J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Month: February 2012

What Your Doctor Isn’t Thinking About (Dragging Medical Professionals Into the Modern Era)

The other day I came across an alarming video of what it’s like to drive in Poland. My first thought after watching the clip was “What’s the Toxoplasmosis gondii infection rate in Poland?” T. gondii is a brain parasite easily acquired from eating undercooked meat, or contact with cats, and is associated with a six-fold increase in traffic accidents (this association has been replicated a number of times, in different countries). Well, I looked it up, and found that the latent infection rate in 2003 was around 41% (at least among pregnant women). That’s quite high — in the U.S. the infection rate is only about 11%.

Is there anything to my hypothesis that terrible driving in Poland is related to the relatively high T. gondii infection rate? Probably not. The accident fatality rate in Poland is relatively high for a modern industrialized country. But France has a very low accident fatality rate, and a much higher rate of T. gondii infection. So while T. gondii might be a contributing factor, it’s probably not the most important variable.

I’m fascinated by latent/chronic biological infections, and how they affect human health and behavior. T. gondii in particular is linked to changes in personality, and even schizophrenia.

What’s shocking to me, as shocking as the driving in Poland video above, is that so few medical professionals are considering latent infections as part of their diagnostic process. The research is here, and so are the diagnostic tests. So why aren’t medical professionals taking advantage of them?

The Future Is Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed -William Gibson

The above quote definitely applies to the medical profession. How many general practitioners are doing the following?

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Deep Focus in Consciousness — Keeping the Big Picture and the Details in Focus, Simultaneously

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Deep focus is a photography technique that can be metaphorically applied to consciousness. It means working on the details (which is what all work consists of), while keeping the larger purpose or perspective in mind. It means being zoomed in and zoomed out at the same time.

With deep focus, we’re more effective, and less anxious.

We’re more effective if we can compose the notes while also paying attention to the groove.

We’re more effective if we use a tool correctly, while also considering if we’re using the right tool for the job (and switching if needed).

We’re more effective if we serve not only one person, but also their organization, and the mission that is meant to guide their organization.

Don’t pigeonhole yourself as either a “details” person or a “big picture” person. To be effective (at anything), you need to be both. You need to have the capacity to deal with the immediate minutiae as well as the ability to see the larger, broader, slower forces at play.

I’m naturally a details person, and my tendency is to jump right in and start working before carefully evaluating the situation or problem. After wasting probably thousands of hours of work, I now try to ask myself a few questions before I get in too deep, including:

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Disruptive Distribution – a Shareable.net Interview with Michel Bauwens and Neal Gorenflo

I met Michel Bauwens over at Marvin Brown‘s place when Michel was in town giving a talk on The Future of Peer Production. Talking with Michel (and reading some of his work) was part of the inspiration for my recent post “Watching Open Source Destroy Capitalism.” I forwarded the post to Marvin, who sent it on to Michel, which eventually resulted in the following interview with Michel and shareable.net co-founder Neal Gorenflo. The original can be found here.

Civilized comments from any point of view are welcome as always.

Michel Bauwens: You are a music entrepreneur, and reportedly doing quite well. Can you explain the basis of your success and whether you use music that can be shared, for example based on Creative Commons Licensing?

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Death Will Eat Itself (The Enormous Benefits of Autophagy, or Why You Should Stop Eating Once in Awhile)

Martin Berkhan destroys body fat for a living.

About a year ago I became interested in the benefits of intermittent fasting after reading a number of articles on Martin Berkhan’s Leangains site. Martin is a Swedish nutritional consultant/personal trainer/writer. His recommendations run contrary to conventional wisdom among personal trainers, but his ideas are well-researched and accompanied by numerous examples (pictures) of his own physique and the physiques of his clients, who are all very muscular and impressively lean. Martin’s writing style is bombastic, confrontational, and entertaining, but also thorough, persuasive, and rich in citations.

Martin’s main idea is that intermittent fasting can assist with fat loss and muscle growth simultaneously. Most weight-lifters would tell you that both “growth phases” (where muscle and fat are added simultaneously) and “cutting phases” (where calories are restricted and fat is lost) are required. Martin calls B.S. on that idea, and provides ample evidence that restricting eating to an 8-hour daily “window” (only eating between 2pm and 10pm, for example), combined with simple, consistent workouts can allow a person to get leaner and stronger at the same time.

My Own Experience

At this point in my life I’m not looking for a radical change in my physique, but Martin’s posts piqued my curiosity enough to give intermittent fasting a try. I decided I would “dip a toe in” and try not eating until 2pm, one day a week.

I found it to be easier than expected. On my partial fast days, I only drink water and black coffee until 2pm. I rarely experience any hunger pangs (though I do look forward to my first meal more than I would otherwise). Here are a few other subjective observations:

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