Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gun Trafficking Democrat Honored By The Brady Campaign

Just yesterday I wrote about California State Senator Yee (D - San Francisco), who was arrested for corruption, bribery and gun trafficking.  Yee was famous for his anti-2nd-Amendment activism.  Now it turns out the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence honored Yee for his efforts.
For his commitment to ending gun violence, Assembly Speaker pro Tem Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/Daly City) has been named to the Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll by the Brady Campaign. The Brady Campaign will honor Yee and other state legislators from throughout the country who earned an A+ for working against gun violence at a reception during the National Conference of State Legislators in Nashville, Tennessee, on Wednesday, August 16, 2006.
That has to be embarrassing.



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More Rippetoe on PJ Media

I haven't written much the last few weeks, and in the mean time, Mark Rippetoe wrote three more articles in his series at PJ Media.  So, let's take a look at them in chronological order.  First, Coach Rip engages in a bit of heresy.
Not everybody that goes to the gym wants to lose weight. 
This may come as a surprise to some of you who either need to lose a few pounds or think everyone wants to be skinny. Many underweight men would love to be bigger, stronger, and more physically imposing, and gaining muscular body weight is a simple process. 
Popular culture is currently at war with the notion that a man should be big and strong, because popular culture is at war with the idea of independence and self-sufficiency, and a big strong man literally embodies the concept. 
We are inundated daily by print and video advertising, as well as by essentially every non-action/adventure film, with images of men who weigh about 150 pounds at 5’9” (that’s 10 stone 10 for the Brits, and about 68 kg at 175 cm for the rest of Europe). The image of Obama’s “Pajama Boy” is burned indelibly into the national conscience, but it made a very small blister. 
Ah yes, Pajama Boy, the ideal "Liberal" "man" - small, weak and completely dependent on government.

If you doubt Coach Rip's assessment of the popular desire to keep men weak, recall celebrity fitness guru Tracy Anderson, whose weakness regime, in which women never lift more than three pounds and men never lift more than ten pounds, receives plenty of breathlessly adoring media coverage.

Coach Rip goes on to explain his program for gaining strength and body weight, which in the simplest terms amounts to lifting big, eating big and getting lots of rest.
You go to the gym three days per week, and you do a basic workout that consists of squats, overhead presses, bench presses, deadlifts, and power cleans. You squat every workout, alternate the two press variations, and deadlift or power clean every workout. The lifts are easy to learn, and barbells are commonly available in gyms all over the world — and can be purchased for use in a home gym. Sets of five reps have proven to work best for our purposes. 
... 
The things your body needs to recover from the work are food and rest — lots of both. This is really the hard part. Most people find it easier to train heavy than to eat enough to both recover from the training and to build the new tissue that adaptation to the work requires. If you want to do a program like this for muscular weight gain, you have to eat more than you want to, more than you’re accustomed to eating — perhaps as much as 6000 calories per day for the few months the program will take.
He's absolutely right.  The gym work is the easy (and fun) part.  It's the recovery that gets me.  Getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep per day is almost impossible for me.  And eating that much is really difficult.  If you're a naturally skinny dude like me, that means eating a lot of fat, because fat is the most calorie-dense macro nutrient.  At least it's tasty!

But what if you're not a naturally skinny dude?  What if you need to lose some fat?  Coach Rip covers that in the comments.
Basically, a man who is already overweight (fat) is in a completely different anabolic state than a skinny underweight man. We advise that fat guys do the program on what is basically the Paleo diet, at about 3000kcal/day, as opposed to the advice for underweight guys, which is 4 meals/day and a gallon of whole milk. 
By the way, I'm lactose intolerant, so drinking a gallon of milk per day would kill me!  Fortunately, I've discovered that I can drink half and half or heavy cream without trouble.  Don't ask me why.  I don't understand it.  Also, the extra fat means I don't have to drink as much of it.

What about women?  Coach Rip doesn't address the ladies in this article, though he does promise in the comments to do so later.  I've never met a woman who actually wants to gain muscle mass, but some do for athletic reasons.



