Digestable #34: The Most Reluctant Convert, Carbon Footprint of Zoom, Soybean Oil, Aspirin, No Ordinary People

Hi folks!

Welcome to another edition of Digestable, the short, weekly email where we follow our curiosity.

Well, about that:

The Most Reluctant Convert: If doing the work required to have an opinion means being able to present the other side of the argument better than the other side, C.S. Lewis has done the work to have an opinion on “the God question.” This week I had the opportunity to attend a private screening of, “The Most Reluctant Convert: the untold story of C.S. Lewis,” which tells the story of his conversion from Atheist -> Theist -> Christian.

As a first-rate academic in a prestigious university, becoming a Christian was a most undesirable outcome. He describes his conversion experience as “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape . . . perhaps . . . the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England . . . That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.”

C.S. Lewis is one of my top 5 favorite authors and I own most of his books. The most well-known would be The Chronicles of Narnia, and a life highlight of mine is reading that to my kids as a bedtime story. If you like science fiction his lesser-known Space Trilogy made me think in new ways and convinced me of the value of fiction when I was in a phase where I thought fiction was a waste of time.

The Carbon Footprint of Zoom: When you considered ways to reduce your carbon footprint you probably didn’t think about reducing the quality of your video streaming. “A group of researchers studied the impact of online streaming and video-conferencing. They found that if a person streamed at high quality for four hours a day, switching to standard definition would reduce that person’s monthly carbon footprint by the same degree as reducing driving by 93 miles a month.”

Now do email: “in 2019 an expert in the Bavarian consumer protection agency estimated that a normal email without an attachment is responsible for 10g CO2e – about the same amount as a plastic bag – and that the amount is doubled by adding a one-megabyte attachment. A another study performed in 2019 by UK power company Ovo Energy tackled the problem from the other end, calculating how much we can reduce our carbon footprint by cutting down on emailing. Their conclusion: if every email user in that country were to send one fewer email per day, it would lead to a total annual reduction of 16,433 metric tons CO2e – the equivalent of 81,152 flights between London Heathrow and Madrid.

I don’t know about you, but when I read stats like these I wonder if: a) we’re doomed, b) these models are flawed, c) carbon must not be as bad as we think it is, or d) all of the above.

Refining Scientific Recommendations: here are a couple studies that jumped out at me this week (credit to Dr. Rhonda Patrick for the links). I’m going to be charitable and describe them as “refining” our scientific understandings:

  1. America’s most widely consumed oil causes genetic changes in the brain: “New research shows soybean oil not only leads to obesity and diabetes, but could also affect neurological conditions like autism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and depression.” Remember when we dutifully switched from butter to soybean oil-laden margarine at the recommendation of nutritionists and experts? If you are a bit of a geek like me you may enjoy this History of Soy Oil Margarine.
  2. Aspirin linked with increased risk of heart failure: a new study found that daily aspirin use was linked to a 26% higher risk of heart failure in people with at least 1 predisposing condition including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and smoking.” 

    Now do cancer: a large randomized controlled trial found older adults taking 100 mg of daily aspirin were more likely to be diagnosed with advanced, metastatic cancers and more likely to die from cancer than those taking a placebo.”

    In case you don’t remember, until like, October, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended that “all” adults 40-59 years old take a daily baby aspirin.

Quote I’m Pondering: These are the words of C.S. Lewis that closed the movie, The Most Reluctant Convert.

“There are no ordinary people.​You have never talked to a mere mortal.​Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.

But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

​”It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.”​

“The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.”

Where did your curiosity lead you this week? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks again for following along. I’m having a riot putting these together, so if you are enjoying this newsletter I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two and we can keep the great conversations growing.

Yours truly,

P.S. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint by the equivalent of a plastic bag, in addition to sending one less email try shopping at a zero-waste grocer like The Source Bulk Foods. Coming to a location near you this Aussie franchise has opened in Vancouver and has plans to be in Alberta soon. I recently leased space to The Source Bulk Foods in Langley, BC and took an opportunity to take a few video clips of their Vancouver location on West Broadway. If you are interested in opening a franchise in Edmonton or Calgary I would be happy to introduce you.

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