Hugh Daniel is dead – in frighteningly familiar circumstances

Hugh Daniel, a very well known hacker and cypherpunk, was found dead in his apartment a few days ago. Hugh was a terrific guy and a friend of all the world, the kind of cheerfully-larger-than-life personality that makes things a little merrier and more interesting wherever it goes. He’s going to leave a big Hugh-shaped hole in a lot of lives, including mine.

But I had a presentiment when I heard the first report of Hugh’s death, which was borne out when the first information came out about probable cause. Friends report that the coroner is fingering stroke or heart disease – but I’ve seen this movie before.

Because I’ve seen this movie before, I make a prediction. If they autopsy Hugh, they will find evidence of undiagnosed type II diabetes, non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, serious coronary plaque, and probably marginal function in the kidneys and other organs. He will present similarly to a victim of long-term, low-grade poisoning.

About three years ago, another friend of mine, a gamer named Richard Butler, died with these symptoms. The two were about the same age when they died; both physically large men with big booming voices, happily extroverted geeks with a knack for making friends wherever they went, and the kind of zest for life that can make someone seem unkillable.

And both looked prematurely aged in photographs I saw shortly before their deaths. The energy was still there, but in retrospect the body was beginning to fail.

I think I know what actually killed Hugh and Richard. I don’t think it was old age in the normal sense; neither of them was even 60, if I’m any judge. I’m sounding an alarm because I think a significant number of my peers could die the same, preventable death.

The medical establishment calls it “metabolic syndrome”. Or, sometimes, “cardiometabolic syndrome”, “insulin-resistance syndrome”, “Reuven’s syndrome” or “syndrome X”. It’s associated with hypertension, cardiac disease, obesity, and diabetes.

A significant thing about Richard and Hugh is that they were both large-framed men who carried, rather gracefully, an amount of overweight that would have looked morbid on a smaller physique.

Most doctors would observe this, shrug and say that the overweight is what killed them. And, as far as that goes, it’s probably not wrong. But I have come to believe that the actual underlying cause of such overweight and metabolic syndrome is fructose poisoning.

When I first heard that Richard had fatty cirrhotic deposits in his liver when he died, I didn’t know what that meant. A few months later I learned that this is what happens when the liver becomes overloaded with hepatotoxic compounds and secretes encapsulating fat to defend itself. Alcohol stimulates this response; so does the fructose component in sugar. If an autopsy opens Hugh’s liver, that’s what I’d bet they’ll find signs of.

The hepatic poisoning deranges half a dozen critical metabolic pathways. The secondary effects of the derangement are the whole range of metabolic-syndrome symptoms, including cardiac disease and diabetes and probably stroke as well.

People look at this and think “It’s just old age.” It isn’t. It’s almost certainly fructose poisoning. I think I’ve just lost my second friend to it. I don’t want to lose a third.

If you’re reading this, and you’re overweight, please cut the goddamn fructose out of your diet before it kills you. No more HFCS-laden sodas. No more white-sugar-from-hell desserts. You even need to back off the fruit juices; I used to drink a lot of apple juice, but don’t any more.

Watch the ingredients lists on what you eat. The liver’s ability to process fructose non-toxically is limited; nobody’s sure what the limit is and it probably varies, but most people who have looked into this think about 50g of fructose per day is the most you should risk. Sucrose (cane sugar) is 50% fructose; convert accordingly.

Becoming a no-sugar fanatic isn’t required. Whole fruit is reasonably safe because the fiber slows the fructose uptake, making it unlikely that you’ll hit your liver’s conversion limit. I have a cup of cocoa most nights, about 16g of fructose. Occasionally I treat myself to cheesecake or even baklava. The point isn’t ritual self-denial, it’s to not go over 50g a day.

Please do these things to live. And to not be fat as a whale. It’s not complicated or difficult, it just takes a little attention. And I’m tired of watching friends die needlessly.

UPDATE: I misremembered. Richard Butler wasn’t found dead, he died in a hospital.

178 thoughts on “Hugh Daniel is dead – in frighteningly familiar circumstances

  1. This is something I pretty much learned on my own. I found out I had the early stages of this sort of thing. I’d been drinking cocacola for years. I’m pretty much off of cola at this point. I have about one per month now. Trying to reduce all of my sugar intake in general as well.

  2. Meanwhile, Rome burns as the EFF attempts a rear-guard action against the NSA’s ever watchful eyes and ears.

    Open Source could help, of course. It is in a unique position to avoid just the type of software probe that binary software would otherwise often cloak.

    Wither Eric and his charge to the community of hackers on this front?

    BTW, it’s Hugh Daniels, not Daniel. People who actually knew him know his name.
    http://www.chuqui.com/2013/06/quick-note-for-folks-who-know-hugh-daniels/

  3. White sugar isn’t fructose, it’s sucrose — half fructose, half glucose. Honey has more fructose in it than table sugar (and agave nectar is even worse). Also, avoid most fruits. (I avoid fructose due to a GI absorption problem…).

  4. I lost 45 pounds in 6 months using an LCHF lifestyle (ketogenic diet). Lost 8 inches in the waist. 170/110 to 110/70 bloodpressure. Textbook lipids. Slimmer now than when I was in high school, 35 years ago. Oh, did I mention, no calorie counting, exercise, or starving. Yeah.

    I don’t think you go far enough by just accusing fructose. In the research I’ve been doing, it’s *all* carbs eventually, if you eat enough of them on the “Standard American Diet”. If you’re eating 150g of carbs a day (or more!), and you’re not simultaneously working that off with intense exercise, you are slowly killing yourself.

    Also, if you’re eating anything with an out-of-whack omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, you’re lining up for cardiovascular and artery problems. This *includes* canola, soy, corn oil, and margarine.

    Get healthy. Wake up to LCHF, or whatever works for you to get trim and be heart-healthy.

    If you want to do it the way I did, start here:

    So, the easiest way to get into low carb high fat (LCHF) is this page:

    http://www.dietdoctor.com/lchf

    and watch this movie (Fat Head):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evcNPfZlrZs

    plus his followup:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRkcSI9P1_I

    That movie is a followup to “Supersize me”, so it helps if you’ve seen that, but not absolutely necessary.

    And a compendium of good info (including links to recipes and more detailed explanations of why it works) is here (although gathered by a lay person, there are lots of doctors studies links):

    http://www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com

    For a more technical background about why it works, check out the series of FAQs and blog articles posted by Dr Peter Attia:

    http://eatingacademy.com/start-here

    The Reddit “/r/keto” community is very active (if you want a place to get support or questions answered), and has put together a nice FAQ as well:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/keto/wiki/faq

  5. FWIW, I cut way back on fructose at the beginning of the year. I’m by no means overweight, but I don’t want to be. I recently read an article on this about the connection between gout and fructose. So if you family has a history of gout, redouble this advice.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/336/7639/309

    This BTW is part of a bigger picture when it comes to dietary advice. The whole:

    weight lost = (calories consumed – calories burned) / 4000

    Is somewhere between deeply misleading and utterly wrong. Our metabolic systems are much, much more complicated than that.

  6. >I don’t think you go far enough by just accusing fructose.

    Randal, I agree with your advocacy of a high-protein, low-carb diet. But there seems to be something more specific and toxic going on with fructose than there is with other carbs. Too much glucose may make you fat, but it won’t put lard in your liver.

  7. Let me take this opportunity to point out that fructose has substituted for sucrose largely because of tariff policy that made the latter much more expensive. This is not the only case of such policies leading to bad outcomes.

  8. We discussed this subject briefly last year. It is odd that this isn’t common knowledge.

    People like sugar. I prefer the taste of sucrose over artificial sweeteners.

    Is glucose a good substitute for sucrose? Does it taste like “sugar”?

    It can be produced by using enzymes to cut up starch and, in principle, cellulose, both being polymers of glucose and fructose, although I imagine the cost is much higher than the extraction of sucrose from sugar cane and sugar beets. Could the cost of producing glucose be reasonable relative to sucrose (or sucrose and living longer) if there was enough demand for it?

  9. Oops… it seems that starch and cellulose are polymers of just glucose, joined by an oxygen.

    In high school I screwed around with trying to make glucose from cellulose using an acid – it only barely works, the way I tried it. Enzymes are the way.

  10. I’m from Hungary, but I’ve visited the US a few times. The amount of sugar in the food there is shocking. You’ve got sugar even in the bread! Some friends of mine went to live in Florida, they like it very much, but they keep complaining about the food. Anything they buy in a normal supermarket is just crap, full of sugar and preservatives. So their only option is the organic market, and not because they are tree-hugging dark-green liberals.

  11. Easiest way to reduce fructose intake for the wast majority: Water instead of sugared soft drinks. Lay off the Diet sodas – they fool you into craving more sugar in other forms.

  12. Robert Lustig “Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar” is a good read in this regard. He explains with biochemistry why fructose is a poison in high doses. His 90m lecture got 3.5M views on youtube in 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    Personally, I’ve found it almost impossible to convince people that freshly squeezed orange juice is about as unhealthy as Coca Cola.

  13. Nutrition is an area that’s been of particular interest to me (not for any personal reasons, just from curiosity), and I’ve looked at quite a range of materials. I’ve found Gary Taubes and Michael Pollan enlightening, and William Davis and Robert Lustig informative in specific areas. I highly recommend reading all of their work, but here are the conclusions I’ve come to, and I’m interested in diffs from other interested people:

    * The proximate cause of metabolic syndrome (as good a phrase as any) is excessive insulin exposure, leading to insulin resistance in muscles and other active tissues and consequent sweeping of glucose into adipose tissue (and residue in the arteries).

    * The core strategy for maintaining a healthy metabolism and body composition is to limit the intake of simple carbohydrates. Additional useful practices for increasing insulin sensitivity are helpful.

    * The body treats some specific substances as information about external circumstances and directly or indirectly triggers metabolic rules in response to them:

    – Lactose causes a disproportionate insulin response, possibly because the body is programmed to consider it a signal that you’re an infant and need to store away as much fat as possible.

    – Fructose goes straight to the liver and is immediately converted into fatty acids, presumably since in the EAA fructose consumption meant that it was summer and food was easy to come by.

    – Short-term (24-hour) deprivation of certain amino acids (possibly just lysine) trigger a prompt garbage-collection response from the body that may be responsible for the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction.

    – Certain glutens present in Triticum aestivum but possibly not present in older varieties of wheat appear to enter the body as active proteins, causing a number of destabilizing responses. In particular, there appears to be one gluten protein, possibly developed or amplified during the intensive selective-breeding program that produced dwarf wheat in the 1960s and 1970s, that is active on the opioid receptors in the digestive tract and brain.

    Based on all of this, I’ve become a proponent of the Slow-Carb Diet as described by Tim Ferriss in The Four-Hour Body (which I recommend generally); it does a good job of balancing occasional indulgence with routine sensible eating to produce a healthy diet that’s realistic to stay on long-term. (A cyclical ketogenic diet may be even better from a health perspective, but I find it hard to manage adequate intake without legumes.)

    Opinions?

    (Eric, does your WordPress install permit ul/ol/li? WP doesn’t appear to by default, and I didn’t want to wall-of-text my formatting.)

  14. When I was a kid, most fruit juices were made from concentrates and were never exactly diluted back to ‘normal’. I found them too sticky-sweet, so I got into the habit of diluting them half&half with water. I guess that helped me dodge a potential bullet.

  15. Gary Taubs’ “Why We Get Fat” makes the case against carbs in great detail, but his conclusions are that limiting sugar is not enough; starches are just as bad. He includes a couple of low-carb diets in the back of the book, which make it impossible for me to take the whole thing too seriously. I can see the logic of cutting out the sugary sodas, cakes and ice cream, and cutting down severely on the bread…but if anyone thinks that I’m going to cut out normal foods like potatos, beans and carrots, they can think again. There’s a long history of ‘don’t eat this’ fad diets. They come and go. I’ll wait this one out.

  16. but if anyone thinks that I’m going to cut out normal foods like potatos, beans and carrots, they can think again.

    Amusing that you simply assume that potatoes and beans-as-we-know-them are “normal” foods when they weren’t introduced to Europe until the Renaissance. What gives them a pass? Potatoes in particular are nothing but big balls of starch, and they’re nearly as effective at raising blood glucose levels as drinking glucose solution directly, and carrots have quite a bit of starch load (though they’re usually combined in ways that mute the glucose rise). Most bean varieties are another issue entirely and can work quite well in a low-blood-sugar but non-ketogenic diet.

  17. Two suggestions for those that want to lose weight:

    1. Weight Watchers. It works – dropped 14% of my starting weight at a rate of two pounds a week. My problem in trying to lose weight was not eating enough – the body goes into starvation mode if you don’t eat enough and you might even gain weight on your diet. You can eat anything on Weight Watchers but you keep track of amounts so that you are in the sweet spot of eating enough but not too much.

    2. Stop buying bread at the store and get an automatic bread machine. They can usually be found nearly unused for ~ $20 at auctions or consignment stores. Most bread you find at the supermarket is crap loaded with high fructose. With a bread machine you can use your own high fiber / low sugar recipe and it smells nice while it’s baking. Takes about five minutes to put the ingredients together and three hours later fresh bread.

  18. Been doing Taubes derived low carb paleo type eating. No agricultural grains has made a big difference. More lately the 5:2 fasting diet. That is 2 non sequential days of low caloric intake of about 600 calories for men, 500 for women, with regular eating the rest of the days. The low days are enough to suppress growth factors such that your body repairs rather than replaces cells. There is BBC TV program by a guy named Mosely about it and several books on Amazon. I eat little meat and lots of vegetables.