Do read the whole thing.

In the second article, Coach Rip addresses my favorite lift - the deadlift!
The deadlift may be the simplest and easiest exercise to learn in all of barbell training. You pick up a loaded barbell and set it back down, keeping the bar in contact with your legs the whole way.
That's probably why it's my favorite.
“Kinetic chain” is an exercise term that refers to the musculoskeletal components (the “links”) of an exercise between the load (the barbell) and the base of support (your feet against the floor). The kinetic chain in the deadlift is essentially the entire body, and everything between hands and floor is doing its anatomically-determined proportion of the work of moving the bar
....
Here’s the best part about barbell training: if you use good technique, your anatomy sorts out each body part’s contribution so that you don’t have to. 
These large exercises — essentially normal human movement patterns loaded with a barbell to make them progressively heavier — eliminate the need for dozens of smaller exercises, and the strength you obtain is directly applicable to your job of being an active human. 
That's why, as Coach Rip stated in an earlier article, isolation movements are a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the deadlift inspires fear in many people.  After all, there really is a risk of injuring ones spine during a deadlift attempt.  However, as Coach Rip explains, good technique is the key to safety.
Source: PJ Media
Exercise strengthens muscles. If an exercise requires that you use certain muscles to perform the movement, and the movement is performed correctly, then the exercise strengthens all the muscles used in the movement as you lift progressively heavier weights. Doing it wrong doesn’t count, because poor technique means some part of the kinetic chain didn’t do its job — it failed to do the work, and therefore didn’t get strong. The use of less-than-perfect technique allows some of the muscles to weasel out of doing their job, then they fail to get strong, and then they cannot do their job. 
In other words, if you want a strong back - and you should, if you want to protect your spine - you need to deadlift.  People of any age or athletic ability can perform deadlifts safely as long as they do so with good technique.  Even pregnant women can.  Aimee has through two pregnancies now.

Here's a side note on the subject:
The world’s second-best performance on Open Workout 14.3 was set by a 39-year-old athlete from Buford, Ga.
...
Steven Platek completed the same number of reps as worldwide winner Austin Malleolo, but fell behind on the tiebreak time. Malleolo finished his last set of box jumps in 7:07, while Platek finished them in 7:17.
By Workout 14.3, they mean the third workout of the 2014 CrossFit Open; the first step toward the 2014 CrossFit Games.  Workout 14.3 is a deadlift-intensive event.  You can watch a demo here.


Most men start falling apart physically in their 30s.  Mr Platek - and thousands like him - prove that isn't necessary, and strength training is the key to preventing that from happening.  This was my favorite part of the article:
Four years ago, Platek wouldn’t have been excited by a workout with a lot of deadlifts. The former self-described meathead hurt himself deadlifting in his old globo gym, and thought his heavy lifting days were over.
...
It wasn’t until a friend suggested he try CrossFit that he eventually started to lift again and work on correcting his technique.
...
Now, after years of deadlifting and focusing on technique, his deadlift one-rep max is somewhere in the range of 625 lb.
Again, good technique is crucial.  Read both articles in their entirety.

