And I feel fine?

Hrm….

Made one of those classic mistakes this weekend, retreating backwards against an energetic student.  Caught a waster thrust square in the face.  Fortunately for me, I have a big nose, but my upper jaw and gums have seen better days.

Also…. ate a vegetarian pizza today for lunch (just couldn’t stomach the chille rellenos on order, though I usually love them)… and actually enjoyed it.

Yeah, I know.  Freaky, isn’t it?

UPDATE:  Jimdesu proposes a caption contest… go for it!  First prize gets a cookie.  Or something like that.

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Pandora Radio

Okay, folks, this is Internet Radio… in particular, this is my new cracklike addiction.  Finally, an answer to “what kind of music do you like?”

So far, their emphasis on “channels” has hit the spot beautifully… and it works.  It’s nice, especially for guys like me who have this vast musical exposure that I can’t quite tap into, and want to understand the relationships better.

(Might be getting a soprano sax for Christmas, though… all you folks who think you know me are in for it if that comes through….  never guessed I had a secret thing for funk, did ya?)

Okay, this is just creepy: the Church of Obama?

You know, my wife has often remarked that the Obama campaign’s speeches sound almost exactly like the Communist Party speeches she had to hear growing up.  But as it goes on, and I make my DC15 Will check, I’m struck that this is as much a secular church meeting of sorts, much like the early socialists and their pro-social “hymns” predating the Internationale.

I mean… listen to it!  It’s….. well, it’s creepy.

Crazy Ukrainian Types

Teaching a seminar to people who are mostly talking in a foreign language is a very, very odd experience.

But they’re good guys.  And, yes, they pretty much look exactly like their personalities, particularly the ex-special-forces guy who’s now running a bakery (the gut, he says, is “advertising — is good for business”).

(as a side note, “Holy Widow’s Peak, Batman!”)

No more Steakburgers with Porkchops on top?

Well, shit.

Turns out caloric restriction doesn’t do a whole lot for humans.  Does for mice… but we’re not mice.  We’re frontloaded as a species (which is apparently what helped us edge out the Neanderthals in the resource race), but not so severely front-loaded as mice, who won’t survive more than a year in the wild no matter how good shape they’re in, and thus need to live hard and fast if they want to continue to survive.

But they ARE finding that protein may be contributing to IGF-1, which causes a lot of the aging problem.  Given that we get most of our protein from red meat, it may also explain the “excess iron” problem most adults have in their mitochondria (which, given the way women tend to lose iron in menopause, may actually explain the lifespan difference).

So now we’re looking at .7 to .8 grams per kilogram of body weight, per day, as a possible (and possibly much more comfortable) longevity path.

I’m 6′, 180.  180/2.2 = ~81kg.  81*.7 = ~56 grams of protein per day.

Pulling this back into units I actually deal with on a daily basis… 56*.0353 = just under two ounces of protein per day.  In other words, the porkchop I just had at lunch just did it.

Serious tradeoffs, folks.  On 2 ounces of protein per day, you may be perfectly healthy (and vegans they’ve checked out doing this apparently have been).  In addition, this dovetails with some startling evidence suggesting that specific kinds of primarily vegetarian diet can be VERY good for you.

On the other hand, you’re not going to be a strength athlete on that little protein per day, and there may be variations due to genetic diversity going on, as well.  Bottom line: if you need the muscle, you’d better get the protein, but if you don’t… it’s probably a good idea to munch more veggies and less critters.

What is not explained here is the protein source, and that may count — would a low-iron protein source result in different IGF-1 levels than a high-iron source?  Fish for the win?

Egypt Christ

From the department of Weapons-Grade Cute:

“I believe in Egypt Christ!”

“What?  Why?”

“He could do anything!  He could run faster than anybody!”

(Leon is five and a half, and Jewish.)

I wish

I wish that we could get away with ads like this in the land of oh-so-serious, oh-so-PC.

Oh.  I also wish this setup had adjustable margins.  Click through if the text is cut off.

Zap Alias: I wants it.

If they won’t sell me an Aptera, then an Alias will do just fine.  It’s the midlife crisis car that’s respiratory-system friendly!

Alien Spaceship confuses Scientists

But they refuse to draw the obvious conclusion.

The Meltdown Cometh

Been ranting about this for years, having been there on the inside with a ringside seat… Lehman, WAMU… it’ll keep spilling out, now that Uncle Sugar has finally realized that they can’t bail out the entire financial system.

Here’s to hoping a lot of the financial guys I saw greenlighting obviously fraudulent appraisals wind up out on their asses this week.

Hate to quote Fark…

But the commenter to this has it dead on.

“You know what sucks worse than having your house wash out to sea?

Watching it burn on TV beforehand.”

Something on the order of 24 thousand people apparently refused to evacuate from Galveston Island.  Any that manage to actually ride this out and have families should immediately be prosecuted for felony child endangerment: the storm surge on this sucker is expected to be 10% worse than Katrina.

Electoral Politics and the Irony of Blue-State Refugees

Following up on my previous electoral politics post, I did some talking to some folks from Colorado and the Pacific NW, specifically about people leaving California.  Generally they leave for economic reasons.

Those economic reasons are, it’s safe to say, generally politically-driven.   California has a long history, as (by far) the wealthiest state in the nation, of driving business to go elsewhere — damn shame, as California has a hell of a lot going for it.  As people do the same thing, however, they very rarely conclude that the same sorts of politics that uprooted them shouldn’t be brought with them.

