Saturday, January 10, 2009

Being born in the South, all this does is make me hungry - "Chicken Fried Bacon."

Via In Videos: Chicken Fried Bacon | Serious Eats

Sometimes I miss American infomercials - "Slap Chop Infomercial Featuring Vince, the Enthusiastic Host."

Via Serious Eats

The diet of champions.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Canadians claim South Pole record:
"Three Canadian men have claimed a new record for the fastest trek across Antarctica to the South Pole.

Ray Zahab, Kevin Vallely and Richard Weber said they had completed the 1,130 km (700 miles) journey in 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes.

They say they suffered white-out but survived on a
high-calorie diet of deep-fried bacon, cheese and butter.

The Canadians' journey took them from Hercules Inlet on Antarctica's Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole."

Training 272-3/P90X 40-1.

272/40 - 2L water, 2 meals [sm/lg] and all but the last 5m, the cool down, of Legs&Back. I was feeling clammy and light headed, so I laid down on the floor till I felt good enough to get up and cook some dinner. Also ended up skipping yesterday's Ab Ripper X cause of the same light headed clamminess.

273/41 - today was going to be a dietary free day, and it has been, but I also planned on knocking out the Yoga X wkout today too. Did not happen. My legs are toast from yesterday's wkout, slept badly, and somehow managed to aggravate/sprain a recurring injury in my mid-back scapular area, which ends up making moving my neck around a huge pain in the ass. Yes, that is a flow a mighty excuses. Shut up, little man who lives inside my head who I imagine I'm actually writing all these blog posts to.

[As an aside, you've got to wonder how much blogging has helped to prevent and control full blown schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder, hmmm?]

Back on it tomorrow.

Friday, January 09, 2009

"Gaijin Street Sumo."

This was pretty cool.

Via Gaijin Street Sumo | Japan Probe: "Dave Eastgate vs Scott Gregory do some “Gaijin Street Sumo” in Osaka"

Ron Paul + Dennis Kucinich on Middle East Foreign Policy = about the only politicians who make any damn sense.

I still want their love child as President.

How is it that their balanced, historically observant and prescient views get absolutely no play?

Via Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » About Ron Paul And His Supporters

This would work for me - "Upgrading the Pledge of Allegiance."

You know, thinking back, I remember in Catholic school/elementary school, going out to say the Pledge of Allegiance in the morning as they hoisted the flag. And singing the Marine Corps hymn as well. You know, in hindsight, doing that as a kindergartener/1st grader/elementary school kid... that's some kinda creepy brainwashing stuff. Well, if you're gonna trust anybody with indoctrination, you've probably gotta go with the Catholics. At least they weren't Jesuits... I'd probably still buy into all that stuff if it were.

Agoraphilia: Upgrading the Pledge of Allegiance:
"Field testing and theoretical musing convinced me, however, that I needed to have another go at debugging the Pledge of Allegiance. I here offer an upgrade for 2008:
"I pledge allegiance to the laws of the United States of America, on condition that it respect my rights, natural, constitutional, and statuory, with liberty and justice for all."

This next site has a touch of the wacky, but has some great, lesser known history of the development of the Pledge... and some great photos.

Pledge of Allegiance - shocking photographs exposed here. News, reference material, library, links, collections, in this Pledge of Allegiance homepage.
The Pledge was the origin of the Nazi salute and "military socialism" as promoted by Francis Bellamy of the Youth's Companion, Edward Bellamy of Looking Backward, and other socialists in the USA, exposed here by Dr. Rex Curry.

Ellis speaks wise.

Mindjack - Interview - Warren Ellis:
"...the world can be neither perfect nor doomed. But that it can be better. And the people who get to decide if it's going to be better or not are the people who show up and raise their voices."

Great pic - Sugar Ray beats LaMotta.

Sugar Ray beats LaMotta --
"It took Sugar Ray Robinson 13 rounds to beat Jake LaMotta to claim the world middle-weight title in front of more than 14,000 fans at Chicago Stadium on Feb. 14, 1951."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Space is angry.

You've been warned.

Mysterious "roar" from outer space - Boing Boing:
"Alan Kogut of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center says he and his colleagues have discovered a mysterious 'booming noise' coming from space that's six times more powerful than all other space radio sources combined."

Boo, Obama. Boo.

His picks are really starting to suck.

Obama picks RIAA's favorite lawyer for a top Justice post | Politics and Law - CNET News:
"As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama won applause from legal adversaries of the recording industry. Stanford law professor Larry Lessig, the doyen of the 'free culture' movement, endorsed the Illinois senator, as did Google CEO Eric Schmidt and even the Pirate Party.

That was then. As president-elect, one of Obama's first tech-related decisions has been to select the Recording Industry Association of America's favorite lawyer to be the third in command at the Justice Department. And Obama's pick as deputy attorney general, the second most senior position, is the lawyer who oversaw the defense of the Copyright Term Extension Act--the same law that Lessig and his allies unsuccessfully sued to overturn.

Obama made both announcements on Monday, saying that his picks 'bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times.' The soon-to-be-appointees: Tom Perrelli for associate attorney general and David Ogden for deputy attorney general.

Campaign rhetoric aside, this should be no surprise. Obama's selection of Joe Biden as vice president showed that the presidential hopeful was comfortable with someone with firmly pro-RIAA views. Biden urged the criminal prosecutions of copyright-infringing peer-to-peer users and tried to create a new federal felony involving playing unauthorized music."

Hit & Run > Nudged - Reason Magazine:
"All hail the rise of "soft paternalism:
"The incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama will name Cass Sunstein, a Harvard Law School professor who pioneered efforts to design regulation around the ways people behave, as regulatory czar, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A report on said Sunstein would head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, overseeing 'regulations throughout the government, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.'"

"Robotic Evolution."

Wicked cool.

Via Boing Boing

Training 271/P90X 39.

2L water, 2 meals [one small, one large] and the Kenpo X wkout. It was supposed to be the Yoga X today, but as today was the first day back actually teaching classes, I really didn't have it in me to have my ass kicked by 90m of yoga. So I swapped Saturday's wkout for today, and I'll hit Yoga X on Saturday when there's more time and less going on.

This is incredibly, incredibly creepy. And it only costs 2.3 billion. Way to go DOD!

DOD Wants parent bots to fool tots - Boing Boing:
"John Cartan says:
The U.S. Department of Defense has a $2.3 billion program, Small Business Innovation Research, that comes up with projects to fund. Idea OSD09-H03? Develop an AI that fools young children into thinking they are talking to Daddy or Mommy when Daddy or Mommy are off on their 3rd deployment to Iraq and can't come to the webcam.

"The child should be able to have a simulated conversation with a parent about generic, everyday topics. For instance, a child may get a response from saying "I love you", or "I miss you", or "Good night mommy/daddy." ... The application should incorporate an AI that allows for flexibility in language comprehension to give the illusion of a natural (but simple) interaction."

Not covered: counseling fees after Timmy finds out he's been saying "I love you, Dad" to a robot."

The Democrats suck so hard it's not even funny.

And the thing they suck at is politics. Jesus.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Someone Is Going To Get a Strongly Worded Letter…:
"So much fail:
Senate Democrats have no choice but to change their tone about Roland Burris becoming a U.S. senator because Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich “called our bluff” in appointing someone over their objections, a senior Democratic congressional source conceded Wednesday.

