Monday, July 27, 2009

New theoretical base for intelligent design . . . also incorporating evolution?

Last week I mentioned my friend Perry Marshall's Cosmic Fingerprint website.

I have pursued his content quite a bit further. Interesting stuff.

As I wrote to a group of old-earth, intelligent design proponents--many of them well-known leaders in the field: Perhaps I should direct your attention directly to James A Shapiro's A 21st century view of evolution: genome system architecture, repetitive DNA, and natural genetic engineering, but I first learned about and heard of this idea from my friend Perry Marshall's Atheists' Riddle email series.

Perry presents Shapiro's ideas in a popular format through two lecture series--one composed of a single, 60-minute video presentation), the other of two MP3 presentations to a bunch of communication engineers at Alcatel-Lucent in Warrenville, IL, back in 2007. This latter series includes two presentations. One is 51 minutes long and is available in a single MP3 and a PDF of his PowerPoints or four videos (the four videos toward the top of the page).

The second presentation in this second series lasts 54 minutes and is almost identical to the 60-minute presentation of the first "series," but with a stronger bent toward the engineers in the audience and including about 10 minutes of Q&A. Again, you can acquire this in MP3 audio plus PDF or in five videos (toward the bottom of the page).

A very much simplified version of what he has to say is available in brief written form--either by a five-email email series or collected in a single page online.

Perry argues FOR evolution . . . but of a unique type. He says that random variation/mutation plus natural selection cannot generate what we see today:
Darwin was definitely right about natural selection. [Though, t]o be fair, being right about that is no Nobel Prize winning accomplishment. The weaklings die and the strong survive. I think our cave man ancestors were familiar with that one.
However, when evolutionists argue that random variation is "accidental copying errors in DNA"--i.e., essentially, "it's corrupted data that occasionally turns out to be beneficial instead of harmful,"
Darwin and the biology books are wrong.

As a communication engineer I know - with 100.000000000% certainty - that this is impossible.

Nowhere in the vast field of engineering is there any such thing as "the percentage of the time that corrupted data is helpful instead of harmful."

It's ALWAYS harmful. Always. Copying errors and data transmission errors never help the signal. They only hurt it.
I am cutting out much of what Perry says, but, with reference to the work of Nobel Prize-winner Barbara McClintock and University of Chicago biochemist and microbiologist James A Shapiro, he concludes with this proposal: It is not random, unintelligent mutations that yield evolutionary change-over-time; rather,
There is a mutation algorithm in DNA that makes *intelligent* substitutions when species need to adapt to their environment.
I'd be curious--and, I'm sure, Perry would be thankful--to receive any thoughtful input or feedback from anyone who might like to engage with his ideas.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kindle's Big Brother

For some reason, I didn't see this week-old news until today.

I have been debating the purchase of a Kindle from Amazon. Talk about convenience when one travels! And, if--as I do, one buys a lot of books, it could eventually save you quite a bit of money.

But . . . But . . . What about writing notes in the margins? And highlighting text? And that tremendous mnemonic aid that physical, printed books and magazines provide: physical-spatial location of memories [we tend to remember passages not only by their words and concepts, but by actual location on a page; electronic text commonly eliminates this kind of spatial memory]?

Well, now there is an even more significant reason why I would be super-cautious about buying a Kindle: It turns out you do not own final control over the content on the device.

Oh. I'm not merely referring to the possibility (shall we say: probability) of memory loss. I'm talking about Amazon actually deleting content for which you've paid . . . or possibly altering it, after you've received it.

Turns out last Friday, July 17th, Amazon deleted at least two books off of customers' Kindles. Ironically, they were both by George Orwell, and one of them was 1984--the book that taught us about Big Brother and introduced the concept of the Memory Hole--the hole into which the police state ensure any documentary evidence for inconvenient facts of history would be dumped . . . so they could be incinerated and forgotten.

Well: Now Amazon has proven itself to be Big Brother over the Kindle. It has--and will use--that Memory Hole power over any content you may purchase that it finds inconvenient. According to the New York Times,
An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the [Orwell] books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” he said. . . .

Retailers of physical goods cannot, of course, force their way into a customer’s home to take back a purchase, no matter how bootlegged it turns out to be. Yet Amazon appears to maintain a unique tether to the digital content it sells for the Kindle.

“It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. “As a Kindle owner, I’m frustrated. I can’t lend people books and I can’t sell books that I’ve already read, and now it turns out that I can’t even count on still having my books tomorrow.”

Turns out, however, that last Friday's experience was not an isolated occurrence. Amazon has also sold pirated copies of Ayn Rand works and Harry Potter books . . . and removed them from readers' Kindles as well.

And while it seems reasonable that, when they discovered their definite error in marketing illegal goods, and at least potential) error in publishing such goods (is Amazon a publisher when it causes an electronic-only version of a book to be copied/distributed?), Amazon attempted to "make things right" by pulling the pirated content and refunding customers' money, the story isn't so simple.

As "wodin" explained on the MobileRead forum,
Amazon should be held liable for any damages done to the publishers and heirs of the works in dispute. That does not give them the right to log onto their customers private property and delete any files.

Just because I bought a computer (which I have) from Amazon, does that give them license to remote into it and delete any files they want? I think not!

The analogy would be if Amazon photocopied a protected book, and sold copies of it. Could they then come to my house without my permission and retrieve the book so that they would not have to pay damages to the original publisher? Just because they notified me that they were going to do it, they still can’t break into my house or my computer or my Kindle or anything else of mine.
And, as someone else noted, when they deleted these pirated books, not all customers lost "only" the books.

From the New York Times article:
Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading “1984” on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. “They didn’t just take a book back, they stole my work,” he said.
But beyond whatever personal injuries these events bring to our attention, I am struck by the societal implications that Mike Adams of Natural News, the guy who brought this story to my attention, noted:
What happens when the U.S. government begins banning books (you know, books about freedom, or the U.S. Constitution, or how to make a backyard mortar out of PVC)? Will initiate a global delete process to remove any "illegal" books from your Kindle? . . .

History is full of Police State governments that banned books and burned books in an attempt to limit the People's access to knowledge. Is now engaged in digital book burning?

. . . [And d]on't forget that Google, Yahoo and other technology companies have openly cooperated with China's censorship schemes that have continued an inhumane state of political oppression in that country.

The advantage of owning a real book (printed on trees) is that no one can take it from you without getting past your front door and your German Shepherd. Plus, the screens don't crack and the batteries don't run out. You can set a book down when you need a pause, and when you pick it up you'll find the page right where you left it.
Nice to know about and to be able to think of these things before buying a Kindle rather than after!

