I noticed a small blip in the mass last week, about a kilogram or a bit more than 0.01 over my recent mean. I say recent because my general physician wants me to lose some mass (as of our last but one clinical conversation) to get my BMI down. We have not yet agreed on which side of the fat slob boundary to seek. He wants me to be on greatest lower bound (or lower even) side while I have been promoting the least upper bound side. My side of the discussion is largely rooted in some work published last year in SCIENCE (which physicians do not read, in the main – and I cannot blame them!) that indicates people on that side of the boundary enjoy better general health than people on the other side of the boundary (and away from the boundary for that matter) – sort of a sweet spot of existence.

My approach to getting to this least upper bound has been to alter my eating practices to lose about 2-3 kilograms over a couple of weeks and then stabilize for a couple of months to make sure I don’t regress. For me this seems to work since I have shaved off about 10 kg in this journey. But then, I have always held that diet is what you eat and not a passing regime.

Anyway, I noted a TIME article on holiday gorging [Link] and despite the article being both shallow and sketchy, it set me to thinking about the subject despite, or perhaps because of, the absence of any real discussion of the matter. One more example of the cancer that is contemporary journalism and of which TIME is often the epitome.

The article relates some research by business academics, marketing, I believe, on how they have determined how people ‘bracket” their eating. I have not yet conferred with my anthropologist and historian colleagues but I suspect they will either be sore from laughing or I shall get to learn several interesting new curse phrases in unlearned languages.

What got ignored, at least so far as I understand the matter, is that humans have been on a gorge-starve cyclic (but not necessarily periodic) of eating since sometime before we sapiens came on the scene. The scenario is simplicity: if you happen on a big chunk of road kill, or even kill it yourself, lacking refrigeration or having learned to smoke or salt, you eat as much as you can before it rots so bad eating the rot will kill you. And then you make do with what’s available until you get another kill. (I have been told this is why one of my undergraduate college roommates always ate his meat first, then his desert, and then his vegetables and salad.)

This got continued when we humans adopted sedentaryness about the end of the last cold phase and then agriculture about halfway between then and now. If the crop yield was good and you have just harvested you have lots of food and again, what can’t be preserved needs to be eaten right away. Otherwise food may be in short supply. And as civilization kicked in this boom-bust cycle got picked up by the religion organizations who made sure the boom times were observed as holy days – the deity is happy with your behavior and rewards you with heartburn – and the bust times were observed as repentance days – the deity is unhappy with your behavior and makes you hunger and feel puny.

Which brings us to the on-going holiday season – Chanukah, Christmas, Festivus, Kwanzaa, Newtonmass, New year’s – all Winter Solstice related. And Winter Solstice being the shortest day of the year was the coldest, darkest time but that it occurred signified that things had turned around. The days would get longer and warmer and brighter and shortly food would be more abundant and hence a time for celebration, a somewhat artificial boom time. Knowing that we had gotten to as bad as things would get and hope had returned and maybe we could spare a bit of food to party with.

So not marketing, guys, not business, but human nature, the product of Nature with the capital “N”. So don’t blame those pounds gained on evil Capitalist oligarchs, even though they sold you the not-good-for-you food, or on evil Religionist fanatics, even though they told you the deity wants you to be fat and logy right now. No, blame it on reality and then get past the whole irrelevant human emo blame thing. Just recognize you endured a gorge time and now you need to enjoy a starve time.

Seasonal Science

I happened to run across this cartoon the other day, [Link]

and it put me in mind of part of the stressfulness of the season. I would ask you to consider the hierarchy, which is not quite simple, of:


neighbors; and


Family are easy to obtain [1] in that they are your family by act of birth, either your own if the family members are older than you but their’s if younger. Family is difficult to impossible to rid oneself of unless one waits for them to discorporate – a stochastic process of some complexity – or becomes a black sheep or prodigal – something approximating artificial orphan. In-law family is similar in that one obtains such by marriage or similar ritualism in a situation that is a non-linear combination of friend and family.

Neighbors are somewhat similar in that one obtains them by accident. You decide, by whatever process to live at some location and they decide to live next to you by some equally indecipherable process but approximating a stochastic draw in the proximity. Thus whether a neighbor is an acute rectal pain, a sociopath, or an incipient friend is a matter of sampling. And based on all of our experience, the sample population is dominated by fiends and degenerates.