  19. Intermittent Fasting of the Leangains.com variety has done good things for me.

    Basically fast for 16 hours (8 of which you sleep), then have an 8 hour eating window. Eat higher carbs on strength training days.

  20. “Amusing that you simply assume that potatoes and beans-as-we-know-them are “normal” foods when they weren’t introduced to Europe until the Renaissance.”

    Amusing that you only consider foods “normal” if they come from Europe. The discovery of the Americas and the resulting trans-Atlantic commerce did wonders for everyone’s diet. Potatos, beans and corn (another starchy no-no) were normal enough for the residents of the western hemisphere long before Columbus arrived. I’m not giving them up; they’re delicious.

  21. Three or four years ago, I lost 25 pounds on the South Beach Diet, and I have kept it off. I eat a variety of foods, I have changed my behavior to avoid very fatty and very high carb foods. I also switched my soda consumption to diet.

  22. Potatos, beans and corn (another starchy no-no) were normal enough for the residents of the western hemisphere long before Columbus arrived. I’m not giving them up; they’re delicious.

    Of course potatoes and maize are delicious; they’ve been bred to be so due to easily digestible carbohydrates. Neither the modern potato nor modern maize particularly closely resembles the crops the Incas and other Americans were growing, and maize was universally processed through nixtamalization, which may serve to blunt its glycemic impact. Furthermore, there’s convincing evidence that an appropriately physically demanding lifestyle (such as, for example, carrying goods and children up and down mountainsides) avoids metabolic syndrome by keeping room in the muscles’ glycogen tanks.

    I don’t consider the Enlightenment European diet to be some sort of privileged default, but you dismissed bread as somehow “unnatural” even though it’s been a staple of the human diet for millennia. Bread has since changed on us, but so have potatoes and maize.

  23. LS: “Potatos, beans and corn (another starchy no-no) were normal enough for the residents of the western hemisphere long before Columbus arrived”

    So were buffalo. According to noted anthropologist Jared Diamond, every culture that switched to grain agriculture had reductions in average stature and increases in chronic diseases of malnutrition.
    http://www.ditext.com/diamond/mistake.html

    ESR: “Randal, I agree with your advocacy of a high-protein, low-carb diet.”

    Read more carefully, Randal said LCHF not LCHP. Most people will eat about 15% of calories from protein if left to their own devices. You can go up to about 20% if you push it, but it’s hard to get much higher than that, and a lot of people start getting digestive problems when they push it that high. If you cut out most of the carbs from your diet, you need to replace it with fat.

  24. I met Hugh Daniels a few times; he once crashed on my couch. I suppose I could take this as a warning.

    But… I violate nearly all the diet rules suggested above, and seem to be getting away with it.

    Sausage, baked potatoes, cheese, and bread. (OK, the bread is Slavyansky Rye from Val’s Ukrainian Bakery.) Frozen pizza. Fried chicken. Ice cream. Diet pop. Canned soup. And beer.

    It’s not all bad: some fresh fruit (bananas and plums), and salads with lots of sweet and spicy peppers. (Make ’em myself – at least five kinds of pepper.) But on the whole…

    What’s the result?

    I’m 58 years old, 5’11, 175 lbs. I can run a 9 minute mile and bench press nearly my own weight. I rarely have colds, flu, or digestive trouble. No gout or arthritis.

    Which shows, I guess, that with the right genes, the problems aren’t there. “Just lucky, I guess.”

    (The HFCS issue is still a huge problem, both heathwise and fiscally, I wonder what would happen if a Presidential candidate or party made repealing the restrictions on cane sugar and the subsidies for corn sugar a major platform plank.)

    (Another issue is omega-6/omega-3 intake, There were some pretty convincing studies indicating that omega-3 deficiency causes or enhances neurological problems including impulse control; it was also suggested that omega-6 consumption aggravates it.)

  25. Chris Caudle writes:

    Read more carefully, Randal said LCHF not LCHP. Most people will eat about 15% of calories from protein if left to their own devices. You can go up to about 20% if you push it, but it’s hard to get much higher than that, and a lot of people start getting digestive problems when they push it that high. If you cut out most of the carbs from your diet, you need to replace it with fat.

    Hard to get above 20% protein?! My intake ratio, when I’m really paying attention to my (paleo) diet, is about 10% carb, 55% fat, 35% protein. When I’m being lazier about what I eat I probably go somewhat higher in carbs, but if I spent a few days only eating 20% protein I don’t think my brain would still operate.

  26. Appears the problem is caused or exacerbated by a fructose-to-glucose ratio significantly greater than unity, so thus I can continue drinking my pineapple juice.

    This jives with my experience. Long ago I stopped consuming foods with a high ratio, and my health improved and vigor returned to youthful. Many people comment that I look 30s even though I will be 48 this June.

    Thanks for raising awareness of this.

  27. @JustSaying
    “This jives with my experience.”

    If something “jives” with your experience, then your experience tells you that it’s jive-ass BS. That is probably exactly the opposite of what you probably meant. I believe the word you mean to use there is jibe: “to be in accord : agree”.

  28. @Rich:
    >The HFCS issue is still a huge problem, both heathwise and fiscally, I wonder what would happen if a Presidential candidate or party made repealing the restrictions on cane sugar and the subsidies for corn sugar a major platform plank.

    Can anyone explain to me how HFCS is supposed to actually be worse than cane sugar? As I understand, the fructose/glucose ratio in HFCS as typically used in foods is around 50/50, and sucrose breaks down into a 50/50 fructose/sucrose mixture during digestion, so there’s no difference between the two in the bloodstream, as far as I can tell. If it’s fructose/glucose ratio that’s the issue (as esr and some others seem to think), then we should be replacing HFCS with LFCS, not cane sugar. If it’s just total sugar load that’s the problem, then by all means let’s eat less sugar. But I can’t see how there can be anything but superstition and young wives tales behind HFCS being Completely Evil ™, while cane sugar is OK, or at least much less bad.

    If HFCS is Completely Evil, then so is cane sugar. If cane sugar is OK, then so is HFCS (at least with the fructose/glucose ratios that I understand to be generally used).

  29. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has hypothesized that Hugh might’ve been killed by the American carbivorous diet. The last time I saw him we went out for Chinese food, the subject came up because he was eating the rice that I was shunning as poison. I wish the topic had come up a decade ago, but I didn’t even start thinking about nutrition until I read Diamond’s views on agriculture, summed up in the article linked above.

    I never knew RIchard Butler, but many of my friends knew him well. I did know Hugh Daniel, for pretty much as long as I can remember. It’s hard to imagine the world without Hugh in it, and I have to wonder whether he ever imagined such a place. I’m going to miss him for a long time to come.

  30. Appears the problem is caused or exacerbated by a fructose-to-glucose ratio significantly greater than unity, so thus I can continue drinking my pineapple juice.

    Not supported by the link. The article talks about indigestion caused by difficulties in intestinal absorption; the phenomenon we’re concerned about is the excessive load on the liver and the rest of the body due to successful absorption.

  31. R. Dick: If you’re going to be a dick, then at least get your facts right. People who knew Hugh Daniel will have undoubtably heard him joke about how it’s a good thing he’s the singular “Hugh Daniel”, because the world is not big enough to hold more than one of him.

    The first time I saw Hugh was at Tech Square in the MIT AI Lab, where he was demonstrating Xanadu on an Ann Arbor with Ted Nelson and his crew. Hugh was wearing one of those Xanadu baseball caps with wings on them, and of course he made a strong impression at the time, as he does with everyone: waving his arms around and extolling the virtues of hypertext. He was totally right about that, and years ahead of his time.

    Later on, he became involved with the NeWS window system, attending Sun Users Group conferences and NeWS birds of a feather sessions, and contributing his enthusiasm, knowledge and code to the news-makers mailing list that I ran, including his delightful “colortool” that let you set the color scheme to “rainbow colors”: http://www.donhopkins.com/home/archive/NeWS/news-tape/utilities/colortool/colortool

    We had a great time working together at Wedge Computer in Cambridge MA, porting NeWS to the Mac and some special hardware they were developing, and he “managed” me (ha ha ha) developing a terminal emulator written in PostScript, that he insisted support a bunch of his favorite AAA escape codes. And we also had a lot of fun working together for John Gilmore’s company Grasshopper Group in San Francisco CA, porting NeWS to Mac AU/X, and developing another superior and efficient terminal emulator and PostScript previewer.

    John Gilmore invented a special hand signal (that I am not at liberty to disclose, because he trained me to respond to it too) that he used to remind Hugh that he was being boisterous and should lower the volume down a bit. There were many times he had to use it when both Hugh and I were in the same room together, ranting about something we were both passionate about.

    Last time I was in the bay area a few months ago, I was lucky enough to go to a party he threw at his house in Pacifica, that happened to be on my birthday. I saw lots of old friends I hadn’t seen in many years, and Hugh made me a fluorescent rainbow colored rice crispy treat birthday cake illuminated with FreeSWAN LEDs!

    He was still the exact same kind happy enthusiastic brilliant guy I always knew, and I am very grateful I got to see him again in his natural element and with all our mutual friends, before he unexpectedly passed away. I’ll miss him…

  32. Hugh made me a fluorescent rainbow colored rice crispy treat birthday cake illuminated with FreeSWAN LEDs!

    This sounds like it calls for a story! How did FreeS/WAN and the LEDs go together?

  33. It seems that every time I go to the US I put on some weight. I think this is partly because when I visit I tend to eat out more and US restaurant portions are HUUUGE, I also exercise less but I do notice how sickly sweet all sorts of food is in the US compared to Japan or Europe.

    I believe that this is partly because the US medical establishment got all worked up about fat being evil so food manufacturers created low fat versions of stuff. Unfortunately low fat regularly sweetened versions of things tend to taste like cardboard and the US demonization of salt is almost as bad as its demonization of fat. As a result pretty much the only thing food makers could add to their products that made them taste nice was sugar (and as mentioned somewhere above, US farm subsidies/ag tariffs meant that HFCS was cheaper than regular sucrose – it is also sweeter so you can have more sweetness with fewer calories).

    I will say though that I don’t bother with any diet particularly simply because I do a lot of exercise. For people who aren’t yet obese (evidence suggests that the metabolism does a one way step change when you get sufficiently overweight) adding soem exercise every day or two should be a no brainer. Not only do you get to add muscle you also get (assuming your exercise is outdoors) vitamin D. Also IMHO a bit of time spent away from glowing rectangles is a good thing and helps make your time staring at said rectangles more productive…

  34. I’m 58 years old, 5’11, 175 lbs. I can run a 9 minute mile and bench press nearly my own weight.

    Huh. I wonder if the amount of effort in keeping the ability to run that pace and the moderate weight lifting is what’s keeping you more fit?

    Nah. Couldn’t be.

    Mr. Daniel(s), from all appearances, live the way he wanted to right up to the end. He didn’t spend 5 years in a nursing home catheterized and eating mush. As far as I’m concerned that’s a win.

  35. @FrancisT:

    I believe that this is partly because the US medical establishment got all worked up about fat being evil so food manufacturers created low fat versions of stuff.

    Yup.

    The funny thing is I see the Paleo “community” doing the same stupid shit. Making paleo pancake/waffle batter by blending bannannannass and eggs and stuff and then frying them in coconut oil. Probably yummy, and if your concern is wheat gluten maybe it’s a good thing, but you’re breaking the fibers in the bannannannannass giving you a similar (though slightly muted) sweetness and insulin response.

    Look, 100 years ago life was, relatively, hard. You didn’t have electric blowers on your Central HVAC system. In fact the H was probably a stove, fireplace or (for the advanced) steam radiators. The V was opening a f*ing window and the AC was “What? WTF are you talking about”. Just the effort of keeping warm burned a lot more calories than we’re used to. And most folks walked to work, or rode a bicycle–even if you rode the train you walked there and to the factory/store/office. We chopped wood, we barely had indoor plumbing and electric light was still scarce.

    100 years we’ve gone from houses that got frost on INTERIOR fixtures in winter to houses that never get below 65 degrees unless the power goes out or the furnace breaks.

    When’s the last time y’all chopped a cord of wood? When’s the last time you had to do it or freeze to death?

    We can’t eat like we did 100 years ago and NOT put on weight. We have also made a lot of bad choices in our industrial food sector (HFC, “low fat”, fast rise yeasts, trans fats, hyper palatable foods etc).

    But live w/out pizza and ice cream?

    Phuck dat noise.

  36. Huh. I wonder if the amount of effort in keeping the ability to run that pace and the moderate weight lifting is what’s keeping you more fit?

    Nah. Couldn’t be.

    There’s quite a bit of evidence that even rather light muscular exertion–about 25 pushups or 35 squats with only body weight–is enough to sensitize muscle cells to insulin enough to divert at least some blood glucose into muscles instead of fat cells. And, of course, most Americans don’t even usually get that much…

  37. Live some place where you can walk to the grocery store.

    If it’s not made from something in the produce aisle, or the meat department, it’s not really food.

    If it has an advertising campaign you can remember, it’s not really food, because real food doesn’t store in convenient portions that well.

    Eat more fiber. All of the “rice/wheat/corn/etc is evil” rhetoric can be shot in the head and buried behind the woodshed if you eat it with enough fiber to slow down the glucose absorption. Seriously, if you can get a glycemic hit and insulin build up off of brown rice or steel rolled oats, I think medical science wants to meet your pancreas.

