Thursday, 15 February 2018

It's Healthy Eating Week - but 53% of people apparently think that's bullshit

The Dietitians Association of Australia are a funny lot. Always cracking jokes that are subtle enough for me to wonder if they're taking the piss.

Healthy Eating Week is on this week and their marketing arm has decided that this stat is worth including in their promotional infographic:

I don't know about you, but if I was a member of a professional association whose primary role was to give advice on a serious matter, but less than half of people thought that advice was worth paying for, I'd reconsider the advice I was giving. Or my vocation.

Funny and insanely optimistic, perhaps.

The jokes only go so far, though, because being ridiculously inconsistent in your messaging is simply not funny.

For example, they devote a substantial amount of time telling anyone who'll listen that dietary methods such as paleo are not "evidence-based".

When a bunch of people repeatedly feel the need to tell you that their advice is evidence-based, the implication being that any other advice is bullshit, you have to wonder why they're so defensive and narrow-minded. I don't get it.

I guess it must be the 47% thing.

Anyway, back to paleo, the DAA are at great pains to have you believe it's utter stupidity.

"While the Australian Dietary Guidelines are based on strong evidence from more than 55,000 studies, a Palaeolithic diet has been studied in very few people and not over the long term."

"Excluding whole food groups is not wise, and strict followers may risk falling short on key nutrients.

Shit, even the Australian Medical Association President, Michael Gannon, thinks so - "exclusion diets never work"

But when's the last time you heard a dietitian saying that veganism or vegetarianism never works or hasn't been studied over the long term? 

The 47 per centers will have you believe that low carbers and paleo devotees are ignorant and will suffer serious health consequences for cutting out or reducing the only non-essential macronutrient, but yet vegans, for whom the word "extreme dietary practices" are a massive understatement, and whose eating patterns are potentially neurologically destructive, are given the touchy feely treatment.

It's so damn unfair! Ha ha. 

Which reminds me, back to the jokes...see if you can spot a couple here:

And...the most stable fats are? Well? Hee hee.

The DAA have a Healthy Eating Quiz which is too predictable to be funny. And I was stupid enough to waste 5 minutes of my life on it.

That last sentence is just weird.

0/12? Fuck you.

I can't remember where I saw this comment, but I had an unusually hard time figuring out whether she is serious or not. After looking at her website, I still can't tell. My hat is off to you, Ms Natoli. Bravo.

Thursday, 1 February 2018


It’s been more than 14 months since a certain person was elected as President of the US. If you regularly expose yourself to the mainstream media, that means you’ve been subjected to at least 20 months of daily news items along the lines of:

DT said this. Isn’t that awful.
TV host says DT is a knob.
Sports star says DT is a tool.
DT said that. How outrageous.
Evil sadistic witch lost election. Isn't that tragic.
DT causes cancer and eats baby seals for breakfast.
DT is a Russian spy.

The number of words typed and spoken on the subject is immeasurable. If you read or listen to one of these stories and your first reaction is to get angry and shout “yeah…right on. The world’s going to hell and he needs to go”, then it is my personal opinion that you are wasting your time and doing exactly what the people in power want you to do. This is not conducive to positive change.

I'm not saying that I think DT is a worthy head of state - I don't, but I don’t give a flying firetruck who is sitting in the white house because the people who have represent a long list of corrupt, demented sadistic arseholes whose achievements can be boiled down to one thing - ensuring rich people stay rich and everyone else can get forked. 
Google wants you to spend time reading this crap
I'm also not suggesting that people have no right to be aggrieved at who is running their country. Hell, my country is run by a pack of cnuts and the chief clown, our Prime Minister, is a former investment banker. How funny is that?  

Politicians are pricks. That should go without saying to a sane person, but the media will have you believe that the discussion of how big a prick the current leader is, is more important than our privacy, government-sanctioned murders, government policy that advocates physical and mental torture, and the fact that our every electronic move is being watched, recorded and sold to advertisers or spy agencies.