One last note: Jeff Bezos has apologized for Amazon's behavior:
This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.
So how will the company behave in the future?

I guess that's still an open question, isn't it? He has stated no principles. Indeed, he says their behavior was "out of line with [their] principles," he says nothing about with what specific principles he believes their behavior was out of line.

Hmmmmm. . . .

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Denis Lamoureux's Evolutionary Creation, Part II

Back to Denis Lamoureux and his book Evolutionary Creation.

I have taken so long to speak of his book again because I find the things he says so difficult, even, to acknowledge, much less talk about.

In my last post on this subject, I concluded with a series of examples of how Lamoureux views the specific content of Genesis chapters 1 through 3. In each case, he says, we need to ignore the history and science the Bible presents--they were, he says, the best history and science available to the people of that time and place (when and where the Scriptures were written), but they don't come close to matching what we know today. Instead, Lamoureux urges, we need to focus solely upon the spiritual messages contained in these passages: that, for example, God is the Creator (Genesis 1); that human beings are "the only creatures in a personal relationship with the Creator," "men and women were made to enjoy the mystery of marriage," and "God sets limits on human freedom, and failure to respect these boundaries has serious consequences" (Genesis 2); and so forth.

Lamoureux says we ought not--because we cannot (and still do justice to the Scriptures as written)-- . . . we ought not to reinterpret these passages as if they were intended as anything but literal history referring to literal (what we might call "scientifically verifiable") events and structures. Clearly, Lamoureux asserts, let us not pussy-foot around this:
  • The human authors of these portions of Scripture really and truly did intend for their readers to believe in (because they themselves believed in) a flat, immoveable/stationary, circular (not spherical!) earth that is set on (literal, physical) foundations and is surrounded by water.
  • They expected their audience to believe in (because they themselves believed in) a three-tiered universe composed of the flat, circular world in which we humans live, the underworld (beneath ours), and the heavenly realm (above).  
  • They spoke of the raqia or "firmament," a solid, dome-like structure held up by (solid, physical) foundations--a structure in which God has embedded the sun, moon, and stars and upon which He has placed a body of water "above" (the ancient explanation for why the sky is blue) . . . --They spoke of this raqia or "firmament" as a literal, physical, real entity because they really and truly believed it exists; its existence was questioned by no one; that was the "science of the day."
Lamoureux continues in this vein when it comes to history.

As far as he is concerned, it is clear that
  • The author/editors of Genesis chapter 1 had absolutely nothing to say about a slow, progressive, multi-million-year creation process. They didn't believe in such a creation and they didn't expect their audience to believe in such a creation . . . because it wasn't the science of the day.
Rather, he says,
  • The science of the day was, as the young-earth creationists urge it: carried out in the equivalent of six, 24-hour days. . . .
--I have been galloping along, here in my exposition of Lamoureux's teaching.

I want to take a break to note some places where I think Lamoureux probably failed, adequately, to do all his homework. Or, if he did his homework, he failed, adequately, to express what I believe he should have.

But let me do that in another post.

1 As Lamoureux writes (p. 106),
Never once is earth referred to as spherical. Nor is a globular shape implied by the context of any passage. Indeed, if it was God's purpose to reveal in Scripture the scientific fact that the earth is a sphere, then there were nearly 3000 opportunities to do so. He could easily have done this by comparing the earth to something round like a ball or an orange. [But He did not.]
Return to text.

2 The raqia or "firmament" is not an "expanse" as some modern translations try to soften it--a translation or interpretation that is wholly unsupported either by philology or history. Lamoureux is very detailed in his development of this point (p. 123):
The root of this noun [raqia] is the verb raqa which means "to flatten," "stamp down," "spread out," and "hammer out." That is, this Hebrew verb carries a nuance of flattening something solid rather than opening a broad empty space. . . . The verb raqa is even found in a passage referring to the creation of the sky, which is understood to be a firm surface like a metal. Job 37:18 asks, "Can you join God in spreading out [raqa--JAH] the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?" (cf, Exod 24:10; Job 22:14; Ezek 1:22).
Return to text.

Monday, July 20, 2009

BMW v. Audi

I first saw this particular outdoor billboard ad campaign on AutoBlog a couple of months ago.

I wasn't thrilled with the way it was presented.

But now . . . !!!

If you prefer the "slow reveal":












Someone said that Santa Monica BMW is directly across the street from the original Audi ad. So what could they do besides respond?

And it seems they have pwned Audi.

And now, how can Audi reply?

BMW: "All your base are belong to us!"

Question: How could Audi have played the game so they couldn't be checked or mated?
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cosmic Fingerprint

Is DNA a pattern or a code? On the answer to this question hangs the answer to whether the biosphere is the result, solely, of random, undirected, unintelligent, physical processes . . . or of an intelligent designer.

So argues my friend Perry Marshall in his (hour-long) video, Origin of Life, on his fascinating website, Cosmic Fingerprints.

Perry is a master web marketer (and Sonlight dad) who is using his web marketing skills for Kingdom purposes.

(By the way, the second link I gave you to Cosmic Fingerprints offers you the opportunity to sign up for a punchy email series. Good stuff! [Indeed, it was the fourth or fifth email in the series that got me to think: "I've got to tell you about this series!"] --Enjoy!)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great inexpensive dates

I just discovered my sister-in-law's blog. I wish I had seen this post about great date ideas for spouses some time ago.

But I intend to benefit from it in the future.

It seems to go along with the "Quote of the Day" for today I saw on this, my blog. From Sir Walter Scott: "Affection can withstand very severe storms of vigor, but not a long polar frost of indifference."

Yeah. I think he hit that one about right!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The sum of the matter

If you were going to make a brief summary statement about what is necessary to live a good life . . . what would it include?

For many years, I have usually referenced Micah 6:8:
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does [YHWH] require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? [NASB]
This morning, however, I read the end of Ecclesiastes and came upon v. 12:13:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. [ESV]
Oh! That's a short summary!

But, somehow, that reminded me of Jesus' statements:
  • Matthew 22:37-40:
    And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." [ESV]
  • And Mark 12:28-31:
    And one of the scribes came up and . . . asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." [ESV]
But, of course, these both directly reference some Old Testament Scriptures.

I found Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ("Hear, O Israel: [YHWH] our God, [YHWH] is one. You shall love [YHWH] your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." [ESV]) and Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ("And now, Israel, what does [YHWH] your God require of you, but to fear [YHWH] your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve [YHWH] your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of [YHWH], which I am commanding you today for your good?" [ESV]).

Can you think of any more?

