Archive for the ‘General’ Category (feed)

Psychedelic vs Meta-Psychedelic

I do a lot of t-shirt design lately, which I enjoy immensely (possibly even more than making the collages that comprise the said t-shirts). On my store, I’ve separated my t-shirts as “pop art“, and “trippy“. The trippy ones are the t-shirt designs and collages that I call meta-psychedelic. They’re under the surreal category for sure, but they go a step further than traditional surrealism and towards psychedelia. But at the same time, they’re not these kaleidoscopic traditional psychedelic designs either. A more proper term would probably be “post-psychedelic”, but if the hippies of the world hear that, they’d be pissed off, so I think “meta-psychedelic” is a more universally acceptable term. So what exactly is it? Here’s the difference: traditional psychedelic looks is what you see after you get some low dosage LSD or shrooms (or some infused pot). Meta-psychedelia is what you could (potentially) be seeing when you breakthrough, with higher doses of shrooms, LSD, or DMT. The former just scratches the surface, while the latter goes deeper into hyperspace.



Is a veg*n lifestyle suitable for all?

A year ago on Youtube, a Philosophy professor asked if it’s ethical to eat meat. Here’s the video, and below, find my reply.

I’ll answer with some questions:
1. Is it ethical for an alien species to come and eat us? If yes, why is it not moral for us to eat an animal? If no, why do you apply your human morals to an alien species that you know nothing about?

2. Is it ethical for an animal to eat another animal? If yes, why can’t we? If no, who appointed you the evolution’s strategist?

3. Is it ethical for a species to eat its own species? If yes, why can’t we eat humans? If no, who are you to paint Komodo dragons unethical?

The usual answer to these questions is that “if you’re an intelligent species, you’re expected to adhere to higher ideals”. And my answer to the ethical and philosophical question posed by the video, is molded that way too: “if you’re evolved-enough, you could go veg*n”. But here’s where I part from all these vegans out there who are trying to push the vegan lifestyle to all humanity: not all humans are evolved-enough.

Our human condition is a mixed bag, there are trials and tribulations in each and every life. Some people need the vitamins, others don’t need them as much, others are in a spiritual path where they’re supposed to leave behind materialistic needs (such as good food), and others are just starting in this level of existence, living a rather animalistic life, and as such, we can’t ask them to just “go vegan” (it’s like asking a toddler to go work for a living).

In other words, the answer to “should we eat meat”, is “it depends“. Nothing is black and white, everything is grey, and it depends on the INTENT (possibly the most important factor), point of view of the beholder, evolutionary path, life goals, and many other factors.

So the right question should be, “are YOU ready to stop eating meat?”. And that’s a question that only YOU can answer. Deep inside you, you know if you should do it now, or wait a lifetime or two.

Aliens? On Earth?

Up to a few years ago, no one in the scientific world would even suggest that aliens exist somewhere out there. It would have been a career suicide. Today, it’s generally accepted that, mathematically-speaking, the probability of intelligent life out there is extremely high.

So where these aliens are then?

I’d like to believe they’re here. Simply because the opposite is too scary of a thought. If they’re not here, it’d mean that WE would NEVER be able to leave our solar system either. This means eventual death, since our species only thrives via expansion.

If on the other hand, there is a way to trick the natural laws and travel in vast distances (e.g. via wormholes), then that would mean that aliens ARE already here. Or have been here.

And honestly, I believe that the second hypothesis is true. The first one somehow makes no sense to me. Having no way to connect with others elsewhere, it would mean that this universe has a… bug in its design. That’s how I see it.

So, if these aliens are or were here, where the heck are they? Why are they hiding from us?

I think Star Trek has given a great explanation about this. According to the show’s Prime Directive, it’s best for each civilization to only be contacted once they have achieved “warp speed”. A similar Prime Directive possibly exists in this galaxy too, but I think that their rules aren’t about warp speed: it’s about proving that the civilization is not self-destructing. A self-destructing civilization means it’d be violent against other civilizations.

It seems logical to me that every single society that achieves technology, goes through what we’re now going through: massive man-made climate changes, exhausting and destroying the environment, life quality degeneration etc. We’re currently on the fast track to extinction, and THIS century is the MOST CRITICAL century in the history of the human kind. It’s a make or break century.

If we use common sense, we change our ways and we survive, then these alien civilizations will reveal themselves. If we do get self-destruct, then there was no point for them to make an effort to reveal themselves anyway. It’s not their job to save us, it’s ours. Their only job is to safeguard themselves and their allies. So it’s up to us to become galactic citizens, or return back to the caves.

Regarding obesity

Let’s address something here: obesity. I wanted to write about it for a while now, but this post on Reddit today convinced me to do so.

Please understand that this is NOT a hate post, because I’m obese myself. They’re my honest thoughts on the subject.

