Reasonable Nuts

Sometimes nuts. Always reasonable. We are REASONABLE NUTS.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Demotivators

I love the Demotivator series. Click here for a page with all of them. Such joy from negativity!

Author's note: I have this one hanging on the wall of my office. It is the only one I thought possible to get away with, given the belief that management only scans the environs peripherally.

Christian wristwatches?

I have no idea how to interpret this website. See for yourself. From the "About us" page:
JESUS WATCHES is a Holy Ghost filled Christian Company, which was formed in January 2001, to promote and further the work of GOD in this world.
Promoting the work of the Lord through... copycat timepieces?

Reminds me of the confrontational bumper sticker I've seen a few times:
I don't have a problem with God, just with His followers.

Illustrating the absurd through absurdity

Maybe this is what they really think will happen?
"Terrorists are very dedicated," said Netanya, Israel resident Gavriel Meltzer. "To be willing to give your life for what you believe in—it's a powerful statement. I've got to say, they've got me convinced. Maybe they're right."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Consider the fate

Let's not forget in all our discussions theoretical concerning (illegal) immigrant migration, that these are people taking great risks - some far greater than others. Consider the fate of these men.

Quote of the Day

God is not simply truthful — He is Truth. So when truth is spoken, He is in the midst of it.


--By Brendt over at the oddly named Two-Sheds Gomer

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The TARDIS reborn

Life does imitate art, though I have to admit I never thought Dr. Who high art.

I'll tell myself I was ahead of my day as a prepubescent lad watching the good doctor bounce about the cosmos (and not the nerd I really was).

If You Don't Have Something Nice to Say . . . .

Dan Edelen of Cerulean Sanctum gently admonishes the heresy hunters.

Meanwhile, in atheistic Randland, the Objectivists are dealing with similar problems.

Thus even the very wise and very holy argue with each other to the point of complete uncooperation. Is it even possible to have long term social relations, among any group of people, without it turning into some primal struggle to weed out differing members of the herd?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Proof of a Benevolent Universe



The Wonder Pets! is the greatest television show ever produced in the history of humanity. We must now proceed to devote all our national resources, cut through the legal and constitutional red tape, and replace all television programming--24 hours a day and 7 days a week--with this show. (Aside for Fox News, in case the terrorists strike again. And the occasional MST3K rerun.)

If you're unfamilar with the show, here is the closest thing I could find to an online video. Yes, the show really does make you laugh that hysterically. It was made with "photo-puppertry", the same cutting-edge cinematography techniques which brought us the Quizno's Spongemonkeys.

It getting very hard to tell the difference between dada/surrealism/theater of the absurd and good children's television. This is a little like Aqua Teen Hunger Force for kids. (As opposed to Spongebob Squarepants, which is Monty Python for kids.)

A man's maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play.

--Frederich Nietzsche

Take Me Where The Good Times Are

If you're not reading The Futurist, you need to be. It's the kind of blog I would write if I had the time, or the patience to talk about the newsstories that everyone is.

Especially interesting are

(1) This article on housing prices.

(2) This article on why we don't have to worry about a China Superpower until 2030, in which case the Rapture or the Singularity will have made the point moot.

(3) This article on why Mexican protestors are a more wholesome lot than French protestors. Along with this article, this blog has some of the most cogent thoughts on "illegal immigration" I've seen.

Comment and click on some of his webads while you're at it.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Means to an end - or - Rich Dad Poor Dad vs. The Millionaire Next Door

I've labored with the following question for quite some time:
For one to become (and more importantly, remain) financially wealthy, where should more energy be devoted: living below one's means or raising those means?
I define wealth in terms of time; that is, wealthy is a state in which I could, without employment-linked income, meet all my obligations (expenses & debts) - indefinitely.

The state of wealthy is achievable a number of ways, but it helps to first consider two primary methods. The two I propose are quite possibly complementary, though in practice for most, more likely to be motivationally opposed. For the simplicity of the argument, no mention of investment quality is made.