A subset of neighbors is the class of co-workers who are slightly more bearable because of a singular difference from neighbors. Whereas neighbors have no survival interests in common, co-workers do. Simply put co-workers do not wish to be unemployed. This does not prevent them from trying to get you unemployed but it does prevent petty thermonuclear war for its own dear sake. But a commonality is that you and your co-workers select that place to work in a process that may bear some resemblance to the residential location decision process.[2]

Hence the chief difference between family and neighbors on the one and friends on the other, whatever the one and the other may be – a hand perhaps? Friends are usually not easy to obtain, unless in the accidental juxtaposition of sharing an enemy, usually a family member or neighbor. This alternation of proximities is an important binding force in both families and neighborhoods and has no little benefit in precluding distasteful interactions with justicers. But if friends are hard to obtain, they are easy to be rid of. Friends, with the exception of that class of sharing a common enemy, are usually bound by some commonality of interest. Regardless there is some personal aspect of fundamental value in friendship that is absent in family and neighbors.

Herein lies the connection with the cartoon and the season. One may not usually appraise family or neighbors of their blatant and egregious inaccuracies. In the first case one becomes “Old Weird Uncle/Aunt” whoever and in the second either litigated or battered. Friends told of this either cease to be friends or the bond is strengthened, a beneficial result in either case. The connection with the season is that because of its moralistic, superstitious overtones, one spends more time with family and neighbors and hence has more opportunity to be exposed to their faults, especially their blatant and egregious inaccuracies. And invariably, forgetting for a moment that they are not friends one constructively informs them of their fault and instant stress is generated. Neighbors resort to fisticuffs and depart, or evict you from their premises, but family cannot do so if civility is to be maintained. If not, fisticuffs or eviction also prevails, but otherwise one just instantly becomes “Old Weird Uncle/Aunt” whoever and the environment stutters on until the next instance.[3]

Of course this difficulty is more pronounced when the family or neighbors are bogs and you are a nerd (or geek), or visa versa. Bogs are oblivious so they aren’t really conscious[4] of the inaccuracies and hence react at most emotionally or endocrinally, which explains the prevalence of egg nog and fruit cake. Nerds (and to a lesser extent, geeks) are not only aware but analytical, and, unfortunately, helpful, although that helpfulness is, as always, misplaced among bogs. Hence these unhelpful attempts at help serve only to create friction and stress.

The lesson for this is that families and neighborhoods should be required, under pain of action by government, either (modern) republican-fascist or (modern) democrat-communist, to be either purely boggish or purely nerdish with no intermixing. Happily this does not run afoul of any existing anti-discrimination legalities since politicians are almost all bogs.

[1] This is qualified by the situation of orphans who have no family and often work very hard to obtain family. This obtained family is more like friends than ‘true’ family, however.

[2] This process relationship is purely hypothetical in that since we have no idea what the processes are we can make no nerdish comparison, only a geekish observation that the end states are similar and hence in the twilight zone between boggish obliviousness and nerdish analysis may be related. Hey!, it works for religious and government organizations, doesn’t it?

[3] This incidentally, is the primary reason that the airline industry is failing. Since Gen Y is much more tightly bound to friends than neighbors or family, trips home to these family gatherings have been sharply decreased by the Gen Y’s and hence the airlines have their holiday take reduced markedly.

[4] One of my colleagues, who is also a friend and so in the interest of not frackulating him with his family and neighbors will remain anonymous, has suggested that bogs retain bicameral minds. This simple hypothesis is astounding powerful as that one concept explains Ivory soap (0.9944) of all boggish behavior.

Delivery 2

While we’re remembering all those folks who got sampled to transition from the owmb on this calendar date, it seems also appropriate to pass on some sentiment to all the MegaHard serfs out there:

The promise of a free OS is accurate. All you have to lose is some skull sweat and intellectual chains.

Gym Genetics

Back when I was working for the Yankee army there was a rather senior general who believed he was so busy that the only time he had to think was when he was running. And he also believed that what he thought while his brain was flushed with all those biochemical byproducts of exercise was particularly relevant; or perhaps it was just that those were his only thoughts that day and hence inherently important because, as all good generals are, he was sure he was important. The depths of this perversion were demonstrated by him not only dragging a young officer along to keep notes of his thoughts, but that he published these to all and sundry like the pronouncements of some prophet of the deity.

