Photo of the Day

Stunning day here in Hong Kong.

Monday is a day off for us here and we were up early (Muky around 5:30am for unknown reasons). It’s was a run, exercise and a splash in the water for me, and a 2km open water swim for Muky.

Reading Pema Chödrön in the shade afterwards was worth the toil:

A Song for Sunday with Crowded House

Here’s a throwback from ’86. Crowded House, had just released their first album, and ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over‘ was the song that changed their fortunes. It sold well in many countries around the world (remember when people bought music?) and charted at no.2 in the US.

In this lock-down version from May we have Neil Finn and his two sons, Liam (Guitar) and Elroy (Drums), both of which have respectable musical careers, plus original member Nick Seymour (Bass) and original producer Mitchell Froom (Keyboards).

Neil Finn has always been one of my favourite singers and it warms the heart to see how well his voice is holding up — on a USB podcasting mic no less!

Enjoy:

Word of the Day: Doomscrolling

A new word has been doing the rounds of late and it’s a doozy!

Doomscrolling describes our tendency to continue scrolling news and social media feeds despite overwhelmingly negative content.

Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say:

Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.

The compulsion to continue scrolling probably stems from the need to make sense of the crises that now face us. But there’s a potential cost to our mental health, for the doom and gloom is relentless. The Media companies know how effectively this type of content captures our attention so will keep the stories coming thick and fast. The solution? Not sure, but limiting news and social media is a great start!

Book 27: The Dental Diet – Dr Steven Lin

When you fracture a tooth during the coronavirus lockdown and can’t go to the dentist —it’s time to hit the books!

Dr Steven Lin’s ‘The Dental Diet’ is based on the work of Weston Price (1870 – 1928), a Canadian dentist who travelled the world investigating the link between nutrition and dental health in indigenous populations. The influence of Price’s work can be seen in ‘The Dental Diet’ but Lin extends and develops some of the ideas with the help of modern research.

The book begins by outlining the evolutionary history of our teeth before describing how our modern diets have eroded our dental health. A lot of information here maps onto what writers like Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig write about — which is essentially that the modern western diet has been undermining our health and wellness for decades.

Lin sets up his Dental Diet around four ideas which he calls ‘The principles of good dental nutrition’. They are:

  1. Keep the jaw, face, and airways healthy and strong.

In order to maintain healthy functioning of the bones, muscles and joints of the face, ‘the dental diet prioritises hard, fibrous foods’. Lin focuses in on breathing as well — promoting nose breathing as is recommended in ‘The Oxygen Advantage’.

2. Give the mouth the nutrients it needs (with a focus on calcium balance and the fat-soluble vitamins)

Like Weston Price, Lin emphasises fat-soluble vitamins, especially vitamin D. I’ve beaten vitamin D half to death on the blog of late but Lin doesn’t hold back either. It really is central to the health of your teeth (and body). He also mentioned the importance of vitamin A and K2.

3. Keep the microbiome balanced and diverse.

Lin introduces the microbiome and how it influences dental health. There’s still a lot that is unknown about the way the microbiome affects our health and in many ways it’s a new field of research, but he points out the need for ‘balance’ in the bacteria of the mouth. That balance is achieved through a healthy combination of prebiotics and probiotics — he encourages us to ask ourselves: ‘Am I eating microbes in this meal?’.

4. Eat foods with healthy epigenetic messages.

Our genes can be expressed in innumerable ways and the epigenetic messages they receive from nutrition to some extent determine their expression, and therefore our health. All the food we eat has its own ‘epigenetic fingerprints’ so Lin argues that food sourcing matters. Aim to source the best quality food you are able — this includes not just the way animal and seafood are raised but also whether chemicals, antibiotics and pesticides have been used in production.

The diet is based on ‘The Dental Diet Food Pyramid’ which looks like this:

It’s a low-carb, whole-food diet with a moderately high fibre/ fat intake. Lin calls it the ‘ancestral diet’ and it looks similar to the diet recommended in Michael Pollan’s ‘Food Rules’. Compared to the traditional food pyramid the differences are clear:

At the end of the book is a 40-day Dental Diet complete with recipes and other recommendations. It won’t come as any surprise to learn that the diet starts with elimination: NO vegetable oils, NO white flour and NO sugar. Some may find this challenging.

This is a recommended read if you’re interested in dental health or diet. I have been following something approximating the dental diet for about 5 years and it has definitely improved my teeth (recent crisis notwithstanding!) — you own milage may vary.

The Power of a Frame

Cognitive reframing is a powerful way to reinterpret events in a more positive way.