“We tried to send a political signal to Blagojevich that we would not seat someone he appointed. He called our bluff, in a reckless way,” the Democratic source said.

You mean after a near decade of rolling over for the Bush administration, someone with an iq over room temperature figured out you were bluffing whenever you took a stand on anything?"

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Training 270/P90X 38.

Back & biceps, Ab Ripper X

2.5L water

Diet today - 5 meals

Today was my first day back at work after the holidays... and as I did previously, in the morning I packed up my homemade protein shakes and nuts and snacks for the day in order to "graze" throughout day, as most modern dieting gurus advise, and a way that, honestly, has been working fairly well for me.

But, the thing is, in the last 2-2 1/2 weeks, when not tripping up to Hiroshima or appeasing grandmotherly providers of food, I'd gotten away from the "5-6 small meals a day" criteria. It was just, honestly, kind of a pain in the ass to try and make sure I get something to eat every few hours, and I never really felt that hungry.

I'd end up not really eating a whole hell of a lot through the day and then eating once or twice in the evenings. And I felt pretty good. I'd transitioned, without even intending it, to a dietary lifestyle called intermittent fasting. I'd heard about it, of course, what with all the net surfing I do on diet, fitness and nutrition, but I'd never really intended on adopting it. It just kind of happened naturally and without even really thinking about it. As I was on "vacation" I just tried to make sure I got my PT in without worrying about diet and nutrition too, too much.

The kicker is today, trying to eat those 5-6 small meals left me feeling kind of crappy. Bloated, lethargic, drained and stuffed... just not really very good at all.

And I'd actually read one book years ago that seems a variation on intermittent fasting called The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler... but again, it wasn't something I'd planned on really applying, it was just interesting reading. And honestly, I had read it at the time more interested in his ideas about controlled fatigue training.

But, it kind of seems to be the way my diet is naturally inclining to, so I'm going to try my own twist on an Intermittent Fasting/Warrior Diet comprised of, still, paleonutrition.

While always leaving myself and open day free to 'cheat' if I feel like it. Though, on the Warrior Diet specifically, it doesn't really need that as much, as you can eat some of the bad stuff if you want, you just need to make sure to eat your proteins, fats, veggies and complex carbohydrates first. Play that part by ear... see how it goes. I think, psychologically, it's probably better for me right now just to avoid junk food except in very controlled and planned circumstances.

Warrior Diet | Introduction:
"The Warrior Diet is based on a daily feeding cycle of "undereating" during the day and "overeating" at night. The "Undereating Phase" during the day maximizes the Sympathetic Nervous System's (SNS) fight or flight reaction to stress, thereby promoting alertness, generation of energy, fat burning and the capacity to endure stress.

The "Overeating Phase" at night maximizes the Parasympathetic Nervous System's (PNS) recuperation effect on the body, thereby promoting calming down, relaxation, digestion and the utilization of nutrients for repair and growth. This feeding cycle stimulates the production of cellular factors such as Cyclic AMP or GMP, which stimulate hormone synthesis and fat burning during the day, as well as protein synthesis and growth during the night, respectively."

Warrior Diet | FAQ:
"Q: What is undereating?

A: Minimize eating during the day to mostly raw fruits and veggies. Coffee, tea, soups and light protein such as poached eggs or yogurt are ok too.

Q: What is overeating?

A: Eat as much as you want from all food groups. Start with veggies, protein and fat. If still hungry, finish your meal with carbohydrates."

Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy? | Mark's Daily Apple:
"It’s called Intermittent Fasting – or IF.

Twenty years ago, as I was first forming my Primal Health point-of-view (based on a model of how humans evolved), I found it very easy to embrace the concept of “grazing” that seemed to represent the collective conscious of the weight-loss-and-health movement at the time. After all, eating several small meals a day – grazing to maintain even blood sugar and to avoid having your body go into starvation mode and start hoarding gobs of fat...

The truth is, many people have succeeded in losing weight and keeping most of it off using this simple grazing method, which consists of eating 5 or 6 small meals or snacks spread evenly throughout the day, with no single meal exceeding 600 calories and where each meal or snack contains a little protein...

But like many behaviors in the fitness and health world, there comes a point where the benefits decrease and we find ourselves on the dreaded plateau.

The first thing most people will tell you about their attempts at grazing is, while it usually works well if you are diligent, it’s pretty difficult to stick with, since you need to be near a source of quality food every few hours. If you work at home most days as I do, it’s not a problem, but it can make life difficult if you work in an office setting or happen to be a road warrior.

The next common issue is that after a few months of progress, you arrive at a frustrating point where the weight stops coming off, the initial high energy levels decline or you stop building muscle. That makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, since the body is so well-tuned to adapt to any situation – including a perfectly even flow of nutrients. In this case, the body’s reaction to this steady supply of nutrition is to actually decrease insulin sensitivity. It “knows” there will always be food, so it “down-regulates” insulin receptors, and probably down-regulates other metabolic systems as well.

...So when my 79-year-old buddy Sid at the gym started raving about his weekly 24-hour fast over a year ago, and my friend Art started writing about his own fasting experiences, I decided to look into it further.

The results were surprising and impressive.

Numerous animal and human studies done over the past 15 years suggest that periodic fasting can have dramatic results not only in areas of weight (fat) loss, but in overall health and longevity as well. A recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gives a great overview of these benefits which include decreases in blood pressure, reduction in oxidative damage to lipids, protein and DNA, improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, as well as decreases in fat mass.

How can you argue with results like these? And it all makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, because our predecessors almost certainly went through regular cycles where food was either abundant or very scarce. The body may have established protective mechanisms to adapt to these conditions by sensitizing insulin receptors when it was critical that every bit of food be efficiently used or stored (as in famine), or by desensitizing them when there was a surplus, so the body wouldn’t be overly-burdened by grossly excessive calorie intake.

Beyond insulin sensitivity, it appears that caloric restriction and intermittent fasting may “turn on” certain genes that repair specific tissues that would not otherwise be repaired in times of surplus. One could surmise that this adaptation serves to allow certain cells to live longer (as repaired cells) during famine since it’s energetically less expensive to repair a cell than to divide and create a new one. That might help explain some of the extended longevity seen in animal studies using caloric restriction and/or intermittent fasting (read about here, here, and here). Intermittent fasting has also been shown to reduce spontaneous cancers in animal studies, which could be due to a decrease in oxidative damage or an increase in immune response."

Free the Animal: Hunger:
"...there is a solution, and that solution is to eat a natural diet of plenty of meats, fish, natural fats (animal, coconut, olive), vegetables, fruits (moderation), and nuts (moderation too). I think that the reason so many Atkins dieters ultimately plateau, stall, fail and put weight back on is that they have the wrong focus: low carb. Now, a natural diet is almost always going to be low carb unless you opt to have starchy tubers play a big role in your diet. But so often I see those who focus on low carbohydrate eat way too much processed junk (just like many vegetarians, now), much of it chock full of anti-food like unfermented soy protein, soy oil, and other heavily processed and refined "vegetable" oils. And, because it's low carb, people eat in unrestricted amounts, they tend to eat a lot of favorite junk (like diet sodas and protein bars), and they are not getting the proper nutrition

What I and others have found is that over time on this sort of diet (paleo), keeping cheating to a minimum, your hunger alters radically. At this point in my progress, it's difficult to imagine failure and regression. Why? Because I simply have no hunger for crap, anymore. Yea, I might take in a slice of pizza, now and then (can't even remember the last time, however), or a burger, but I quickly realize that I'm satisfied after only a few bites. Moreover, it can have negatives effects that turn you back the other way. During the holidays, I partook of three cookies after an evening meal of real food. Where prior to that I felt wonderfully satisfied, the whatever in the cookies made me feel uncomfortably full (now an unfamiliar feeling) for a couple of hours. Yuk."

