how many drinks a day, and smoking = death

The last psychiatrist has a hilarious take on alcohol and its effects (the discussion of smoking is very terse, smoking=death).

OK, I don't know how hilarious it would be for some non-geek, probably not at all. But I'd be rolling on the floor laughing, if the floor weren't so hard and cold :-).


What's special about this number?

What's special about this number is blowing my mind! That's a lot of trivia to memorize. Or if not memorize, at least remember :-).

I won't remember all of that, but it'll be cool to look through the list and remember one apropos entry when someone says some number is uninteresting.


On Happiness

Le journaliste misérable interviews the happiest man in the world

Interesting piece. A bit long.

But within minutes of speaking to him, I can tell that the $30m mansion in Malibu, where he secretly retires to snort cocaine off the thighs of Lithuanian hookers, in the tradition of innumerable TV evangelists, cannot conceivably exist.

In the foreword to Happiness, the psychologist Dr Daniel Goleman describes how a three-hour wait at an airport "sped by in minutes, due to the sheer pleasure of Matthieu's orbit" - a phrase which had made me faintly nauseous when I first read it. Now, it seems to make perfect sense. Ricard exudes a sense of tranquillity, kindness and - surprisingly enough - humour.

It's funny too, that those two sentences come one right after the other in the same paragraph. Miserable he may be, but the author has a nice touch.


Lovely photography

Zach Tatum has a great image gallery here

The Grand Tetons

I saw this image of sunrise over the tetons on digg.

The size isn't quite right for a desktop background image but I've made it my background anyway. I post the link here so I can get it from work and make it my background there too, tomorrow.

Flickr seems to block direct references to images. It's understandable, but frustrating. I'm going to stop working with flickr and instead will use some other image hosting service that allows me to point at the image from blogger or elsewhere.

Heh, for this image though. Well, a link is all I can put here since I'm not going to pirate someone else's content just so I can put an IMG tag here for it :-).

A spot on my RSS feeds

Matt Taibbi has a very funny article in Rolling Stone. I don't have any particular preference among American politicians, although anyone who can kick GW Bush out of office is good for the world, but this article puts Matt Taibbi in my RSS reader because the writing is freaking hilarious

Throw a guy who can speak like that against the list of likely Democratic candidates in 2008 -- a sorry collection of human saline drips that included Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John Kerry, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd -- and Obama could fucking walk to the nomination, even if he chose a page from the Betty Crocker cookbook as his stump speech.

When Hillary Clinton spouts a cliche, it's four words long, she's reading it off a teleprompter, and it hits the ear like the fat part of a wooden oar.


Even when Hillary announced she was running for president, she sounded like she was ordering coffee. Obama, on the other hand, can close his eyes and the cliches just pour out of his mouth in huge polysyllabic paragraphs, like Rachmaninoff improvisations. In this sense he's exactly like Bill Clinton, who had the same gift. He is exactly what is meant by the term bullshit artist.

Crepe. I see no RSS feed to just the Low Post. It might be in there somewhere. Or maybe available only to subscribers. I'll probably just add an entry to Memo to Me to remind me to look there every few months :-)


on constructive argument

Brian O'Sullivan has a great blog post and summary on Anatole Rapaport on constructive argument

Daniel Dennet paraphrases Rapaport thus:

Serious argument depends on mutual respect, and this is often hard to engender when disagreements turn vehement. The social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport (creator of the winning Tit-for-Tat strategy in Robert Axelrod’s legendary prisoner’s dilemma tournament) once promulgated a list of rules for how to write a successful critical commentary on an opponent’s work. First, he said, you must attempt to re-express your opponent’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your opponent says “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.” Then, you should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement), and third, you should mention anything you have learned from your opponent. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism. I have found this a salutary discipline to follow–or, since it is challenging, to attempt to follow. When it succeeds, the results are gratifying: your opponent is in a mood to be enlightened and eagerly attentive.

That's brilliant. Useful and interesting to try to practice, too. I don't know if it's economical to practice. But definitely worth trying for anything important, and generally worth trying for any online discussion/flamefest.


drug policy - long, comprehensive and practical

There's a Long, comprehensive, and practical article on U.S. drug policy and how to reform it.

It sounds good. I don't know any of the practical details (I've never taken illegal drugs, nor have I ever smoked, although I have a few glasses of beer or wine every week), but it sounds reasonable. It'll be generations (or never) before it flies though, likely. There's too much ideology invested in the current policy, and reasonable policies are very hard to sell to simple minds (such as those who are recruited into fundamentalist churches). To those minds, simple rules make sense, nuance, balance and tradeoffs between values complicate life too much.

Israeli Apartheid

There's a good article by Shulamit Aloni, former Israeli Education Minister on israeli apartheid

Israel takes land from the Palestinians, builds roads on them, and then won't let palestinians drive on those roads. Not only that, they won't even let Israelis ride on those roads if they have palestinian passengers and they haven't gotten permits from the government (or the military command) to transport those passengers on those Israeli only roads.

