Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Dr. Richard A. Schwartz, MD, F.A.C.P., F.A.C.C.

Dick Schwartz entered my life as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland. I signed up for the six credit hour course- Cardiovascular Physiology and Pathology. From that stepping stone he was a member of our FEMA-funded, ground-breaking research tesm, conducting the first-ever study of the metabolic demands of structuiral fire suppression. We identified the aerobic and anaerobic constructs and contributions to working encumbered with SCBA and the PPE. 

Our friendship with Dick and his wife grew through life events including his marriage, his professional advancemet and later in setting up an Occupational Medicine practice in the Greater Washington, DC area. 

I was honored to serve as a pallbearer and call him friend. The official obituary follows. 

It is with great sadness and regrets that the physicians and staff of Cardiology Specialists of Virginia note the passing of Dr. Schwartz on December 20, 2022. Dr. Schwartz was a dedicated physician who dearly cared for his patients and loved his profession; he was our colleague and friend.

Dr. Schwartz began his private practice in the Northern Virginia area in 1974. He was the founder and medical director of a group cardiology practice in Arlington and Alexandria, VA. from 1974 to 2000. Dr. Schwartz received his medical degree from Cornell University in 1965. He served his Internship at Philadelphia General Hospital. His residency training was done in the Georgetown University Hospital program at D.C. General Hospital. Cardiology Fellowships were completed at Georgetown University Hospital and the Washington Center Hospital. He was Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease. Dr. Schwartz held the rank of Lieutenant Commander during his military service in the U.S. Public Health Service. He was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University Hospital of Medicine. At the University of Maryland, he served as a consultant in cardiology, sports medicine and physical fitness. He was a Director of the Northern Virginia Institute for Continuing Education, Chairman of the Board for the Medical Society Services and Treasurer of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia. Dr. Schwartz was past Chairman of the D.C. Medical Society Committee on Physical Fitness and a charter member and past President of the Sports Medicine Association of Greater Washington. He was a frequent guest speaker and author on various healthcare and fitness topics. Active in rowing for over 30 years, Dr. Schwartz was a senior master sculler and has participated in the sport as a crew member, coach, and team physician. He was a member of national championship crews and rowed on the 1963 Pan American team.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

From the Wall Street Journal

The current era is marked by fading trust in U.S. institutions, but confidence in one pillar has held up: the military. But now even that is eroding, and the question is whether the brass will get the message.

The Reagan Institute releases an annual survey of public attitudes on national defense, and this year only 48% reported having “a great deal of confidence” in the U.S. military in results first detailed here. That’s down from 70% in 2018, and within the margin error of last year’s 45%.

This is consistent with other surveys. Pew Research this year noted a 14-point drop since 2020 in Americans who said they had a great deal of confidence in the military to act in the public’s interest.

The Reagan poll asked Americans what is driving the decline. It isn’t the ability to carry out missions or win in a fight. It is “things going on outside the core competencies of the military,” says Reagan’s Roger Zakheim. “Call it politicization, call it wokeness,” but that’s where “you can connect the dots.”

Some 62% said “military leadership becoming overly politicized” reduced their confidence some or a great deal. That includes trust in civilians who give the orders. Americans offered some of the worst ratings for decisions made by Presidents, and the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan comes to mind.

Some 52% also had reduced confidence in uniformed officers. Half cited “so-called ‘woke’ practices undermining military effectiveness.” Some of these episodes—a brouhaha over maternity flight suits—are overblown. But others are revealing: An admiral suggested last year that to increase diversity the Navy should consider reviving the practice of looking at photos in promotion boards—i.e., to make decisions based explicitly on race.

General Mark Milley’s speech to Congress last year that he wanted to understand “white rage,” in response to reasonable inquiries about whether cadets at West Point should be learning critical race theory, was a lapse in judgment. Many Americans think the military is no longer an institution that runs on excellence, merit and individual submission to a larger cause.

The Pentagon denies this is a problem, but it surely is if half the public believes it. The military relies on young Americans to sign up amid many other career opportunities. Fewer are doing so. Americans on the left have their own reasons for declining confidence in the military: 46% cited right-wing extremism, even though this scourge has been wildly overstated.

This drop in confidence comes at an ominous moment, as the public seems to know. Some 75% in the Reagan survey viewed China as an enemy, up from 55% in 2018, and the percentage of those worried about Russia has doubled. Some 70% are concerned China might invade Taiwan within five years, and 61% support increasing the U.S. military’s Pacific footprint.

The good news is that these trends can be reversed, as they were in the years after Vietnam. As GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher put it to us, the poll is helpful in narrowing “what our failures are,” and it isn’t the rank-and-file or even the equipment. “Ukraine has been one long advertisement for American weapons systems.” But “it seems to be the leadership.”

Americans want their military to focus on preventing or winning the next war, not on serving the latest political fashion.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Intellectual Property Defined

What is IP, or "Intellectual Property?"

From the The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition:

Any of various products of the intellect that have commercial value, including copyrighted property such as literary or artistic works, and ideational property, such as patents, business methods, and industrial processes.

The set of rights protecting such works and property from unlawful infringement.

Any product of someone's intellect that has commercial value: copyrights, patents, trademarksand trade secrets.

So, going back in history to 1976, the elements of the Firefighter Challenge meet the definition; that is, any form of Climbing a stairway under load, hoisting with gloved hand a weight, simulated "chopping" with a sledge hammer, (or ax), advancing a charged hose and "rescuing" a mannequin is a derivative of the original work of Dr. Paul Davis. His research was published widely in copyrighted publications and trademarks registered in the United States and the EU.

The words: Firefighter Challenge cannot be trademarked because they are too broad. But the stylized version of the words and associated trademarks can be protected.
Also, the published rules on the official website are copyrighted. "Knockoffs" abound. Which brings us to the subject of Intellectual Honesty.

"If I don't call it the Firefighter Challenge, am I not stealing?"

Yes you are. In an attempt to be perceived as original thinkers, some organizations "tweak it" to demonstrate a difference that would suggest that this was their idea. Yet, the order effect is still there. But the idea was NOT theirs. It's been 46 years since the first Challenge course was created. The legacy of records has been meticulously maintained to provide value and reference for benchmarks around the world. Interestingly, the popularity of the Challenge is demonstrated by the hundreds of postings on YouTube.

You can develop your own version of the Olympic Decathlon, but the coin of the realm, time or points are not going to have meaning if what you're doing is different. Here in lies the value of a "Brand." And that’s why imitators need to be called out. Simply answer the question "where did you get the idea for your version of the truth?"
  • Wednesday, November 23, 2022

    The Salt in Sports Drinks May Not Be As Crucial As You Think

    Replacing lost salt is a pillar of sports nutrition, but new research suggests more isn’t always better
    Alex HutchinsonNov 4, 2022
    A detail shot of a volunteer as he hads a Gatorade refreshment cup to a runner as he passes through a water station in the town of Natick during the Boston marathon

    In the mid-1960s, a researcher at the University of Florida named Robert Cade went to a bank and borrowed $500 to buy sugar and salt. The homemade drink he’d devised for the university’s football team, dubbed Cade’s Cola—or Gatorade—was attracting widespread attention, and he wanted to mix a big batch of it to sell. The sugar provided crucial fourth-quarter energy for the players, and the salt—well, scientists and athletes are still debating what role the salt in sports drinks plays in athletic performance.

    The question lurks in the background of a new study published in the European Journal of Sport Science, by sports nutrition researcher Alan McCubbin of Monash University in Australia. The study uses a mathematical model to determine exactly how much sodium is required during exercise of varying intensities and durations, depending on how much a person sweats, how salty that sweat is, how much they drink, and other factors. The answers depend on the assumptions we make about why athletes need salt. But in the vast majority of real-world situations, McCubbin concludes, we don’t need to worry about it.

    There’s no doubt that sodium—the key electrolyte in salt—has a number of crucial responsibilities in the body. It helps muscles contract, conducts nerve signals, and keeps internal fluid levels balanced. It’s also true that we lose sodium through sweat. In the 1930s, after at least 13 workers died of heat exhaustion during the first year of construction on the Hoover Dam, in Nevada, tests conducted by Harvard physiologist D. B. Dill revealed that the workers were sweating out large quantities of sodium. The solution: in the dining hall, alongside a sign that read, DRINK PLENTY OF WATER, Dill’s team added, AND PUT PLENTY OF SALT ON YOUR FOOD.