I thought there were several other "close seconds" in Ecclesiastes, though they weren't quite--not quite--as all-encompassing. I passed these along to one of my sisters a couple of days ago, as she has tended to be too strict with herself, always asking--about everything--even down to the color of socks she might wear: "Is this what God wants me to do?"

"I think you've been overdoing it," I said. "Whether you should wear blue or green socks is not a moral decision . . . and you ought not to make it into one! Focus on the important decisions. Kind of like Micah 6:8 where He says, 'He has told you, O man, what is good . . . ,' so here. As God says in Deuteronomy 29:29: 'The secret things belong to [YHWH] our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.' --God does not hide these things. He does not make them hard to figure out!"


In considering my sister's difficulties with feeling confident that she might be "in God's will" (or not), I suggested
  • Ecclesiastes 7:16-17:
    Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? [ESV]
  • And Ecclesiastes 9:7:
    Go, eat your bread in joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do. [ESV]
Though, for the sake of my broader audience, here (since I have no idea quite how "fastidious" you may be, let me throw in a couple more similar aphorisms from Solomon. These, too, were from my reading this morning:
  • Ecclesiastes 11:9:
    Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. [ESV]
  • And Ecclesiastes 12:1:
    Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, "I have no pleasure in them" . . . [ESV]
    . . . and then he goes on with an absolutely stunning imagistic description of the decrepitude and sadness of old age.
ETA (7/15/09, 8:53 AM): Oops! There was one more from Ecclesiastes that caught my eye. Chapter 2, verses 24:
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also . . . is from the hand of God . . . [ESV]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sorry. Another story to get your blood pressure up! (But you can do something!)

Perhaps I've had my head in the sand not to have seen this story about Goldman Sachs' too-cozy relationship with the federal government and U.S. citizens' tax money!

Good grief! (Emboldening mine--JAH.)
As George Bush's last Treasury secretary, former Goldman CEO Henry Paulson was the architect of the bailout, a suspiciously self-serving plan to funnel trillions of Your Dollars to a handful of his old friends on Wall Street. Robert Rubin, Bill Clinton's former Treasury secretary, spent 26 years at Goldman before becoming chairman of Citigroup — which in turn got a $300 billion taxpayer bailout from Paulson. There's John Thain, the [expletive deleted] chief of Merrill Lynch who bought an $87,000 area rug for his office as his company was imploding; a former Goldman banker, Thain enjoyed a multibillion-dollar handout from Paulson, who used billions in taxpayer funds to help Bank of America rescue Thain's sorry company. And Robert Steel, the former Goldmanite head of Wachovia, scored himself and his fellow executives $225 million in golden-parachute payments as his bank was self-destructing. There's Joshua Bolten, Bush's chief of staff during the bailout, and Mark Patterson, the current Treasury chief of staff, who was a Goldman lobbyist just a year ago, and Ed Liddy, the former Goldman director whom Paulson put in charge of bailed-out insurance giant AIG, which forked over $13 billion to Goldman after Liddy came on board. The heads of the Canadian and Italian national banks are Goldman alums, as is the head of the World Bank, the head of the New York Stock Exchange, the last two heads of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — which, incidentally, is now in charge of overseeing Goldman. . . .
--Anyone see any potential conflicts-of-interest, here?

Oh! Oh! Oh!

But talking about conflicts-of-interest! . . .
Goldman's primary supervisor is now the New York Fed, whose chairman at the time of its announcement was Stephen Friedman, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs. Friedman was technically in violation of Federal Reserve policy by remaining on the board of Goldman even as he was supposedly regulating the bank; in order to rectify the problem, he applied for, and got, a conflict-of-interest waiver from the government. [!!!!!!] Friedman was also supposed to divest himself of his Goldman stock after Goldman became a bank-holding company, but thanks to the waiver, he was allowed to go out and buy 52,000 additional shares [of a company that he is supposed to be regulating! --We're not even talking potential conflicts-of-interest. This is, absolutely and completely, a full-blown conflict-of-interest. And the government approves!?!?!!!!--JAH] in his old bank, leaving him $3 million richer. [Only $3 million? --JAH] Friedman stepped down in May, but the man now in charge of supervising Goldman — New York Fed president William Dudley — is yet another former Goldmanite.

"No problems!"

And we are supposed to trust our government to be looking out for us?!?

Let's see how these guys' disinterested "public service" works out in practice:
Although he had already engineered a rescue of Bear Stearns a few months before and helped bail out quasi-private lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, [then-Treasury Secretary] Paulson elected to let Lehman Brothers — one of Goldman's last real competitors — collapse without intervention. ("Goldman's superhero status was left intact," says market analyst Eric Salzman, "and an investment-banking competitor, Lehman, goes away.") The very next day, Paulson greenlighted a massive, $85 billion bailout of AIG, which promptly turned around and repaid $13 billion it owed to Goldman. Thanks to the rescue effort, the bank ended up getting paid in full for its bad bets: By contrast, retired auto workers awaiting the Chrysler bailout will be lucky to receive 50 cents for every dollar they are owed.

Immediately after the AIG bailout, Paulson announced his federal bailout for the financial industry, a $700 billion plan called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and put a heretofore unknown 35-year-old Goldman banker named Neel Kashkari in charge of administering the funds [They couldn't find anyone else who might have better qualifications? --JAH]. In order to qualify for bailout monies, Goldman announced that it would convert from an investment bank to a bank-holding company, a move that allows it access not only to $10 billion in TARP funds, but to a whole galaxy of less conspicuous, publicly backed funding — most notably, lending from the discount window of the Federal Reserve. By the end of March, the Fed will have lent or guaranteed at least $8.7 trillion under a series of new bailout programs — and thanks to an obscure law allowing the Fed to block most congressional audits, both the amounts and the recipients of the monies remain almost entirely secret.
But this, what we have already seen, may be small change compared to what's coming:

Sorry. I'm not going to quote the end. You really have to read the last few paragraphs for yourself on the article owners' site.
The collective message of all of this — the AIG bailout, the swift approval for its bank-holding conversion, the TARP funds — is that when it comes to Goldman Sachs, there isn't a free market at all. The government might let other players on the market die, but it simply will not allow Goldman to fail under any circumstances. Its edge in the market has suddenly become an open declaration of supreme privilege. "In the past it was an implicit advantage," says Simon Johnson, an economics professor at MIT and former official at the International Monetary Fund, who compares the bailout to the crony capitalism he has seen in Third World countries. "Now it's more of an explicit advantage."

Time to audit the Federal Reserve! (Follow the link; there is a wonderful series of tools to help you contact your congressional representative and senators. --My Republican Representative is sponsoring the audit bill; neither of my state's Democratic senators has signed on, yet. [But I thought the Democrats were opposed to big business' and governmental corruption, while the Republicans were always pro-big business?! (????!!!!)]

