Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Longevity Diet by Valter Longo, PhD

The internationally renowned, clinically tested, revolutionary diet program to lose weight, fight disease, and live a longer, healthier life. Can what you eat determine how long, and how well, you live? The clinically proven answer is yes, and The Longevity Diet is easier to follow than you’d think. The culmination of twenty-five years of research on aging, nutrition, and disease across the globe, this unique program lays out a simple solution to living to a healthy old age through nutrition. The key is combining the healthy everyday eating plan the book outlines, with the scientifically engineered fasting-mimicking diet, or FMD; the FMD, done just 3-4 times a year, does away with the misery and starvation most of us experience while fasting, allowing you to reap all the beneficial health effects of a restrictive diet, while avoiding negative stressors, like low energy and sleeplessness. Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at USC and the Program on Longevity and Cancer at IFOM in Milan, designed the FMD after making a series of remarkable discoveries in mice, then in humans, indicating that specific diets can activate stem cells and promote regeneration and rejuvenation in multiple organs to significantly reduce risk for diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. Longo’s simple pescatarian daily eating plan and the periodic fasting-mimicking techniques can both yield impressive results. Low in proteins and sugars and rich in healthy fats and plant-based foods, The Longevity Diet is proven to help you. The audiobook version is narrated by Keith Sellon-Wright. Ebook.
Audiobooks Today) There have been many books on diet related to disease. Some of the conclusions are that “the less red meat the better.” Although one says that there is no link between saturated fat in meat and heart disease, another points to a link between the iron in meat (and flour products in America) to Alzheimers in over 40 people. Sugar and salt play a big role in diabetes, too. What have your studies shown?
Valter Longo) Our studies have shown that a high protein diet is associated with major increases in overall and cancer mortality especially if the source of proteins is mostly animal and only up to age 65. So generally, our findings are consistent with this above but focus on the proteins or red meat and show that there are 2 major phases of adult life in which protein intake should be different.
Q) Metabolic syndrome from soda, called "liquid candy?”
A) The problem is not the soda but the empty sugar. You could get to the same problem with pasta, rice, bread. However, it is important to point out that the problem start when you have excess sugar or starches not small amounts of it.
Q) A book on coffee—The Mindspan Diet—surprised me by claiming that light roast beats dark for antioxidants and health, with dark, burnt beans possibly linked to cancer. Do you agree?
A) Most research indicates protective effects of coffee against Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s etc, so I don’t think we know enough to differentiate yet. For now I would say that a few cups a day are good.
Q) My sister has brain cancer, and had bone cancer. A recent MRI showed her tumor shrinking slightly. I have been pushing dark berries and green leafy vegetables on her, although I can’t get her to exercise. Ideas for motivation?
A) I would recommend a chronic ketegenic diet plus a periodic fasting mimicking diet (prolonfmd) plus the standard of care.
Q) Foods to avoid at all cost?
A) Red meat, animal fats, high mercury fish.
Q) What has been the success rate of The Longevity Diet, and how is it different? FMD?
A) The Longevity Diet book is different since it focuses on what I call Juventology or the study of youth and not aging and on the diets and genes that can achieve this. The FMD is a key component of the Longevity Diet. The book has been very successful, with over 500,000 copies sold.
Q) Regarding longevity, do you think we’ll ever see a drug or pill to increase it, and what methods seem most promising for research?
A) I think the FMD is the most promising now. Eventually we will have drugs, but it could take decades.
Q) Saw a Breakthrough series produced by Ron Howard which revealed success in treating cancer using a CrispR genetics approach using the neutered HIV to inject drugs past the blood/brain barrier. This was a theme of my novel The Methuselah Gene, fictionally injecting the longevity gene of a bristlecone pine tree into mice using a neutered HIV, with Big Pharma reaping billions. What do you think of exploiters like Martin Shkreli, whose drug costs $750 a pill?
A) I think his is a bad idea and will cause big problems.
Q) The wholistic approach to medicine is a lot cheaper for everyone. How can we fix the system, and what do you hope people take away from your book on taking control of their own health?
A) I hope they understand that we need to use a multi pillar approach to come up with recommendations that are solid and safe. However, the focus of my book is on triggering the body’s ability to repair and regenerate itself to stay younger.
Q) Do you listen to audiobooks while in the car or exercising? You recommend them?
A) Yes, I bought a number of audio books. I think they are great, especially for when you are driving.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