The first such way is to live below one's means significantly - spending very little and saving very much. Everyone's heard of the simple schoolteacher who, on a modest income, retires early with many hundreds of thousands of $$. She arrived at wealth through extreme frugality. She lives as if poor and typically spends her retirement similarly.

The second such extreme example is the fortunate fellow who makes so much, he can't spend it all. He needn't be frugal, because his income is so stratospheric as to cover his expenses in abundance. This case, as I've seen over time, is very rare. Given time, almost any non-frugal person's expenses will rise to exceed his means.

So frugality, on some level, is operative.

Which brings me back to the question: where should the less-than-wealthy devote the majority of their time and resources - trimming expenses (frugality) or increasing income (entrepreneurship)?

On the subjects of frugality and entrepreneurship, I've read many books, but two of them stand best perhaps in arguing for where one's emphasis (time) should reside. Representative of the notion that the way to wealth is to live well below one's means is The Millionaire Next Door (TMND). I read this (a few times) ca. 1997. It resonated well, as I was a single man with few expenses, a homeowner, with no debt apart from a mortgage, and an employee of a small business in which the owner was typical of the subject of the book: frugal and entrepreneurial.

The book best representing the second philosophy is one I read ca. 2003 - Rich Dad, Poor Dad (RDPD). In fact, the authors even address the difference in philosophy, as I recall, making mention of TMND. I remember it as something of an aside, in the vein of "living below your means is a must, but expenses can only be lowered to a point before affecting quality of life." The book's subject, thus, is concerned with raising one's means.

So which is right? Or is it a matter of personality, as in for one man it may be frugality, while for another, entrepreneurship? I will say that in rereading both, I find truth in each. Something about TMND sits with me better over the long term, than does RDPD. While I admit this may be my personality at work, I think it's rather that I appreciate a solid argument without a lot of hype. In other words, the premise of TMND to me is a more logical and thus replicable model. RDPD, while excellent at confronting the "Poor Dad" mentality in some readers, is lacking the message that time, consistency, and persistence are what can pay off for all, regardless of how one's entrepreneurship succeeds.

This brings up something of a third way in this debate. Former Libertarian Presidential candidate and financial guru, Harry Browne advocated for a dual portfolio strategy in handling one's finances. He suggested creating something he termed a "Permanent Portfolio", consisting of a diversified array of high quality instruments, in which the bulk of one's money should reside. Once that was well underway, he further suggested creating another portfolio, which could be thought of as "play". I like to think of that as the entrepreneurial portfolio. It is what you could lose completely, yet not affect your long-term plans.

This thinking somewhat muddies the discussion, as it doesn't purely address frugality v. entrepreneurship, but then the two are not mutually exclusive (as in the case of my former boss mentioned above). My thinking is that one can be generally frugal and spend time in this regard, funneling assets into the main portfolio, which spending a smaller amount of time being less frugal and taking risks in the play portfolio. What I mean by "portfolio" is perhaps a broader term, such as "time and money repository".

This is a work-in-progress. To be continued.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Not your father's Oldsmobile and not your mother's electrolysis

Someone sent me a video clip of a fellow in Florida who claims to have developed a means of producing a gas of high energy density (some 12 times that of gasoline) from ordinary water. I thought it a hoax at first, but once I delved into the technology, it seemed reasonable. I remember my high school chemistry, including the process of electrolysis.

This is different - almost exactly the opposite - of how energy is derived from a fuel cell. In that case, elemental hydrogen and oxygen are combined to produce water, heat, and electricity. In this case, water is processed via electricity to produce hydrogen and oxygen, which are then burned as a (proprietary?) gas, for use in welding - or in the internal combustion engines of automobiles.