So, in the last few years, there have been a lot of social shift for obese people with messages leaning towards “be happy with who you are”, and “you are beautiful the way you are” etc.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but you are not beautiful the way you are, if you’re obese. You just have pounds and kilos of fat that’s killing you little by little (and I do too). You’re in danger. Not in a rainbow paradise.

There is nothing logical about glorifying obesity just so we can feel good about ourselves, and to fit in, and we feel accepted and all the rest that go with it. It’s in fact the pathetic way of going about it.

The reality is that we’re unhealthy, and we need change. I need that change too, but at least I’m not lying to myself that “I’m beautiful”. I refuse to accept *disease* as a normal way of life.

The Fall of the Bronze Age and Us

I was watching the Director’s Cut of “Troy” last night, so I soon got interested in reading about the Late Bronze Age.

Right about 1100 BC, all hell broke loose in the Mediterranean: there was massive depopulation & famine, ALL cities were destroyed and burned (not one was left unscathed, and some were burned up to 7 times!), and civilization almost disappeared (we have only small villages with very simple geometric art, while people forgot how to write). So basically, we’re talking about Greece, Asia Minor and Hittites, Israel area and Egypt, all but destroyed. That era is called the “Greek Dark Ages” or “First Dark Ages”, and archaeologists consider these 300 years as much more “dark” than the Dark Ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire 1500 years later.

Historians give a number of reasons why this happened: raids from the north and from the “sea peoples” (people of different origins got together to pirate), drought and other natural disasters.

Honestly, I think historians got the causes wrong here. Yes, these things happened, but they were not the root of the problem. I believe what happened is rather obvious after a bit of digging among geologists’ information instead: the mines in the Mediterranean ran out of tin!

Tin is a rather rare metal, and without it, they couldn’t forge bronze. Without being able to create bronze, in the Bronze Age, well, you have no Bronze Age anymore. You see, the whole high civilization starting in 3000 BC in the greater area was basing itself on bronze. When that went bust, their trades and economy collapsed. When economy collapsed, massive famine arrived. The ones who survived were trying to kill everybody else to get their hands to a little bit of tin that some might had left.

I base this opinion on the following:

1. There is absolutely no reason to completely burn all cities and kill so many people when you’re simply trying to conquer them. You only burn the cities if you don’t care about the cities, and you only care about what these people had control over that was of little availability: tin.

2. People from completely different nations coming together to pirate (“sea peoples”), only happens when the economy has collapsed. Humans of different origins don’t band together and choose violence, unless there’s no other way. Humanity 101.

And the most damning argument:

3. Iron was known as a metal that could be used by 3200 BC already (pretty much the same time that Bronze was becoming popular). But because it required a special furnace and smelting technique, iron was used very little by blacksmiths. The Bronze Age happened before the Iron Age simply because Bronze was simpler to deal with, not because they didn’t know what iron was.

So, there was no reason for people to switch to iron (especially because we would have to wait many more centuries afterwards to invent steel). And yet, we see a gradual turn from bronze to iron during the Late Bronze Age, despite the practical problems iron had. This to me makes it clear that the people simply ran out of tin, and they were FORCED to *slowly* turn to iron. In the meantime, until they got iron right, the Dark Ages were upon them!

Now, there’s a reason why I’m writing such a post here today.

Think about it for a moment: we have major civilizations that they based their successes on a single metal. When that metal went bust, so did their civilizations. The few who survived, resorted into extreme violence.

Always use History to decode the present and to get a good glimpse of the future.

So, does the above situation remind you of anything? Could this what will happen to us in as few as 50-75 years from now, when our fossil fuels go bust?

We’re in a similar boat, you know: our fossil fuels are going away rapidly, and our solar panel technology is not nearly as effective (the best ones only have 25% efficiency compared to fossil fuels, just like iron was difficult to forge compared to bronze).

Unless Lockheed Martin comes through big time with their announced fusion reactor, we should expect nothing but a similar result: the collapse of our economy, wars over the little bit of oil (and water) that’s left, and a rather Mad Max-like world.

So, I hope I’m gone by that time, and not be re-incarnated for quite a while. 😛

Regarding tap water & farmed fish

I wish some people stopped asking others to “not drink bottled spring water”. While bottling is indeed harmful for a variety of reasons, my health would be harmed even more if I was to drink that fluoridated, chlorinated, DISGUSTING tap water. So, no, I will not stop drinking spring water (bottled or otherwise), and I won’t stop buying wild-only fish (another such thing the same kind of people ask).

Farmed fish is in worse fate than farmed mammals are because it’s treated worse: it’s fed food that it didn’t evolved with at all, like soy and beef bone meal. At least the farmed mammals, while miserable in these nightmare farms, they eat food that resembles the food they evolved with.