Call me extraordinarily paranoid if you will, but I imagine that these power-brokers, the faceless puppeteers that conspiracy theorists like me imagine are truly running our countries, are sitting around, pushing the buttons that control the media and the government and saying to each other “look at these dumb bastards, the country is drowning in debt, the farcical war on terror will never end because we don’t want it to, a lot of their people are starving and homeless and all we have to do is get one of our stooge ‘journalists’ to write a story about the president saying “shit hole” and that’s all they get angry about.”

'They' must be laughing their arses off constantly. The joke would never get old.

The propaganda machine is truly awesome in its reach and varied key players. Of course you'd be naive to think that it's just the news media that share an agenda with governments -  Hollywood and sources of celebrity get in on the act too. 

I love a good movie and there’s nothing much wrong with tuning out and watching 2 hours of a superhuman saving the earth and cracking witty one liners, but when you start to take seriously the biased mountain of exceptionalist bullshit that portrays the American war machine as an altruistic seeker of justice, I think you've got some seriously large blinkers on. 

No, I don't see myself as some wise, all-knowing intellectual. I am not the old fish in David Foster Wallace's parable. I just wish more people would turn off the screens that spew distracting crap and be a bit more discerning when it comes to their source of worldly news. 

It's really not that hard. 

Not news, but worth noting - pork belly is delicious

TLDRCGAF summary:

Politicians are scum.
Governments are not in the business of serving their people.
The media is a propaganda machine.
Hollywood is a cesspool of nonsense.
Celebrities are not more important than you.
If you want to know what’s going on in the world, make an effort to find the truth. Or at least an alternative view to the mainstream propaganda.
Pigs are delicious.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Goose stew and living with a racist

It's water fowl hunting season and the bird of choice, because they're by far the biggest and most numerous and therefore the easiest to shoot, is the magpie goose. Also known as Anseranas Semipalmata by bird geeks and Gurrumattji by certain Aboriginal tribal groups in Arnhem Land.
Prehistoric bird, apparently
Magpie Geese are an important food source for Aboriginal peoples of Northern Australia and also fill up the freezers of many non-Aboriginal people of Darwin and its surrounds. Traditionally, they are plucked, gutted and thrown on the coals and that's about as technical as it gets. The problem I have with this method is directly related to the fact that magpie geese are the leanest animals you are ever likely to eat. Tasty, sure, but invariably tough and chewy if you aren't a little inventive in terms of cooking method. The only thing you can conceivably do with the leanest part of the lean bird, the breast, is to slice it thinly across the grain and marinate it for flash frying. 

You may be thinking that you could cook it like like a duck breast, but you'd be forgetting that ducks have fat and these birds do not. None. Whatsoever. 

A box of geese...sleeping

a bag of giblets

My wife, an Aboriginal woman, grew up eating geese regularly and is more than a little set in her ways when it comes to preparing and eating them. They must be plucked, not skinned, and a goose stew is typically based on a soy and oyster sauce and vermicelli noodle concoction that tastes fine, but doesn't really float my boat.

While I would do many unpleasant things for my dearly beloved, plucking many large birds, when the skin is not something I consider a prize component, is not one of them. It's a shit job and I won't do it. Similarly, if I'm going to spend hours hunting and cleaning geese, I'll damn well cook them the way I want to. 

Well, not always, but I'm in the mood for exaggeration. 

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I retrieved a bag of geese limbs from the freezer and began preparing dinner. On observing me, the first and only question my wife asks is "are you cooking it white-man way or black-fella* way?" The inference, of course, being that 'white-man way' is clearly inferior.

It is so hard being a white man these days. The oppression and ridicule is barely bearable. But I pushed on, ignoring the racist remarks, and produced a meal that I was reasonably happy with. Sure, there is always room for improvement, but the meat was tender and the sauce had flavour. When you consider that magpie goose is often some of the toughest and most unforgiving protein you can attempt to use, I was more than a little pleased.

So, I was silly enough to ask my Black Queen - "what do you think, was it alright?"