From now on, Israelis and International humanitarian organisations’ volunteers are prohibited from assisting a woman in labour by taking her to the hospital. [Israeli human rights group] Yesh Din volunteers cannot take a robbed and beaten-up Palestinian to the police station to lodge a complaint.

The purpose of Guantanamo

The whole purpose of setting up Guantánamo Bay is for torture.

Great article. Go there.

hopes raised, hopes dashed

I saw a headline that The U.S. would resettle Iraqi refugees and I thought that sanity had reared its head in the U.S.

And then I read the article and I see that the U.S. will accept only 7000 Iraqi refugees. That leaves somewhere in the vicinity of 1,599,993,000 U.S. created Iraqi refugees to fend for themselves.

What the U.S. *should* do (but it won't, of course, since this would be merely good, but not necessarily leading to any financial benefit to any americans) would be to get out of Iraq (yes, it'll descend into chaos, but the Iraqis will carve out a peace for themselves after a few generations, and if the Americans don't leave, exactly the same chaos will exist, except there'll a thousand Americans dead and five thousand wounded every year [the casualty rate is increasing]). And then, for the next ten years, the U.S. should take that several hundred billion dollars a year and pay it in reparations to the Iraqi people (individually, to people, not to the government) and a similar amount for repatriation costs to all the Iraqi refugees who have fled the country because of the chaos and death.

It'll never happen though. Even $100 million in reparations, a drop in the bucket and not enough for anything will never get granted.

Bloglines wall of images

Bloglines has a constantly updated wall of images. That is a *cool* concept. Potentially NSFW though for short periods, but a great concept. It's too bad I don't have the time to just sit there slackjawed and goggle eyed.


lushlush has a blog. But that sounds as if I know who lushlush is. I don't though. I ran across her blog from following a link on reddit. Good posts, literate. I don't quite know what to make of that pic. Artist type personality, I guess. Which is interesting in some ways, disappointing in others. I'm philosophically conservative, to me the artistic temperament is entertaining but not, generally, deep enough to be interesting. No doubt there are exceptions to that, I'd love to get to know some of those exceptions.


Nintendo Wii support

There's a heartwarming story on incredibly good Nintendo tech support.

I don't play computer games much anymore (no time), and certainly not console games. But if I went there, this article would tilt me toward buying nintendo. I don't think I'd buy Sony (installing any DRM, and worse, malware on PCs is evil). I never buy anything from Microsoft (nor do I pirate anything from there, let the rest of the world use crap, I'm too busy to struggle with all that). So Nintendo it would be.

But I don't play games anymore. Maybe in a few years, when timmy can play computer games :-).


escape for an evening

There's an anonymous post on www.thisisby.us on the pleasures and considerations involved in an evening out with one's significant other, without a child in tow

That's five years away from where we are now. Or three. or four. It might be a significant factor though, in our not immigrating to New Zealand. Sol and I have applied for NZ, we've spent a whole lot of money on the application and the medical exams. We're about to spend more on Timmy's medical exams. I'm not sure I want to go though. We'll make the decision when NZ makes the decision. In any case, I am thoroughly and truly enjoying my work at $DAYJOB, I have extra work (sidelines, we call them, in the Philippines) which is sufficiently remunerative that we really don't need to go to NZ to make a good living.

And then there's the dates. In NZ we'd have to rely on ourselves, alone, and maybe the occasional filipino/a friend. There are a lot more of those in NZ than in the U.S., so that would help. Of course one can get babysitters of non-filipino extraction. I doubt if sol would go for that though. In any case, dates are a LOT easier to schedule and setup in the Philippines since our family is here. There's a large support system.

Of course the politicians are corrupt, the police are not only corrupt but also incompetent and there are major quality of life issues that make NZ very attractive. As I say, we'll make that decision when NZ makes the decision. For now, though, partly because of that article, but also because I'm enjoying work so much, I'm currently inclined to stay.

Good Job

Lt Cmdr Swift is a good man.

That is a damn good article. There are *some* good men with consciences left in the U.S. military. Not a lot, but they do exist.


baguio fruits

I was in baguio this last weekend. All of my software development team (there are only 3 of us) and some other people (contractor, business analysts, some random friends) at work went too.

On Sunday, getting ready to go back to Manila, we went to the market (and elsewhere) to buy things to bring back. I bought 3 kilos of strawberries and 2 kilos of Sagada oranges. I would post pictures, but I ate them all already (well, with some help from family :-). No one is interested in pictures of the insides of my stomach. And anyway, the strawberries aren't even in me anymore :-).

Everything was incredibly good. The strawberries were perfect and the Sagada oranges are indescribable. I used to ignore them since I didn't know how good they were. From now on I'm going to buy more oranges than strawberries, even though the strawberries are less expensive :-).