It doesn't appear a unit has been created capable of generating enough gas on-demand to propel a car by itself. Rather, the systems developed thus far add a boost to an existing gasoline-powered engine. This makes sense - increasing gas mileage would be the initial goal of such a unit - taking a car from 30 mpg to 50 might be a realistic notion. Eventually, we'd all like to see an auto, however undersized, capable of running totally on the technology.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Due Diligence: The impact of flight 77

I received a forwarded e-mail message this morning which read:
> > Makes you go "hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?"
> > Where is the airplane that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11 ?????
> > Where are the airplane parts???
> > Go to this website and watch this film.........do it quickly as it
> > has already been pulled off several web sites
> > already!........afterwards you'll see why!
> > Click below:
> >
> > <http://www.pentagonstrike.co.uk/flash.htm#Main>
To which I replied:
What the (leftist, antagonistic, simpleton) producers of this "documentary" fail to communicate is that this airplane crash was far from the simple crashes with which we are familiar. The difference? The plane came in at around 500mph. The images of crashes the video showed were typically from failed emergency landings and take-offs, wherein the speed was more in the 100mph range. As any introductory physics student can recite, kinetic energy (that is, the energy exerted by a body in motion) is represented by the equation: E(k)=m(v)squared/2. Given a mass of approx 100,000kg (from this site: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/b757.htm ) and a velocity of approx 45 m/s (100mph), E(k) is 101,250,000 joules or 101.25 Megajoules. Given the same mass, but a velocity of approx 225 m/s (500mph), E(k) is 2,531,250,000 joules or 2.5 Gigajoules, 25 times the kinetic energy of the prior example.

That in a nutshell is the difference between a crash and a CRASH.

Look for the wreckage in the Pennsylvania crash. One would expect that to be similar to the Pentagon crash. Also - it occurs to me that, watching the twin towers impacted with planes at nearly 500mph, I did not see (large) plane parts flying out of the building. Oh, but that was different, I'm sure the producers of the video would argue.
;-)

I won't speak to the rest of the assertions. Physics alone is enough to refute their waste of time.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I am not the ogre you think I am (no, I'm worse!).

What is it about a personality that initiates the creation of a "lies, rumors, et al." page on a public person's vanity website? Take for instance the case of Heather Mills McCartney. It has recently been announced that she and her husband of 4 years are seperating. So one would think, "oh, this is an angle - to fend off the inevitable accusations" which one would imagine in a divorce proceeding. In Mills-McCarney's case, it's been an ongoing issue however. There have been such "anti-accusation" pages for some time. Why? What is it about her that creates such a need?

It is all too reminiscent of another personality.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

InstaSkinny

Blogging. Personal music mixing. Homebrewing. The Shangri-La Diet.

What do all these things have in common?

They all became popular after they piqued Glenn Reynolds' interest. Well, except for the last one . . . yet.

The diet is going well. I've found I've had the best results with 4 tablespoons of canola a day--2 each morning and night. This is higher than recommended, but shouldn't be too harmful, about a extra cookie a day. I'm still eating much less than I use to. After counting the calories I've eaten daily (with this useful site), and the calories someone of my height and weight burns (with this useful site), I should be running approximately a 500 calorie-a-day deficit--roughly a pound a week.

This isn't bad; I wouldn't mind being at my target weight in a year. But what is best about this diet is the freedom to eat what I want. It's nice not to spend lots of money on food, either on low-carb foods or junk foods. It's nice to be able to eat dinner with my wife, and not cook our separate meals, which she enjoys. It's nice not to feel guilty eating. For these reasons alone, the diet is worthwhile.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Masochistic Christianity at Its Finest

It's bad for you to pursue you own self-interest, happiness or prosperity. It's also wrongheaded to use biblical teaching for self-improvement by applying God's teachings to your life. If you not completely and utterly focusing on God and other people--with no regard to your own well being--then you being practicing "meology". God is the only one who's allowed to be selfish, not you. Your happiness doesn't matter to him when fulfilling His plans on earth. God very likely wants you to suffer and die to expand His kingdom on earth (a fate he's inflicted on millions throughout biblical history), and if you don't want to do so, then you're practicing "meology". Futhermore, the absolute greatest calling for a Christian is . . . to make other Christians. So focus all your time, energy and money on evangelizing the world. If you don't feel called to evangelize the world, and instead choose to live your selfish modern American life trying to improve yourself and your immediate sphere of influence, then you're practicing "meology".


If you just read the above paragraph, then you just saved several hours of your life by learning everything the Cat & Dog Theology seminars have to offer. Some outlines of the seminar are here.

