Friday, August 6, 2021

A fraction of light

Our existence may be, but a fraction of light

If more exists of us, it’s out of touch and out of sight

My mind questions this, but my heart wants it so

For if that path be true, what wonders don’t we know

When our dust returns to dust, reclaimed by stars as we must

That essential being, left behind to see what’s true

Know Plato’s truth, yours shall of mine

Pure love endures, beyond space, beyond time


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Bigotry Harms Us All

Alan Turing, born 109 years ago today, was one of the most important figures in early computing theory and design. To this day all general purpose computers (which most are now, but were not in the early days) are said to be Turing complete, a critical concept which basically means that, given the right software, all computers are capable of performing the same, highly-complex tasks with only the need to support a small set of basic instructions.

During WWII, Turing was an critical part of the team of code breakers, working at Bletchley Park (UK), who gave the Allies the crucial advantage of being able to read the Nazi’s encrypted messages.

In 1952, for the crime of being homosexual, Turing received the punishment of chemical castration. Sadly for Turing’s family and for the world which would have benefited from the continued work of such a brilliant man, two years later, persecuted by the country he helped save from tyranny, much of his work classified and unrecognized, Alan Turing, OBE, FRS, visionary, pioneer, war hero, homosexual, committed suicide by taking a bite of poison apple. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Some things just aren't meant to be...

(Originally published as a Facebook Note in 2010.)


My former boss, Sheik, had been hounding me to find myself a girlfriend.

Sheik was thrilled that I'd be attending a wedding, as it's a great place to meet people (never mind that it was in St. Louis and I lived in Virginia Beach).

My boss, Jim, had recently started dating a wonderful woman whom we all joked he had met at a family reunion. To be fair, they're far from being blood relatives, but the trees definitely have some entangled branches. 

I sent the following email shortly after the reception:

Subject: Status Update: Romance at the Wedding


Since you have encouraged me to find a girlfriend at the latest family function I thought I would let you know about today's events.  This wedding was not one for the record books.  My best guess would be 30 people total.  Of that 30 only five of us were single.  To make matters worse the only other single attendee that was of legal age was one of my cousins.  While this would have stopped me in the past, Jim has taught me to get over such trivial things in matters of the heart.  Although everyone did a bit of table hopping (no, not dancing) I was able to chat up my cousin quite a bit.

Then came time to throw the bouquet.  This was a bit of a setup, where in my cousin turned around only to find what amounted to floral shotgun round being hurled directly between the eyes.  While this may have seemed like fate intervening to urge me along in my pursuit, by the end of the reception the champagne had worn off enough for me to realize that dating a first cousin still holds some social stigma.  Besides which he really wasn't my type.


He'd actually turned a lovely shade of purple just after catching the bouquet. Poor fella.

Monday, November 7, 2016

SPOILER ALERT: Hitler isn't on the ballot

Colorado ballot (source: flickr/bad9brad)
It's an amazing thing to read posts on Facebook and see links to breathlessly written articles proclaiming that a candidate who stands a very good chance of being elected President of the United States is "the next Hitler." More amazing still is the absolute lack of (intentional) hyperbole in those statements. What a relief that we're all together on this and ready to stop Hitler 2.0 from winning. Oh, wait...

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for avoiding the next Hitler, but I've stuck my head far enough into each of the major echo chambers to be left needing to ask the real Hitler to please stand up.

Sadly(?), a Hitler wannabe capable of attaining a similar level of dictatorial power in a system with far better checks and balances than the basket case Hitler mark 1 was able to take control of, simply doesn't stand a chance. Why then, has the political duopoly of the Democratic and Republican parties resorted to the old Reductio ad Hitlerum?

How do you get people excited to go out and vote when their team's candidate winning will only elicit a grudging meh from them come election night? Simple, make this "the most important election ever!" Everyone wants to help save the world from another Hitler. Nevermind that the same tune is played, on at least one side, every 4 years; who remembers that far back?

Okay, so what? We keep doing the same thing every 4 years and nothing ever changes. Let's try again!

There's a reasonable argument that abstaining is a form of voting; after all, it's done in Congress and the UN. Unfortunately there's no mechanism to differentiate abstention from apathy. The only way to record your disapproval of the duopoly is to reject both of their presidential candidates.

A vote for anyone else is a vote against continuing the insanity. You may not like who wins on election night, but at least you'll respect yourself in the morning.