    Avoid anything with HFCS. Standard HFCS is 57% Fructose, 43% glucose. The HFCS they use in sugary drinks is often more than 65/30/5% artificial sweetener.

  38. I’ve been thinking about this most of the afternoon, and I think I can refute the “fructose poison” hypotheses in favor of the “ate too much crap and didn’t move enough” hypotheses (he says as he sits at the computer with the empty ice cream bowl beside it).

    I spent the previous 2 years in Australia, and while on the whole they’re not a fat as Americans, they are heading that way. I am also given to understand that Europe is getting fatter and both continents are starting to have the heart disease and metabolic syndrome just like America.

    The thing is that in Australia it was actually difficult to find stuff sweetened with HFC. I drank a LOT more cola there than here because it was Real Sugar (TM) and it just f*ing tasted better. Here in the US when I get the jones I usually get a Coke(tm) bottled in Mexico because it’s worth the extra coin for the better flavor.

    From what I remember of Italy (which was only 3 weeks, and not representative) they didn’t do a lot of HFC either. I understand (and could be wrong here) that most of Europe still does Real Sugar.

    All three cultures are eating more processed food and more flat out crap, the only difference is that we put HFC in it, and we’ve been doing it longer.

  39. @William:

    I agree with you in not finding fructose alone to be responsible for the cluster of issues that generally fall under “metabolic syndrome” (obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease), but the evidence is quite strong that fructose is largely, possibly entirely, responsible for fatty-liver disease, and it contributes disproportionately to fat accumulation.

    The United States is basically the only country that makes extensive use of HFCS, and that’s because the federal government artificially keeps sugar prices several times higher than global market levels. Metabolic syndrome has been seen in other cultures before, however, when wheat or other starch was introduced even in the absence of sugar (notable examples include several Native American tribes), and so fructose alone does not appear to account for the systemic effects.

  40. Like Atul Chitnis, I didn’t know of Hugh Daniel before his death, and like Atul Chitnis it saddens me that I didn’t.

    Especially since, in light of the NSA infocalypse, we need guys like him around.

    That said, cutting out easy sources of sugar (low hanging fructose?) is part of Phase I of Stop-Eating-So-Much-Fucking-Food-A-Genix (my proprietary, revolutionary new dieting fad/cult). And it’s been a big help so far.

  41. The United States is basically the only country that makes extensive use of HFCS, and that’s because the federal government artificially keeps sugar prices several times higher than global market levels.

    The elephant in the room here is normalizing trade relations with Cuba. HFCS only became a widely used thing after the United States embargoed Cuban sugar.

  42. Jeff Read: Cuba trade embargo happened in 1957. HFCS really came into its own as a food additive in the late 1970s.

    The benefit of HFCS as a food additive is that it’s absurdly cheap, and the 57/43 mix sweeter by about 12% per unit volume than sucrose. (The same companies that are peddling HFCS are also trying to get regulatory approval for pure fructose extract as a sweetener, which is about 20x sweeter per unit volume than sucrose.)

    HFCS gets put into everything – even savory stuff, like commercial spaghetti sauces – because it “wins taste tests” even when you can’t taste the sweetness. Sucrose would have the same effect. Sweet also masks the taste of salt. The salt still makes you thirsty…and salt content has been increasing in most sodas.

    So, add salt, add HFCS to mask it, customer drinks, gets thirsty sooner, drinks more. And we get profits for beverage makers.

    We’ve also removed most dietary fiber from processed foods. Fiber spoils. We’ve tried removing fat and salt – which makes processed food taste like cardboard. So, add sugar so people will eat it and it’s cheap.

    If you aren’t using something from the produce aisle or meat section of your grocery store, it’s not really food.

  43. >From what I remember of Italy (which was only 3 weeks, and not representative) they didn’t do a lot of HFC either. I understand (and could be wrong here) that most of Europe still does Real Sugar.

    Remember that sucrose is half fructose. You can get fructose poisoning from eating too much cane sugar.

  44. Not supported by the link. The article talks about indigestion caused by difficulties in intestinal absorption; the phenomenon we’re concerned about is the excessive load on the liver

    Perhaps you missed this:
    “short chain fatty acids”

    I concur with Ken Burnside, eating high fiber foods mitigates the “sugar high”. I know very well when I am messed up on sugar, I instantly get that crappy feeling like a high with a mild headache and loose my masculine intensity.

    I am 48, 5’7″, 181 lbs, bench press 1.5x my weight and run a sub-7 minute mile. When I was in shape in high school, I ran sub-4:30 for the mile. I’ve run sub-35 for 10K. I was an MVP defensive back in football with 4.5 speed, etc.

  45. I concur with Ken Burnside, eating high fiber foods mitigates the “sugar high”.

    No question. With any negative-feedback system, damping the inputs reduces stress and the likelihood of failure. All of the strategies that tend toward that effect (eating less sugar/starch, eating more fiber, eating slowly) are likely to be beneficial to varying degrees.

  46. @Randal L. Schwartz:

    This “Fat Head” documentary starts really bad, especially just after having watched “Supersize Me”, I must say. Not sure I’ll continue watching it: it is really badly filmed/edited, has terrible music and its two first “points” are extremely weak.

    The “Supersize Me” experiment makes sense *because* it incorporates the effects of massive advertisement in its reasoning, along with lobbying and pressure on the school system, etc. Which “Fat Head” tries to dismiss in one bad joke about “noone forcing [him] to eat at fast-foods”. Another smart guy really thinking his “functioning brain” prevents him of any manipulation.

    No interest whatsoever, I’m afraid.

  47. I had known Hugh all my conscious life, basically. My father met him at a science fiction convention some time in the 80’s and they were great friends. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known Hugh.

    Hugh spent some time with my family and I made it a point to talk tohim semi regularly, and our conversations often included discourse on such things as “High Fructose Profit Syrup” (or whatever he came up to name it as that time) and he made a point to be mindful of what he ate.

    A few years ago, I and my father spent a week ish at the shiphouse for the embedded systems conference at the san jose convention center. Several times, we went out to dinner and he regularly ate the healthiest of the three of us.

    I don’t know how much of this was caused by the ear infection he sustained while under the stress of the dc gig he did. I don’t know how much dealing with his father affected him. The human body is a strangely complex beast, succeptible to the most simple of problems. I have no doubt that some of the things brought up here may have been factors, but occam’s razor is always in effect; he may well have simply suffered a stress twist that caused a failure of some internal system.

    However, the point still stands that the food you eat has an effect on you. Be minfdul of that. Having an allergy to cerain artificial sweetners has taught me to read what the label says and the varoius names things are given.

    No diet works for everyonen either. I tried keto, some raw, etc., and I have not yet found something that really works. Think and be mindful of what your body needs. Hugh worked hard at that.

  48. Last week I ran out of my usual whole foods in the mountain and I was too lazy to go to the market. So for a day I was eating imported corn flakes, high-fiber wheat flakes, and full cream milk. This processed food screwed me up so bad that I didn’t sleep at all and my esophagus atrophied and food got stuck in my sternum for about an hour (which caused acid to climb up, burning and belching) before I was able to vomit it out. It remind me of the excruciating pain I felt from the erupted acute peptic ulcer last year with 3 days of constantly burning of internal organs.

    This is the feeling of dying. I don’t want to go there again. No more processed food for me. Nature makes food. I don’t know what this processed stuff is that we eat in the west.

  49. Is there an easy way to look up the percentages in (say) a soft drink which lists “sucrose, dextrose” in its ingredients?

  50. @Jeff Read – as I understand it, it is entirely possible to manufacture corn syrup with any arbitrary percentage of fructose (and increasing the fructose is actually a separate processing step, rather than being something that’s simply not removed); HFCS in particular is only used as a food ingredient because it makes things sell better (whether that’s because it’s sweeter, or because of some addictive property, I don’t know). The corn syrup you can buy in bottles at the store is not, as I understand it, HFCS.

    So the Cuba issue is only really an issue (as far as this is concerned, anyway) if you care specifically about “natural” sugar, rather than about what specific chemicals you are eating.

  51. @Ken Burnside: “(The same companies that are peddling HFCS are also trying to get regulatory approval for pure fructose extract as a sweetener, which is about 20x sweeter per unit volume than sucrose.)”

    From the perspective of the claims in this post, that would be positive, because you use only 5% as much, which means only 10% as much fructose, than you would be using sucrose… I am assuming that all of these have [roughly] the same density, and it’s unclear why you gave the numbers in terms of per volume instead of per mass anyway.

  52. Is there an easy way to look up the percentages in (say) a soft drink which lists “sucrose, dextrose” in its ingredients?

    There’s a nutrition database with all sorts of interesting information on lots of foods and “food-like substances”. Unfortunately, it’s limited to what’s either disclosed or reverse-engineered, so detailed information like sugar breakdown is spotty.

  53. Christopher: Of course there’s a good story behind it!

    They colored the rice crispy treats with kool-aid, so they actually tasted quite tangy, and of course dyed your mouth rich colors. And Hugh put a bunch of colored FreeSWAN leds locked in the on position inside the pile of differently colored rice crispy cubes, so they glowed from inside. He warned me he had something for me, and brought them out to me ceremoniously, like a birthday cake with LEDs instead of candles!

    Something I noticed during the party at Hugh’s house, andI commented on it to him, was that there was a backpack on the shelf that looked exactly like mine! I did a double take and looked at it, but it was somebody else’s, probably Hugh’s. Of couse mine is a Bihn Bag, which I got many years ago thanks to his exuberant recommendation, and I’ve abused it regularly for years and it’s still in great shape! They are impossible to destroy, and have enough space for two laptops and a whole lot of junk, and all the seams have covers sewn over them so the fabric does not shed threads that get tangled up with your cables like most other backpacks.

    Hugh is the one who recommended Bihn Bags to me a long time ago, and I’ve had a few since then, since they last so long, and he was gratified to hear that I’ve always followed his recommendation, and it worked out so well. I remember he called his backpack his “LSD” for Life Support Device, and would shout “I brought my LSD with me!!!” or “Just a second, I have to go back in and grab my LSD!!!” whenever he got the chance.

  54. “High Fructose Corn Syrup” is not “High Fructose” compared to sugar, it’s High Fructose compared to Corn Syrup, which is mostly Glucose. HFCS consists of approximately 50/50 glucose and fructose (55% fructose when used in drinks, 42% in snacks, according to wikipedia).

    “Normal” sugar is sucrose, one molecule of which is split into one glucose and one fructose by digestive enzymes (according to wikipedia)

    I am more than ready to believe people are eating far too much sugar, but I don’t see how HFCS is that much worse than the normal stuff, given that it pretty much matches sucrose. There could easily be subtle reasons why it’s harmful, which I wouldn’t know about, but most of the popular argument is based on a claim that it is high in fructose, which it apparently isn’t (again, except in comparison to glucose syrup, which is irrelevant).

  55. Meanwhile, Rome burns as the EFF attempts a rear-guard action against the NSA’s ever watchful eyes and ears.

    I’m a bit confused why Eric didn’t blog about this too, especially since the leaker is a for-realz libertarian hero (as opposed to a self-aggrandizing douchebag like Assange), and his deeds could inspire a political conversion in many a cozy liberal (present company included).

    Could be that he doesn’t have much to say besides “ha ha, I told you so”.

  56. Jeff Read on Sunday, June 9 2013 at 1:49 am said: The elephant in the room here is normalizing trade relations with Cuba. HFCS only became a widely used thing after the United States embargoed Cuban sugar.

    There’s no connection. The U.S. limits sugar imports from any country. Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia all have plenty of sugar for export to the U.S. if we were allowed to buy it.

    Cuba only produces about 16M tonnes of cane sugar, which is less than 1% of the world supply.
    (Stats from the FAO here: http://faostat.fao.org/site/567/DesktopDefault.aspx?PageID=567.)

    This sounds like yet another factoid issued by the legion of Castro apologists.

  57. The diabetic associations use a concept called “glycemic index” that involves how quickly glucose is absorbed from various foods; for example, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, and red rice is lower than brown rice, which is lower than white rice. Of course this is about glucose, not fructose! But the conceptual model is similar and might be worth a look.

  58. >Could be that he doesn’t have much to say besides “ha ha, I told you so”.

    Yes, that about covers it.

  59. @esr
    Europe does not grow cane nor corn for sugar. Tarifs enforce sugar beet (?). Bad policy on every level. Mainly because tax money is used to deny poor cane farmers an income and it prevents EU farmers from growing better food.

    I think the main difference would be that people outside the USA (still) consume less sugar per capita. That certainly would hold for Italy.

  60. > Yes, that about covers it.

    If the advertising revenue was shared with the social networking user, users could in theory get their own data storage at no net cost. Decentralizing the servers would be a big step away from data jails and state data mining. Then we can talk about building Tor into the browser and making every peer an obfuscating bridge node.

  61. @ESR @Espen

    What do you think about the widespread opinions that non-sugar sweeteners do weird things with your insulin? Aspartame, sacharine etc. Living on Diet Coke, coffee + milk + sacharine and the occasional fruit juice is OK, but god damn it, I don’t want to live on bitter coffee, bitter tea and water. Bitter espresso coffee brrrr…

    (Although some bottled mineral waters e.g. Perrier do taste good. I just don’t want to drink the Vienna tap water that tastes like the old pipes it comes in. It comes from the Alps and is nice at the top, but old pipes is old pipes. Maybe there is a point in the bottle mineral water section of the supermarket, never really tried it before. All I tried when drinking water was from the tap.)