I hate engaging in doctrinal disputes, especially criticizing ministers who probably have alot more biblical knowledge (and alot fewer vices) than I do. Nor do I doubt that some have grown from this seminar, and interpret it's teachings in a way which is enlightening and beneficial. But I feel especially motivated to say something about the mixed messages these guys are sending to the rest of the Body of Christ.

It also seems somewhat urgent. Over the past month, I visited a church where Bob Sjogren spoke one part of the seminar. I left angrily halfway through it. I don't want to talk much about my personal life, but with what I and my wife had been through in the past few months, the last thing I needed was some preacher glibly telling me sometimes, God intends for you to suffer, fail and die. Two weeks later, I visited another church . . . where I heard Sjogren speak on the next part of the seminar.

The flaws in Cat and Dog Theology are evident to any honest, intelligent Christian with any grounding in philosophy:

  • The false dilemma presented between serving our own best interests and serving God's best interests. They're the same thing! It's proper to criticize "solipsism", the overt or latent belief that you are the only person who matters in the universe. But it's reckless to package deal this vice with pursuing your enlightened self-interest, that which is best for yourself. What's wrong with reading John 3:16 with a personal focus? Certainly God was focusing on us when he sacrificed his son. How does a human "serve God", the omnipotent being who can do or make everything He wants? Only by making ourselves the best humans possible, and living up to the fullness of the potential he has created in us. To criticize people who pursue their own good, and succeed in obtaining it, smacks of the vice even worse than selfishness--envy.

  • Kantian altruism which considers a deed to be moral only if others benefit from it, and complete separates morality from the interests of the person who is expected to be moral. Scripture makes very clear that following God's law will make us blessed (Deut: 28-1-14), and that the those blessings are imputed on us through Jesus' sacrifice. Granted, at times Christians are called to make material sacrifice, even the ultimate material sacrifice of their own physical-biological life. But that act is not so much a "sacrifice" as an investment, the profit of which is blessings in heaven, and the satisfaction we derive from seeing God glorified on earth.

  • A hyper-Calvinism which imputes all suffering to God's malevolence and dismisses the influence of human will, action or immorality. "The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for nine generations because God willed it", not because of the unrighteousness of the Egyptians or the Israelites. "Stephen, Peter, Paul, etc. were persecuted, tortured and martyred because that the way God wanted it." Never mind the Pharisees, Greeks and Romans who actually stoned, tortured, and persecuted them. The debate between pre-destination and free-will is a complex one, but human will and morality must count, on some level, for our suffering. Why else would God give us moral commands, and impute blessings and cursings on us by whether we follow them or not?

  • Masochistic Christianity. Regarding this, I did a person study of the New Testament: When is suffering considered a good thing? There are several words in Greek which translate to "suffer" but better translate as "patience and steadfastness", e.g. "suffer the little children". The word which we would recognize in our language as "suffer" is the Greek verb pascho, where we get the word "passion", i.e. "Passion play" or "Passion of the Christ". The only time this word for "suffer" is used in the New Testament is in reference to persecution and martyrdom, i.e. Jesus' Crucifixion or the persecution of the saints, suffering at the hands of unbelievers. Suffering is not something that a righteous God does to believers, but the reaction of an unrighteous world to people witnessing to them. The doctrine that God want us to suffer, purely for suffering's sake, is a throwback to the worse doctrinal errors of Medieval Catholicism.

  • Over-emphasis on evangelism. Not everyone is called to directly evangelize the world, but some are called to lead quiet, stationary and/or productive lives, and be a witness to God's glory in that manner. Along with The Great Commission is The Cultural Mandate in Gen 1:26-28 to work, to cultivate and develop the earth God has created. Can not the building of a house, or highway, or city upon the earth God gave us--using the physical laws and principles God put in place in the universe--be just as much a witness to the glory of God as singing a hymn or preaching a sermon? Christianity is not just some MLM designed to recruit the entire world to be Jesus salesmen, but a way of life to spread God's glory in all stations of life.