Totally not a superpower.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Knife throwing coolness on Japanese TV.

The knife throwing is impressive, but I was most impressed where the dude snatches the knife out of the air that another guy has thrown. Impressive.

"Atheist bus ads roll in London..."

Ha. Ha. I say.

Via Atheist bus ads roll in London today: massive success - Boing Boing

We're fucked. They can fly.

Via riotclitshave:

"Hobbit re-enactors in Kazakhstan." Yes. That's right. And moral panics, nanny states and freedoms.

So there.

In Praise of Vulgarity: How commercial culture liberates Islam -- and the West - Reason Magazine
"For the last 200 years, vulgar forms and subcultures have often set off a series of "moral panics" among those who perceive a threat to their own cultural power and status. The popular novel, when it first appeared, set one off. So did penny dreadfuls and pulps. So did melodramatic theater. So did the music hall. So did the tabloid press, and the waltz, and ragtime, and jazz, and radio, movies, comic books, rock music, television, rap, and computer games.

All of these -- and more -- led contemporary critics to declare the end of civility, to worry over some newly identified form of supposed "addiction" (to novels, to TV, to video games, to pornography, to the Internet, to Pokémon, etc.), to announce that the coming generation was "desensitized," and to rail about childishness and triviality. It's the cultural sputter that never ends.

In democratic societies, most such panics simply run their course until the media tire of them. (Drug prohibition remains a singular exception.) Thus, the generation that in the 1950s was dismissed as Elvis-loving, hot-rod-building, gum-chewing, hog-riding, leather-wearing, juvenile-delinquent barbarians eventually achieved a mature respectability in which the artifacts of their vulgarity became sought-after nostalgia, and even a beloved part of the common cultural heritage. In less than two decades, the menacing hoods of Blackboard Jungle became the lovable leads in Grease. By then, however, that same generation had become, in its turn, concerned about the disruptive social effects of rap music and violent electronic gaming.

In places where the moral order is the legal order, however, ecstatic forms and assertive ways of being remain matters for the police. In December, Cambodia's prime minister ordered tanks to raze the country's karaoke parlors. Last fall, Iran announced a new campaign against Western pop music and other "signs and symbols of depravity." And only last summer, the Central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan -- just a few hundred miles north of Afghanistan -- began a crackdown on dangerous "bohemian" lifestyles. The authorities went after a number of familiar outsiders -- gays, religious dissidents -- but even Westerners were surprised to learn that one targeted group was "Tolkienists." It turns out that there are Kazakh Hobbit wannabes who like to dress up in character costume and re-enact scenes from J.R.R. Tolkien's novels. For their trouble, they were being subjected to sustained water torture.

Hobbit re-enactors in Kazakhstan? Where do they get their paraphernalia? Are there Kazakh Tolkienist fanzines? Have fans started changing Tolkien's narratives to suit themselves, the way Western Star Trek subcultures turned their own obsession into soft-core pornography? Do re-enactors change roles from time to time, or are any of them trapped inside a Frodo persona? Is there no end to the identities waiting to be assumed? No end to what invention makes flesh, before it tosses it aside and starts again?"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

It may not be the "GREATEST EVER" but it is pretty damn good.

God bless the Japanese. I give you the trailer for High Kick Girl.


Pay attention: "A visionary, mind-altering initiation was therefore at the very roots of Western civilisation..."

A New Eleusis: The Long Trip Isn’t Over | TDG - Science, Magick, Myth and History:
"The site of the Eleusian temple is located 12 miles (19km) west of Athens, Greece, and was the focus of a Greek Mystery cult that lasted for nearly 2,000 years. It was situated around a cave, said to be the entrance of the underworld, where Persephone was taken after she was abducted.

...The mysteries themselves were a 10-day event, held every September and were open to almost anyone, except murderers. The climax was a procession from Athens to the temple for the Mystery Night, where the revelation of the mystery, the epopteia, was to take place. As the candidates for initiation made their way to the temple they imbibed a sacramental drink, the kykeon. They then went through various procedures until a final, and secret, revelatory event took place in a strange building known as the Telesterion. This was unlike any other structure found in ancient Greece in that it had a plain exterior. There has been much debate about the nature of the sacred drink, but by far the best theory states that it was a beer containing ergot, a parasite of rye that contains alkaloids from which LSD can be synthesised. The evidence for this is overwhelming, and is detailed in the new, revised edition of my book, The Long Trip – A Prehistory of Psychedelia...

Many of the notable philosophers and intellectuals of ancient Greece, such as Plato, Aristotle and Sophocles, were initiated at Eleusis. A visionary, mind-altering initiation was therefore at the very roots of Western civilisation – an initiatory experience it has long-since abandoned. Hofmann felt that something like it needs to be re-established if Western culture is to save itself. Aldous Huxley envisaged such a renewed institution in his last novel, Island, but in reality we are still a long way from such a thing coming to pass. We are still arguing about cannabis, for goodness’ sake.

...As long as decisions about visionary substances are made on the basis of ignorance or political expediency, the creation of a new Eleusis remains merely a dream. Bernd Debusman, a Reuters columnist, underlined such stupidity in a December 2008 column. He points out that the failed “war on drugs” has helped to turn the United States “into the country with the world’s largest prison population” (it has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners). This failed war “has helped spawn global criminal enterprises that use extreme violence”. Among other things, Debusman points out that it has been estimated that legalising and regulating drugs would inject a total of over 76 billion dollars into the U.S. economy alone. Perhaps with the global financial collapse governments would be wise to consider this…

Ignorance needs to be banished – “know drugs” rather than “no drugs”. Decision-makers ought to be able to differentiate between dangerous, addictive drugs and those visionary substances that are mind-enhancing. On the other hand, altering consciousness is no light matter, and shouldn’t be simply another form of careless, hedonistic consumption that predominates in the popular counter-culture – it needs the framework, discipline and knowledgeable guidance that an Eleusian-like system would bring to bear..."

"The Bush legacy" shames me as an American.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Worst of the Worst:
"The Bush legacy:
When Muhammad Saad Iqbal arrived home here in August after more than six years in American custody, including five at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, he had difficulty walking, his left ear was severely infected, and he was dependent on a cocktail of antibiotics and antidepressants...


Mr. Iqbal was never convicted of any crime, or even charged with one. He was quietly released from Guantánamo with a routine explanation that he was no longer considered an enemy combatant, part of an effort by the Bush administration to reduce the prison’s population.


Mr. Iqbal said he had been beaten, tightly shackled, covered with a hood and given drugs, subjected to electric shocks and, because he denied knowing Mr. bin Laden, deprived of sleep for six months.