The latest article in Coach Rip's PJ Media series covers the strict overhead press.
Pressing a barbell overhead is one of the oldest exercises in the gym. It might well have been the first exercise invented after the first barbell was discovered. Since it is performed while standing with the bar in the hands — after the bar is cleaned from the ground to the shoulders, or taken from the rack at shoulder height — the entire body is involved in the exercise. From the floor to the hands, the job of pressing the bar overhead is shared by all the muscles in the body.
Notice a pattern here?  Every movement trains the entire body.
Due to a poor understanding of the mechanics of the movement, doctors and physical therapists commonly advise against performing this perfectly natural and perfectly safe exercise. The alleged problem is an injury known as “shoulder impingement,” and nothing could be further from the truth. The correctly performed press (incorrectly-performed exercises do not count) is not only perfectly safe for the shoulders — more importantly, the press is the best exercise for keeping shoulders strong and injury-free.
There's another pattern.  Ignorance of technique leads people to blame injuries on a movement that actually prevents injuries by strengthening the muscles around a joint.  A devotee of kettlebell training once told me the human body isn't designed to lift heavy things overhead with both hands, which is hilarious.  But even educated people (doctors and physical therapists) make similar mistakes.
Source: PJ Media
...what is the normal daily role of a “rotator cuff” muscle, and does it perform this function all by itself? Does it make your shoulder externally rotate, and that’s all? Or does it primarily function as one of several muscle groups that stabilize the head of the humerus in the glenoid, while also externally rotating the arm when you’re in a physical therapy office, lying on your side with a two-pound chrome dumbbell in your hand? The rotator cuff muscles are just another muscle group that helps hold the shoulder together, and they are best trained — and rehabbed — while performing this function. 
The press is precisely the movement that uses all the shoulder muscles in this manner. Since they are functioning simultaneously with the other muscles that press the bar overhead, they are both strengthened with and protected by the rest of the muscles that operate the shoulder girdle. This is their normal function — synergy, not isolation, and the best way to make them strong and healthy. 
This training philosophy is diametrically opposed to that which is most popular today - sitting at enormously complex, expensive machines and isolating the smallest muscles possible.  But if you think about it, it makes a whole lot more sense.


Gun Grabbing CA Democrat Charged With Gun Trafficking

As I've stated before, gun grabbing politicians desire "gun control" because they project their own lawlessness onto the rest of us. 
State Sen. Leland Yee has been charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption as part of a major FBI operation spanning the Bay Area, casting yet another cloud of corruption over the Democratic establishment in the Legislature and torpedoing Yee's aspirations for statewide office. 
Yee and an intermediary allegedly met repeatedly with an undercover FBI agent, soliciting campaign contributions in exchange for setting up a deal with international arms dealers. 
At their first face-to-face meeting in January, "Senator Yee explained he has known the arms dealer for a number of years and has developed a close relationship with him," an FBI affidavit says, noting Yee told the agent the arms dealer "has things that you guys want." 
Yee, D-San Francisco, highlights a series of arrests Wednesday morning that included infamous Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, whose past includes a variety of charges including racketeering and drug crimes. Targets of the early-morning raids appeared in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon. 
A 137-page criminal complaint charges 26 people -- including Yee and Chow -- with a panoply of crimes, including firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, and honest services fraud. 
Yee is charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms, as well as six counts of scheming to defraud citizens of honest services. Each corruption count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, while the gun-trafficking count is punishable by up to five years and $250,000. 
The charges are particularly shocking given that Yee has been among the state Senate's most outspoken advocates both of gun control and of good-government initiatives.
You can read the affidavit here.  In Yee's case, the motivation may be even more sinister than typical projection.  If Yee really is involved with a notorious Chinatown gangster and actually does know an international arms dealer, he may have desired to disarm law abiding people to protect his buddies.  After all, criminals prefer disarmed victims.

As disgusting as Yee and his fellow gun grabbing politicians are, at least we get to make fun of them.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

No Correlation Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

If you've been reading books and/or articles by Gary Taubes and watching documentaries like "Fat Head", you know an increasing number of scientists question the conventional wisdom that saturated fat is inherently harmful.  You also know that the conventional wisdom was completely different not so long ago, and that the current conventional wisdom hasn't done much good.

