Holiday time

Holiday time, so finally a few days off from my daily work and work in the high-performance business.
Therefore this time a post beyond the world of sport and performance, about some things that make me wonder sometimes.

I will start this post with a strange story, not true, but you will get what this is about.
Suppose you are my age and you are walking down the street, all of sudden you don’t feel that well, your breathing becomes difficult, you feel pressure in your chest, and you know: this is my heart and you remember: if you are in the hospital within 6 minutes, you have a good chance to survive and recover. Now you left your mobile phone at home and ask a person who walked past you, since there is nobody else around “please can I use your phone to call 911?” Now that person tells you: sure, if you pay me 50.000 dollars cash now, you can get my phone or I can dial 911”. Obviously you don’t have that much money in your pocket, so the person says: “well, too bad, but realize this is very expensive phone and the research necessary to make it work costed billions, besides that, if your life isn’t worth 50.000 dollars well, that’s bad news for you”.

So what do you think about this situation? I ask this because the same thing is happening here in Holland right now. There is a medication for people who suffer from rare metabolic genetic and terrible disease called CTX. The producer of this medication, Leadiant sells this for 180.000 to 240.000 dollars per patient per year, since not many people can afford this price to save their lives, other people who do have a heart, working at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, decided they could manufacture that medication themselves in their hospital pharmacy for around 23.000 dollars. They had the substance produced for purity and tested and everything was OK.

Now Leadiant did not like this handsome profit going down the drain and got in touch with the government, they probably sent in some lawyers and lobbyists, filled some bank accounts and guess what: the AMC has to stop producing it, since all of a sudden it could not be proven that the substance was pure. That is how our government seems to work nowadays. Not to mention that the same impurities were found in Leadiants own product! Looking this up at the Internet you will find that the real price for the substance is 200 dollars for 1 kg of it, approximately good for a 3 years supply. In short, Leadiant is willing to kill patients for a profit of in average 220.000 dollars a year.

Yes, my friends, disease has become a commodity and a handsomely profitable one as well. All of this makes me wonder what kind of people work at Leadiant? How can they look into the mirror every morning, knowing that they willing to let people get sick or die for an unexplainable and unreasonable profit? Sometimes killers don’t carry a gun, but they are armed with pen and paper, wear a nice suit and tie, drive a BMW. That governments are not always on the side of its people but more on the side of the pharmaceutical industry and criminals was never expressed more clearly than in the Nuremburg Tribunal Case IV. After the well-known Nuremberg tribunal case against the German Nazis chiefs took place, Case IV was staged against only the heads of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries united in I.G.Farben, which supported the work done in concentration camps, use slaves as labor forces or delivered the chemicals for the terrible experiments done on the prisoners there. Times might change, but the these people do not, even if marketing and lawyers might give these crimes a more friendly face.

Vegetarians…..food for thought….

In the past many young athletes came to me and told me they had become vegetarians overnight.
Great! But my first question was why? They often came up with the same reason. They had compassion with the suffering of the animals that were killed in order to end up on their plate. Since according to them, animals obviously have a consciousness, have a sensory system, are intelligent, can communicate, and feel pain, were some of the arguments. Fair enough. “So what do you eat now”, would be my next question. “Well, plants of course, more vegetables, fruits, herbs, legumes, grains, etc.” My last questions never failed to produce a puzzled look on their faces. “Are you 100% sure that plants have no consciousness, don’t have a sensory system, are not intelligent, cannot communicate or do not feel pain?”. I seldom heard an answer, but at least it made them think.