  62. On diets. Most dietary advice is incredible wrong on the psychological side and I see parts of it in this very thread. In the worst case, it is just about saying eat X carbs Y proteins. In slightly better cases it mentions ingredients, like eat lean meat, vegs, no or little rice etc. These are ingredients, not foods. Unless you are like a traditional Scotsman who thinks a plain roast beef with peas an carrots steamed is just fine as a meal and nevermind the boring blandness of it all, these are just ingredients. A decent meal, like some good casserole or ragout contains various kinds of sauces, spices etc. A Beef Stroganoff with some appropriate side is more like a proper homecooked meal.

    So a succesful dietary change is not simply a list of ingredients. There is a more complex logic, cognitive load problems, psychological problems in succesful dietary changes. My usual breakfast is an open sandwich with bread, margarine, ham, cheese, because this is normal in my culture. Every second Hungarian eats that. If you would tell me to go paleo what would I do, cut out the bread and eat ham with cheese? Obviously not, hence, a deeper change has to be affected, but one that is as proper fit for the culture, mindset, and individual habits.

    The best idea would be personal, one to one counseling. The second best is writing comprehensive cookbooks for every culinary culture and tradition, taking every traditional food, and hacking them but in a way that the people can still keep their identity and tradition.

  63. >What do you think about the widespread opinions that non-sugar sweeteners do weird things with your insulin?

    I think it’s pretty plausible, but I haven’t done the research required to form a hard opinion.

  64. Could be that he doesn’t have much to say besides “ha ha, I told you so”.

    Yes, that about covers it.

    So why haven’t you blogged yet, then? It’s not like that‘s ever stopped you before :-).

  65. @ESR thanks what are you favorite non-sweet drinks then? One hack my father in law who used to drive a truck without A/C discovered that cold tea is the only thing that is still good when it gets lukewarm, so he always brought cold tea to work.

    Related note: heard sometime that there is a traditon in the American South that people don’t bother to actually boil / cook tea, they just put a pot of water with a few filters of tea in the fridge and in 24 hours or maybe just 12 it’s done and already cold enough. Sounds like a convenient way to manufacture a drink that tastes different than plain water.

  66. > So why haven’t you blogged yet

    Maybe because our anti-data mining political positions are being recorded.

    ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos interviewed House Speaker John Boehner and basically the Congress is trying to shape public opinion so they can go after the whistleblower’s head to make an example of him, using the illogic that collecting vast info is for targeting terrorists, not Americans. But this is illogical because terrorists can certainly use Tor and other technologies to avoid this blanket storage of data. If the CIA was really going after terrorists, they would need more targeted methods to be effective. In my opinion (and I will be proven correct in time), this is all about knowing where the Americans (millionaires) are hiding their money, so no one will escape the coming taxes and confiscations (ahem I mean “bail-ins” and the ilk). This is all about a rogue government and a complete wipeout of private wealth in favor of the NY bankers.

    Fuck this. It is time to do something with technology.

  67. Related note: heard sometime that there is a traditon in the American South that people don’t bother to actually boil / cook tea, they just put a pot of water with a few filters of tea in the fridge and in 24 hours or maybe just 12 it’s done and already cold enough. Sounds like a convenient way to manufacture a drink that tastes different than plain water.

    It may have started in the South, but it’s pretty much everywhere now. You can buy cold brew tea (in tea bag form) in any supermarket. Or you can do the same thing yourself, but it’s not quite as convenient.

    You can also cold brew coffee. It takes much longer than normal brewing, and the results are different (for example, cold brewed coffee is *much* less acidic) but IMO very, very enjoyable.

  68. @ William O. B’Livion

    Mr. Daniel(s), from all appearances, live the way he wanted to right up to the end. He didn’t spend 5 years in a nursing home catheterized and eating mush. As far as I’m concerned that’s a win.

    I strongly agree with this comment. There is also the parts about sitting for hours at a time in a filthy diaper, losing the ability to read and spending hours at a time staring at a yellow wall.

    I watched my mother slowly rot away in a nursing home. If I can possibly manage it, that is not going to happen to me.

    I had an uncle who was supervising a crew, started to feel like crap, went to sit in his truck and just died – some massive heart thing. When I described this to my ex, we both said basically the same thing at the same time: “If ya gotta go, that’s the way to do it.”

    The quality of a life as a whole isn’t measured in years but as the area under the curve of the quality of life over time. Once the curve goes negative and looks to stay that way, it is time to check out. This is, of course, just my opinion.

  69. I minimized carbs. Quit beer, bread, pasta, potatoes. I am not a fanatic about it. Every now and then I will have some. I lost about 40 lbs. Gained muscle. I’m in great shape. Blood work looks great, lots of energy. Never sick. I eat lots of fat, vegetables, and protein.

    I wish I could have known at an earlier age.

    Inspired by my success my father did the same. He had what I like to call diet induced diabetes. He no longer has to take any medication. While monitoring his blood sugar, he found that refined flour was the big culprit in keeping his blood sugar high. More so than plain white sugar. While causing a spike, sugar did not cause the long term high levels like wheat.

    FWIW-real empirical data. works for me, and my father. My mother also lost weight. YMMV.

    This as been a great benefit to my family. I hope this information may help others as well.

  70. I think many people agree with this:

    “The quality of a life as a whole isn’t measured in years but as the area under the curve of the quality of life over time. Once the curve goes negative and looks to stay that way, it is time to check out.”

    The problem is, how do you check out? You can point to people who lived a reasonably long age, were happy to the end, then had a massive heart attack, but setting up that scenario for yourself is not that easy. You might end up dying way too early, leaving behind a spouse and young kids that are devastated by losing you. Or you might not get the correct intensity, so instead of “the big one” you suffer several minor heart attacks and strokes, leaving you an invalid.

    I have had many people tell me that they’re never going to end up old and decrepit in a nursing home, but when I ask them their plan for avoiding it, they either have none, or they have one that’s not serious (“I’ll make a pact with some of my friends so if any of us starts losing it, the others will take them out”).

    My father-in-law was one of those people. Never, ever wanted to live on in a mentally addled state. Now he has Alzheimer’s. He has no idea what’s going on. He can’t do anything. He’s losing control of his bodily functions. He was adamant that he never wanted to live this way, but wishing for that to never happen didn’t stop it. Even if he’d had some plan to check himself out, I think with the way his decline went, he wouldn’t have seen an obvious time to execute it before he got too incompetent to do it anyway.

  71. The problem is, how do you check out? … You might end up dying way too early, leaving behind a spouse and young kids that are devastated by losing you.

    Yeah….

    This isn’t an easy subject to talk about – so much so that I must say that I am merely discussing a subject of interest, certainly not writing of plans for you, me or anyone in particular.

    In Canada, anyone who counsels or helps another person commit suicide can go to prison for up to 14 years. A person might be committed to a psycho ward if they appear to be suicidal, such as actually being physically prepared, and (I just thought of this) the evidence of this preparation may not make it clear who they want or intend to kill (or, perhaps, even have killed). So, this isn’t something a person talks about.

    So, purely as a discussion about how people think, all I want to say is:

    It certainly helps if a person don’t have a wife and/or (young) kids or anyone that will be seriously psychologically hurt, but a person may feel forced to strike a balance.

    For a person to “check out” at the right time, they have to want this badly enough (compared to the alternatives) to know, accept and act on the principle that they must act too early, probably years too early. Too late is too late.

  72. @Noah:
    If I can’t die peacefully in my sleep, my hope is to collapse and instantly die of a massive heart attack from lifting too heavy a weight too intensely at too old of an age, or something from overexertion in sports. Or to be lethally shot with while running away from kidnappers or a corrupt “justice” attempt. They say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. My motto is not “Just Do It!”, rather “overdo it”. My high school track & field best friend (Blaine Holman, USAF Lt. Colonel who died of brain cancer in 2009) said I was like the Every-ready Energizer bunny on warp speed.

    Perhaps the most noble way to die would be rescuing someone from some imminent torture or death. I don’t think I have the omniscience to classify and adequately justify killing a sociopath.

    I don’t have an imminent death wish. I am still learning and productive.

  73. A small note: Richard Butler was not ‘found dead’. Richard had long-term health problems and checked himself into a hospital when the problems turned acute.

  74. I’m sorry to be crass when speaking of the recently departed, but does anyone actually think Hugh wouldn’t have been obese and unhealthy if HFCS didn’t exist?

  75. “But this is illogical because terrorists can certainly use Tor and other technologies to avoid this blanket storage of data.”

    Ability to snoop traffic from any node on the network is one way to defeat Tor.

  76. “I’m sorry to be crass when speaking of the recently departed, but does anyone actually think Hugh wouldn’t have been obese and unhealthy if HFCS didn’t exist?”

    If anybody made that claim, I don’t think it was Eric’s point, and I don’t think it was the point of the majority here.

    I think the point is more that people that care about their health should avoid excess sugar. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Hugh was done in by too much fructose as Eric suspects. While some think HFCS is more noxious than sucrose (I personally don’t), I don’t think anybody is saying that if Hugh could only have had the exact same sugary beverages, etc., with sucrose instead of HFCS, he would have been totally fine.

    The one way not having HFCS around would make a big difference is that the stuff is incredibly cheap so they put it in everything. So it’s possible (again, assuming sugar did him in) that in a culture not swimming in HFCS, he would have been in better health.

    After all, it’s clear the some change to our environment has made people more prone to being overweight and obese, right?

  77. @JustSaying

    “If I can’t die peacefully in my sleep, my hope is to collapse and instantly die of a massive heart attack from lifting too heavy a weight too intensely at too old of an age, or something from overexertion in sports…”

    Overexertion won’t necessarily do it. If your mind goes first, you can be in excellent physical shape otherwise and not at all prone to a massive heart attack.

    As for your plan (?!) to put yourself in situations where you’re likely to get shot, I wouldn’t count on that either. With my father-in-law, for example, he didn’t really seem to know anything was wrong aside from a vague feeling that his memory wasn’t that great “lately”. Maybe he was better at denial and someone looking for the point to “check out” would have figured it out before it was too late, but I tend to think in many cases BRM is right, you’d have to err well on the side of doing it early to make sure it gets done.

    Along those lines, there is a famous fictional (but based on reality) book about a person with early onset Alzheimer’s called Still Alice. In it, Alice puts herself through a series of questions every day, with the instructions that if she can’t answer them she should follow some instructions that will lead to her taking a lethal overdose. Throughout the book, her answers get worse and worse, but she doesn’t recognize it. Finally, one day she knows something is wrong, so she goes to follow the instructions (not knowing what they will do), but her mental state is so bad that she is unable to do so. I suspect that is exactly what would happen in most cases.

    As for an actual reliable solution, probably it would be legalized euthanasia for Alzheimer’s patients, triggered by legal papers expressing that desire filed when the person was of sound mind. But good luck passing that politically.

  78. With my father-in-law, for example, he didn’t really seem to know anything was wrong aside from a vague feeling that his memory wasn’t that great “lately”. Maybe he was better at denial and someone looking for the point to “check out” would have figured it out before it was too late, but I tend to think in many cases BRM is right, you’d have to err well on the side of doing it early to make sure it gets done.

    My mother developed “Primary Progressive Aphasia”, meaning her ability to find the rights words to speak slowly became worse, so, at least for part of her decline, it wasn’t Alzheimer’s, although once she stopped being able to speak at all, it became impossible to make that distinction. Nevertheless…

    In the last couple of months that she was still taking care of herself at home:

    – She had a couple of problems on different days with her car that she could not figure out how to fix:
    – the seat so far forward that she could hardly get in
    – heater on high on a hot summer day

    – She lost the ability to turn a date into numbers (ex. May into 5)

    I certainly hope that if I had problems like these, I would recognize that I used to be able to handle them and I was clearly in trouble.

    But, yeah… you can only take a course of action while you still have the ability to take a course of action.

    The above and my last post ended with tautologies. This must mean something…. A person has to truly want to take action while they still can, which is much earlier than when life starts becoming objectively bad.

    OK… here is something even weirder than a tautology: That curve of “quality of life over time” becomes negative when the person realizes that it is on the way to becoming negative due to the initial stages of dementia… a discontinuity in the curve when the first derivative (the slope) becomes negative for certain reasons… more freaking (multiple meanings there) “death calculus” – the integration of life and the derivative of death…

    I have written some weird comments in this blog over the last year, but this one is really special.

  79. His book “The Primal Blueprint” is well worth a read.

    I read the description. It is about how good it is to eliminate carbs and eat lots of fat.

    I don’t want to be a cynical pain in the ass, but:

    I would guess that once you have read the description, actually, once you have read my summary, above, you have got the message; the rest is selling you on the idea.

    Wasn’t the “No Carb” thing a huge fad a couple of years ago but then sort of wilted when its most popular promoter died of a heart attack?

    Isn’t most of the increase in the rate of cancer because we are living longer? Your body has (pulling a number out of my ass) a trillion cells and if you live long enough, one of them will go nuts…

  80. @Noah:
    I’m not seriously suggesting anyone do this (beside me, hehe), so legal disclaimers apply. I did think of putting a bomb on timer in my rural, isolated house that I must remember to reset before every New Year. Need to be able to keep love ones out of that house should I become senile. For me, this is plausible in theory since there is no one in my house (at least the one I work from).

    My ideas above were about possibly accelerating my death before senility sets in, as you say “early” and enjoying the methods employed thus increasing the quality of my life interim. And keeping active could possibly have some positive preventive effect against senility, if we don’t know the exact cause of it yet.