There have been many psychology books that divide people into groups. One of the most influential is “I’m Okay, You’re Okay,” by Thomas A. Harris MD, who called his “Life Positions,” the result of cross contamination of the Parent, Adult and Child ego states into four conclusions: I’m Not OK, You’re OK; I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK; I’m OK, You’re Not OK; and I’m OK, You’re OK. Harris explains how our emotions color our beliefs, and are related to our upbringing. The transactional analysis approach began with Eric Burne, author of “Games People Play.” He’s a trained psychologist, (and there’s even a song by The Alan Parsons Project with the same title and theme.) Gretchen Rubin is a lawyer turned pop psychologist, writing several bestselling books on happiness, beginning with the tongue in check social commentary “Power Money Fame Sex.” She says she discovered Four Tendencies that people are dominant in: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Again, labels aside, you may bleed over into another group (or two), but fit a pattern of one of the four most readily. Oddly, she doesn’t talk much about introvert versus extrovert, two groups most decidedly contrasting. There are other books using the word four too, like “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.” (Gretchen’s subtitle is “The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Live Better and Other People’s Lives Better, Too.”) There is also “The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals” (by Harvard MBA grad Sean Covey, son of Stephen R. Covey, the Mormon bestselling author of Highly Effective Habits books/tapes/seminars fame.) Sean uses “7 Highly Effective” titles too, that “have sold millions of copies.” And “6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make.” (Many languages and guidebooks.) There is also the “Four Pillars of Investing,” and the “Four Hour Body” and even the “Four Hour Work Week” by that hard-driving fighter/dancer/investor/wunderkind Tim Ferriss, who occasionally kicks back with covens of other Coveys in a full scale assault on Mt. Robbins (Tony.) Still, no one can fault Rubin for wanting more happiness, after being a lawyer. John Grisham tired of it too, but went the harder sales route: fiction. Rubin tried fiction, but decided her novels weren’t going to make her rich, non-fiction selling roughly 20 times easier to agents, particularly since everyone wants to be happier and wealthier, not just read about Kardashians getting theirs…or not. (I have yet to write a non-fiction book, other than a Lottery Island, partly based on a true story, but also involving power, money, fame, sex, and psychology.) Rubin’s writing habits involve using humor and anecdotes with fictional techniques, combined with social media popups, lists, goals, tips, and the kitchen (and kitchen sink): anything to connect with audiences. (No, I haven’t mastered any of these things except humor.) She reads the audiobook, which is appropriate for non-fiction if you’re a guru like Robert Kiyosaki, a public speaker like Suze Orman, or an inner peace practitioner like Eckhart Tolle. Which of the four tendencies each of these (or you) possess depends on how you react to questions posed by Gretchen in tests. I tend to ask questions, which makes me a Questioner. Mine is, “Are you a sports fan or sports atheist?” LOL. 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Annihilation movie Review

