mean that someone with any sort of classical education or a talent for languages or, heck, a native of Greece can safely eat things that most people can't?

Do chemicals stop harming you after you learn to pronounce their names?

Chemicals are fairy-tale characters, I guess--knowing their true name gives you power over them!

Denice,

Unlike many others, I seem to have had little to no horrible experiences at airports except for cold, late night waits and worries about being arrested ( long story- I did nothing wrong but a doctor gave me meds that may have been illegal where I would land and I didn’t want to toss them).

I'm reminded of arriving at Detroit Airport a few decades ago during a period of experimentation with high dose vitamin C (I was experiencing a lot of viral infections and I thought it worth a try). It was only when I was stopped by an immigration official and searched that it occurred to me that traveling with an unlabeled bag of white powder wasn't the brightest of ideas. Thankfully they had a drug screening kit so I was only delayed by an hour or so (in a holding area with some very dodgy looking characters).The vitamin C had no noticeable effect on my health, by the way. I live and learn.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

But she is a babe indeed! That is, she is naive and inexperienced in what she blogs about. Wether that is willfully so, just plain ignorance, or cynical exploitation and manipulation is left as an exercise for the student.

"Re: The principle of ” if you can’t pronounce a chemical’s name, it shouldn’t be in food”

Does that mean that someone with any sort of classical education or a talent for languages or, heck, a native of Greece can safely eat things that most people can’t?"

Or how it may effect the diet of someone with a speech impediment.

By Kay Marie (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

So according to Food Boob, I should throw away my prenatal vitamins? There are so many chemicals listed on the bottle...

By Ethyl-not-methyl (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

In all likelihood, what you saw was not duct tape, but something rather different.
Of course, Patrick Smith is probably a shill for Big Air.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on Earth has ever produced the expression 'as pretty as an airport'.

" Airports are ugly. Some are very ugly. Some attain a degree of ugliness that can only be the result of a special effort. This ugliness arises because airports are full of people who are tired, cross, and have just discovered that their luggage has landed in Murmansk (Murmansk airport is the only known exception to this otherwise infallible rule), and architects have on the whole tried to reflect this in their designs.

" They have sought to highlight the tiredness and crossness motif with brutal shapes and nerve-jangling colours, to make effortless the business of separating the traveller for ever from his or her luggage or loved ones, to confuse the traveller with arrows that appear to point at the windows, distant tie racks, or the current position of Ursa Minor in the night sky, and wherever possible to expose the plumbing on the grounds that it is functional, and conceal the location of the departure gates, presumably on the grounds that they are not."

-- from "The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul", chapter 1, by Douglas Adams

@ Krebiozen:

I can imagine that in vivid detail. Yiiiiii!

One of the idiots I survey insists that air travellers be scrupulously careful because of bacteria, viruses and blood clots. Thus he recommends a medley of woo-centric solutions:
- wear an air purifier ( that he sells) on a neck chain that cleans the toxic air
- clean off your seat and tray with a pre-mixed antiseptic and then put paper towels on surfaces to keep your hand clean
- do a series of leg exercises every 20 - 30 minutes
- ingest green juices, various supplements and TAKE 500 mg of vitamin C every hour.

That last one is hilarious.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

The last trans-atlantic flight I was on featured what might be the most trascendentally clueless passenger health effort I've ever seen. They ran a video featuring a group of presumably famous fitness experts demonstrating a series of exercises that they had designed to be performed in an airline seat. Brillaint idea, right?

Not so much. They demonstrated their exercises in a row of ariliner seats stuck on a beach someplace tropical, and most of them involved motions that not only would invade your neighbor's personal space, but would also require passing directly through the row directly in front of you. When they got to the leg lifts (sticking legs straight out in front, at full extension, which they were expecting us to actually be attempting in our seats), I actually burst out laughing, so I guess it was at least beneficial in relieving tension. ;-)

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

I meant "transcendently" there, not "transcendentally". :-P

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

Re: The principle of ” if you can’t pronounce a chemical’s name, it shouldn’t be in food”

Does that mean that someone with any sort of classical education or a talent for languages or, heck, a native of Greece can safely eat things that most people can’t?

Do chemicals stop harming you after you learn to pronounce their names?

Chemicals are fairy-tale characters, I guess–knowing their true name gives you power over them!

So if you can't pronounce it, you can't eat it? Given what my daughters tell me, I'd be SOL at a French restaurant.

I'm reminded of the time I was in the (now sorely-missed) Manhattan restaurant, The Brasserie. At the next table was a family form Texas, which I knew from their strong accents. When it was the dad's turn to order, he told the waitress, "I'll have some of that there Quick Lorraine" It was funny, but a lot of people wouldn't have the nerve to try it and would order something they could pronounce instead. Quelle courage!

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Denice Walter #193

You mean scientist/doctor/saint/philanthropist/athlete/investigative reporter/author/nutritionist/consumer advocate/civil rights and social justice advocate/genius/trailblazer/historian/philosopher, man who almost died from an overdose of his own supplement, Gary Null, right?

By Paul Hewitt (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

there’s SAHNCE waitin’ to be done!!

I really want to adapt that as my team's new rallying cry.

@ Paul Hewitt:

You are correct.

And most likely, anyone who followed his plan regarding the 500 mg per hour vitamin C regime on a long flight would be quite busy pooping across America or the Atlantic- as the case might b-e thus negating the need for the twice or thrice hourly exercise routines.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

I’m a troglodyte who still uses plain TeX for a lot of things.

I realize that I'm just being persnickety, but you still don't need the \hbox. (In real life – i.e., absent competent manuscript editors – such constructions are a recipe for having in-line text rendered by MathJax or as GIFs. The same goes for units unless forced to, which essentially comes down to only displays and subs/sups.)