Her reply "uh-huh, yeah, it was OK." The tone in her voice easily translated to "white-man cooking is shit". 

Ignore the racist** woman, if you've stumbled on to this page, looking for nothing more than a cooking method that will turn your lean goose limbs into edible food, here is the short answer:

Cook them in a pressure cooker for 75-85 minutes. 

75 minutes seems to be a sweet spot. I'll sometimes throw in some potatoes for an extra ten minutes. Whether you throw white-man or black-man ingredients in the pot is entirely up to you, but this is what I added:

Garlic, ginger, onions, carrots, chilli, anchovies, tomato paste, chicken stock, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red wine (after reducing by at least half) and some frozen veggies at the end because veggies are compulsory, apparently.
spot the fat

onion, garlic, chilli, ginger, anchovies

I did take a picture of the final dish, but it looked about as appetising as a tofu burger. All that matters is my trustworthiness and that I give you my word that it tasted fairly good and the meat was falling off the bone.

Here's a photo I took of a rock, instead.

*in this part of the world, black-fella is often black-Asian-fella due to the history of Chinese and other Asians' interaction with Aboriginals over the years. Hence the soy and oyster sauce and vermicelli noodles. No, I have no idea how the noodles worked their way into the recipe.

**the fact that I have to confirm that I'm not being serious here is more than a little depressing. The term 'racist' is one of many words that has lost its meaning due to over-use. A bit like "hilarious" and "best ever" and "news". In all honesty, I'm more prejudice against white people than my wife. 

White people are no good. Don't trust any of them.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

The brevity of life and first world problems.

I have problems. 

Everyone has problems, but on a scale of one to ten, with one being "I hate my job and I can't seem to save money for a holiday" and ten being "I live in real and daily fear of having a bomb dropped on my head and have no access to clean water and food", then my problems are about zero point six. And even that's probably an exaggeration.

I don't love my job, sure, but it pays well and I'm not digging ditches in the sun or bored out of my mind. And yet small talk in the office kitchen or elevator inevitably involves a comment from someone about how close it is to the weekend. We're all either full of shit or wishing our lives away without acknowledging how truly fortunate we are to be functioning human beings without real problems.

Mornings in my house used to be stressful because it'd invariably end in me yelling at my kids to hurry the hell up and get ready for school. I'd be stressed, the kids would be sad and it was all for nothing - because I had this inexplicable 'need' to get to work earlier than necessary. What an idiot.

I'm trying to make a concerted effort to live more 'in the now'. It's a work in progress, I admit, but I think I might get there one day.

When it comes to what I put in my mouth, I know for a fact that my body runs efficiently on animal flesh and the fat that comes with it. If I regularly eat bread, pasta, grains, my body lets me know that it's not happy by adding a few kilos to my waist and letting colds and flu past my immune security system. It doesn't matter how careful I am with portion sizes or exercise, that's what happens and that's why I don't do it. 

Luckily enough, I'm healthy and I don't suffer serious adverse effects from eating particular foods. We also have access to a wide range of tasty animals. Eating good food is a priority in our house so, once in a while, it's nice to let loose and eat something that I wouldn't normally. Like pasta. 

But not any shitty pasta with shitty ingredients. 

Some of the ingredients. 

Prawn heads in boiling water = easy prawn stock

bacon, onion, garlic, chilli, white wine, stock
Hairy fish = umami

Drinks break
Cream and parmesan cheese
Another drinks break
and served, of course, with:

Life is short. I have no real problems. In fact, I'm exceptionally fortunate to be able to live a little and indulge, once in a while. Monday will come, I'll go to work, and I'll still have no real problems.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Leaving money to the Heart Foundation in your will - are you sure? Really?

What people plan to do with money after death is clearly none of my business, but I wonder if they've really put much thought into the value-for-money side of things when deciding to leave money to charities, as opposed to, I don’t know, leaving it to family, friends or their cat.