Wanting to see how ANNIHILATION compared to the audiobook (which is actually a trilogy), I can report that the movie is definitely worth the price of admission, whether of not you’ve read or listened to the books. Still, it’s a different animal, and there are plenty of strange creatures populating both movie and “audio movies.” Natalie Portman stars with several of director Alex Garland’s Ex Machina actors, particularly Oscar isaac, who was fantastic. Mood is everything, and although there are elements of horror, the movie does keep close to the tone of Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 science fiction Southern Reach novel, which won a Nebula award. An opening shot of a meteor striking a lighthouse in the swamps of a park on the coast of northern Florida is followed by jigsaw scene pieces that move back and forth in time, like Pulp Fiction. The book is told through the biologist’s field journal into an expedition of Area X, which shimmers with inexplicable power. Others have died, going in, either (it is believed) by attack or by turning on themselves. Whereas the film takes a women with weapons direction, the book is more about induced visions and journals, with a “Crawler” writing cryptic messages on the walls of a tower that need to be decyphered. (Special effects and shooting sports being more important than reading or language, these daze.) Both concern biology and change being forced upon humanity. Why doesn’t the Army just roll in with tanks, or nuke it? Because the scientists want to understand it, as in Avatar. And this is not something that bullets can stop, anyway. It’s DNA, a subtle invasion and evolution of all species. Since change is scary, too, a few are in denial it’s happening…but giant hybrid creatures about to eat you (before transforming you) are difficult to deny, and so even the Army is freaking out…as they did in Arrival (based on the 2002 book “Stories of Your Life and Others” by Ted Chiang, which may have influenced VanderMeer, since it is also about understanding alien language, and also includes a tower.) As for Alex Garland, he wrote THE BEACH as a novel, which became the Leonardo DiCaprio film. (Alex also wrote The Tesseract, scripts for Halo, Sunshine, 28 Days Later, Dredd, Never Let Me Go, Big Game, Annihilation, and Ex Machina.) On audio, Annihilation is narrated by Carolyn McCormick. And speaking of wild horror creatures, there is THE SLENDERMAN MYSTERIES by Nick Redfern, narrated by Shaun Grindell. (Footnote: In the movie Annihilation, look for a Slenderman effect! Intentional or just optical illusion? Near the end, in the lighthouse, for about two seconds of special effects.) Subtitle of the Redfern book is “An Internet Urban Legend Comes to Life.” Horror that was a hoax, but played out in real life in the news. Redfern is definitely a believer in the supernatural, UFOs, Ancient Astronauts (nuts), and nightmare creatures that get profiled on The “History” Channel. In real life the only nightmare creatures I’ve seen in the woods are wolves, and there is the non-fiction book AMERICAN WOLF by Nate Blakeslee, narrated by the always great Mark Bramhall. A real treat, following the clash between wolves and other animals in the West, particularly in Yellowstone and involving naturalist Rick McIntyre. Great writing, great narration. The rare wolves I witnessed in the wild were in Arizona and New Mexico, while driving through remote wilderness in the Gila National Forest. No shimmers of light, though.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

Subtitle is “The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.” ENLIGHTENMENT NOW is not for Christians or Muslims unwilling to listen to new ideas. The author is an atheist. A scientist. The words “enlightenment” and “humanism” (if not “reason, science, and progress”) make the majority of Americans cringe. Certainly the Trump faithful. But even Trump is willing to listen, since he doesn’t want to lose more votes from the left. (So bump stocks may be going away, if not age 18-20 assault rifle buyers.) Yet even if you hate the left, and prefer Billy Graham from the last post, at least give this a listen. Why? If nothing else, it is Bill Gates’ “new favorite book of all time.” Pinker’s focus is on change, which is always scary. In the Dark Ages, nothing changed. Dogma ruled, rulers lopped off heads. (Even Putin doesn’t do that, although Assad might. He prefers poison.) Life was “brutal and short,” so nostalgia for the past is usually misguided. (Lifespans are up, health better, largely due to science.) An open mind is less violent, and more prone to learning. Big egos bore easily, and can’t focus. They believe they know everything, already. (Some InfoWars followers believe Sandy Hook was a hoax, the Earth is Flat—or 6000 years old—and UFOs are piloted by demons.) Narrated on audio by veteran performer Arthur Morey, Pinker's book is optimistic about the future instead of apocalyptic. Pinker quotes The Beginning of Infinity, called one of the most profound science books of all time, in describing how science works, as a means to debunk conspiracy theories. He debunks Trump too, a man who couldn’t name a fav Bible verse. Quotes from the book: Anecdotes don’t always constitute a trend. Not every crisis is the end of the world, and not every change is the death of this or that…or the dawn of a ‘post-something’ era. Problems are inevitable, but soluble. Peace, love, and understanding do not make blockbuster movies, or result in viral Twitter posts. We share the wrong things, and the media (news) chase viral cat videos or NRA debates with the same fervor as they do Clemson football. It’s all about eyeballs, which equal money. Profit. When lying to the public becomes a business, and investigative crews shut down to switch to “social media marketing,” who can you believe if you read no books, other than the Bible or Koran? Youtube?  

