We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, July 29. 2015
Back exercises are the best things for posture, generally. Dead lifts, especially. Not a bad idea to stick a post-it on your desk saying what your Mom said at the dining room table: "Sit up straight with your shoulders back." (She also always said "Stand up straight like a soldier.")
A few links on the topic:
You probably spend hours in front of a computer every day—so make sure you’re doing it right
Working Out Isn't Enough: Advice for Desk Workers
Tuesday, July 28. 2015
Our friend Dr. Schneiderman discusses Adolescent Cutting. After many years of addressing self-mutilation with youth and some adults, I have become convinced that various sorts of self-harm entail "integrative" pain - a discomfort which helps a person feel more centered, whole, and complete. In fact, it is not unusual for somewhat shakily-constructed people to create or to be drawn to chaos and crises for their strange psychologically-integrating effects.
There might be an entire new theory of masochism in general built on that idea, but I think Freud sort of began to get there first. Perhaps he over-sexualized masochism, or over-death-wished it, but he was on the trail towards an understanding of masochism and its perverse gratifications.
Sunday, July 26. 2015
Loneliness is a painful state. Social isolation feels terrible. Most people need friends and family around for company. It's a true cliche that alone in the city can be the worst.
I agree with Schneiderman that, no matter how much of an outsider somebody is, if you get involved in things sooner or later some kindred spirits will be found: The Loneliness of the Outsider
Saturday, July 25. 2015
Friday, July 24. 2015
Wednesday, July 22. 2015
Many Americans tend to overeat.
The experience of food satiety is mediated by a variety of physiologic signals, psychological states, and cultural factors, and some of that signaling may have some genetic tendencies. However, it is my experience that the main causes of overconsumption are three simple things: the ready availability of tasty carb things (unresisted temptation), feeding+sitting as recreation, and ignoring satiety. By the latter, I mean not paying attention to when enough is enough. In our world, there is always more, and gluttony, eating until "full," makes no sense at all on a routine basis.
In other words, ignoring your body's "enough" signals instead of one's maximum stretched stomach capacity. Some people will consume whatever is put in front of them regardless of hunger, while some will only consume until they sense that they have had enough. The former two are the buffet-killers while the latter do not consume their cost of the buffet. Living in a world of food abundance has a downside but nobody would choose the alternative.
I have found that overweight people can be easily trained to identify satiety if they want to. We know a few things about this:
1. Protein seems to trigger satiety best.
2. Fast eaters tend to ignore their satiety signals far more than slower eaters. That's why it's called piggish.
3. Food impairs mental alertness and physical capacity for a while so it's best not to eat for a couple of hours before exertion. Hydration is necessary, though. If at your ideal weight or underweight, a little carbs an hour before difficult exertion is a good idea. After heavy resistance work, a little protein, or a regular meal if at target weight, is an ok idea.
Tuesday, July 21. 2015
Reposted by popular request. If the reader is strong, fit for most physical challenges in life, and in good shape, then this is all irrelevant and should be ignored.
- Weight loss is mostly a separate subject from physical fitness training. Adipose tissue (fat, the revolting yellow lard that burdens your body and heart especially, and drives surgeons nuts by makes their scalpels greasy and slippery) is very easy to accumulate and difficult to burn off. It's like the opposite of money.
- Your energy storage consists mainly of carbs stored as sugar (glycogen - the petty cash drawer of energy) and carbs converted into sugar and then into fat if the sugar isn't burned right away (the long-term investment which is more difficult to access and burn). It's been calculated that the average Western citizen has enough stored energy to walk 600-1000 miles. A gift of evolution.
- To burn fat as fuel, you have to restrict sugar (ie, carbs). The resulting condition is known as ketosis, and can make your breath smell funny. It is thought that your body can speed up its ability to mobilize fat as an energy source, when carb-limited.