    But taking in salt during exercise is another matter. There are three principal reasons you might want to do this. The most frequently cited is to ward off muscle cramps, but scientific evidence largely contradicts this idea. Studies involving runners and triathletes have found no significant difference in sodium levels between those who experience cramping during exercise and those who don’t, and deliberately lowering those levels appears to have no effect one way or the other. There are many reasons why we cramp, and sodium may be involved in some of them. But when it comes to exercise-related cramping, increasing our salt consumption doesn’t appear to be the solution.

    The second reason to boost salt intake while exercising is to avoid hyponatremia (literally, low blood sodium)—a dangerous and occasionally fatal condition. On paper, drinking something salty would seem like a good way to ensure healthy sodium levels. But sports drinks are less salty than blood, so the more you chug, the more diluted your blood becomes. As a result, the main risk factor for hyponatremia is actually taking in too many fluids—be it water or sports drinks—not too little salt. That’s why current guidelines advise drinking when thirsty rather than following an aggressive hydration plan.

    The third reason is the one McCubbin considers legit: regulating fluid concentrations. The human body is replete with fluids—in the blood, in the cells, and in the spaces between cells. Your body monitors sodium levels to decide how to allocate fluid stores among these three areas. That means you’ve got a buffer when you start exerting yourself; even though you’re sweating, water from other localities can shift into your blood plasma to maintain sodium concentration. However, if prolonged sweating depletes sodium levels too much and you’re only drinking water, the opposite happens: fluid shifts out of your plasma to keep concentrations from dropping elsewhere, leaving you with lower blood volume to ferry oxygen to muscles and dissipate heat. That, in theory at least, is a problem.

    The relevant question, then, isn’t how much sodium you need in order to replace what’s lost to sweat. It’s how much you need to keep your blood concentration from dropping, taking into account that your body is moving fluid around internally. Crucially, the answer doesn’t just depend on how much sodium you sweat out; it also depends on how much fluid you take in.

    “There’s a big difference between losing four liters of salty sweat in a marathon and replacing two liters of that with plain water, and losing 20 liters in a 100-miler and replacing it with 18 liters of plain water,” McCubbin explains. In both cases, you’ve lost the same quantity of fluid: two liters, or 4.4 pounds of body weight. But it’s really the turnover that matters. In the latter instance you’ve sweated out far more sodium, and are therefore more likely to exceed your body’s ability to compensate for the loss.

    For his study, McCubbin used equations developed by kidney specialists to calculate blood-sodium concentration. Among soccer players and marathoners, he concluded, making a deliberate effort to replace sodium beyond what taste preferences dictate is “unnecessary in all realistic scenarios.” In 100-mile ultramarathons, where longer duration results in far greater salt loss, the picture is more nuanced. For runners whose sweat is saltier than average and who aim to drink aggressively enough to limit fluid losses to 2 percent of their starting weight, drinking water alone would leave them short on sodium. (These ultras are so taxing that runners also lose weight from the carbohydrate and fat reserves they burn, so they may be 3 to 5 percent lighter on the scale by the time their fluid losses hit 2 percent. That’s about what current hydration advice for ultramarathoners recommends.)

    The sodium content of your sweat can be roughly inferred from the amount of dried salt left on your clothes and skin after a workout, or it can be determined with greater accuracy through testing offered by companies like Precision Hydration. But even if you’re a salty sweater, mainlining sodium tablets is a risky proposition. Overdoing salt intake can make you thirstier, increasing the chances that you’ll drink too much and, paradoxically, perhaps even putting you at risk of hyponatremia, according to Martin Hoffman, an ultra-endurance researcher at the University of California at Davis. Instead, Hoffman recommends taking in salt with food as dictated by your cravings, rather than following a predetermined salt-intake regimen. “It’s realistic to say don’t worry about it or don’t listen to the so-called experts who have a product to sell as long as one is attuned to one’s body,” he says.

    In fact, sodium needs during a 100-miler may be even lower than McCubbin’s calculations suggest, according to Hoffman. There’s some evidence that the body contains additional sodium that gets released into circulation with prolonged sweating, although the idea is controversial among scientists.

    Both Hoffman and McCubbin agree that a small minority of people with unusually salty sweat might run into problems in a multi-hour event like an ultra. For those individuals, sweat testing to determine exactly how much salt they’re losing might have value. At a minimum, they’ll benefit from a deliberate plan to restock lost sodium through food, sports drinks, and perhaps even salt tablets. For the rest of us, McCubbin’s advice mirrors the shift in thinking about hydrationover the past few decades, from the hard-nosed “Drink to replace what you lose” to the more subjective “Drink when you’re thirsty.” When it comes to salt, McCubbin says, the new rule is: “Season to taste.”

    Sunday, November 6, 2022

    When Exercise Does More Harm than Good


    Time, the Weekly Magazine

    FEBRUARY 2, 2015 3:30 PM EST

    Americans as a whole don’t exercise enough—at least that’s what the latest studies show—and so the message is clear: get more active, take walks, Let’s Move! Basically anything is better than sitting on the couch. But how much exercise is enough? That’s a hotly debated question for which experts still don’t have a satisfactory answer. But given that most of us are starting from a sedentary position, the assumption has long been the more the better.

    But in a report published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology researchers from Denmark say that people who push their bodies too hard may essentially undo the benefit of exercise. Those who ran at a fast pace more than four hours a week for more than three days a week had about the same risk of dying during the study’s 12-year follow up as those who were sedentary and hardly exercised at all. The link held even after the researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors such as age, sex, whether the participants had a history of heart disease or diabetes, or whether they smoked and drank alcohol.

    In fact, those with the lowest risk of dying during the study period were people who ran less than three times a week for one to 2.4 hours, at a slow to moderate pace. Even people who ran slightly more, for 2.5 hours to four hours a week at an average pace less than three times a week, showed slightly higher mortality risk, at 66%, something that came as a surprise to the authors.


    What Marott and his team found was that both too little running and too much running are linked to higher rates of death. The most intense runners ended up with a risk of dying that was similar to that of those who opted to stay on the couch. Somewhere in between is the Goldilocks amount that’s just right to maintain heart health, burn off excess calories and keep blood sugar levels under control. And according to his results, that sweet spot is closer to the ‘less’ side of the curve than the ‘more’ side.

    That dovetails with the mounting research that so-called micro-workouts—high intensity but brief workouts that could be as short at 1 minute, according to another recent paper—may be better for the body than long and continuous workouts.

    That still means that some exercise is better than no exercise, but scientists may be getting more sophisticated about understanding that more isn’t always better, and that there may be a tipping point at which the harms of running start to outweighed its benefits.

    Those negative effects might include things like changes in the structure and function of the heart and its vessels; previous studies showed that marathoners and long distance cyclists, for example, tend to be at higher risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms, and may be more vulnerable to enlarged hearts, which are less efficient at pumping blood and delivering oxygen and removing waste than normal-sized organs.

    Marott acknowledges that it’s also possible that some other behaviors or factors common to avid runners, such as their exposure to the sun, which can increase their risk of skin cancer, might be explaining their higher risk of dying during the study. Other studies will have to investigate whether that’s the case, but in the meantime, Marott says “if you want to do something good for yourself, you don’t have to be extreme. Jogging one to four hours a week for no more than three days a week at a slow to moderate pace is actually achievable. And that’s a positive take-home message.”

    Thursday, November 3, 2022

    The Two Blunders That Caused the Ukraine War

    Wall Street Journal

    Robert Service, a leading historian of Russia, says Moscow will win the war but will lose the peace and fail to subjugate Ukraine. How Putin could be deposed.