  • It is in my enlightened self-interest to know God, to be blessed by him in every way possible, and to be the person he wants me to be. For purely selfish reasons, I want to avoid eternal hellfire at all costs. It is also in my self-interest to spread his word and truth in the ways he has gifted me to do so, since I derive satisfaction from seeing God glorified in the world. That's the way God constructed me, and all of us.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Not bad for a measley $8900

    We've been renovating the house over the past several months. Recently, we've moved on to the master bathroom, where we're replacing the... everything. We're favoring a Jacuzzi brand tub. However, I can't help but commenting on this Kohler tub. It's one of those cases in that if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    The word or phrase of the week is...

    tramp stamp n. 1. a tattoo on a woman, especially on the back at or below the waistline.
    source: Double-Tounged Word Wrester Dictionary.

    The counsel of fools

    This sort of story irks me so.
    While she [Britney Spears] still has her share of loyal fans, readers were overwhelmingly skeptical about her decision to have another child. Nor did you see much cause for hope that the musical duo could salvage their marriage.
    Sounds like your typical celebrity gossip fodder; however, I'd argue that it is not typical and is subtly more egregious. Consider these "reader" comments:
    I love Britney Spears and I think she's a great mother, but Kevin needs to go! I think she'd be better off without him raising Sean and the new baby.
    The above "reader", who does not know Spears or Federline, is counseling them to divorce.
    You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can't take the trailer park out of the girl. Spears is white-trash and her true colors are beginning to show — at last !!
    Could you write a nastier comment about a person?
    Somebody should sterilize these two idiots before more babies are dropped on their heads.
    It would appear that you can write a nastier comment.
    Hopefully, she will make the right decision and follow her heart. She will have two children to think about now, and the relationship she has with her husband doesn't seem to be working. Britney needs to make Britney happy again. Too much time is being wasted on her husband. Have kid #2, be a great mom, and be the great entertainer you are!
    Hard to follow the logic of the counsel here, because of the invocation of that old red herring, equating "the right decision" with the suggestion she "follow her heart". And if I could clone popular culture's cure for anything and repackage it for this circumstance, then I too would say "Britney needs to make Britney happy again." It's a travesty that many (most?) people would find this person's advice reasonable.
    Britney Spears should be the poster child for Planned Parenthood. We have birth control products available for a reason.
    Another wonderful comment from someone who clearly has always dealt with circumstances in a smart, morally upstanding fashion, seeking the welfare of her common man, uplifting all in her munificent words and actions. All hail this great sage of wisdom and graceful counsel.
    She should have known better. To bring another unwanted child into this world is a crime. What a worthless person Kevin is. If she doesn't get rid of him now, she deserves all she gets.
    So many terrible assertions here. An "unwanted" child? Spears' flaws aside, she would appear to want her child. And if she did not, millions would. And even if they did not, I would. And failing that, God would. A "crime"? Your logic is a crime. Kevin (Federline), a "worthless person"? All people have worth, even if their beliefs, decisions and actions do not square with yours. You in fact have worth, even though I can tell through your words that your beliefs and actions do not square with mine. And this notion of Spears deserving "all she gets" if she fails to rescind her wedding vows - your twisted logic is primarily the reason we have the rule not of ignoramuses but of laws.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    President Bush Gives 2006 Commencement Speech at OSU

    President Bush spoke at my undergraduate alma mater, Oklahoma State University, on May 6, 2006. At my commencement, we had no speaker, so I didn't have the privilege of hearing anyone--much less a President--for my graduation.

    I'm honored that the President chose OSU as one of the four schools where he is speaking for their commencement addresses this year, where he spoke of hope for the future, encouraged the new graduates, and used a little humor along the way. I hope the 2006 graduates will remember this for many years to come.

    To read the full text of President Bush's address, click here.

    To see images from the commencement with President Bush, click here.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    The Old Domionism

    Hey kids! Let's all go to Jesus Camp.
    Fischer is the central character in "Jesus Camp," a documentary about Pentecostal evangelical Christians, some of whom send their children to summer camps where they pray, "speak in tongues" and are encouraged to campaign against abortion.
    Living in an America where the political and social landscape were dominated by evangelical Christians would certainly be better than the status quo, IMHO, but would itself be fraught with problems.

