Wednesday, November 22, 2023

We’re going to need some rope,
pt. 3 

Hold on to your values there, Tex.

Conservatives are WEIRD, and so are liberals and progressives. WEIRD is an acronym for people who are Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic. This isn’t merely a lens through which we see the world. It’s a culture that has changed and shaped our brains.

The ability to read isn’t just a skill you learn but it affects the physiology of your brain, which in turn affects your perception of the world. If shown an image of symbols that are letters that make up a word, we can’t help but read it (which is something we don’t do with images, see “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” by Rene Magritte). It turns out WEIRD people think more individualistically than non-WEIRD people, who think more about themselves as part of a social network.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

We’re going to need some rope,
pt. 2 

Conservatives didn't invent hypocrisy, but they do hold many of the patents.

I understand, to a certain degree, "social conservatism". Some people don't like change. Some people want things to be the way they used to be. That's fine for them, and if they don't like things like gay marriage, no one will force them into a gay marriage, but why be a buzzkill on someone else's life? I don’t expect anyone else to be as interested in pencils as I am. If someone doesn’t want anyone to tell them how to live their life then they shouldn’t tell everyone else how to live theirs. Like telling them what books they shouldn't read, who they shouldn't love, how they refer to themselves, or how to handle their own body. Conservatives can't get enough of telling other people what to do. It can sometimes feel like Conservaties don't stand for anything but have a laundry list of what they are against. Conservatives didn't invent hypocrisy, but they do hold many of the patents, trademarks and copyrights.
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Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Seen in October 

We didn't see as much this month but the quality more than made up for it.

Where did you get those fab outfits? No, really, you're breaking the believability of this being a quaint Welsh town.

Sex Education S04

I spent most of season four trying to understand what the hell Cavendish College, the new school where the season is set, actually was. I couldn't understand how senior high school kids were at a college, but a college that had a "principal"? It turns out it's a Sixth Form College (a kind of prep school where British kids do their A levels in preparation for university). It also bugged me that everyone dressed as though they lived next to the most fabulous 70's and 80's vintage shop known to humankind. Let's forgive this ridiculous bit of art direction for what it was. This is all aside from the fact that this college is an American conservative's nightmare. It's woke AF, as the kids used to say. Within those environs we find that such in-your-face wokeness can also be toxic and oddly conformist. These youths use the language of inclusion almost to weaponized levels. Yet, there's still room for growth, learning and understanding. The older I get, the more I understand how we learn the most by listening, which, if I recall, is not something that teenagers are adept at. Hiding the shame of their spotty foreheads? Yes. Screaming their individuality at the top of their lungs. Also, yes. Listening? Not so much, but that's what makes this show worth the trip.

Selena Gomez, Martin Short and Steve Martin have chemistry even in an elevator.

Only Murders in the Building S03

I think a Slate article about Martin Short being unfunny was really about forcing us to recognize just how funny he is. There were a few episodes where the trio of leads were separated and maybe the humour waned but this show runs on all cylinders when they are together. It’s the show’s gestalt. The theatrical setting with dramatic cameos only makes you wonder what they can do next. Stay tuned.

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We’re going to need some rope,
pt. 1 

Upon crossing the Don River via the Queen Street Bridge, I happened upon a plaque with a brief history of how The Don River went from a popular recreational spot to an industrial resource. I succumbed to the mantra, “Always read the plaque.", and discovered in 1890 that The Don River was “improved” by straightening it, to prevent flooding (it worsened it) but also, and more importantly, to be a resource for industry to exploit. To be clear, the government paid to change the course of a river on behalf of local industry.

It reminds me how the current Ontario government wanted to release about 3000 hectares of protected greenbelt land so developers could build housing on it. The government said we need more affordable housing. We do. Yet houses built on formerly protected land wouldn't be high-density, affordable housing but low-density, expensive housing. Over 130 years after The Don River was straightened, the government was again changing the landscape on behalf of local industry.

“The Official Opposition NDP issued a statement criticizing the Premier’s Greenbelt comments, including his assertion that his government has “one of the best environmental records in the history of Ontario.” The statement pointed to his moves to curtail the powers of local conservation authorities, cancel 700 renewable energy projects, and weaken protections for endangered species, and said: “Um, okay Doug.”

Eventually, the plan to develop the Greenbelt was rejected by everybody, even the government's "base", which forced them to cancel their plans and even bring in legislation blocking anyone from doing anything that stupid again.
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Monday, November 06, 2023

So far, so good. 

Who wants to live longer?

American comedian Steven Wright once joked, "I plan to live forever." When asked how it was going he answered, "So far, so good."

I just read a book, Outlive by Peter Attia - (pronounced Ahh-tia) that recommends a healthy non-diabetic person should go out, purchase and use the kind of glucose monitoring system diabetics use all the time and monitor their blood glucose levels for two to three months. The idea behind it is sound. You will spend a month gathering and monitoring the data and the next month or two analyzing exactly what foods cause glucose spikes for you as an individual. Again, this is probably sound science and would be interesting to know. The point is to find out which foods affect you rather than relying on some general aggregated data about the general population. Good advice, but the same book argues that recommending very strict diets doesn't work because people can't stick to them, usually due to hunger or generally not feeling sated, like that feeling of having an apple and not feeling like you ate anything at all. Yet, the same book expects you to stick to a diabetic's level of glucose monitoring despite not having diabetes.

This is one of the problems with the book and its recommendations. You should eat healthily for you by finding out what foods affect you the most by carefully monitoring your glucose levels. You should exercise more, but very specifically training for strength, stability, flexibility and endurance by following peculiarly specific instructions. Attia gives very detailed data and instructions for following the data analysis, which is well beyond what anyone could do without a team normally reserved for professional athletes. Essentially he eschews taking a kind of moderate approach for something unusually complex, all to live longer and to better avoid the "four horsemen" of old age; cancer, heart disease, metabolic diseases such as diabetes and dementia from diseases like Alzheimers. Yet, while he recognizes that strict diet regimes don't work, he doesn't apply the same logic to other actions, namely exercise. Attia admits he has issues with being a data geek and an obsessive perfectionist, which probably explains all of this.

The author almost entirely ignores larger societal issues that make the problems of health difficult for any individual to overcome, particularly Americans and their excellent, but expensive and inaccessible healthcare. He discusses vehicular death as a problem we address with regulation and even admits to seeing the effects of gun violence in his time as an intern but only in the last chapter discusses mental health (an astounding number of gun deaths are suicides). In Canada we struggle to find a family physician never mind the sports medicine specialist, family practitioner, nutritionist, physiotherapist, sleep specialist, mental health therapist, and physical trainer you would be required to follow this, albeit sound and sage advice. His advice to practice "rucking", by walking an hour a day with weights in a backpack is particularly galling to me. Buddy, get rid of your car and try living any given day taking transit, walking or biking without your beloved "rucking". His blindness to all of these issues and concerns was highlighted to me by the increasingly simple health advice some journalists and activists are beginning to report.

The 7-minute workout and Michael Pollan's maxim to "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.", are perfect examples. This morning on the Guardian Website I read this even simpler distillation of what we can all do to live better, healthier and longer lives:

The eight health measures named by the American Heart Association:
  1. Eat a healthy diet
  2. Be more active
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Get healthy sleep
  5. Maintain a healthy weight
  6. Control cholesterol
  7. Watch blood sugar
  8. Manage blood pressure
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