How Much Do You Have to Hate Someone Not to Proselytize?

Francis Schaeffer on the Origins of Relativism in the Church

One of My Favorite Songs

An Inspiring Song


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More About Interpreting Food Labels

Okay, as another object lesson, here's the ingredients for another drink, one very popular, at least 'round here, where--amazingly, to my mind--moms often buy it for their kids under the mistaken impression that it's like buying their kids "juice." Remember, by law, ingredients are listed in descending order. Whatever is listed first is what there is the most of, okay?

Corn syrup

2% or less of each of the following: concentrated juices (orange, tangerine, apple, lime, grapefruit)

citric acid

malic acid

ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

thiamin hydrochloride (vitamine B1)

Natural flavors

modified cornstarch

canola oil

sodium citrate

cellulose gum


sodium hexametaphosphate

potassium sorbate to protect flavor

yellow #5

Yellow #6
Mmmm, mmmm, MMMMMMM!!!!!! Doesn't that sound yummy? Well, maybe to the uninitiated. Let's talk. First of all, let's see if we can't put everything--the amount of everything--in perspective. Look at that third line. Isn't that telling you that except for water and corn syrup--to which we'll get back in a minute--none of the ingredients make up more than two percent of the drink? Sure looks that way to me. So, being very generous, let's assume that there's two percent of everything, which would be ludicrous, nobody's going to make a drink that's 2 percent vitamin B1, right?

Still...there are fifteen ingredients after water and corn syrup, so that's a maximum of thirty percent, meaning that, at minimum, this tasty beverage is seventy percent water and corn syrup. The reality is that hardly any of those fifteen ingredients is likely to amount to even one percent of the total volume of liquid, so it's really much more likely that this stuff is 85 or ninety percent water and corn syrup, and that's being generous. It might be 95 percent or even more.

Now, that's bad, right off the bat. The water's not bad, of course, but corn syrup...

Corn syrup deserves a special circle in culinary Hell. It is a sweetener, obviously made from corn, and it is cheap, partly because the growing of corn is federally subsidized. It is a nutritional nightmare. If you deliberately wanted to make yourself fatter than--well, fat--and wreak havoc with your insulin mechanism, this is one of the means by which you would choose to do it. It is vicious, nasty stuff, not something you want to put in your body if you can reasonably avoid it.

So, right off the bat, just after the first two ingredients, you can tell you're basically drinking sugar water. Yummy.

Concentrated fruit juices? Okay. That might not be so bad. You just have no clue how much you're getting here. Remember, it's two percent or less. Could be next to nothing.

Citric acid and malic acid? Added to give the drink that citrus-y tartness.

Vitamin C? Very cheap to make. Putting it in the drink allows them to put "Vitamin C!" on the label, which makes the ignorant feel like they're buying their kids something healthy. Same thing with the B1.

Natural flavors? What the heck is that?

Cornstarch. Anyone who's done a reasonable amount of cooking knows what the cornstarch is there for. It's a thickener, so that this concoction pours out of the bottle more like juice and less like water. It's also starch, that is, it'll fatten you.

Canola oil? There are some scare stories circulating about canola oil. As far as I'm concerned, it's just oil, probably added here to improve texture.

Sodium citrate? More tartness.

Cellulose gum? Added to improve texture. Remember, they want this stuff to look like juice.

Sucralose? Basically chlorinated table sugar. It's an artificial sweetener. Like having a bucketload of corn syrup in it didn't make it sweet enough already.

Sodium hexametaphosphate: in all honesty, I have no idea why this is in here. It has a variety of uses, one of which is apparently as a water softener!

Potassium sorbate: a preservative.

Yellow #5 and Yellow #6: artificial colors, fairly obviously added to make this sugar water look more "orange-y."

And there you have it. The bulk of the story is told in the first three lines. It's basically sugar water with a few cheaply-made vitamins and flavorings and some gunk to make it pour more like juice. Practically guaranteed to make you and your kids fatter than you ever wanted to think about, at least if you drink it on a regular basis. Drink this stuff regularly, and you can pretty much bet on fighting obesity, and maybe someday, heart disease and diabetes, too!