I'm writing!

Awkward . . .

Oh, boy! Why do people do these kinds of things?

Daddy Eeyore, Mommy-the-Pooh and Tigger?

Many more like it at

Some have caused me to laugh out loud! ("No, no! I want the possum!") Or cringe. Or sigh in sadness. Or shake my head in disbelief.

But all those "everyone dresses alike" photos that 10- and 12-children-large homeschool families take and that drive me crazy? I thought that was a relatively new idea. Apparently not. Even the most avant-garde seem to enjoy "the same look." But sometimes I wonder if the idea isn't carried a little too far.

And then there's just the plain cute.

Yes, there is the occasional photo that pushes the limit a bit. But . . . Oh!

Do you have stories or artifacts or experiences like these?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Homeschool religious prejudice

I'm working through old emails, trying to eliminate any and all that I really have no reason to keep anymore. (Some go back to 1999! . . . And my Outlook archive file is over 1GB large . . . which, for some reason, with Outlook 2007, makes it very slow. [The old version of Outlook was significantly faster. Even with massive data files.])


I ran across this email I wrote back in November 2000 in response to a potential customer who was hoping to have her homeschool/charter school pay for most if not all of the books she purchased.

At the time, Sonlight was dealing with a lot of people who wanted to have their local, publicly-funded charter schools pay for their curricular materials. (After all, they were paying taxes. Why shouldn't they get their materials paid for by tax dollars?)

I will confess: I was becoming rather frustrated with what appeared to me to be the blatant discrimination being engaged in by these charter schools. Probably 90 percent of the books Sonlight carries can be bought Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or any of hundreds of other "secular" book distributors. The charter schools would give homeschoolers the "right" to purchase from any one of these "secular" book distributors, but Sonlight? Oh, no! Not that company! It has an "O" in its name, so it is obviously religious. . . .

So here is how I replied:
Dear B____:

Karen [a Sonlight customer and subcontractor dedicated to customer support] forwarded me copies of your last couple of notes, especially the one in which you asked, "Is SL considered a Publisher? We are not allowed to use the charter money to purchase anything from a 'Religious Publisher.' "

Karen asked, "Are we [i.e., is Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.] technically a religious publisher since we publish a few things?"


Let me note, first, that the real question, I believe, is not whether Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd., is a publisher. The real question, I expect, is whether we are religious.

And the truth is, I am unable to answer your question as stated. Indeed, for your sake and ours--as well as the sake of other homeschoolers who may be thinking of coming under your charter school's umbrella--and, indeed, for the sake of your charter school/school district, perhaps you could ask the powers-that-be to answer the following questions.

1. Does your school district/charter school wish to inquire into the religious convictions of the owners of Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.? (If so, I believe they are acting in a discriminatory and unconstitutional manner.)

2. Does your school district/charter school wish to know whether we publish some religious titles? (I cannot believe that is really what they are asking. If so, they would hardly be able to educate anyone. For example: Among the publishers whose titles we distribute are such well-known names as HarperCollins, Random House, Doubleday, Dell, Macmillan, and so forth. Every one of those firms publishes religious works as well as more secular titles. Most of the Newbery Award winners are published by these firms. Scott Foresman is one of the largest educational publishing houses . . . and is a division of HarperCollins which publishes a bunch of religious/Christian titles. Is your school district/charter school willing to tell you that they refuse to purchase any titles from any of these publishers (or hundreds of others) because they publish religious titles?)

3. Is your school district/charter school only unwilling to purchase titles from publishers who release works with Christian religious overtones, or are they unwilling to purchase books published by publishers who include books with any religious nature of any kind?

Examples: Are they unwilling to purchase books that discuss the Incan, Aztec, and other ancient religions? What about books that mention, discuss, describe, or interact with Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or other such modern religions? (Tipping my hand here: the fact is, Sonlight carries books that deal with all of these things. As far as I can remember right off the bat, we only publish books that deal with some of the ancient religions and with Judaism and many of the various sects of Christianity.)

4. Does your school district/charter school want to weed out only publishers of religious works, or are they concerned to weed out resellers? I ask this, because most distributors of literary works (as we are) also sell books with religious themes. Bertelsmann, the owner of Random House, now also owns Barnes & Noble. And, of course, Barnes & Noble has a strong religious section. Ingram, the largest book wholesaler in the United States has a religious catalog. It owns the largest religious book distributor, Spring Arbor. Ingram also sells religious titles in its regular catalog. . . .

So how "pure" in its separatism does your school district/charter school want to be? Do they simply want not to purchase religious works? Or do they want to be more holy than that and separate themselves from those who publish religious works? Or do they want to be holier-than-holy and separate themselves from those who purchase from those who publish religious works? (I mean, truly: what do they want? How "holy" do they want to be in their non-religiosity? Kind of like a reverse picture of the religious fundamentalists who "don't go with those who chew, nor those who go with those who do"? . . . )

5. The name Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd., we are told, has religious connotations. Does your school district/charter school wish to discriminate against our firm because its name has religious overtones? (If so, then I believe they are acting unconstitutionally. By the way: if they say, yes: do they refuse to purchase healthcare services from any and all healthcare providers who have words like "St.," "Adventist," or other such religiously-freighted terms in them? Do they refuse to participate in "Red Cross" blood drives?)


In summary: it strikes me, considering the questions I have felt obliged to ask you, that your school district/charter school's policy is (or must be) unclear and/or unconstitutionally discriminatory. Therefore, if and when you ask them these questions, I would expect that they will either change their policy, or fear (rightly) that they will be sued. (They ought to be sued for a policy such as that which your question implies.)

Though I don't expect you to sue them, I would expect you to do the right thing, and at least show them how offensive their morally, legally, and ethically bankrupt policy is by at least asking the questions.

That they would say something to you that put you into a position where you felt obligated to ask us whether or not we are a "religious publisher" gets me thinking about the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s: "Achtung! JUDEN! Identify yourselves! Wear a yellow Star of David so we can spit at you, beat you, refuse to shop at your [filthy] stores, smash your stores' windows and, ultimately, murder you!"

[Let me say: I feel this especially acutely partially because my father, a German Jew, lived in Germany at the time and went through most of the pre-World War II anti-Jewish furor in Germany.]


Okay! (Or as Jim Carrey would say, "All righty, then!")

Have a great day!