Recently, the NYT published an article on a meta analysis that demonstrates that there is no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease.
...a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events....
...the new research, published on Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, did not find that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat had more heart disease than those who ate less. Nor did it find less disease in those eating higher amounts of unsaturated fat, including monounsaturated fat like olive oil or polyunsaturated fat like corn oil. 
“My take on this would be that it’s not saturated fat that we should worry about” in our diets, said Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, the lead author of the new study and a cardiovascular epidemiologist in the department of public health and primary care at Cambridge University. 
... 
Dr. Chowdhury and his colleagues sought to evaluate the best evidence to date, drawing on nearly 80 studies involving more than a half million people. They looked not only at what people reportedly ate, but at more objective measures such as the composition of fatty acids in their bloodstreams and in their fat tissue. The scientists also reviewed evidence from 27 randomized controlled trials – the gold standard in scientific research – that assessed whether taking polyunsaturated fat supplements like fish oil promoted heart health.
So, if saturated fat is not the problem, what is?
The most damaging item here is the bun.
The smaller, more artery-clogging particles are increased not by saturated fat, but by sugary foods and an excess of carbohydrates, Dr. Chowdhury said. “It’s the high carbohydrate or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines,” he said. “If anything is driving your low-density lipoproteins in a more adverse way, it’s carbohydrates.”
Boy, that sounds a lot like what people who the dietary establishment maligned - like Dr. Atkins, Gary Taubes and Dr. Cordain - have been saying for years (not that they agree with each other on everything).  

What about other fats? 
The researchers did find a link between trans fats, the now widely maligned partially hydrogenated oils that had long been added to processed foods, and heart disease. But they found no evidence of dangers from saturated fat, or benefits from other kinds of fats.
1992 USDA Food Pyramid (Wikipedia)
Ironically, government dietary guidelines encourage people - in the name of health - to eat precisely the kinds of foods that increase heart disease.  Take a look at the old food pyramid we all grew up with.

2011 USDA My Plate (Wikipedia)
It recommends a maximum of 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and/or pasta (carbohydrates), five servings of veggies (carbohydrates), four servings of fruits (carbohydrates), three servings of dairy products (carbohydrates and protein [they recommend low-or-non-fat dairy]), three servings of meat (protein and very little fat, [they recommend lean meats]).  They lump fats and oils with sweets and tell you to "use sparingly", so we can neglect that.

In 2011, the USDA updated their dietary recommendations with their "My Plate" graphic.  It seems to recommend a little more protein, but it's mostly the same old story - lots of carbohydrate, little protein and almost no fat.

Furthermore, a large portion of those carbohydrates are made up of breads and cereals, which are most likely baked with hydrogenated vegetable oils, which - unlike natural saturated fats - really do damage your heart.

AHA Seal of Approval (Heart.org)
I don't mean to imply that veggies and fruits are bad for you because they contain carbs - far from it.  In fact, replace the grains with meat, and the USDA's "My Plate" graphic gets a whole lot healthier.

The American Heart Association doesn't do much better in their recommendations.  For example, let's take a look at some of the foods that bear the AHA's seal of approval.
Let’s look at the (ahem) nutrition in some of these heart-protecting foods.  In a serving size that provides just 118 calories (boy, that’ll get you through the morning, won’t it?), Honey Nut Cheerios contain 23 grams of refined carbohydrates.  Almost 10 of those grams are pure sugar.   A cup of West Soy vanilla soy milk contains 21 grams of carbohydrates, including 10 grams of sugar.  The instant oatmeal contains 31 carbohydrates including 12 grams of sugar, and the V-8 fusion juice may as well be a Coca-Cola:  25 grams of sugar in one cup. 
So well-meaning people filling their grocery carts with products bearing the American Heart Association’s seal of approval could easily end up on a diet high in refined starches and sugars and think they’re doing their hearts a favor.
Actually, it's even worse than that, because the serving sizes are unrealistic.  One packet of instant oatmeal or one cup of Cheerios would barely fill up my four-year-old.

The AHA puts its seal of approval on foods that are essentially refined flour and sugar with some hydrogenated vegetable oil for "good" measure.  Many ordinary people trust governmental organizations like the USDA, an non-governmental organizations like the AHA, to help them make wise decisions about which foods to eat to maintain or improve their health.  Clearly, those organizations are not doing their job.  And the results show in the chart I linked at the top of this post.  That, ladies and gents, is failure on a massive scale.