It was worth it today just to read the comments. My two cents:
Worst airport I have been in - Vegas. Because they even have slot machines and booze everywhere in that airport but no decent food anywhere. There is an almost palpable aura of desperation hanging over the place.
Colon prep - I did one for a barium lower GI scan (due to some issues I was having) the prep really didn't bother me that much, though I missed an entire 2 days of work and spent way too much quality time in the bathroom. You don't get any nifty drugs though. The procedure is uncomfortable, more due to the fact they pump your colon full of barium and then air so you are really (really) bloated afterward and uncomfortable. Plus you end up doing pirouettes to coat the sides so they can image it so its pretty funny. I was joking with the nurse and the radiology guy because hey why not have some fun with this procedure. And the nurse was so nice and so grateful to me. She said a lot of people get really angry and yell at them because they were uncomfortable. She was so solicitous (presumably because I wasn't berating her) it was a bit uncomfortable actually. Hubby had a colonoscopy done a couple of years ago due to the fact that when I bullied him into a physical his blood pressure was high, they put him on two meds, which dropped it like a stone and he ended up with some severe GI issues. Which was later attributed to a sudden decrease in blood flow and his entire intestinal lining dying and sloughing off. Which scared the crap out of both of us. He did not handle the bowel prep well. He cannot take pain, and any kind of GI discomfort will have him vomiting. So he was running from both ends through the whole prep. I felt bad. But he takes to anesthetics like a champ, he doesn't even remember the procedure at all. And then I took him home and he slept all day. To this day he is on the lowest dose possible of lisinopril which manages his blood pressure fine. Unfortunately small child is a lot like his father, the first sign we had that he was ill (which turned out to be a sore throat) was when he started spectacularly vomiting everywhere. They only reason I have for the vomiting has to be pain. I feel sorry for him. I also feel a bit sorry for us having to clean it up because no one vomits more spectacularly than a small child.

And let's not forget that referring to one's self as a "Babe" sort of invites commentary thereon, and thus such comments shouldn't be considered sexist. "You started it!"

Um. No. The comments are still sexist, but nice try. Well, not really. (As if I haven't heard that one a million times before, a couple of times already before you in this very thread.)

I feel sorry for him. I also feel a bit sorry for us having to clean it up because no one vomits more spectacularly than a small child.

You have my sincere condolences.

And let’s not forget that referring to one’s self as a “Babe” sort of invites commentary thereon, and thus such comments shouldn’t be considered sexist.

*sigh*

Scenario: a woman calling herself "Wonderful Babe" is providing sound dietary/lifestyle advice - like some sort of fitness regimen and 5 portions of veggies a day.
She is calling herself a "Babe". Is this inviting commentary thereon?
If yes, why? I thought we were picking on the "Food Babe" because her advice is mostly wrong.
If not, why? Focusing on her gender sure looks sexist.

For those readers who have (plenty of) time, I would recommend perusing the articles on gender representation on the TVTropes website, starting maybe with
Men Are Generic, Women Are Special or another classic, The Smurfette Principle.
These articles don't really provide ethical answers, but they help define our cultural background and main tendencies.

Even if we accept the premise, that Vani Hari "started it" by nicknaming herself "Babe", it doesn't mean we have to play the same game. It's childllke.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

Militant Agnostic -

If you are really averse to anesthetics you can do it without any drugs.

It's not so much that I'm averse to them, it's just that I'm useless the rest of the day after getting a general anesthetic. Combine that with a day of prep, and that's two days down the tubes. So to speak.

everybody there seemed to think I was a major hardass.

For getting a colonoscopy without anesthesia? I see what you did there.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

For the Brits on the board -- the gastroenterologist who did the spousal unit's colonoscopy is named Dr Quazi.

Shay @199

I really want to adapt that as my team’s new rallying cry.

I think you could do a lot worse. The group I was in produced an astonishing number of heavy hitters (present company excepted, somewhat, though I haven't done badly).

Narad @202 -- I generally use \hbox within displayed equations. I realize that there were only single dollar-signs around my example expression, so that may have been misleading. Sometimes \hbox is expedient, e.g.

$$\hbox{Barycentric JD of mid-eclipse} = 2457032.2830(1) + 0.1373527(2) E,$$
where $E$ is the cycle number..

By palindrom (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

Call me crazy and/or a shill of I don't even know what, but I'm pretty much done listening to anything someone has to say if they've ever claimed that the air on a plane is "sometimes almost 50 percent" nitrogen.

It's the double blunder of a) that is obviously not true, yet you are saying it and b) your clear ignorance of what "air" even is.

I'm not sure what the precise air system airlines use is, but I find it implausible to suggest that they carry massive, massive oxygen tanks for the sole purpose of trying to cause oxygen toxicity in both passengers and crew on long-haul flights, and having been *on* very very long flights, I can say with confidence that the experience was not characterised by super-oxygenated air.

"I find it implausible to suggest that they carry massive, massive oxygen tanks for the sole purpose of trying to cause oxygen toxicity in both passengers and crew on long-haul flights"

No, the massive tanks are for dispersing chemtrails. Duh.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

From what little I understand, passenger aircraft strike a balance between fuel economy and comfort by recirculating some of the air in the cabin, mixing it something like 50:50 with fresh outside air. That outside air has to be compressed, which process uses engine energy. It's still just plain air, which is naturally a mix of 79% nitrogen, 20% oxygen, and 1% or so CO2 and other gasses. This is off the top of my head from casual reading and college chemistry, so some details may be off a bit. Ms. Hari's blog, on the other hand, is so far off of reality that I wouldn't recognize the color of the sky on her planet.

sometimes almost 50 percent nitrogen

Given Hari's typical degree of accuracy, claiming cabin air is 50% nitrogen is, in relative terms, extraordinarily accurate.

100% oxygen would certainly learn them washroom smokers a thing or two.

It is certainly possible to extract quite pure oxygen from air with "portable" equipment, though the energy input for continuously-refreshed cabin air would probably be rather obscene.
People with respiratory problems can buy oxygen extraction units for home use. Some tire stores use basically the same process, but throw away the oxygen and keep the nitrogen (and you can find claims, I believe at the NASCAR site, that the pressure in nitrogen-filled tires doesn't change when they get hot).

For the record:
As Jenny McCarthy's only claim any vestige of authority is her celebrity, and since the prime source of her celebrity is as a Playmate, I believe it is relevant to the subject of her anti-vaccine activism. She would not be an effective or credible activist if she weren't a celebrity to begin with, and wouldn't be a celebrity if not for being a Playmate. I wouldn't consider it sexist, either, as I woukd consider it equally relevant if she were a man who's sole qualification was "posed for Playgirl."

I know nothing about the Food Babe, outside of what you've written. But if her arguments were based on an equally specious "argument to celebrity" rather than massive ignorance, I'd consider the source of that celebrity fair criticism as well.

doug @ 214:

I always understood the rationale of filling racing tires with nitrogen to be to keep oxygen from attacking the rubber (well, on the inside anyway) when they got really hot.. Oxygen is an extremely corrosive gas.