    The central problem with their efforts, again IMHO, is their interpretation of God's commands to believers specifically via the New Testament, which culminates in a political orthodoxy termed dominionism - an interpretation more in line with the Old Testament than the new.

    In fact, what dominionism seems to seek in this day and age is the Kingdom of Christ promised in the next. To me, scripture seems pretty clear that while in the future, Christ will be King and all will worship Him (in what might be termed a Theocracy, though not quite), today the believer is to be concerned with God's two great commandments: to love Him with all one's heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love one another as ourself. (The latter one is deceptively simple for me, as I practice self-loathing.) ;-)

    Dominionism rather seems to be concerned less with the individual's relationships to his God and fellow man, than with a society's relationship to God. It's a unique form of socialism mixed with authoritarianism - not unlike a Soviet Union of the God-fearing, if in appearances only.

    Most believers have not heard of the movement, but would recognize it through its more familiar public arms: The Moral Majority, The Christian Coalition, Renew America, to name a few.

    It's not that I oppose the positions of these entities; sometimes I do, but more times than not, I am sympathetic or downright supportive of them. But I am not supportive of their general interpretation of Scripture as mandating believers to effect political changes culminating in theocracy.

    I think in this respect, believers make the same basic mistake secularists make: acting upon a belief that this current earth can be made a heaven of sorts. Secularists, believing this life all there is, are logically compelled to maximize everything, perfecting as much as possible. Believers in an afterlife - particularly the flavor promised by Christ - should know better.

    At least I should. ;-)

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Oil Consumption Up, Energy Demand Down
    A Shangri-La Diet Update:

    Gastronomically speaking, this has probably been the two strangest weeks of my life.

    As I mentioned before, I've begun the Shangri-La Diet invented by Seth Roberts and outlined by his new book. Though "diet" is a loose term for what I've been doing, simply consuming 1 1/2 teaspoons of canola oil twice a day, without tasting anything else for one hour before or one hour after. Yet by doing so, I've completely changed my eating habits and have accomplished a breakthough which has always eluded me: to eat less food, more slowly.

    At currently 5'8 and 225 lbs., I've always been a large quantity eater. I'm the type of guy who can eat a whole large pizza in a night, or a whole package or oreos, or a whole tub of ice cream, who always orders the large size and asks for free refills on his drinks, and always finishes his meal faster than anyone else at the table. In recent years, I've been able to mitigate this habit by low-carb eating, but that system began to break down once I discovered the "ditto foods" of low-carb candy bars and low-carb ice cream, which retrained my sweet tooth for high-carb fair. My current lifestyle involves few home-cooked meals and buying food on the go. I also will regularly consume large amounts of diet soda, easily 2-3 liters a day. But I feel all these habits now changing.

    At first, the change was subtle. For the sake of full experimentation, I suspended any low-carb eating habits and decided to eat what I felt like. But on the first day, instead of getting 2 cheeseburger bites at 7/11, I oddly only felt like getting one. Or I'd order a burger and fries one night--both medium size rather than large like I usually do--and find myself taking a while to finish them. Then the change really set in. I'd buy two P'EatZZas at 7-Eleven with a snack. Usually, I'd scarf these down in no time. Instead, I'd nibble on one P'EatZZa for almost a half-hour, nibble on my snack and barely finish it, procrastinate for hours before eating the other P'EatZZa, and feel stuffed for the rest of the day. If I had a piece of candy, like a chocolate truffle, I would take several bites to finish it, savouring it for minutes. At home, I would prepare a peanut butter sandwich, and rather than big bites, I'd eat little rows at a time like corn, sucking on the peanut butter inside like a popsicle. And that sandwich would fill me up all evening.