- There is a myth about good carbs and bad carbs. This really only applies to diabetics. All dietary carbs are converted to sugar, even potatoes. That's why all the talk about dietary sugar itself is nonsense. We've all seen people have a Splenda in their coffee with their whole wheat bagel. Are you kidding me? A little sugar is 10 calories and the bagel is 300 calories. Many people do not understand that all carbs become sugar during digestion. Yes, even brown rice and whole wheat bread. If you need the microscopic amount of protein in them you are in real trouble.
-To attain a target weight, you have to restrict but not totally eliminate carbs from the diet. One or two slices of bread and one apple is plenty of daily carbs for a weight loss program, along with the relatively small amount of carbs in vegetables.
- As I have posted in the past, exercise, especially intense exertion, has numerous health and life benefits but is an ineffective way to try lose fat without the primary dietary component. The reason is that the body burns carbs preferentially. It's easier for it to do. The body is set up to protect its long-term investment in case of starvation conditions and it is happy to store as much as you will offer it. It's a sponge.
- In middle age, metabolism slows for both men and women. Menopause, especially. Caloric needs drop substantially regardless of activity level. Accumulating fat becomes easier, and getting rid of it becomes more difficult. Best just not to accumulate it.
- It is true that, the minute your feeling of hunger goes away, you have probably had enough to eat. Also true that, in the prosperous Western world, feeding has become a recreation, an event, or a self-soothing therapy or a cure for boredom, and a clockwork routine, and both hunger and satiety signals are thrown to the winds. For example, many sedentary people will eat a lunch simply "because it's lunchtime."
- It is also true that intense daily exercise reduces appetite in most people. It has to be intense, though.
- The less you eat, the more your stomach shrinks and thus the quicker you are satisfied. If you pay attention to it, that is.
Now to fitness, not weight loss
- As for physical conditioning (but not for weight loss), it is true that anything beyond full-day sedentary is good. Maintaining mobility and ordinary functionality is a good thing. Use it or lose it. The more activity demands you put on yourself during the day, of any sort, the better off you will be.
- To maintain good conditioning in middle age and later age requires either day-long physical labor or a more compact, more intense, daily or every other day effort and commitment for those whose lives are basically sedentary. That is most of us in our luxurious, decadent era. (Walking around counts as sedentary as does weekend sports or yard work.) Otherwise, there will be more physical deterioration than we want.
- I agree with all who say that serious weight training is the best way to do that. I agree that intense weight training and high-intensity aerobics are the most efficient ways to improve or maintain physical conditioning at any age.
- a physically-stressful weight training program requires some protein for muscle repair and construction. It doesn't require very much, but it requires some small amounts during the day. A whole steak or fish filet is not necessary, but an egg or one slice of meat 3 or 4 times daily is plenty sufficient protein for a demanding program. Adult humans do not need much protein - except for pleasure.
- It is true that light, high-rep workouts and non-intense aerobics (meaning if you can breathe relatively comfortably) have minimal benefits, but they do make people feel good, reduce anxiety, and help with sleep. That counts for something. Better than nothing.
- Being fit will likely not extend your life, but could make it more pleasant, energetic, and functional. It will make you more attractive too.
- It has become clear to me that fitness and fatness is a class- and culture-related topic. In the US, poor people tend to be fatter and less active. I don't know why that is. For what's it is worth, Pres. Obama does a tough workout for an hour each morning with a trainer before he does anything else. So did Bush. Good examples for those of us who sit on our behinds most of the day to earn a living.
- Gluttony is a sin, deadly spiritually and literally like lust. Prosperous Romans ate until over-full, puked in the vomitorium, then went at it again. For fun. Their slaves were healthier than the patricians. Adult people do not need much food to be healthy and strong. On the other hand, fitness is a secular, esthetic, and practical virtue. I have never been able to think of my body as a temple but it sure comes in handy.
- Why are Americans overweight? Cheap food, habit, hedonism, TV, internet, prosperity, machines, minimal hard work to be done. It's no mystery.