By The Very Rever… (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

JerryA, you are right about the recirculation of the air in the cabin. The outside air is bled off from the compressors in the engines, has the same composition as outside air, and is pressurized to about the 6,000 foot level. The only oxygen the planes carry is for the emergency masks, which only has to last until the plane comes down to a sufficiently lower altitude, normally only a few minutes. Airlines and aircraft designers fight to cut literally every ounce of weight they can from a plane, so carrying tanks of anything not absolutely necessary doesn't go.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

My shot at Food Babe style of fear-mongering, which I've used a number of times, is this:

Sodium is a substance which explodes on contact with water and is a basic component of gunpowder. Chlorine was a poison gas used to kill or maim tens of thousands during the First World War. Despite this record, sodium chloride is found in virtually all processed foods, even those marketed as "natural." Many people unwittingly keep this substance in their kitchens and sprinkle it on their food. Big Food markets this deadly combinations as "table salt," "sea salt," and Kosher salt." Stand up to Big Food and demand Congress ban salt.

By John McKay (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

The reason nitrogen is used for filling race car tires is because the nitrogen from a gas supply house is very dry, so the variation in pressure with temperature is predictable. If any gas is heated in a fixed volume the pressure will increase regardless for any gas. (PV =zNRT) * At tire pressures, this is close enough to ideal gas that the pressure will be proportional to absolute temperature. The service life of race tires is so short that any oxidation at high temperatures is not an issue. If the tires are filled from a compressor, a small amount of liquid water may be entrained in the air, resulting in an unpredictable increase in pressure as the tire heats up and the liquid vaporizes.

*P = Pressure, V = Volume, z is gas "deviation" or "super-compressibility factor" which accounts for the devitiation from ideal gas behaviour (mostly due to van der Waals forces and the finite size of the gas molecules), N = number of moles of gas, R is constant dependent on the units used, T is absolute temperature.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink

$$\hbox{Barycentric JD of mid-eclipse} = 2{,}457{,}032.2830(1) + 0.1373527(2) E,$$

Be kind to the reader. "E\,," is also a nice touch.

BTW, what the hell happened to the AJ? Three hundred and two pages for all of 2014? It seems to have cratered starting in 2011. (I was looking to see the extent to which they were just belching up author [La]TeX, but the few papers I looked at were so ugly that I couldn't go on.)

Is it really so "sexist" to point out that someone who has traded on her good looks and who calls herself a "babe" to increase her appeal to viewers/consumers has actually succeeded in that objective?

@Rockin'Dave
"Airlines and aircraft designers fight to cut literally every ounce of weight they can from a plane"
True, but I never understand why they constantly redo their planes livery, using several tons of paint each time.

I also feel a bit sorry for us having to clean it up because no one vomits more spectacularly than a small child.

Best Olympic event EVAH.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

Hi Narad -- AJ has stopped actually printing, and I think ApJ has as well, going entirely online. I believe AJ had some throughput issues last year, at the editorial level, but hopefully they've been resolved; this may have contributed to the low volume. There's some thought of merging all the AAS journals into a gigantic blobule of content. The move from the University of Chicago Press to IOP some years ago was a rocky one, and it caused quite a lot of damage to production standards, though I have to say that my print-design sense isn't anything like yours.

Oh, and as for JD, everyone knows that full JDs have 7 digits to the left of the decimal point; commas are uses rarely.

(In case anyone else is curious -- Julian Date is a system by which days are simply numbered sequentially, with an essentially arbitrary starting point around 4047 BC, before historical time. Time-of-day is handled by simple fractions (extra decimals). This has the huge advantage that once you can find the time interval between any two events by simply their dates and times to JD -- and subtracting! )

By palindrom (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

Narad again -- The level of word salad in the previous comment shows why I should never be a copy-editor.

"... commas are USED rarely"

"... by simply CONVERTING their dates ... "

By palindrom (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Tom -

For the record:
As Jenny McCarthy’s only claim any vestige of authority is her celebrity, and since the prime source of her celebrity is as a Playmate, I believe it is relevant to the subject of her anti-vaccine activism.

So when discussing, say, Danica McKellar's popular treatments of mathematics (such as "Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss"), you'd feel it was relevant to include her work in The Wonder Years and her pictures in Maxim?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

Oh, and as for JD, everyone knows that full JDs have 7 digits to the left of the decimal point; commas are use[d] rarely.

There were at least 35 years during which the ApJ wouldn't let you do that.

@ dingo199

Depends.
Do we also take Mike Adams and Vladimir Putin to task for doing essentially the same thing, in a male version?

By Helianthus (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Helianthus:

I dunno who "we" are, but mockery of Putin's macho posing is hardly rare.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

@John McKay
Close, but do you really think the Food Babe and her followers would reliably draw the connection between "chlorine" and "chloride"?

By justthestats (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

Narad - man, that's a beautiful result in that paper.

Especially when I'm making tables that have lots of JDs in them, I'll generate the tables using scripts that read directly from data files and set up the LaTeX formatting automagically. It's possible to insert commas in this step, but quite awkward, and of course that makes the tables much less easily machine-readable if that should be an issue. I figure that the advantages of leaving long strings of digits "untouched by human hands" outweighs the disadvantages for human legibility.

Then, of course, there are the Europeans who use commas in place of decimal points ...

This is both arcane and off-topic. I can hear the eye-rolling among the regulars from here $\ldots$

By palindrom (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

I dunno who “we” are, but mockery of Putin’s macho posing is hardly rare.

Then we are good :-)

By Helianthus (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

Dingo199: "True, but I never understand why they constantly redo their planes livery, using several tons of paint each time."

The paint is to prevent the aluminum skin from eroding. There was a debate decades ago, but with pressurized planes it was decided to protect the skin. Small divots and stress fatigue on the skin can cause cracks and catastrophic failure.

Examples include the DeHaviland Comets that fell out of the sky and the plane in Hawaii where part of the upper fuselage blew off. Maintaining the fuselage skin and stringers is very important.

The bottom line is that if you have to repaint your aircraft every X years *anyway*, you might as well freshen up the decor at the same time. ;-) It pretty much costs the same either way. This is also why it takes years for an airline's fleet to completely change color -- barring purchase by another airline (which might drive quicker repainting for legal reasons), they're only being repainted when they're up for repainting anyway.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

Narad -- A colleague of mine is reporting that Astrophysical Journal is asking him to submit his article all laid out in two-column format as he'd like it to appear in the Journal. He rightly objects, pointing out that graphic design layout is not what he's trained for.

Ugh. For those halcyon days, when S. Chandrasekhar read every paper in the Journal personally, and the layout was perfect ...

By palindrom (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

A colleague of mine is reporting that Astrophysical Journal is asking him to submit his article all laid out in two-column format as he’d like it to appear in the Journal.

