Friday, September 05, 2008

"The Idea of Having" via Get Rich Slowly.

This is brilliant, and I have the same problems. With the same items. Work in progress.

The Idea of Having ∞ Get Rich Slowly:
"...When we got home, I spent some time alone, thinking. I sat in my office and looked at the bookshelves. I looked at the rows and rows of comics. It occurred to met that although I’ve gained control of my current and future spending, I still struggle with the past.

“Will I ever read these?” I wondered. “Or are they just clutter?” I remembered a conversation Kris and I had last week.

“You know why you can’t get rid of Stuff, don’t you?” Kris had asked.

“Because I want it,” I said.

“You think you want it,” she said. “You like the idea of having certain things, but you don’t actually use them. You’ve got dozens of books stacked in the guest room. They’ve been there since the last time you purged Stuff a year ago. Have you needed any of those books in that time?”

“No,” I said.

“That’s my point. You can’t bring yourself to get rid of them, yet you don’t use them, either. You don’t even really want them. So they sit there. You wouldn’t even notice if you got rid of them.”

Kris is right. It’s the idea of having that appeals to me. When I look through my stacks of books, it pains me to think of purging them. Yet it also pains me to have them cluttering my life, always within eyesight, taxing my mental energy. I like the idea of having them, but not the actual possessing.

...“We each have so many interests, and certain things — like books — keep us connected to those interests, or give us the illusion that they do,” she said.

“But they also clog up our lives and make us less efficient at doing what we are and what we want to do right now. It’s hard to let go of the things that we believe represent parts of ourselves, or we hope represent us. In many cases, these things represent who we were or wished to be at one time — not who we are right now.”

Looking around at my collection of comic books, I had to ask myself, “Is this who I am? Is this who I wish to be? Are these books a part of me?”

I didn’t have an answer, and I don’t have one now."

Ill Doctrine - "The Republican Hater's Ball."

Funny, and smart.

"Hateration in the GOP dancerie."

T2 - 4, 5 &6.

4 - 20m cardio/shadowboxing, 6 meals, 2L water
5 - Upper body, 6 meals, 2.5L water
6 - tomorrow... rest/free.


Pay Now Live Later: You’re on that Funny Diet, Right?:
"Somehow, society has given us the message that as humans we are entitled to have the things we enjoy all the time. We have grown up believing that the de facto state of affairs should be that we are deriving pleasure from what we do. Is this a western phenomenon, or worldwide? I am not sure. Either way, because of this, we tend to assume that when someone describes a diet that limits what they can eat, they must be “on a diet” rather than “this is their diet, period.” The idea that someone has taken the decision to restrict what they eat permanently, by and large, does not compute – and the more radical the change, the bigger the computational challenge.

Rather than rail against the world, I have decided to celebrate the opportunity this gives us for pithy, sarcastic responses."
One of the reasons I was I fat little kid. Little Debbie equalled love, indeed.

"Clip from the documentary "Fat Head." Guess what? Fat and cholesterol don't cause heart disease. The theory was based on bogus science from the very beginning."

"The McGovern Report - The official government policy of promoting a lowfat diet had nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

T2 - 3.

Day 3 - Lower body workout/6 meals/2L water

Australia is the current leader in the wimpification Olympics.

Daily Brickbats > Flipping Out - Reason Magazine:
"Australia's Belgian Gardens State School has banned all cartwheels, handstands, and other “gymnastics' during recess. Officials at the primary school say children can get injured doing such things."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

American politics, to sum up...

Bob Barr is a former Republican and current Libertarian Party candidate for President.

Hit & Run > The Road to Damascus - Reason Magazine:
"The Onion summarizes 'Bob Barr on the issues.'

(1995–2007) Trying to control the faith, sexuality, reproduction, drug use, and national allegiance of every single American.

(2007–) Aw, Fuck it."
Further elucidation, of the humorous kind, from the comments of the post:
"Seems like a good campaign slogan to me. In fact, all of the campaigns should use the F-word:

* LP - Aw, Fuck it.
* GOP - America, Fuck Yeah!
* Democrats - Fuck America!
* Greens - Fuck a Sheep. With a Cucumber.
* Nader - Fuck you!
* Gravel - What the Fuck?"

What I wish, as well...

Astute commentary in the aftermath of former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's arrest for felony reckless driving. » Blog Archive » 30 minutes of what happened:
"I’ve always felt that getting arrested is never going to be a pleasant experience. Do I wish the police were able to do their jobs without being cocksuckers? Sure, but I’d also like them to ride unicorns and subdue everyone with rainbows. So long as people aren’t getting hospitalized and killed, I’ll accept it as part of the price you pay when you’re a gigantic delusional ultimate fighter being booked."