A fairly good piece on the physiology: Fat Metabolism During Exercise: New Concepts
Friday, July 17. 2015
Yes, Cialis can help many women, especially post-menopausal women, experience more sexual enthusiasm and more pleasure.
If there's a problem, it is worth a try. You can buy it online. Sometimes it is labelled "Female Cialis," but I think it's the same thing men take. Check with your doctor, of course, but it's not a dangerous drug. Start with a low dose, and work up if needed.
I prescribe it often to women, and I'd guess that most find it helpful. A better sex life can improve a relationship in surprising ways, regardless of age.
Friday, July 10. 2015
There are many common words which, if you drill down into them, you just find turtles all the way down. What are those two things? Are they emotions, instincts, behaviors (ie adjectives turned into nouns), effortful behaviors, or just vague and ambiguous words?
We know that courage, for example, is a word for doing something we feel fearful or anxious about. But what is that?
Your thoughts, please. (And Gwynnie, please do not answer with a simple "Yes.")
Wednesday, July 8. 2015
People grow best in relationship with others. Ideally, a Virgil, or lesser ordinary amateur virgils.
It's difficult to grow religiously without a confessor, a director, or an intimate small group. It's difficult to explore one's own neurotic hang-ups without a therapist. It's difficult to grow in strength and endurance without a trainer or a group. You can read Bertrand Russell's book, but you can learn western philosophy better with a good prof as a human guide. In business, a mentor can be essential. And so forth. Self-protective isolation, which I term insulation, is deadly but feels safe.
A post we had earlier about placebo effect (morphine administered by a gentle nurse can be twice as pain-relieving as morphine machine-administered) showed how much the umbrella of relationship can help people by providing a human umbrella, a human container, which makes it easier to push the envelope of life. All things can be done alone, but far less effectively because that's the way humans are. Alone, we are limited, self-limited. Others with whom we are in relationship can push us, confront us, challenge us, correct us, and that helps us grow.
I like doing group therapy. It doesn't cure any mental illness, but it helps people grow in life regardless of their limits or emotional problems. AA the same.
A problem I have with the modern, bureaucratic idea of the commodification of technical medical care is that it ignores, or negates, the historical and, I believe, essential component of the personal relationship. Cookbook medical care is terrible.
The human connection provides the lift. Of course, that's why we need parents and siblings when we are kids.
Tuesday, July 7. 2015
A generation or two ago, many or most middle-aged people acted and looked old, stodgy, and even weary. This Youtube is good, re fitness for the over-50 set. It's not an ad for Crossfit but it does show what the middle-aged can do to keep on truckin'. I think the group experience adds something extra to it all, besides lowering the cost of the training:
Sunday, June 28. 2015
Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry,by Jeffrey A. Lieberman, M.D., with Ogi Ogas: A Critical Discussion
Dr. Friedman's discussion is excellent and interesting. One quote:
Sunday, June 21. 2015
I believe that gender surgery is, or is close to, medical malpractice. Psychotherapy is not likely to change these people either. Same with effeminate gays. Like it or not, we must all just accept that there is a lot of strangeness and discontent in the human species. Blame our hypertrophied cortex.
Friday, June 19. 2015
It seems to me that decent, spirited people always aspire to improve their souls, their brains and knowledge, their fitness, their appearance, their skills, their morals, their relationships, etc. etc. Giving up is not cool and shows no respect for God's gifts - and surely nobody wants their teeth to indicate that they might be from England or Bosnia.
Orthodontia in America: America’s obsession with perfecting its teeth.
Saturday, June 13. 2015
Sociopathy is common, ranging from violent to simply exploitative users (More). Don't be paranoid, but always make sure of people before welcoming them into your life. Superficial charm and pseudo-intimacy are clues. If they feel your pain, watch out.
Tuesday, June 9. 2015
Your Boss Wants You to Be Happier. This Is Not a Good Thing.
Right. Your happiness is not your boss' concern.