That doesn't make a great deal of sense, since one doesn't even have the same fonts available.* It's not just the Letters macro package to gauge page length? I may be able to make some inquiries. Or start up a cottage industry.

For those halcyon days, when S. Chandrasekhar read every paper in the Journal personally, and the layout was perfect …

Hey, Gould used to lay out the AJ himself.

* No, I didn't run one through Acrobat Pro/Enfocus before saying that.

^ Of course, it's a lot easier when you're not setting on 21 pica columns. (La)TeX's default spacing rules aren't very good at this, either.

the plane in Hawaii where part of the upper fuselage blew off. Maintaining the fuselage skin and stringers is very important.

That's why FSM gave us duct-tape.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Mar 2015 #permalink

By the way, I going on what I had learned in an engineering class I took decades ago on how design decisions can create unexpected benefits/deficits, plus classes I did on metal fatigue, fracture mechanics and brittle materials. I did find an actual airliner manufacturing page on the relative costs of painting versus polishing:
http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/aero_05/textonly/fo01txt…

The summery: "Though the weight of paint adds to fuel consumption, the fuel-cost savings offered by polished surfaces is outweighed by the cost of maintaining the polished surfaces. However, because this difference is a very small percentage of operating cost, many operators decide to paint or polish their airplanes based on marketing and environmental impact considerations. Some believe that a distinctive image can best be achieved with a full paint scheme, while others believe the image can be projected best by mostly polished surfaces. The availability of safe solvents and facilities that comply with environmental laws can also play a role in the choice between painting and polishing."

@ dingo199

Depends.
Do we also take Mike Adams and Vladimir Putin to task for doing essentially the same thing, in a male version?

I think Dr. Oz is a pretty close equivalent. And I don't think I've ever heard or seen anyone trash him for trading on his good looks and/or masculine charms to attract a worshipful, predominantly female audience to whose fears and desires he panders.

But that's definitely what he does do.

So there you have it.

@palindrom:

OK, I've looked at the most recent open-access ApJ PDF that I could find (the 2015 March 1 erratum for Whalen et al., which itself could use some editing, as it reads more like some sort of minor addendum). I have a sinking feeling.

They appear to have abandoned professional typesetting software wholesale. This was set entirely in LaTeX (with hyperref! yay!), with the dvips fed to Adobe Distiller on a Windows box to make PDF.

<tldr>
They are using Adobe text fonts plus MathTime fonts,* all in what seems to be a post hoc CFF wrapper for the underlying Type 1 subset. And the whole thing isn't PDF/A-1 compliant. So long as they're still making HTML in the usual fashion, there has to be an underlying representation that takes in LaTeX, makes what it can of it, and spits out both HTML and fresh LaTeX, if demonstrated by nothing other than duplication of spacing errors (PDF) and a presumption of inertia.

I have, however, figured out what I thought was a plummeting page count: they've also abandoned sequential pagination.This is a fairly natural outcome, given that TOCs, which were formerly carefully ordered, would no longer add anything much to a print edition. Why the concomitant fiction of volumes and numbers persists calls for a professional** opinion.

I suspect that the content-blob model has a reasonable chance of success; if it happens, though, I would view the likely "natural evolution" rationale with a jaundiced eye unless it's brutally fiscal and doesn't appeal to a sympathetically constructed look-back time.
</tldr&gt***

In summary, yah, I can imagine where the idea of bailing wholesale on responsibility for the PDF outcome might be floated in a test fashion. I can also imagine 2.5–3 "reasons," all fundamentally crappy.

If your colleague objects, he or she should go straight to the EIC. It would at least help to force the question whether the policy is actually as follows:

If you care what it looks like, that's your responsibility. We haven't been doing that anyway, and don't suppose that there is any guarantee that your efforts will actually manifest like you thought, much less that either of us has something resembling what competence would mean in the first place.

* Which is hilarious, because Michael Spivak – whose introductory calculus text is typographically unique in my experience – loathed (h_tps://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!msg/comp.fonts/QGiBHRwmdyA/z3193T-rgkAJ) Knuth's calligraphic font. But that's a longer story. It must have taken somebody a good 45 minutes, or days involving teleconferences, or something, to remap '\cal'.
** Hi, Ms. Walter.
*** I cut out way more, if that helps.

^ One semicolon short of what became the finish line.

@ann:

I think Dr. Oz is a pretty close equivalent. And I don’t think I’ve ever heard or seen anyone trash him for trading on his good looks and/or masculine charms to attract a worshipful, predominantly female audience to whose fears and desires he panders.

Does he call himself the Medicine Hunk?

By justthestats (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

Heh. Heh. *Ms* Walter. Why so formal? you know-
I don't do titles.
Nor am I *entitled*.

Seriously, I can't dx that on the internet. Athough Orac's minions may, unless professional guidelines prohibit it.
But not self-censoring over-the-top fantasies is rather obvious.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

@ ann:

Dr Oz certainly trades on his good looks ( however I never really thought so, despite the fact that he's one of those so-called Mediterranean-ish ones that I usually enjoy) but doesn't go about calingl himself Dr Hottie.
Sure, he's more sophisticated and brighter than Hari. He doesn't need to say it.
And Hari can always say it's tongue in cheek.

In general, many woo-meisters (* et maitresses de wu*) keep up appearances suggesting, often in a subtle way. that 'living right' and eating correctly leads to health, longevity, thinness and sexual desirability.

As you may know, Mike Adams used to have photos of himself posing *a la* Putin on the Health Ranger site ( now scrubbed and replaced with videos of ducklings and suchlike). He posted his height, weight and blood chemistries, too. Also scrubbed.

I think he gained weight- thus the lab coat

Similarly. Gary Null's sites are filled with photos and videos of him, running, dancing, posing. He claims that people endlessly tell him that he looks the same as he did 30 years ago whilst they themselves have aged terribly. He even has comparison photos up- I swear!

There's even a site/ poster known as 'Raw Beauty' often featured at Vaccine Machine facebook.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

Correction:
That may be Raw FOR Beauty ( raw beauty is something else)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

As you may know, Mike Adams used to have photos of himself posing *a la* Putin on the Health Ranger site ( now scrubbed and replaced with videos of ducklings and suchlike).

Really? Like riding bears and sh*t? Or comets?

Dr Oz certainly trades on his good looks ( however I never really thought so, despite the fact that he’s one of those so-called Mediterranean-ish ones that I usually enjoy)

Yeah, I mean, considering I'm something like a 4.5 on the ol' Kinsey scale, I'm prob'ly not the person to ask, but I never really got it. I have unconventional tastes, though.

