Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Water! Drink More Water! Wait, What?

Actual science happening here, try not to be too shocked. Thanks to the ususally spurious Yahoo! news for this: now you can be shocked!

For The Last Time, You Don't Need To Drink 8 Glasses Of Water A Day
In a New York Times article published today (Aug. 24), Aaron Carroll, MD, urges readers to forget about aiming for 64 ounces and instead listen to their bodies. He’s debunked the eight-cups-a-day myth over and over, to no avail. Others have spoken out against it as well — the recommendation is “thoroughly debunked nonsense,” one doctor wrote in the British Medical Journal in 2011.

Monday, August 10, 2015

What? Media Writes Crappy Headlines, Film At Eleven!

It's been particularly frustrating lately, especially here at home with the race-baiting headlines and the stark manipulations from the press.

I'll start with the national news, one that I think is pretty demonstrative of the typical way these things happen, and one that #1 has elucidated very effectively today (8/10/15).

Donald Trump said yet another stupid thing after the Republican Presidential Candidate's debate last Thursday, expressing his feelings about the moderator, Megyn Kelly pretty inarticulately (shocking!) and I have to tell you, that based on the tweets, FB posts, and headlines, for three days, until this morning, I thought he said this:

"She had blood coming out of her whatever"

Because of quotes like this from this CNN article: "Donald Trump's feud with Megyn Kelly escalated Friday night when he said the Fox News host had "blood coming out of her wherever" at this week's Republican debate, resulting in swift condemnation from conservatives and a major political event pulling its invitation to him." 

When, in fact, he said ""You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," Trump told CNN's Don Lemon on Friday night. "Blood coming out of her wherever." (same article as above)

Watch the link and you'll see he was just struggling to get some words out and move on to the next topic. Trump is a personality, a loud, brash, self-aggrandizing creature of the American culture. I have no regard for him, never have, he's the type of Cait-kardashian-Kanye-honey boo boo-reality ilk that is a scourge upon our species, much less our culture, but he's getting totally hosed on this.


His poll numbers are up, so who gets the last word on this?

He has defended his remarks specifically that it's the hearers that implied something he didn't infer. Good for him.

Other stuff.

Ok, our local Fox affiliate has used this headline about a "19 year old college football player that was black and was shot by a police trainee": 
Trainee officer shoots unarmed college football player
The AP article begins: "An unarmed college football player was shot dead at a suburban Dallas car dealership by a trainee police officer during a middle-of-the-night burglary call. The death of 19-year-old Christian Taylor has raised some of the same questions as other recent police shootings involving unarmed suspects."

The article is so bad that I can't stand to read it, but it never explicitly states that the "victim" was committing a crime at the time (allegedly) but is sure to get some speculation from his father. This CNN article is better, using the AP story as its basis (or did the Fox affiliate edit it down to garbage? good question) getting around to the things he did that attracted police attention, but needlessly linking the Ferguson shooting of a year ago in attempt to paint it as racial (even though the Justice Dept came to the opposite conclusion).


Lastly, a University of Cincinnati cop killed a guy the other week, and he's being dragged through the mud. I'm not going to defend him, because he had no reason to shoot the guy. I have a couple of observations, of course.

If you watch the video, he wasn't being confrontational, or jerky in any way to the guy he stopped. The guy was being a little low-grade difficult, but it escalated in a flash when he told the guy he wanted him to get out of the car. We had just seen both of the officer's hands, so the speed at which he ended up pulling his gun and shooting it is shocking.

Why? I have an answer for that, I think with all the anti-police media attention over the last year especially (thanks to the drive-by media's Ferguson fiasco) coupled with the targeting and killing of cops including one here in Cincinnati, cops are on edge. It's causing the rate of cops killing people to spike rather than decrease because they are rightly SCARED.

Now, to the specifics of the case, I think that he's going to get off on the murder charge because the tape doesn't show what he may or may not have suspected, smelled, or seen in the car as he talked to the victim who was, as it turns out, in addition to the legitimate reasons for the stop and questioning (no front plate, no driver's license on him), had a bottle of "air freshener" to cover the scent of the drugs and cash that was in the car.... Which is why the guy was a little evasive, didn't want to get out of the car, and did, in fact start to attempt to flee before he was needlessly shot. 

Let me repeat that: needlessly shot. He was a guy doing bad things, but the officer should not have shot him. 