    I agree that avoiding processed sugar is wise. I find that natural sugar in balance with fiber and glucose/fructose, seems to give energy instead of lethargy and headaches at least if taken in moderation. I drink a liter of pineapple juice and eat a can of tuna before workouts (as well as 200mg of CoQ10). I am then exploding with energy and endurance for a 2 – 3 hour nonstop session of barbell, boxing, situps, bench jumping, etc. My 181 lbs on a 5’7 frame is not overweight. It is muscle and I have speed still. I can carry a lot of weight because I have thick thighs (24″), calves (16″) and a muscular big ass. All these things you wanted to know, yeah, haha.

  81. I have always hated poetry until a few bits from Kipling and the first stanza of Kubla Khan, what HST said could never have been written without chemical help, from Coleridge with his opium really got to me…

    In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.

    I tend to agree with HST’s comment – I do this best when I am half asleep….

    The Calculus of Death for Geeks

    The area under the curve of a life
    The story of wins and the story of strife
    The ups and the downs over time that I’ve seen
    The measure of how good and bad my life’s been
    The time it should stop and I die in my bed
    Is when the dementia rears up it’s head

    A drop in that curve from dementia’s curse
    And I know that it will just keep getting worse
    A negative slope from a cause that won’t end
    Means discontinuity from the line’s bend
    I integrate life and I see that it’s fine
    Derivatives tell me it’s hemlock in wine

  82. Actually…. half asleep on a whack of codeine – opiates and poetry – all legitimate and under prescription – it relaxes the muscles that otherwise pull my spine tighter in my neck where I have bony growths that pinch nerves.

    The Kipling that I like best is apparently part of the poem The Naulahka

    Now it is not good for the Christian’s health
    to hustle the Aryan brown,
    For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and
    he weareth the Christian down;
    And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with
    the name of the late deceased,
    And the epitaph drear: “A Fool lies here
    who tried to hustle the East.”

  83. Funny thing, but I’ve never had the slightest interest in writing poetry until I declared that I was a Discordian – partly just as a goof, which is how it is supposed to be with Discordians.

    Although… ESR has written that it is not uncommon for folks getting into neopaganism to suddenly discover that they can write poetry and/or play and/or compose music.

  84. @Michael Hipp:
    That jiBes with my workouts, diet, and experience. More plants, protein, and heavy squats, bench press with high intensity sprinting, boxing, etc.. And not more than 3x a week heavy workout, 2x is probably ideal.

    I do standing military press with 110 lbs, then directly without rest into 15 reps squat. I haven’t started going heavy on the squats as I used to (450+ lbs), because this will increase my libido (as it did in past) to spontaneous erections interfering with my work. And my thighs will have no more gap between. Also it requires dedication to stick with it at least thrice every 2 weeks, because as it is my recovery time and pain is getting much worse (up to 2 days of whole body irritability) at age 48 if I miss a week or two and have to go through the soreness all over again.

  85. Wasn’t the “No Carb” thing a huge fad a couple of years ago but then sort of wilted when its most popular promoter died of a heart attack?

    If you’re thinking of Robert Atkins, he slipped and fell to his death; his demise had nothing to do with his diet. He had a heart attack before then, but survived; and his doctor said it was due to infection, not diet.

  86. Comment above about Hugh being quite cautious with carbs.

    As stated, he might have been loading up on simple carbs earlier in life, or maybe just eating the stuff at an ordinary level.

    I find that moderate carbs are better for me than eating a lot of them. On the other hand, Mediterranean diet seems to have some evidence on its side. I’m not sure how many of the studies used refined vs. whole grains, nor what is traditional near the Mediterranean.

    For that matter, I don’t know how much of healthy aging is encouraged by living in a society that likes old people.

  87. Two more straws in the whirlwind:

    Study showing that vegetarians live longer, especially pesco-vegetarians. All the people in the study were Seventh-Day Adventists.

    Terry Wahls, who reversed the symptoms of a serious case of MS with a very high vegetable (especially cruciferous) paleo diet. I’ve read enough comments from people who’ve tried the diet that it seems to be very good for MS (the theory is that MS is a mitochondrial disease, and the diet is designed to support mitochondria), good for a number of people who aren’t obviously ill, and doesn’t do much for some other diseases which seem to be vaguely in the MS neighborhood. That last makes the rest more plausible to me– it’s harder for me to believe that one diet could work for everything. Sorry, I don’t remember what the other diseases are.

  88. Wasn’t the “No Carb” thing a huge fad a couple of years ago but then sort of wilted when its most popular promoter died of a heart attack?

    If you’re thinking of Robert Atkins, he slipped and fell to his death; his demise had nothing to do with his diet. He had a heart attack before then, but survived; and his doctor said it was due to infection, not diet.

    Yeah, it was Atkins I was thinking about. With my attitude toward him as a “promoter”, I didn’t really follow him much beyond the headline level and, of course, the heart attack got bigger play in the media than the fall. And, in fact, in that post last night, I was being a (tired) cynical pain in the ass.

  89. Correction –

    I was only being a (tired) cynical pain in the ass about Robert Atkins because… he seemed to go from being a nutritionist to being the head of a new religion.

  90. “I was only being a (tired) cynical pain in the ass about Robert Atkins because… he seemed to go from being a nutritionist to being the head of a new religion.”

    Martin Gardner (‘Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science’) called them “don’t eat this cults”.
    They come and go with monotonous regularity.

  91. Yeah… I think the idea that “starch is poison” is silly – starch is what bridges the gap until your body can start getting energy out of fats.

    The way to get fat is to eat sugar plus fat – the sugar burns off quickly, and with some people, leaves them even hungrier, but the fat isn’t supplying energy yet, so…. lather, rinse, repeat.

  92. I don’t know about weight gain, but for me, the way to feel like crap is to eat sugar *without* fat– there’s no satiation there, while sugar buffered by fat and protein works fairly well for me.

  93. @ Nancy Lebovitz

    I agree. I haven’t had much of a problem in recent years, but when I was younger, I had hypoglycemia – my pancreas would go nuts and produce more insulin than was needed and my blood sugar would crash. Eating just sugar would trigger this while, as you say, buffer the sugar with some fat and/or protein and the blood sugar doesn’t go nuts.

    Coffee is an insulin stimulant. This is just my theory, but I believe that the people that say “coffee makes me jittery” are really describing “coffee makes my blood sugar crash”.

    I don’t think any of this means any of sugar (not counting the fructose thing), starch or fat are bad. Or coffee! I think they are all good – a person just has to do it in a way that works for them.

    I wasn’t saying that eating sugar plus fat (real ice cream – the kind made from cream, is a good example) is bad, but it can leave a hole in the middle when a person can get hungry again before really getting the energy benefit of the fat… I am not an expert on this, and I think different people are different.

    And every time I try to make a fundamental point, I make a fundamental point… Sorry… I seem to be making a lot of fundamental points in this blog with tautologies.

  94. That’s interesting about caffeine being an insulin stimulant because the example that was coming to my mind about sugar without fat making me feel bad was frappachinos. I’ve never seen a bottled one for sale that was made with whole milk.

    I think they’re very tasty, but they make me feel so drained that I’ve only made that mistake twice, and hope to never do it again. I might not try doctoring one with cream, even for the sake of science.

    I don’t think sugar alone could have that strong an effect on me. And obviously, there are enough people to constitute a market who don’t feel that bad after drinking one.

  95. I was going to use chocolate as an example of sugar plus fat, but then I thought, “wait… I bet cocoa has a fair bit of starch”. It seems that cocoa powder is about 58% carbohydrates, about half of which is “Dietary Fiber” and only a tiny fraction is “Sugars”. Surprisingly (to me, at least, at first, before I considered that cocoa beans are seeds) is that cocoa powder is about 18% protein (although not a complete protein, presumably).

    I remember a TV show about 25 years ago when a character said something like “I sure wish chocolate was a food group.” In fact, chocolate is good food – you just need to add more protein and more starch and you could base a diet on it.

  96. @ Nancy Lebovitz

    Yeah – if my energy reserves are running low and I drink coffee, my blood sugar crashes and I get that sorta panicky feeling where I want to punch someone or maybe curl up on the floor or run away if my legs would just work or maybe all of the above – not a good feeling.

    If the blood sugar has crashed, it can be so bad that I can hardly walk, but it can be fixed (temporarily) with water and sugar – sweet fruit juice, for instance. The sugar can be drawn (with the water, I assume) directly from the stomach and raise the blood sugar a lot in fifteen or twenty seconds.

    In any case, if you drank a frappachino after a good meal, I imagine you would have no problem; drink one instead of a meal and you will be in big trouble.

  97. I’m weird. (Big news there, eh?) I am too lazy to cook; I need to conserve my money and I don’t mind eating the same thing every meal if it is something I really like. So… for the past couple of years I have been eating, almost exclusively, peanut butter and sweet orange marmalade sandwiches made with decent whole-grain multi-grain bread. I also take a good vitamin and mineral supplement for obvious reasons. From my physicals (with blood work), I seem to be doing fine. Whole grains plus legumes (peanuts, in this case) are a complete protein.

    (Sweet orange marmalade and peanut butter isn’t as good as candied orange peel in chocolate, but it is close.)

    I am getting a bit tired of it and have eaten a fair bit of marzipan lately, but it is too sweet. I am thinking of partly changing to dry roasted almonds plus corn-chips and maybe roasted corn. If I start eating roasted corn again, I will probably actually eat some meat in the form of Italian sausage. Neither almonds or corn provide a complete protein but together they might. MAYBE I JUST NEED TO ADD SOME CHOCOLATE! I need to actually learn more about the different amounts of different amino acids it takes to make a complete protein.

    (To vaguely quote Nero Wolfe (a character in Rex Stout’s books) “Corn boiled in water is edible and nutritious. Roasted sweet corn is ambrosia.” Use frozen corn and instead of boiling it, put it in a cake pan or something in a very hot oven – 400 deg F ? it has been a time.. mix it up a couple/few times over about 30 or 45 minutes(?) – the corn loses water, gets more chewy, some of the sugar caramelizes and the flavor will make you think that boiling corn is a crime against nature.)

  98. It seems that any diet based on any seeds or nuts, in combination or alone, will provide enough complete protein even if the seed or nut is not considered to be a complete protein on a per-serving basis. You can get all the essential amino acids you need eating nothing but potatoes if you eat enough to satisfy your energy needs.

    If, on the other hand, a significant proportion of a person’s energy needs are coming from sugar (including from fruit), cooking oil, butter, etc., they won’t be eating enough of any one kind of seed or nut to get enough of all essential amino acids. Put more than a minimal amount of butter on a diet of baked potatoes, for example, and you have to eat more than your energy requirements or be short of, in this case, leucine (you get about 150% to 200% of all the other essential amino acids in potatoes, leaving some energy-room for the butter).

    But the gripping hand is that any kind of legume (peas, beans, lentils, peanuts) and any kind of grass seed (grain, corn) does provide a complete protein on a per-serving basis.

  99. Um… OK, why does this happen? I’ve seen it two or three times before when I get (perhaps overly) enthusiastic on an aging thread…

    Have I laid so much weirdness down that no one wants to legitimatize it by adding a comment after mine? Or was the subject sort of beaten to death, anyway?

    In any case, I would like to say that Nancy’s description of feeling “drained” after eating sugar without fat is a good description of the feeling of low blood sugar. My more extreme description – feeling sorta panicky, and sort of feeling like punching something and/or curling up on the floor – describes how I feel with really low blood sugar.

  100. peanut butter sandwich (+butter for animal vitamines?) should be enough to sustain you for a very long time. Make sure to check you get enough vitamin b.

  101. Peanut butter and whole-grain bread with a little jam is basically ideal from an energy and protein perspective. Now, I don’t know if the bread I eat is whole-grain – the most important aspect being whether it includes the wheat germ. I don’t use butter – I don’t know what kind of nutrients are in butter. In any case, such a narrow diet is guaranteed to be short of a variety of vitamins and minerals, so I take a high-quality vitamin/mineral pill every day (by Jamiesons – supposedly the only common brand with vitamins not made in China).

  102. The bread I buy is made in the supermarket, so it doesn’t have to list ingredients for some reason. It does have the nutrition chart and it says that 50g of bread contains 5g of protein, so it must be at least partly whole grains.

  103. Peanut butter and whole grain bread was one of my staples in the past. No jam, as I stopped refined sugars decades ago.

    Those mono-diets and processed food diets (which I have tried in the past) can’t compare to my performance in all aspects of life when I am eating fresh vegetables, sweet fruits (pineapple mainly), and animal protein (especially fresh tuna).

    I have a Belgian friend who is 61, still running 10kms in 42 mins for training 3x per week. He attributes it to the pineapple and fresh tuna, and the lack of winter (sunshine). When he goes to Belgium, he comes back looking 10 years older, after eating so much processed junk. His libido is so high that he has to take a young girl every week.

    It is ridiculous that I live in a country with a monthly wage of $150, and don’t have a maid to prepare this for me. I will rectify this deficiency in my organization.

    I feel pity for anyone drinks coffee or anything with refined sugar. I used to be a sugar addict in my teens and early 20s. If I drink even a 50 mls of sweetened ice tea, ice cream, coffee, of soda, I instantly feel my body performance reduced a notch. Perhaps you all can’t feel it, because you are not at this highly attuned level.