@justthestats --

No, he does not. But from a predominantly-female-daytime-TV-audience perspective, the "Dr." does the same job, when attached to a dark, handsome man bearing miracle weight-loss formulas. For lots of reasons. Including sexism, actually.

In any event, so what, though? She calls herself a babe. I can see how that makes stating one's opinion on whether she is or is not babelicious fair game -- ie, "I don't know, She just doesn't do it for me," etc.

But I can't see how it otherwise leaves her open to revilement on gender-based/-inflected) grounds. She's attractive. It's a professional asset to her. That's show-biz.

@ JP:

No, Mikey was just posing like a body builder to show off his arms. ( circa 2010? the site must be dig-up-able) Bad enough. There was a video of him on a beach spinning around with some apparatus on a chain for exercise.

Oz is somewhat good looking I suppose but not my type. I do like usually darker men- altho' one of the creatures I currently tolerate is quite the golden boy. I do know ( or keep) so-called Black Irish who are hot and I was fortunate enough to have a tattooed Moroccan living next doors with the gay men for a while. And there's a lovely Spanish 50 year old working at the supermarket.

But I digress, in short I think that most women would like Oz' looks but he's no George Clooney.

-btw- one of my cousins, in international banking, had to address Putin through a translator. He wasn't pleased.
Putin is rather short but still frightening.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

I do know ( or keep) so-called Black Irish who are hot

I was once asked if I was "Black Norwegian," which I guess maybe refers to the Sami people or something? But the general presence of pigmentation they were picking up on comes from the other side of the family. (My brother, OTOH, is as Nordic-looking as they come, yet another example of how we are "as different as night and day." Genetics are funny.)

Putin is rather short but still frightening.

Yes, in the manner that cold-hearted and completely sociopathic people tend to be. I actually had a dream once, about a year ago, where I met Putin - I recounted it to some Ukrainian friends, and they asked, "What's wrong with you that you didn't try to kill him?"

A friend mentioned recently that she and her husband met The Babe at an event before she was notorious/famous. I enjoy all the digressions in this thread but want to mention that I was told Babe was hungry for attention and inappropriately flirted with her husband. Showbiz indeed. The friend is a registered dietitian and was appalled at this woman's crass marketing approach and stone-cold ignorance. No excuse for the sexist attitudes toward her, though. The ignorance should stand on its own absence of merit.

JP: "I was once asked if I was “Black Norwegian,” which I guess maybe refers to the Sami people or something?"

Not in my family. With us it was referring to Norwegians with darker hair, and sometimes more olive skin. My grandfather was called a "Black Norwegian." It was explained that we were descendents of those the Vikings had dragged back from the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.

I believed it when I was seventeen, but now not so much. Over the years I have learned that family stories can be mostly characterized as family myths.

@ Chris:

Right. My cousin's Black Irish husband truly believes that he is somehow descended from a Spanish sailor shipwrecked from the Armada in the time of Elizabeth.

The other BI one in my life believes he's Celtic

My Irish friend's genetics test out at 15% Spanish..

My own mother ( not Irish) could pass herself off as a person from the Middle East.

Let's face it, people in all cultures/ ethnicities are diverse looking.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

Exactly. Folks did get around a few centuries ago.

Still, I believe the accuracy of certain commercial genetic tests as much as I believe family stories.

I've considered doing one of those genetic tests for the heck of it sometime, but I never seem to have 100 bucks lying around to devote to the purpose. A friend of mine of Polish descent - second-generation - did one, and it came back 99% Northern European and 1% Asian. There was a Cossack somewhere in the lineage or something, I guess.

And now I have to run along to a pagan rite.

Happy Spring, everybody!

JP @259

A friend of mine of Polish descent – second-generation – did one, and it came back 99% Northern European and 1% Asian.

Why not? Geographically, Poland’s smack in the middle of everything,* and throughout history has been invaded from all sides. Including from the east: Asia.

There was a Cossack somewhere in the lineage or something, I guess.

You’re stretching. According to my maps, Ukraine is in Europe.

*OK, yeah, I know, the whole world isn’t Northern Europe

COI declaration: I have a Cossack somewhere in my lineage, too.

Oz is somewhat good looking I suppose but not my type.

Ditto Hari, Ainscough. Nothing whatever appealing about McCarthy. I tend to wonder why people bother with making blanket assertions about attractiveness in the first place.

Similarly. Gary Null’s sites are filled with photos and videos of him, running, dancing, posing. He claims that people endlessly tell him that he looks the same as he did 30 years ago whilst they themselves have aged terribly.

Amazing what a crummy hair dye job can do.

I suspect that there is a prototypical *attractive* male/ female image that these people can easily fit into or manipulate** -

thin, average-to-tall, no very outstanding features, reasonably normal hair, current styles of grooming/ clothing choices with minor variance to account for ethnic differences..
Wanna-bes can consult any fashion magazine or hire a stylist. It's big bizness and television enables it more.

** h3ll, I can make myself look extremely *acceptable* and I HAVE on occasion succeeded beyond my wildest.
BUT I no longer attempt taming my hair.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Mar 2015 #permalink

There was a Cossack somewhere in the lineage or something, I guess.

You’re stretching. According to my maps, Ukraine is in Europe.

Perhaps this is due to confusion among Cossack, Hassock and Ottoman.

thin, average-to-tall, no very outstanding features, reasonably normal hair, current styles of grooming/ clothing choices with minor variance to account for ethnic differences..

This strikes me as the definition of "plain," not "attractive."

I tend to wonder why people bother with making blanket assertions about attractiveness in the first place.

I meant for the "by conventional, commonly recognized cultural standards" to be implied. And I guess I also more or less meant "photogenically good-looking" -- ie, regular features, high cheekbones, wide-set eyes, well-defined jaw, etc. Although you don't have to be flawless in every regard to take a good picture, obviously. In fact, I note a distinct absence of pictures of Vani Hari's hips. She's always sitting down, leaning forward, or cropped at the waist. I regard that as telling.

In any event. There's no arguing about taste, on an individual level. None of the parties under discussion is appealing to me personally, fwiw.

Denice,

My cousin’s Black Irish husband truly believes that he is somehow descended from a Spanish sailor shipwrecked from the Armada in the time of Elizabeth.

