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, 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.
Sunday, April 19. 2015
Most exercise is a terrible and inefficient way to lose weight if you are too heavy or fat. Just think about it: A four-five mile high-speed walk will barely burn off the calories in a donut, muffin, or bagel (with the cream cheese, add another few miles). You would have to walk all day, every day, to lose weight.
Remember, all carbs=sugar and yes, that includes the carbs in beans, peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, yams - all the high-carb "veggies." We feed those things to farm animals to fatten them for slaughter. Some people get wacky about sugar, but human digestion turns all carbs into plain sugar so there is lots of physiological ignorance out there about "complex carbs" and so forth. So-called "complex carbs" just get turned into sugar more slowly.
Nature designed us to love carbs because nature expected us all to be poor and half-starving on the African savannah. If you have excess fat which bothers you or slows you down, you do not need hardly any carbs. You do need some fatty meats, though, or other fats like olive oil.
If happy with your physical condition and level of conditioning, please ignore all of this.
I've been following Bird Dog's fitness renewal program which is not designed for weight loss but to convert fat weight to muscle weight, and I approve of it. A bonus of that sort of high-intensity program (which I have done for a few months in the past to rapidly get back to fighting condition after periods of relative sloth, such as after childbirth, to get back my 28 year-old weight and fitness) is that it can help a fellow survive a male's almost-inevitable MI by building up collateral cardiac blood supply.
While high-intensity work-outs will burn fat (but only if on a carb-restricted diet), the main things they build are aerobic capacity and endurance, agility, a feeling of youthful vigor, and muscle fitness if not muscle power. Those are all good things. (Gross muscle power development - body-building - requires heavy lifting instead of reps and is more about appearance than fitness. A harmless hobby for some.)
Barnhardt says this:
I do not think food is the main post-Christian preoccupation, but it does seem common in the higher socio-economic classes. These are often the educated who missed Physiology 101 and Biochem 101. Think Whole Foods and "organic" farming. I think we have been clear on this site that most dietary preaching here is about weight loss, not general health. Nobody can define a "healthy" human diet, as we are omnivores which means we can thrive on anything digestible. In America, we are blessed with cheap and abundant food of all sorts and spend a lower percentage of our funds on tasty food than anywhere else in the world. Thus many people eat more than they need, for fun.
As I have said, I have seen 6'3" football players who grew up on nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and the occasional hot dog.
Thursday, April 16. 2015
This gives a very close idea, I'd say +/- 3 points. It is context-free so has nothing to do with education, just pure mental horsepower. Give it a try. You will either be humbled and hate yourself for being an overachiever - or hate yourself for being an underachiever. No, not really. Many will figure they had themselves pegged correctly.
Speed counts, of course. No allowances for slower thinkers or "disabilities" because it is not a test of knowledge or operations. I came out 123 which I think is about right.
Wednesday, April 15. 2015
I have posted about IQ in the past. It's said to be a measure of "g", which is not much different than saying IQ is a measure of IQ.
IQ and total SAT scores are well-correlated so, at the least, it says something about one's power to handle relatively, but not extremely, complex cognitive tasks like higher math, challenging reading, high-level abstractions, etc. etc. It's about cognitive potential more than anything else. In today's world, cognitive powers matter more than they used to and more than they should, I suppose.
Many psychiatrists and psychologists have learned over the years to estimate peoples' IQs quite accurately, just in conversation. Subtlety of mind, rigor of logic, and curiosity as manifested by breadth and depth of knowledge are some of the markers. Of course, there is the birds of a feather issue too: people tend to find others within a similar range most engaging.
Very high IQ is a life handicap, sad to say. There are few of those, though. Lower IQs which are fully-functional and effective in life are far more common.
Medium-range IQ is the most life-adaptive (ie 110-115) for 95% of things in life from plumbing to software sales to money management. It's often been reported that the ideal IQ for CEOs of large, intricate organizations is near or around 130. Of course, character, personality style, sense of humor, and ability to connect with others in a positive way play perhaps larger overall roles in life although they will not help you perform, or even understand, a regression analysis. Furthermore, even moderately alert managers can easily hire brighter people to carry their water and make them look good. We call that "savvy" or "street smarts," not intelligence.
Here's a good essay on IQ and professional performance.
Lots of awkward nerds there.
Report says schools still shortchanging gifted kids - UI research finds many high-ability children bored and unchallenged, despite increased access to programming
Most public school teachers can rarely keep up with the truly gifted
IQ and wealth are the two of the main things social justice warriors hate. They sort-of tolerate every other sort of inequality like musical talent or running speed.
Tuesday, April 14. 2015
We were introduced to this handy term for a certain kind of manipulation by the McCain website.
