More pros and cons of technology

24 08 2013

This morning, I was exposed to two interesting pieces of information that inspired me to write another post here yet again……

The first was a video about the so called “wheat belly”, the other about coping skills over at Guy Mc Pherson’s website.

The whole wheat belly thing is something I’ve been more and more aware over the past few months, but have largely put in the ‘too hard’ basket.  Let’s face it, I love bread almost as much as I love pasta!  But this Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist who has published the book “Wheat Belly”, all about the world’s most popular grain explains how apart from the gluten problems inherent in modern wheat, it also contains a protein called gliadin which was inadvertently created when modern wheat was genetically bred (not modified as GMOs he points out…) in the 60’s and 70’s when the so called Green Revolution was in full swing.

It worries me that people like him with an interesting point to make then also make false statements like we can’t go back to the old ways because wheat yields have gone up tenfold….. when in fact they ‘only’ went up threefold!  Threefold’s pretty impressive, but tenfold got my BS meter going ballistic.  It only makes me wonder whether any of what he says is actually as believable.

Gliadin apparently links up with opiate receptors in the brain causing increased appetite.  Eat wheat he says, and it makes you permanently hungry…. and he blames a whole raft of modern ailings like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, bad cholesterol levels, etc.  Over and above the rising occurrence of ceoliac disease.

His assertions that we should all abandon wheat, period, is a bit harsh.  If we went back to old fashioned wheat, we could simply start consuming one third as much as we do today, and even if it cost three times as much as current wheat, we would be no worse off, AND we could have our wheat and eat it too…..

A French pastry chef friend of mine (who sometimes reads this blog..) warned me years ago about the enormous increases in gluten contents of modern flour.  He buys Spelt wheat and bakes his own sourdough bread with it.  He’s even tried growing his own, with limited success, but I suspect the whole wheat growing thing is such a labour intensive process that it could only ever be realistically achieved at a community level.  There’s a good reason why small villages in the past had a miller and a baker!

Over at Nature Bats Last, Doug Fasching writes that at his father’s insistence he was made to stop playing outside to watch Star Trek on a 25 inch B&W TV…..

Science Fiction became such a powerful vision of hope and wonder during the 1970′s and 1980′s. The previous generation believed in the idea of “Better Living Through Chemistry” but I would say that mine was fully immersed in the idea of “Better Living Through Technology”. With technology anything was possible. With technology we would finally tame the darker sides of our nature and reach our amazing potential.

I remember those days…..  by the year 2000 (absolutely EVERYTHING was going to happen in 2000….) none of us would be working, robots would do all the menial tasks, and we would all get around in flying cars.  When you see the carnage ground hogging cars are capable of, I think it’s a wonderful thing we don’t all own flying cars!  “The possibility that the future as promised by technology could be anything other than brilliant was inconceivable” writes Fasching…..

Somehow though, instead of us having oodles of leisure time, we were transformed into a service economy.  Robots do indeed make lots of things like cars and computers, but there are far far more working people today than ever existed in the 1970’s…… back when working mothers were the exception, not the rule as is the case today.

So what went wrong?

Fasching continues with:

One place that I worked at had spent 10 years and millions of dollars to build this killer mainframe computer called a Unisys 1100/90. It must have occupied a room 50′ by 150′. It had hard drives that were the size of washing machines and a bank of 12 tape drives to feed the thing data. In 1988 with all four processors running it was capable of almost 10 Million instructions per second. Around mid 1989 Intel announced the 80486 cpu chip, the size of your fingernail and capable of 11 Million instructions per second. Today the CPU that runs your smartphone runs around 515 Million instructions per second.

it was around this time that I realized that much of the work in the world of technology was just a treadmill. Just doing the same old thing but slightly different, a little faster and a little smaller. In many ways technology does little more that generate it’s own reason to exist.

During his career says Fasching “I have seen the world become a dark and nasty place. Now everyone works long hours and is not paid for it. Now thanks to technology you are never away from the office. God help you if you don’t check your company email every 10 minutes, even on a Sunday”.  And people wonder why I refuse to “work”?

Now, thanks to this technology, one’s job can be done thousands of kilometres away for a fraction of the cost.  Now, thanks to technology, nothing neither you nor I do or say is private.  “At current estimates I am making about 40% less now than I was making in 2000 for a job that is twice as hard” says Fasching…..  And it seems as though most people, no matter what career they are in, are in the same position.

What is all of that wonderful technology used for?  Spam, Viruses, Useless Facebook and Twitter posts and lots and LOTS of porn with a few LOL Cats videos thrown in.  Tell me the human condition is improved by this.  We have over-valued the technology and cheapened people.

Of course, we do have choices……  you can use the technology to watch lots of porn, or run blogs like this one or Nature Bats Last….  Even Fasching says “Then I came across Guy McPherson”…….  would he have done so without the internet?  I very much doubt it.  Fasching turns very gloomy at the end…….  but then again, if I was in his shoes, living in LA and being a self proclaimed entrepreneur in a crazy world.  Surely at 46 he must be in a position to tell the Matrix to go to hell….  for someone who writes about coping, I don’t see him doing much about it.




One response

25 08 2013

Gliadin isn’t new, it’s just different.

Gliadin used to only be slightly toxic. Now it’s far more toxic than the gliadin of old.

Going back to using Spelt or Emmer or Einkorn would work if we the consumers had reason to trust the supply chain. However, given all the marketing that we’ve all experienced throughout our lives, why the hell should I believe that something is made from old wheat when I read it on a food label?

Personally I’ve ditched the lot, in favour of adding kilo bags of frozen winter veg to pretty much everything I cook, and I don’t currently plan to go back to eating wheat or anything resembling it.

I’ve also started eating beans. I found an indian grocer (go figure) that sells mexican style turtle beans (black beans) (Made in Canada) and I’ve had 3/4 of a cup soaking for the last 18 hours or so. They’ll get cooked shortly and an hour and a quarter later half of them will get mixed in with some salsa for a late snack. The rest will end up in my next nachos style concoction in a day or two.

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