Monday, June 1. 2015
Sunday, May 31. 2015
"...the wind of opinion in recent years appears to have begun to blow against those who insist that Western liberal societies owe nothing to the religion from which they arose. Partly because the more we become acquainted with other traditions, the harder it becomes to sustain. Indeed, although some people still hold out, it should be evident by now that the culture of human rights has more to do with the creed preached by Moses and Jesus of Nazareth than that of, say, Muhammad. Nevertheless, the question of whether this societal position is sustainable without reference to the beliefs that gave it birth remains deeply pregnant and troubling in the West."
Thursday, May 28. 2015
From the article:
Wednesday, May 20. 2015
I often write about dietary and nutritional issues here, trying to debunk the fads, but I think anything people do to keep moving with vigor in all stages of life improves the quality and functionality of life. Physical and mental challenges, constantly.
All kinds of resistance exercises are excellent for the regular sedentary Western person to maintain posture, balance, function, bone density, and muscle mass. The challenge is that middle-aged people develop aches and pains, reminding us that Nature and maybe God never intended us to live much beyond our prime breeding ages. But, there is a need for a few wise elders. Why not be one?
What exercise cannot do, unless you are hiking the Appalachian Trail (we did it as a between-jobs extended sabbatical, before kids - Georgia to Katahdin. A crazy 5-month honeymoon of bliss, bonding, and exertion. Youthful woodland passion from hill to dale, from state to state. God saw us. Then hubbie's "garden leave" ended, we started new jobs, I got an office, life returned, and kids came. I think we created our first one towards the end of that hike and we later nicknamed him "Trail," - short for Trail Mix) is get rid of fat. Only diet can do that.
When people have young kids, they rightly neglect their own well-being. Nature demands that. After that chapter, you either rise or fall.
These are averages for average-fit people, not what might be desired. Average sizes, not lifters and hard exercisers (for ages 30-60). These rough numbers are with reps, however many one can handle (1-10):
Average fit male can bench press his weight.
Thursday, May 14. 2015
The Economics of Tidying Up: An Economist Reads Marie Kondo. “People are wrong when they think that pair of jeans will ever fit again, Kondo is arguing. Optimistic predictions keep people from getting rid of things they don’t need.”
We adhere to the two-year rule except for jewelry, art, firearms, and heirlooms.
Wednesday, May 13. 2015
Watch out. Assess peoples' characters, if you can. Watch out for flatterers and users.
Friday, May 8. 2015
Have trouble identifying the point at which you have had enough food to live on? Tend to eat as if in a race, too fast or more greedily than most other people? Tempted to eat impulsively between meals? Feel that you have to clean your plate without thinking, or without sensing normal satiety? Want a dessert even when you are full or over-full (not counting Thanksgiving)? Occasionally conceal your eating habits out of shame? Feel bad about yourself when you know you have eaten more than you need?
These are the main signs of a fairly-common "binge eating disorder." You do not have to pathologize it - it could also be called a "bad habit," or, from a moral standpoint, "gluttony," one of the Christian 7 deadlies. A First World problem, but not as much as you would think: there is more overweight among the "poor" around the world these days than among the more prosperous.
Like many so-called "disorders," it is mainly medically-defined as such for insurance purposes but it is a real pattern of impulsivity, often manifest in many areas. If it's a problem, it is easily addressed.
Binge Eating Disorder - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Help
Friday, May 1. 2015
It's nothing new in human cultures. It's been around forever. It's not culture that becomes sexualized, it's human nature. I think my point was that when you place mixed sexes in close proximity, really regardless of age, chemical things happen for a hundred different reasons. Often with unfortunate consequences. Work, home, school, wherever. More so today with coed campi and many women in the workforce.
Truth is, it can be overstimulating for both men and women. Overstimulating, and too easy for the weak of character and conscience.
My advice from such experience: Guys, if you desire your family's au pair, get rid of her. If you can't take your mind off your receptionist's body, get rid of her and hire an old lady.
This is why everybody needs his or her own code of behavior, and his or her own boundaries. No need to invent one's own because many smart people have thought about it already. God, too, as a gift to us.
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