    By Tunku Varadarajan

    March 4, 2022 1:07 pm ET

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted from two immense strategic blunders, Robert Service says. The first came on Nov. 10, when the U.S. and Ukraine signed a Charter on Strategic Partnership, which asserted America’s support for Kyiv’s right to pursue membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The pact made it likelier than ever that Ukraine would eventually join NATO—an intolerable prospect for Vladimir Putin. “It was the last straw,” Mr. Service says. Preparations immediately began for Russia’s so-called special military operation in Ukraine.

    `Mr. Service, 74, is a veteran historian of Russia, a professor emeritus at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He has written biographies of Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky. The last work, published in 2009, attracted the ire of die-hard Trotskyites worldwide for saying that their hero shared many basic ideas with Lenin and Stalin on the “one-party, one ideology terror state.” Mr. Service says they still “mess around” his Wikipedia entry.

    The November agreement added heft to looser assurances Ukraine received at a NATO summit five months earlier that membership would be open to the country if it met the alliance’s criteria. Mr. Service characterizes these moves as “shambolic mismanagement” by the West, which offered Ukraine encouragement on the NATO question but gave no apparent thought to how such a tectonic move away from Moscow would go down with Mr. Putin. “Nothing was done to prepare the Ukrainians for the kind of negative response that they would get.”

    After all, Mr. Service says, Ukraine is “one of the hot spots in the mental universe of Vladimir Putin, and you don’t wander into it without a clear idea of what you’re going to do next.” The West has known that since at least 2007, when the Russian ruler made a speech at the Munich Conference on Security Policy that was, in Mr. Service’s words, “a rage against Ukraine ever joining NATO.” He was about to step down from the Russian presidency (to become prime minister for four years), “so it was his last lion’s roar in the jungle.” When he returned as president in 2012, he made it clear again that “the Ukraine-NATO question wasn’t negotiable.”

    In July 2021 he wrote an essay that foretold the invasion. Mr. Service sums it up as saying, “more or less, that Ukrainians and Russians are one people.” Mr. Putin had said so many times before, “but not as angrily and punchily—and emotionally.”

    It rankles Mr. Putin that Ukraine would seek to join the West—and not merely because he wants it as a satellite state. He also “can’t afford to allow life to a neighboring Slav state which has even a smidgen of democratic development. His Russian people might get dangerous ideas.”

    As a result of the invasion, which began on Feb. 24, “the U.S. has started to get its act together,” Mr. Service says. “But I don’t think American diplomacy covered itself in glory in 2021.”

    The second strategic error was Mr. Putin’s underestimation of his rivals. “He despises the West and what he sees as Western decadence,” Mr. Service says. “He had come to believe that the West was a shambles, both politically and culturally.” He also thought that the leaders of the West were “of poor quality, and inexperienced, in comparison with himself. After all, he’s been in power 20 years.”

    In Mr. Putin’s cocksure reckoning, the invasion was going to be “a pushover—not just in regard to Ukraine, but in regard to the West.” He’d spent four years “running rings around Donald Trump, ” and he thought the retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel left the West rudderless. That set the scene for the “surprise he got when he invaded Ukraine when he found that he’d inadvertently united the West—that what he’d done was the very opposite of what he wanted.” Mr. Service calls Mr. Putin “reckless and mediocre” and scoffs at the notion that he is “some sort of genius.” What kind of Russian leader, he asks, “makes it impossible for a German leader not to build up Germany’s armaments”?

    Mr. Putin evidently “hoped there wouldn’t have to be a war” because the massing of troops on the border would lead to the collapse of the Ukrainian government. He underestimated Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he’d met in Paris in December 2019, six months after the Ukrainian president took office. Mr. Putin had “done his usual brutal discussion performance with him. Zelensky came out of these talks obviously shaken.”

    Mr. Service says the key to understanding Mr. Putin is his adamant belief that Russia is “a great global power” and that the Russian sphere of influence should extend to as many of the former Soviet republics as possible: “There’s no state that’s more important to him than Ukraine.”

    The historian describes the Russian ruler as “not a communist but an anticommunist.” In Mr. Service’s telling, Mr. Putin regards the Soviet period as “a rupture” with the path to greatness that Russia should have taken. “Putin believes in Eternal Russia” and regards Lenin with “ridicule and detestation” for stunting Russia’s expansion. While Mr. Putin may say “occasionally pleasant things about Stalin, he has never said anything positive about Lenin.”

    In Mr. Putin’s view, according to Mr. Service, Lenin committed a primordial sin in 1922 when the Soviet Constitution set up a federation of republics with their own boundaries within the Soviet Union. “This made possible the breakup of the U.S.S.R. into separate independent states in 1991,” Mr. Service says. Mr. Putin, like Stalin—who fell out with Lenin over these constitutional arrangements—would have liked all these republics to have been merged into a Greater Russia, ruled from Moscow.

    “Putin despises democracy,” Mr. Service says. “He believes in the right of the leadership to impose the authority of the state on society.” In the Russian president’s view, this is good for citizens because it brings stability and predictability into their lives. He also believes in the importance of the secret police as an adjunct of government. In this, Mr. Service points out, many of his methods are “reminiscent of the Soviet period,” even if his ideology isn’t.

    Mr. Putin “sees himself messianically,” Mr. Service says—as a leader come to deliver Russia to its destiny. He runs his government like “a court, though the czars were much more polite to their ministers.” Unless they go into political opposition, he doesn’t get rid of people who don’t share his vision. Instead, he “bats them down, and overawes them, treating them like schoolboys.” He “peppers them with questions” to keep them on their toes. He was a senior officer in the KGB, and the KGB is still in his soul. Rebranded as the FSB, “it’s the one agency from the old Soviet Union that has survived.”

    As the Russian invasion continues into its second week, Mr. Service is pessimistic, certain that we’re heading into a prolonged war that will end in the subjugation of Ukraine. “He’ll win the war,” Mr. Service says, “by flattening Ukraine. By devastating a brother people, he could win the war. But he won’t win the peace. The task of tranquilizing the Ukrainians is beyond the Russians. There’s too much bile that’s been let loose in the stomach of Ukraine.”

    Looking to history for analogies, he rejects Czechoslovakia in 1968, preferring instead the example of Hungary in 1956, when Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to quell a major uprising. “When the Soviets suppressed the Hungarian Revolution, they had to pay for it economically,” Mr. Service says. “They had to subsidize Hungary with oil and gas.” Moscow bore a huge economic burden for “the retention of Hungary within its political orbit, and that would be the case with Ukraine. And they’d be hated at the same time—hated.” Not to mention taking on the weight of appeasing a conquered people at a time of impoverishment in Russia itself.

    “Putin’s got to be removed from power,” Mr. Service says. That is the only way to end Ukraine’s torment. But how?

    It could happen in two ways. The first is “a palace coup,” which at the moment “looks very, very unlikely” but could become plausible. The second is a mass uprising, “a tremendous surge in street demonstrations as a result of the economic hardship” imposed by the war and Western sanctions.

    For a palace coup to succeed, there would need to be palpable disaffection in the Russian establishment. Mr. Service notes that the Russian Orthodox Church hasn’t yet condemned the war, nor has the Academy of Sciences. “By and large, the establishment has been quiescent.” But the “personal and collective interests” of the ruling elite are at stake. Not only will sanctions stop them from traveling to the French Riviera or sending their sons to England’s Eton College; they’ll have to line up behind “a really reckless line of policy, which will require Russia to patrol the biggest state in Europe, now full of angry, vengeful people.”

    Reaching for the history books again, he cites the case of Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s all-powerful state security chief, who was almost certain to succeed the latter on his death in 1953. But the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, as the Politburo was known at the time, got together with Nikita Khrushchev and decided that they “weren’t safe with Beria.” With the help of the army, they arrested, tried and executed him. “The thing that makes me think about this,” says Mr. Service, “is that the Presidium at the time seemed to be working under the impetus of Beria’s various initiatives quite peacefully.” His end came as a surprise to the world—and undoubtedly to Beria himself.

    “So it’s quite possible,” Mr. Service continues, “that the apparently overawed associates of Putin in the Kremlin could decide that the Russian national interest and their collective interest will best be served by getting rid of Putin.” Yet Mr. Putin is surely aware of the history of Beria and is accordingly prepared: “He’s very elusive and very, very edgy. I should imagine his security orders are quite severe.”

