Silent Archimedes

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Book Review: 50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Posted by silentarchimedes on January 3, 2009

50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People

Author: Sally Beare

By Sally Beare

By Sally Beare (2006)

WHY I READ THIS BOOK

Catchy title. Bargain book at the local Barnes & Noble. This book was an easy choice to pick up. Who wouldn’t want a list of tips from the lifestyles of the world’s longest living people? I”m at the point in my life where youthfulness doesn’t protect me anymore from the stupid lifestyle decisions I make every now and then. The occasional chocolate cream puff or the yummy CPK garlic chicken pizza are not one-night stays in a hotel but treat my body like a three-month summer home. The staying up until 4am late nights affect more of the next day than back in college. And for all the years of fighting for independence from the parents, well, planning healthy daily diets and exercise now has become chores rather than reflex. A nice book to motivate and light a fire under an young adult passing 30 was necessary. So how did this book do?

THE AUTHOR: SALLY BEARE

I could not find an official webpage of Sally Beare’s or any Wikipedia or other page devoted to her. The short biography on B&N shows that her background is not in nutrition but in English, Psychology and Russian literature. After taking on several diverse jobs, she became a nutritionist only after she noticed dramatic improvements in her health after changing her diet. She has since written three books on the matter (GoodReads). She was born in England and now resides in Islamabad, Pakistan with her family.

SYNOPSIS

In glancing at the title, you might quickly think that the book is simply a list of 50 secrets that were gleamed from people who lived a really long time. Although the list is obviously part of the book, it is actually only half the book. Beare has done her homework and talks in great detail about the five long-living communities that she researched for this book. Part One of the book describes the lifestyles of the Okinawans, Symians and three others, and offers insights into their similarities and reasons for long life. Part two is a listing of the 50 secrets, but each secret is accompanied by how the communities put the secret to action. The final section puts it all together and suggests recipes that would help in living these secrets.

THE REVIEW

To many people that pick up this book, the 50 secrets sticks out more than reading about the world’s longest living people. There is this assumption that people that live a long time live simple, stress-free lives. Although we know this, we don’t adhere to it because we don’t really think that is possible in America, the age of work, work, work and money, money, money. However, taking the time to read a book like this would help nonetheless because it would put your crazy busy life in perspective. The fact that the high quality of life in America does not lead to longer lives (as compared to simpler communities around the world) has to be disconcerting.

The majority of the 50 life secrets in the book are very insightful. I have heard many of them before, but to read about them with strong evidence that a certain long-living community adheres to them sinks in more. We are inundated with contradicting health suggestions on the news and Internet  that we become confused with what to follow and tune them out. We also become jaded by the confusion surrounding health advice that used to be taken as a given. For example, the efficacy of multi-vitamins has been thrown into question lately. This book does not seem like it has ulterior motives. It is simply a relay of observations by an author that did her research. I like the book for that.

I really enjoyed the first part of the book, where Beare talks about each community in detail. Most people have heard of long-living people from Okinawa, Japan, but how many have heard of the Symians in Greece, or the Hunzakuts in Pakistan? The third part of the book was also nice. Putting everything together, offering suggestions on how to put the advice to use in busy livelihoods and giving good healthy recipes.

So, how was the major part of the book? The 50 secrets? Unsurprisingly, 37 of them are diet-related. The other thirteen are lifestyle-related, such as the importance of exercise and  living a more simple and emotionally-balanced life. Most of the secrets are useful and can be done with only a little bit of consciousness when going grocery shopping. The problem I have with this section is its length. It takes 174 pages for the 50 secrets in my edition. That’s roughly 3.5 pages per secret. Now that may not seem like much, but do you really need to spend six pages on Finding Good Fats in Fish (secret 11) or seven pages on how to Choose Buckwheat, Brown Rice, and Other Whole Grains (secret 3)? The problem is actually not in the secret description, its the stories that come from the longest-living people about that particular secret. At first, this was fun reading and actually helped the validity of the list, but then it started becoming repetitive and it seemed like the author was straining to fill pages on certain secrets. For example, many secrets are closely tied to each other and stories from the communities are obviously going to be similar regarding the secrets. For example, the whole grains secret mentioned above and Have a Handful of Nuts and Seeds Daily are pretty self-explanatory. In the end, most of the diet stories have the same examples, the people use them in their meals. No need to go on and on about each one. Most of these stories should just have been left in Part One and leave Part Two solely on the secrets and the scientific evidence  behind them.

THE VERDICT

This is a good book. Although the length could have been much shorter, I respect the author for doing thorough research. Of the 37 diet secrets, I would say two-thirds of them are definitely doable right away. Some like Use Hemp and Sprout Your Own Superfoods, are unrealistic, especially for a young adult male like myself. The 13 non-diet secrets are very good because it really puts our busy lives into perspective. We realize how we have neglected the value of sleep, exercise, laughing and breathing all for what? Money? Instant gratification?

