Why We Get Fat: Insulin Secretion, Not Calories In/Out

Since this regulatory role of insulin in fat metabolism was established in the 1960s, a viable alternative explanation for the cause of obesity has been that it is caused by a dysregulation of insulin signaling.  By this logic, the way to treat obesity is not by eating less and exercising more, as Ms. Parker-Pope implies, but by reducing insulin levels, perhaps as low as possible. That is accomplished most efficiently by severely restricting the carbohydrate content of the diet and removing, in particular, refined grains and sugars that have the greatest effect in stimulating insulin secretion.

The implication of this basic endocrinology is that obesity is caused not by eating too much and sedentary behavior, but by a disruption of the hormonal and enzymatic regulation of fat tissue caused by the easily digestible, refined carbohydrates and sugars that we do eat. Indeed, by this logic, calorie-restricted diets – starvation and semi-starvation diets as used in the studies Ms. Parker-Pope discusses – can be thought of as particularly counterproductive ways to reduce carbohydrate consumption and so insulin levels, starving the body, as they do, of the energy required to effectively run metabolic processes. 

In the past decade, clinical trials have repeatedly demonstrated that when obese and overweight individuals consciously restrict the carbohydrates they eat, but not calories, they not only lose weight, on average, but their heart disease and diabetes risk factors improve significantly.  Their insulin resistance, in effect, resolves. Those of us who have lost weight ourselves and witnessed the effect of these diets on our patients can confirm that this is exactly what happens. 

Emphasis mine. Via Petition Letter to the Editor of the New York Times, in response to “The Fat Trap” (Jan 1, 2012).

What’s Wrong With Gruber’s “Health Care Reform” ?

Given my interest in health economics and graphic novels, I was initially hopeful about Jonathan Gruber’s graphic novel, entitled Health Care Reform: What It Is, Why It’s Necessary, How It Works. But in all honesty, the book is awful. Gruber crafts his argument like a salesman, not an economic educator. He’s careful to avoid outright mistakes, and makes a couple of awkward disclosures. Yet he omits a long list of crucial, damaging points.

via Sins of Omission: What’s Wrong With Gruber’s Health Care Reform , Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty.

Castle Doctrine, Beeyotch

A young Oklahoma mother shot and killed an intruder to protect her 3-month-old baby on New Year’s Eve, less than a week after the baby’s father died of cancer.

… McKinley was on the phone with 911 for a total of 21 minutes.

When Martin kicked in the door and came after her with the knife, the teen mom shot and killed the 24-year-old. Police are calling the shooting justified.

"You’re allowed to shoot an unauthorized person that is in your home. The law provides you the remedy, and sanctions the use of deadly force," Det. Dan Huff of the Blanchard police said.

Note that she was in the house and on the phone with 911 for 21 minutes while these aggressors were trying to break in. One keeps a weapon because the police are not there to protect you; they are there to catch bad guys after-the-fact. Via Okla. Woman Shoots, Kills Intruder: 911 Operators Say It’s OK to Shoot – ABC News.

Americans buy record numbers of guns for Christmas

More exercise of civil rights:

According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in December. Nearly 500,000 of those were in the six days before Christmas.

It was the highest number ever in a single month, surpassing the previous record set in November.

On Dec 23 alone there were 102,222 background checks, making it the second busiest single day for buying guns in history.

The actual number of guns bought may have been even higher if individual customers took home more than one each.

via Americans buy record numbers of guns for Christmas – Telegraph.

Wisconsin swamped by concealed-carry applications

Civil rights progress:

Wisconsin residents have overwhelmed the state Justice Department with so many concealed weapon permit applications agency officials say they probably won’t meet deadlines for issuing approvals this month despite pulling dozens of employees from other tasks to help.

A state law that allows Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons went into effect Nov. 1. Under the law, state residents 21 or older who submit $50 to the Justice Department, pass an agency background check and prove they have received some firearms training can obtain a permit to carry. The law requires the agency to process applications received before Nov. 30 within 45 days. Any applications received after that date must be processed within 21 days.

via Wisconsin swamped by concealed-carry applications – chicagotribune.com.

Regulatory Capture in a Venn Diagram

“Regulatory capture” means this: When you want government to regulate a complex system, you need people who know enough to do the regulating. Politicians and bureaucrats don’t know enough, so they hire people from that system to do the regulating. Those people have a natural tendency to favor the system as it is, so they legislate in a way that is favorable to the system as it it. Thus, the system that was to be regulated “captures” the regulatory regime. Here’s an example of what it looks like:

This chart of Venn Diagrams (New Year’s Day links) is a nifty visualization[1] that shows how many, many people, through the operations of Washington’s revolving door, have held high-level positions both in the Federal government and in major corporations. To take but one example, the set of all Treasury Secretaries includes Hank Paulson and Bob Rubin, which overlaps with the set of all Goldman Sachs COOs. The overlapping is pervasive. Political scientists and the rest of us have names for such cozy arrangements — oligarchy, corporatism, fascism, “crony capitalism” — but one name that doesn’t apply is democracy. On the flip, you’ll find a larger version of the chart (and a discussion of its provenance).

(This shows only Democrats; I guarantee the Republicans are just as bad.) Via Crowd-sourcing the revolving door « naked capitalism.

IP Feudalism and the Shrinking of the Public Domain — Marginal Revolution

If the pre-1976 law were still in place then as of Jan 1, 2012 the following books, movies and music would have entered the public domain (from the Center for the Study of the Public Domain):

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King, the final installment in his Lord of Rings trilogy

C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew, the sixth volume his The Chronicles of Narnia

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita

Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee’s play about the Scopes “Monkey Trial,” Inherit the Wind

Isaac Asimov’s The End of Eternity.

Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers

The Seven Year Itch, directed by Billy Wilder; starring Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell

Lady and the Tramp, Walt Disney Productions’ classic animation

Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly

Richard III, Laurence Olivier’s film version of the Shakespeare play, co-starring Claire Bloom, Cedric Hardwicke, Nicholas Hannen, Ralph Richardson, and John Gielgud

Under the old law, the above works could not only have been consumed they could also at low cost and without requiring the express permission of the original copyright holder have been remixed, reworked and extended in new directions. Under the new regime, innovators will not be able to easily build on these works until 2051 and it could be well into the 22nd century before we get Star Wars prequels worthy of the name.

via IP Feudalism and the Shrinking of the Public Domain — Marginal Revolution.

20th Anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union

So glad those damn Communists fell. Now waiting on North Korea.

With the demise of the USSR, we were spared a regime that slaughtered millions both within and outside its borders, inflicted numerous other human rights violations, and created a threat of nuclear annihilation that hung over the entire world. Compared to that, the very real dangers of the post-Cold War world seem minor by comparison. I recognize, of course, that the USSR in the last years of Gorbachev’s reign was much less dangerous and oppressive than it had been previously. But had the regime survived, it is far from clear that Gorby’s reforms would not have been reversed. Previous episodes of Soviet liberalization in the 1920s and 1956–64 had been followed by waves of repression at home and expansionism abroad. Moreover, Gorbachev himself was not as much of a liberal democrat as he is often portrayed in the West. He used force to try to suppress the independence movement in the Baltics, and otherwise sought to preserve the Soviet regime, not end it. He was certainly much less ruthless and repressive than his predecessors. But that is judging him by a very low standard of comparison. Nonetheless, it is fortunate that Gorbachev’s efforts at limited liberalization spun out of his control and led to a beneficial outcome that he did not intend.

Emphasis mine, via The Volokh Conspiracy » The 20th Anniversary of the End of the Soviet Union.