Saturday, May 26, 2007

Intermittent Fasting & Steve Barnes --

If you're interested in life extension, you may want to take a look into intermittent fasting. If you've followed caloric restriction at all, you probably know that caloric restriction increases the maximum life span of mammals (and other classes of animals) by up to 50%, by holding them to a diet of about 60% of the calories a healthy animal would otherwise consume. You live longer, but you're fucking miserable the whole time -- not a great tradeoff.

Intermittent fasting seems to split this dilemma: you eat heavy one day, don't eat at all the next, get all the benefits of caloric restriction (and maybe then some) ... without getting skinny and losing muscle mass. I'm not going to drill down into the detail here -- if you're interested, go over to Steve Barnes blog, at http://darkush.blogspot.com -- he's all over this and one of his readers is going to do an actual clinical study.

One interesting thing about intermittent fasting is that it appears to do an astonishing job of protecting your brain. Animals on IF are less prone to neurological conditions such as alzheimers and parkinson's -- in one test, rats with severed spinal cords regained some control of their feet on IF, versus none for rats on a regular diet or on caloric restriction. Once again, there's too much here to go into -- but if, like me, you want to live a long time and be healthy, intermittent fasting apears to be the best bet based on what we currently know.

Also, pick up Steve Barnes latest book. I've always admired Steve as a man, as long as I've known him; he's one of the most remarkable people I know. But his early fiction never moved me much. It was well written -- the man can write and always could -- and he is, along with Matt Stover and John D. MacDonald, one of the 3 best action writers I've ever read. But the issues he was dealing with -- fatherless boy learning to be a man, mostly -- weren't the issues I was dealing with -- I had a father. My dad was who John Wayne would have been if Wayne had been just a little tougher. In any event, Barnes's early work didn't resonate with me the way I'm sure it did with others.

Which is a long way round to Great Sky Woman. Barnes is the only working black SF writer since Octavia Butler passed, and this is one of the best books I've read in forever, SF (sort of) written from a viewpoint well outside white mainstream SF. I've just about stopped reading SF/fantasy/horror -- the fantasies and fears of smart white people: got it. Nothing new for me there (barring rare works of brilliance from a few writers who transcend form) ... moving along. But GSW is one of those rare works of brilliance that transcend form. Unless you flat-out know for sure that anthropological SF set in pre-historical Africa is of no interest to you, you should give this a shot. Even if you do know that, read the first chapter, standing in the bookstore some day.

While I'm typing -- since her name came up, Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents is one of the other great works I've read in the last decade. I finished that book and told Amy I wanted to go have lunch with Octavia Butler and meet the woman who could have written this -- but I never made that call, and some months later she died. King of good timing, me.

4 comments:

Howard said...

Quite the coincidence. I just finished reading Streetlethal/Gorgon Child/Fire Dance. I discovered Barnes about the same time I discovered Moran and both remain my top choices for re-reads.

Glad to find you back on the scene Dan, we missed you over at the CT Forums.

Hope all is well and I look forward to reading more from you.

Daniel Dvorkin said...

Personally, I just like to eat too much.

... a major driving force in my research is my moral belief that people should be able to drink and smoke and and screw who they want and not exercise and eat junk food and still live long, healthy lives. Most of what goes wrong with the human body is the result of choices we make, and these days we've got the information not to make those choices; but we will make those choices, regardless, and we shouldn't pay for them with our lives.

Anonymous said...

re: CR You live longer, but you're fucking miserable the whole time -- not a great tradeoff.

I know 6 people on CR (huge sample size, I know). 5 of them say that it took about a year for it to feel right, and now they feel better than they ever did before. The 6th has been doing it for 12.5 months and says he's waiting for that day. Desperately.

All 6 are skinny, 4 of them look like athletes that need to be skinny (runners, cyclists), but 2 of them really do have the "get this person a sandwich STAT!" look.

Pagan Topologist said...

There are a few other Black sf writers, but as Steve noted, they are all female.
Nisi Shawl, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedimma Okorafor-Mbachu, for example.