I do not drag a young officer along when I go to gym, partly because I have no desire to drag anyone along to inscribe my thoughts, but more practically because I happily have no young officer to inflict such on. But I do kid myself that I would be able to avoid the addiction of power were I in such a position.

Nonetheless, I also have thoughts while exercising, mostly peddling, since I spend about 45 minutes on a leg bicycle and 15 minutes on an arm bicycle. During this time my attention is divided among podcasts, television broadcasts selected by others, and thoughts that occur in my head but whose source is not always my own. Since this is Nawth Alibam and the majority of people are ‘conservative’ politically, that usually means the news programs being radiated – news is less noxious than infoporn and commercials for enhancement of genitals and mammaries – are republican-fascist rather than democrat-communist. So the ‘entertainment’ being display this morning was some Reynard news pundit declaiming that this is Amerika and only protestant christians have any rights this time of the year. Catholics, agnostics, jews, atheists, buddhists, …. should be silent and thankful that they are permitted to exist. The speech engendered visions of pogroms similar to those after Constantine embraced christianity for political reasons.

So trying to shake the vision of religious fanaticism from my mind, I turned my attention to some murmerage about that fellow Brown – not the one who delivers packages but the conspiracy fictionist – who wrote a book on the humanity of Joshua ben Joseph that got turned into a movie and started all this antiorganizational furor about Joshua being a nice Jewish boy who did what YHWH intended – get married and have bairns. Who proceed to establish a French royal lineage.

Of course all the organizational churches are trying desperate to impeach or squash this fiction, which just calls more attention to it, but after a bit of reflection it occurs that to a great extent whether Joshua actually had children – in or out of wedlock, a question not even touched with the ten meter pole – or not is not horribly germane.

Given for the moment that the deity provide the sperm for insemination, more than half of Joshua’s genetic composition would be provided by his mother, and regardless of whether she had other offspring or not, she had relatives who shared her DNA. So unless that lineage has stopped, in the sense of optimal stopping, there are folks walking around today with that genetic heritage.

Which means that those republican-fascist-fanatics who claim only their religious beliefs are right and proper are restricting the rights of those who share genes with Joshua. Anybody want to make an estimate of their probability of inaccuracy?

On that note I shifted my attention to Garrison Keeler talking about ice skating and cigarette smoking, reflecting that imposing our beliefs on others is wasteful and specious since being human we are assured of being inaccurate. But it does give me a new appreciation for not inflicting my outlook on others.

News at Gym

The season seems to have taken a bit of a humorous turn. This morning at gym, in observing the structured photon flood from the monster monitors of the walls, I thought the advertised Three Stooges Marathon had started. Upon closer observation this was disproven since the channel in question was Reynard News and there was only one stooge present and this one blond and female.

What I had taken for a skit about mid-Twentieth century fascist dictators was merely an interview (interrogation?) that would have been right at home in the halls of Third Reich Germany except for the nose on the interrogator, which was pronouncedly untermenshen in shape. The interviewee was the chief executive of Freedom from Religion organization, [Link] which has been doing the billboard thing this season.

From the interview I had to conclude that Reynard News is not only an inherently fanatical superstitious and mystical organization, but bigoted as well, holding that only those who agree with their religious prejudices should be permitted freedom of speech and worship. Or at least that is what was conveyed by the talking head and since the stoogism was permitted it must be policy. Or should we say doctrine?

This does explain the network’s fear of terrorists, especially muslims. After all, one oppressive dictatorial theocracy can abide no others of its kind.

And then, like a cherry on top of an outrageous sundae, the head went on to declaim that the snowstorm that engulfed Yankeeland this weekend was demonstration of the absence of global climate change. This is distressing. After all Curly at least had some understanding of basic thermodynamics. Not that I expect any mediast/journalist to have any knowledge of anything, especially scientifical, but I do expect the news writers who feed the dentally reconstructed babblers to check to make sure there is some degree of accuracy.

It is one thing to mutter and moan and stupidify about made up things like human rights, such as freedom of religion and speech and such like, after all what is a democracy for if not to deny equalities to some of its members and exalt others- just like dictatorships and monarchies and oligarchies but different – but material reality? If this is the best that humanity can do we have scant reason to call ourselves wise, much less continue to exist.

But it is humor full and robust in its absurdity.