Book: Wheat Belly by William Davis

Here is a book that I could not read, because it was so focused on the OMG! OBESITY! PANIC!, that it was hard to find any usable info.

I suppose I should’ve expected that with a title like Wheat Belly, but it’d been long recommended by people in the celiac disease community as the “a-ha!” guide to making sense of the hundreds of seemingly unrelated symptoms of celiac disease. But these authors brought everything back to fatness and weight, as glutenfreedom as the cure, and that being fat is icky.

They say glutenous, they mean gluttonous.

Anyway, I skimmed the whole book and couldn’t find a single page that didn’t loop back to anti-fatness.

I was hoping for a book about the history of wheat and how that impacts the body, but this book ain’t it.

Book: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, by Aubrey Gordon

This is less a book review and more of a (rare) blog post.

Some years ago, in the early 2000s, I had an epiphany. After countless attempts to starve myself thin, after countless doctor’s appointments where I was prescribed weight loss for everything from sinus infections to migraines to broken fingers, after countless unsolicited comments about my body from strangers and loved ones, after countless microaggressions and acts of hostility regarding my size, I had an epiphany.

I am fat. And that’s okay.

My epiphany came at a good time. I’d been starving myself and doing everything “they” say to do, and yet my weight wasn’t budging. The internet was booming, and there were neighborhoods of people dedicated to fat acceptance and fat liberation. They were part of or learned from groups like NOLOSE, ASDAH, and from fat elders. People just like me, who realized they were fat no matter how they tortured or stressed their bodies, their bodies were wise, their bodies knew best, and their bodies adapted. They stayed fat. Some got fatter. We all knew that our dignity and humanity should not be dependent on our ability to conform to a more socially acceptable size and shape.

By the late 2000s, fat acceptance had started being co-opted by “body positivity.” Body positivity was for thin, white, abled, cis-gendered women. Body positivity excluded the fattest among us. Body positivity was framed with “it’s not about being thin, it’s about being healthy.”

At a time when I was at my sickest, sick enough to be forced to quit a career I’d just begun, sick enough to spend more days in bed than out of it, sick enough to be congratulated on my illness-induced weight loss (while being simultaneously berated for continuing to be fat), I felt wholly excluded from this unrecognizable version of body acceptance. I wasn’t healthy or thin.

Today, fatness is demonized more than ever. While people are becoming more aware of other prejudices and slowly making efforts to mitigate them, anti-fat bias is on the rise. Let me reiterate: While small improvements in implicit biases like racism, sexism, and homophobia have been recorded, and while ableism and ageism have remained about the same, there has been a 40% increase in anti-fat bias.

Being fat has become a symbol of failure. Fat people embody sloth and gluttony and greed. We are drains on society. We are inconveniences. We are ugly.

Having visible adipose tissue now has a diagnostic code, because it’s existence now a disease, even in the absence of other markers of health. It’s on my every medical chart note, regardless of the reason for the visit that day. A group of professionals with a long history of being easily swayed by the shiny gifts and baubles from the pharmaceutical industry decided to pathologize an entire class of people (the majority of people alive right now) simply for how they look, regardless of actual measurable scientific markers of health. These professionals are using an utterly racist metric, which has no basis in fact or health, to dictate who is worthy of evidence-based healthcare. Regardless of the ample scientific evidence that it’s possible to be fat and healthy or thin and unhealthy, the American Medical Association has simply chosen to deny reality.

Relatedly, a study of autopsies of very fat people discovered that they had undiagnosed medical conditions, indicative of significant misdiagnoses and/or lack of access to adequate medical care.

This is the natural result of decades of fatphobia. Decades of healthcare workers being incapable of seeing past body size or shape. Decades of friends and neighbors being taught and believing that it is better to be dead than fat. People are willing to trade years off their life for the chance to be thin.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat is about all of these things, and so much more. It’s about the personal experiences of actual fat people. About how we are hated because of what we look like. About the magnitude of the oppression ingrained in ourselves, in our loved ones, in our culture.

Gluten-Free-ish Oreos

Nabisco has been talking up their new GF Oreos since last year, even though they wouldn’t be released until this week.

They’ve been pretty tight-lipped about it, officially. There were pretty social media posts with a classic Oreo, and a few words about them being gluten-free. But no details: what ingredients would they be using? Would they be dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan like the original? Is there a new dedicated GF facility for GF Oreos? There was nothing on Nabisco’s websites.