His family placed flowers as a memorial on the campus of my alma mater, which is interesting as I don't think he was ever a student there, so why memorialize him there? Because the officer that killed him was a UC cop? I just think the location is weird, that's all, clearly the family should so something to memorialize him regardless of the the circumstances of his death. Allowing it on the campus, though, I think is an error as he was in possession of pot and cash; driving without a license in his possession; driving without a front plate at the time of his shooting. If that makes me some kind of monster, I can live with that.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Have I Mentioned That Journalism Is Dead?

Journalism is dead, especially in my city.

Case in point: someone on Facebook, I think, linked to an article that they agreed with (I assume) about changing a street name here in Cincinnati. Why? T'was named after a horrible segregationist racist Vice President!!!!  The horror!

Original letter to the editor: It's time to dump Calhoun Street
Calhoun Street was named after John C. Calhoun, a two-time vice president of the United States (under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson), a U.S. senator from South Carolina, and a staunch supporter of slavery and states' rights. He is credited by many with having started the Civil War, even though he died in 1850.
I have wondered how a major city in a free state came to name a street after such a man, who had zero local ties. Quick searches of Google reveal that in 1828, a city in Illinois changed its name from Calhoun to Springfield; a bike shop in Minnesota is changing its name from Calhoun Bikes and op-eds are being published in the Post and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina) suggesting that it rename its Calhoun Street.
The realignment of Taft Road and Calhoun Street in the middle of the last century has presented a great opportunity to fairly easily drop "Calhoun" in favor of native son, President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft.
As an added bonus, it would be a great opportunity to more publicly feature the statue of Taft that now stands outside the University of Cincinnati's College of Law at the current corner of Calhoun and Clifton Avenue.
The time to do this is now.

Jack Martin, Clifton Heights

I, ever trusting my instincts, thought "BS' and tried in vain to locate some research online that either corroborated or refuted the claim. The comments were, of course, hilarious and frustratingly stupid, but there was some back and forth about who the namesake actually was.

Then, when attempting another web search for truth, I found that the paper finally, after the fact was informed that the writer WAS WRONG!

Editor's note, 9:20 a.m. Monday: Kevin Grace, head of archives and rare books at the University of Cincinnati, says the letter writer is incorrect: "There's no historical evidence at all for it being named for John C. Calhoun. There is some evidence that it was named for a Revolutionary War pensioner named Calhoun who was allocated a parcel of land that abutted the McMillan subdivison." Military veterans were often given the opportunity to buy land, Grace said. The street on the south border of the UC campus was called Calhoun before John C. Calhoun came into prominence, he said.

I was not shocked, after all, why would the have place a few phone calls to actual historians to be sure BEFORE they published the editorial letter, right? Crazy! Actually perform journalism? Ha!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Big Birthday Has Come and Gone

50 has arrived, and I'm none the worse for the wear (although the weekend of celebration reminded me how easy weight can return), and as I haven't posted for a while, I thought I'd take a few minutes to say Hi!

It was fun to have a little celebration, to sing a little, eat a lot, and get some unexpected gifts from some unexpected folks. I recommend it whole-heartedly.

All in all, remember one thing: getting older beats the alternative!

Here's a picture of Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch to ponder as a reminder that I received Go Set A Watchman as a gift, and the dvd of the movie from which the photo comes!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Target Fail, Kroger Win? Nutrition Label Fun

This really belongs on my other blog, but it's also inline with my cynical commentary here: nutrition labels are crap!

I essentially gave up drinking pop (soda for those in other regions) three years ago  after giving it up for Lent. Maybe one a month since then, not a truly hard and fast rule ("more of a guideline, really") and mostly the hard stuff like Creme Soda when I bother, no diet crap if I'm drinking a pop now! A lot of Lipton's Diet Green Tea Mixed Berry.

I do drink these single sleeve energy put-in-your-water-bottle drinks, although never as directed. I use a big bottle, more like 30 oz.

 I started with Crystal Light's Energy brand, but they are never on sale it seems, so I switched primarily to Kroger's brand (btw, the "Yumberry" isn't). Today when charting my breakfast as a part of my 50 Days To 50 Years Old countdown,

I pulled out the Target brand my wife had purchased and discovered the old trick: nutrition labeling a serving that's not a whole serving. Kroger FTW:

You see that correctly, Target has the serving as a half packet so that they can say "5 calories per serving" on the front of the box. Wow. Just. Wow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Have These Ideas and then see them on TV...