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Storm Warning by Billy Graham

Billy Graham’s STORM WARNING is an examination of the imminence of Christ’s return in light of today’s headlines and the events recorded in Scripture. The morning newspapers are jammed with alarming headlines of conflict in the Middle East, economic crisis, global warming, and terrorist threats around the world, as well as stories asking questions no one can answer. In Storm Warning, Billy Graham examines the problems facing America today compared with what is to come as revealed in the Bible. He answers the tough questions as only he can, with astute biblical insight, and points to the hope and renewal found in Christ—for our families, our nation, and our world. He includes an in-depth analysis of the four horsemen of Revelation, chapter six, as well as insight on signs of the times, the Apocalypse, and standing before God. EbookI learned that there is a special room at his compound called “Storm Warning,” and that on April 21, 2017 he addressed the issue of global warming with a statement that included this: Why should we be concerned about the environment? It isn’t just because of the dangers we face from pollution, climate change, or other environmental problems—although these are serious. For Christians, the issue is much deeper: We know that God created the world, and it belongs to Him, not us. Because of this, we are only stewards or trustees of God’s creation, and we aren’t to abuse or neglect it. The Bible says, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.’ When we fail to see the world as God’s creation, we will end up abusing it. Selfishness and greed take over, and we end up not caring about the environment or the problems we’re creating for future generations. It’s not surprising that some of the world’s worst environmental damage was done by the old atheistic regimes of Eastern Europe. I hope you won’t lose your concern for these issues, for they are important.”

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jay Bonansinga and Paul Heitsch Interview

Jay Bonansinga is an award winning indy filmmaker and screenwriter who has worked with horror legend George Romero, Will Smith’s production company, and Dennis Haysbert’s The Unit, among others. His debut novel THE BLACK MARIAH was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award, and his numerous short tales and articles have been published in many magazines. In addition, he writes some Walking Dead novels. Holder of a master’s degree in film from Columbia College Chicago, Jay currently resides in Evanston, Illinois, is a visiting professor at Northwestern University in their Creative Writing for the Media program, and the Graduate Writing Program at DePaul University. He can be reached at Paul Heitsch is an audiobook narrator and gaming music composer (Myst.) His first recorded novel was The Miraculous Plot of Leiter and Lott in 2011 (which is my own.) He has since recorded 100 titles, including Bonansinga’s The Sleep Police, both for Crossroad Press. Heitsch is one of the finalists in the current Audie Awards (whose category I am not judging.) Read and/or listen to their titles to be a judge for yourself HERE
Jonathan Lowe) What are your favorite audiobooks of yours, and why? 
Jay Bonansinga) I love all the versions of my books that were done as audiobooks, but I especially love the Robert Forster performance of my book The Killers Game. This guy is pure Chicago with his hard R's and flat vowels!  Also love Fred Berman, who does all the Walking Dead books. 
JL) What about The Black Mariah, which hasn’t gone to audio yet? I used to review for trucking magazines like Truckers News and Landline, plus Cracker Barrel stores, which has an audiobook program. XM Radio too, which truckers listen to. Why did you write that book?
JB) I guess I always saw the cross country trucker as the last cowboy.  Running cattle, taking no shit from anybody, always pushing, tough as rawhide.  I have my chauffeur's license, but the first day I drove a huge stake truck when I was nineteen. I clipped a mirror off another rig and that was career kaput in one day!
JL) Paul, congrats on your nomination! Describe the audiobook nominated, would you?
Paul Heitsch) Nevertheless We Persisted is an anthology of short stories and poems, all exploring various themes. I’m one of 26 narrators who were cast to record the pieces, and am incredibly proud and humbled by the Audie nomination for Best Original Work. Tanya Eby, the producer, and owner of Blunderwoman Productions, was so generous to include me on the project, and I’m really looking forward to thanking her in person at the Audies Gala!
JL) Good luck! What about The Sleep Police?
Sleep Police was also a terrific book, with unforgettable scenes and characters. Please convey my thanks and best wishes to Jay Bonansinga.
JL) Oh! Before we go, tell readers about the bestselling Omega Force series that you narrate.
PH) The Omega Force series has been such an amazing experience to narrate. Over the course of the nine books—thus far—the central characters and their relationships with each other have continued growing more complex and nuanced. Author Joshua Dalzelle is absolutely fearless about letting the story arcs go in organic directions, rather than imposing some artificial gift-wrapped happy-ever-after ending to each book. And the stories themselves are just plain fun to read, full of action, humor, intrigue, and suspense. All of which he handles very deftly.

Footnote: For my original interview with Paul, go HERE. Audiobook version also from Crossroad Press: