CK Friday Links--Friday November 26, 2010

Here's yet another selection of interesting links from around the internet. As always, I welcome your thoughts and your feedback.

PS: Follow me on Twitter!

One quick question for readers before we get into the links: Will you engage in any "Black Friday" shopping this weekend? Why or why not?

Don't fall for the food industry's Jedi mind tricks. (Freaking Fitness)

Facing health problems, a vegan returns to eating meat--and unleashes a firestorm of controversy. (Voracious)

A long but eye-opening article that will make you question every single medical study you'll ever read. (The Atlantic)

Trick question: Can we safely conclude that even the most idealistic pro-environment initiatives at companies like Wal-Mart and Google are nothing more than pure deceit? (Alternet)

Recipe Links:
A fascinating Indo-European fusion: Cumin and Spinach Latkes. (The Cooks Cottage)

Laughably easy and seasonally perfect: Cranberry Apple Cider. ($5 Dinners)

Simple, elegant comfort food: White Bean and Sausage Stew. (The Merry Gourmet)

Off-Topic Links:
The perfect guide to Now is right under my nose. (One Crafty Mother via @alosha7777)

How to write killer content in 140 characters or fewer. (Twitip)

You can’t pack up anxiety and sell it on Craigslist. Identifying non-physical clutter. (Unclutterer)

Do you have an interesting article or recipe that you'd like to see featured in Casual Kitchen's Food Links? Send me an email!

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KitschenBitsch said...

I will not be partaking in Black Friday shopping. I have little shopping to do this year, and I never go out on Black Friday to shop. I went once with my mother when I was eight, and have no desire to go back. Plus, the news coverage of people camping out for sales or skipping Thanksgiving entirely to go shopping really bothered me yesterday. We don't enjoy one holiday at a time; we are always wrapped up in the next thing.

That said, I am hosting a spa-liday open house for people who are out shopping so that they can come take refuge, get mani/pedis, and they can buy my sale items if they wish. However, I am not attempting to drag people from their families by offering $150 KitchenAid mixers for the first fifteen shoppers. Meh. (Yes, I do realize the people make the conscious decision to shop -- I shall not blame Big Mall. :) )

Joanne said...

So you know that I HAVE to respond to the medical research study article :P And that is to say that it's totally right.

Although not all doctors are so naive. We actually had a class last year on Evidence-Based Medicine and how to be skeptical of any published research, ESPECIALLY when it's published by pharmaceutical companies. Because they have one interest only and that is turning a profit. Given that I actually want to do research as a profession, I think that I probably am more critical of studies and journal articles because I know how researchers can manipulate data and statistics to present their data in the best and most convincing way possible, even if it's really not that supportive of their hypothesis.

Recent legislation has given money to comparative effectiveness research, which actually will compare drugs from different pharmaceutical companies to see which one is more effective. As these studies will be performed by a non-profit institute, hopefully they will be less biased and more accurate in terms of depicting results. We shall see...

Daniel said...

"I shall not blame Big Mall."

KB that's a great one. :) We complete the circle!! Although I might contest the suggestion that people make the conscious decision to shop. Everyone make a decision to shop, but it may not be clear in some cases how conscious that decision is.

I was pretty mortified by that media coverage too, but I don't believe it represents the norm by any stretch--it's just our media highlighting only the attention-getting outliers.

And if readers haven't guessed by now, we won't be doing any shopping either this weekend. I'm pathologically afraid to set foot outdoors on Black Friday weekend.


Daniel said...

Thanks Joanne, I was hoping you would weigh in on that one.

I've always felt that public schools in the USA should teach basic statistics--if only to help people understand these subtleties. I never really began to grasp how information can be manipulated (and not just in medical studies) until I took stats in business school.


martha said...

No shopping here. As a family we have made the decision to exchange one gift per person and send the rest of what we would have spent to build wells in Haiti. A decision even more urgent given the disaster and cholera epidemic.

I took a statistics class in college and learned to always question!!!Who did the study??? What are they trying to prove/sell???

Daniel said...

Martha, great point. I like to quote one of my favorite bloggers The Last Psychiatrist, who always says, "What do they want to be true?"

You can take that phrase and apply it to med studies, social science studies, political debates, media articles, marketing and advertising--nearly everything. It's helped me see through a lot of misinformation.

PS: Congrats on your family's decision.


Jenna said...

No shopping here. I worked retail for a while, and after that... there is nothing so cheap worth venturing out for. I did my time being cursed at, shoved, carts thrown into me... often (and confusingly) crimes perpetrated by the ones you'd least expect. (I'm an adult. I'm a 6'2 woman who can take care of herself... and yet nowhere in my training - either from the store or my parents - did anything prepare me to be cursed out and hit by ladies in their 80's. There is just no good way to handle that!) Just a quiet night enjoying the fire in the woodstove and cuddling with my honey.

