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My Book Reading




Twisted Prey - John Sandford

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold - John LeCarre

UNSUB - Meg Gardiner

A Spy Named Orphan by Roland Philipps

How It Happened by Michael Koryta

The Word Is Murder - Anthony Horowitz

Star of the North - D.B. John

The Sinners - Ace Atkins

The Outsider - Stephen King

Podcast Favorites

Joe Rogan Experience #1101  Chris & Mark Bell .

WTF Marc Maron with Bill Simmons April 9 2018

Christopher Steele - New Yorker Radio Hour March 6 2018

Lance Armstrong - The Forward - Bryan Fogel (Icarus) part 1 of 2 (both essential listening)

Cold War Conversations - Ian Saunders

Spybrary - Shane Whaley -

Cycling Tips

Inside the Hive with Nick Bilton

Intercepted with Jeremy Scahill


I'll Miss Jack LaLanne

I grew up with Jack LaLanne, it seems. When I was a kid searching for something to watch in the morning before the good cartoon shows came on, he was always on weekend television channels (I'm speaking of the early 1960s). There he'd be, in his jumpsuit next to a kitchen chair, or in a doorway, standing straight and proud, perhaps even with big cans of vegetables in his hands, ready to save the American housewife from sloth and frumpiness. I even think my mother watched him, though I'm not certain.

News outlets everywhere covered his passing; this morning on GizmodoSam Biddle authored one of the nicer remembrances of LaLanne I've read.

Growing up, discovering weight-training when I was 14 years old, finding bodybuilding magazines soon after, LaLanne was a constant presence. His historical importance came clear to me as I avidly devoured non-Weider magazines, expanding my knowledge and stretching my interests beyond bodybuilding. From the earliest age I remember Jack LaLanne, I've always associated him with blenders, real food, and of course the stunts most people know him for. But the blenders are always there, in the background.

LaLanne inspired me to buy a Vita-Mix in the late 1970s, a costly proposition for me at the time (heck, they remain expensive to this day, though I highly recommend them in spite of their cost). That baby made it through decades, only going to it's final resting place a few years ago. Whether more margaritas or protein smoothies went through the Vita-Mix is a question best unanswered, and of course I know Jack LaLanne would have not approved of the tequila.

Each of the last half dozen or so years, LaLanne and his wife have appeared at the annual Arnold Fitness Festival, held in Columbus, Ohio. I've heard him speak, talked with him backstage where he held court, and watched him light up when he went onstage, and saw so much respect in the faces of his audience. LaLanne truly enjoyed being around people, and lived, breathed and preached living healthily and eating right. He was a joy to spend time with, and often was late going onstage, as he'd be talking with people and posing for pictures. His wife would have to come and get him!

Even two years ago Jack was still performing one-arm pushups, selling his blender/juicers at a side table, accompanied by his wife, and always preaching the gospel of eating real food, working hard to be healthy, and living life fully. Jack LaLanne will be missed.


Jillian Michaels Could Kick Jane Fonda's Ass

From Jack LaLanne through Jane Fonda to Jillian Michaels, who would win in a cage fight? Emily Yoffe goes back in time in this nice retrospective, answering the question. I will tell you I saw LaLanne in person two years ago and was impressed with his character and his fitness, even at his age. He was inspirational. As an avid viewer of Biggest Loser, I'm also enthralled with Jillian Michaels in some ways, but know I cannot act like that in my job. I'd be quickly fired, but she does speak the truth!


Telling the Truth about Protein

The great Dave Draper has been singing the praises of lean protein for decades. Everyone who's met me has heard the same song, but allow me to give you a few paragraphs of Draper from his current newsletter, nicely summing up the basic truths:

"Have you been eating your protein lately? Muscles are made of protein, you know. I agree with those docs who declare that no adult should ingest less than one hundred grams of the precious ingredient no matter how big they are. Unless you have a pre-existing kidney or liver ailment, extra gobs of the stuff are not going to hurt you. Au contraire.  As well as being the prime ingredient of muscle tissue, protein is a superior source of energy - unlikely to add fat anywhere.