Joe Rogan brings the funny.

"...guy tells the story of how he got jumped and how the guys attacking him were doing impressions of Joe Rogan."

"Joe Rogan argues with a crazy lady on the radio."

Training 2.0 [T2], Day 1&2... [I need structure, apparently.]

August was a bit of a clusterfuck. Travel aside, I thought the greater free time and fewer classes would afford me the chance to ramp up my PT and get beyond the "toe dipping" phase and really start the whole "getting back into shape" thing. How the exact opposite happened I'm still not entirely clear on.

The first 100 days/3 months or so I'd made some baby steps and progress in the right direction... weight was coming down, measurements coming down, clothes starting to fit right again... and then I just seemed to stall. Workouts weren't gelling, diet was harder... the occasional free day turned into multiples... feeling burned out a lot of the time.

Since the beginning of August I felt like I was plateauing/treading water at best, and starting to seriously backslide at worst. So I took about 4-5 days last week, didn't do anything, ate anything I wanted and ruminated a bit.

So really, I think the problem is that I'm just winging it too much. As much as the concept rankles me [after years of having structure imposed on me, one way or the other] I need more planning and structure at the outset. Until everything becomes a habit and starts flowing again. And what's more, I need to cull my need to constantly tweak and change and be on the lookout for different and new strategies and ideas. I need to pick something stable and just stick with that for a while.

So, call this Training 2.0 [T2]/Phase 2 or whatever. I'll use the structure from the BFL program, which I last used to good effect in NC, the last time I got, really, in halfway decent shape. And the plus is that the format of the program makes me sit down almost daily to plan it out and prevent me from slacking.

So... PT 6x a week, alternating an upper/lower body lifting split with a high intensity cardio day. Eating 6 small meals a day, one free day a week.

Since I'll be logging a lot of the info offline, I won't be re-typing in all the sets/reps/foods stuff again online, but I will be logging in whether or not I checked the boxes/got done what I was supposed to...

So, to that effect...

Day 1 - Upper body wkout/6 meals/2L water
Day 2 - 20m cardio/6 meals/2L water

Monday, September 01, 2008

More militarization/politicalization of the police.

See, if say the words "Police State" you sound like a conspiracy nut... but, come on...

The first bit smacks of some good 'ol boys with Barney Fife syndrome and extra $$ to burn in the budget, but the second, about the raids conducted in advance of the Repub convention, makes me want to either cry and/or choke someone.

Hit & Run > Sheriff Lott's New Toy - Reason Magazine:
"The Richland County, South Carolina Sheriff's Department... just obtained an armored personnel carrier, complete with a belt-fed, .50-cal turreted machine gun. Sheriff Leon Lott has charmingly named the vehicle 'The Peacemaker,' and insists that using a caliber of ammunition that even the U.S. military is reluctant to use against human targets (it's generally reserved for use against armored vehicles) will 'save lives.'

Can we call this overkill, yet? Is there any weapon people like Sheriff Lott would consider inappropriate for use against American citizens?

Like most of these military toys obtained by local police departments, the Peacemaker will inevitably be used on drug and gambling raids—that is, to enforce laws against consensual activities. Or, as we're now seeing in Minnesota, perhaps on raids against leftist political activists.

Can't be too careful, you know."

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis - Glenn Greenwald -
"...Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying.

Jane Hamsher and I were at two of those homes this morning -- one which had just been raided and one which was in the process of being raided. Each of the raided houses is known by neighbors as a "hippie house," where 5-10 college-aged individuals live in a communal setting, and everyone we spoke with said that there had never been any problems of any kind in those houses, that they were filled with "peaceful kids" who are politically active but entirely unthreatening and friendly. Posted below is the video of the scene, including various interviews, which convey a very clear sense of what is actually going on here.

In the house that had just been raided, those inside described how a team of roughly 25 officers had barged into their homes with masks and black swat gear, holding large semi-automatic rifles, and ordered them to lie on the floor, where they were handcuffed and ordered not to move. The officers refused to state why they were there and, until the very end, refused to show whether they had a search warrant. They were forced to remain on the floor for 45 minutes while the officers took away the laptops, computers, individual journals, and political materials kept in the house. One of the individuals renting the house, an 18-year-old woman, was extremely shaken as she and others described how the officers were deliberately making intimidating statements such as "Do you have Terminator ready?" as they lay on the floor in handcuffs. The 10 or so individuals in the house all said that though they found the experience very jarring, they still intended to protest against the GOP Convention, and several said that being subjected to raids of that sort made them more emboldened than ever to do so.