So if you want me to drink tap water, the quality must become as high as spring water. And if you want me to eat farmed fish, then I need the nutritional composition, health of the fish, and feed, to be the same as in the wild. For example, farmed salmon is advised to be eaten *only* once a month, because even the government agrees that it’s a sick fish. While true wild salmon, it can be eaten daily, without any consequences (only benefits).

So, fix all that, and then we’ll talk. But under no circumstances I would put my own health into jeopardy just to be among the few who fight for environmental causes that never have any true impact. I have been very sick for 38 years, so now, well, now, it’s my turn to be healthy. Having spent 10 years of these 38 years in nightmare health situation, I now owe it to myself to get the best damn water/food I can. Even if it’s detrimental to the rest of the environment. At some point, being selfish only means self-preservation, and not necessarily arrogance.

So get off my face with your “bottled water is evil” shiz. I don’t care.

Are Smoothies Paleo?

Some say that smoothies aren’t Paleo, but I don’t agree with that sentiment. I would instead say that not ALL smoothies are Paleo, for example, the ones with just exotic fruits in them. I would also argue that it’s all fruit juices that aren’t Paleo, because they lack the fiber that stops fructose from running havoc in the body. But smoothies retain all fiber!

Yes, smoothies have more carbs than most Paleo meals (usually up to 30 gr net carbs, in the versions I make them as), but if you eat 80-100 gr net carbs per day overall (as I do — I will never go Paleo-keto again, I did that mistake once and I lost my hair), this fits perfectly into that diet regiment. Heck, I’m still low carb!

Smoothies are important in my diet for other reasons too: I get to add some powders that are not palatable otherwise (e.g. exotic berries that I can’t find in my grocery store, added fiber via psyllium husk, home-made goat kefir, goat whey, ginger & turmeric for extra health, ceylon cinnamon for extra blood glucose control), but most importantly, I pack my smoothies with GREENS, and often, other veggies too (e.g. raw carrots, beets). So basically, I get to eat more raw veggies this way!

If some fat is required on breakfast for satient/leptin/cortisol reasons, one can add a tablespoon of nut or seed butter in it too (except peanut butter, which is a legume and not a nut)! And sure, have an egg on the side too (why only have a smoothie?).

Having said all that, I would argue against the “Paleoification” of baked goods. These are not Paleo, even if they might be using coconut/almond flour and honey (which are Paleo ingredients on their own). When these nuts are flour-ed they become acellular (which is not so good to consume them often), when they’re baked they oxidize, and finally, honey loses ALL its medicinal properties when heated. So, for desserts, I would suggest people make RAW desserts (with the exception of adding some warm-ish grass-fed gelatin if the recipe asks for it), and even then, only ONCE a week, as a treat. Let green smoothies, or plain fruit, be your daily dessert otherwise.

How to make people give up processed foods

To make an educated guess or decision, you need to first have the educational part checked out. Unfortunately, for most matters, people don’t have the time or the interest to get “educated”, so they end up making bad decisions.

This is true for the subject of nutrition too. No matter the amount of “alternative blogging” and instagraming about how healthy Paleo is, the majority of people won’t follow it unless the government tells them so clearly.

This has worked with smoking. A lot of measures were taken against smoking in the last 40 years, however, one measure that is always omnipresent is that message of “Tobacco severely damages health”, on each and every cigarette product. It has worked for most!

What if we had something similar for all packaged food?

What if, we had an indicator score about the nutrition and anti-nutrition present in the said packaged food? For example, given that we know that wheat bread has many phytates, lectins, and other antinutrients going on, along with its capacity to bind into certain nutrients and neutralize them, it could get a score of, let’s say, 30 out of 100.

But kale or blueberries, having no major antinutrients to speak about, but instead having many nutrients, antioxidants, polyphenols etc etc, would get a score of, let’s say, 80 out of 100.

Yes, this would require re-sending all these products onto labs for full measurement on much more than just the 4 basic vitamins found on each label today (CoQ10, PQQ, iodine etc anyone?), but I’m confident that such a nutritional index could have such an impact.

I’m an artist, and it’s my job to know what makes people tick visually. Such a nutritional index could have huge implications in the decision of an individual to buy or not candy, donuts, bread, or cakes. When they can QUANTIFY how bad they’re doing diet-wise, then they have to ACT.

But right now, things are too abstract for them: eat this but not that, eat vegan not paleo, eat paleo not vegan, etc etc. There’s too much information flying from all over the place, so much, that most people simply prefer to shut out their ears and just ignore the whole thing.

But when they see an easy to understand number (without even knowing all the details behind it), clearly labeling the nutritional value of a product, they won’t be able to ignore it anymore.