...Apparently his crime was to be in a group where someone may have uttered the phrase “I know how to make a shoe bomb,” and for that he was imprisoned in Gitmo, shuttled around the world and tortured at out behest, and labeled the worst of the worst by Donald Rumsfeld.

And the funniest thing about all of this is that one of the worst terrorist attacks on this country did not happen with a shoe bomb, but a fertilizer bomb. And you know who actively trains people how to make fertilizer bombs?

The US Army. It was part of my training at Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, some 15 years ago.

We have lost our damned minds."

One can only hope.

Leverage, the TV show on TNT, btw, is awesome. Mission Impossible meets the Sting. Great stuff.

Kung Fu Monkey: LEVERAGE: Stork Raving Mad:
"There was a bit of a kaffuffle on the TNT boards about the reservist health care isssue, but they were quickly shut down by actual veterans showing up and saying 'Yeah, that's really happening.' The sad thing is, a lot of the people who posted were talking about how there are all these great programs taking care of soldiers after combat. Which is true, but like all programs conceived by fallible humans and run by the government, people fall through the cracks. A lot of Americans just don't want to wrap their head round the fact that when it comes to the men and women who serve this country, we have to try harder, and saying were not a hundred percent there is somehow implying that we don't care, we're bad, the country is bad, blah blah blah. Policies are instruments of governments, which are run by men, who are elected by the people. The entire point of the goddam country is that these men are not special. Criticism of any policy or any of those men is not inherently unpatriotic. I hope that simple, binary way of looking at things is passing."

The system is stupid; people are clever.

Or, why authoritarianism is doomed to fail.

Naughty speed camera prank - Boing Boing:
"Some high school students in Maryland are reportedly taping fake license plates to their cars, then speeding past speed cameras so that owners of the cars with the real license plates get fined.
Students from Richard Montgomery High School dubbed the prank the Speed Camera 'Pimping' game, according to a parent of a student enrolled at one of the high schools.

Originating from Wootton High School, the parent said, students duplicate the license plates by printing plate numbers on glossy photo paper, using fonts from certain websites that 'mimic' those on Maryland license plates. They tape the duplicate plate over the existing plate on the back of their car and purposefully speed through a speed camera, the parent said. The victim then receives a citation in the mail days later.

Students are even obtaining vehicles from their friends that are similar or identical to the make and model of the car owned by the targeted victim, according to the parent."

"'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking...' - Bill Hicks.

"'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.' 'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding both puppets!'”- Bill Hicks

Hit & Run > Obama's Neocon Fans - Reason Magazine:
"The neoconservative pundit Jennifer Rubin takes a look at the pending presidency and likes what she sees:
So let's get this straight: Robert Gates will be the Defense Secretary, we're ramping up U.S. forces in Afghanistan and providing a reasonable period of time for a hand-off in Iraq, there isn't going to be a windfall oil profits tax or income tax hike but there is going to be a huge set of business tax cuts -- and Rick Warren is giving the invocation at the Inauguration. Who won in November?"

This strikes me as fairly cool - "Sanjay Gupta, Surgeon General?"

Or maybe I'm just happy that Obama isn't recycling yet another Clinton administration hack.

Sanjay Gupta, Surgeon General?:
"President-elect Barack Obama has approached CNN's chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, to be the country's next surgeon general, the cable news network said Tuesday. CNN said it has kept Gupta from reporting on health care policy and other matters involving the incoming Obama administration since learning he was under consideration for the post.

...Jacob Goldstein of the Wall Street Journal offers:
There's a certain logic to picking a TV talking head to be surgeon general, because the surgeon general is largely a talking head. The top doc does oversee the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service, but the real work of the job is traveling around the country, using the job as a bully pulpit to advance a public health agenda.

In this media-saturated era, who could do that better than a doc who's famous for explaining health issues on cable TV?"

Illumination on Global Warming.

Reading Forty Signs of Rain, an ecologcial/global warming thriller [though I'm going to have to use thriller very lightly here] and biking to work in the rain this AM, it struck me that [at least] one of the things that bugs me about the environmental/global warming movement is this: the climate is changing - regardless of whether your opinion on it says it's good science or bad science - and the response seems to be that the movement wants to stop change. "Stop Global Warming!" But you can't stop change. Change is constant. Trying to stop change is evolutionary failure. To be evolutionarily successful, as an individual or a species, you adapt to change. Does it strike no one else, on its face, as absurd that we're trying to control the environment? If it's raining, you don't look for ways to make it stop raining, you get an umbrella. Or go indoors.

Weird control freak-ish mentality. To me, anyways.

And it's odd, because I support most of the things that the "save the world" types do... We should get off of oil, just for the geopolitical reasons alone... we should reduce, reuse, recycle and move to cleaner fuels, just because you don't foul your nest, as it were [that's just common sense, really...] and the pressure for the modern lifestyle and the accumulation of stuff is less and less appealing to me as I get older... But the idea of doing all that so we can "save the world" or "control the environment" strikes me as nuts. You can't control the environment - be it the actual enviroment or just the environment of your situations in life - you can never "control for all the variables." And trying to control anything but yourself leads to frustration and failure. IMHO.

Training 269/P90X 37.

Plyometrics - 1L water - coffees/diet sodas - 2 meals

Inspiration/Motivation: A child who shames me. I'd kill to be able to do even that.

Vibram FiveFingers Upgrade.

The other pair I had were a bit tight, but Christmas and the generosity of folks - thanks parental units! - let me pick up a pair of these that fit. I love these shoes.
From 2009-01-06

Soy, apparently, really really bad for you - "The Trouble with Soy."

I'd been considering, once back in the States, moving back to eating less meat and more vegetarian-friendly again, but that would generally mean lots of soy burgers and faux meat products... but after reading this, yeah... no way. Sticking with paleo for the foreseeable future.

Much more at the link.

Gremolata - Spilling The Beans: The Trouble with Soy by Lorette C. Luzajic:
"It never crossed my mind that soy - a favourite health food - might be toxic and dangerous. It wasn't the first time. Bottled water, margarine, and gluten grains all come to mind. But soy? The wonder bean?

I was faithful to the plant. I'd been a vegetarian for five years...

Isoflavones, genisteins, lectins, saponins, and phytoestrogens- don't these wonderful names signal a whole host of cancer fighting, heart disease preventing, cholesterol-lowering miracles?

What if I said that those fancy words are actually toxins and the soya bean is naturally loaded with all of them? What if I told you that big business soy ran campaigns like Soy 2000 to convince us that these antinutrients were beneficial? What if I told you that soy is not a complete protein, is not widely used in Asia, and is incredibly dangerous for human consumption? What if I told you that the Food and Drug Administration lists soy as a poisonous plant?

...It all starts out rather confusingly- after all, hadn't everyone's favourite health dude Dr. Earl Mindell dubbed the nutrition phenomenon, "The Soy Miracle"?

...but it sure doesn't take long in my new detective hat to see some suspicious handshaking. The good doctor thanks the United Soybean Board and Soy Foods Association of America straight off the bat for their help. Hmmmm...

...Think about this: who told you that Asians eat a lot of soy, that they have for thousands of years, that they eat it instead of animal protein, and that soy is why they are so healthy? Soy is monk food, and what could be kinder or healthier than a monk's vegetarian diet?

So who said all this? Your Asian family or friends? Not mine. And here's something shocking: none of it is true.

