Monthly Archives: September 2011

Book Review: Why We Get Fat: and what to do about it

‘Why we get fat?‘ or more specifically ‘Why I get fat?‘ is the question I ask every times I look at myself in the mirror before shower.
The answer has come timely when I shopped the library two weeks ago and found Why we get fat: and what to do about it by Gary Taubes in the new books collection. He has written another book called Good Calories, Bad Calories which seems to be quite successful (New York Times best seller), so I am expecting this new book to bring forth some good advices.
Indeed, Taubes has cleared some of our (my) misconception in weight loss. A lot of us might think that weight gain is due to overeating – eating more than the body requires. The logic behind is: overeating –>  excess calories –> gaining fat. To lose weight, therefore, we need to be on diet and to exercise more.
However this is misleading (as most common senses are). First, our body is such a complex biological mechanism that this simple logic oversimplifies everything. Even if we expend more energy than we consume, we might still gain weight.
The book has offered several interesting examples. In one experiment, the scientists removed the ovary of a rat. Then it eats voraciously until becoming obese. The scientist, suspecting the rat has overeaten, restricted the amount of food for the rat. Surprising, it still grows obese but has been more inactive (to save energy for making fat).
In another example, Taubes found that most overweight and obese cases happen in poor neighborhood and undeveloped countries. If  the poor people don’t have much money even to buy food, why do they grow fat and obese? Well, in Hong Kong, I have noticed that many bar – bending/construction workers are quite fat, provided they work so industrially.
So overeating and lack of exercise don’t seem responsible for weight – gain. Conversely on diet and exercise won’t work. Then what causes fat?
Second, overeating what? All food? Fatty food? Sweet things? Carbohydrates? Some might indiscriminately cut all food. Some for fatty meat and others less rice. In any cases, we fail to realize how our bodies deal with those foods.
The short answer to all these questions is insulin. Insulin activates fat – making cell to store fats in muscle and stops the body from using fat as fuel. What causes the secretion of insulin? Carbohydrates. Rices and noodle raise the glucose level that alerts the body to secrete more insulin to deal with them.
Taubes proposes us to eat meat, all meats, including even all the fats with it, and zero carbohydrates.
All very well, and  Taubes seems to have offered us a ultimate solution. But I do have some skepticism in his reasoning.
He said that our bodies have adapted to eating meats, rather than carbohydrates, because the pre – historic human can only hunt whatever they eat, i.e. meats and fats. But human at the time die at their 40s. Further I suspect those people simply had no choices and so they all die early.
Indeed, in What to eat now in Time Magazine (September 12 issue), Dr.Oz has a point in saying ‘I would rather follow a diet that sees me lucid and active enough to play with my grandchildren than one under which I die young but look great’.
Taubes kept referring evidence and physicians in the 1940s/1950s and criticized the whole medical health community in the 1960s and 1970s has stuck with the old paradigm and bad science. While I don’t out rule this possibility, I find it hard that the best minds in the medical community (of the 20th century) can’t spot the fat – causing insulin (especially when Taubes sounds as it is a simple truth).
Anyway, the bottom line is that we can all reduce the amount of carbohydrates in diet, but definitely not meat (if not to increase it).

 

