Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse DiseaseHow Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is all about following a plant based diet. Many instances of "we're not sure why this is healthy, but if there are no downsides or adverse side effects, why not just eat it?"

I don't know enough to refute or agree with most of what he claims, but it sounds legitimate. It helps that none of the book's proceeds go to him. However, it is interesting to compare this book with other authors. This book seems to follow Perlmutter's advice (author of The brain maker), more or less. A big exception to this is grains (he's for whole grains, Perlmutter against all grains, and against all gluten). Other exceptions are kimchi and Kombucha (Perlmutter is for both, Greger not so much)

Interesting tidbits:
Just eating 4 brazil nuts a month reduces risk of heart disease
Turmeric should be added to meals
People exposed to fried foods had higher cancer rates, almost as high as smokers. Due to being exposed to the smoke from the frying. Especially living close to Bbq, Chinese and American restaurants. Out of these Chinese was highest (fish emits high carcinogen level when cooked). Bacon is also very high. If you have to fry, best to do so outside.
Adding Oregano or cinnamon to your dish could make it more healthy (adds antioxidants). Adding saffron seems to be good for alzheimer's
Tea inhibits absorption of iron
With Asbestos: We noticed the illness first with the miners, then with the shippers and ones who handled it, and now (still) with those who lived in facilities containing asbestos. Are we seeing the same with poultry? Workers in poultry plants have a higher incidence of cancer (on the other hand, we've been eating poultry forever. It seems that we would've caught on to this earlier).
Odd claims: nearly 3/4 of all human diseases come from animals. In addition to mad cow, sars, bird flu, swine flu, also tb came from domestication of goats, measles and smallpox from domestication of cattle, typhoid from domesticated chickens, whooping cough from domesticated pigs, influenza from domesticated ducks, leprosy (possibly) from water buffalo and the cold virus from horses. Is this true??
More carbs seems to lead to less depression
Up to 6 cups of day of coffee leads to less to depression (but sugar can lessen the effect)
Eggs associated with higher levels of prostate cancer
Garlic and onions (also legumes) lower risk of BpH
As you age, risk of cancer increases, until you hit around 85 years of age.

Is food healthy is the wrong question. The question should be: compared to what?
Eating is a zero sum game. If you eat one thing, chances are you won't eat something else.
If there were a pill that could increase your lifespan and be a great inhibitor to cancer growth, heart disease, etc. with no side effects. It would cost $200 and fly off shelves. Yet broccoli is like that but people don't eat it (Monsanto even tried to patent broccoli)
One green to avoid: Alfalfa sprouts (salmonella)
Ginger is good for nausea and motion sickness
Too much nutmeg, cinnamon, poppyseeds can be harmful
Not all wholegrains are healthy. Calculation: Ratio of grams of carbohydrates to grams of Fiber should less than 5.

Things I will be buying more of now (taking into account what I am already buying):
Cranberry juice
any nuts (walnuts) (and seeds)
amla (indian gooseberries)

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the WorldEmpires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fascinating book about how some languages thrived, continue to thrive, or don't thrive at all. It's not just conquering or imperialism (Turkic, Mongol and Manchu people conquered great empires but their language never spread), nor was it business and trade (the Dutch and Portuguese had bigger enterprises than the British did, but besides Brazil their languages didn't stick). Germanic tribes took over all of Europe after the Roman empire, and yet their language didn't stick, while the earlier Romance languages did.

Some of my notes:
What would have been different if Alexander the Great had gone West rather than East?
Coptic is a modern version of "Aiguptos", Greek for Egypt
Ramayana has a story like the Trojan war
The "Lugano alphabet"
Printed books meant the death of Latin
Christopher Columbus first thought he was in China, then in India, but after one month he stopped calling the locals "indios", yet the name stuck.
"Lingua Franca" stood for French language being used in the Levant during Crusades
Most English speakers speak it as a 2nd language: main reason it is widespread, but also big reason why it could die out.

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Monday, March 05, 2018

The Wings by Sang Yi

The WingsThe Wings by Sang Yi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading Hae-gyoung's review of this book I want to get my hands on another translation. I noticed the typos, which made me wonder what else was mistaken/incomplete/incorrectly translated. Especially with such a surrealist/train of thought text.