Not entirely implausible, with some Irish surnames, Costello for example, sounding Spanish (I had an Irish colleague who believed this), but accounts I have read suggest that all survivors were summarily executed, not invited to stay and start a family with a comely Irish lass, sadly. The claim that the Scottish marmalade tradition started with oranges salvaged from wrecked Armada ships may (or may not) be true - the Armada got swept off course and had to get home by traveling north over Scotland and then down past Ireland.

This strikes me as the definition of “plain,” not “attractive.”

Weirdly, what most people find attractive is the average face, not the exotic, as one might expect. Well, kind of, anyway.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Chemmomo:

Yeah, I'm aware that Ukraine is in Europe, but Cossacks themselves had a certain Turkish admixture thing going on. Could been a Russian, too, I suppose - scratch a Russian and you'll find a Mongol, as the saying goes.

Re: Poland being invaded by everyone all the time: just the past few hundred years, really. It did quite well for itself throughout most of its noted history, most notably during the period of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It went into a sad decline, largely due to internecine strife and abuse of the liberum veto among the nobility.

Speaking of "Asiatic" Poles, you should look up the Sarmatians sometime. They're great for a laugh.

^ Coulda been.

JP: "Re: Poland being invaded by everyone all the time: just the past few hundred years, really. It did quite well for itself throughout most of its noted history, most notably during the period of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth."

A good book on Polish scientists and WWII is The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl: How Two Brave Scientists Battled Typhus and Sabotaged the Nazis by Arthur Allen. Some of the history of previous eras is explained.

@ Krebiozen:

There's an artist who photographically merges photos of a thousand people or so who live in various cities ( see Face of Tomorrow.org/ artwork) producing a face for each city: the images seem to have an abstract or even aethereal quality to my eyes- all of the individuals' distinct variations are eradicated.
I wonder if that's what some Renaissance artists did ( mentally of course) to create faces of saints and angels

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Mar 2015 #permalink

(It occurs to me that "noted history" was probably meant to be "recorded history" in the blurb from me above.)

There were also some very key Polish code breakers working during WWII. I've never understood the whole "dumb Pollack" thing at all. I mean, Copernicus? Marie Curie? Their names don't sound Polish, I suppose.

O/T, but at this party I was at last night - this was before the effigy-burning portion of the evening - I learned from an epidemiology guy that DNA from VRE has mosied on over to mingle with MRSA and there's now a thing called VRSA. There have apparently only been 13 cases so far nationwide, but 8 of them are in Detroit.

Wow, amazing timing to see the discussion about the Irish connection with the Spanish. Yesterday I looked up what they now know about the black Irish after I got DNA results for my family that included origins in Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula. Turns out there are strong genetic ties, so I figure that the trace of Spanish ancestry is probably through an Irish ancestor. Nowhere else do I have ancestry in that region.

DNA shows Irish people have more complex origins than previously thought
http://www.sott.net/article/263587-DNA-shows-Irish-people-have-more-com…

By LinnieMae (not verified) on 21 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Krebiozen,
I'll have to do some digging, but what I recall talks about the Spanish sailors being rescued by the Catholic Irish (don't know about the Scots). Those were both still independent countries and neither was particularly friendly with the English.
On the beauty thing, I recall a study a few years ago that did computer averaging of characteristics and seemed to show that a very "average" face was perceived as more beautiful.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 21 Mar 2015 #permalink

There were also some very key Polish code breakers working during WWII.

I am contractually obliged to explain that it was before WWII, in the mid 1930s, that Marian Rejewski and the rest of the Polish Cipher Bureau were reverse-engineering the Enigma machines.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 21 Mar 2015 #permalink

Fair enough.

squirrelelite,

I’ll have to do some digging, but what I recall talks about the Spanish sailors being rescued by the Catholic Irish (don’t know about the Scots). Those were both still independent countries and neither was particularly friendly with the English.

It was a long time ago that I looked into this, but this page delves into the history and concludes it is a myth:

There exists no corroborating evidence to support the story of shipwrecked Spanish sailor's relations with Irish women and their resultant progeny. There does exist, however, a quantity of written testimony describing instances in which members of the Spanish Armada's shipwrecked crew were stripped naked, robbed and delivered over to English authorities or summarily murdered by the Catholic Irish peasants themselves.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Mar 2015 #permalink

JP @268
Good points. I’ll admit to trimming my remarks just to see how you’d reply.
Part of my point was you can’t rule out direct importation of genes considering the geography and history. And Poland, especially in the days of the Commonwealth, has always stood at the crossroads.

I suppose the real question is exactly what the testing company considers Asian and how do they categorize the Turks?

And don’t start me on that liberum veto: how to ruin a perfectly reasonable political system.

I’ll also thank you for getting me to pick up the book (Zamoyski’s) I have on Polish history again.

I guess most of the references I've seen were only in pop literature, which doesn't given them much historical value.

The bit about preserving the claim as a way of asserting a prouder origin reminds me a bit of the large number of Americans who claim to be "partly Native American" with virtually no genealogical evidence.

Here in New Mexico (I've been told), there is a small community who try to maintain the pure line of descent from the original Spanish settlers in the 16th century. As far as I know, I've never met any of them. The closest I might have come was regularly serving pizza to the head of a family for whom one of the major streets in Albuquerque is named.

But since I have an ongoing interest in British history and one branch of my ancestry traces back to Northern Ireland, I'll try to do some more reading and refresh my knowledge.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 21 Mar 2015 #permalink

I suppose the real question is exactly what the testing company considers Asian and how do they categorize the Turks?

Given that the Turkic peoples have their origin in Siberia/Central Asia, I would find it odd if they were genetically considered to be non-Asian. I'm not sure, though, and "Asian" is a really broad category anyway. I think this company basically tells you about continent of origin, with some continents broken down into smaller areas, I guess, like Northern Europe. In any case, it was a brief conversation as we were sitting around waiting for my advisor to show up to our little Polish lit seminar. It just sort of struck me as odd when I heard it, I guess.

And don’t start me on that liberum veto: how to ruin a perfectly reasonable political system.

It does seem to me an utterly nonsensical idea. Imagine what Congress would be like if the senators and representatives had such a power.

squirrelite,
Irish history is fascinating. I wasn't taught anything about it at school, and had to learn for myself just how shamefully the English behaved there, over a period of centuries. They tried to commit cultural genocide, for all practical purposes, banning the teaching of Gaelic, for example. One of the nastiest laws the English passed in Ireland was one granting the first son of a Catholic to convert to Protestantism the right to inherit his father's property.

BTW:

Those were both still independent countries and neither was particularly friendly with the English.

Ireland was pretty much under English rule by the time of the Armada (1588): the Kingdom of Ireland was declared by Henry VIII in 1541.