    I now have the appetite and eating habits of some 80-year old nursing home patient! When I ate dinner the other night with my wife and mother-in-law--modest portions meatloaf & mashed potatoes & green beans--I was the last of us three to finish, and felt stuffed afterwards. I was given a glass of sugar-sweetened ice tea and finished only half of it. Speaking of beverages, for no apparent reason, my consumption of zero-calorie diet soda has also has gone down. Where before, I would've finished a 20 oz glass of soda in 10 minutes, I now nurse it for up to an hour. Whereas I'd buy Two 2-Liter bottles a day, now one bottle may last me for two days.

    My food-spending habits have begun to adjust accordingly. I'll see foods sold in large quantities--a long-john donut, a giant burrito, a carton of ice cream, a buffet restaurant--and can't put my mind around the idea of buying that much and eating that much. Instead, I find myself buying delicacies. Last week, I bought a Whitman's Sampler (consistent with Dr. Robert's advice not to eat the same thing twice), and spent 4 days finishing it. I buy Ben & Jerry's in pints and eat a 1/4 of it at a time, instead of a quart of plainer ice cream. When at the mall, I bought four individual gourmet Godiva truffles for $7.00. Then I spent $5.00 eating a small bowl of du jour potato soup with some bread on the side. All of this was food I really enjoyed and savoured, and it was my main meal for that whole day, compared to the $12.00 I may have spent on large quantities of mediocre food at a weekend lunch buffet. In this sense, I experience the "Shangri-La" part of the diet: I enjoy a better quality and variety of foods, foods which I would've shunned for fear of eating them in mass quantities.

    This change, frankly, has also been oddly depressing. I use to eat alot, and enjoy doing so. But I now feel like I'm not good at something I use to be good at, and don't know what to do with the time I spent pre-occupied with food. I jokingly described it to my wife as "being impotent", but with food instead of with sex. And I was the Hugh Hefner of food. But I'm getting over this, and feeling encouragement that I'm able to moderate behavior I wasn't able to before, that I've found a physiological solution to something I've traditionally considered a vice and a moral failing.

    From the past week or so, I've felt a very slight weight-loss, which I can't confirm from the usual variation on my bathroom scale, and may just amount to wishful thinking. As you can tell by the above, I'm not abstaining from traditionally fattening foods, so I may just be breaking even. If there is any weight-loss from the above behavior, it could take a month to notice effects. But I can easily see myself taking the canola oil for the long term, and using that method in combination with other dieting techniques. I can also better feel a calorie "set-point" that Dr. Roberts speaks of. There are days when I will eat alot, and when I add the calories, find that I should be gaining weight at that rate. But the next day, I'll have little if any appetite. Or if I consume a certain type of food I was craving, like meat, my appetite will drop. Overall, I now feel like my appetite is working for me instead of against me.

    I'll keep you all posted if there's any progress. If I lose 5 pounds as is, I'll consider the diet a success. If I gain 5 pounds or stay still as is, I consider it a failure and adjust my behavior accordingly.

    Won't You Be My Neighbor?

    Now for something G-Rated: Below is some archived footage of Fred Rogers before a Senate Committee meeting on funding of public television



    I disagree with the premise of public television. Mr, Rogers, Sesame Street and Barney can easily survive in the public sector; and PBS is now thoroughly obsolete with the dozens of learning channels and kids channels on cable. The "bombardment" which Rogers lamented ended up being only a temporary situation remedied by new technologies and media which gave kids and parents better choices of entertainment. Whether parents made those better choices, and avoided worse choices, is another controversy.

    Nonetheless, Rogers' motivation was admirable, to create wholesome relation-based children shows at the height of the "Itchy and Scratchy" era of violent kids' shows. To teach kids not to fight and have temper tantrums, but to use their words.

    Fred Rogers appears to have won. Children's shows emphasizing relationships and getting along are common, while kid's cartoons about two animals trying to kill each other have fallen out of style. Yet has child's programming really gotten better? Why are grownups comfortable with Elmer and Bugs and Tom and Jerry and G.I. Joe and Cobra Commander, yet weirded out by cartoons like these?

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Blasphemy Roundup!!
    (Below Pages May Link to Graphic Content)

  • Once again, God shows his infinite love and tender mercies--by not striking this man with lightning right on the spot. I doubt he'd have the same luck with the FCC.