Well now they’re in stores, but nothing’s changed. GF Oreos are still not on the company’s websites. I tried to find an ingredients list, but the closest I could find was an MLive article talking about trying them.

They’ve got rice flour (not surprising) and… oat flour.

I don’t think oat flour is safe for celiacs. Maybe some can eat them without symptoms, but I am unconvinced silent damage isn’t happening. My reactions to GF oats are so severe, just as severe as consuming gluten grains, that I may as well be eating wheat.

If nabisco cared about the celiac demographic, they wouldn’t have used oats. Oats are a lazy way to make food that can be labeled GF. GF oats are easy to acquire now, and GF labeling rules are lax. So instead of making something that’ll be enjoyable by the largest number of people, they go for the largest marketing gimmick and the fad dieter demographic.

I don’t really miss Oreos, but I miss convenience and normalcy and the fun of sharing a treat with someone. I don’t even want to give money to companies like Nabisco. It’s not like I’d be making Oreos a regular part of my diet, or anything more than a rare treat.

But gimmicks like these just make me feel more excluded from the modern world.

I don’t do resolutions

But I think I’ve got some advice for myself in 2021:

  1. Put on my own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.
  2. No one knows more about me than I do. Time to act like the expert I am.
  3. My story is worth telling.

Link Blog: May 15, 2019

Trashserver.net is an XMPP server that’s 100% powered by renewable energy.

Offices Can Be Hell for People Whose Brains Work Differently: “Work spaces today come with strong smells, harsh light, lots of chatter, and constant messages on email or Slack. For neurodivergent people, this can be a big ask.”

The AI Supply Chain Runs on Ignorance: Even if you could decipher the legalese in apps’ terms and conditions, the fact of the matter is that not only are developers opaque about how users’ data will be used, developers themselves often don’t know how that data will end up being used.

I’ve Been Committed To A Psych Ward Three Times — And It Never Helped: A personal account with plenty of research data about how psych hospitals aren’t actually helping people when they involuntarily imprison patients.

If You Care About Health Justice, Stop Clicking on “Florida Man” Stories: the so-called “Florida man” is actually code for “Man Likely Suffering From Mental Illness or Drug Addiction.” Stop laughing at other people’s suffering, and stop clicking those links.

The rise of fear-based social media like Nextdoor, Citizen, and now Amazon’s Neighbors: Crime is going down, but you wouldn’t know it when you join a neighborhood social networking site.

Purism’s bigotry problem

Purism has created its own fork of Mastodon, but has removed the ability to report posts, and has basically taken a pro-bigotry stance by not condoning some pretty basic anti-bigotry concepts.

It turns out they’re going to be blatantly allowing hate speech on their servers, as long as they don’t harass individuals, whatever that means. See this Pleroma post with screenshots.

The author of the post, Chris, says he had a phone call with one of the execs at Purism today, so maybe things will change.

But it never should’ve gotten to the point of having to blow up on social media in order to be heard.

Taking an anti-hate-speech stance and spelling that out in obvious ways (like the Contributor Covenant) should not be so difficult. Expecting an organization to say “racism/sexism/ableism/sizeism/all forms of bigotry are not tolerated here” should NEVER be controversial.

Sadly, this is not limited to Purism, but I do think it’s a smidge bit extra hypocritical for a company to be all about liberty and that brags about creating a safe workplace.

Tech has a very long way to go.

Link Blog: May 3, 2019

One type of diversity we don’t talk about at work: Body size. Despite all the documented evidence of anti-fat bias in the workplace, and all of the pro-diversity initiatives happening, companies continue to disregard the importance of fighting size-related microaggressions and discrimination. I’d argue they’re actively promoting size discrimination in workplaces that continue to cling to wellness programs (which are known to be ineffective at improving employee wellness).

The Bad News About Delivering Bad News: This is no surprise to anyone who’s ever received bad news from a doctor, but it turns out doctors have no idea how to deliver bad news to patients. They’re looking to researchers for guidance, and researchers are asking healthy volunteers…. apparently no one’s considered asking those of us who’ve received bad news how doctors could’ve handled themselves better.

Patients ‘Discouraged’ As US Announces It Won’t Ban Cancer-Linked Breast Implants: Despite mounting evidence that macro-textured implants are causing long term health problems (including a very rare cancer), despite evidence that manufacturers are hiding negative health outcomes to the public, and despite other countries’ decisions to halt sales of these same implants, the FDA says it will do nothing.