The value of the secrets and Part One of the book makes this book worthy of  8 stars.

8 out of 10 stars

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

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Posted in Books, Health and Fitness, List, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Commentary: The legacy of President George Bush

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 17, 2008

A Downtrodden President BUsh

A Downtrodden President Bush

I have never seen a more lame duck president than President George Bush right now. His credibility and approval at an all-time low, and historically tied with Richard Nixon’s lowest approval rating of 24% or 25%, depending on which polls you look at. Trailling only President Truman’s record low 22% in 1952. As the economic crisis deepens under his watch, and candidates in the presidential campaign either desperately trying to dissociate from him or successfully associating the other with him, it is only the laws of the Constitution that keeps such an unpopular president in power. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has more clout than the president. When Bush speaks to the public now about staying calm and having patience for the bailouts to work, does anyone listen to him? What could be going through his mind knowing that even the majority of his own party has disowned him?

The amazing thing about George Bush is that he thinks in a very idealistic way. He has never seemed affected by the low approval ratings because he truly believes that what he is doing is the right thing and that history will judge him positively. He believes that he is making the tough unpopular choices for the better of the country’s future. It is a very hubristic and self-righteous way of deciding things and is ultimately at the core of the Bush Doctrine that  says he has the right to decide what this country and the world needs, even through unprovoked offensive attacks. It is a very risky proposition because the unpopular decisions might never turn out the way he envisioned. For example, if Iraq’s fledgling democracy never takes hold and brings peace to a war torn region, and even worse, Iraq falls into sectarian chaos again, history will judge the decision to remove Saddam Hussein without clear public and world approval as one of the worst decisions in American history. If Afghanistan falls into eternal chaos again, history will judge the decision to open another  war in Iraq as one of the worst strategic moves in American history. If Pakistan, a nuclear power, falls into extreme political strife, the unwavering yet inconsistent support of Musharraf will be seen as a highly expensive and  unsuccessful decision. If America goes into the longest recession or depression since the Great Depression, no matter how the foreign policies have worked out, history will see this period negatively.

Although everything looks bleak now, the possibility that all things will work out still exists, at least in theory. Iraq becomes the stable democracy that is so badly needed in the Middle East. As a result, moderate politics are demanded by the public of countries in the region with autocratic governments. Pakistan’s transition from a military dictatorship of Musharraf to a democratically elected government takes hold and the restive public calms down. The Pakistani economy stabilizes and extremist views are pushed out of society. Afghanistan and the Taliban reach a peace accord and the country finally experiences stability and democracy. The US economy bottoms out.  The wanton spending of the consumers, corporations and government is curbed. American values revert back to saving and frugality. As a result, the economy is more sound then ever. The Bush presidency is seen as the turning point to a more stable and economically sound America. All these still remain possible, however small they may be. Historians could potentially point to the Bush decisions as the start of an eventual stable Middle East and Central Asia. However, even if everything turns out well, history will most likely give the credit to the decisions made by presidents after Bush. Especially for the economy, history will most likely give credit to the future president that makes the hard sacrifices to stabilize our economy. The credit of a stable Pakistan will most likely go to its own people and government. A peace accord between the Taliban and Afghanistan will be seen as a last resort to bring peace to the war torn region, especially when things looked so good back in 2002.

The next twenty years will greatly determine the effects the eight years of Bush presidency has done to America and the world…

Bush Presidency Events Timeline (courtesy of MapReport)

Bush Presidency Events Timeline (courtesy of MapReport)

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McCain retracts Palin’s comments… again

Posted by silentarchimedes on September 28, 2008

The McCain-Palin camp is so afraid to leave Sarah Palin alone to speak her mind for fear of her saying something wrong and stupid, it is becoming a debacle for the Republican campaign. McCain was forced to retract Palin’s public statements that she would pursue unilateral strikes of terrorists into Pakistan if necessary.  “If that’s what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should,” Palin said. This statement is in line with Obama’s strategy but against McCain’s. McCain had to retract her statements with a weak attempt to say that Palin and him were on the same page.

“She would not…she understands and has stated repeatedly that we’re not going to do anything except in America’s national security interest,” McCain told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos of Palin. “In all due respect, people going around and… sticking a microphone while conversations are being held, and then all of a sudden that’s—that’s a person’s position… This is a free country, but I don’t think most Americans think that that’s a definitive policy statement made by Governor Palin.”

McCain emphasized Sunday, Palin “shares” his view on the matter.

Is he kidding? Sticking a microphone while conversations are being held? Jeesh… That is lame. And in other words, don’t listen to her. Listen to me. And by shares his views, it means she can’t voice her own views. What i say goes.

They better get her on the same page as them soon. The VP debate is in a few days, unless they try to delay the debate until after the elections. This is such a joke.

Source: CNN McCain retract’s Palin’s Pakistan comments

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