Actually this idea came from a combination of a casting notice I submitted to, an old idea to raise money to get a VW Thing, and my recent binge-watching previously mentioned in the next most recent post.
One thing that kept me awake last night was born of binge-watching Long Way Round and starting Long Way Down: taking a 48-state trip in a VW Thing, like I mentioned last August. I seriously would love to take a college buddy pal (as he says, "friends are friends and pals are pals, but buddies sleep together) on that trip, as we love food (we wrote a restaurant review column back in the day) and cars and stuff. Maybe a 2-car trip, him in a Mustang and me in a Thing! Film it, sell it as a show on whatever cable channel carries car/food/road shows....

The last August post read like this:
A flight of fancy had me considering a crazy Kickstarter campaign to raise cash to buy, fix up, and drive a VW Thing to all 48 contiguous United States. Film it, post updates from the road, then write a book to accompany the film. Whatd'ya think? 
Here are some maps created by others for this very task:

 Totally doable.

Last night, watching Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, I saw a commercial for this summer offering on Food Network, and they are driving a Jeep around the south! Not a Thing, but COME ON!!!!

First thought: they stole my idea! (not really, of course, you can't steal something that was just in my head and on this blog).

I had actually submitted Doug and myself to a reality show in February but never heard back, and my second thought after seeing the commercial was "that was the show I submitted to," but now that I see it's Paula Deen's sons that have already had a show, it may not have been the case.

Here's that description:

So, I got a notice via my talent agency about a food show that screams "far boys talk grub part two, the sequel" and wondered if you'd be interested if I submit for it: 

Have you and a friend/mate/sibling always dreamt of going on the ultimate ‘Foodie’ road adventure. Yes?!? You may become the hosts of our new TV series!!! High Noon Entertainment is casting for charismatic host duos for a new series for a major cable network. Our two hosts can be buddies, siblings, couples – just as long as you both have a strong history with each other, some sort of food background and have fun personalities with awesome on-screen charisma. This is a ‘road trip’ style show where our two hosts will travel to different cities and experience how America’s favorite snack foods are made, while getting a feel for the city itself. Food and fun….what more can you ask for!!! High Noon Entertainment, one of America's leading television production companies. We produce high-quality programming for networks such as HGTV, Discovery, TLC, Travel Channel, Reelz, Weather Channel, truTV, Cooking Channel and Food Network.

Not the same, but I bet it gets scrapped because of the Deen show.

I get what Joke and Biagio are saying: it helps if you are already known to get a new reality show made. Bankable personalities win over unknowns, duh.

Nevertheless, I think my idea is different enough, yet similar enough that it may have legs. Wonder what network would air it? Cars, travel, food, and ? Hmmmm

Monday, June 1, 2015

50 Days To 50 Years.

Today being June 1st, I realized this morning ( a day late and a dollar short as usual) that yesterday was 50 days until I turn 50 (I had to do the rhyme in my head, "thirty days has September,..) on the 19th of July.

I love stupid crap like this, so, it's going to be a thing, of course. I shaved last night, so I can pretend that was the start of whatever the "thing" is, I suppose. BTW, here's me:

Over on the other blog, I added some comments about using the remaining 49 days to drop more than just facial hair, but that's for over there.

So, let's prepare for the big 5-0 in 50 (well, 49) days!

One thing that kept me awake last night was born of binge-watching Long Way Round and starting Long Way Down: taking a 48-state trip in a VW Thing, like I mentioned last August. I seriously would love to take a college buddy pal (as he says, "friends are friends and pals are pals, but buddies sleep together) on that trip, as we love food (we wrote a restaurant review column back in the day) and cars and stuff. Maybe a 2-car trip, him in a Mustang and me in a Thing! Film it, sell it as a show on whatever cable channel carries car/food/road shows....

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Philosophy, Cognitive Psychology, Religion, and Happiness

I've been reading a fair amount of cognitive psych lately, catch as catch can, and mostly second-hand (that is, I'm not reading original scholarship, just other people's writings about it), and wanted to dump some links here so I can come back to them, as well as dump a little bit of writing I've done today here, too.

This guy is of like mind. In some ways at least. Here are some more links to his stuff.

Try You Are Not So Smart on as well, plenty of good thoughts there.

Alan Watts: “This is the real secret of life, to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now….”

You see, the thing is, all the answers of your problems have probably already been found. I know we are all unique individuals in this universe, but we are also all a part of the ocean of humanity that has existed for years upon years. Ultimately, our lives are so much more similar than they are different, no? That is why we read and re-read works of literature that are hundreds and thousands of years old: the basic themes of being a person haven’t changed. To love and be loved, to eat, to have shelter and freedom, or whatever other hopes and needs and wants that you can imagine which a Mesopotamian or Hittite or Incan (or whatever name you want to assign to any ancient people) was able to imagine just the same as you.