Wednesday, April 1. 2015
This is the sort of crap that drives docs to retirement. It's called "electronic medical records," and it is essentially government-mandated in hospitals now. It is an incredible time-waster, and almost requires physicians to follow a script instead of focusing on you. Docs used to just note relevant positives and relevant negatives quickly on a piece of paper in a minute, and then practicing the art and science of caring about you.
"Care" is not an economic term. It is not a technical term. The "medical care" experts don't get that.
Read it and weep: Please Choose One.
It's too late to keep corporate and government bureaucracy out of American medicine. We all must now just seek out physicians with the traditional, independent medical values, who work for you despite the intrusions. However, most of them will not "take insurance" anymore. They can't afford the professionally-trained billing staff.
Sunday, March 29. 2015
I have seen plenty of marriages hit the rocks on those shores, but on plenty of other shores too. "Class" doesn't mean money in the bank. It means a shared understanding and approach to reality and relationships - and interior decor!
Tuesday, March 24. 2015
Different people with different problems and different personalities can benefit from different approaches. Psychoanalytically-informed approaches can be extremely valuable for some people, and useless for others.
Friday, March 20. 2015
I read that article in The Atlantic. I disagree with almost all of it. There is no better or cheaper (it's free) approach to substance abuse for the motivated person.
It's not about "Does it work?" It's about "Does the person work it?" Sanity, like physical health, is not a passive enterprise.
Nothing can be done for the unmotivated person. However, some people on a downward spiral need a little rehab (ie forced abstinence) first to get a little clarity; some people benefit from naltrexone or topamax, and all benefit from treatment of any coexisting problems.
Thursday, March 5. 2015
"Emotion" is sort-of an artificial construct, is it not? It - whatever it is - can rarely be separated from cognition, perception, ideas, and all other mental processes and biological instincts. We easily can identify, in ourselves, lustful desire ("urge to merge"), rage, despair, joy, fear and anxiety - but these extremes are rare and still more expressible by poets and musicians than by scientists.
Friday, February 27. 2015
Marketing can work wonders, as can the placebo effect. Don't be a sucker.
Wednesday, February 25. 2015
What drives the disease craze? Big Pharma, and insurance. Normal variants are labeled as diseases and disorders. Think ADD, ED, infertility, fear of dying, and on and on. I term them, smirkingly, "life-style disorders."
Here's an emerging new disorder: A Pill That Boosts a Woman’s Sex Drive Is Almost Here. But Do We Need It?
What shall we term the medical disorder which this pill fixes?
Monday, February 23. 2015
Sunday, February 8. 2015
These programs are designed by Child Psychologists. Since when are they experts in this? I'd prefer a panel of grandmas, myself. Some kids, of course, are especially challenging if not impossible. Easy kids make parents look good; tough kids make parents look bad.
Friday, February 6. 2015
A brief history of marriage, by a gal who may have missed the boat: All the Single Ladies
Monday, January 26. 2015
Mental-health practitioners whose clients kill themselves can face stigma from their colleagues, lawsuits, and a toll on their own psyches—making them less likely to take on suicidal patients who need their help.
Unlike most other medical specialties, where deaths are routine, suicide is imagined to be preventable. Very often it is not, any more than death from most cancers can be prevented. If all suicides were caused by simple depressions curable by a pill, that would be different. However, it's not like that. Intractable, relentless emotional pain is only one of many paths to suicide.
Like most Psychiatrists, I have had a number of them in my practice. It happens if you take on difficult cases or cover ERs. Despite all I know about suicide, it still does shake one's confidence and excites the ambulance-chasers. Most suicides, of course, never seek any help from physicians, and some who do, lie.
Wednesday, January 21. 2015
Look, everybody must come to terms with the fact that most people will not like us, or be interested in us, or want to help us. That's part of growing up. Despite that, there are plenty of people out there who want a friend. We have to understand that others, like us, are discriminating in their own ways. When friendships and relationships do click, it sure is fun and life-enriching, isn't it?
I once helped a very shy young fellow deal with his fear by commanding him to introduce himself to a pretty girl on a daily basis - including in NYC stores (eg Bloomingdale's), gourmet food markets, and supermarkets. He complied bravely with great faith in my advice, and in a very few instances somebody liked the cut of his jib and his (apparent) confidence and phoned him. Cured by Reality Therapy! He did not become thicker-skinned, just realistic.
Thursday, January 15. 2015
It has always seemed grandiose to me, but I understand that Frankl needed to find some purpose or reason to hang on, as do most people in prison camps. In the end, he produced a work which is inspiring to many.
It's easier for me, with an ordinary life, to get my mind around the search for simpler things like money, good food, romance, being useful, raising kids, living with integrity, being a good friend and spouse, and the like. When it comes to ultimate meaning, I'll go with Jesus and won't presume to invent my own. I am not smart or inspired enough to do that even if I wanted to.
Sunday, January 11. 2015
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