...Dr. Mindell says, "In many parts of Asia, soy foods are a dietary staple." But simply looking beyond the Soy Board's claims into history and anthropology, it doesn't take long at all to find out that in fact, the Chinese eat massive amounts of eggs and pork, and very little soy.

Mindell touts how Japan enjoys the longest life span, lower rates of colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer. "Judge for yourself," he says. And we did. We were presented with seemingly obvious information, but advertising is what it was. Because the truth is much different, and lower Asian cancer rates just might be from the lack of un-food in Asian diets and the masses of seafood they consume. The Japanese eat a few TABLESPOONS of soy a day as a condiment.

Monk food? Clean protein? The roots of soy are much more humble. Soybeans were used as crop fertilizer and livestock feed. Knowing soy could be harmful raw, the resourceful Asians made an art out of fermenting techniques to make them digestible. Hence, miso and tempeh, the most edible forms of soy, are important arts in Asian history. What about the nice monks? Moby's sarcasm may not be far off- does the high estrogen content in soy messes with testosterone, making monastic life a little easier on the celibate?

Still, what's the big deal? So it's not Asia's star dish. It's still the picture perfect glow of rosy health, right? A complete protein, low in fat, fighting off cancers and osteoporosis, lowering cholesterol, non-allergenic, brain-building, green, low carbon footprint, and yummy, too - right?

Not so fast. Concerned consumers in both the carnivore gourmands and the garden of Vegan groups are starting to suspect the reality might be more like this: gas, bloating, infant starvation, moobs, a whole host of thyroid problems, coronary disease, anaphylactic shock, Alzheimer's, serious endocrine disorders, a range of menstrual abnormalities and 'female problems,' cancer, low or nonexistent libido, puberty before age ten, hair loss and more. Could it really be? Aren't all of these things among the endless problems soy was going to prevent?

Hundreds of doctors and scientists and consumer advocates worldwide are now expressing concern and caution over soy. But one has devoted her research in recent years to the alarming topic.

"In the mid 1990s I started noticing a lot of articles with headlines like the 'joy of soy' or 'soy of cooking' and was entranced by the claims that soy was good for personal health and also the planet," Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel says. "The reality was another story. I was seeing a lot of sick vegetarians and other health conscious people who ate a lot of soy and seemed to be suffering greatly from it. That aroused my curiosity and I began researching the subject."

...Here's a brief overview of Daniel's findings:

* soy oil was the first and primary profit centre for soy, and soy was largely responsible for the spread of hydrogenated or trans fats

* most soy is genetically modified

* soy farming is wreaking greater devastation on forests, cottage industries, and family farms than the cattle industry. (If you mistakenly thought soy was a bunch of hippie farmers, like I did, Dr. Daniel tells it like it is: "Let's name names. Monsanto, Dupont, Archer Daniels Midland, Solae . . . Nearly all the old hippie companies have been bought up by the big boys. For example, White Wave is owned by Dean Foods. Some of America's largest food companies now manufacture soy foods or use soy ingredients heavily in their products. Think Kraft, Kellogg, ConAgra, General Mills, Heinz, Unilever Best Foods and Dean Foods.")

* soy is a major allergen, and because it is used as filler in hundreds of products including meats and 'vegetable oil,' people with allergies may be at risk

* soy contains goitrogens, which damage the thyroid

* soy contains lectins, which cause red blood cells to lump together and may trigger abnormal immunity responses

* soy contains oligosaccarides, sugars that cause bloating and gas

* soy contains oxalates, which prevent calcium absorption, cause painful kidney stones and vulvodynia, a vaginal disorder

* many plant foods contain phytates and phytic acid, naturally occurring 'pesticides' to keep plants from being eaten while growing. phytates impair mineral absorption, and in fact, remove many minerals already in the body, including iron, zinc, and calcium. phytates in many foods are alleviated by cooking - soy's phytate levels are high and stubborn.

* isoflavones, lauded as natural estrogens, are serious endocrine disruptors, lowering testosterone, causing menstrual disorders, and cancer cell proliferation

* protease inhibitors interfere with digestive enzymes, saponins may lower good cholesterol and damage intestine

* that all of these plant chemicals can have benefits, and do exist in other foods, to varying levels of edibility: that soaking grains and fermenting beans are ancient food prep traditions

* soymilk is far from a natural food: it is filled with rancid fats and high in sugar

* soy cheeses are largely made with hydrogenated oils (safety level of hydrogenated products? ZERO)

* some health problems that may be associated with soy foods are: bladder, prostate, colorectal, thyroid and breast cancer; precancerous lesions; heart disease; type 2 diabetes; malnutrition; stunted growth; flatulence; pancreatic problems; low libido: early puberty; anemia; zinc deficiency; osteoporosis; intestinal damage; mal-absorption and leaky gut syndrome; kidney stones; allergies; infant death; immune system disruption; thyroid disease - and the list goes on.

...Those who perceive of soy as innocent and concerned for your health may be surprised at how big a player soy was in the hydrogenation revolution. Most hydrogenated oil was soy. Now, even junk makers like chips and fast food have pulled these artificial fats out of their products. Hydrogenated oils are liquid plastic and they are poisonous. Most governments place safe consumption levels at ZERO.

Clearly soy, which still defends hydrogenation, did not then have our best health interests in mind, just profit. When the tide turned, they turned up the noise on how healthy soy is, and it became a health food, its history in margarine conveniently blotted from public consciousness..."

The Porn Site Strip Club, via CollegeHumor video.

That's pretty funny.

Monday, January 05, 2009

They're all just fucking nuts. Seriously.

On the Rapture.

Comparison of Christian millennial interpretations

Image via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What amenities?

Overheard in the Office | Like an In-Shower Violin Serenade:
"Boss: Why would I pay to watch you take a shower?
Underling: Lots of people pay for it.
Boss: How much would you charge me?
Underling: I don't know, I'm Asian, so I can offer other amenities.

Atlanta, Georgia"

SHOCKER! - Bush administration officials rediscover the need for a limited executive.

Un-freaking-believable hackery.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » BIG BRASS BALLS:
"No one could have predicted this would happen. John Yoo and John Bolton, in the NY Times, discuss the need to limit executive authority.

Up next, David Addington and Dick Cheney write in the Washington Post on the need to reject Unitary Executive theory.

I knew these wankers would do this, I just didn’t expect it immediately and so brazenly. The balls on these people."

Hit & Run > HackWatch: John Yoo Edition - Reason Magazine:
"Per Jacob Sullum's post below on the John Yoo/John Bolton piece in the New York Times, I think we have a new addition to our HackWatch feature. Yoo, who under President Bush has argued that the president has the power to unilaterally withdraw from treaties, now wants the Senate to reassert its treaty power, because he fears the sorts of entanglements into which President-Elect Obama might get us enmeshed.

...he believes the president should have plenary power to negate treaties pertaining to issues broadly related to national security, but wants the Senate to reassert itself on treaties related to domestic policy. Of course, the issues where Yoo wants plenary executive power happen to be issues where he agrees with Republicans, and the issues where he wants more Senate control are those issues where he doesn't trust Obama. But Yoo does at least have a constitutional argument for making the distinction. It just happens to be a crappy one."

Of course.

