It's been a while since I've shared a favorite YouTube channel, and this one comes with a warning: It will make you hungry!

The channel is Pro Home Cooks, founded by Mike Greenfield. I've been salivating over it for some time, but the video that directly inspired this post is This Fried Chicken Recipe Took Over NYC (9,000 Waitlist) (16 minutes).

You can easily find lots of good cooking videos on the channel, so to round out this post I'm choosing a couple that show a little more about the life behind the shows. The first is a 17-minute "day in the life" video.

Finally, this is a very short (one-minute) video in a different format, but it gives a view of his very enviable garden.

I hope you enjoy Pro Home Cooks as much as I do.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 28, 2023 at 7:25 am | Edit
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"Go play outside!"

So said generations of mothers—at least once we got past the eons of history in which both work and play generally took place outdoors by default.

Partly, that motherly admonition was meant to get us out from underfoot, but there was also a high respect for the value of "fresh air and sunshine" for health and growth.

No one had to tell me twice to get outdoors, not when there were trees to climb and a forest to explore. I've been an avid bookworm ever since I learned to read, but I was happy to do much of my reading on the platform my father had built for us high in the trees.

When did the outdoors become our enemy?

Being exposed to the sun was branded a high-risk activity for children, unless they were slathered in sunscreen—not just at the beach, but in their own backyards. Even then, playing outside was not encouraged, for it provided no relief for mothers, who were told they had to keep their eyes on their children at all times, lest they get hurt, or even kidnapped. How much easier and safer it was to keep them indoors, entertained by the magic of that handy babysitter, the television set—the gateway drug of today's "screens."

However, the tide may be turning, at least a bit. Parents are once again at least thinking about trying to get their kids outdoor time. They are struggling to believe with their hearts the statistics that show kidnapping by strangers and mass shootings to be minuscule risks in most of the United States, and the discovery that children need a bit of danger and challenge to grow up both physically and mentally healthy. More and more people are realizing that the advice we were given for avoiding COVID—stay indoors, and especially avoid playgrounds, beaches, and neighborhood walks—was likely the exact opposite of what we should have been doing. Ever so slowly we are recognizing that our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers may have been right when they told us to go out and play. Fresh air and sunshine are indeed our friends.

Here's another reason why:

It is dark inside your head, but even there, the sun does shine.

This is the beginning of Heather Heying's latest substack post about the great value of Near Infrared Radiation (NIR), those wavelengths of light just longer than red.

Most people have heard of the hormone melatonin, known for its regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. This is created by the pineal gland, and is called circulating melatonin.

But there is also subcellular melatonin, which, it turns out, is produced in the mitochondria of our cells, stimulated by exposure to NIR.

Subcellular melatonin is a powerful antioxidant. ... Oxidation is a ubiquitous and destructive process in organisms, a natural side-effect of metabolism. Antioxidants scavenge the free radicals formed by oxidation, thus mitigating its deleterious effects. Melatonin is a particularly strong and multi-functional antioxidant.

In the brain, melatonin’s antioxidant capacity is likely to be especially important, both because of the disproportionately high use of oxygen by the brain, and because some other antioxidant systems are not present there. Absent near infrared photons being carried deep into the brain, which then promote the synthesis of subcellular melatonin, brain function might go more than a bit haywire.

Subcellular melatonin also reduces inflammation, increases the rates of waste removal within cells, and has immunoregulatory effects. Furthermore, it improves mitochondrial function via several known mechanisms, and generally promotes health and vitality. And again, there is substantial evidence that NIR prompts its formation.

So how do we get this NIR to our mitochondria? Here's the good news:

  • The majority of photons that reach us from the sun are actually in the NIR range.
  • Unlike visible and ultraviolet light, NIR penetrates deep into our bodies, including our brains.
  • The bodies of babies and young children are perfused with NIR.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid distributes NIR photons deep into the brain.
  • NIR comes to us not only from the sun, but also reflected off objects around us, such as the moon, leaves, snow, sand—they can reach us standing in the shade, fully dressed.
  • Just after sunrise and before sunset are particularly good times to pick up NIR.
  • NIR is also produced by campfires, candlelight, and incandescent bulbs.

The bad news?

  • Because our bodies are thicker, the average adult gets less than 2/3 the NIR penetration children do. Just what we need—another good reason to lose weight.
  • Most of the lighting that we modern people experience indoors (fluorescent, LED) does not provide this vital nutrient.

You can read Dr. Heying's entire article, with a lot more, and references, here.