Much safer - and much more fun.

Little Les said...

most years we ignore all the shopping hubbaloo, stay home and eat leftover pie. We're not organized enough to already have plans for christmas presents. But this year we know we want to get a laptop for the kids for christmas, so Dan went to office depot and got a great deal on one; he didn't get up early or anything. We would never go near the mall, though- too crazy.

Sally said...

" cursed out and hit by ladies in their 80's."

Jenna, I'm your age and that reminds me of something my father-in-law said before I married his son. I'd called his house and asked to speak to B, and his father said, "B, there's a lady on the phone for you." Followed immediately by, "Well, I don't know if it's a lady, but it's a woman."

Those weren't 80 y/o ladies -- but they were women. Ladies wouldn't curse or hit.

No shopping for me today. There's no big reason behind it, except that I hate to shop. I do as little as possible and tend to shop at off-hours so I can get done quickly. The last thing I want to do is fight crowds for a deal on something I don't want or need -- and neither do any members of my family.

Cynthia said...

My mom and I have done Black Friday shopping for years. There was nothing this year worth getting up at 3am for though. We didn't start to roll until 7 am and were finished by 11:30, and that included stopping for breakfast. The deals can be great sometimes, but what is more important to us, is the time we spend together. That time is precious and far too finite.

The medical study article just confirms what my dad has told me for years: there are liars, damn liars and statistics.

Marcia said...

Very interesting links. I haven't read all of them.

I'm not really into black Friday. I recently read Everett Bogue's new blog post, and I'm right there with him in many respects. Which is surprising, because lately, he's been sounding like a self-satisfied, snob.

I did, however, go to Whole Foods (empty and glorious) and the drug store (sales on canned salmon and raisin bran). I also bought some rubber gloves so I could dye a sweater that I spilled tea on two years ago. It's now a lovely shade of blue.

In any event, the post that spoke to me the most was the ex-vegan. So many vegan bloggers are fanatical, and cannot believe if you feel sick that it could be because you actually need meat. I have two (TWO) friends who recently started eating meat after 10+ years as a vegetarian and 20+ years as a vegan (respectively). As they reached their late 30's/early 40's, they just got ill. They could have written that blog post in fact.

Ah, medical research studies. Business makes thing fun. On the engineering side, we always learned about "planned obsolence" and "service contracts". Just as pharm companies want a particular outcome of a study (to sell you something), companies that make stuff often have to work in follow-up money - either for replacement or repair.

Daniel said...

LOL Jenna, when I was a student I used to work in a department store during my school breaks--and I also saw my share of appalling behavior from a few older customers.

Marcia, intriguing points on fanatacism among vegans. The vegans and vegetarians I know are quite the opposite of fanatical, and I've never been proselytized by any of our non-meat-eating friends.

But some of the comments on that ex-vegan post are shocking in their fanaticism.


Sally said...

I enjoyed the articles by the ex-vegan and about research.

I followed a vegan diet for reasons of health for about 5 years. While I didn't get sick and my labs were always good, I never felt as well as I was told I should.

One of the things that always confused me was that the people whose eating style the doctor who created this program based it on were not vegan or even vegetarian. Neither were any of the groups he used as examples of "healthy eaters." I had doubts about the necessity of it almost from the start, but I soldiered on. Eventually I added meat to my diet again, and felt better nearly immediately.

Dan, I love the "What do they want to be true?" The doctor always told us to be skeptical of research that showed that animal products were healthy and look to see who funded the studies. Egg producers, for instance, would say that eggs were good for us. Of course, all research showing the benefits of a vegan diet were to be believed.

What bothered me was that few of his followers ever questioned that. They blindly followed and believed. It didn't make a bit of sense to me that all research showing the benefits of eating animal products could be wrong and all showing the benefits of following a vegan diet could be right.

Some of the responses to Tasha's post made me incredibly sad. But I'm not surprised, I've seen them before. If someone was having trouble on the doctor's plan, it was always because they weren't doing it right. This also came from the doctor and he didn't word it more gently. I made one good friend through this plan and she was the same way. If someone was having trouble or not getting the promised results, it was always because they weren't doing it right or were cheating. There was no possibility that a vegan diet wasn't right for them.

Daniel said...

Sally thanks for the feedback, and thanks for your excellent points. Interesting how the logic is so conveniently circular, isn't it? If you are on a vegan diet and you don't feel well, you clearly aren't doing it right. I don't have any problem with vegan diets or vegans (this I'm sure is obvious based on the fact that I feature quite a few vegan recipes here at CK and I know quite a lot of really good people who are vegan--and quite happy and healthy). However, I utterly abhor intellectual dishonesty.