Hit & Run > Random Morning Links - Reason Magazine:
"Former Ft. Lauderdale city commissioner has his bike stolen. Interesting-er: While in office, commissioner created mandatory bike registration system, on the theory that forcing city residents to register bikes would deter theft. Interesting-est: When reporting the theft, the former commissioner had to admit to police that he hadn't registered his own bike, violating his own regulation."

The 2012 Trailer.

Probably just end up being a by-the-numbers disaster flick, but "They Wouldn't" is well played.

A bit of background on the 2012 hubbub... which I first read years ago with Mckenna's Timewave Graph/Singularity/Mayan Calendar stuff... fascinating/funny stuff, depending on how gullible/high/open-minded/perceptive/intelligent you feel, at the time.

Ah, 2012... The Rapture for the New Age set.

2012 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"2012 Geophysical and Cosmological speculations

John Major Jenkins, and others claim that an alignment will occur when the sun rises above the horizon on December 21 2012, at which point the sun will rise in the middle of the Milky Way Galaxy, thus causing an alignment between the earth, sun, and the galactic center. This event is said to cause numerous earth changes...

There are also claims like from Michael Tsarion that an actual physical alignment of our entire solar system will occur with the horizontal plane of the Milky Way Galaxy on that day...

There are also theories that a currently unknown planet, sometimes referred to as planet x or Nibiru, which supposedly has an odd orbit that only enters the local solar system every 3600 years will return in 2012 causing many problems...

2012 metaphysical speculations

2012 is claimed by some with New age beliefs to be a great year of spiritual transformation (or alternatively an apocalypse). There is disagreement among believers whether 2012 will see an end of civilization, or humanity will be elevated to a higher level.

Many esoteric sources interpret the completion of the thirteenth B'ak'tun cycle in the Long Count of the Maya calendar (which occurs on December 21 by the most widely held correlation) to mean there will be a major change in world order.

Several authors have published works which claim that a major, world-changing event will take place in 2012:

* The 1997 book The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin claims that, according to certain algorithms of the Bible code, an asteroid or comet will collide with the Earth.
* The 2006 book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck discusses theories of a possible global awakening to psychic connection by the year 2012, creating a noosphere.
* Riley Martin claims that Biaviian aliens will allow passage aboard their 'Great Mother Ship' when the Earth is 'transformed' in 2012.
* Terence McKenna's numerological novelty theory suggests a point of singularity in which humankind will go through a great shift in consciousness."

Ah, technology.

That's good stuff.

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Worth remembering.

Doesn't help much, but worth remembering. Another idea I was first exposed to by the late, illustrious, R.A. Wilson.

The WELL: Bruce Sterling: State of the World, 2009:
"You know what's truly weird about any financial crisis? WE MADE IT UP. Currency, money, finance, they're all social inventions. When the sun comes up in the morning it's shining on the same physical landscape, all the atoms are in place."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Training 268/P90X 36.

2 meals - Chest, Shoulders & Triceps, Ab Ripper X - 2.5-3L water [lost track]

Over 40 transformation... awesome. Never too late - - Over 40 Transformation Of The Week - Over 40 Transformation Of The Week - Debi Straley!:
"Name: Debi Straley

Before: September 2, 2007
Age: 41
Height: 5'7'
Weight: 142 lbs
Body Fat: 19%

After: March 2, 2008
Age: 42
Height: 5'7'
Weight: 125 lbs
Body Fat: 13.9%"

From her website:

My Beliefs:
"...I love having my body feel tight and strong. I also love pizza and sweets, but I don’t like what it does to my body. I could get away with it when I was younger, but I can’t now. I have to eat a clean diet to have the results I want. It took me a long time to except that, but I finally have.

Life is all about choices – everyone knows that. Every detail of your life is dictated by the choices you make every day. I am 42 and have never been in better shape than I am right now. I now look at food and think does this take me one step closer to my goal or one step back? It’s as simple as that."

Getting Mad At The Fat, Eating Clean, Body Image

Having the Body You Want

Civil and human rights now a crime in Maryland. Lovely.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » If You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong:
"The Maryland State Police surveillance of advocacy groups was far more extensive than previously acknowledged, with records showing that troopers monitored—and labeled as terrorists—activists devoted to such wide-ranging causes as promoting human rights and establishing bike lanes.

Intelligence officers created a voluminous file on Norfolk-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, calling the group a “security threat” because of concerns that members would disrupt the circus. Angry consumers fighting a 72 percent electricity rate increase in 2006 were targeted. The DC Anti-War Network, which opposes the Iraq war, was designated a white supremacist group, without explanation.

One of the possible “crimes” in the file police opened on Amnesty International, a world-renowned human rights group: “civil rights.

People need to be fired, people need to go to jail, and those spied on illegally deserve redress."

What I've Read - comics and comics related materials, apparently.

Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero by E. Paul Zehr was half of an interesting book, for me. The first 7 chapters or so read like a too academic and dry breakdown of physiology and neurochemistry. The latter half of the book was far more enjoyable, and got more into the interesting topic at hand - how you'd go about developing and modeling the Batman in real life. And besides, to get detailed and niggling, some of his assumptions about martial arts, diet and exercise were entirely too... traditional... I guess is the word.

Booster Gold: Blue and Gold by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz and Dan Jurgens. This volume, combined with the first - 52 Pick-Up - are probably, for me, the most enjoyable superhero genre comics of the last year. Great characterizations, poignant, funny, clever, witty... rich with "comic book" history, with a great premise and good action. Unreservedly recommended for anyone. Booster Gold: The Greatest Hero the World Will Never Know!

"...the only documented Carter to have ever been a fraud, a failure and a fool... perhaps he was stupid as well."
"In this second BOOSTER GOLD volume collecting issues #0, 7-10 and 1 Million, Booster travels through time to save his best friend, Blue Beetle, from being murdered. But the resulting change to the time stream creates a wormhole of problems for the two heroes and some unpredictable consequences."

Battle for Bludhaven (Infinite Crisis Aftermath) by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti. Picked up at the Midyear JET Conference for free... really, I think, hamstrung by the editorial shenanigans of company wide crossovers... I thought it was only passable, despite some clever ideas inside.

Training 267/P90X 35.

Today is a scheduled "Rest or X Stretch" day on P90X, and I was totally going to bag it and call it a 'rest' day and do absolutely nothing... but by about 8PM, for whatever reason, and doing nothing but sitting in front of my laptop and vegging out all day [yeah, that's pretty much the reason right there... not the healthiest thing, that] I was feeling tense and tight. So I knocked out the X Stretch wkout. Glad I did... feel better now.

Also today, about a liter of water [more], one or two meals [depending on how you measure] and entirely too much coffee/caffeine.

No one.

"Be responsible for your own life. No one can make you feel anything or any way without your permission."
— James Arthur Ray

What I've Read - Glasshouse is the best book I've read in a while.

I was going to review this by saying that Glasshouse is the best hard SF book I've read in a good long while, but the honest truth is it's really just flat-out the best book I've read in a long while.

It's hard to sum up what it is exactly, easily. Take one part Total Recall, one part A Scanner Darkly [that's two parts P.K. Dick, right there], one part The Stepford Wives and one part something else entirely wonderful... and then you'd come close to defining Glasshouse.

The Wikipedia page tags its Major Themes as:
Self-concept, self image, the "self", peer pressure, conformism, problem of other minds, redemption.
And all that's true. But it's also about people and their relationships with one another.