    The longer the war goes on, the more likely it is that Russia will see protest movements that are hard to contain, Mr. Service, says. “Especially if the police themselves have elements in their ranks who sympathize with the people they’re meant to be suppressing.”

    There have been frequent uprisings in Russian history, and Mr. Service lists them. “In 1905, they nearly led to revolution. In February 1917, they did.” There were also “very, very powerful” street demonstrations in the early 1930s that shook Stalin; disturbances in the labor camps in the late 1940s, and also at Stalin’s death. “There were whole cities that erupted against the Soviet order in 1962, because of high meat prices, and there were strikes in 1989 among the coal miners, which destabilized Soviet politics.” And in 1991 an attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev prompted a demonstration outside Parliament, where future Russian President Boris Yeltsin famously faced down a Soviet tank.

    He acknowledges that only twice did opponents succeed in toppling the political establishment, but he says that “if there’s a combination of political disorder on the streets and political unease in the ruling group,” as in 1917 and 1991, these factors could converge to powerful effect: “This is a distant possibility at the moment, but it can’t be ruled out.”

    Mr. Service is certain, however, that the Russians will find conquered Ukrainians as difficult to control as free ones. “The Ukrainians have become more nationally conscious over the 20th century, and they’re a proud people who’ve seen what happened to them when they were subjugated by the U.S.S.R.” It is inconceivable that they will accept subjugation again. “They had it in the early 1930s when millions died under Stalin’s famines. They had it again in the late 1940s, after the war ended. I don’t think they’re going to let history repeat itself.”

    The invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Service says, is not a tragedy for Ukraine alone. It’s a tragedy for Russia. “Russian people don’t deserve a ruler like Putin. They’ve not had very much luck with their rulers in the last 150 years. In fact, they’ve had appalling luck.”

    Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and at New York University Law School’s Classical Liberal Institute.

    Saturday, October 29, 2022

    Why the Fight Against Doping Is Tedious But Necessary

    The complexity of doping rules in endurance sports can be alienating for fans. But what’s the alternative? 

    [Outside Magazine]

    Martin Fritz HuberOct 27, 2022

    Cheating! Everybody’s doing it! Or so one might assume based on recent headlines from the world of stationary sports. In the past few weeks alone, there’s been news of a fishing competition where participants stuffed their catch with lead balls, as well as titillating accounts of high-stakes poker and chess matches where the suspected culprits might have duped their opponents with secret vibration devices. One thing these diverse tales of deception had in common was that they brought national (and in some cases global) attention to sports that typically fly under the radar of mainstream coverage. In turns out that all you need for a chess match to “break the internet” is a compelling narrative about a vanquished grandmaster and some anal beads.

    As someone who spends a fair amount of time writing about distance running, it was hard not to regard the drama in some of these other niche pursuits without experiencing a twinge of envy. For all their outlandishness, there was something refreshingly straightforward about these alleged offenses. In endurance sports, cheating stories almost invariably involve doping, a far more insidious kind of violation than, say, trying to smuggle weights into the bellies of walleyes. To understand the specifics of a typical rule infringement often demands being familiar with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s vast list of prohibited substances, with its myriad sub-clauses and caveats. What’s more, doping violations can occasionally be so technical and seemingly arbitrary that even dedicated fans have a hard time keeping up.

    Take the recent news that Kenya’s Diana Kipyokei, the woman who won the 2021 Boston Marathon, had been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit after testing positive for triamcinolone acetonide, a form of glucocorticoid often used to treat inflammation. (The Boston Athletic Association has said that Kipyokei will be retroactively disqualified if her suspension is upheld.) Triamcinolone acetonide is only banned in competition when administered via injection, orally, or rectally. What’s more, local injections of glucocorticoids, which the AIU notes are “commonly used as therapeutic substances in sports,” only became prohibited at the start of 2022 and can still be administered if the athlete obtains a Therapeutic Use Exemption. (Since we’re already deep in the weeds here, I might as well add that the triamcinolone acetonide TUE requirement differs depending on the route the substance takes into an athlete’s system and how many days before a competition it is last used: e.g. 30 days for oral ingestion, 60 days for intramuscular injection, but only ten days for injection into a joint or tendon.)

    None of this is meant to exonerate Kipyokei or her agent, Gianni Demadonna, who, for the record, claimed to have no knowledge of his athlete’s misdeeds in an interview with Letsrun. But her case is yet another reminder of how cheating in endurance sports often involves running afoul of a banal bureaucracy, whether wittingly or not. Even before he received a four-year ban for doping violations, one of the central criticisms of Alberto Salazar was that he was violating the “spirit of the rules,” by using TUEs in bad faith. Reading the details on triamcinolone acetonide, I was reminded of Salazar’s infamous zeal for L-carnitine, another substance whose legality is contingent on the way it is administered and the dosage. Seen in this light, the difference between Kipyokei and some of Salazar’s athletes is that the latter was coached by a guy who was better at gaming the system.

    In a recent piece for the Washington Post, columnist Sally Jenkins makes the case that the difference between cheating and “performance enhancement” is perhaps more arbitrary than we like to admit. Her argument is that doping might be no more of an artificial advantage than the hyper-sophisticated use of technology and nutritional supplements that have become commonplace in professional sports. (She doesn’t mention super shoes, but she very well could have.) Anti-doping becomes particularly fraught, Jenkins argues when a prohibited substance can also help counteract the physical wear-and-tear of high-level training. “What about the athlete who is simply trying to manage pain, speed recovery, or put on lean muscle to deal better with extreme demands?” Jenkins writes. “Is it so ethically wrong to minimize self-harm?”

    Point taken. But this rationale doesn’t really fly when we’re talking about pain medication that might also boost your lactate threshold, to say nothing about the use of more blatant performance enhancers like EPO. In her piece, Jenkins also makes a provocative distinction between dopers and conventional cheats; she argues that a redeeming feature of the former group is that they are ultimately just looking to maximize their potential, which is the entire point of elite competition. Money quote: “Sports dopers are many things, but they aren’t lazy. They’re excessively driven.”

    But the fact that you could say the same for athletes who don’t use any PEDs is a reminder that, unless we are going to advocate for the abolition of all doping regulations, we need to draw the line somewhere. That’s probably why I am more sympathetic towards WADA than someone like Jenkins, who has long been an outspoken critic of what she calls the “anti-doping movement.” WADA has the unenviable task of simultaneously trying to accommodate athletes who have legitimate cause for medical exemptions, while also not being outflanked by more cynical actors, like the Alberto Salazars of the world.

    Anti-WADA sentiment sometimes sounds like wanting to shoot the messenger. In addition to the suspension of Kipyokei, at least ten other athletes from Kenya have been sanctioned in recent months, including Mark Kangogo, who won this year’s Sierre-Zinal, one of the world’s preeminent mountain races, and Lawrence Cherono, who won both the Boston and Chicago Marathons in 2019. Nobody gets any joy from seeing a race winner defrocked long after the fact––not the busted athlete, nor the champion by default who will always feel deprived of their moment of triumph.


    It’s all very depressing. And enough to make you long for a world where a cheating conviction is as clear-cut as determining whether or not someone has a secret buzzer hiding in their ass.

    10 Worst Habits for Your Heart

    Everything from bad sleep to stress can hurt your heart and wreck your health

    by Jeanette Beebe, AARP, Updated October 5, 2022

    RoxiRosita / Getty Images

    There’s good news and bad news when it comes to your risk of developing heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Let’s start with the bad. Several factors raise a person’s risk for getting heart disease — a term used to describe a range of conditions that affect the heart — including some that can’t be controlled, such as family history, and others that are more complex, like having access to good-for-you foods and safe, affordable housing.

    That said, there's a lot you can do to prevent heart disease and, in certain cases, reverse it. Some of these actions, however difficult to achieve, are obvious: Get active, eat better, lose weight, and stop smoking. "Lifestyle changes are difficult for everyone," concedes Sabra Lewsey, M.D., a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, "but they are profoundly important and can make ​lifesaving gains in your health."

    Others are more surprising.

    Here are 10 habits to avoid if you’re hoping to improve your heart health.