I brought 2 kilos of Baguio longaniza too. Two different kinds. We had the less fatty one the other day. It was very, very good. Sweeter and less garlicky than Vigan longaniza. Normally I don't like sweet, and I love garlic. But this was really very good. I'm bringing back a lot more of that too, when I go to Baguio next.


a neolithic couple, buried 5000 to 6000 years ago were hugging each other

That got me sappy. The article has a lovely photo (of skeletons, but evocative).

Links of the day

International Rules of Manhood.

They aren't really that international. But they're pretty funny.

8: On a road trip, the strongest bladder determines pit stops,
not the weakest.
10: ... If you trap her head under the covers for the purpose
of flatulent entertainment, she's officially your girlfriend.

17: A man in the company of a hot, suggestively dressed woman
must remain sober enough to fight.
(I'd say that a man must always remain sober enough to fight,
but that's just me :-).

"GUTS" is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to say, "are you still cleaning or are you flying somewhere?"

"BALLS" is coming home late after a night out with the guys smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the ass and having the balls to say, "You're next!"


American pilots killed their closest allies, some british light armor troops, and then they refused to cooperate with the inquest. The video leaks. Now, I'm just from a third-world third-rate country whose leaders lick the boots of American politicians. When American soldiers rape our women, we let the american government take them away from us so they can hold them in comfortable surroundings and escape with them if conviction becomes probable (That's a true story, not just some random ranting). If this is what they do to their closest allies (they kill them, and then they protect their own men providing NOTHING in the way of closure to the victims families), why does anyone else expect any better?

Stubborn he may be, but that's a man the world needs more of instead of the spineless wimps they've got in the U.S. congress, all ready to lie down and let Bush and Cheney rape them before they move on to Iran and their next half million dead

I don't quite know what to make of the confessions of a middle-aged ecstasy eater.

I had more, but I've lost them. They're somewhere on the web though. Google is your friend :-).


Cholesterol, statins and heart disease - a debunking

There's a long article, more of a rant, really, on how cholesterol and heart disease are not causally related, nor does a diet high in saturated fats increase cholesterol, and statins are a very minor help against heart disease.

I'm not sure what to believe about all that. On the other hand, I don't take statins despite high cholesterol levels. I'm taking fish oil instead, as an uncontrolled single sample experiment :-). I'm relatively fit, I have perfect blood pressure, I'm not sedentary, I don't have a lot of stress, so I've decided not to go the statins route until this whole issue of causality clarifies itself.

If you starve, bomb and humiliate... what do you think is going to happen?

There's a blog entry on an accurate but sensitive memo on Israel and its treatment of the palestinians.

My favorite quote:

If you start, bomb and humiliate the Palestinian people relentlessly for close to a year, all the while blaming the Hamas government and arming Fatah, what do you is going to happen?

It's my favorite quote because it captures the essence of the situation. Israel approaches South Africa at the height of apartheid. A few more generations of the cultivation of hate and Israel will be Nazi Germany. And the U.S.A. will have abetted all of this because it won't witness to the truth, instead bowing down to its powerful pro-Israel lobby (including the Left Behind cultists who want to create war because it validates their "theology of tribulation").

That's not inevitable. Israelis (and Jews all over the world) may see themselves and their actions in a mirror and revolt. But in the meantime, there will be a lot more dehumanization and death. I hope the change of heart happens sooner rather than later. It doesn't seem likely though. I mourn for the dead on all sides, but also for the living, for what they do to their souls.


Baguio and Panagbenga

I'll be in Baguio this weekend. The software developers and business analysts at $DAYJOB are going up for a weekend break.

I had hoped that sol and timmy could come along. Originally they wouldn't because we'd be travelling by bus. Since we'd be travelling when timmy normally would do his level best to produce more stool than the previous night, we were worried about having to wait an hour or two for the next rest stop before we could clean him up. Some nights, he produces so much he overflows his diapers. We're very glad that his alimentary systems work wonderfully, but it's a concern on long trips.

After a few days of thinking about it, I had sol convinced that we'd be able to handle it. We could probably convince the driver to stop for 3 minutes while we cleaned timmy up :-).

We were planning to stay at the Baguio Microtel In. We've stayed there before and we really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, that's Panagbenga, the Baguio Flower Festival. Microtel is fully booked and everything else is going to be fully booked too. So no nice hotels for us.

That probably means that Sol and Timmy won't come along. We'll be staying in a dormitory. It's clean, cheap and convenient. But it's not a hotel and while it'd be great for Sol and I, I don't think we'll be comfortable with having Timmy stay there with us. That's too bad, it would be a great vacation.

I'll call around to some more hotels tomorrow and Friday, maybe we can find something good and Sol and Timmy might still be able to make it.