If your ancestry goes back to Northern Ireland you may well find it is actually Scottish*. The mass migration of Protestant planters from Scotland to Northern Ireland is the historical origin of The Troubles.

* My stepson's family on his father's side also has roots in Northern Ireland, but when I told him he was probably of Scottish ancestry (also based on his surname), he was mortified. Why is it that an Irish ancestry is seen as better than a Scottish one by many Americans?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

Why is it that an Irish ancestry is seen as better than a Scottish one by many Americans?

I wasn't really aware that it was - I have a couple friends who are very much into their Scottish heritage, for whatever reason, and a friend who makes self-deprecating jokes about being descended from "shanty Irish." Those Scots by way of Northern Ireland, though, have a name in the States - Scots-Irish. In the South at least, "Scots-Irish" is basically synonymous with "white trash," which explain things to some extent.

I wasn’t taught anything about it at school, and had to learn for myself just how shamefully the English behaved there, over a period of centuries.

My dad's side of the family is a real cultural and genetic grab-bag,* but somehow managed to pass down an English surname, which has been a source of perpetual embarrassment for me. I'm sure my English forebears were just peasants or something, but still. (Somebody once told me my name sounded "fancy," actually, which made me giggle a little.)

*It is also the side of the family with all the smart/f*cked people in it.

^ "which might explain things to some extent."

^^ There was also supposed to be a hyphen and an "up" after "f*cked," though I suppose both meanings are actually pretty accurate.

Since this thread seems to have turned into a free-for-all:

Anyone looking for a new hobby related to health and science matters could spend many joyful hours calling out the complete nonsense found at eHow. It seems much of what is written is from general-purpose "professional writers" rather than people that actually know things. Have a boo at entries for hydrogen peroxide or tetanus (eating too much rust might cause a low type of tetanus that can be cured in day with a shot) or make-your-own hand sanitizers for some samples.

Ha!
We have a family myth/ legend that one of the ancestors came across the Channel with William- which I really doubt-
more likely, he sold the conquerors shoes or pies and became a hanger-on, adopting a Norman name.

HOWEVER because of this story many of us have artsy franchified Christian names ( *comme moi*) and were encouraged to learn French and visit France. Which I did.

Thus we have a large Trans-Atlantic family and many follow ancestral tales, business lore, writings and commune together. ( -btw- I am not descended from the newspaper family; someone created a fine gin though).

I look like the generic European - altho' the whiteness may throw them at first, I've been asked if I'm at least 10 nationalities- Irish, Swedish, Italian, Yugoslavian whatever. I suspect that there is some mixture.

My aunt married an Irishman and that huge family has even wilder tales except for the true one, which modern medicine has resolved:
cardiac technology has shown why many of them died suddenly young in past eras and now quite a few have had interventions ( pacemakers, conversions) to compensate- including a 14 year old girl.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

"Why is it that an Irish ancestry is seen as better than a Scottish one by many Americans?"

Perhaps it has to do with marketing. After the potato famine many Irish immigrated to the USA, and it a backlash here. Apparently it was common to see "Irish need not apply."

Then by sheer numbers, they did start to take on the politics (especially in New York) and change it all in the early part of the 20th century:
http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/famine/america.htm

My brother is digging deep into our ancestry from the folks who came to the American colonies a few yeas after the Mayflower, and established a couple of town in Massachusetts, then spread all over.

Oh, and my brother is presently stationed in the UK, so he is taking advantage of all of the resources there. He has found sections that came from Norway, and those who also were part of the Norman evasion, plus one who was part of group to do engineering in Scotland, etc.

JP,

I wasn’t really aware that it was – I have a couple friends who are very much into their Scottish heritage, for whatever reason, and a friend who makes self-deprecating jokes about being descended from “shanty Irish.”

I may well have a warped perception of people's attitudes in the US - it's hard to generalize about 300 million people, though that doesn't seem to stop anyone. Or maybe it's because there are more Irish-Americans than Scots-Americans.

Those Scots by way of Northern Ireland, though, have a name in the States – Scots-Irish. In the South at least, “Scots-Irish” is basically synonymous with “white trash,” which explain things to some extent.

My wife often teases me that most of the hillbillies and rednecks in the US are descended from Brits - she is of German and Lithuanian descent.

My dad’s side of the family is a real cultural and genetic grab-bag,* but somehow managed to pass down an English surname, which has been a source of perpetual embarrassment for me. I’m sure my English forebears were just peasants or something, but still. (Somebody once told me my name sounded “fancy,” actually, which made me giggle a little.)

Is it really that bad having an English name? I must admit I am proud of my Welsh and Scottish ancestry and a bit ashamed of my mostly English blood. It's funny how national pride in England is perceived to be the preserve of right wing racists, though that has changed a bit in recent years.

*It is also the side of the family with all the smart/f*cked people in it.

Mixing up the genes does seem to result in more interesting people, to throw out yet another gross generalization :-)

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

If we are trading ancestral stories, a great-aunt on my dad's family found out recently that the Swiss (I think Swiss-German, although the surname is funny and unique) branch of the family can be traced back to an extremely infamous organized crime family back in Zurich. I am somehow not terribly surprised.

Chris,

Apparently it was common to see “Irish need not apply.”

The same was true in the UK not too many decades ago - "no blacks, no Irish, no dogs" was the classic sign outside boarding houses. An Irish friend of mine once told me, "they don't know you're black until you open your mouth". I like to think things are better these days.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

Is it really that bad having an English name? I must admit I am proud of my Welsh and Scottish ancestry and a bit ashamed of my mostly English blood.

I was being a bit hyperbolic - it's a fine-sounding enough name, I suppose, and if I ever have children I'll probably saddle them with it. I remember being pretty appalled at the general historical behavior of the English when I first started doing some extra-curricular readings in history as a teenager.

I remember being pretty appalled at the general historical behavior of the English when I first started doing some extra-curricular readings in history as a teenager.

It's true, though people in general behaved rather horribly back then. If you look at how other colonial powers behaved in Africa, (here's an example grabbed from my memory more or less at random), the English don't seem quite so bad in comparison.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

I'm reminded of a very similar practice that Christopher Columbus engaged - cutting of the hands of the natives of Hispaniola if they failed to bring him enough gold. Rather different from the whitewashed "in fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" version we were getting in school.

Given that the Turkic peoples have their origin in Siberia/Central Asia, I would find it odd if they were genetically considered to be non-Asian.