  • The curious case of Rachel Bevilacqua, AKA "Rev. Mary Magdalen" a performance artist who lost custody of her son due to her participation in an event hosted by the pseudo-cult The Church of the Subgenius.

    The judge repeatedly asked, “Why a goat? What’s so significant about a goat’s head?” . . . Rachel replied, “I just thought the word ‘goat’ was funny.”


  • This week's Millstone Award goes to Moustafa Lazrak, an imam at the Sidi Ahmed El Bekkal school in Tétouan, Morocco, for his righteous acts toward children. (See the translation of the French article for full explanation.)

  • Monday, May 01, 2006

    The cost of illegal aliens

    One of the most often stated assertions concerning the illegal alien brouhaha is that they (illegals) add far more to the U.S. economy than they take. This study would appear to refute this claim:
    Illegals Create Large Net Costs. The bottom portion of Table 2 adds together the total tax payments and costs illegals impose on the federal budget. When defense spending is not considered, illegal households are estimated to impose costs on the federal treasury of $6,949 a year or 58 percent of what other households received. When defense spending is included, their costs are only 46 percent those of other households. However, they pay only 28 percent as much in taxes as non-illegal households. As a result, the estimated net cost per illegal household was $2,736. Whether one sees this fiscal deficit as resulting from low tax payments or heavy use of services is a matter of perspective. As already discussed, illegal households comprise 3.6 percent of the total population, but as Table 2 shows they account for an estimated 0.9 percent of taxes paid and 1.4 percent of costs. Thus, both their payments and costs are significantly less than their share of the total population. Since they use so much less in federal services than other households, it probably makes the most sense to see the fiscal deficit as resulting from low tax payments rather than heavy use of public services.

    Total Deficit Created by Illegals. If the estimated net fiscal drain of $2,736 a year that each illegal household imposes on the federal treasury is multiplied by the nearly three million illegal households, the total cost comes to $10.4 billion a year. Whether one considers this to be a large sum or not is, of course, a matter of perspective. But, this figure is unambiguously negative and certainly not trivial. It is also worth remembering that these figures are only for the federal government and do not include any costs at the state or local level, where the impact is likely to be significant.

    Once again, it's the French

    I read an interesting piece some time back (which was actually a review of this book) that proposed that France is the United States' most mortal historical enemy - principally because of its underhanded machinations and moves while publicly calling us "friend". Lowell Ponte has more fuel for the fire of this assertion in a screed concerning the leftist roots of "May Day" and its appropriation for the purposes of forwarding amnesty - no, rather, the rights of full citizenship (without the responsibilities, it must be noted) - for currently illegal aliens:
    The French Emperor Napoleon III dared to send troops to occupy Mexico only because the United States was preoccupied with its own War Between the States, a.k.a. our Civil War. When our war ended, we massed a huge American army on the Texas border with Mexico and informed the French Emperor that under the Monroe Doctrine we would not tolerate European control of Mexico.

    Napoleon III beat a hasty retreat, leaving his installed 'liberal' Hapsburg puppet 'Emperor of Mexico' Maximilian I to be overthrown and executed by the locals in 1867. But drinking their beer each Cinco de Mayo, educated Mexicans bitterly remember that it was pressure from the United States that liberated their country from French colonial rule. The cultural residue of French influence in Mexico remains in many odd ways, e.g., the hired singers called Mariachis, whose name (despite frantic Mexican nationalist denials) was first used in 1852 and probably derives from the French word for marriage that arrived via the surreal 1838 French incursion known as 'the Pastry War.'

    France could also be blamed for Mexico's loss of what is now the western United States. Napoleon I sold the U.S. the Louisiana Territory, which created a potential legal claim to a large, poorly-defined share of the wild West. Napoleon I also overthrew the government of Spain and put his own brother on the Spanish throne, which plunged Spain's colonies such as Mexico into political chaos. The resulting uprisings in Mexico ousted Spain and installed a domestic revolutionary government that could not control the centrifugal forces that broke apart Spain�s old North American empire in Mexico (as well as South America with the uprisings of Simon Bolivar and Jose San Martin).