Excuse me. Espousing such propaganda can get a person in trouble - strong and muscular but in trouble. As a convicted, life-long bodybuilder I feel compelled to toot my horn for protein. Sugar is a stinker. 

Across America most people are eating too much and eating the wrong foods. And, very few are truly exercising... hence, our roundness and sluggishness. Diet trends have us embracing carbohydrates, scorning fat and dabbling in protein. We need to be careful. Research groups under private grants telling half-truths to satisfy the interests of their wealthy sponsors (those corporations advertising the junk we eat) are perpetuating the misinformation we receive about nutrition.

Hey, we're getting fat on politics. At least we'll never starve.

Good nutrition, like good training, is simple -- learn the basics and practice them consistently. A little knowledge and a lot of discipline is the secret. Apply yourself diligently; look ahead, don't look back and don't look for shortcuts. There simply aren't any."

Dave Draper always speaks the truth. To employ an old cliche, he's forgotten more about nutrition and training than most of us will ever know. Subscribe to his newsletter, treasure his wise words, read his books, and get involved with his website and forums. You will learn a great deal to carry forward in life, not merely in the gym.


Talking about chicken: organic, pastured, free-range, healthy...

I wrestle with my meat purchasing and consumption options constantly. After watching Food Inc. I didn't even want to go to the grocery store any longer (and I love grocery shopping!). But only days later there I was, stocking up on lean ground sirloin on sale. Years of reading about grass-fed beef have me somewhat convinced it's much better for me than whatever-the-hell-kinda beef I'm buying at the store, but I've not taken the step of spending so much more for it. I mean, it's a lot more money, and is it worthwhile? If I had a freezer, investing in a side of beef or bison may make sense, but is it worthwhile to buy a freezer just for this purpose? 

So many questions. Consider this: I eat much more chicken than I do beef, and as Francis Lam explains so nicely, determining just what kind of chicken to buy is part of an even more complicated world. Pop quiz: tell me the difference between organic, free range, and humanely treated chicken. Lam gets right to the bigger point, in my opinion, and breaks down what it means to buy "cheap" chicken, as opposed to "expensive" chicken. Do we as consumers really care how the chicken was treated during it's life? Does that make a difference that's worth spending money on, and will it affect our health?

We need adequate protein for repair of our bodies, and to build lean tissue. Chicken does a fine job of this, at the same time usually helping keep people from adding too much body-fat (at least it's not the fault of the chicken). Is inexpensive chicken as good at this as free-range (expensive) chicken? Is the meat from one category better for our bodies than another? Can we even trust the labeling of chicken?

Read and learn.


P90X Will Not Change Your Life

But it will expend many of your calories, and your dollars. 

I'm often asked my opinion of P90X, in the gym I make my living in as a personal trainer! My quick response is usually about how if P90X was the be-all, end-all solution to everyone's fitness issues, I'd be teaching it and practicing it. But I'm not. P90X contains many logical elements, and the commercials are a blast to watch, but from my experience and that of people who have gone through the workouts, it's boring after a while, and results stop taking place.

Think about it; those commercials all appear to be filmed in gritty warehouses and cellars. Do you really want to spend your workout time in your basement? Alone? How often do you think you'll head down there for that session before spending time with your family, friends, or the TV sounds like a better option?

If you buy P90X, you will indeed receive a nice set of workout DVDs, and if you follow through with all of the sessions, something good will happen to your body and fitness... for a while. Then you'll cast around for something else to do, and in the meantime, because you didn't change your life and habits, your fitness and bodyweight will quickly ratchet back up to where it was before you began.

But don't worry, you'll have helped fatten the bottom line of Beachbody, the company behind P90X and many other infomercial workout programs. Remember, it's all about the marketing. They are selling an exercise program purporting to be the best-thing-ever for you, and everyone else. Is that logical?