John Holzmann, Co-Owner

PS--Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. sells well over 1000 items purchased from over 100 publishers, many of which are well known in secular and religious circles. A few of the 100+ publishers from whom we purchase seem more or less focused on religious themes. Others (including those I listed above) are less focused, but still publish religious books. I have not attempted to discern whether absolutely all of them publish religious titles. We don't discriminate against publishers based on whether or not they print religious titles.

Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. publishes about 50 titles. One of those titles deals with the Incans, Aztecs and Mayans and their religions; at least two are straight-out Bible studies. We also (beyond the 50 titles) publish about 35 teacher's manuals, some of which have rather significant biblical and religious studies in them.

Among our customers we count Protestants (of all varieties), Catholics, Jews, Eastern Orthodox, and other religious believers. We also have secularists and atheists. Come to our website forums and ask. The participants there will be happy to tell you.

PPS--Your question--and, therefore, your school district/charter school's policy--reminds me, too, of the Supreme Court justice who said, "I can't give a legal definition of pornography, but I know it when I see it!" --His viewpoint failed to survive judicial review in the United States. If your school district/charter school wants to define "religious publisher" in a manner similar to how that Supreme Court justice wished to define pornography . . . again, I think they can expect, sooner or later, someone is going to sue them. Their policy is, as I suggested, not only morally and ethically bankrupt, but legally bankrupt as well.
--I have no idea whether this woman ever purchased from Sonlight. My guess: Probably not. The school district, I expect, really didn't want to hassle with someone who would question their policies like I did.

But as I re-read the letter, it struck me: I still agree with where I was coming from at the time. And this kind of discriminatory practice continues.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

In an emergency, the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" might help you save someone's life

The HSI e-Alert, a free daily newsletter service of the Health Sciences Institute of Baltimore, included a great mnemonic for CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation).

According to the American Heart Association, they say, anyone doing CPR should maintain a rate of 100 chest compressions per minute; that's the pace necessary to prevent brain and heart tissue damage in cardiac arrest victims.

So how do you maintain such a pace?

Apparently, having discovered that the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive is paced at 103 beats per minute, the AHA decided several years ago to urge CPR students to use the song as a mnemonic.

And a study at the University of Illinois showed that, when 15 students listened to "Stayin Alive" while practicing compressions, they averaged 109 compressions per minute.

Not bad!

In fact, said the study leader, extra compressions are better than too few.

Yeah. But that's in a classroom situation while the students were listening.

What about afterward?
Five weeks later they repeated the drill, but with no music playing this time. They were told to simply think of the song. In this second phase, they averaged 113 compressions per minute.

So. Do you remember "Stayin' Alive"?

I do. Or, should I say, I remember just that signature line in the high falsetto . . .
Stayin' alive! Stayin' alive!
Ha - ha - ha - ha
Stayin' alive! Stayin' alive!
And I think I know the pace.

The author of the HSI article concluded,
Ironically, another song with a similar steady beat works just as well: Queen's Another One Bites the Dust.

I think I'll go with the Bee Gees.
Yep. Me, too!

By the way. As I was looking for URLs to remind readers of how these songs sound (I have no recollection at all of Queen's song), I found a Bee Gees music video.

It makes me want to cry--to see virile, grown men singing in falsetto!

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Denis Lamoureux's Evolutionary Creation

Okay. It's time for me to begin talking about Denis Lamoureux's book Evolutionary Creation.

I finally concluded reading this tome on our flight home from Europe last Sunday. It was a painful--but, I thought, necessary--task.

I want to do for you what I don't normally do and what Lamoureux himself failed to do in his book: I want to summarize the guts of his "message" before I present the "arguments" he offers and my detailed critique of what he says and how he says it.

Basic Thesis

Lamoureux's basic thesis: the narratives contained in Genesis 1-11 convey uniquely God-inspired messages about spiritual realities and spiritual truths that human beings throughout history--all people--have needed and still need to take seriously. At the same time, he says, these narratives contain virtually no information that anyone should attend to in order to inform or shape their views of history or science.

Put another way: We need to apply the same kind of discernment to our interpretation of Scripture that we naturally afford our interpretation of Jesus' incarnation. We understand that, in order to speak to the people of His day, Jesus had to utilize the language and cultural forms appropriate to that time and place. Even if He had wanted to, He would not--because He could not, properly--speak of galaxies, bacteria, thermonuclear energy, or calculus. The concepts themselves didn't exist at that time in human culture, and there was no need for Jesus to "enlighten" them concerning their ignorance. Jesus spoke real (spiritual) truth, but He accommodated Himself to the limitations of His audience.

So it is, says Lamoureux, with Scripture. God speaks real (spiritual) truth in the Bible, but He accommodated Himself to the limitations of His audience when it came to the literary forms and the assumptive history and science communicated throughout. Rather than confusing and upsetting His audience with long-winded and, ultimately, almost assuredly non-understandable discourses about "the way things really are" in the physical realm, God utilized the history and science of their day-- the things they understood (whether literally true or not [and Lamoureux says they are not!])-- . . . God utilized what the people of that day understood concerning history and the physical realm in order to convey true Truth about spiritual realities.

Lamoureux's perspective: He calls it the "Message-Incident Principle." Anything in Genesis 1-11 that we might perceive as impinging on history or science . . . --Any such thing is merely an incidental vessel, the "packaging," if you will, designed to carry the spiritual message of Scripture--the central purpose for which the Bible was written.

In essence, then: We can toss the wrapper, even while we savor what the wrapper contains.

What Does Such a Perspective Mean . . . and How Far Should We Apply It?

Lamoureux is unable to hold his application of the Message-Incident Principle to Genesis 1-11 only. Indeed, part of his "argument" for the Principle rests on the historical debate over how one can adopt a Galilean-Copernican perspective concerning the universe in light of passages like 1 Chronicles 16:30b, Psalm 93:1b, or Psalm 96:10b--all of which unmistakably declare: "the world is firmly established, it will not be moved."

"No Christian today believes the earth is stationary," Lamoureux asserts, "and no one interprets [these passages] literally. For that matter, the Galileo affair teaches us that science contributes to biblical interpretation" (p. 112). And what it ought to contribute to our interpretation of Genesis 1-11, Lamoureux says, is the realization that Genesis 1 to 11 has nothing to contribute to us in the realm of science or history.

Moreover, while
[t]he Old Testament clearly presents the immovability of the earth, . . . the purpose of [1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1, and Psalm 96:10] is not to reveal any fact about nature. Rather, [the phrase about the world's immovability is] found in passages that praise God's Lordship over the creation. In other words, this ancient geological understanding is an incidental vessel used to reveal the message that the Lord is the Ordainer and Sustainer of the world.