A biomarker for chronic fatigue symptom may have been identified: a new blood test identified people with and without CFS (or myalgic encephalomeylitis) with 100% accuracy in a very small (40-subject) study. The same test may also potentially identify patient-specific drug treatments.

China’s recycling ban has sent America’s plastic to Malaysia. Now they don’t want it — so what next? The US is sending its garbage to Malaysia (illegally under Malaysian law) because other Asian countries are refusing our poorly-sorted refuse. Instead of taking care of our own waste, we continue to heap it onto poorer regions, expecting them to clean up after us.

Link Blog: April 29, 2019

Ctrl-Alt-Delete: The Planned Obsolescence of Old Coders. The author admits that he neglected to reach out to older coders to add to the diversity of PyGotham, and discusses the challenges faced by older coders. As a disabled Jewish woman over the age of 40 who has not received a single job offer by the tech industry, this article hits especially close to home.

Apologies for linking to Medium. If you’ve reached your limit of free articles and are hitting a paywall, you may be interested in this article instead:

Cutting ‘Old Heads’ at IBM: Propublica’s investigation of IBM’s massive layoffs of older workers (or strong-arming them into retirement) while hiring younger replacements.

And, relatedly:

Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they’re talking about, study suggests. An admittedly small study (of teens no less) evaluates how people perceive their aptitude for 16 math-related skills, including 3 that don’t exist, and rich males were more likely than anyone else to boast about their skills in these areas.

April Fool’s Day

I hate this day. The vast majority of pranks aren’t funny, and almost always rely on social or cultural differences and naïveté in order to be considered “a good prank.”

Personally, I use this day as a way to make my inbox more manageable, but unsubscribing to every list that sends out an April Fool’s joke. It’s extremely effective, and I’ve never regretted any of my unsubscriptions.

Link Blog: April 14, 2019

been sitting on this list awhile…

Teen boys rated their female classmates based on looks. The girls fought back. I am pleasantly surprised to report that at least one of the misogynistic boys may have learned from this experience.

Sci-Hub and Alexandra basic information: Alexandra Elbakyan, the creator of Sci-Hub, talks about who she is and why she created Sci-Hub.

For decades, Garfield telephones kept washing ashore in France. Now the mystery has been solved. A shipping container of classic Garfield phones was finally found wedged inside a cave alongside cliffs hanging over the sea.

‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention. “With doom ahead, making a case for cycling as the primary mode of transport is almost irrelevant. We’ve got to stop burning fossil fuels. So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness. These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on.”

Nigerian Hospitals Are Locking Up Women Unable to Pay Their Childbirth Bills. A chilling article about what’s actually a global phenomenon known as hospital detention.

Vietnamese supermarkets go back to leaves, leaving plastic bags. In happier news, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such pretty packaging.

Counting the Countless: Why data science is a profound threat for queer people. “We are attempting to negotiate with a system that is fundamentally out to constrain us.”

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong: An extensive, but not exhaustive, summary of all the ways science, medicine, and the media is harming fat people in its mission to eradicate people of size.

The World Economy Is A Pyramid Scheme, Steven Chu Says. “Increased economic prosperity and all economic models supported by governments and global competitors are based on having more young people, workers, than older people. Two schemes come to mind. One is the pyramid scheme. The other is the Ponzi scheme. I’m not going to explain them both to you, you can look it up. But it’s based on growth, in various forms.”

Rethink Activism in the Face of Catastrophic Biological Collapse: The end of the article best sums it up: “what if all the fixing and mitigating and adapting fail? Perhaps we will have become worthy human beings, having acted during this time of crisis with extraordinary love and integrity. We will turn toward one another and all the beings on the planet, with clear and humble love, knowing we are one living whole. On bended knee, we will weep in abject gratitude for the gift of life itself entrusted to us. In this is profound meaning and purpose.”

Sleep or Die: Neuroscientist Matthew Walker Explains How Sleep Can Restore or Imperil Our Health. “Adults have ‘stigmatized sleep with the label of laziness.” We are in the midst of a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic” and lack of sleep can be attributed to loss of creativity, poor short-term memory, mood swings, decreased immune response, and higher risk of heart attacks, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.