    1. Being a couch potato

    Not moving enough, especially on a regular basis, is risky for your health. Inactivity has been linked to cognitive decline, more frailty and even an increased risk of death. Fortunately, almost any sort of activity that raises your heart rate is a good place to start.

    It’s important to move your body and elevate your heart rate for at least 150 minutes every week. You should also throw in twice-weekly strength training sessions, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    That seems like a lot of exercise, but it doesn't need to be done all at once. As long as you get your heart rate up for 15 minutes or more at a time, it counts. Also, "activity" doesn't just mean a walk or a gym class or a bike ride. It could be gardening, shopping, walking the dog or cleaning.

    "You don’t have to go from doing nothing to running marathons," says Quentin Youmans, M.D., a cardiology fellow at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "In fact, the biggest leap in benefit comes from doing nothing to doing something. Just start by dedicating yourself to doing some activity every day to get your body moving."

    Yet a 2014 survey found that over a quarter (27.5 percent) of people older than 50 said they did no physical activity (other than their job) in the past month. Among the older age group — 75 years and up — just over one-third (35.3 percent) of people said the same thing.

    2. Drinking too much alcohol

    "Not everyone recognizes the connection between heart health and alcohol," Youmans says. But drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, cause irregular heartbeats “and even have a direct toxic effect on the heart.”

    In fact, imbibing too much "can lead to heart failure or a weakening of the heart," says Amber Johnson, M.D., a cardiologist and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

    How much is too much? Women should have up to one drink per day, and men should limit their intake to two drinks or fewer, according to HHS guidelines.

    3. Skimping on sleep

    Not getting your seven (or eight or nine) hours of shut-eye a night will slowly, but quite reliably, damage your health, including your heart.

    "Poor-quality sleep or untreated sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and affect heart health," Lewsey cautions. Lack of sleep has also been associated with diabetes and weight gain, which negatively affect heart health, too.

    What’s more, sleep apnea can "cause abnormal heart rhythms," Johnson points out.

    4. Opting for unhealthy foods

    A heart-healthy diet includes a panoply of delicious options: fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts and whole grains. Data suggest that a so-called Mediterranean diet — mostly plants, with “good fats” like walnuts, almonds, olive oil and avocados — supports good heart health. This style of eating limits red meat; fish and poultry are OK, as long as you keep these proteins to under 5.5 ounces per day.

    Swap sodas for water — a lot of water. Watch out for processed, sugary and fried foods, and be mindful of what you eat and drink at restaurants. Food full of saturated and trans fats, salt and cholesterol is best reserved for special occasions, rather than on the daily.

    "Avoiding high sodium is really important," Johnson adds. The American Heart Association recommends that most adults consume fewer than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, with 2,300 mg as an upper limit.

    Pay attention to those numbers from your routine blood tests, too. Watch out for an excess of bad cholesterol (LDL) and/or triglycerides and not enough good cholesterol (HDL). Also, high blood sugar can damage your blood vessels. In fact, people with diabetes are twice as likely to develop heart disease; plus, they're more likely to experience heart failure.

    So try not to "overindulge with food," Youmans warns. "We all love that slice of pizza or juicy hamburger, and, in fact, occasionally, those foods can be OK. But when our diets consist of foods high in fats and sugars all the time, it starts to affect our heart health negatively. A Mediterranean diet is a great alternative,” he says, adding that it can be tasty.

    5. Living a lonely life

    It's so important to have a group of friends and family to lean on. Unfortunately, it's not as common as you may think. More than one-third of adults 45 and older are lonely, and nearly one-fourth of those 65-plus are considered to be socially isolated research shows. This circumstance is often terrible for your health, including your heart.

    That's why it’s crucial to find a group of people who will support you and make you feel fulfilled. Try to "seek community resources and support groups to help you with these lifestyle changes," Lewsey says, and work to "build a network of support" to help you along the way.

    Some populations are more at risk for social isolation, including immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, minorities and victims of elder abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ideally, the health system would be set up to be more inclusive, Johnson says, so "we are better able to provide services ... that are culturally sensitive, so that we can reach more people."

    The CDC lists a number of resources that people who are feeling lonely or socially isolated can use. Among them is AARP and its Community Connectionstool, which works to connect adults with others in their community.

    Vaccines and Heart Health

    Vaccines don’t just help fight off some pretty nasty illnesses. Research suggests they can also help protect your heart. A study published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke found that people who were hospitalized for a flu-like illness were 38 percent more likely than adults hospitalized for other reasons to have a stroke within a month of their hospitalization. What’s more, receiving a flu vaccine within the year prior to hospitalization lowered a person’s stroke risk to 11 percent. A study published in the journal Circulation found that people with heart failure who got an annual flu vaccine were 18 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease or any other cause than those who didn’t get their flu shot.A study presented at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference in 2021 found that the shingles vaccine may reduce stroke risk by about 16 percent in older adults.A study published in JAMA Network found that full vaccination against COVID-19 was associated with a reduced risk of heart attack and ischemic stroke after a coronavirus infection.

    Source: American Heart Association

    6. Smoking tobacco

    Whether you vape or smoke cigarettes or cigars, tobacco is terrible for your health. Secondhand tobacco smoke is, too. Most people know this, but what you may not realize is that tobacco doesn't just ravage your lungs and cause cancer: Your heart is also a victim.

    "Even in someone who has been a long-term smoker, there are immediate and long-lasting cardiovascular benefits of quitting smoking," Lewsey says.

    Tobacco damages blood vessels and causes plaque buildup (atherosclerosis), which can trigger a heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms and, eventually, heart failure.

    What can you do? "Set a quit date," Youmans says. "Let your friends and/or loved ones know so that they can hold you accountable, and use nicotine replacement or other medicines to help you quit with the help of your doctor."

    You can find tips and other help on the CDC’s website.

    7. Minimizing your mental health

    Managing your stress is key for maintaining good health. If anxiety gets out of control, we're more likely to do things that are damaging. What’s more, stress raises your blood pressure. To combat this, try to find something you enjoy that will help you calm down and breathe better. For some people, it's meditating. Others enjoy hiking, cooking or playing board games with friends.

    Can anxiety or panic attacks damage your heart? Not usually. Rarely, though, heartbreak can truly hurt your ticker. The condition is colloquially known as broken heart syndrome, and it's "a type of heart failure," Johnson explains. "If you are under very intense stress like if you are in a car crash or your loved one dies suddenly, that can cause a weakening of the heart," she says.

    The solution is often medication (such as beta blockers) plus a plan to manage stress in a healthy way.

    8. Waiting to lose weight

    Carrying around extra weight, especially around your waist, is bad for your heart.

    Obesity itself is a risk factor for heart disease. Researchers have found that the heavier you are, the higher your risk is for heart disease — it's a so-called silent heart injury, even if you feel healthy, even if your numbers look good.

    It's also true that being overweight or obese can spike your cholesterol levels, your blood sugar, your triglycerides and your blood pressure. All of these factors damage your heart and raise your risk of developing heart disease. Obesity is commonly linked with diabetes, as well.

    "One tip is to buy a scale, as knowledge is power, and this will help you keep track," Youmans ssuggests. "To help to move the scale in the right direction, remember that you need to burn more calories than you consume, so try getting more active and eating fewer calories."

    Your doctor may track your body mass index (BMI), which has been cited as an imperfect and even problematic metric. No matter how you track it, if you're overweight or obese, a 5 percent to 7 percent weight loss will likely have a positive impact on your health, including the numbers that affect your heart: blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar (including diabetes).

    9. Neglecting your teeth

    Though a clear scientific link between dental hygiene and coronary health hasn't been established (it's still an open question), some researchers say there is an association between the two. That is, poor oral health often means poor heart health. Gum disease is associated with heart disease, and bacterial infections and inflammation appear to play a part, too.

    "Good dental health, with regular cleanings, is also important [for] overall heart health," Lewsey says.

    Despite that benefit, nearly 40 percent of people 65 and older haven't seen a dentist in the past year, according to a 2016 "National Health Interview Survey."

    10. Giving up too soon

    Good heart health is often difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain — especially when everyone around you is continuing to do things you know aren't good for you.