Thus, California emigrants are known to be consistently taking the Mountain West from “Red” to “Purple,” or even flat-out “Blue.”  Looking at the electoral map, it’s pretty clear that Colorado’s shift to generally liberal politics is what’s giving the Democrats their edge, because they’ve swung districts that would normally have been as blue as Houston is red.

Looking at the electoral map, it’s really hard to see any of the “swing states” changing direction — and equally hard to see how any other mix of candidates would have changed that pattern, either.

A similar pattern is evident in New Mexico, where Blue-state emigres (not merely Californians, but a surprising number of New Yorkers) moves the state from purple to deep blue.  Here in Texas, Dallas is now significantly more liberal than Fort Worth, and is nearly being colonized by people moving in from New York and New Jersey.

If the same Blue-state politics these folks bring with them become dominant, the Republicans will have been hosed — not necessarily because of the Democrats’ electoral success… but directly because of people fleeing their regulatory and economic failure.

Given the Republican party establishment’s general tendency to not merely ignore the grassroots, but to scorn the very notion that it should care about what its political base thinks, I’d say that these demographic pattens screw them in the long-term.  If political liberals ever recover from their ideologically-induced economic ignorance — and watch out, elephants, we now even hear CATO Institute representatives giving educational blurbs on NPR’s Marketplace! — the foreign-policy issues that have had libertarian/conservative voters holding their noses and falling into line for the past twelve years will not be enough to save the Republicans from extinction.

Green Up Space

I want a green revolution consisting of bazillions of oxygen-generating lichens splattered all over the inner solar system.

Why not?  Anything absorbing radiation that’s not us has to be a pretty good idea, right?  Well, except, of course, for when it inevitably mutates into flesh-eating deadliness.

Seriously.  When I was seven, that movie scared the bejeezus out of me.

9/11 Lesson on Terrorism

Through an accident of timing, I actually did teach on this today.

I hadn’t intended to.  The media is saturated with both the appropriate, and the biliously hypocritical, observances of the date.  Rather, I opened the lecture with Carnegie, and “Wealth.”  Worked through his prediction of the price we pay for the miracles of industrial society — the mutual suspicions and lack of understanding between the haves and have-nots.

Then, as counterpoint, the testimony of George Engel, about to be executed for his role in the Haymarket Square Riot.  They call him an anarchist, but what that actually means is “marxist terrorist.”  And why was he an Anarchist?  According to his own words, he became an anarchist when he got recruited in the factory by a man who had both a grievance, and an entirely new worldview to sell.  Once sold on the vocabulary of the proletarian, he was able to say with a straight face, without shame, that he didn’t throw the bomb on Haymarket…but that if more “workingmen” had bombs, the world would be a better place.

That’s all you need… it’s not the arguments, but how you frame them.  Not the issue, but how it’s defined.  And once you’re sold on the idea that the dude running a donut shop, or working as a lawyer, doesn’t fit within the “Working Class,” but is instead a class enemy… the bombs come next.

It’s surprising how many of my students get played by Engel.  It’s even more surprising, and somewhat gratifying, to see the horror on their faces once the lightbulbs come on.

The Great Freedom War

As many people pay attention to 9/11, I thought it might be worthwhile to look at the state of the world.

Russians are landing blackjacks in Venezuela.  They’re supposed to not be carrying nukes.  Are they?  Would you take Vladimir Putin’s word?

Is this a soundbite action meant to bolster Russia’s prestige?  Are the moves in South Ossetia a prelude to similar in Transnistria and the Crimea?  Is this a preface to using Venezuela as an outright proxy, just as Krushchev used Castro? Would the Russian government, whose recent moves make clear that it intends to keep its boot firmly planted on the necks of the Russian people, use those oil reserves to do so?

Iran has done so, but is rapidly discovering that exporting its wealth to support Hamas and Hizbollah creates serious problems at home.  Is it enough that Iran could conceivably fall to a “colored revolution?”  Or are their paid thus sufficient to cow a population that is now literally beginning to be unable to buy food?

We have seen that in China, no peoples’ revolution is forthcoming.  Even while trying to puts its best face forward (as if the regime has one), the PLA showed that it is fundamentally terrified of the thought of human beings not safely micromanaged at gunpoint.  Yet, will that change with the underground conversion of tens of millions of Chinese to Christianity, and the very different set of ethics that goes with that?

And how many of these problems should be addressed as one problem: the same problem?  Are the people at Freedom House right when the document the progress of the 1990s starting to be rolled back?  Does the startling cooperation of supposedly-unrelated tyrants  — Communist, Islamist, Narcokleptocratic, and other — mean that tyranny itself is the problem?  And what does that mean for us as Americans, if we decide otherwise?

The irony, as I was doing lesson-prep last night, is that even at the height of the Cold War, the brutality of a system of gangsterist tyranny that cost a hundred million lives had to be sold as an dream of freedom.  You probably can’t understand the song I just linked, but its most moving phrase in praising Lenin and the heroes of Communism is its (brutally ironic) assertion that one day the people will be free and happy.  The desire to be so is nearly universal.  So is the Cold War really over?  Or did it start not in 1946… but in 1918, when Woodrow Wilson declared that every nation has the fundamental right to chart its own destiny?

This needs to be talked about — as a nation, we need to decide where we stand on this issue.  Because both the tyrants, and those who wish not to be brutalized by them, are watching.

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