It comes from the idea that life events are inherently meaningless and only develop meaning when we assign meaning to them. Our thinking is so heavily influenced by past experience, values, beliefs, biases that it’s often possible to substantially change our view of an event by simply adjusting our perspective (story) about it: re-framing it in other words.

Need evidence of the power of a frame?

Look no further than the work of Gold Coast resident and tireless home decorator, Muky.

Her recent art work has been transformed by some (literal) frames —not exactly the same thing of course, but close enough!

Noam Chomsky Speaks

Noam Chomsky must be the world’s most important public intellectual. At 91 years, he shows no signs of slowing and continues to share his thoughts with clarity and elegance.

Here he lambastes the US response to the current crisis before pointing out that the climate crisis (remember that one?) poses a substantially bigger threat.

While catching up on Chomsky’s recent commentary just now, this article in The Independent came up. Trump gets eviscerated like you wouldn’t believe…with Chomsky describing him as ‘undeniably the worst criminal in history:

This sounds strong, but it’s true: Trump is the worst criminal in history, undeniably. There has never been a figure in political history who was so passionately dedicated to destroying the projects for organised human life on earth in the near future,

Independent Newspaper Online

Perhaps going too far? It remains to be seen…

Challenges to Democracy

This article today on Vox.com was an interesting read:

Stevan Dojcinovic, an independent Serbian journalist, describes how the same insidious methods that eroded Serbian democracy are now clear to see in Trump’s America. He goes on to talk about the negative impact that Trump’s leadership is having on European politics and how the situation will deteriorate should he be re-elected.

So that’s that.

But far be it from me to leave you on a depressing note….here’s Trump vs Science:

And this second clip makes him out to be even more of a moron.

Highlight? Probably nuking a hurricane but it’s a close call…

Book 26: The Odyssey – Homer

The ‘Lindy effect’ describes the idea of something ‘ageing in reverse’.

For books, the longer they have been around increases the chances of them staying around for longer still. If it makes sense to use this idea to help choose books, (and I think it does) could there be a better choice than Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’?

The Odyssey was written around 8th century B.C making it nearly 3,000 years old. It is, with the Iliad, the oldest surviving piece of western literature. It’s a epic read as well — coming in at around 600 pages of verse. So you’ve got an ancient epic, written in verse, translated from Ancient Greek, written thousands of years ago — it’s enough to give the most enthusiastic reader pause…

But fear not!

‘The Odyssey’ is mesmerising tale and one of the greatest stories ever told.

Like ‘Norse Mythology’, I stuck with the oral traditions of the story by opting for an audiobook over print. I auditioned the three or four different translations on scribd and went with Dan Stevens narrating the Fitzgerald translation.

Besides occasional bewilderment with lists of people and places, reservations one might have on the accessibility of the text are put to rest almost immediately. The narrative of Odysseus’s 10-year return to Ithaca is the ultimate hero’s journey and pulsing with adventure. As well, the remnants of the Ancient Greek give the story convincing, evocative colour (henceforth your dawns will be touched with ‘fingertips of rose’).

Many readers compare the merits of different translations but for me it would be hard to improve on the Fitzgerald. Experts say he captures the spirit of the Ancient Greek, written for the most part in Iambic Pentameter. You have to marvel at the cadence and rhythm that Fitzgerald managed to achieve, as well as wonder how long this translation took him to complete. The other versions are no doubt excellent and you may want to explore the options as I did — but do try Fitzgerald’s translation, preferably with Dan Stevens narrating.

The Odyssey: The Fitzgerald Translation

Perhaps in time I might try some of the other versions (I have already bought the new Caroline Alexander translation) but for now I’d rather deepen my appreciation of this book and to this end I bought a copy:

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end, 
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.

The Odyssey, Book 1, Lines 1-5

So begins the tale of Odysseus, son of Laërtês and the Gods of old, master mariner and solider, the great tactician — prepare to be enthralled.

Essential reading.

Space…you’ve never seen it quite like this

eROSITA is an X-Ray telescope that was built in Germany and launched into orbit in July of last year:

On the 11th of this month it completed its first all-space scan. It took 182 days to collect the 165 GB of data and the resulting picture shows more than one million objects in space.

Now, what is this particular telescope seeing that others traditional telescopes can’t? Not exactly sure…but just look at what they came back with!

The eROSITA telescope will continue with 7 more all-sky captures and is scheduled to finish its work in 2023.

Those interested in the project might like to read this short interview with Peter Predehl, the scientific Director of eRosita, speaking with phys.org (it’s non-technical and worth a read).