For those who prefer a non-print source, here's an excerpt from the latest DarkHorse Podcast episode (#170) in which she introduces the subject. (approximately minutes 25:34 to 39:32)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 25, 2023 at 10:37 am | Edit
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Category Health: [first] [previous] [next] [newest]

As most of you know, David Freiheit (Viva Frei) has been my favorite Canadian lawyer since sometime in 2020. Even though he no longer practices law and subsequently fled Canada for Florida, for the sake of his kids. I haven't posted anything from him in a while, because, frankly, his explosion of fame following his livestream coverage of the Canadian truckers' Freedom Convoy has meant that I can't possibly keep up with him.

However, we recently made time for his 1.5-hour interview with Dr. Bret Weinstein, and except for the first three minutes, every second was worthwhile. We were even happy to listen to it at normal speed (which we have to do when watching it on television instead of on the computer) because the information content is dense.

Since most of you will find the time commitment untenable, please at least take ten minutes and listen to minutes 21 through 31, and Bret's story about the incredible discovery he made in his grad school research about cancer, longevity, and the laboratory mice used in drug safety testing. If that whets your appetite for the rest of the interview, so much the better.

Bret is an excellent speaker: clear, cogent, and riveting. Viva and the other host, Robert Barnes, are normally quite interactive with their guests, sometimes to the point where I wish they would shut up and let the guest continue speaking. Not this time. As one commenter put it, "Watching Barnes and Frei blink for 10 minutes or more at a time with their lips closed is so unnatural...." Bret is that interesting.

I've been watching Bret's DarkHorse Podcasts for quite a while now, and I still learned a lot here. Skip the first three minutes—after that it's gold.  

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 21, 2023 at 6:14 am | Edit
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One advantage to having aligned myself with the more "high church" denominations is that the major holidays. Twelve days of Christmas and 50 days of Easter! Therefore I get to post this Babylon Bee Easter skit. The background is this passage from the 28th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, describing the situation a few days after Jesus was crucified and buried in a rock tomb.

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead....”

While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed.

It must have been a goodly sum of money to get the guards to confess to having fallen asleep on duty. I'm sure the penalties for that were severe—not to mention the shame. And the story about Jesus' disciples stealing his body and pretending that he had risen from the dead could easily have had credibility in the early days. But given what they later went through because of their insistence on the truth of Jesus' resurrection, I don't see how it could have held up.  (five-minute video)

Sure, people throughout history have given themselves over to torture and death for things they believed to be true and important, even if they were wrong. But how long could you maintain that attitude about a lie that you knew to be a lie because you orchestrated it yourself?

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 11:16 am | Edit
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Those of you who are better than I am at remembering political names will understand Porter's oft-repeated saying from the very end of the last century:

In the 2000 election, I was afraid our hopes would be Daschled and our aspirations Gored, but instead we were am-Bushed.

Thinking about President George W. Bush, I am reminded of President Jimmy Carter of the opposite party: great person, terrible president. High ideals do not an effective statesman make. Neither are they sufficient to impart the wisdom needed to lead a country through crisis. There's a Darkness in our politics that delights in taking down naïve idealism, and it doesn't much care what political affiliation it uses.

Nonetheless, I'll take the hopeful, honest call to courage of Bush's first inaugural address—superbly crafted by speechwriter Michael Gerson and delivered on January 20, 2001—over the bitter, divisive anger that is stock-in-trade today, when more than ever our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country.

President Clinton, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens:

The peaceful transfer of authority is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make new beginnings.

As I begin, I thank President Clinton for his service to our nation; and I thank Vice President Gore for a contest conducted with spirit and ended with grace.

I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of America's leaders have come before me, and so many will follow.

We have a place, all of us, in a long story. A story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer. It is the American story. A story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals. The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born. Americans are called upon to enact this promise in our lives and in our laws; and though our nation has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.

Through much of the last century, America's faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations. Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along; and even after nearly 225 years, we have a long way yet to travel.

While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country. The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the circumstances of their birth; and sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union, is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation; and this is my solemn pledge, "I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity." I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves who creates us equal in His image and we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.

America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them; and every immigrant, by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.

Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's promise through civility, courage, compassion and character. America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle with a concern for civility. A civil society demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness. Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be petty because, in a time of peace, the stakes of our debates appear small. But the stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most. We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. This commitment, if we keep it, is a way to shared accomplishment.

America, at its best, is also courageous. Our national courage has been clear in times of depression and war, when defending common dangers defined our common good. Now we must choose if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire us or condemn us. We must show courage in a time of blessing by confronting problems instead of passing them on to future generations.

Together, we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives; we will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our children from struggles we have the power to prevent; we will reduce taxes, to recover the momentum of our economy and reward the effort and enterprise of working Americans; we will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge; and we will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.