...only 2 or 3 of the 50 individuals who were handcuffed this morning at the 2 houses were actually arrested and charged with a crime, and the crime they were charged with is "conspiracy to commit riot." Nestor, who has practiced law in Minnesota for many years, said that he had never before heard of that statute being used for anything, and that its parameters are so self-evidently vague, designed to allow pre-emeptive arrests of those who are peacefully protesting, that it is almost certainly unconstitutional, though because it had never been invoked (until now), its constitutionality had not been tested.

There is clearly an intent on the part of law enforcement authorities here to engage in extreme and highly intimidating raids against those who are planning to protest the Convention. The DNC in Denver was the site of several quite ugly incidents where law enforcement acted on behalf of Democratic Party officials and the corporate elite that funded the Convention to keep the media and protesters from doing anything remotely off-script. But the massive and plainly excessive preemptive police raids in Minnesota are of a different order altogether. Targeting people with automatic-weapons-carrying SWAT teams and mass raids in their homes, who are suspected of nothing more than planning dissident political protests at a political convention and who have engaged in no illegal activity whatsoever, is about as redolent of the worst tactics of a police state as can be imagined.

...The Uptake also has several reports of the various raids, including video of the raid at the property whose owner Bernstein spoke with as the raid occurred. That video includes an interview with a lawyer from the National Lawyer's Guild who was detained and put in handcufffs, explaining that the surrounded house is one where various journalists are staying. Additionally, a photojournalist with Democracy Now was detained at that house as well. So, both journalists and lawyers -- in addition to protesters -- have been detained and arrested even though not a single violent or criminal act has occurred.

...The Uptake has this amazing video interview with the Democracy Now producer who was detained today. As the DN producer explains, she was present at a meeting of a group called "I-Witness" -- which videotaped police behavior at the 2004 GOP Convention in New York and helped get charges dismissed against hundreds of protesters who were arrested. The police surrounded the St. Paul house where they were meeting even though they had no warrant, told them that anyone who exited the house would be arrested, and then -- even though they finally, after several hours, obtained a warrant only for the house next door -- basically broke into the house, pointed weapons at everyone inside, handcuffed them, searched the house, and then left... This is truly repugnant, extreme police behavior designed to intimidate protesters, police critics and others, and it ought to infuriate anyone and everyone who cares about basic liberties."

Federal government involved in raids on protesters - Glenn Greenwald -
"As the police attacks on protesters in Minnesota continue... it appears increasingly clear that it is the Federal Government that is directing this intimidation campaign. Minnesota Public Radio reported yesterday that "the searches were led by the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. Deputies coordinated searches with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

...So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protesters who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do. And as extraordinary as that conduct is, more extraordinary is the fact that they have received virtually no attention from the national media and little outcry from anyone. And it's not difficult to see why. As the recent "overhaul" of the 30-year-old FISA law illustrated -- preceded by the endless expansion of surveillance state powers, justified first by the War on Drugs and then the War on Terror -- we've essentially decided that we want our Government to spy on us without limits. There is literally no police power that the state can exercise that will cause much protest from the political and media class and, therefore, from the citizenry.

Beyond that, there is a widespread sense that the targets of these raids deserve what they get, even if nothing they've done is remotely illegal. We love to proclaim how much we cherish our "freedoms" in the abstract, but we despise those who actually exercise them. The Constitution, right in the very First Amendment, protects free speech and free assembly precisely because those liberties are central to a healthy republic -- but we've decided that anyone who would actually express truly dissident views or do anything other than sit meekly and quietly in their homes are dirty trouble-makers up to no good, and it's therefore probably for the best if our Government keeps them in check, spies on them, even gets a little rough with them.

After all, if you don't want the FBI spying on you, or the Police surrounding and then invading your home with rifles and seizing your computers, there's a very simple solution: don't protest the Government. Just sit quietly in your house and mind your own business. That way, the Government will have no reason to monitor what you say and feel the need to intimidate you by invading your home. Anyone who decides to protest -- especially with something as unruly and disrespectful as an unauthorized street march -- gets what they deserve.

...For those that don't know, I-Witness Video was remarkably successful in exposing police misconduct and outright perjury by police during the 2004 RNC. Out of 1800 arrests, at least 400 were overturned based solely on video evidence which contradicted sworn statements which were fabricated by police officers. It seems that the house arrest we are now under and the possible threat of the seizure of our computers and video cameras is a result of the 2004 success."

Dark Knight PSA: Herpes - "Batman and Joker urge you to be honest with those you love."

These are pretty damn funny.

Dark Knight PSA: Appreciating Other Cultures - "Batman takes Joker on a culinary tour of India."

Always remember, in the wise words of Steve, and Coupling - "'Jeff, don't, it might be a trick!'"

Japanese women are tricksy.

