Sunday, March 26, 2017

Elixir Vitae

So, been several articles lately on the current, and promising research into the elixir vitae, the live-forever potion. Works in the test tube, seems to work with mice, and human trials are right around the corner.

Isn't that great?

Scientists have been working on this since before the days there were scientists, the alchemists and natural philosophers gave it a go, and so far, nobody has quite perfected it.

But, hey, they might. And wouldn't that be something? Take a pill, and if not live forever, maybe another couple hundred years? I'm not ready to go yet, I could get behind this.

Two quick observations: Side-effects, and unintended consequences. This is not to go down the road about how much this pill will cost. If you think it will be covered under any form of healthcare extant? Good luck with that. This will be a drug for the rich and famous, and your chance of getting it, should it come to be, will be that snowball-in-a-supernova.

Want to make a few million dollars? Hijack a warehouse full of this stuff.

Side-effects? Once you start to monkey with hormones and stuff at a cellular level, you are dicking around with an already-iffy balance. All the things that could go wrong will make the Viagra warnings on TV look like a walk in the park of a lovely Sunday afternoon. 

Not the least of these could be fulminant, raging, metastatic cancers. Go read about telomeres and enhanced cell production. 

Could also be the cure for such things, up to and including cosmic radiation, but I will opine that the side-effects will, in more than a few cases, be worse than the disease being cured. People will put up with it, they do that now. Listen to the warning under the smiling couple with the fluffy, happy dog about what might happen if you take that medication.

Unintended consequences? Well, lot of doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and undertakers will be put out of work. And your next car will offer some serious changes at major cost. Why is that? Because if you are gonna live to be three or four hundred, you don't want to risk dying in a fender-bender at the 7-Eleven. And cars won't be the only thing upgraded if accident replaces heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and pneumonia as the top killers. 

Guy breaks into your house with a knife? Looking for enough money to buy the forever pill? You will want to have a gun, because, better him than you, right?

Marriage that lasts fifty or sixty years might not make it three hundred death-do-us-part years. What do you do with all the people who had to retired at seventy? Gotta change that. And how will young people get a job if nobody retires?

I could go on and on with this list all day. You get the idea.

Now, there exists already a magic bullet, at least of a sorts: It's called "diet-and-exercise." 

Latest research here shows that certain kinds of high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) can benefit people in all kinds of ways, and that it might actually benefit older people more than younger ones.

As soon as I utter the word "diet," I invariably get a chorus of fat-shaming accusations. You can be fat and fit -- there are guys who run marathons who are morbidly obese -- and that is a clinical term, not fat-shaming, go look it up. Generally, this is harder to do, because morbid obesity carries risks of more than a few illnesses, including arthritis bad enough to make it hard to exercise.

Yes, to head off at the pass the next comment I usually get, there are some folks whose metabolic systems are so screwed-up that it is really difficult for them to lose weight. And there are folks who are so physically-challenged that any serious exercise is difficult, sometimes impossible.

Those with serious metabolic problems in this area number about 3-5%, and have been diagnosed thus. That means the rest of us have to use a different excuse for not losing weight, and there are several of those which are valid, I'll get back to them in a minute.

People who can't move know who they are, but a lot of people who can simply choose to not do it. My wife teaches chair-yoga to seniors. Some of them aren't real spry, but there they sit, giving it a go.

Mostly, if you look in the mirror and are okay with what you see? Then you have an advantage over most of us. If you look and don't like it, and aren't doing anything about it? The prime reason I can see is depression. That kills at lot of intent, and chronic depression isn't something you just man up and shrug off. Depression is a bastard, but it can be treated, and in many cases, with enough success to allow you do live a better life.

That extra thirty pounds you picked up over fifteen years? You aren't going to lose it in a few weeks, and you won't keep it off if you do lose it over the next year unless you change your life style from what it was; otherwise, it comes back for the same reason it get there the first time. Yo-yo dieting is a dead end. 

Eating right and keeping fit don't come in a pill, they require work, but the dividends are there. Sure, you can become a body-Nazi who chews on roots and twigs and jocks out three hours a day, and serious exercise also carries the risk of injury -- ask any aging jock. But there is a balance. 

The cure for death might be around the corner, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it. Meanwhile, diet-and-exercise? Already here. 

Something about which to think.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Battle Ground Seminar 2017

A few pictures from the silat camp last weekend:

Thursday, December 24, 2015


So, I guess this is the appropriate place for me to show this. At the recent seminar in Las Vegas, Cotten Blackwell and I were honored. And it is an honor, indeed.

Thank you, Maha Guru Plinck. I will try to be worthy of it. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Beauty in Black Steel

Serious knife folks, collectors and makers, know the differences between Wootz, Damascus, patterned-welded and folded steels. They look similar, and sometimes overlap in how they are made, but there are differences.

Originally, the pattern-welded and folded steels came about because the metals were sometimes poor, and one can increase the strength and edge-holding abilities of a blade by blending and making a steel that is more than the sum of its parts. 

You get a hard section for the edge, more flexible for the body, like that. Heat it, hammer it, and forge a better tool. 

A lot of cultures played with these, the Japanese, the Vikings, the Indonesians, and they all added this or that, hammering and folding and coming up with blades that worked better and looked better. The Indonesians have books that deal with the patterns of pamor, there are hundreds of them, with different meanings.

These days, with the excellent steels available, pattern-welding and Wootz and such aren’t necessary, and this kind of thing is done more for the look than the function. 

I have several knives and a small collection of older kerises and kerambits with the traditional patterns, and some of them are quite striking.

Here is the latest addition to my collection, a small pocket folder with what is called “Raindrop Damascus.” Gorgeous …