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ic! berlin

When plastic glasses swamped the market, ic! berlin has dawned upon as David against Goliath in the industry.
A pair of good eyeglasses is critical. One times I played basketball in my PE lesson, the ball rebound from the rim of the hoop and crushed my eyeglasses into pieces. So, don’t trust the brittle plastic glasses, for your own safety.
Second plastic eyeglasses are quite artless. The worst ones are from Evisu, a Japanese company that originally produce jeans. It encroached the market with the vulgar combination of colors in plastic material and put them together into frame with screws and bolts. Ray -Ban glasses, in contrast, produce simplistic design that feature neither elegance nor minimalism. Glasses from Alain Mikli are better but the so – called design shouldn’t entail and shouldn’t worth the prices they charged.
In the midst of these cheap artless plastic glasses, ic! berlin strike a light with her elegant stainless metal frame, along with her patented technology to make screwless joint. This means you can dissect the glasses  into pieces and put them together, fitly and within seconds.
Here’s the proof and what I’ve done with my own pairs:
Further the frame is cut out from a metal sheet. This is not just something fancy. The flat steel frame maximizes the flexibility and so it won’t break into pieces when hit by basketball (unfortunately what happened to me). Even if it disjointed, the screwless hinge and joint mean you can always put them back. The cutout from a metal sheet is evidenced by the wide – temple (the flat metal that connects the two lenses). You’ll notice the ugly protruding temple in all plastic glasses.
The metallic quality of the frame also raises an air of modernity plus elegance. The minimal design with the inherent flexibility gives out the urban modernity that other plastic glasses can never hope to rival. The recent new series it’s physic!s is especially cool when ic! berlin has sought out the ways to amalgamate difference metallic materials. The uncertainty principle at the top is the one that I want to add to my collection.
Surely ic! berlin is not the only choice to escape from tyranny of plastic glasses. Mykita, Lindenberg and Undostrial (which is a recent interesting brand with the mission to undo industrialization) all provide the alternatives.
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Christian Ignorance or Ignorant Christian?

 

Free after lectures, I walked up from the stairs to the platform near the Run Run Shaw Building and was preparing to go through the Chong Yuet Ming Building, down to the Bonham Road to take a bus back home. Planning to have a nice little tea in 澳洲牛奶公司 at Jordan and to either have a frozen yogurt next to it or to try out the new dessert shop around there to enjoy the rest of the late afternoon, a man came up to me and asked ‘Hi! Did ever think of what you want to achieve in your life?’
Taken aback, I said ‘Well, I never thought of that.’ He briskly produced a leaflet from his pocket, confidently and proudly said ‘God has already prepared what you want in his plan. What you need to do is to believe him.’, then he quickly flipped through the leaflet and talked. Wearing his rimless glasses and with an amicable smile, he seems to conclude by saying ‘No matter what your wishes are, be it academic achievement, a promising career or a beautiful partner, God has his plan for you. You only need to trust and to believe him.’
Finally having a chance of saying something in response, I said ‘But, I am sorry. I don’t believe in God’. ‘What do you think about God?’, he asked.
‘From what I read in Bible, God is rather cruel when he wants Abraham to sacrifice his own son to show his loyalty to him. Beside in the books of Joshua and Judges, God killed whoever that stands on his way.’, I answered.
‘That’s the Old Testament only. Have you read the New Testament?’
‘The New Testament is almost a joke. Look at Chapter 1 of Matthew and Chapter 3 of Luke, they can’t even agree on the basic genealogy of Jesus.’ I have forgotten the frozen yogurt and the afternoon tea already.
‘It’s only a matter of perspective and so it doesn’t…’
‘No, story can be a matter of perspective but not facts. The genealogy of Jesus is simply a matter of fact. Have you read that before?’, I snapped in.
I felt I should stop when I saw that he lost his amicable smile and his glasses slipping down a bit from his nose ridge.
In fact, I have encountered similar people before in the campus and elsewhere but I always find it irritating when few of them actually has read the Bible or rather,  has read it with a critical mind. They don’t know beside the Gospels from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, there are also Gospel of Thomas, Mary Madgalene and even Judas. They don’t know why those gnostic gospels are discarded (well, I will tell them because the early Christian leaders were already intolerant enough to burn all those books and persecute the gnostics as heretics). They don’t know the Bible is more or less a melange of books that satisfy the rulers. They don’t know much about Bible and the history of it.
I always tried to discover people based on what to believe in God or in Christianity (which is not the same, as will be seen). When I tried to present my argument (if not in an overly aggressive manner, I hope), the final, if not the ultimate, answer I heard is: ‘I have a personal relationship with God that I can always feel, and that I can find him as someone I can rely on’. I tend to shut up after hearing this because that seems to be saying ‘Look, this is my personal feeling, and you are not going to question about that, won’t you? I just believe, and you don’t need to ask me with that logic that can’t understand any emotion’. I don’t want to say what I am going to say in their faces, as if I am Satan attacking his faith and hurting his feeling.
OK, so you have the feeling to be in a personal relationship with God (for the moment, I don’t dispute their psychological minds, although I do have a great deal to talk about, such as the possibility of some believer suffering hallucination/illusion/imaginary auditory voices. Anyway, I recommend them to read The Future of an Illusion by Freud to know more about their psychology though), how do you know even this God is the God from Christianity? Why can’t He be Allah, Jehovah, Zeus, Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Given numerous inconsistencies of Bible and its  bloody history, it seems that your kind and all – reliable God can’t be the cruel and ruthless one that killed all the first – born son in Egypt and also the one that drove Christians in history to burn women alive.
OK, so you are in a personal relationship with God, but it doesn’t stop you from questioning what he has done and what he argued for his own existence. It reminded me of a game that I’ve played with my dad when I was small:
‘I am the God’, he said.
‘How do you prove that?’, I asked, in a high – pitched childish tone.
‘Don’t you just think of God just now? See, I’ve created that concept in your mind’
‘But fossils have existed way before you are here’
‘Oh no worry, I’ve just created them’
Of course, I ended being frustrated of trying to disprove him but the story does illustrate several points. Even though he is my dad and is in a dear personal relationship with me, first what he said isn’t true. Secondly his relationship with me doesn’t mean he can’t talk about nonsense. Thirdly it also doesn’t stop me from questioning him.