Professional seducers in Japan | Japan Probe:
"Lesley Downer, an author known for her books about geisha, has an article in the Telegraph today about Japanese companies that specialize in making divorces easier by setting adultery traps for spouses:
Tomiya founded GNC 16 years ago. It has branches across Japan. His staff perform all sorts of services, from trailing a straying spouse or looking into the background of a marriage or job candidate, to dealing with stalkers, domestic violence, sexual harassment, even hackers. But his main job is sorting relationship problems. In the past year alone he has dealt with 2,000 cases.

Jobs such as separating Mr A from his wife take an average of two to four months. For this the client pays £2,500 a month, plus expenses."

I will absolutely give that an "Amen."

Joss Whedon - Celebrity Atheist List:
"In a Q&A-session while promoting his movie Serenity, Whedon was asked: 'What do you have against being a Christian?' He answered:

I don't actually have anything against anybody, unless their belief precludes everybody else's. I am an atheist and an absurdist and have been for many, many years... I think faith is an extraordinary thing. I'd like to have some, but I don't and that's just how that works... There's one other thing I would mention, which is from Angel actually: One of the few times I really got to sort of say exactly what I think about the world was in the second season of Angel, episode 16 ["Epiphany"] when he'd gone all dark, because he does that... he'd been told: "The world is meaningless, nothing matters." And he said: "Well then, this is my statement: Nothing matters, so only thing that matters is what we do." Which is what I believe: I believe the only reality is how we treat each other. The morality comes from the absence of any grander scheme, not from the precense of any grander scheme. [...] So the answer is: "Nothing, unless you've got something against me."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why you get old and get in a rut and become useless.

It's your brain. I'm gonna punch my brain in the face if it keeps calcifying on me.

"...Sapolsky kept asking himself, why? Is there an age from which a person passes from an open-minded, adventure stage to a close-minded, comfortable stage?

...Sapolsky found that radio stations use something called the "Breakthrough minus 20" formula. Let's say Billy Joel had his first breakthrough hit in 1976. That means his first fans were born about 20 years earlier.

Breakthrough = 1976 — minus 20, or 1956.

In a nutshell, the music you got to high school and college with is the music of your life, and that's the premise commercial radio stations are built on.

From the ages of 14 to 21, you're open to new music. Once you hit about 35, most people won't tap their pencil to anything new, no matter how dynamic. At age 35, your ears, and unfortunately, your mind, close up shop and go to the ranch in Texas to clear out brush...forever.

...But Sapolsky didn't limit his research to music. He wondered if people are more adventurous regarding food when they're younger, so he called up 50 sushi restaurants in the Midwest.

...After 39, you're stuck with the same old foods you've always eaten. Your window for new foods not only closes, but you pull the drapes down and turn off the lights.

Sapolsky decided to look at one last area that seemed to be the exclusive domain of youth: piercing.

After talking to 50 tattoo parlors and body piercing studios, he determined that the window of tongue piercings is pretty much restricted to ages 16 to 23. Only 5% of tongue-piercing customers are older.

While Sapolsky found the door on belly button piercings isn't as tightly regimented as tongue piercings, it's a pretty safe bet that there aren't too many women over the age of 40 getting them.

What is it about the ageing brain that makes us pass from the novelty stage to the predictable stage? Obviously, there are those who continue to be open to new music, new food, and new circumstances of any kind, but are there any specific characteristics that the stodgy hold in common?

A psychologist named Simington, an expert on ageing, believes those who don't retain their sense of adventure have two characteristics:

1. They stay at the same job for a long time.

2. They become eminent or especially successful at that job.

For whatever reasons, this combination ramrods you into a debilitating state.
As soon as something new arrives, you're screwed. Your brain short circuits. You spend your free time yelling at kids to get off your lawn..."

Time keeps on slippin'... Welcome Enkai, 2008.

And just like that, the first month of the new contract is all over. 11 to go.

On Friday the Board of Ed and associated folks got together for the official welcome of the city's new ALT.

They went to the nines and gave the welcome speech in English, which they haven't done in a bit. To my recollection. But then alcohol is frequently involved, so you take your chances with my stories.

Recursive photography.

Denying Aotani-san the kiss. You'd think think I'm joking, but I have the evidence for his kissing bandit like behavior right here. And here, here, here and here.

Payback, but minus the actual kissing. I'm just a camera whore. And Japan has made me so.

Best part of the enkai was actually when I was heading to the restroom [stick with me here...] when I ran into one of my elementary school kids and her dad. And then ensued 5 mins of "playing with child/pretending to steal her bag/having her speak English/making her laugh." I'm simple. It was awesome.

In other notes, I can clearly never become an alcoholic, as after only a second weekend in a row of parties/alcohol, I'm due for a rest. No idea how folks in Japan drink as much as they do.