The enemies of liberty and our country should make no mistake, America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests; we will show purpose without arrogance; we will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength; and to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth.

America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation's promise. Whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love. The proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute for hope and order in our souls. Where there is suffering, there is duty. Americans in need are not strangers, they are citizens, not problems, but priorities, and all of us are diminished when any are hopeless. Government has great responsibilities for public safety and public health, for civil rights and common schools. Yet compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government. Some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond to a mentor's touch or a pastor's prayer. Church and charity, synagogue and mosque lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an honored place in our plans and in our laws. Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do. I can pledge our nation to a goal, "When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side."

America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected. Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. Though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment. We find the fullness of life not only in options, but in commitments. We find that children and community are the commitments that set us free. Our public interest depends on private character, on civic duty and family bonds and basic fairness, on uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom. Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as a saint of our times has said, every day we are called to do small things with great love. The most important tasks of a democracy are done by everyone. I will live and lead by these principles, "to advance my convictions with civility, to pursue the public interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try to live it as well." In all of these ways, I will bring the values of our history to the care of our times.

What you do is as important as anything government does. I ask you to seek a common good beyond your comfort; to defend needed reforms against easy attacks; to serve your nation, beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens. Citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character.

Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because we believe in ourselves, but because we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia statesman John Page wrote to Thomas Jefferson, "We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?" Much time has passed since Jefferson arrived for his inauguration. The years and changes accumulate, but the themes of this day he would know, "our nation's grand story of courage and its simple dream of dignity."

We are not this story's author, who fills time and eternity with His purpose. Yet His purpose is achieved in our duty, and our duty is fulfilled in service to one another. Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew that purpose today; to make our country more just and generous; to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life.

This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.

God bless you all, and God bless America.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at 12:16 pm | Edit
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It begins early, the idea that there is only one right answer to a problem.

Here's part of a journal entry from when one of our children was in first grade:

She brought home several papers of the kind in which she had to identify beginning and ending sounds. The focus of one was a set of images, for which she was supposed to indicate whether the "p" sound came at the beginning or the end.

Next to the picture of a policeman, she had indicated that the "p" was at the end, and the the teacher had corrected it to the beginning, without further comment.

You can probably guess what comes next.

I asked our daughter what the picture was, and she replied, "cop."

What if I had not been there to assure her that her answer was perfectly correct, and to explain why the teacher thought it was wrong?

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 6:14 am | Edit
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That will be our opening hymn this morning, and it's one of my favorites.

Happy Easter to all!

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 9, 2023 at 7:49 am | Edit
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One of my favorite Easter cartoons, fitting for Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 8, 2023 at 10:44 am | Edit
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In honor of Holy Week and Easter, I present this 12-minute guide to the "What is it with all those different kinds of Christian churches?" question. You could be forgiven for suspecting this to be another offering from the Babylon Bee, but although it may be fun, it's serious, and surprisingly accurate. Being Anglican myself, I especially appreciate this line:

it's difficult to understand what Anglicanism really is, but don't worry, they don't understand it either.

Try not to get confused by the direction of the arrows from 10:20 to 10:34, which seem backwards to me. It must be one of those mysteries the Orthodox are always talking about.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, April 7, 2023 at 10:08 am | Edit
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Our Palm Sunday service went well yesterday, and it was a joy to sing our anthem: Hosanna and Hallelujah (Ovokaitys/Thomson/Raney)—suitably modified because "Hallelujah" is verboten during Lent. But I'm fighting sadness because the "ordinariness" of the service, and the anticipated blandness of worship for Holy Week and Easter to come, is such a contrast to the gloriousness of worship services we have had in the past. The fact that our pared-down services are saving us a lot of work and stress, while appreciated, does not quite make up for the loss of joy.

It was good therapy to run into this photo from Palm Sunday, 2020, when affixing a palm to our front door was the best we could do, because our church had done the unheard of: The doors were closed—services shut down for the holiest and most joyful week of the Church Year.

It was but the beginning of sorrows. And this was not even the work of the state, which had exempted religious services from stay-at-home orders, but of our own Episcopal hierarchy. It was a sad and shameful time.

Our worship services may seem depressingly mundane to me these days, but they exist, and the choirs are singing, and we sit next to our neighbors once again—and even occasionally hug them. That's a lot to be thankful for: a loud hosanna!, and an even louder hallelujah! in six more days.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 3, 2023 at 8:27 am | Edit
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I've admired Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farms for a long time, but many years have passed since I first read Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal.  I'd lost track of him in the ensuing years, but he recently popped up after another YouTube video, in this Hillsdale College lecture.  I hope you enjoy it; that man is right about many things.  (15 minutes)

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 6:18 pm | Edit
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