In the same way, then, we need to (re)interpret Genesis 1-11. Thus, Genesis 1 is "not a record of the history of the creation of the heavens, and . . . [it] is not a history of the origin of life, including humanity" (p. 192); rather, "Christians throughout the ages [have recognized and need, today, to recognize] that the primary purpose of Gen 1 is to reveal the Message of Faith that God is the Creator" and, moreover, that men and women enjoy a "unique position" in the world as creatures made in God's image (p. 198).

Thus, too, Genesis 2 "is not historical" (p. 198) and "is not a historical account of human origins" (p. 201). "[I]ts purpose is not to disclose how God made the universe and life, including humanity" (p. 201), but it
complements the Divine Theology in Gen 1 and asserts that humanity is a special and unique creation. We are the only creatures in a personal relationship with the Creator. This chapter also reveals that men and women were made to enjoy the mystery of marriage. . . . And most importantly, Gen 2 reveals little God sets limits on human freedom, and failure to respect these boundaries has serious consequences.

--p. 202

As for Genesis 3:
[T]he ancient motifs in Gen 3, the ancient understanding of causality, and the fossil record all point away from the historicity of this chapter and the causal connection between sin and death. . . .[T]he Message of Faith in Gen 3 is not dependent upon the historical reality of a lost idyllic age, a talking snake, mystical fruit, or cherubim. Instead, these ancient motifs are incidental to a Divine Theology that was radically different from the pagan beliefs surrounding the Hebrews.

Genesis 3 reveals the reality of human sin. . . . [It] reveals that humans are responsible for their actions and are accountable before God. The consequences of disobedience are significant because the Creator judges men and women for their sins. . . .

Despite the traditional literal reading of Gen 3 as actual history, the revelatory power of this divinely inspired account has been affirmed over and over again throughout the ages. It has consistently convicted men and women of their sins, and has left him knowing that God judges them accordingly. . . . Who has not experienced the spiritual-intellectual dynamic of the Garden of Eden? Is anyone not tempted to disobey their Maker? And who has not tried to rationalize their sin before the Holy Spirit? Clearly, the inerrant and infallible Messages of Faith in Gen 3 transcend the incidental ancient motifs and ancient categories of causality through which they are revealed.

--pp. 202, 203, 206

And so it goes.

Lamoureux(re)interprets each chapter of Genesis 1-11 along these lines.

And beyond Genesis 1-11?

. . . I'll have to address that in my next post on this subject.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

My rheumatologist is more open-minded than I thought!

I said I was going to ask my rheumatologist for his perspective on the mycoplasma hypothesis and about Wobenzym . . .

I was astonished by his response to my queries.

First, I wrote to him:
Dr. H:

I've been working on my diet and have had some pretty good results so far. --I still have a lot to do to bring my diet completely under control, but the pain, stiffness, and swelling is about 1/10th what it was back around the time I visited with you.

As I continue my studies, I have found several other interesting things about rheumatoid arthritis. For example:
  1. Its link to mycoplasmal infection. [See, for example, the article on an antibiotic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, the Health Sciences Institute article about "Chameleon-like microbes" [that] may be causing your chronic or autoimmune disorder, and the more detailed series of articles about mycoplasmas and an herbal approach to treating them.]

    The "Chameleon-like microbes" article suggests that, "If you suspect you have a mycoplasma-induced disease, have your doctor order a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test" -- in anticipation of possibly using something like the minocycline or Myco herbal formula protocols to eliminate the mycoplasmas (assuming they are found).

    What do you think? Would you/could you authorize such a test in my behalf?
  2. Any comments on the idea of reducing inflammation by destroying CICs--circulating immune complexes--through enzymatic protocols like Mucos Pharma GmBH's Wobenzym?
  3. What about the idea of supplementing with magnesium because "Severe chronic inflammatory disease causes the body to lose a tremendous amount of magnesium. Steroids, often used in treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, also deplete the vital element magnesium" . . . and because "magnesium dramatically reduces inflammation, boosts cellular antioxidant defenses and prevents many of the complications of inflammatory arthritis, such as cancer, brain damage, and atherosclerosis"?

    THANKS for your input!
He replied:
#1) Interesting thought.

The only mycoplasma test in our computer system is the mycoplasma pneumoniae antibody test.

I've ordered it so all you have to do is go to the lab and have it done.

We'll see what it shows.

#2) Probably no benefit from this therapy. CICs have more to do with diseases like lupus rather than RA.

#3) magnesium supplementation is ok but generally you should get enough with just a daily multivitamin.
I'm sure we can test his hypotheses about #2 and #3. I'm "just" rather stunned about his openness to try the mycoplasma test!

I figure I'll start there, and if that doesn't show anything, maybe I can move on toward the specific test my source suggested. (Don't know where to find it at the moment, but I'm sure I can get there if I feel I need to.)

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How is a dietary approach to arthritis working?

I said I would report on my experience with trying to use a dietary approach to confronting my arthritis.

I received the electronic version of my ALCAT results, as I recall, on May 30th. I talked with Barbara Allan about what they meant and what, specifically, I should do as a result on the afternoon of June 3rd and the morning of the 4th.

Of course, I had already read her book. So I was quite familiar with the idea that a lot of foods hide substances like corn and wheat.

But still she "blew me away" when she said she wanted to go through my list to help me beware of special places some of my problem foods might be hiding.

For example, I didn't think I'd have any problems with avoiding beef liver. I don't enjoy eating it, so why should I worry?

Barbara said, "You need to be aware that, if you take B vitamins, they are often made from beef liver."

Oh! --I've been taking a lot of B vitamins!

A few minutes later, concerning brewer's yeast: "It's very similar to beef liver: often used in the manufacture of B vitamins."

Again, "Oh!"

And pork. I know what pork is! I know how to avoid it.


Except: "You will often find pork hidden in gelatin. Gelatin can be made from cow bones and from pig bones."

"Oh, no! " I said. Sarita and I had just eaten out the night before at Sweet Tomatoes. I have been careful about what I was eating, and, despite loading up with vegetables, was still hungry. I happened to see the fruit gelatin ("Jell-O"--except, I'm sure, not Jell-O® brand gelatin) sitting over there. "I haven't had Jell-O in so long!" Of course, it is not the highest quality food. But I thought it might help fill me up.

Whatever brand it was, it must have been made from pork bones, because I was in some serious pain on Thursday morning as we spoke. The day before, I had been almost pain-free. But as I spoke with Barbara on the phone, my hands and feet were "killing" me.

"No wonder I have been in such great pain today!"

Toward the end of our conversation, Barbara suggested, "Maybe you should start your new diet after you get back. I don't see how you're going to be able to make the diet work while you're on a cruise!"