    I don’t know why the refined foods are not as healthy. I am not citing science. I just know this very well from personal experience and the personal experience of other elders who I know are very athletically strong. The older we get, the more apparent this distinction becomes.

  104. Um… where does he take the young girls from?

    OK, seriously… Are you suggesting that a high libido is a sign that something is wrong? I would think that is a sign of health.

    I have never been athletic, so I can’t judge from that perspective.

    While the source of proteins doesn’t matter, I can imagine that there may be benefits from eating such things as tuna and pineapple – any natural plant or animal food contains thousands of chemicals, whereas I am taking a vitamin/mineral pill that supplies only 20-something nutrients. I seem to be healthy – my spine problems run in my family.

    A lot of refined foods are crap because they are crap (another tautology). But cheese and bread are made (as opposed to cutting something off a plant or out of an animal) and they are certainly food.

    I don’t eat until I get hungry, and at that point, I want a little sugar (whether it is from a little jam or a lot of corn or whatever) to get the blood sugar up quickly. Basically, to eat like I do requires a little knowledge, but it works for me.

  105. A quesadilla-based diet might well have been a significant contributing factor.

  106. The bread I buy is made in the supermarket, so it doesn’t have to list ingredients for some reason. It does have the nutrition chart and it says that 50g of bread contains 5g of protein, so it must be at least partly whole grains.

    This brings up another interesting aspect of nutrition that’s just being identified, much less understood: fermentation. Fermentation of various kinds appears to be as widespread among human cultures as to be virtually universal–everything from sourdough bread to kimchi to yogurt to tofu to cheese to the enormous variety of alcoholic beverages. The process appears to confer some nutritional advantages by pathways not yet confirmed, but plausible candidates include digestively helpful active cultures, preferentially removing the easiest-to-digest starches, and lowering the pH of the food (acids appear to slow carbohydrate absorption).

    Modern industrial foods, by contrast, have switched away from fermentation whenever possible because it’s slow and therefore more expensive. Bread is a particular culprit here; quite aside from any concerns about the quality of modern wheat, bread made with commercial baker’s yeast undergoes very little fermentation (and acquires very little flavor besides), and some experiments are suggesting that breads made from the same ingredients but with different leavening methods have wildly different effects on blood glucose levels.

  107. I don’t want to sound like a jerk here, but what are you supposed to eat to maximize life-span and physical performance (not necessarily compatible goals, I grant) if you’re significantly _under_weight and likely to remain so? Do the same warnings against fructose apply? Is obesity itself the problem, and as long as you’re not obese, eat as you will? Surely there’s more to it than that.

  108. @BRM:
    Agreed increased libido is sign of health. But if it is too high, it interferes with more rewarding mental activities, and apparently it can also lead to mania in some if not satiated. So I strive for a balance. Extreme athleticism in my experience leads to extremely aggressive libido. If I workout too hard and don’t have sex, I have the most intense “take no prisoners” competitive feeling. It can get me into trouble. This is what I think can make some athletes jerks at time, e.g. Michael Jordan’s bets with teammates off the court on half-court shots to put-put mini golf. Apparently Steve Jobs and Bill Gates derived a similar competitive feeling, but apparently not derived from the stimulation of the pituitary gland and testicles due to athleticism.

    By young I did not mean below legal age.

  109. @ JustSaying

    I didn’t know about extreme athleticism causing an increase in libido, but two ideas occur to me.

    (1) I guess that novels have been the source of the basis for this idea, so who knows, but I have heard of people, men and women, having an increased libido when they are in or just after a dangerous situation. This is pure speculation, but, from the mans end, it could be an evolutionary advantage for a guy’s brain, on an unconscious level, to go “OK, I managed to keep us alive through that, better get her pregnant while I still have the chance”. If you work out like your life is at stake, it might trigger that kind of response.

    (2) WARNING: TAUTOLOGY ALERT – very competitive people are very competitive. You are deeply into athletics and driven to do better – you are, in a sense, competing with your own limits. Publicly known athletes, and some politicians and CEOs only become publicly known because they are extremely competitive to begin with. People like me, and most people, don’t stand a chance in extremely competitive endeavours.

    Many people do what they have to do to get by, but don’t have the drive to get into and compete at the highest levels of anything.

    I have said this before, but… I am weird – I am driven to learn and understand but I have practically no drive to compete in the basic hierarchies of society. My metaphor is the oddly dressed guy standing in the shadows whispering in the Kings ear; not part of, or subject to the rules of, the commoners or the Kings court. I don’t compete – I am not part of the hierarchies. While I am proud to be a hacker (in a variety of endeavours), I don’t even compete there. I imagine that a lot of hackers are like that. I would rather be a hacker than be married or otherwise be restricted by a partner, so that tells you something about my libido.

    So… to wrap this up, I can imagine that being highly competitive and extreme workouts and testosterone and libido are connected.

  110. @ Eiki Martinson

    One thing I know for sure – you don’t want to become a fat/over-weight under-weight person, so, like all of us, you can’t generally take in more energy than you use. Of course you know this, but putting on fat and putting on muscle are two different things.

    On the other hand, there seems to be more to it than that – some, maybe all, peoples’ bodies have a weight that is hard to change. Dave Barry said something like “Some people seem to be able to eat anything they want, while other people gain weight just watching commercials on TV for rich foods.”

    But the gripping hand is that putting on muscle isn’t necessary for high performance. Bruce Lee used to be… about 5’7 and 145 lbs?? He could side-kick a much larger men up off his feet and onto his butt.

    (Totally irrelevant, but: My master’s master and Bruce Lee had the same master: Yip Man.)

  111. @BRM: (3) Libido is highly correlated with testosterone levels. Athletic practice might increase circulating androgens.

    @Eiki: What exactly do you mean by “underweight”? If your weight is actually so low as to be unhealthy, are you restricting how much you eat? Eating high-quality food to satisfy your hunger will get your body the calories it needs.

  112. > in light of the NSA infocalypse

    In Asia Rising, West Declining, I explain why the west can’t write-down the capital stock and must instead use a police state to destroy private wealth.

    Got real quiet around here since that infocalypse. Hmmm.

  113. I’m confused by this discussion. AFAIK “libido = testosterone” to a pretty good approximation. That being true of both men and women. Obviously athletes have higher levels of testosterone because they specifically do things to generate androgens to facilitate muscle growth and efficiency. So it hardly seems surprising that atheletes have a higher libido.

    (BTW, the fact that women have at best 10% the level of testosterone that men do, yet are generally so sexual that they need societal memes to keep the tiger in a cage, tells you something about the relative innate sexuality of men and women, I think.)

  114. @Jessica Boxer:
    In my experience, ejaculation I think drains the testosterone, thus a male needs more to be eager to donate more frequently. Whereas, the female appears to gain power and intensity with each orgasm, at least while she is still stimulated (next day she may sleep more). From an evolutionary perspective, perhaps more orgasms meant more males competing to donate a round after each other, thus more genetic diversity and assurance of pregnancy. Whereas for a male, he doesn’t gain as much advantage with multiple donations to the same female in the same session. For the male evolution, it is most important to be first, which is probably aided by athleticism and fierceness in primitive society.

    Off topic: I suspect many of are eager to comment on the recent NSA infocalypse.

    How much you want to bet that the USA public eventually forgets the recent NSA infocalypse, and the behind-the-curtain abuses increase?

  115. This tread has aged to the point that I don’t feel too bad about following up on an off-topic comment…

    The link provided by Nancy Lebovitz, above, is to an eye-opening article about the US:

    …penetrating and damaging foreign networks for both espionage and to ready them for attack. We’re creating custom-designed Internet weapons, pre-targeted and ready to be “fired” against some piece of another country’s electronic infrastructure on a moment’s notice.

    by identified exploits, creating “back-doors” and installing “logic bombs” in foreign systems.

    Not being totally naive, I recognize that, given a new type of offensive weapon, it behooves the US to make it part of their arsenal.

    Part of me wants to scream This isn’t what the Internet was supposed to be about!”, which is, of course, a naive reaction.

    But the US government is doing things to the systems in other countries that are considered to be immoral if done to systems in the US – and, as the article suggests, this sort of thing is on the borderline of what constitutes an act of war. Hypothetically, would it be an act of war to secretly move large numbers of troops into a country that is considered to be a threat to the US?

    As information about this sort of thing becomes widely known internationally, it seems to me that it can’t help but add to the number of people that hate the US. That isn’t good for the security of Americans.

  116. “In my experience, ejaculation I think drains the testosterone, thus a male needs more to be eager to donate more frequently.”

    Yes, yes! You have discovered the International Plot to take away our Vital Bodily Fluids!

  117. >Off topic: Might this be an argument for open source?

    Of course it is. Look up Kerckhoffs’s Principle.

  118. @esr
    >Of course it is. Look up Kerckhoffs’s Principle.

    I’m not sure I agree, not in all cases. Certainly, it is best practice in crypto to assume that the algorithm is known, but that, in a sense is a very theoretical way of thinking, and war is mostly a practical matter. The defense of an asset is usually a layered thing: first of all you deny its existence, then you keep its location secret, then you put barbed wire around it, then high walls, spotlights, motion detectors, then men with guns, then big steel doors and so on and so on. No asset can be 100% secure, but the level of security is roughly the sum the the layers.

    Security by obscurity is just one layer in protecting a digital asset. The source code for military software is kept secret as an added layer of security. Now I will grant you that that may well lead to complacency, and lower levels of eyeballs. So it is certainly a trade off. But I doubt you’d find too many people who would advocate open sourcing the plans for a hydrogen bomb to maximize eyeballs and consequently reduce bugs.

    I’m not saying security by obscurity is sufficient, experts can, and do reverse engineer the black boxes, it is just another layer in the gestalt of asset protection, and may, in some cases, be useful.

  119. >Now I will grant you that that may well lead to complacency, and lower levels of eyeballs.

    That’s far from the only problem with security by obscurity.

    Kerckhoffs, writing in the late 19th century, didn’t know about the many-eyeballs effect; what he noticed is that cryptosystems in operation leak information about their algorithms. Thus, if your system depends on the obscurity of its algorithms, the probability that it will leak enough information to enable a crack rises to 1 over time.

    Kerckhoffs reasoned, correctly, that the only way to prevent such breaches to to design the cryptosystenm on the assumption that the enemy already knows every detail of the methods to begin with. (This insight was independently replicated by Claude Shannon in the 1940s.)

    You’re being misled in your thinking by analogies with non-software systems that have a much lower rate of information leakage. This error is subtle, common, and quite dangerous.

  120. @LS:
    > … the International Plot to take away our Vital Bodily Fluids!

    The plot is demographic politics and opaque denial of the impossibility of perpetual motion.

    @Jessica Boxer:
    Ubiquitous, reliable security and resiliency for naive users of the internet will be due to Kerckhoffs’s Principle. Some can game asymmetric information, but this is not the strong suit of the masses.

  121. @esr
    > You’re being misled in your thinking by analogies with non-software systems that have a much lower rate of information leakage.

    The article was not just about crypto, it was about cyber warfare in general. For example, Stuxnet which was a worm. I doubt anyone serious in security is using any homebrew crypto, partly because open algos are so good, and so deeply studied, but I could be wrong; there are a lot of math-heads at Fort Meade.

    However, there are far more serious concerns with other software security layers. I agree that applying analogies from other areas of security can be misleading, however, it is no less misleading to apply principles for the study of cryptographical algorithms such as Kerckhoff’s to other types of security software.

    Obscurity isn’t by any means a cure all. But it is a barrier to climb (that is even true in crypto) Whether that barrier is high enough as to be larger than the advantage conferred by the broad analysis possible with openness is something that can reasonably be decided on a case by case basis.

  122. @Jessica Boxer:
    Obscurity can be the antithesis of security, because its tradeoffs are not asymmetric, i.e. you may not know when you’ve be rooted out. Ditto on symmetry, openness is transparent security.

  123. >The article was not just about crypto, it was about cyber warfare in general.

    And Kerckhoffs’s principle applies to software security in general, not just crypto.

    If, for example, the login verification on your website has a vulnerability if the validation algorithm is known, it may well be possible for an intruder to break in without ever knowing a valid password. Kerckhoffs would predict that the normal operation of the website leaks statistical information about the validator. Don’t laugh; there are known timing attacks on smart-card security that work by eliciting such information.

  124. @esr
    > Don’t laugh; there are known timing attacks on smart-card security that work by eliciting such information.

    I’m not laughing at all, I don’t doubt that you are right, and I’m sure you will agree that it is a VERY serious business indeed. But it is a pragmatic thing. Is it easier to break into logon code with a vulnerability if you know the vulnerability up front? All other things being equal, evidently so. Of course, I’ll grant you that all other things aren’t equal, but that is the point — it is a trade off. In a war, tempo is almost as important as payload. In a cyber war, arguably more so.

    But logon code is really just a special case of crypto or the closely related field of hashing. There are many other types of software vulnerabilities that aren’t of a similar nature. Stuxnet is an example. Had the way the machines are programmed been unknown or not readily known to the attackers (for example, by having duplicate machines in their lab) it would have been much harder to pull off.

    There is are whole classes of bug that are hard to find without source code. Buffer overrun errors come to mind. Not that they can’t be found from black box experiments, but they are a lot easier to find if you can look at the source code. Of course the trade off is that, because they are easier to find, then the good guys might find them first.

    Let me ask you this though: there was a big pissing match between the US and UK over the source code for the F22 Raptor software systems. Do you think that the users of that aircraft would be less vulnerable were the source code to be open to all to view?