Voting for either candidate of the duopoly guarantees that this won't be the most important election ever, because it changes nothing. Taking a stand and supporting a third-party now, just might make the next election truly revolutionary.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Knowledge is Power

My weight on Mars (July 2013). That makes 927 reasons to go to Mars.
There really is still only one rule, I promise. But, just as every law requires regulations to implement it, so too that One Rule requires a few guidelines to have it's maximum impact.

Guideline, The First (Primus):

Get on a scale at least once a week. Knowing how far you've gone requires knowing where you started. If you're the overly analytical sort (like me) you can do it more often; however, in that case, you must keep a careful record and look at the trend over several days, as your weight can easily vary by several pounds just based on varying degrees of hydration and the physical weight of food still in your digestive tract.

Regardless of how often you weigh yourself, in order for the comparisons to be meaningful, it's important that the circumstances be as uniform as possible. First thing in the morning with no clothes and an empty bladder, is usually the easiest. Even then, be aware that water retention can vary from day-to-day if your salt and/or water intake varies (water weighs 8.3lbs/gallon).

My own... personal... nightmare

It may seem innocent, but a simple bathroom scale can be one of the most terrifying objects imaginable. Hyperbole aside, it was certainly an emotional experience for me getting on a scale for the first time in several years. It was made even more so by the need to hunt down a scale that would accommodate my (quarter-)tonnage. But in the end, it had to be done and I'm better for the experience and knowledge.

You can do it!

Monday, January 6, 2014

One Rule to Rule Them All

The bad news...

No carbs? What do you mean, no carbs? To be fair, eating zero carbs is nearly impossible without resorting to extreme measures. That said, if you're doing it right, most of your carbs will be coming from green vegetables. That's right, spinach has carbs. Not many, but if your goal is a maximum of 30 grams per day -- and yes that is your goal -- they add up pretty quickly.

The good news...

It really is easier than it sounds. The first week will require some willpower, but after that sticking to the one rule should be mostly an issue of keeping the sugar pushers at bay. Repeatedly explaining to people that they're not helping by offering whole grain bread and sugared-up low-fat alternatives can be more harrowing than resisting strolling down the cookie aisle at the supermarket.

Here it is...

One simple rule: Don't eat sugary foods!

What is a "sugary" food? It's anything that you would think of as sweet, starchy (starch is basically sugar by another name), or glutenous* (anything containing grain or flour).

You can do it!

*Gluten itself is actually a protein, I'm describing the general class of food products. Most gluten-free products will contain just as many carbs as their traditionally prepared counterparts. It's the grain that you're really trying to avoid.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keester into Ketones (Fat into Fuel)

NOTE: Be smart, read this disclaimer before doing anything based on what you read here.

It all started when, Security Now host, Steve Gibson's urine began smelling like nail polish remover. Strange as it might sound, that was one of the surest signs that a fundamental shift had taken place in Steve's metabolism. A shift I would experience myself a few weeks after watching him explain his experience. That shift is something very different from the traditionally desired speeding up of one's metabolism. It's a change not in how fast your body burns calories, but in the source of the calories burned. After all, if you're looking to get rid of fat, burning glucose (sugar) as your primary fuel is (at best) inefficient.

"A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips." Sounds logical, doesn't it? The problem is it's completely wrong from a biochemical standpoint. Fat does not go directly from mouth to muffin top. Where does it go? Right where all nutrients absorbed from food go first, your bloodstream. The important part is what happens with the fat from there. If your body is conditioned to use that fat immediately as fuel, it gets burned. On the other hand, if carbs are your main source of energy it will be stored.

But wait, there's more!

If you're reading this, chances are you're interested in losing weight. Well you've come to the right place. The wonderful thing about a ketogenic diet -- the extreme end of the low-carb diet spectrum, in which this metabolic change takes place -- is that fat doesn't hang around in the blood stream for very long. Once you've burned what you've eaten, your body starts converting your keester into ketones which are then burned by your cells instead of sugar. All you have to do to keep the process going is avoid letting your cells take the easy way out by reverting to burning sugar. 

Gary Taubes explains the biology and nutrition better than anyone I've heard, without getting needlessly technical. If you're interested in the details (which you should be) or simply don't want to take my word for it (which you shouldn't), I suggest you watch this presentation. If you still want to know more, read his book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. If you're still not convinced, try the more information than you could possibly require version: Good Calories, Bad Calories

More definite advice on where to get started is on it's way. While I work on that, try replacing that pasta with a salad, just be careful of the added sugar in low-fat dressing.

You can do it!