    "A lot of these health behaviors that we have found to be important vary from community to community or culture to culture," says Johnson, who works in Pittsburgh. "Certain cultures may not eat the foods that are considered heart-healthy [...] so there may be some disparities."

    Above all, it's important not to give up. And, hey, try to be patient.

    "Habit change is hard," Youmans says. "It can take some time to break them, particularly if they are enjoyable."

    He adds, "Anything that is worth having, takes time. Making a small change that you can sustain for a long period is much more important than a bigger change that may be harder to sustain."

    And every day is an opportunity to get healthier, whether it's walking past the candy jar, meditating or taking the stairs. Make your lunch the night before, instead of grabbing fast food. Set up a weekly social group. Get 15 more minutes of sleep. Do it again, again and again.

    Editor's Note: This story, originally published on Nov. 8, 2021, has been updated to include new information on the link between vaccines and heart health.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2022

    Thought You Knew Everything About Smoke Detectors?

    Think again. I learned a whole lot; watch this video and you'll be on your way to replacing your home protection. 

    Karl Keith, retired firefighter and Challenge Veteran will enlighten you as he did me.

    Thursday, October 20, 2022

    The Pentagon’s Recruiting Woes (Wall Street Journal) Oct 4 2022

    The U.S. Army recently told the press that it missed its fiscal year recruiting goal by 25%, coming up short nearly 20,000 soldiers. For 50 years America has relied on volunteers to defend the country, but that system is a luxury maintained at a cost, and its struggles deserve attention.

    The Army’s troubles are acute but not unique. The Air Force barely hit its numbers for 2022. The Navy met its targets for enlisted sailors but came up short of about 200 officers. Both the Navy and Air Force had to dip into “delayed entry” pools of recruits usually kept in a holding pattern for later, which means the services will start a new recruiting year in an even tougher position. The numbers are worse in the reserves.

    Several factors are contributing to the shortfall. Fewer than one-quarter of Americans ages 17 to 24 are eligible to serve, and the reasons for disqualification include obesity, addiction and criminal history. The decision to close high schools during the pandemic kept recruiters at bay and left many teens mentally unwell, another disqualification.

    Record job openings and Covid transfer payments hurt enlistment, but the problems run deeper. Fewer than one in 10 youth are inclined to serve, according to survey data. Dismal civic education hasn’t helped; teenagers taught to think America is a racist or imperialist country won’t wear the uniform.

    The left portrays the military as a retrograde institution where sexual assault and extremism are rampant, which is not borne out by evidence. The right’s affinity for military service is also in free fall.

    Only 53% of Republicans had “a great deal of confidence” in the military in a 2021 Reagan Foundation survey, a 17-point drop in less than a year. Flag officers have too often associated themselves with vogue political causes, promoting books on “anti-racism,” for example, as the Navy’s top officer did last year. The services may need to relax the Covid-19 vaccine mandate as a concession to reality; thousands of National Guard members have refused it.

    The recruiting crisis is an opportunity for Congress to drive a tank over anachronistic practices. That Congress recently saw fit to pass a cash supplement for some service members called a “basic needs allowance” suggests the military’s pay scales aren’t competitive with the private economy, especially for lower-ranking enlistees. The 4.6% raise slated for next year doesn’t match inflation.

    The Army toyed with waiving high-school degree requirements and has thrown around signing bonuses of up to $50,000. But Congress could require the services to experiment with, say, short service contracts or a different benefit mix that might let a service member spend an entire commitment at one home base in between overseas deployments.

    The services also rely too heavily on an antiquated “up or out” model that leaves human potential on the table. The Marines deserve credit for realizing, in an initiative called Talent Management 2030, that discharging 75% of its first-term Marines every year and recruiting 36,000 replacements isn’t efficient or sustainable.

    Congress has offered more flexibility to let those with experience in cyber or other essential fields enter the service at a higher rank. But these are still exceptions. Especially crazy is pushing service members into taxpayer-funded retirement after 20 years of service when most have productive years left.

    A deeper undercurrent is that young people with other prospects won’t join a military that looks more hollow all the time. After a decade of mostly diminished budgets, the services have developed a culture of doing more with less, adding stress on equipment and personnel.

    Fighter pilots fly fewer than 1.5 sorties a week, according to an estimate from last year, too low to be proficient. The backlog on submarine work means Navy sailors can spend entire tours stuck in the maintenance yards instead of at sea. Ships, aircraft squadrons and Army air defense units are being run ragged by longer or more frequent deployments.

    This may explain why fewer veterans are recommending military service. Only 62% of those polled in a 2021 Military Family Advisory Network survey said they’d encourage someone to sign up, down from 74.5% in 2019. This is an ominous trend, given the importance of family military legacies.

    The recruiting problems are hitting even as the Navy and Air Force need to expand to meet proliferating threats from Iran to China. Tanks and planes aren’t worth buying if there’s no human capital to man them. Some might be tempted to treat this year’s recruiting failures as an anomaly, but it could be an emerging threat to national security. The American experiment can only last as long as citizens are willing to defend it.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2022

    Russia in the Ukraine

    Ben May...Guest Editor

    Tale as Old as Time…How Russia Sees the World

    Before we talk about the absurd stupidity of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or the obvious issue of Vladimir Putin, a calculating Narcissist with an inferiority complex that would even make Freud turn over in his grave, let’s look at some facts of Russian history. First, let me qualify myself. I experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis when I was twelve, and that scenario greatly influenced me. While it scared the crap out of me, like so many others of my generation, it sparked an interest in our ’enemies.’ Shouldn’t we be able to talk to these people? I was fascinated with the Russian Language: the guttural sounds and those letters of the Cyrillic alphabet gave me goosebumps! What if I could speak in that language?! In those days, the idea of learning Russian was off the charts. My wife of 50 years, who dated me back then, says: “You just wanted to attract attention to yourself.” Go figure. For some reason, foreign languages came easy to me. I took German in high school and got a Russian language tutor when I was 16. I went on to major in Russian, studying in St. Petersburg (Leningrad at the time), finishing with a Master’s Degree in Russian from the School of International Service of the American University.

    This included a good dose of Russian history- especially Russian military history.

    So here are some things I learned. As we all know, Russia is a country with a rich culture. The world knows the great Russian composers and writers, artists and scientists who have contributed to the world. There is an amazing story of how Peter the Great in the 18th Century literally yanked Russia into the modern world with an enormous Western influence. St. Petersburg was called his “Window on the West.” In terms of military achievement, we all know Russia’s amazing victory over Napoleon, driving the French army so far back that Russian troops occupied Paris. In fact, some say that the word: “bistro” came from Russian soldiers yelling at the French waiters: “bweestra,” meaning “quickly” in Russian.

    And, of course, there was ‘The Great Patriotic War’ when the Russian army drove the Germans back in record time through Berlin. In both of these examples, superior military leadership-General Kutusov in 1812 and General Zhukov in 1944- coupled with a threat to Holy Mother Russia won the day….at a horrible cost of 25 million lives. And as far as Putin and Russian leadership are concerned, they took the major brunt of the Nazi beast led by Stalin while we took up the slack. In April 2019, a Levada Center poll revealed that 70% of Russians approved of Stalin’s role in Russian history, the highest ever recorded and that 51% viewed Stalin in a positive light. No mention that millions of Russians died under his tyrannical rule. Go figure.

    The Other Side of ‘Holy Mother Russia’

    There are two other aspects of Russian history: endemic bureaucratic ineptitude and a pseudo-historical messianic philosophy of Moscow as the ‘Third Rome’ against the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ West. This philosophy dates back to the time of Ivan the Terrible (Ivan “Grozny” in Russian, meaning ‘awesome,’ not terrible, by the way). In Russian history, this philosophy is often referred to as Orientalism. Putin is using this old nationalistic philosophy as a pretext to support his aggression in the Ukraine, projecting himself as the defender of Holy Mother Russia against the militarily aggressive decadent West. Unfortunately, this logic makes perfect sense to him and his cronies, and if you consider it long enough, it carries a lot of validity from the Russian point of reference. This kind of view was evident during the Cuban Missile Crisis when Kruschev told Kennedy why he shouldn’t bitch so much about missiles defending Cuba when the US had missiles in Turkey aimed at Russia? Tit for tat’ didn’t work for Kennedy. But in Putin’s view: why not? Who the hell do capitalist Americans think they are?! Who gave them the right to set the world standard?! “Russia is the largest country in the world with 13 time zones and one hell of a culture, history and energy, thank you very much!”