The pitiful part is that you can buy this stuff for about 2.75/gallon, and you can get Wal-Mart reconstituted orange juice for about 3.25/gallon. You'd put up with crap like this to save fifty cents?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Let's Learn How to Interpret a Dang Ingredients Label, Shall We?

Of course we shall. I have repeatedly been struck by the number of people that think they're eating or drinking something good for them, but are actually consuming utter garbage, and I am convinced that often it's because they either have not looked at the label or have no idea what it means. So let's take a look, at, say, the label for a certain popular, allegedly healthy drink, which shall remain nameless except that I've got a family member that thinks it's the bomb. I have to admit that I don't have a bottle of the stuff in front of me, but I did read the ingredients label last time we had some in the house, so I swiped the following from a website elsewhere once I recognized it. I'd link, but that would involve identifying the drink, and I'm more interested in learnin' ya somethin'.
Filtered water
Concentrated Fruit juices (pineapple and mango)
Malic Acid
Concentrated Purple Carrot Juice (Color)
Natural Flavor
There is also a separate part of the label that shows "medicinal ingredients":
41mcg Chromium Polynicotinate
137mg Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
450mg Garcinia Cambogia Rind Extract
Okay, the first thing you need to know is that by federal law, an ingredients label lists ingredients in descending order, that is, whatever's listed first is what it has the most of, and so forth.

What's listed first on this "healthy" drink?

Oh, that would be "water." More water than anything else.

Then "concentrated fruit juices." How much? You don't know, do you? But I would suggest to you that anything that pours out of the bottle with the consistency of water, as this drink and so many like it do, doesn't actually have a boatload of fruit juice in it. I mean, you've seen fruit juice pour out of a bottle, haven't you? Looks a little bit thicker than water, doesn't it? This stuff ain't like that. It's very thin. Probably not much fruit juice in there.

Then there's "Malic Acid." It does occur naturally, but bank on it, when it's added to food, it's being done so that it has a tartness to it. How do I know? Simple. Googled it.

Then there's a little bit of color. How much does it take to color a bottle of what is almost certainly mostly water? Probably not much.

Then there's "natural flavor." What the heck does that mean? No one knows!

Then there's Acesulfame-Potassium. You thought it was some sort of vitamin or mineral additive, didn't you? 'Cause it said "potassium?" Got ya. This is a sweetener. It is abundantly sweeter than regular sugar, but apparently there hasn't been all that much testing done on it. Again, how do I know? Googled it.

Then there's sucralose. What the heck is that? Mmmmm--basically chlorinated table sugar.

Okay, so far, we've figured out that this stuff is basically heavily diluted fruit juice with some "natural flavor" and artifiical sweeteners. Remember, they're marketing this stuff as somehow being healthy. What makes it healthy? The diluted fruit juice? The coloring? The tartness? The "natural flavor?" The artificial sweeteners?

Probably not. Maybe it's the "medicinal ingredients?"

What the heck is the chromium polynicotinate doing in there? Well, apparently chromium is supposed to play a role in carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and some people think it might help you lose weight. The science is inconclusive, to say the least, and if you're trying to lose weight, I'd suggest that you focus heavily on what this guy has to say instead of trying to do it by adding more chromium to your diet than your body is likely to be able to use.

Now: vitamin c, or ascorbic acid. 137 mg of the stuff. Well, vitamin c is good, isn't it? True dat. It's also cheap, which makes it popular with people trying to make their products sound healthy. 137 mg is also about what you would get eating two cups of cantaloupe. Now, let me ask you: do you really think that God designed your body to need the amount of vitamin C you get in two cups of cantaloupe every time you drink a bottled beverage? Probably not? I would certainly suggest not. And since what vitamin C your body doesn't absorb exits your body pretty quickly, this is, frankly, pretty much a waste of space. The only reason it's there is to sucker you into thinking you're drinking a vitamin pill.

Okay, what the heck is the last thing, garcinia cambogia rind extract? An alleged appetite suppressant, that's what it is. Saying that appetite suppressants are probably not the best way to lose weight is understating the matter considerably.

And you're paying a buck and a half per bottle for this stuff at the convenience store? In the name of health?

Cheez louise. Develop some curiousity and learn how to read a label. Consider this an introductory lesson.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another YouTube Naihanchi Tour

In this one, I put together some of the video dealing with Naihanchi applications, instead of just performance.