    I know from my previous interactions with you that you are not a demagogue who demands open source everywhere, everytime, for everything. It seems to me that this is one place where, potentially, there is a place for obscurity.

  125. The link provided by Nancy Lebovitz, above, is to an eye-opening article about the US:

    I found it amusing that the U.S. establishment was spreading FUD about “Chinese cyberterrorists” while clandestinely waging a USraeli cyber op against Iran in the form of Stuxnet. Generally speaking, the things that the Murkan hegemon wants you to worry about foreign powers doing to us are things that it is doing abroad, in at least equal measure.

    As for PRISM, these are the wages of the War on Terror, which is itself a fig leaf for the war of aggression waged by the Western power elite, against brown folk who for some perverse reason or another are opposed to Western power expansion.

  126. .There is are whole classes of bug that are hard to find without source code. Buffer overrun errors come to mind.

    I don’t mean to impugn your choice of profession, Jessica, but it is a bit amusing to me that a Windows developer should defend the idea that closed source is effective security against buffer-overrun attacks. Our collective experience with Windows has shown that believing this is akin to believing that wearing lemon juice on your face will hide you from security cameras — and you’re in a better position to really grok this than most of us.

    Not that they can’t be found from black box experiments, but they are a lot easier to find if you can look at the source code. Of course the trade off is that, because they are easier to find, then the good guys might find them first.

    I’d say the process of open source is such that buffer-overrun bugs are less likely to make it in there in the first place. Open source developers are motivated by the desire not to look stupid in front of their buddies, which could potentially be an audience of thousands, from all over the world and all walks of life, and hence more likely to be careful in their coding practices and adopt community best practice. In closed source development, the only ones who will see the code are their coworkers and supervisor; and in some shops, deadline pressures, budget constraints, politics and one-upmanship conspire to encourage the most poorly-written thing that could possibly work.

  127. @Jessica Boxer

    “But I doubt you’d find too many people who would advocate open sourcing the plans for a hydrogen bomb to maximize eyeballs and consequently reduce bugs.”

    Atomic weaponry design is not nearly as opaque as one might think. The nth-country experiment in the sixties showed that a couple of newly-minted physicists with no special training in nuclear physics could, with only minimal support in computing, come up with an apparently workable design in only a couple of years. In the late seventies, there was a famous first-amendment case over a leftist magazine that had an approximate h-bomb design, which may or may not have been on the right track, but which the US government tried to stop under prior restraint. And lastly in particular, there’s John Coster-Mullen’s book which you can get on amazon (it lists as used, but it’s actually a periodically updated print-on-demand that he’ll mail you) — he was written up in New Yorker magazine about five years back.

    What’s _not_ nearly so easy to come by are certain components of a useful design (hence the fussing over A. Q. Khan’s centrifuge plans, or the apparent purpose of Stuxnet to damage Iranian centrifuges), and in particular the actual fissile material (which is where the real controls are, and where the monitoring is focused).

    If someone put out a genuine, verified-to-work-by-someone-in-the-know design on the net tomorrow, it would still be completely useless to you, me, or any credible terrorist type without both the fissiles and a rather nontrivial amount of support to prep the whole thing for use, though crappy radiological bombs would become a worry assuming fissiles.

    (As an aside, If al-Qaeda or some other bunch of nutjobs ever sets off a nuke in a city, it’ll be because they laid hands on, or were given, an existing one, not because they can make them. Apparently it’s possible to trace back where such a thing came from based on fine details of the radioactivity produced, so anyone dumb enough to share (or merely incompetent enough to not have been sitting tight on their supply) signs their own death warrant thereby.)

  128. >I know from my previous interactions with you that you are not a demagogue who demands open source everywhere, everytime, for everything. It seems to me that this is one place where, potentially, there is a place for obscurity.

    Because you know I’m not a zealot, I hope you’ll put proper weight on my assessment that you are perpetuating a very dangerous mistake.

    >But it is a pragmatic thing. Is it easier to break into logon code with a vulnerability if you know the vulnerability up front?

    Yes, but you’re still taking too narrow a view of the problem. You need to evaluate the conjunctive probability that a vulnerability will occur in the first place, and how that varies according to whether or not the code is developed assuming that the enemy can see it. Assuming the enemy will have full knowledge of the code tends to prevent large categories of bad practices.

    History shows us repeatedly that people who think security by obscurity is a viable technique tend to stop thinking there and to produce security systems that are weak and brittle. This effect is powerful enough that Kerckhoffs noticed it nearly a century before computers. Open source, is, among many other good things, a way to prevent falling into this trap.

  129. @ ESR and Jessica

    I was thinking along the lines of…

    There are many potential enemies in cyber-warfare. Even if some enemies have the code, that is better than all enemies having the code.

    Is it not possible to fully embrace Kerckhoffs’s principle, and still write good closed source code? Use multiple highly paid groups of QA people whose income is greatly affected by bugs found.

    Then I thought of the problems of QA people getting paid less because of their influence on the coders, so maybe they also get bonuses if great code is written, but then they are paid enough that the don’t need to find bugs, then the bean-counters and upper management start to question…. it is the kind of idea that can look good on paper, but just doesn’t work well for long in practice.

    You get more caring from self-selected people willing to do it for nothing than from people that are paid to care.

    There is also a lack of heterogeneity in the kind of people with top-secret clearance that are hired by businesses that write software for the DOD. Open source benefits from all kinds of people, many of whom are odd and some have odd ideas about working in the middle of the night.

  130. @Jessica
    Security by obscurity of “invissible” vulnerabilities of your code is like having an unchangeable master password set by the coder. But nobody will ever know, he claims. A bug is worse than such a default master password. Because, as said above, cryptographic systems leak information.

    What people forget is that bugs often stay in code for many years to decades. Even worse, old code is often reused in new programs. So attackers have years or decades to find the vulnerabilities. Years they can spend sending random input into the program and to study decompilations, years that people who know the code will spend leaking information about the fine details.

  131. @Eiki Martinson

    Resistance training and more protein in your diet. BOTH.

    Pick heavy shit off the floor and push it overhead, then put it back down, then go out for a 16 ounce steak with a side order of Guinness.

    http://www.startingstrength.com is a good place to start on the lifting.

    Being “under” weight is not a problem until old age, and even then I’m not certain it is (unless you’re underweight because you get a significant portion of your caloric intake from alcohol). Being weak and having flaccid muscles IS a problem.

    So work on performance/function (crossfit, if you can focus on form and avoid the competitive mindset is a REALLY good approach) and let the weight take care of itself.

  132. I should have made this clear before. I am strongly in favor of Open Source for a variety of reasons and I think closed source is bad for security. But I would like to draw attention to two aspects for some kinds of military software…

    1) as Jessica pointed out, all other things being equal (which of course they aren’t), adding a layer of obscurity can make it harder for people that don’t know the secret.

    2) Open Source reveals the capabilities – the problems a piece of software deals with and the problems it doesn’t.

    Sure – develop as if the enemy will have the code, but make an attempt to prevent every enemy from having the code.

  133. Sure – develop as if the enemy will have the code, but make an attempt to prevent every enemy from having the code.

    I’m not sure that’s possible. It’s well understood that people have a hard time behaving counterfactually even when they want to, and especially so when that entails significant effort or the possibility of an unpleasant outcome. That’s the reason experiments involving human judgment or intervention should be double-blind whenever possible. It’s awfully hard to turn off that “oh, nobody’ll ever see this crap” voice.

  134. @esr
    > I hope you’ll put proper weight on my assessment

    Always.

    > Yes, but you’re still taking too narrow a view of the problem.

    I don’t think so. I have said repeatedly that it is a trade off between the pros and cons of both. I think that a lot of people here are jumping on the marque (“security through obscurity is good”) while ignoring the more subtle point I’m making that, all other things being equal, it adds an advantage (notwithstanding the fact that all things aren’t equal), and consequently, it is a trade of.

    But I am still suffering the zing of Jeff’s point about windows software buffer over runs….

    But you didn’t answer my question: would the users of the F22 Raptor be less vulnerable had the source code for the software systems been published on github?

  135. >But you didn’t answer my question: would the users of the F22 Raptor be less vulnerable had the source code for the software systems been published on github?

    Yes, because (among other reasons) the knowledge that the F22 code was going to be public would have changed the behavior of the developers in ways that would reduce error rates.

  136. @Jessica Boxer:
    The major point made in Nancy Lebovitz’s linked story seems to be about how to minimize the collateral damage and destabilization of the internet due to cyberwar. In an idealistic sense and I believe also international treaties, war is supposed to be waged in ways that minimize collateral damage on the noncombatants. Also wars shouldn’t be caused inadvertently by unintended destabilization.

    Thus two major points I made upthread.

    1. Such security can only come to the internet via open source, not obscurity.

    2. The asymmetrical information due to be obscurity is a double-edged sword which causes uncertainty for both the obscurer and those obscured, because no one can know for sure when the obscurity has been secretly cracked nor are the impacts of the obscurity always known.

    >But you didn’t answer my question: would the users of the F22 Raptor be less vulnerable had the source code for the software systems been published on github?

    Yes in that we wouldn’t inadvertently shoot ourselves in the foot (i.e. “bugs” in a broader meaning) in numerous possible ways (and especially if asking this question in general for all weapons of cyberwar), such as inadvertently starting a war or collateral damage on the noncombatants, etc..

    Open source is inherently driving mankind towards open truth, thus mutually defensive postures and peace. One can gain competitive advantage with obscurity or better yet by racing to be first to integrate open truth using the Free the Future, Sell the Present business model.

  137. “…would the users of the F22 Raptor be less vulnerable had the source code for the software systems been published on github?”

    Thanks to the exploits of the “Chinese hackers”, it might as well be.

  138. @me:
    > open truth using the Free the Future, Sell the Present business model.

    Note I had in mind a base of open source modules, and only a sprinkling of closed-source integration code. Then open sourcing that which can be modularized ongoing, and paying each other for the sharing of modules. Thus in theory minimizing the disadvantages of closing source even for a limited period of time, while maximizing the benefits of open-source from the inception and continuously.

  139. @JustSaying:
    > In my experience, ejaculation I think drains the testosterone,

    Sex triggers the production of testosterone, it doesn’t drain it.

  140. @William O. B’Livion:
    > Sex triggers the production of testosterone, it doesn’t drain it.

    Temporarily it seems to drain at least the effects that testosterone causes in men. If a man ejaculates as frequently as he possibly can over a day or two, he will become thinner and weaker. There is a rule in competitive sports, don’t have sex too near to competition time– for boxers I think it is up to 30 days prior. Our high school football coach did not want us having sex at all during the season. My point of contrast was the female seems to gain power through each orgasm within the same session, at least while continuously stimulated through them. Thus immediately available testosterone driven effects doesn’t appear to be driving her stimulation, or perhaps there is some real-time conversion and increase of testosterone levels?

  141. @LS
    > Thanks to the exploits of the “Chinese hackers”, it might as well be.

    On the contrary. This (assuming it is true) is the worst of all outcomes, offering the disadvantages of open and the disadvantages of closed, and also not offering the advantages of open, and not offering the advantages of closed.

    FWIW, I think the idea of open sourcing the control software on a military device such as a Raptor is nuts. The advantage gained would be small, the the exposure of vulnerabilities and the giving up of competitive advantage considerable. I can think of several cases where the US’s military competitiveness was considerably set back when our enemy captured one of our devices and dismantled it.

    And of course, you have to remember the great advantage we American’s gained when we dismantled those flying saucers in Area 51 :-)

  142. >The advantage gained would be small, the the exposure of vulnerabilities and the giving up of competitive advantage considerable.

    That’s not the verdict of experience. If it were, GPSD wouldn’t be running in every armored fighting vehicle in the U.S. inventory.

  143. @esr
    > GPSD wouldn’t be running in every armored fighting vehicle in the U.S. inventory.

    Sure, it is a trade off like I said before. Given the open nature of GPS itself the competitive advantage GPSD offers is not huge, though certainly not zero. And the advantages of the wider support and low bug count would surely overwhelm that advantage.

    Are there any examples of currently in use phased radar software that is open source? Or perhaps a missile guidance system that is open source? Or a sonar signature analysis engine?

    I’d say the evidence of history is on the side of closed source, which isn’t to say that history can’t be and isn’t wrong, but I don’t think you can offer it in support of your argument.

  144. @Jessica Boxer:
    The article was about cyberwar and the uncontrolled aspects of technology. The military probably doesn’t even understand all the ways it is impacting innocent people with its behind-the-curtain cyberwar activities, because there is no widespread peer review thus less likely security through algorithm rather then obscurity.

    Even if we consider your non-cyberwar examples, those hitech anti-missile defense systems are defensive in nature and thus it is more important they work in varied and so far untested scenarios, than it is to keep them out of the hands of other nations such as China. Failure of missile defense in a nuclear war is not an option.

    The US is still likely to have the advantage because we are moving much faster at integration of technologies and varied sciences. And the more we use open source where possible, the faster we can move. Remember your point in the prior blog about programmers are not fungible, and thus just having access to source code is not enough to keep pace on digesting and integrating on specialized systems. Whereas, the benefits to mankind overall of open source are well defined. If China (Russia, Iran, N Korea, etc) wanted to keep pace with a multifaceted open source economy, they would need to dismantle the top-down control of theirs, so we would be on the way to world peace.

    Our information about the capabilities of our adversaries is likely to be better if we force them to go open source to compete with us. Thus a safer world. Also thousands if not millions of hackers can set their minds to offering tweaks that make the world safer.

