Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ralf Schumacher Syndrome

Nick Heidfeld is the latest victim of the so-called Ralf Schumacher Syndrome (RSS).

Symptoms: Patient suffers from a deluded sense of self, makes statements that show a rock-solid conviction in his career chances while not noticing the reality of his situation, which is not at all as promising as he thinks.

Ralf Schumacher, as I reported in my blog some years ago, was the first one with this weird "disease". His contract with Toyota was running out, and the formula 1 team did not seem to be interested in extending the contract. Ralf Schumacher was certain that he would find a cockpit in formula 1 for the next season, and even said that it was "guaranteed" he would still be racing the following season. But that didn't happen.

Now Nick Heidfeld has the same problem. In mid-season, he was replaced by Bruno Senna in the (Lotus) Renault team. His first statement, and I quote (from memory): "One thing is for sure: Soon I will be back again, and that on the highest level". Okay, sounds good so far.

The "soon" later turned into "next season". To me, "soon" does not mean the same as "next season" when there were still 8 races to go in the 2011 season when Heidfeld was sacked. But anyway, there you already see the first change in his statements.

Some weeks later, he came up with new things to say, and now note the difference in confidence: "There are still some seats (cockpits), but not many. But as long as there is still a chance for a seat in formula 1, I am going to work for it".

Yes... and here comes the transition from "definitely" to "maybe", from "I will" to "I will try". Another transition will be this: "I am going to work for it" turns into "I'm not giving up yet".

I don't know why it is so difficult for people to just acknowledge that they don't know something or can't guarantee something. Just be authentic and admit that nothing is certain yet. You can't come up with promises when you don't even have a contract.

I only hope for one thing: That this story won't keep haunting me forever like Ralf Schumacher's story. Even years after his unwilling retirement, he kept bringing up how he wanted to return to formula 1. At least Nick Heidfeld doesn't have an older brother named Michael who could return to F1 and cause rumours about his brother.

Another thing worth mentioning: Nick Heidfeld holds the record for most F1 podium finishes while not having won a single race. Yes, he never won a race. And he looks rather tired with his beard and all that. I never really had the feeling that he was very talented, and I have been a formula 1 fan for longer than he races in F1. My guess: He won't make it. Prove me wrong, man.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Disagreements in science

There is probably no field in science that better describes the ongoing battle between scientists than the field of health and nutrition science, especially with a focus on diets.

I have a book right next to me on my desk from good ol' 2003, written by Dr. Ulrich Strunz, perhaps the most popular media personality in Germany when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.
This book is very well-written and motivating, but has one problem: It gives you the usual advice that turns you off. That jogging is healthy, that you need to eat every fruit and vegetable on the planet to JUST get enough vitamins, and that there are many different things to consider in a diet.

This is the part where you read with keen interest, smile, agree - and still put the book away without further actions afterwards.

But now, it appears, "new shit has come to light", as some might say. I decided to check up on this guy whose book is already 8 years old and see what videos of him might be on youtube. And I must say: Things are different now and much more simple.

He propagated in an interview that there is a switch in our bodies that determines whether fat burning process are "on" or "off". And that switch is flipped either by consuming or not consuming carbohydrates. He says you should stop eating "carbs", as they are called.

Now we get to the point: This doctor knows what he is talking about, he knows how to support his views, and his words make sense. Especially considering that our ancestors many years ago didn't have regular carbs - bread, noodles, etc. - but meat and berries.

The problem is: Half the world (at least) goes a different way. The authorities, as well as a lot of scientists, still go by the "facts" that were established in the 50s, 60s and 70s. And those facts were that carbs are the foundation of the "food pyramid". In other words, that you should base your daily food on bread, noodles, rice, potatoes and so on. "Energy" is the keyword.

We have lived and been indoctrinated by this food pyramid for years in Europe. It is absolutely normal that a meal consists of those carbs, together with some fat and protein sources (the other two major players in the food game).

Some say: Carbs are elemental.
Others say: Carbs are poison, even the reason for cancer, coronary diseases, diabetes and ALL bad things that happen to humans (not including the stuff that Hitler is to blame for).

It gets really confusing to think about it. I'm actually finding myself in the position where I feel obliged to follow the revolutionary, yet minority path. The majority of people are taught stuff that might be outdated. And even worse, opponents of the low-carb diet call it dangerous.

So we have conflicts, just conflicts. All based on studies, surveys, whatever. Another thing Dr. Strunz mentioned, on his website. The fact that science depends very much on capitalism. Making new discoveries is profitable, because that's where funds and prizes come from. But checking up on an old piece of science, checking the validity of something that was already stated a while ago, is not very desirable. Scientists can claim a lot of things, and it would take hard work to prove them wrong, apart from not being profitable. Who wants to pay for a piece of news that just says "oh, that thing that scientist X said, it's only half way true or not true at all". No, the big news papers, the big nobel prizes, the big pharmaceutical companies, they go for the big news. Cure for cancer, cure for AIDS, etc.

It's strange that we (humanity) developed machines that were unthinkable to conceive, like computers. Just because we knew we wanted something that does this and that for us. But at the same time, we have not been able to figure out how food processes work. Anyway, there are so many diets out there that it doesn't get boring trying a new one every week.

Quote of the day:
"Have you ever seen an obese squirrel? Or a deer with asthma?" - Dr. Strunz