Ah, but remember the Tocharian culture in central Asia, writing an Indo-European language, until they were absorbed by Uighur tribes from Mongolia with their own Turkic language.
From the same area, "Asian" includes the blue-eyed, light-haired Tarim mummies.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

Yeah, I remember seeing some fascinating Central Asian thangkas featuring red-haired, blue-eyed monks.

The Tocharian language, of course, shouldn't be confused with Tokharistan, the successor culture to Ancient Bactria, another fascinating Central Asian culture, one with which I became familiar largely through doing translation work (from Russian) for an archeology grad student.

The Tocharian language, of course, shouldn’t be confused with Tokharistan

I am always making that mistake. No wonder I don't get invited back.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

And there are well-known green eyed women from places like India and Afghanistan ( actor Aishwarya Rai and the refugee photographed by Nat Geo ).

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

Well, the name "Tocharian" is based on the conflation, so I'd say it's easily forgivable. ;)

Have you been? I had the opportunity, as an undergrad, to go on a sort of "Silk Road" organized trip thingy, but I'd have had to take out a loan to do it, which I managed to avoid doing entirely throughout college, which I'm glad about in the end. Plus I was really more hot to go to Russia and Eastern Europe anyway, which I ended up being able to do in grad school.

Have you been?
Only in my active fantasy life.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

Only in my active fantasy life.

Ah. I have taken the mental time machine to Ancient Bactria myself once or twice - in my imagination, at least, it is a very groovy place.

Bringing things back 'round to Vani Hari, she likes to exploit her Indian heritage as well as her looks for the sake of self-promotion, in a manner which is often hilariously stupid:

“Dad and Mom had my brother first and then, seven years later, me. They named me Vani, a name I hated as a child because my schoolmates made fun of it and no one could pronounce it. But in Indian, it means “voice”—how prophetic, because I’ve definitely developed one.”

Really? Her name means "voice" in Indian?

I imagine she is dumbing things down for her readership who would be confused by weird words like "Bengali" or "Gujarati" or whatever.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

@Krebiozen (and JP),
I think my interest in English history began with some encyclopedia articles I read as a kid. My parents bought a Book of Knowledge when I was born and I was curious what was in all the other volumes.
My mother used to say we were a "duke's mixture", that is Irish, Scots-Irish (I think she said Scotch-Irish), Pennsylvania Dutch, Swedish and some other mixtures.
You don't have to go back all that far to find that all Europeans are related.
http://www.stat.yale.edu/~jtc5/papers/Ancestors.pdf
And like so-called past life memories, people are more interested in their high profile ancestors. It probably helps that there are better genealogical records for the nobility as well. As least before the Catholic church started recording everyone's birth, very few people bothered keeping track of the bastard children of the village scrubwoman.

The Belgian example is gruesome and not all that long ago.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

We English did pretty well at treating everyone we could as badly as possible. For some reason we like to wallow in guilt over past atrocities. Does every nation do this? I remember reading that the Scots were originally from Ireland and that the Irish who came to 'Scotland' happily slaughtered the existing inhabitants before becoming the existing inhabitants. Humans....what a bunch of b&stards.

By NumberWang (not verified) on 22 Mar 2015 #permalink

It seems only fitting to feel some sort of contrition over the atrocities one's own nation has committed; I have to sort of wonder about people who don't. I mean, there are some truly great things about the US, some of which I didn't realize or appreciate until I started traveling to other countries, but it's also a nation built on slavery and genocide. One could point out, true, that most nations, historically speaking, have been founded on genocide and have engaged in slavery, but I don't actually benefit on a day-to-day basis from, say, the oppression of the Ainu by the ethnic Japanese.

squirrelite,

You don’t have to go back all that far to find that all Europeans are related.

Since the British Isles were uninhabitable for thousands of years during the last Ice Age, we are all immigrants. Even the Picts came from Europe. There was an interesting genetic survey recently that found that Roman, Viking and Norman invasions did surprisingly little to alter the genetics of people living in Britain.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 23 Mar 2015 #permalink

JP,

It seems only fitting to feel some sort of contrition over the atrocities one’s own nation has committed;

The sins of the fathers? I agree about contrition, though I also vaguely resent being held responsible for acts I did not and would not commit. As for righting wrongs, I struggle to know where to draw the line. Should the descendants of slaves be compensated? Slavery still undoubtedly has an impact that is visible today (also, let's not forget that slavery is alive and well in several parts of the world). For example, the Africans I know mostly have robust extended family structures, whereas the Caribbean people I know often do not. The phenomenon of the baby-mother (one man having several children by different mothers) in Caribbean cultures is a relic of slavery, which destroyed traditional cultural structures. Many of the problems experienced by the descendants of slaves are passed on from generation to generation. Some institutions and the wealth of some families are rooted in slavery. How should this be addressed, if at all? I don't know. I wish I did.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 23 Mar 2015 #permalink

I agree about contrition, though I also vaguely resent being held responsible for acts I did not and would not commit.

Yeah; it's not that I feel responsible for those acts, but I do realize that they created the world I live in and so, somehow, I'm a little bit complicit, even though I'd rather not be. I mean, I haven't exactly had it easy in life, and none of my ancestors were slaveholders that I know of, or anything, but I did eventually realize that I do have certain advantages just because I'm white and have a white-sounding name, for instance. It bothers me because it isn't fair, but I also don't know what to do about it.

You're both right and there's not much that we can do except express our discontent..

I've always thought that the efforts of governments have to be the answer:
if better educational opportunities are available to dis-advantaged people at least some of the differences will be addressed eventually. This will probably take centuries.
And the wealth gap between whites and blacks is achingly apparent in most western nations. Perhaps not as bad as 50 years ago but shockingly bad.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Mar 2015 #permalink

As long as we're on ancestry, mine too is a mixed bag. My mother did one of those genetic things, and we found out she has both Neandertal and Denisovan genes. She has some Tatar genes as well, no surprise with her blue eyes and red hair, especially as one line on her side is Hungarian Jewish, and some of Hungary's Jews were Khazars who went west with the Magyars.
Family legend is even more fun. Her paternal line claimed descent from Maimonides, which is cool enough, but it also makes me a descendant of King David.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 24 Mar 2015 #permalink

Since I couldn't attack Vani Hari's nonsense about the air on an aeroplane where she might see it, I went to a different post and recommended that she avoid eggs and bananas on the basis that they are "full of formaldehyde, even the organic ones". Hey, if the crazy lady wants to malnourish herself, then I'm just gonna help her! }:D

By Sheogorath (not verified) on 28 Mar 2015 #permalink