Maybe I'm just a selfish, self-absorbed pessimist, but my observations tell me that the number of people, businesses and charities asking for money is beyond a joke. It pains my perpetually-oppressed white man sensibilities that I can’t walk into the bloody supermarket without first avoiding eye contact with the smiley young person asking if they can “ask me a quick question”.

Of course that 'quick question', that follows the first question, is nothing of the sort. It’s a scripted monologue about how the kittens with leprosy in Barbados won’t last another brutal West Indian winter without my monthly automatic credit card debits. Or some other vague but altruistic cause for which I’d be a heartless prick to say no to.

The ‘quick question’ eventually comes and it is simply “what is your credit card number?”

Fuck that. Fuck the smiley young person and fuck the cats. Yes, as a matter of fact, I can hear the little kitties screaming and I’ll still sleep very well tonight, thank you very much.

Which brings me to the Heart Foundation. It's my favourite charity. The very name sounds so noble and heroic. So what if their Heart Foundation 'tick program' is a transparently ridiculous sham? They need to charge food companies for it, otherwise they won’t have the funds to conduct research to save our hearts.

Our hearts, damn you!

Heart disease is responsible for more deaths than the US military. You’d be a sociopath to say no to such a wonderful cause. There's just that unfortunate fact that almost everything the HF espouse, is based on a massive pile of stinky, necrotic nonsense. In my opinion.

The Heart Foundation is one of our more well-known charities, operating for many years and with a string of greatest hits including Fat Clogs Your Arteries Like Sludge in Your Sink, Vegetable Oils Make Squeaky Clean Arteries, Salt, Salt, it's all your Fault.

One of the Heart Foundation's converted faithful - who is quite proud to be poisoning their customers

The HF have also formed partnerships with altruistic food companies to spruik wonderful new food stuffs with plant sterols that are no doubt slowly saving the population.

throw away your statins and eat this

a very interesting question

And so people hand over their money and add the foundation to their list of beneficiaries in their will. They participate in HF events like Jump Rope for Heart and MyMarathon. Yes, they even torture themselves to raise money for the cause.

But I have this feeling in my gut that a lot of these people don't really know where that money will end up. Funnily enough, the HF are not shy in telling us.

Is that true? Well, according to the 2016 Annual Financial Statements:

The HF did quite nicely in 2016, with a $22.4 million surplus for the year. They pay no tax of course, and had just under $34 million cash in the bank - as at 31 December 2016.

Of the $64.7 million they received in fund-raising for the year, $44 million was from bequests. 68% of their fund-raising comes from people who leave money in their wills.

That would be a fantastic statistic if you thought the Heart Foundation was spending that money wisely (i.e. good research), but when you consider their consolidated revenue was $81.6 million and $12.33 million (15.1%) was spent on research - it doesn't sound so crash hot. Especially considering they spent $15.5 million on fund-raising. 

Yes, they spent more on fund-raising than they did on research - surely you saw that in the bar graph above? They haven't tried to hide it.

But it gets worse. They spent $27.9 million on health programs. This might be great news if their health programs made sense, and I certainly agree that encouraging people to quit smoking and exercise is a good thing, but their major push in the area of nutrition is a massive counter-productive mountain of bullshit. 

$27.9 million or 43% of fund-raising dollars (or 63% of bequests) goes to funding, in my personal opinion, shit. It's not just a waste of money, it's encouraging people to avoid animal products in favour of sugar (digested carbohydrates) and vegetable oils.

Personally, if I were so inclined to sideline my children in my will, in favour of a bunch of obtuse clowns, I'd like my money to be going into valuable research. I admit to being sceptical about any research the HF consider worthy of investigating, but I was impressed with the microbubble clot busting thing. What else they've contributed to the world of cardiac health, is not so clear.

Rounding this up - I'm not saying we should all hoard our cash and not give it to good causes or those in need. I'm just saying that we should think before handing it over to a massive marketing machine that spends a significant amount of your contribution on their self-interest.

This is the world we live in now, and the HF has a lot to do with it:

Surely life would be so much easier if we all just used butter