"Well, I'm sure I won't be able to do it perfectly, but I'd like to get started and do as well as I can. If nothing else, it will be a good educational experience. It takes a new mentality to figure out what you can eat after you receive a list like this."

Barbara agreed with my perspective that it takes a while to shift from thinking, "Oh, no! I can't eat that!" to, "What can I eat?" Focus on the positive rather than the negative. (It's so easy to focus on what we can't eat; it takes real discipline to focus on what we can eat.)

It took me a few days to realize I should ask the cruise line if they could help me while I was onboard. The list was so daunting to me, it then took another few hours to wangle the courage even to call. I was afraid they would say, either, "Look, if your needs are that great, perhaps you ought not to come on the cruise." Or else they would completely ignore my concerns. But/and/so I decided to call the cruise line's headquarters. I asked the young woman who answered if she thought they could help me.

"Oh, we deal with special requests all the time," she assured me. [Not as complex as mine! I thought.] "Please send us a letter with all the details," she said.


It was as a result of thinking through how to best inform the cruise line of my needs that I created the second list of dietary restrictions I mentioned yesterday. They would need a list that included some of those special "hiding places" where corn and wheat, especially, seem to hide.

So I wrote them a letter:
Just a week ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It is painful and, at its worst, semi-debilitating. But it's non-life-threatening and, so far, I have suffered no permanent damage to any of my joints. BUT . . . I need to get it under control so that one day I won't start to see damage.

In order to get it under control, I am attempting to avoid certain foods that blood tests have shown I am sensitive to. I'm not allergic to them in the sense of life-threatening reactions. They "just" cause my joints to become inflamed and painful.

I say all this to indicate that if I mess up on my diet, Viking won't be liable for somebody going into a major medical crisis, but also to say that I would really like to do everything I can to live within the strictures of the diet. I am not pursuing this the way a lot of people "try" to lose weight by "cutting back on calories" . . . "Oh, well, let me eat that cake; I'll do better tomorrow."

I'm serious, but I'm not going to fall apart if we inadvertently mess up . . . or come to the conclusion we just can't be sure we've gotten rid of everything. --I am still on the front end of learning how to eliminate all these ingredients.
--I then followed that with my lists of "Foods I need to avoid at all times" and "Foods I can eat once every four days."

I didn't send the letter until just after 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 11. That would have been 1 a.m. on Friday, June 12, in Europe--where our boat was. And we were scheduled to arrive in Europe on Sunday afternoon, June 14th.

Worse, I sent the e-mail to the cruise lines headquarters in Florida rather than straight to the boat (since I had no idea how to contact the boat itself).

Despite my tardiness, when I got on the boat, the maître d' graciously contacted me and offered to do the best he could to help me follow the dietary restrictions. And he was good to his word.

The result: my inflammation slowly--but not linearly!--declined over the course of the two weeks. Because I am still learning what is on my list, I made several mistakes--and paid the price for them!--but, in general, I have definitely improved. I would say that, by the midpoint of the cruise, my feet no longer bothered me, and, in general, the inflammation and pain became focused primarily in my right thumb and pointer finger, though I could notice it a little bit in my left thumb.

As I wrote to Barbara just a couple of nights ago:
It's easy to "forget" what's on your no-no list!

I, of course, focused on the major no-no's. But, at one point, I thought: "Good grief! I haven't had any cabbage in 'forever.' And I love German sauerkraut. . . . I can't have any that has pork in it. But maybe they'd make me some without. . . ."

So I asked. (They didn't add any large chunks of pork; but I found that they had obviously cooked my portion in with the other portions, and there were plenty of little pieces of pork in it. . . . The maître d' had been so kind and had attempted so hard to be helpful. I thought I should be 'polite.' So I picked out whatever tiny pieces I could see, but decided to consume the rest anyway . . . even though I knew, as you had taught me, that there would be plenty of small/hidden/invisible samples of 'moderate intolerance' pork remaining in the liquid that surrounds sauerkraut. . . .)

The next day, while visiting a German biergärten, I had a similar experience and, to be polite, behaved in the same manner.

It was only much later that I realized, with all the focus on pork, I had ignored the fact that cabbage is one of my mild intolerance vegetables, so I shouldn't have eaten it a second time--even without pork--for four days.

And so on.

One more illustration: Salad dressing.

"Hey! None of the regular ones work. But I can have olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette!" . . . That's what I thought.

But, oh (I found out just yesterday during my interview with Katherine Holmes at Cell Science Systems): vinaigrette is made from grapes (good; grapes are an "acceptable"/non-hypersensitive food for me), but "all vinegars--all but three--are produced using yeast" [which I'm supposed to avoid as much as possible due to candida]. . . .

And, oh, yeah (I also found out from Katherine): I'm not supposed to eat any "green" ["acceptable"] food on my list even two days in a row: "Only every-other day, at most."
So I'm still learning. And still "paying the price" every now and then for inadvertent mistakes . . . and, frankly, sometimes vertent decisions to ignore the diet (though progressively fewer of those, as I "pay the price" for my transgressions!). But, as I said above, I am doing better. And I'm feeling as if I'm getting this disease under control. I can tell when I'm "on"; and I can tell when I'm "off." And I can distinguish these things not only or merely by what's on the menu, but, very much, by the reaction--either good or bad--a few hours to a day or two later. There really is a correlation.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

ALCAT test results

As I said, I received my ALCAT test results.

[I hope I don't regret making this information totally available. I'm going to assume my readers will be more interested in understanding--and will have more of a capability to understand--what the ALCAT does than they will in trying to find a way to put me in pain by feeding me foods that, at this time, I ought not to eat!]

As you can see at the bottom of the first page, when a food or substance is marked RED, it "indicates a severe intolerance . . . and these items should be avoided for a minimum of 6 months." After six months, I have now been told, I can try, gently, to reintroduce them into my diet. It is possible--especially if and as I do some other things to reduce "leaky gut" and improve certain other aspects of my health--. . . It is possible, indeed, they say, quite probable, that I will find myself free of my hypersensitivity to these foods.

"ORANGE indicates [I have] a moderate intolerance and these items should be avoided for a minimum of 3-6 months"--after which time I can attempt the same thing as mentioned above for "RED" foods.

"YELLOW indicates a mild intolerance and these foods should be avoided" for three of every four days. In other words, if I ingest any of them on one day, I need to lay off of those foods for three days, minimum, before ingesting them again.

"GREEN indicates acceptable foods/no reaction." --But, what I just found out from the nutritionist at Cell Science Systems (CSS; the people who do the ALCAT test): I still ought not to eat any of these foods more than once every other day (i.e., one day I can eat it, the next day I ought to avoid it).