I am afraid I must stop here, in case of offending someone back in the campus. I do want to apologize to the man with the rimless glasses that I should have talked in a more measured tone. But I just want you or any other future comers to really read about Bible and so we can have a more thoughtful discussion.

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Themis is Blind – Some thoughts after summer in Chambers

J, an Indian, was born in Hong Kong, just like his father, aunts and uncles and other relatives. He abandoned school at Form 4 to help his father’s carpet business in which J has ended some years ago. Unemployed with his wife and two children, a boy and girl aged 9 and 6 respectively, another Indian, M, invited him to do a part – time job in a shop at Tsim Sha Tsui. He worked for about one and half month, receiving a modest wage at around 4000$/month. One night, he was arrested; charged with possession for the sale or for any purpose of trade or manufacture goods to which a forged trade mark was applied, contrary to section 9(2) as read with section 18(1) of the Trade Description Ordinance Chapter 362. It was found his shop sells faked iPhone and Nokia products.
A, a Filipino, helped her sister – in – law S, also a Filipino, to imitate the signature of his brother, S’s husband, to extend her stay in Hong Kong. A’s brother refused to sign for S because of their deteriorated relationship and so she could only plead A to copy her husband’s signature. A was charged with forgery, contrary to s. 71 of the Crime Ordinance , Cap 200. According to the brief facts, an anonymous email was sent to the Immigration Office Department and exposed this.

E, a Filipino, was a driver in Saudi Arabia for the past ten years. Last two years, he returned home in Philippine to take care of his family. His daughter attracted a disease that will cause blindness if medical operation can not be carried out swiftly. In the urgent need for funds, he accepted an offer of a man to carry over 1.5kg ketamine to Hong Kong. He was arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport; charged with trafficking in a dangerous drug, contrary to s. 4(1)(a) and (3) of the Dangerous Drug Ordinance, Cap 134 (a minimum staring point of 10 years imprisonment after plea of guilty, according to case laws).
Law serves Justice but in the eyes of J, A and E, Justice means suppression. For J, Justice means getting into prison and to leave his wife and two children. For A, Justice means her sister – in – law should be left abused by her husband. For E, Justice means to believe fate and that her daughter becomes blind. For million others, Justice means that they should either submit to the social injustices or they will be subjugated under the sword of Themis. Themis is, of course, blind. She is blind to how people struggled to live. She is blind to how responsibly people suffer for the sake of government’s inadequacies. She is blind, after all, to social injustices.
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