The “thing” is that it is no “secret,” especially not in this modern age of information literally at your fingertips. The “thing” is that so much of our drama, our comedy, our music, our art is telling you the “secret” all the time. So is our science! All you have to do is listen.
Listen. Listen to your heart, that “still, small voice” inside you that philosophy and religion will tell you connects to all humanity, to the Universe, even. Listen to the voices of the past and the present, and be open to the voices of the future, but know that you already know the answers, if you are brave enough to listen.

Alan Watts’ quote above sounds easy, and for some it is, I suppose. For most, it will be the most difficult undertaking they will ever attempt. What does it mean to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now?

I believe that you make your own reality. Let me explain. Cognitive psychology shows us that our perceptions are flawed and because of things like confirmation bias, hindsight bias, the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy, among other problems with our ability to sort of irrelevant from relevant data in front of us, we believe, indeed, we think that we know things that simply are not so. Essentially, we tend to focus on the things that we give our attention to, and give our attention to that which we focus on. Sounds like a load of crap, right? I mean, I just said the same thing forwards and backwards, right? Not exactly. The best example I can give you involves pregnant women and new cars. Not at the same time, silly people!

If you have ever been pregnant (or been a part of “we’re pregnant” if you know what I mean), or shopped for a new car (new or used, but new to you) you already know what I mean, right? By the time you finished reading that sentence you went “oh, yes, I get it,” but just in case, let’s elaborate briefly: when you or your spouse, partner, whomever, was pregnant for the first time, suddenly you saw pregnant women everywhere! You were surrounded! There was no escaping. It was like a nightmare scene from a movie (or a dream sequence, I suppose, if you weren’t’ scared of the impending chaos of parenthood?) Same for the new car, right? My family plays a game similar to the old “punch bug” or “slug bug” game with VWs, called Cheesy Squeezy, which we got from a friend, in which you squeeze someone in the car on the arm, knee, leg, when you see a cheesy-yellow car. Suddenly, there were lots of yellow cars I never noticed before!

The thing is, they were already there, of course. It’s just that we hadn’t noticed, we weren’t “attending to” the expectant moms or yellow cars or Hyundais until we were focused on them for selfish reasons.

So, I have a few questions for you. What are you attending to? (I know, never end a sentence with a preposition. To what are you attending? BTW, that grammar rule is totally arbitrary, it was Dryden’s folly). Where is your focus? What affects your focus? That one, I’ll answer: all kinds of input, much of which is both out of your control and, if I may use a controversial term, subliminal. We can talk about “priming” another time. Why are you attending to that? Is it urgent? Important? Does it make you happy? Does it give you pleasure? Joy? Or, rather, does it give you stress, anxiety, or even pain?

In my quest for how to say the things that history, philosophy, religion, science, and existence have taught us so that you can benefit from the accumulated learning of the ages (not a big deal, right?), there are a few themes that emerge.

  1. While common, it is also individual. Your conclusion are yours because you are, as I like to say, the “sum of your life experiences to date, including this right now.” You can’t step in the same stream twice, and you aren’t the same person you were yesterday because you’ve had another day of being you to add to the ingredients that make up you.
  2. Being a “searcher” leads to unhappiness, because it’s ultimately disappointing. “Let go, let God” is actually more peace-inducing, much like “everything has a beginning, has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.”
  3. Another Buddha quote says “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” Or perhaps you prefer “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” I like that one. Our thinking defines our reality, just ask a paranoid schizophrenic. This may be the most important thing, really. Try this one: “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” Dale Carnegie said that. Go read Norman Vincent Peale. You make your own reality.
I want to talk about that a bit. I read a story of a lady that was being taken to her retirement unit in the home by her son, telling him how much she was going to like it, he interrupted “Mom, how do you know? You’ve never even seen the place. The room could be tiny, the residents could be mean.” She replied, “It doesn’t matter, I’ve made up my mind that I will enjoy myself there, that I will meet new people and have a good time there.”  You can choose how you go about your days, it’s not a matter of which side of the bed you get up on! Choosing to have a good day is something you can do.

Happy people don’t have more pleasant things happen to them than unhappy people, they just attend to the good and let go the bad, so the overall impression of their life experiences is one of happiness! It really is that simple ultimately. Do things that make you happy, avoid the things that make you unhappy.