Now, a caveat: I am not going to comment on the appropriateness, effectiveness, or silliness--whatever the case may be--of any set of these applications. Nor am I going to say anything like, "This is similar to what we do in RyuTe." Even if there are surface appearances of similarity between some of the applications in these videos and some of the applications I have seen in RyuTe, there are likely to be minor differences, and those minor differences are often more critical than you might think at first glance. For example--although this doesn't have anything to do per se with Naihanchi--I once kept trying to duplicate a movement I'd seen Taika do on one of his tapes, a movement drawn from Pinan Shodan. I just couldn't reliably get the movement to work on my eldest son, who is noticeably stronger than I am. So I asked my teacher about it and when he saw what I was doing, he immediately said, "Oh, you're missing the nerve strike."

Nerve strike? I didn't see any nerve strike on the tape. Well, turns out it's a subtle-looking, scraping sort of thing that doesn't leap out at you when you see it. You have to be looking for it--but once you know how to do it, the movement works very nicely.

At any rate, I don't want to give anyone the impression that if they get good at some of these applications, they have somehow absorbed some RyuTe into their repertoire.

I would say that the applications shown here are not even close to being exhaustive. I have certainly not seen every possible application of the Naihanchi movements, let alone practiced them. Doing so would be the work of years.

Shoot, this isn't even an exhaustive selection of the bunkai videos on this kata. There were lots more to look at, but I was pretty sure that most people wouldn't even play this many.

Y'know, Choki Motobu was said to know only a handful of kata at most. I seem to recall reading that at least one writer said he knew only Naihanchi. Well, if true, it's no drawback. The reality is that Naihanchi Shodan alone contains enough material that the mastery thereof might well occupy a lifetime.

I know that a lot of you don't believe that, or at least are having a hard time accepting it. I don't blame you. All you see is the 45 seconds or so of movement. You haven't seen different timings, you haven't seen what my instructor called "Naihanchi turnaround," you haven't seen how the stepping motions work, the incredible number of uses to which those "double blocks" can be put, and so forth.

Oh well. I won't lose any sleep over your refusal to believe it. In the meantime, enjoy the clips!

Shoot, let's stop there. There are actually many more clips available on YouTube. If I had linked to them all, you would be here all day...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A YouTube Tour of Naihanchi Shodan

Well, as the estimable Dr. Parker has been dwelling on Naihanchi, and as Openhand has offered a few words on the subject,, it's kind of on my mind. I thought that I would proffer up a bit of a tour as to the kata, at least in terms of various performances.

First, I should note that if there is up-to-date video anywhere on the web of any of the Naihanchi kata as they are being taught in RyuTe, I am unaware of it. Anyone seriously interested in learning about Naihanchi would do well, I think, to order the videos from the RyuTe Renmei. They will, as far as I know, sell them to anyone. You should be aware that the applications shown in those videos only scratch the surface. On the other hand, they should give you at least a little insight. You certainly won't find the money wasted.

That being said, here is video of (so I gather) a student of a former student of Taika Oyata performing Naihanchi Shodan.

There are, of course, about a bajillion different Shorin Ryu organizations out there. Here is a performance by Onaga Michiko:

Chosin Chibana:

Matsubayashi Ryu:

Shito Ryu:

Shotokan (Funakoshi Gichin):

Shotokan (Kanazawa Hirokazu):

Shorinji Ryu:

Wado Ryu:


Lastly, I have to include a version of Naihanchi Sandan, as this is, according to my own teacher, my best kata. I have to admit that I like it a lot. This version, of course, is not quite like the RyuTe version, but it should give you the flavor of the thing.

Well, that wasn't actually "lastly." I do have one additional thought for you. It's out of my own head and no one else should be blamed for it.

You know those cross-body "punches" you saw in the videos? Well, they can be things other than punches, of course, but the reality is that you can, in fact, smack the crap out of someone with one of those. I have hit the makiwara with them more than a few times, and boy howdy! Does it go!

What's more interesting yet is that if I change stances and hit the makiwara from any other position after having done it in horse stance, I find that the power in my punches is noticeably enhanced. I really do think that Naihanchi helps you learn to subtly recruit punching power from disparate parts of the body.

Just my two cents, of course.