Mmmmm... steak!
This also highlights the backwardness of anti-meat hysteria.  Most saturated fats we eat derive from animals, either in the form of fat marbled into meat, or milk fat in dairy products.  Anti-saturated-fat hysteria often leads to anti-meat hysteria, which then leads to vegetarianism, or even worse, veganism.  As I've pointed out before, vegetarian/vegan diets aren't all that healthy, because most people who remove meat from their diets replace it with grains, not vegetables.

So, here's the bottom line: don't fear fat - at least not the natural kinds.  Avoid the chemically processed kinds of fats, like vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, etc. (you know, all the stuff they used to say was better for us), and enjoy the natural kinds of fats, like olives, olive oils, avocados, marbled steaks and butter (you know, all the stuff they used to say would kill us).

For a much more comprehensive discussion on the subject of fats from a dude who's been preaching this stuff for years, see Mark Sisson's Definitive Guide to Fats.  I also recommend his Definitive Guide to Oils.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mark Rippetoe on the Virtues of the Squat

You've probably heard and read the myth that squats are bad for your knees.  I wrote on this subject before, but now Mark Rippetoe covers it at PJ Media.
Squats are regarded as the basic lower-body exercise by strength athletes because nothing else compares to its ability to strengthen the structure of the knee — the muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments that form the knee anatomy. 
(image credit: Thomas Campitelli, The Aasgaard Company 2013)
 The muscles on the front of the thigh are the quadriceps. They attach below the knee to the “tibial tuberosity” — the bump at the top of the shin bone — just below the kneecap. When they pull this bone forward, the knee extends and the force at the tendon attachment is directed forward relative to the joint. In contrast, the hamstrings pull backwards on either side of the knee at their attachments, which balances the forward force from the quads. This happens in a correct squat when the hips move back and the torso leans forward. The balance of forces is optimum at a position just below parallel, and protects the joint so well that a correct squat can be safely performed even without an ACL. (I don’t have one.) 
Fortunately, I still have both ACLs, but I'm missing part a meniscus in my left knee, and squats like the one the lady in the photo is performing were a vital part of my recovery, and continue to be a vital part of my training.  I firmly believe they helped prevent further injury.

As always with Coach Rippetoe's articles, read the whole thing.

Jeff Gordon Pranks Journalist Who Called His Last Prank Fake

Remember that Pepsi commercial with NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon in which he took an unsuspecting car salesman for the test drive of his life?



Many, including me, thought it was staged.  Travis Okulski, writer for online car magazine Jalopnik, was one of those people.  So, Jeff Gordon played a similar prank on him, and the result is hilarious!


You can read Mr Okulski's account at Jalopnik.




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

15-Year-Old Boy Shoots Attempted Abductor

From K2 Radio in Wyoming:
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Campbell County sheriff’s officials say a 15-year-old boy fatally shot a man who was trying to abduct a woman in Wright. 
The shooting happened Wednesday night. 
Sheriff’s officials said Friday they had responded to reports of an attempted abduction at a home in Wright. They arrived to find 48-year-old Sammy Michael Fears, of Casper, wounded in the driveway. Fears died on the way to the hospital. 
It’s not clear how the teen became involved. Sheriff’s Cpl. Gary Sams says the teenage shooter had no family relationship to either Fears or the woman.He says Fears and the woman had a history of domestic violence going back a few years. 
Gillette media is reporting that the teen has not been charged.

Wyoming probably has the least restrictive gun laws in the US.  Its laws - like the US constitution - restrict the state, not the citizens.  Article 1, Section 24 of the state constitution states that...
The right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state shall not be denied.
According to the NRA...
Any person 21 years of age or older, who is not prohibited possessor, may carry a weapon openly or concealed without the need for a license. All non-residents must possess a permit issued by the state of their residence. A Wyoming resident may also apply for a concealed carry permit issued by this state in order to be able to carry concealed in those states requiring a permit.  
It seems like that's working pretty well for them.

One final thought: If this young man had shot up a school his picture would be on every front page, but because he committed an act of heroism with a gun, you'll never hear about him in the national media.  Does that seem right to you?