"Because more frequent ingestion may lead to a sensitivity reaction in the future. You want to give your body time to clear itself of each substance."

One of the hardest things to understand is the YELLOW category.

I have found the once-every-four-days freedom most particularly important in the area of carbs. Man! I "just" get starved for them.

So how I have been attempting to use my freedom is to determine that one day will be a potato day [notice that white potatoes are in the yellow column]. The next day may be a rice day [a "green" food!] Then, maybe, I'll have a corn day [yellow column]. The day after could be a gluten day [notice the second blue box down, down toward the bottom of the left-hand side; all the gluten-bearing grains count as a single "substance" or "food" for the purposes of meal planning. It doesn't matter whether I eat oats, wheat, rye, barley, or whatever--or all of them together: I must not eat any of them again for a minimum of four days after I've eaten them one one day].

I love the way they've split out all the "green" foods. I hate the way they have listed the "red," "orange," and "yellow" foods solely by alphabetization!

So I created my own document that splits those foods I should always avoid (i.e., the "red" and "orange") from those I can eat once every four days (the "yellow").

I also added a bunch of "hidden" ingredients based on information from Barbara Allan's book.

And I arranged them by general categories, the way CSS does for the "green" foods:

All DAIRY (severe Whey reaction)



Carbohydrates/Grains: Gluten-Free/Corn-Free
BARLEY . . . including MALT (except Wheat days)
CORN (except on Corn days)
MALT (except Wheat days)
OAT (except Wheat days)
RYE (except Wheat days)
SPELT (except Wheat days)

Herbs/Spices/Seasonings/Hidden Ingredients
CORN STARCH or SYRUP (except Corn days)
DEXTRIN from corn or wheat
EXCIPIENTS (may include corn starch)
FOOD STARCH (unless specified non-corn)
GELATIN (unless specified non-pork)
MALT not from rice (barley, corn!)
MONO- and DI-GLYCERIDES not specified (corn)
NATURAL FLAVORINGS (disallowed grains)
POTATO FLOUR or STARCH ((except Potato days)
SALT (unless pure sea salt)
SOY SAUCE (except Wheatdays)
STARCH (unless specified non-corn)
TABLE SALT (because of Corn Dextrose)
* VANILLA EXTRACT (beware corn syrup!)
VINEGAR (unless NOT from wheat or corn!)
VINEGAR PRODUCTS (pickles, etc.)
XANTHAN GUM (except Corn days)


CORN OIL (except Corn days)



WHEAT (Barley, Malt, Oat, Rye, Spelt)

Herbs/Spices/Seasonings/Hidden Ingredients



More later.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Something more about rheumatoid arthritis treatments

Dr. David Brownstein (in the article I referenced back on June 5th) mentions a bacterium, mycoplasma, that was
first described as an underlying cause of arthritis in mice in 1938 by Dr. Albert Sabin [yeah, the guy who is most famous for having developed the oral polio vaccine]. In 1939, Dr. Thomas Brown published a study in which he isolated mycoplasma bacterium from the joints of rheumatic patients.
Brownstein notes that, by combining a low-dose antibiotic treatment with modified diet, he has been able to see remarkable results with a woman who had been suffering from the disease for over 20 years, despite one failed "conventional" treatment after the other. (She was on 8 mg of prednisone at the time she came to Brownstein.) --Today, the woman is up and about and out of her wheelchair.

I have now done some further research on Brownstein's mention of mycoplasma and it sounds as if he's not just talking through his hat. There's additional research behind both the link between mycoplasma and arthritis, and behind the idea that tetracycline can clear it out. As the article on the subject states, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored studies in 1993 and 1994:
The preliminary results of the clinical trials, known now as MIRA or Minocycline in Rheumatoid Arthritis, were promising and the NIH requested grant applications for studies of mycoplasma and other infectious agents as causes for rheumatoid diseases in 1993, and a pilot study for intravenous antibiotics for rheumatoid arthritis in 1994.

The result of the MIRA clinical trial stated, "Patients who suffer from mild to moderate RA now have the choice of another therapeutic agent. Not only did the antibiotic significantly reduce symptoms, but side effects were minimal and less severe than observed for most other common rheumatoid treatments".
And yet,
Many physicians remain skeptical and still do not suggest antibiotic treatment to their patients. The Arthritis Foundation was seemingly unimpressed even after antibiotic therapy was deemed as safe and effective. The foundation's medical director reportedly said he did not view the treatment as a breakthrough and more study of dosages and long-term use of minocycline is needed.
Okay. Be skeptical. But can our doctors at least hold an open mind?

Oh. And then there's this 2001 article from the Agora Publishing group's Health Sciences Institute (HSI): German enzyme therapy targets autoimmune disorders, reducing the need for side-effect laden drugs:
In autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and MS, the immune system goes “haywire.” Instead of serving its normal protective function, it produces abnormally high levels of antibodies called circulating immune complexes (CICs). In a healthy person, the pancreas naturally produces enzymes that break down CICs so they can pass through the kidneys for excretion. But in people with compromised immune systems, CICs begin to accumulate in the body’s soft tissue and organs-causing serious inflammation and, in extreme cases, organ failure.

If you suffer from an autoimmune disorder, you can clear your system of excess CICs by supplementing your body’s stockpile of enzymes. This can lead to a dramatic reduction in inflammation and many of your most debilitating symptoms.
And so, the article urges, consider supplementing with something called Wobenzym produced by a German company called Mucos Pharma GmBH. Wobenzym, they say, is "the leading over-the-counter drug in Germany and is used primarily to treat injury and inflammation. Unfortunately, because the majority of the published research is in German, it hasn’t received the attention it deserves in the United States." But from the research HSI was able to uncover,
Studies have shown that Wobenzym can prevent RA flare-ups and help to lower levels of CICs. In one German study published in Zeitschr. F. Rheumatologie in which patients took eight Wobenzym tablets four times daily, sixty-two percent of patients showed improvement in symptoms [emphasis mine--JAH].

In another study, researchers at the Ukrainian Rheumatology Center in Kiev tested Wobenzym on 78 patients with severe RA who were using other traditional drugs. Patients showed a decrease in CIC concentrations of up to 42 percent. All RA patients showed an improvement of morning stiffness and nearly a quarter of patients reduced their NSAID doses by 50 to 75 percent. . . .
. . . I am going to contact my rheumatologist to get his perspective. I wonder if he is willing--or even able (since he is in the Kaiser-Permanente system)--to consider these kinds of "alternative" therapies.

I am glad, at least, that he said I could follow the "food hypothesis."