by Robert Waltz
Not for the faint of art.
A complex number is expressed in the standard form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers and i is defined by i^2 = -1 (that is, i is the square root of -1). For example, 3 + 2i is a complex number.
The bi term is often referred to as an imaginary number (though this may be misleading, as it is no more "imaginary" than the symbolic abstractions we know as the "real" numbers). Thus, every complex number has a real part, a, and an imaginary part, bi.
Complex numbers are often represented on a graph known as the "complex plane," where the horizontal axis represents the infinity of real numbers, and the vertical axis represents the infinity of imaginary numbers. Thus, each complex number has a unique representation on the complex plane: some closer to real; others, more imaginary. If a = b, the number is equal parts real and imaginary.
Very simple transformations applied to numbers in the complex plane can lead to fractal structures of enormous intricacy and astonishing beauty.
Neat how this one comes up the same week I do a Fantasy newsletter editorial about bread. But it was, indeed, randomly chosen.
I haven't read the book in question. I should, though; the bullshit surrounding nutrition science is, as you probably know, an interest of mine.
Thing is, from what I've seen of it, it would be largely confirming my own beliefs about things. "An incendiary work of science journalism debunking the myths that dominate the American diet and showing readers how to stop feeling guilty and start loving their food again—sure to ignite controversy over our obsession with what it means to eat right."
But, see, part of the problem with all the different diet and exercise and other health publications, programs, whatever out there is that they follow the standard marketing playbook: 1) Convince people that they have a lack and will not be happy until that lack is fulfilled; 2) sell the thing that will fill the hole you've just created in their psyche.
I'm no expert, but as far as I've been able to tell, that is the essence of advertising. The process itself is independent of whether the product you're selling is genuinely a good thing, or utter bullshit. And the blurb I quoted above (found via Google when I searched for the book) follows the script, also throwing in the "controversy" angle, which makes people want to see what the fuss is supposedly all about.
Still, I want to believe the book is worthwhile, because I long ago grew weary of the endless succession of diet and exercise fads, each marketed to a neurotic public, each in turn fading into obscurity as the new fads roll out. Different foods are by turns demonized or extolled, until it's impossible to tell what one "should" really be doing to maybe eke out another year or two of existence.
This is by design, as it keeps the publishing industry in business.
As for gluten itself, the whole "gluten-free" fad (which finally shows signs of winding down) misled people in a big way. It didn't help that "gluten" isn't a very pretty word, so it was easy to manipulate people into believing that it's Bad For You, in much the same way as it was easy to manipulate people into thinking that something labeled "All-Natural" is Good For You. (Incidentally, gluten, tobacco, and poison ivy are all-natural. Cognitive dissonance also sells product.) I'd even heard of people demanding gluten-free foods simply because they thought it was some kind of additive, and additives are, of course, Always Bad For You. (Anything can be an additive.)
One good thing has come from this bullshit: since less than 1% of the population has legitimate problems with eating foods containing gluten, there wasn't a lot of incentive for companies to create products that people with celiac disease could eat, which limited their diet options to food that is legitimately no fun at all. But suddenly a whole lot of people convinced themselves they had gluten sensitivities, companies marketed to them, and suddenly actual gluten-intolerant people had more options. So that worked out well for them.
Anyway. Like I said, I haven't read this book so I have no idea if what I've just said supports or contradicts anything in it. It just gave me a chance to once again rant about nutrition science, and the reporting and marketing thereof.