    Corruption, Ineptitude and Sloth

    There are other factors involved in all of this: pure bureaucratic ineptitude, corruption and laziness with a good dose of alcoholism. The Russian government has centuries of history of bloated bureaucracies, fraught with people ‘on the take’ at every level. In fact, one of Putin’s initiatives early on was to streamline and clean up the corrupt bureaucracy.

    Winston Churchill called Russia

    “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma,” and his words in 1939 spoke eloquently to the Western sense of Moscow as the “other” - an inscrutable and menacing land that plays by its own rules, usually to the detriment of those who choose more open regulations.”

    Making the Ultimate Stupid, Catastrophic Mistake

    I remember the immense dichotomy between the resplendent beauty of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and cutting up magazines for toilet paper with nets around buildings to catch falling bricks from shoddy construction. There have been more than a handful of close calls over the years between Russia and the US with nuclear weapons.

    All of these ‘near misses’ were in a relative time of peace. This fever pitch brought on by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and Russian ineptitude sets the stage for a catastrophic mistake. 

    “The Guns of August”

    Barbara Tuchman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book-The Guns of August- about how the European powers ‘tripped’ into World War One, is an instructive tale to heed. This time, unfortunately, the stakes are of biblical proportions. I wish this were hyperbole. Unfortunately, it is just the beginning... hopefully not of ‘the end’ for all of us…and based on blind megalomania and pure stupidity. Stay tuned…

    Thursday, October 6, 2022

    The Thinnest Veneer of Civilization - Victor Davis Hanson- American Greatness September 29, 2022

    The Thinnest Veneer of Civilization

    By: Victor Davis Hanson
    American Greatness
    September 29, 2022

    Civilization is fragile. It hinges on ensuring the stuff of life.

    To be able to eat, to move about, to have shelter, to be free from state or tribal coercion, to be secure abroad, and safe at home—only that allows cultures to be freed from the daily drudgery of mere survival.

    Civilization alone permits humans to pursue sophisticated scientific research, the arts, and the finer aspects of culture.

    So, the great achievement of Western civilization—consensual government, individual freedom, rationalism in partnership with religious belief, free market economics, and constant self-critique and audit—was to liberate people from daily worry over state violence, random crime, famine, and an often-unforgiving nature.

    But so often the resulting leisure and affluence instead deluded arrogant Western societies into thinking that modern man no longer needed to worry about the fruits of civilization he took to be his elemental birthright.

    As a result, the once prosperous Greek city-state, Roman Empire, Renaissance republics, and European democracies of the 1930s imploded—as civilization went headlong in reverse.

    We in the modern Western world are now facing just such a crisis.

    We talk grandly about the globalized Great Reset. We blindly accept the faddish New Green Deal. We virtue signal about defunding the police. We merely shrug at open borders. And we brag about banning fertilizers and pesticides, outlawing the internal combustion engine, and discounting Armageddon in the nuclear age—as if on autopilot we have already reached utopia.

    But meanwhile, Westerners are systematically destroying the very elements of our civilization that permitted such fantasies in the first place.

    Take fuel. Europeans arrogantly lectured the world that they no longer need traditional fuels. So, they shut down nuclear power plants. They stopped drilling for oil and gas. And they banned coal.

    What followed was a dystopian nightmare. Europeans will burn dirty wood this winter as their civilization reverts from postmodern abundance to premodern survival.

    The Biden Administration ossified oil fields. It canceled new federal oil and gas leases. It stopped pipeline construction and hectored investors to shun fossil fuels.

    When scarcity naturally followed, fuel prices soared.

    The middle class has now mortgaged its upward mobility to ensure that it might afford gasoline, heating oil, and skyrocketing electricity.

    The Pentagon must keep America safe by deterring enemies, reassuring allies, and winning over neutrals.

    It is not to hector soldiers based on their race. It is not to indoctrinate recruits in the woke agenda. It is not to become a partisan political force.

    The result of those suicidal Pentagon detours is the fiasco in Afghanistan, the aggression of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the new bellicosity of China, and the loud threats of rogue regimes like Iran.

    At home, the Biden Administration inexplicably destroyed the southern border—as if civilized nations of the past never needed such boundaries.

    Utter chaos followed. Three million poured into the United States illegally. They entered without audit, and largely without skills, high-school diplomas, or capital.

    The streets of our cities are anarchical—and by intent.

    Defunding the police, emptying the jails, and destroying the criminal justice system unleashed a wave of criminals. It is now open season on the weak and innocent.

    America is racing backward into the 19th century wild West. Predators maim, kill, and rob with impunity. Felons correctly conclude that bankrupt postmodern “critical legal theory” will ensure their exemption from punishment.

    Few Americans know anything about agriculture, except to expect limitless supplies of inexpensive, safe, and nutritious food at their beck and call.

    But that entitlement for 330 million hungry mouths requires massive water projects, and new dams and reservoirs. Farmers rely on steady supplies of fertilizer, fuels, and chemicals. Take away that support—as green nihilists are attempting—and millions will soon go hungry, as they have since the dawn of civilization.

    Perhaps nearly a million homeless now live on the streets of America. Our major cities have turned medieval with their open sewers, garbage-strewn sidewalks, and violent vagrants.

    So, we are in a great experiment in which regressive progressivism discounts all the institutions, and the methodologies of the past that have guaranteed a safe, affluent, well-fed and sheltered America.

    Instead, we arrogantly are reverting to a new feudalism as the wealthy elite—terrified of what they have wrought—selfishly retreat to their private keeps.

    But the rest who suffer the consequences of elite flirtations with nihilism cannot even afford food, shelter, and fuel. And they now feel unsafe, both as individuals and as Americans.

    As we suffer self-inflicted mass looting, random street violence, hyperinflation, a nonexistent border, unaffordable fuel, and a collapsing military, Americans will come to appreciate just how thin is the veneer of their civilization.

    When stripped away, we are relearning that what lies just beneath is utterly terrifying.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2022

    Steel Cut Oats Nutritional Value

    Oats have been around virtually since time began and pack quite the nutritional wallop. However, oats didn't start to get cultivated for consumption and use until about 1000 BC. Originally, oats were fed mostly to animals and shunned as "barbarian food" by ancient Rome and Greece. Eventually, however, the Roman empire fell and tribes that did consume oats passed on their knowledge and heritage to the rest of the world. Oats began to be more routinely incorporated into the human diet and today are used in everything from puddings and baked goods to oatmeal porridges.

    Steel Cut Oats Nutritional Value

    What Are Oats?

    Oats are considered a "whole grain" and are chock full of valuable nutrients and soluble fiber that are good for the body. For this reason, oats are a great way to increase your intake of dietary fiber. An oat kernel, also sometimes called an oat groat, is made up of three distinct parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm."Oat groats" are simply a whole grain oat kernel with its husk, or chaff, removed.When discussing steel cut oats, they are basically oat groats that have been sliced with a steel blade into two or three small pieces. Steel cut vs. rolled oats have a chewy, heartier texture. Because of their distinct shape, steel cut oats must be simmered or soaked for longer, so that they soften up enough to eat.