Towards a more Pegan Diet

What do you know? I’m actually a Pegan (or as I call it, the Chris Kresser’s version of Paleo: Paleo +fermented dairy +some specific soaked beans +rarely some rice). Basically, in my updated Paleo diet regiment, there’s little red meat, due to it being loaded with sialic acid (which creates inflammation). As long someone doesn’t have Neu5gc antibodies or has Hashimoto’s, eating medium amounts of mammalian meat is not hurtful. But if you’re inflamed for no good reason (as I am), then taking out or reducing mammalian meat is probably the logical thing to do (poultry and seafood don’t exhibit much Neu5gc).

So here’s how I’ve decided a few weeks ago to go about it:
– 1 meal a week (probably Sunday lunch): mammalian pastured meat/offal.
– 1 meal a week (Wednesday dinner): organic poultry (I’d eat it more if it wasn’t so loaded with omega-6 here in the US).
– 2 meals a week (dinners): Wild fish.
– 2 meals a week (dinners): Shellfish (farmed ok).
– 1 day a week (3 meals on Monday): totally Vegan (detox).
– For the rest 12 meals in the week, I’m Vegetarian.

Plus, even just up to 40 years ago, my ancestors didn’t used to eat too much meat (they’d eat red meat 4-5 times a year only, poultry once a month, some fish from the nearby river occasionally), so I think this is what makes sense for me. My grandma lived such a life, and the first 20 years of my parents were as such too (even if they were goat & sheep herders!). Taking into account that I’m coming from steep, mountainous terrain that life hasn’t evolved much for thousands of years prior to 1970s (when electricity finally came about), it’s safe to assume that most of my ancestors ate that way too (soaked beans were a staple). So I believe it’s detrimental to my health to gorge on meat so much.

Living with $29 a week in groceries

Gwyneth Paltrow got a lot of heat lately, claiming that $29 a week (SNAP food stamps’ allowance) buys you enough food to eat. Her visual example of $29 in groceries was something of a disaster, showing… limes as a must-have food, and extremely low calorie density to the point of malnutrition.

So I put together a list of groceries that are both nutritious, and healthy. These items, calculated from prices found at the DollarStore, Walmart and other very cheap stores are on the bottom line of what’s possible for $29 a week, while staying somewhat Paleo (according to the Chris Kresser Paleo version that allows beans/rice/dairy). But in all reality, to really get proper nutrition, you’ll need about $50 a week. At $29, a lot of shortcuts had to be made.

So, in my list, you get 12,000 calories a week (1715 calories a day on average). According to this calorie calculator here, that’s (barely) enough food for a 6′ tall male, doing a job of medium activity (e.g. a cleaner). The average of “net” carbs are 157 per day, which is lower carb than the national average, but higher than a low-carb diet. Finally, olive oil was added to the calories consumed, even if olive oil was not calculated in the $29 per week limit. The reason for this is because neither Paltrow did calculate it (and it’s obvious that you can’t just plainly boil everything in her list and expect people to eat it as such). We should consider olive oil in this list, like we would also consider salt & pepper: “extras”, that are on everyone’s pantry by default.

So, here’s my $29 list:
$1.50, 1 lb lentils
$1.50, 1 lb garbanzo beans
$1, 1 lb white rice
$1.50 for 12 eggs
$1.50 for full fat milk

$3 for 4 frozen drumsticks
$2 for 2 cans of sardines
$1 for 1 can of tuna
$3 for 3 cans of shellfish (mussels, clams, or mix)

$3 for fruits (bananas, frozen fruits)
$8 for veggies (e.g. carrot, onion, greens, zucchini, potato)
$1 canned tomato sauce

Extra: Olive oil (20 tbpsoons a week)
Extra: salt & pepper

And here’s the actual nutrition breakdown (rice & beans are calculated as raw):

$29 a week

This is a very solid nutrition (MUCH better than the average Westerner’s nutrition), with only a couple of hiccups: more vitamin C is needed, and more vitamin E too (found only in nuts & seeds in ample quantities, which unfortunately are too expensive for this list). For these two vitamins, the person might have to supplement (if there’s no financial ability to buy nuts/seeds or more fruits). Also, supplementing in Magnesium and D3 are suggested for all people too, either poor or rich (most Westerners don’t get enough of it).

For maximum nutrition, here are some additional ideas:
– Boil the drumsticks for 3 hours on low, and keep the water (which is now bone broth). Using that broth, you can later add the tomato sauce, and some carrots, to eat with rice.
– Don’t drink the milk as-is: ferment it to kefir. Add the fruits and blend them with the kefir, as a smoothie for breakfast.
– Buy veggies in season for more variety and better prices. Get a bit of everything found in a plant: tubers, roots, bulbs, greens, fruits. Prefer greens though.
– Place the lentils and beans in water for 24 hours before cooking, to remove most of its lectins. Cook them in high heat for the same reason.
– While more expensive, always prefer olive oil to industrial seed oils. The money you would save buying seed oils, you’d pay later to doctors.

So, anyway, all this is kinda possible, but $50 a week per person is probably what’s needed for a more optimized nutrition.