Friday, February 18th, 2022

‘The Dubai debt trap’ – The Economist°. On Dubai’s terrible judicial and prison system (long read, but worth it).

‘Book Review: Sadly, Porn’ – Astral Codex Ten°. I’m always glad for in-depth reviews of books that sound interesting, but too odd and/or dense for me to actually bother to read. Here, Scott Alexander sums up what sounds like a curious, sprawling mess of a book.

14:55: This morning has been one of those good ones. The caffeine in my coffee hit just right and I’ve actually had some focus. Not enough to write. Of course. Never enough focus to write. My ADHD – or whatever I have – won’t allow that. But enough focus to actually sit at my desk solidly and read lots of articles, and mostly without the temptation to open up new tabs and wander elsewhere on the web ‘for a break’.

Outside, Storm Eunice is raging – yesterday we had Storm Dudley, a hilarious name for a storm. And there’s also builders in the house right now. When there’s workfolk inside I always turn the heating off to give them a more comfortable work environment. Partly for selfish reasons of course. If they’re comfortable they’ll do better work I believe, and not cut corners.

But the downside of the lack of heating and the also fact that my desk is posted right next to a leaky window – which is currently letting in 8% of Storm Eunice – is that I’m a tad cold. But I daren’t relocate. The moment I get up I’ll lose my focus and won’t be able to get it back. I’m even putting off going to the toilet. Though that’s only partly to keep said focus, as it’s mostly partly to avoid coming across said said workfolk. Reading continues. Though I should probably eat soon. Lunch is likely mackerel and rice with some peas.

Damn mackerel is good. One of the few fish that I find eating isn’t an active challenge. Like all fish though I never know quite what to pair it with, carb wise. I hate new potatoes. Rice is not my favourite thing. Pasta is okay I suppose. Tuna and pasta with a drizzle of olive oil on top is a beautifully simple and tasty dish and a staple of my summer diet. Though I vaguely remember having mackerel with pasta and find it merely okay. Anyway, today I’m pairing it with egg fried rice (packet, of course, cooking rice scares me) and peas.

I’ve been trying extra hard these past few weeks to improve my diet, in the hope that it would help my M.E. And for some reason – maybe because they’re frozen – in my head peas aren’t as healthy as things like broccoli. But looking at the nutrition label the other day I realised I was wrong. Peas have an insane amount of protein and fibre in them (not sure about the vitamins). They’re also always on hand thanks to well, being frozen. And they’re also really easy to eat lots and lots of. And they also pair nicely with all sorts. I have them with chicken and chips, roast dinners and today, mackerel and rice. They’re a very versatile thing. I prefer the petis pois variety myself.

15:10: Is it lucky or unlucky to be a slow metaboliser of caffeine? Okay, actually there’s an easy answer: unlucky. The fast folk get an instant hit and a higher high. They also can then have another cup a few hours later for a similar result and all without it effecting their sleep too much.

The slow folk get a more stable, longer high, though it’s less euphoric. And they can also only really have one cup a day to avoid sleep issues. And it also has to be upon waking and even then it can effect their sleep negatively.

Honestly though, it’s worth figuring out if you’re a slow metaboliser of caffeine. And you don’t need to do a DNA test to work it out. It should be pretty obvious (though it might be complicated if you’ve been a imbiber of caffeine everyday for years). It won’t give an immediate and strong high, but a more gradual and lengthy one. And you’ll also struggle to get to sleep most nights.

I seriously believe that slow metabolisers having caffeine is an extremely underrated health crises that causes a lot of problems to millions of people.

They have a two cups of coffee a day, so can’t sleep and only get 6 hours of (REM disturbed) rest. When they wake up they’re tired. So they have coffee. Rinse and repeat. After a week or so of this they’re a wreck. But people continue this for years.

I regularly take breaks from caffeine to avoid this issue. I treat caffeine like the drug it is. And I consume it with its side effects in mind. If you happen to be a slow metaboliser you should do the same. Treat it like alcohol. Just as booze messes up your sleep, so does caffeine. And it’s not something you should be drinking every day.

‘The Healing Power of JavaScript’ – Craig Mod, Wired°.


Related: 'Evolutionary anthropologist Herman Pontzer busts myths about how humans burn calories—and why'

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