  145. The only compelling reason I can see to close-source the military is to give the government monopoly force over citizens, which is what I expect to be accelerating right about now. And thus due to obscurity, I expect the outcomes to uncontrollable by those power vested elite, and chaos will reign.

  146. >I’d say the evidence of history is on the side of closed source

    You could only say that if there were known examples of, say, open-source phased-array radar software to compare it with. You don’t know of any. Nor do I.

    GPSD is an interesting example precisely because there is closed-source software that roughly competes with it in applications where ultra-high reliability is required. But the closed-source competitioin isn’t very good, and fails to be very good for simple reasons that apply to a large range of other software as well.

  147. Eric is rationally side-stepping the conspiratorial or even the more speculative arguments for open-sourcing the military. Rather I am interested in pushing to the limits of available evidence to speculate on the future, because I desire to launch work on some radical projects that are speculative markets. Examples of non-speculative markets are Eric’s GPSD and version control efforts. Specifically I am about to go silent and launch intense coding on a bitcoin with true anonymity, perpetual mining, and mining from mainstream computers, i.e. ASIC-resistant (finally found a great name), as well my other highly disruptive projects. I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to not destroy the stored wealth in the west, and the only choice forward is a quick reset or a 26 year witchhunt downturn. Including my logic presented at the link I provided in my prior comment, I think there is no way to avoid the 26 year witchhunt (from 2007 to 2033), the obscurity of asymmetric power in the west, and thus the choice forward is between that and jumping ship to the new reset economy and whether a westerner has the technological capacity to do so. The Hastings story is another plank of circumstantial evidence. Eric wrote in the prior blog that what stops us is our lack of focus and ruthlessness. Writing in blogs is useful to a point to help others see and to put our own ideas up to challenges of peer review, yet at some point it is redundant w.r.t. to some must-do priorities and evidence of a lack of focus and ruthlessness.

    In short, I believe what we as a society need most right now is action, not words, on moving to more widespread open-source economy. I will leave the words to Eric to analyze any successful outcomes since he has shown his talent in that area, I should follow the example of Linus. Eric admitted the best idea for fetchmail came from a user not himself, thus not only being a strong argument for open source yet also showing that Eric’s a shrewd and adept facilitator and communicator, whereas I am more risk taking thus noisy and sometimes off target.

  148. @Jessica:
    >Are there any examples of currently in use phased radar software that is open source? Or perhaps a missile guidance system that is open source? Or a sonar signature analysis engine?

    Actually, a lot of that kind of stuff may kinda technically be open source already. The military may very well require that it be given access to the sources, and the interest in keeping it secret from the world at large is more on the user’s side than on the developer’s. So the military is probably getting the software under something pretty close to the terms of a permissive free software license. Now, the *developer* is going to be restricted from freely sharing the code, and the military will probably share it under much more restrictive terms if it shares it with anyone else, but permissive free software licenses don’t forbid that, nor do they require that a software package be distributed to anybody.

  149. >>I’d say the evidence of history is on the side of closed source

    >You could only say that if there were known examples of, say, open-source phased-array
    >radar software to compare it with. You don’t know of any. Nor do I.

    Special case. Closed source is the only way to go when your algorithms themselves ARE the secret.

    Kerckhoffs’s principle still applies of course, but accelerating or delaying the leaking is a game of critical importance in its own right. Thus the importance of ELINT- if you can understand how somebody’s radar works, or how his missile guidance works, you can trick it so it doesn’t. And then the radar/guidance system is tweaked to work around the counters. ECM breeds ECCM. Similar with sonars.

    And yes, radars and missile guidance systems do have a used-by date. When they’re well understood they tend to be useless. Correctness of the software itself is not the primary issue. This sort of thing is only going to accelerate. For example- the newest generation of AESA radars. Unless you have some understanding of the algorithms behind the way it works, you’re going to have trouble *detecting* it at all. Traditional radar warning receivers won’t see it.

    >GPSD is an interesting example precisely because there is closed-source software that roughly >competes with it in applications where ultra-high reliability is required. But the closed-source >competitioin isn’t very good, and fails to be very good for simple reasons that apply to a large >range of other software as well.

    With a well known technology where the correctness of the software is what matters, then open source is definitely the way to go.

  150. @esr
    > You could only say that if there were known examples of, say, open-source phased-array radar software to compare it with.

    But doesn’t that beg the question? If there are no open source phased array radar software packages, perhaps the people who make that sort of software have concluded that open source does not serve their best ends? Of course they could well be wrong, and they may be incentivized parochially rather than globally.. But the point is that the evidence of history, for what it is worth, is on the side of closed source. I am not saying that the evidence necessarily advocates for closed source, but I am sure that you cannot use it as evidence to advocate for open source (in this specific context of course.)

    > GPSD is an interesting example precisely because there is closed-source software that roughly competes with it in applications where ultra-high reliability is required.

    It is also an interesting example precisely because it is one of the few such software packages that exists in that sphere. Again, the plural of anecdote is not data, but that is true on both sides of the fence.

    Again, GPSD is an outlier because there isn’t all that much to keep secret in there. I’m sure it is an elegant piece of software, but there really isn’t some special sauce, AFAIK.

    BTW, you indicate that it has closed source competitors. What are they? GPSD is essentially a GPS device abstraction layer, and I am not aware of anything in the commercial realm that is like that (though I don’t much know what I am talking about here, I am honestly curious.)

  151. >If there are no open source phased array radar software packages, perhaps the people who make that sort of software have concluded that open source does not serve their best ends?

    As I mentioned above, I’d say it’s probably more the people who use that sort of software than those who make it that have an interest in keeping it closed (and even then, it’s likely open in the sense of “the user has the source”, even if it’s not in the sense of “the whole world can download it from Sourceforge”).

  152. I find it interesting that one of the things to come out from the Snowden leak is that the NSA’s sooper seekrit data mining program, Boundless Informant, is built entirely upon an open source stack.

  153. >Again, GPSD is an outlier because there isn’t all that much to keep secret in there.

    There isn’t all that much to keep secret anywhere in software. The belief that there is is mainly an illusion produced by territorial emotion and ignorance of how much other people actually know. Military ELINT may be an exception, but I’m not sure even it is.

    >BTW, you indicate that it has closed source competitors.

    Mostly single-device client GUIs shipped as binary blobs by device manufacturers. They suck pretty badly. Some integrated marine navigation systems handle multiple device types (if you hand-configure them) and don’t suck quite as badly in general.

  154. I would think that open sourcing software for something like a nuclear reactor, missile guidance system, or military radar, wouldn’t get you the benefit of “many eyes”. Even if many developers were interested in these things, they couldn’t afford the hardware to do anything with them.

    So, without the ‘many eyes’ benefit, would there be any point to opening up these things?
    And, if there isn’t a sizeable benefit wouldn’t it make more sense to seal it up as tight as possible?
    IOW: Write it and maintain it as if it were wide open, to avoid complacency, but also put as high a wall around it.

  155. There isn’t all that much to keep secret anywhere in software. The belief that there is is mainly an illusion produced by territorial emotion and ignorance of how much other people actually know. Military ELINT may be an exception, but I’m not sure even it is.

    I used to work on AUVs with proprietary control systems. A Swedish hacker (the good kind) working at a German research lab basically single-handedly reverse-engineered our comms protocols and could make the vehicles do whatever he wanted. Which was helpful, in the end, as he found some well-hidden bugs.

    And, if there isn’t a sizeable benefit wouldn’t it make more sense to seal it up as tight as possible?

    Instead of military radar systems or guidance systems, try thinking about weather radar systems and the electronics that solves for the position and orientation of a Wii game controller. Hint: the latter technologies are direct descendants of the former. Bear in mind that once the military classifies something it could be years or decades before it is declassified. This isn’t just a thought exercise; the U.S. military considered strong crypto to be strategically significant enough to attempt to restrict its dissemination, even after compelling civilian applications were found for it.

    In general, any strategy that relies on your enemies’ ignorance is going to bite you in the ass, long term; and meanwhile makes you take more and more oppressive measures to suppress knowledge such as, say, classifying strong crypto as “munitions”. The PRISM program exists because the NSA was betting on the terrorists not being internet-savvy; Edward Snowden is a man marked for death by the U.S. government precisely because his leaks threaten to make the terrorists more internet-savvy. Pinning their strategy on, and attempting to maintain, the enemy’s ignorance cost Americans much in terms of Constitutionally-protected rights, and may yet cost Snowden his life or liberty, all for futile and short-sighted strategic goals.

  156. I know I’m late to the party here, but a glance through “Good Calories, Bad Calories” is worthwhile. It does specifically bring up that fructose is nastier than the rest of the sugars. It also gives a good overview of how your body handles sugars, etc.

  157. Dear All, based on my theory that what makes diets hard is the cognitive load, that they demand paying attention to eating, while we usually do that in an autopilot mode, and that it demands eating stuff we may consider culturally, ethnically or just habitually weird, and based on books like The Warrior Diet and Engineering The Alpha, I have developed a diet that is both scientifically supported and dead simple, easy to make into an unconscious habit:

    22:00 to next day 14:00 literally zero calories, not even an apple, not even a glass of juice or cocoa. The idea is to keep insulin down. Not even artificial sweeteners. Black, bitter coffee (if too hard, diluted with water), tea without any additives and water, nothing else. 14:00: 4 hard boiled eggs brown-bagged to work, after – not before, never shop hungry – popping out to the corner store for some fruit or raw vegs. In the evening, whatever you want, within reason, but don’t get drunk. Ideology: the day is for work, the evening is for enjoyment. But no or little boouze because booze in the evening wants breakfast in the morning. Saturday is the same because Saturday 09:00 – 14:00 is for chores like shopping, cleaning in most households anyway, not really free time, right? But one can drink a bit more on a Saturday evening – party on! Sunday is for enjoyment – so cheat day within reason, starting with a nice big breakfast.

    Psychological advantages: a very simple routine taking 0 attention. Preserves that huge advantage from unhealthy lifestyles that you can feed on autopilot without having to waste brain cycles on it. Matches very well with work vs. social life schedules. Breakfasts before rushing to the office are not much fun anyway, so better save here, and then have a pizza slice with salad with friends in the evening, relaxed.

    Scientific stuff: explained in Engineering The Alpha. Summary: good for insulin, testosterone, human growth hormone.

    What do you think?

  158. I’m very, very sorry for your loss, ESR.

    Here’s a recipe I use and I would like to encourage everyone who drinks lots of sodas to switch to it. It’s a high caffeine iced tea that’s relatively easy to prepare and it’s actually good for your heart and burns fat. (No peer reviewed papers, my conclusion). It’s a bit acidic, so I recommend drinking it with a straw.

    Ingredients:

    1 Teaspoon of green tea extract (http://bit.ly/1b1Kida)
    0.125 teaspoons of sweat leaf extract powder (pure steviasoid) (http://amzn.to/129qmNv)
    1 Tablespoon of lemon juice, or Pure Lemon powder
    20 ounces of water
    Shake it all up in a high quality sports shaker (http://bit.ly/1auFJtf).

    This is about like drinking 8 cups of green tea, so you can drink two of these a day and it will still be healthy.

    Rationale: Peer reviewed papers are expensive, so we’re stuck with anecdotal evidence and a little logic. Stevia has been consumed by indiginous peoples for thousands of years with no effects except the sweet taste. Large amounts of green tea has been consumed in Asia for thousands of years, and Asians have a higher-than-average life expectancy on average, despite widespread smoking. Lemon isn’t that great for your teeth, but the effects can be mostly offset by using a straw. This leaves the possibility of negative interaction of the ingredients, but I haven’t found any of that in about six months of daily use. It’s been great! Guilt free soft drink.

    I have found the taste to be about as addictive as soft drinks, which makes it much easier to switch. You can play with the ingredients until you get the blend you like. You can also brew green tea and stevia leaves to get concentrate, and fill it up with water, or use real lemons; the extract is just more convenient.

    I was thinking about commercializing the recipe, but this report nudged me over the edge to just publish the darn thing and worry about everything else later. If you can switch to this from soft drinks, please do!

  159. This may have been what killed Jim Baen. David Drake is apparently still mad at him for not haven taking care of himself and stroking out so early.

  160. Interesting stuff. I have diabetes typ II, fat-liver, overweight, hypertony. I already knew some parts of the info you gave, but some parts were new. So you may have served my life, thank you!

  161. I think it’s time to make everybody aware of the other major food toxin: salt. It’s been linked to multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.

    Bodybuilders have a mantra: “if it tastes good, spit it out”. The rest of us are only slowly beginning to understand this, and the underlying dynamics of how the American food industry develops, packages, and sells food optimizing for its addictive qualities rather than its nutritive qualities.

  162. >I think it’s time to make everybody aware of the other major food toxin: salt.

    Joke’s on you. Latest research indicates that Americans aren’t eating enough salt – that, in fact, following USDA guidelines on this score sets you up for some pretty serious medical problems tied to salt deficiency.

  163. I lost 70lbs in 2012, and have kept it off since, by:

    — not drinking soda (any type of soda), quit cold turkey.
    — not eating ice cream (in any form)
    — no pies or cakes, ever
    — walking 3 miles a day, 7 days a week, only missing 5 total days in 18 months
    — drinking plenty of water
    — eating on the small plate, and splitting one restaurant meal with my wife instead of eating one to myself.

    It wasn’t that hard either, and I feel a TON better.

    Bottom line, Eric is 100% correct about sugar (namely fructose). Great post Eric.

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