Day: May 25, 2014

The Heart Association’s Junk Science Diet

A recent Cambridge University analysis of 76 studies involving more than 650,000 people concluded, “The current evidence does not clearly support guidelines that [recommend]… low consumption of total saturated fats.”

Yet the American Heart Association (AHA), in its most recent dietary guidelines, held fast to the idea that we must all eat low-fat diets for optimal heart health. It’s a stance that—at the very best—is controversial, and at worst is dead wrong. As a practicing cardiologist for more than three decades, I agree with the latter—it’s dead wrong.

Why does the AHA cling to recommendations that fly in the face of scientific evidence?

What I discovered was both eye-opening and disturbing. The AHA not only ignored all the other risk factors for heart disease, but it appointed someone with ties to Big Food and bizarre scientific beliefs to lead the guideline-writing panel—just the type of thing that undermines the public’s confidence in the medical community.’ (The Daily Beast via abby).

The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win

‘In 1994, machines took the checkers crown, when a program called Chinook beat the top human. Then, three years later, they topped the chess world, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer besting world champion Garry Kasparov. Now, computers match or surpass top humans in a wide variety of games: Othello, Scrabble, backgammon, poker, even Jeopardy. But not Go. It’s the one classic game where wetware still dominates hardware.

Invented over 2500 years ago in China, Go is a pastime beloved by emperors and generals, intellectuals and child prodigies. Like chess, it’s a deterministic perfect information game — a game where no information is hidden from either player, and there are no built-in elements of chance, such as dice.1 And like chess, it’s a two-person war game. Play begins with an empty board, where players alternate the placement of black and white stones, attempting to surround territory while avoiding capture by the enemy. That may seem simpler than chess, but it’s not. When Deep Blue was busy beating Kasparov, the best Go programs couldn’t even challenge a decent amateur. And despite huge computing advances in the years since — Kasparov would probably lose to your home computer — the automation of expert-level Go remains one of AI’s greatest unsolved riddles.’ (WIRED).

I have always been a Go fan, but not a very good player. Not very many people to play with these days…

R.I.P. Jesse Winchester,1944-2014

I just learned from his website of the April 11 death of the wonderful and unsung musician Jesse Winchester at age 69. Born in the American South, he made a musical name for himself as part of the expatriate draft dodger scene in Canada in the early ’70’s. His recordings were produced by Robbie Robertson of the Band and covered by many notables, including Patti PageElvis CostelloJimmy BuffettJoan BaezAnne MurrayReba McEntireThe Everly Brothers and Emmylou Harris. He was able to tour in the US again after Jimmy Carter‘s 1977 amnesty. Alas, I never got to hear him live but his first two albums had worn out on my turntable by them. I will miss him.

Jesse Winchester