Just in case you are a vegetarian yourself, here are some facts about the plants that you might not know.
1. Some simple plants possess more genes that human beings, up to 50 times more genes, talking about complexity (humans 22.000 genes, rice 38.000 genes, wheat 95.000 genes
2. Without animals, plants are able to survive, animals are not able to survive without plants
3. Humans have 5 or 6 senses, plants something like 16 senses.
4. Plants do communicate, even if we don’t understand their language and as matter of fact they are able to communicate in various ways. In case of an attack by herbivores or insects, since they cannot run away, they scream for help in various ways and even alert their neighbors for potential danger, while also signaling for help from their enemy’s enemies. They are also able to recognize their kin.
5. Plants may possess a memory system.
6. Plants are geniuses in the art of chemical warfare, against larger herbivores, insects or different species or plants. They have been experimenting for millions of years.
Recent research shows that plants are living and sophisticated creatures, probably worth more of our attention and sense of wonder.
So next time you peel a potato, put your fork into a salad, cut a flower or cut the grass, keep this in mind.

Trewavas, A: Plant Behaviour and Intelligence; Oxford University Pres , 2014.
Trewavas, A: Intelligence, Cognition, and Language of Green Plants, Front. Psychol. 7:588.
Chalker-Scott, L: How plants work: the science behind the amazing things plants do; Timber Press, 2015.
Mancuso, S; Viola, A: Brilliant Green. The surprising history and science of plant intelligence; Island Press, 2015.
Blande, J.D. Glinwood, R: Deciphering Chemical Language of Plant Communication; Springer, 2016.
Karpinski, S; Szechynska-Hebda, M: Secret life of plants. From memory to intelligence; Plant Signaling & Behavior 5:11, 1391-1394; November 2010.
Wohlleben, P: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate. Discoveries from a Secret World; Greystone Books.
King, J: Reaching for the Sun; How Plants Work; Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Bais, H.P; Park, S.W; Weir,T.L; Callaway, R.M; and Vivanco, J.M: How plants communicate using the underground information superhighway. Trends in Plant Science Vol.9 No.1 January 2004.
Gagliano, M; Renton, M; Duvdevani, N; Timmins, M, Mancuso, S: Out of Sight but Not out of Mind: Alternative Means of Communication in Plants; PLoS ONE 7(5): e37382.
Chamowitz, D: What a plant knows : a field guide to the senses; Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2012.
Mancuso, S; Viola, A; Brilliant Green – The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence; Island Press, 2015.
Heil, M; Harban , R: Explaining evolution of plant communication by airborne signals; Trends in Ecology and Evolution Vol.25 No.3, 2010.
Koller, D: The restless plant; Harvard University Press; 2011.
Witzany, G: Balusek, F: Biocommunication of Plants, Springer, 2012.

The trouble with thyroid.

(This title is adapted from the book: “The Trouble with Testosterone” by Robert Sapolsky)
A few weeks ago the Dutch sports community seemed to wake up from a coma: Dutch speed skaters, you know, the ones that won all the medal at the Olympics, seem to have used thyroid hormones. Wow, what a surprise. American track and field athletes knew for years, already since the nineteen eighties, the effects of thyroid hormone on performance, that is why e.g. they visited Dr. Brown who diagnosed them with subclinical thyroid deficiency and look… great performances.

Or did you really think that the Dutch speed skaters did so well on potatoes, bread and cheese only? Well, the Dutch sports community did and still does: “it’s not on the banned list, so it is not ergogenic”, “there is no scientific proof it improves performance” (really?) And of course, doctors in a knee jerk reflex immediately come up with the good old scare tactics for banned substances….. “it is dangerous for your health …..” (really?).

It’s the human weakness, like the human eye only looks outside, never inside, in every country the majority of people believe their own athletes are clean, whereas the rest of the world is juiced to the brim, that is why they are better. And if we are better it is because of special genes, good training , we have the best coaches, and a perfect elite sports environment that makes our superiority possible…. We have a good laugh about so much ignorance isn’t it?

About Henk Kraaijenhof

My name is Henk Kraaijenhof and I started this blog as a random collection of concepts, ideas, stories and events that are important or interesting to me in my work as an international performance consultant in a wide range of fields, and sometimes outside of my work. I will try to post a new entry every 3-4 days. Feel free to comment if you like.
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