3 short stories. I would probably give 5 stars to The Wings, and 3 or 4 to the other two. Typos aside, much of it seemed beyond my grasp, but it was still very intense and powerful. Interesting also to see how different these are compared to contemporary Korean fiction. At least what little I've read.

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Saturday, March 03, 2018

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan

Good Night, Mr. WodehouseGood Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith  Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Probably minor spoilers ahead:
Not really the book I expected. I figured a book about a booker lover in small-town Minnesota would be a light read. This book is serious, with some quite depressing moments (especially the outhouse), but without being too heavy, which is an accomplishment in itself I guess. Nell's escapes into Wodehouse novels are very relatable for any reader. All in all I'm very happy I came across this book. I hear there are other novels by the same author that take place in the same town, with many of the same characters. I might have to check them out. 4.5 stars.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wild Kids: Two Novels about Growing Up by Chang Ta-chun, Michael Berry (Translator)

Wild Kids: Two Novels about Growing UpWild Kids: Two Novels about Growing Up by Chang Ta-chun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Actually two stories, collected into one book for the English version. The first (my little sister) reads like a journal, although a very sporadic and chaotic one. It started off slow but was definitely worth it in the end. The second (Wild child) was more entertaining from the start, discussing a runaway joining a local gang. Here I felt the ending left me hanging, but maybe it was just over my head.

I constantly find issues with English translations of Taiwanese novels. Especially the names. I understand it's a choice between translating the sounds or the characters, but why translate the characters for the son, while apparently translating the sounds for the father? Especially when the son's name (Little Horse) sounds so similar in English to a completely unrelated person in the story (Horsefly)? Again, maybe some of it was over my head, but it seemed confusing.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America's Foremost Business Philosopher by Jim Rohn

7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America's Foremost Business Philosopher7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America's Foremost Business Philosopher by Jim Rohn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this because I heard he was an influence on Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, David Allen, etc. A lot of his material has therefore been repeated elsewhere, but it's still a short read (even completing his exercise toward the beginning) that was worth it to me.

Interesting to see how he says Not to forgive yourself for not having been productive (Make losing painful). While many others these days say the opposite, to accept it and move on without beating yourself up over it.

Some parts are dated (including the section telling us to take pictures as often as possible). And the Listening and Observing sections are much easier now (with youtube, podcasts, etc. etc.).

Many of these strategies can be found elsewhere today, but they are pretty much still the essentials.
I found the sections on Discipline, creating value, Time management, The "I've had it" moment (similar to Tim Ferriss's Harajuku moment) to be fundamental.

Some of my notes:
"What if you had to be rich? What if the very life of someone you love depended on your being able to afford the very best medical care?"
"If you must be addicted to something, be addicted to winning"
"Not "How much does it cost?", but "How much is it worth?""
"he doesn't have ten years' experience. What he has is one year's experience repeated ten times."
"You can't create more time, so create more value"
"develop an above-average handshake. Develop an above-average smile".
70/30 Rule in finances

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Imjin War: Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China by Samuel Hawley

The Imjin War: Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer ChinaThe Imjin War: Japan's Sixteenth-Century Invasion of Korea and Attempt to Conquer China by Samuel Hawley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a whirlwind. The Japanese overrun Korea in order to Conquer China, then get sent back, then return, and get sent back again. This will end up involving not only those three countries, but soldiers from as far as Thailand, Okinawa and Indonesia, the Spanish and the Portuguese, Catholic priests (including the first documented westerner to set foot in Korea), more games and tricks than Romance of the 3 kingdoms or game of thrones, and characters like Hideyoshi, Yi Sun-shin (probably the most underrated admiral/general ever), the Red robe general and Big Sword Liu. Anyway, so many other things were happening due to this war as well, such as Korean potters being taken to Japan and spreading new pottery styles (and neo-Confucianism), Japanese and Chinese negotiators forging documents so as to reach a peace settlement their rulers knew nothing about, slave traders buying Korean prisoners in Nagasaki and taking them to India and Europe, Catholic Japanese generals infighting with Buddhist Japanese generals, Korean political factions infighting amongst each other, bilingual double agents spreading misinformation, new weapons and ingenious tactical methods, etc. etc. This book does a great job of detailing the events in a coherent and chronological manner. It is a heavy, long, book, but definitely worth reading.

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