Just exceptionally well written. Stross has been on my list of authors whose works I want to pick up, and Glasshouse puts him at the top of that imaginary list I keep in my head. And on Amazon.

...and it has a happy ending. So there.

Plus, if you read it just before bed, you'll have dreams where you surf through a wealth of different identities. Which is just cool.

The Charles Stross FAQ:
"Glasshouse is a claustrophobic far-future helter-skelter ride through an experimental archaeology project gone horribly wrong... As the cover flap says:
"Hi, I'm Robin. When people ask me what I did during the war, I tell them I used to be a tank regiment. Or maybe I was a counter-intelligence agent. I'm not exactly sure: my memory isn't what it used to be."

When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn't take him long to discover that someone is trying to kill him. It's the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees' personalities and target historians. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew.

On the run from a ruthless pursuer and searching for a place to hide, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse. Constructed to simulate a pre-accelerated culture, participants are assigned anonymized identities: it looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters, and at the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche...

Like "Accelerando" before it, "Glasshouse" was shortlisted for the Hugo award in 2007. It also received the Prometheus award for best SF novel from the Libertarian Futurist Society and got an honorable mention from the Tiptree award folks. "

All you have to know to get ready for "Watchmen" in 4 minutes.

The visuals in this movie are looking brilliant. I am cautiously, but very, optimistic.

MMA Highlight 2008.

This was exceptional.

Via Fightlinker - Your Fight Community -

"Everything works out right in the end..."

'Everything works out right in the end. If things are not working right, it isn't the end yet. Don't let it bother you, relax and keep on going.'
- Michael C. Muhammad

I don't know if there is a god, but I do know that *your* god doesn't exist.

[Okay, I don't know about *your* god, personally, whoever is reading this, but I will say that the god of the Abrahamic religions, as he is commonly understood in the middle eastern and western traditions - yeah, he's just nonsense.]

This is really long, even after having cut it down to the parts I particularly thought were on point - you can click over to see the full length - but it's well worth a read, imho. In fact, I think it's rather brilliant.

Italics and boldface are mine.

Thornton's Guerilla_Blog: The sacred and the superstitous. . . .:
"...I am not going to spend too much time addressing the believers who are so certain of their own religious dogma that they actually claim not just to know that there is a god, but to know what that gods name is, what his thoughts about human behavior are, and what our over-all purpose is. These believers are so far out of the realm of adult thinking, the only thing we really can do is more or less exclude them from the conversation.

...if someone says they know for sure that Jesus is the son of god, or that the Koran was the last true revelation from the one true god, it is perfectly reasonable, and in fact I think important, to ask why.

There are some common responses you will find when dealing with these types of religious believers. For example, for people who are born again Christians, a common answer tends to be that they have had some sort of experience which showed them that Christ was indeed god; the age old argument from personal experience.

The first question I usually ask is whether or not they had considered that had they been born and raised in India, they might have seen, or felt, Krishna, instead of say, Jesus. Or had they been born in Saudi Arabia, had they considered that they may have felt the prophet Mohammed.

Believe it or not, it is actually quite easy for some people to overlook this fact, especially if they have never spent much time traveling in their life; or if they have little, to no real education in the field of comparative theology, or more properly put, mythology. The reality that believers from other parts of the world believe just as strongly in their gods, for the same exact reasons, using the same exact arguments, doesn’t always occur to them.

...[they also] have no idea just how powerful the mind itself can be. The reality that our everyday subjective experience is created and sculpted through the nervous system, and within our brain, isn’t something that every individual has come to grips with yet. One of the more positive benefits of hallucinogenics is the fact that they can help reveal to the individual just how important our own brain can be in altering our view of what reality is. And to be clear, I am not advocating for or against their use in this piece. But I do think it is pretty obvious that individuals who have tried mushrooms, or LSD, at some point in their lifetime will have a leg up on those that have not, in so far as it relates to understanding the effect our own chemistry can have on our perceptions.

...Christopher Hitchens has written eloquently about the respect and care he has for religious icons, architecture, and symbols. It was not atheists who blew up mosques, desecrated temples, or blasted millennia old Buddhist statues out of existence, it takes a believer to do that.

As a skeptical person, I obviously believe that the evidence on this matter is pretty clear. People have visions, or emotional responses to various stimuli, or circumstances. It’s not surprising that the nature of those visions or feelings tends to be associated with the religious superstition of their cultural upbringing.

Or stated another way, which is more likely, that despite all evidence to the contrary, there is indeed a personal god. In fact, that gods name is actually Allah, or Jesus, or Jehovah, or Krishna, or (insert deity here) and that he/she/it chose to reveal themselves through a very subjective, private feeling.

Or, that human beings are prone to have emotional, and even hallucinatory experiences under certain circumstances.

The answer is self evident for anyone honestly looking for the truth.

...If we value the truth, if we believe that the truth is something worth pursuing, in and of itself. Then we must not give up. We cannot concede to the ignorant arguments of the religiously brainwashed, simply because we can’t be bothered to correct their absurdity. The negative consequences can be seen throughout our world when we do. Whether its stem cell research, birth control, or suicide bombers, ideas for which there is no evidence can harm more then just the individual believer.

...I can tell you that most of the time they have absolutely no idea how crazy, or far out there, their own religious beliefs are. Do you really think that most kids raised in a Mormon community, by Mormon parents, with Mormon friends, have stopped to fully realize how insane the teachings of a con man like Joseph Smith actually are? Until they step outside that bubble, the idea that the garden of Eden is located in Missouri, and that God is an old guy living on a planet, seem perfectly normal.

Likewise, for the child of Jehovah’s Witness parents, the belief that a spirit being called the devil was hurled down to earth in 1914, or that the Earth was covered by a world wide flood less then 6000 years ago, seems perfectly sane. It is only if they are introduced to the world of facts and science, and even then, have the strength of mind to be able to subject these ideas to the floodlight of rational thought, will any of them come to understand just how loony the nonsense that was taught to them truly is.

Remember there can be strength in numbers. For example, to most Catholics I am sure that the belief that mumbling some mumbo jumbo over a bowl of frosted flakes would turn the cereal into the body of Elvis, would seem like something only a lunatic would believe. But when millions of them believe that a cracker transforms into the body of Christ, that seems rational. Sometimes it takes someone who is willing to compare those beliefs with other things that are equally rational, such as say the belief in the literal existence of the god Apollo, or the belief that Elvis is alive and well, selling slushys at a 7/11 in Modesto CA, in order to reach them.

...Because we don't know something yet, or because science hasn't reached a great consensus on a topic related to the universe yet, does not therefore mean we should then fallback and say that must mean Apollo, or Zues, or Jesus, or any other make believe god did it. That is the silly god of the gaps argument. When our ancestors didn't understand where rain came from they assumed it must be related to god. It's sad people still do this simply because the breadth of our questions has grown.

...Helping religious believers to compare the ideas of their own superstition with that of any other superstition that is not their own, is often very helpful in breaking through to them. After all, no Christian is compelled by the evidence Muslims offer that the Koran is the final true word of the one true god. And to date, I have met no Muslim who believes that Zeus is actually responsible for lightning. And why should they be? When we calmly demonstrate to them that their own long held beliefs hold an equal amount of evidence, which is to say, none, there is nowhere for their minds to go except back to the faith argument.

