Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gary Taubes on . . . feeding dogs?

I've posted about "low-carb" for dogs before, but never from a weight-lifters site.

Josef Brandenburg at has a great interview with physicist Gary Taubes.

All right. I know what you're thinking. A bodybuilder interviewing a physicist? What kind of alter-dimension is this? Just proves low carbing affects the brain, right?

It can all be explained.

Testosterone Muscle: You started out writing on stuff like rocket science. How did you first get interested in obesity and public health?

Gary Taubes: Well, after I finished my first book, Bad Science, on the cold fusion nonsense in Utah, some of my physicist friends said to me, "If you like writing about bad science, you should check out public health. You'll have a field day."

So I started writing about public health, and it turns out the science was pretty universally terrible. I did a story for Science magazine, in which I spent a year on the controversy over whether dietary salt causes high blood pressure. One of the worst scientists I ever interviewed — and I had interviewed some really terrible scientists in my life — took credit for getting Americans not only to eat less salt, but also to eat less fat and less eggs.

I literally put the phone down when I was done with the interview, called up my editor, and said one of the five worst scientists I've ever interviewed took credit for getting Americans to eat less fat and less eggs. I don't know what the story is with fat and eggs, but if this guy was involved in any substantive way, then there's a good story.

Sometimes it is just that easy to sniff out the rats in the woodshed. Scientific training can help refine the ol' sniffer, but scientific training alone does make a person smart. All those bad scientists Mr. Taubes interviewed are ample proof of that. There remains an element science has yet to discover that separates intelligence from idiocy.

Ms. X calls it "Truthlightium".

These days Mr. Taubes is best known for authoring the watershed article "What If It's All Been A Big Fat Lie?" in the New York Times.

In that article he questioned the "knowledge" we all had that low-fat was good and fat, especially animal fat, was bad.

When I was a young girl, I had a whole set of craft dolls bought with coupons from the back of Blue Bonnet Margarine boxes. Crisco was normal shortening. That's how deeply my family believed the evil-fat hypothesis. I was a teenager before I tasted real butter.

Our family dog ate vegetarian dog food. (THAT, is a whole 'nother post.)

After the NYT article came a book, "Good Calories, Bad Calories". GCBC made the link between carbohydrates and heart disease and a whole host of other health problems.

TM: Let's get to the most controversial point: You say that eating extra calories won't make people fat.

GT: The assumption that fat tissue isn't regulated at all is almost naive beyond belief.

[GT] If you look at animals, all animals regulate their fat tissue very carefully. You can't just force animals to overeat and make them fat.

TM: Really?

GT: They won't do it. The only animals that will get fat by dietary means are very carefully bred rats in laboratories, and house pets that don't eat the foods they evolved to eat.

If you've ever looked at cat food, it's packed with carbohydrates. And yet cats are carnivores in the wild. Felines don't eat carbohydrates. They eat meat. That's what they do. And yet we take then into our homes, we feed them carbohydrates, and lo and behold, they get fat.

Ditto dogs.

Combine the carbs with inbreeding and viola! Disaster.

Several years ago someone wrote that cats were first domesticated because they were so good at protecting the grain stores from the rodents that consumed them. The cats were good because they ate the rodents. They didn't eat the grain.

How far we've come.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Can you afford your doggie door?

Evidently litigious lawyers are falling on hard times, like everyone else. Maybe gas it too expensive to actually chase ambulances these days, so they are reduced to scouring coroner reports and obituaries.

And what are they finding?

People are stupid, and accidents happen. Either, or, both.

Children's Deaths Tied to Pet Doors
Unknown Danger for Curious Tots Able to Squeeze Through Tiny Openings

The headline says enough, huh? "Unknown Danger". NEWS FLASH! Children can go through openings a normal size adult can't fit through!

But it's not merely going through the doggy door that kills the child. It's the swimming pool in the backyard, maybe the cars on the road, or the five gallon bucket sitting on the patio.

More than a hundred children have died or been seriously injured in the last decade after squeezing through tiny pet doors and getting into swimming pools or other dangerous places, new research has found.

Let me make sure I understand. There is an DOOR OPEN to the backyard. You have a swimming pool filled with water, and inadequately secured (fence, alarm system, cover etc....).

The child EXITS said door, and DROWNS (tragically) in the pool.

Who's fault is that?

Oh, sorry, the door was small. My bad.

"Parents don't appreciate that their children, even if they're bigger, can get through," said Dylan's father, Hank Didier, a Florida lawyer suing a pet door manufacturer for the family of two-year old Matthew Ranfone.

Matthew's mother Carol, of Spring Hill, Florida, found her son floating in the backyard swimming pool after he managed to get through a small pet door in the family home.

"I remember when the accident occurred," she recalled, "and thinking to myself, 'How in the world did he ever fit out of that door?'"

The PetSafe door in the Ranfone home contained no warning to parents of the possible danger on its package or product instructions.

She was outraged to learn that many children had died under similar circumstances before her son.

"It was just unbelievable to me that all of these accidents happened as a result of doggie doors and how come I wasn't informed," she told ABC News.

Sometimes kids don't even try to go through the pet door. Sometimes they just open the door and walk right out.

It's a hellacious thing. It is very distressing to have to write about this.

But we must keep perspective. The external doors to my house did not come with warnings about small children learning how to unlock them and exit before I suspect they might figure it out.

The road in front of my house does not have a sign warning that small children unrestrained in the front yard might run quickly to the middle of the road.

At the request of trial lawyers, Sean Kane, of Safety Research and Strategies, combed through hundreds of coroner's reports and media accounts.

"It's a very laborious task to get through the documents and the data and the connections to find these incidents," said Kane. "But I think at the end of this we're going to find hundreds of incidents."

Kane compared the issue with pet doors to the discovery of the pattern of children hurting themselves in cribs.

It is NOT THE SAME AS CRIB INJURIES at all. The article did not mention any incidents of children being guillotined by the pet door, or getting stuck in it and starving to death, or some other form of death by pet door.

In fact, Ms. Ranfone's website tells this story -

It was a typical late afternoon and the house was buzzing with three adults and two children when Matthew found the doggie door behind the couch. He crawled through it and made his way onto an enclosed patio area and then through a pool fence.

"Through a pool fence". Yet it is 'through the doggie door' that is blamed for the accident.

Maybe this is why:

"I just want parents to understand the danger associated with the doggy doors. I never ever considered that a child would ever go near the door," Ranfone said. "It was inconceivable to me."

"Through the fence" must be self-evident.

Now I am not opposed to slapping a warning sticker on a doggy door saying "Not for use by children" or something like that, IF a manufacturer feels so inclined. But it is not necessary. Logically, where are you going to draw the lines? At what size of doggy door is the danger self-evident? And if the Great Dane's doggy door requires a sticker, then should not the human door?

Or perhaps the doggy doors should be redesigned, but at what price to the consumer? And why should pet owners pay this price, and not the pool-fence purchasers?

This story was came to my attention via, where the commentators had already sussed out the *shocking* fact that Ms. Rafone's "advocacy" website was in fact registered to her lawyer, and the design was eerily similar to his site.

The "advocacy" website was launched just earlier this week, according to the local Fox News report, just in time for the Good Morning America show.

The accident, btw, happened in 2006.

More on Radio Systems Corporation's CEO

More on Hank Didier and here

More from the Safety Research Group