    The Nutritional Value of Oats

    All types of oats can be a significant contribution to a healthy diet, especially for people who may have heart concerns or that suffer from ailments like diabetes.The nutritional value of oats is significant and offers many health benefits, such as lowering bad cholesterol levels (LDL levels) and decreasing your risks of developing heart disease. Oats can help decrease high blood pressure, as well as lower your risk of developing type-2 diabetes. This is due to the high content of soluble fiber that is found in oats, especially steel cut oats. If you struggle with weight gain or with losing weight, the high fiber content can also help you feel satiated for a longer period of time, reducing snacking and your overall caloric intake for the day. Steel cut oats, rolled oats, and even instant oats are all fairly well-balanced in their nutritional makeup. Oats are made up of roughly 66% carbohydrate, 17% protein, 11% fiber, and 7% fat. In terms of raw oats, 100 grams boasts about 10.6 grams of fiber and 16.9 grams of protein. One of the healthiest fibers found in oats is a fiber called beta glucan. In low concentrations, beta glucans are unique in that they form a gel-like substance that seems to lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar and insulin levels after eating carbohydrates, and increase the excretion of bile acids. Beta glucans are thought to be associated with a myriad of health benefits, and it's what makes steel cut oats vs. rolled oats or instant oats so much more desirable.

    Types of Oats

    There are different types of oats. Though their general makeup is very similar in terms of nutrition, the way they are processed and made ready for human consumption varies.
    Instant OatsInstant oats, though they may be somewhat beneficial, are the most processed of oats and contain the least amount of fiber per serving. These are the oats used in prepackaged instant oatmeal. Though this type of oatmeal is popular, it can easily become mushy the longer you cook it, and most brands have added salt and sugar that makes them the least healthy choice when trying to increase your grain intake.

    Quick Cooking Oats

    The next step up on the health ladder is "quick cooking" oats. These oats have been rolled thin and cut into small pieces. This is so they will cook faster while still retaining most of their nutritional value. Quick oats are often used to make oatmeal as well, and can also become somewhat mushy in texture if cooked too long.

    Rolled Oats

    Rolled oats, sometimes referred to as “old-fashioned” rolled oats, are oats that have been harvested, steamed, and flattened between rollers. Rolled oats are the same oats that are used to make quick cooking oats, and they are also great for use in cooking and baking or adding to things like yogurt and smoothies. You can prepare them with water or milk, and the resulting texture is soft and creamy. Rolled oats tend to keep their rounded shape and are frequently used in everything from cookies to nutrition bars, cereals, and breakfast bowls.

    Steel Cut Oats

    Steel cut oats are sometimes also called Irish oats. These oats are coarser, and the kernel of the oat is cut into only two or three pieces, using a steel blade. This is where they get the name "steel cut." These oats take longer to cook and may require some soaking beforehand. Steel cut oats are often used for porridge and cut oatmeal.

    Steel Cut Oats Nutrition Facts

    When it comes to nutritional value, metric by metric, steel cut oats are very similar to rolled oats and instant oats. The differences lie in the dietary fiber content of steel cut oats, as well as their density. The ratio of liquid steel cut oats is cooked with is higher than that of rolled oats, so the portion is larger. This means you can eat less of them and reduce your caloric intake, but still get the same level of nutrition as you would from rolled oats or instant oats. Plus, the density of the oats helps keep you feeling full. Another benefit of steel cut oats is that they take longer to digest, reducing their glycemic load. Because of how they rank on the glycemic index, they are great for people who suffer from diabetes, or who may be prediabetic. This is because unlike rolled oats, they don’t cause a big spike in blood sugar when eaten. When someone consumes foods that are considered low glycemic, it means that the rate the sugar is introduced to the body has been slowed down considerably. When someone consumes foods that are high on the glycemic index, it makes their blood sugar levels and insulin levels shoot up quickly. This causes cravings for even more sugar when the glucose levels begin to drop. When cooking steel cut oatmeal, its is important to know what you're consuming. Steel cut oats are low calorie, weighing in at only 170 calories per 1/4 cup serving of dry oats. They contain about 3g of fat and are low in saturated fat. They also contain no cholesterol and no sodium. Steel cut oats provide 5g of fiber per 1/4 cup serving of dry oats, which is about double the amount of fiber you can get from rolled oats. They contain 29g of carbs and also provide a healthy amount of calcium, magnesium, iron, antioxidants, and B vitamins. They also provide 158mg of potassium. As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why steel cut oats make a wonderful addition to a healthy and balanced diet. Steel cut oats nutrition is largely same as other oats in every way except the fiber content and density. The fiber content and density of steel cut oats are what makes them so filling and beneficial. The nice thing about steel cut oats is you can dress them up in several different ways. You can prepare them with water or milk and add a sweetener or spice of your choice to jazz them up. They are also great for a quick breakfast like overnight oats. If you really want to ramp up the nutritional punch, you can also include nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruits, and even things like chia seeds and Greek yogurt into the mix. No matter how you prepare them, you can't escape the goodness!

    Monday, September 26, 2022

    Climate Change?

    Let’s come right out and say it: Anyone who still thinks climate change is a greater threat than climate policy to financial stability deserves to be exiled to a peat-burning yurt in the wilderness.
    Lest you’ve forgotten, the world’s central banks and other regulators are in the middle of a major push to introduce various forms of climate stress testing into their oversight. The Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank, among others, want to know how global temperature variations a century hence might weigh on Citi’s or Barclays’ or Deutsche Bank’s capital and risk weightings today. The fad is for quantifying, with preposterous faux-precision, the costs of reinsuring flood risks or fire or the depressed corporate profits of a dystopian hotter future.

    Well, if you seek “climate risk” to financial stability, look around you. It has arrived, although in exactly the opposite manner to what our current crop of eco-financiers predicted. Europe’s plight tells a tale that could become all too familiar in the U.S. soon.

    The U.K. may be facing a wave of business bankruptcies exceeding anything witnessed during the post-2008 panic and recession. Some 100,000 firms could be forced into insolvency in the coming months, bankruptcy consultancy Red Flag Alert warned this week. These are otherwise healthy firms with at least £1 million in annual revenue. Business failures on this scale would dwarf the roughly 65,000 firms of any size that went under from 2008-10.

    The culprit is energy prices, which the consultancy believes could account directly for around one-quarter of the possible insolvencies. These prices are rising for British businesses in intervals of several hundred percent at a time and sometimes with steep deposit requirements from utilities that fear precisely a wave of bankruptcies.

    Matters are probably worse in Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy. Some 73% of small and medium-sized enterprises in one survey reported feeling heavy pressure from energy prices, and 10% of those say they believe they face “existential” threats to their businesses over the next six months. And that poll from the small-business association BMD, is the optimistic one. A separate survey published this week by the BDI, a major industry association, found 34% of respondents describing energy prices as an “existential challenge.” Business failures will ripple up and down supply chains and quickly into the banks.

    European governments aren’t blind to the energy-price threat—an awareness that, perversely, creates a threat of its own. The only politically viable solution for this winter will be subsidies on a monumental scale. Hundreds of billions of dollars for households and businesses (and utilities) across the Continent have already been announced, and desperate capitals won’t stop there. This will require substantial borrowing on top of the fisc-wrecking bond issuance during the pandemic.

    All of this adds up to an extraordinary threat to financial stability. Banks and other financial firms inevitably will find themselves right at the edge of the water if or when a tsunami of energy-price bankruptcies washes ashore. Meanwhile, they’ll be called on to mediate extraordinary levels of new government borrowing—on top of the additional borrowing governments normally do during recessions to finance social-welfare assistance. All of this while interest rates start rising after resting for more than a decade on (or below) the floor.

    Does anyone know what exactly any of this will mean for the financial system? Of course not. No one has seriously bothered to “stress test” catastrophic increases in energy prices, even though the Bank of England claims to have modeled the economic impact of allowing global temperatures to rise by 3.3 degrees Celsius over the next few decades. By the way, the BOE also predicted the economic impact of the transition to a net-zero-CO2-emissions future would be modest.

    Politicians are happy to blame Vladimir Putin and his Ukraine invasion for the current energy disaster. But what transformed that one-off shift in the relative price for energy into a global disaster was two decades of green-energy policy beforehand. In Europe, that includes a fixation on renewables incapable of powering industrial economies absent battery technologies that don’t exist, a refusal to tap domestic fossil-fuel reserves such as shale gas, and a deep and irrational hostility to nuclear power in many parts of the Continent.

    This has created an energy system of dangerous rigidity and inefficiency incapable of adapting to a blow such as Russia’s partial exit from the European gas market. It’s almost inevitable that the imminent result will be a recession in Europe. We can only hope that it won’t also trigger a global financial crisis.