...It is in fact the mechanism by which very bad ideas get passed down from adult to child. It is nothing more then the circular reasoning believers offer to themselves and each other when reality tells them the truth, that what they believe is simply false. In the same sense that the tooth fairy is false, or the idea that Earth rests on the back of a giant turtle is false.

...And just to be clear, despite my opinion that some things can only be accomplished with bluntness, I don't think that is the route everyone should take, most of the time. I think there is a time and place for all of us to be blunt. And I think it is important that some people, such as Dawkins and Harris to remain blunt and lead the charge. But for the rest of the community I would simply advocate what they did with the gay rights movement. Make no secret of your non belief. Be open about it. And then lead a good, loving life alongside the believers. Just being out there is enough. Knowing that you are a non believer, and knowing that you are open to converse with them on the topic should they wish it, you create an open door that a few brave believers may have the tenacity to breach. But in order to do that you have to be honest about what you believe, whether you adopt the agnostic or atheist tag, it does us all good when you are open about it...

[on religion being a motivator of good works] one act of charity, goodness, or kindness that can not, and is not also performed by non believers. As of yet, nobody has been able to do that.

Now here is an even easier follow up question, name an act of destruction, suffering, or evil that can be directly traced to a form of religious belief.

As we all know, that list is almost infinite.

The belief in the end times, in demons, devils, and sky gods, the bronze age edicts against things like homosexuality, birth control, etc, these are clearly all destructive beliefs. And as our knowledge of science and technology increase, making things like weapons of mass destruction easier to create, these belief systems become incompatible with human survival. It is conceivable that you will soon have a Muslim fanatic who actually does believe that his murder of innocents will warrant him a great sex life in heaven, who holds a PHD in biology or physics, and decides to perform the obvious in accord with his own deeply held "faith".

The idea that any groups "god" is the one true god, is in and of itself dangerous. As is all form of superstition. And no form of good ever requires the belief in things for which we hold no evidence.

...A lack of a belief in something is not a dogma or philosophy. I don't believe in the tooth fairy either (for the same reasons I don't believe in Apollo, Odin, Quezecoatal, or Jehovah), yet my non -belief in the tooth fairy does not constitute an "anti-tooth fairy" dogma.

...I don't think pretending to know answers to things that nobody truly knows answers to is healthy. I don't think labeling a young child a mormon, a muslim (or any other such thing) makes anymore sense then labeling a child a conservative, or a liberal. And of course, I don't think we need religion in the year 2008 anymore then we need the belief in witches, or that Zeus is the cause of lightning.

...the growth of religion, particularly of the fundamentalist kind, threatens all of us. And that is true whether we participate in the belief, or not. Not all religions, not all beliefs are equally dangerous. But any belief that is not supported by evidence poses a potential threat to us if we allow it to enter the public discourse of adult decision making.

...questioning religion, superstition, dogma, belief, and especially the very idea of ‘faith’ itself, is never arrogant. It is in reality, a required step for all seekers of the truth.

True arrogance is the religious mind, the mind which not only claims to know that there is in fact a god, but also claims to know what that god thinks, wants, and is named...

“Faith” that you know something about the nature of the universe, something which is in reality based on no evidence whatsoever, and therefore requires the use “faith”, is in truth, the highest form of arrogance known to man.

...There are far better reasons to treat others well, to help alleviate the suffering of others, and to be “good”, then an imaginary sky god and his ever present make believe security camera.

...You don’t have to cling to imaginary things in order to go into the laboratory of your own relationships. Discover for yourself the different perspectives and truths that can alter your life for the better. And question all of it with the full light of human reasoning."

"Nanny State 2008."

Hoping for a better 2009.

"Honor means nothing more than prickly infantile vanity dressed up, usually, in desperate class-consciousness."

Well said.

Fred On Everything:
"I read that America must find an “exit strategy” from Iraq that will bring “peace with honor.” My God. Honor? I’d rather have infected hemorrhoids. These at least are not a mental aberration. Well, depending on where your head is.

Honor means nothing more than prickly infantile vanity dressed up, usually, in desperate class-consciousness. Of all the symptoms of a weak ego, honor is the most embarrassing, and the most harmful. In a right-minded society it would be made a capital offense...

This irrational behavior finds a place in international affairs. In fact, it comes close to being international affairs. One sees it often in the unwillingness of countries (read: psychological short men in charge of countries) to back down when nothing important is at stake, or to cut their losses when hobbyist wars go awry.

As noted, today our thunder-thump patriots say that we must find an honorable exit strategy from Iraq. This means that if we can’t steal the oil, we can at least pretend we won the war gloriously. Again, honor is ego: We aren’t going to swerve. Better that we bankrupt the country, fill the hospital wards with paraplegic and blind teenagers, kill who-cares-how-many Iraqis, than blink. Mine is longer than yours. It is, it is, it is.

...None of this is necessary. Perhaps the greatest military thinkers in history are Fredwitz and James P. Coyne, in that order. Dr. Coyne’s proposed exit strategy is simple: “OK, on the plane. Now.” Should this seem unfathomable by its complexity, it could be reduced to four words. But no. What general, what president who has said “Mission accomplished,” is going to admit that it didn’t work so well? We must leave with honor. Not necessarily with all our body parts, or all the soldiers we came with, but with honor."

"First, you have to know, not fear, know that someday you are going to die. Until you know that, you are useless." - Fight Club.

Tony Horton's Blog Spot: You Are Going To Die!:
"...your life on this earth is precious and shorter than you think. Turning 50 this year proved that to me. I swear it feels like I was in high school ten minutes ago. Turns out that was over 30 years ago! As we get older change can become more daunting with every passing day. You don't have to be at midlife for this to be true. Teenagers get just as stuck as people in their 50s and 60s. I've seen people give up and thrown in the towel at all ages. We've all been an eyewitness to the tragedies of misguided lives. The hope and optimism of childhood gives way to despair and disappointment with one bad experience after another. It's the saddest thing in the world. Maybe you know what I'm talking about.

Is there hope for the fallen? Can we turn it around after years of wasting time, procrastinating, plenty of hardship and waiting for the right moment that never comes? Hell yes! The good news is that you can have the life you dreamed of as a kid without meds and therapy. Step one is moving. Turns out that it doesn't really matter how you move. What matters is that you do. Step two involves eating healthy food. Whole food that feeds the body, spirit and especially the mind. The garbage this country eats most of the time is killing us. Junk food and fast food (AKA food porn) does NOT fuel our desire to grow, learn and change. It keeps us in a state of flux and despair. If you have problems, procrastinate and feel stuck in general, odds are you're overweight, out of shape and eat junk. The deck is stacked against you if you're overweight and out of shape. Your brain can't function to solve problems properly if your feeding your mouth tons of sugar and grease. If you like a life of quite desperation then continue to spend endless hours sitting and laying around. If procrastination, sadness, depression, low self esteem and a state of malaise fits your lifestyle then continue to eat candy, cupcakes, high fructose corn syrup, fried food, saturated fats, soda pop, processed carbs, hot dogs and tons of cheese on your pepperoni pizza. Nobody gets away with making lame choices in this world. Sooner or later (turns out later comes sooner than you thought) your bad behavior will ruin your life.

Good behavior can and will save your life..."