Saturday, July 29, 2006

More on obesity

Slate today warns against reaching for the easy answers on causes of obesity. This piece was based on a University of Alabama at Birmingham study, so a big shout out to UAB! Contributing factors less obvious that bad food and sedentary lifestyles may include...
  1. Inadequate sleep -- this can apparently make you fat.
  2. Chemical contamination -- the environment is contaminated with endocrine-like substances.
  3. Heating and air-conditioning -- you don't burn off calories to stay warm, and the heat doesn't kill your appetite.
  4. Smoking cessation -- well, if you've quit...
  5. Medications -- Prozac, birth control pills and more promote weight gain.
The piece also contains a pithy response to problem solving by common sense: "what's obvious isn't necessarily true." This seems like a nice motto for a scientific college.

Rethinking Disposal

So, people ask me why I have a blog. And my answer is always this: that it protects my friends and family from getting email from me on random topics that I feel I want to express myself about. Self expression is a real drive, and the blog lets me do it without hurting anyone.

This is especially germane now, as I want to talk about disposal of my earthly remains. Imagine getting an email on this topic. Wouldn't that bother you?

I was fascinated in Kenya by the Kikuyu tradition of abandoning dead bodies for the coyotes to eat. This seemed very cycle of life -- the coyotes get temporarily sated, you get rid of the body, and the local coyotes become trained to eat people, which protects your encapment from individuals sneaking up in the dark. This didn't seem like something I could really arrange, but it got me into a process after which I decided that I'd like to be skeletonized and donated to a high school. This is why I'm not an organ donor. Bad for the bones.

However, I was reading about this body farm today, and it struck my fancy. You get to decompose in the open! I've always been super uncomfortable with the idea of enbalming. I've known enough experts not to really trust anyone else to declare that I'm dead, and I personally know a coroner who bagged a living body. But, at the body farm, they just leave you out to rot! That's its purpose.

I'm totally doing that instead.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Obesity Map

So, I've just been musing over this map. New England has four of the seven states with an under twenty percent obesity rate, despite its delicious cheeses.
  • Hawai'i has 'no data.' Anybody care to hazard a guess? I suspect it's misleading that they vote Democratic.
  • The powerpoint presentation is an eye opener. 1985 had a lot less obesity. Here's a sample slide...

Hate has no place on the airwaves

Recently, the major television networks have given a platform to conservative hate merchants like Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and Melanie Morgan.

Coulter's column is distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, one of the country's largest syndicates. Beck was recently hired by CNN Headline News. Morgan broadcasts from a radio station owned by Disney. And all three -- and countless others like them -- are regularly given guest spots on cable-news networks.

The fact that these right-wing pundits -- who have called for the execution of public officials and others -- are given a platform in the major media is unprecedented.

Please sign this petition (with complete contact information) to show that the American public does not endorse the hate speech that these pundits are spewing.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The winning drink was by Tad Carducci

>2.5 oz Seagram\'s Tahitian Sunset
>1 oz. white rhum agricole(La Favorite)
>1 oz. Cherry Heering liqueur
>1/2 oz. guava nectar
>1/2 fresh orange juice
>1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
>2 tsp. coconut ginger foam

I spoke with Tad before the event and he told me of his plan to add guava and lime. We were both a little concerned about the sweetness of the Tahitian Sunset, which he seems to have addressed by making it less than half the drink. I stuck to my guns and added no additional alcohol -- it maybe could have turned the tide, but I'm not in the business of making people drunk. Which I guess is my core downfall as a bartender.

So, no big Tahiti trip, and -- while I competed head to head with the City's top mixologists (Tad actually runs a 'beverage program' in New Jersey) -- I didn't win. But, there's always tomorrow.

Hey, guys? Take out the cell phone towers

So, you know there's some military violence going on in Israel, its occupied territories and Lebanon. And the Israeli Defense Force is fighting an NGO called 'Hezbollah.' This article in the Washington Post points out that Hezbollah is really much better at fighting than the Israelis expected -- the main factor here is probably that the US gave up interest and credibility in maintaining peace in a region where Israel steadily crept outward, but one factor is certainly that the IDF has not adapted its bullying tactics to changing times.

But, the last line in the article (and thanks to Slate for the tip) is
Timur Goksel ... watched Hezbollah grow into a potent force during 25 years as a senior adviser to the U.N. observer force along the Israeli-Lebanese border.... "The command and control system is this," Goksel said, holding up a cellphone.
So, Israel has spent the last few weeks bombing Beirut and bridges all through Lebanon. They've created civilian and UN casualties, as well as making it very difficult for Lebanon -- a country which just threw off the yoke of Syrian rule -- to govern its country. It seems to me that they could have taken out the cell phone system in southern Lebanon, and really gone about this much less haphazardly.

This is of course the joy of being an armchair general, but cell phones seem to be a pretty easy thing to render useless. If that's what's making Hezbollah so tough, one has to wonder why the towers are still standing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Name that drink! 511 Lexington, tomorrow at 5:30

So.... I'm one of the City's top mixologists. Long time readers will know that I have a Master's in Mixology from the Harvard Student Association, but my mad skillz have largely been kept under a bushel. No longer! Tomorrow night at LQ I'll be delivering an arbitrary tropical concoction amidst people who were promised they'd be competing "against the City’s top mixologists," from which I infer that I am one.

I'll see you there.

Hi, Rionn.

Thank you for your submission to the Seagram's Tahitian Sunset Mixology

I would like to congratulate you on having your recipe chosen for the
final competition to be held at LQ on Wednesday evening.

Please confirm that you will be able to attend the event from 5:30-7:30


-----Original Message-----
From: Rionn Fears Malechem [mailto:malechem@...]
Sent: Monday, July 24, 2006 4:44 PM
To: Katie M
Subject: Submition to the Tahitian Sunset Mixology Contest

Name: Rionn Malechem
Bar/Affiliation: Island Radio

Pour a bottle of Seagram\'s Tahitian Sunset cooler over a dried papaya
spear. Shake fresh ground black pepper over the drink, and top with

Friday, July 21, 2006

Brave New Theaters

So, I just got a news release from Brave New Theatres, an emerging network of viewing rooms that show "movies that matter" -- mostly about how our government sells us out to corporate America.

Now, I am completely behind telling this story again and again in different ways until everyone has internalized the problem and it has been solved. So, I'm on board with this project, and the first three of the four listed initial movies are pretty much in that line -- what wonderful people evangelical christians actually are when you get to know them, why we should rescue house pets in disasters, stories of Iraq -- but the last one reminded me of Steve Martin's demand for "one million dollars, a getway car, and I want the letter 'M' stricken from the English language."

One unexpected problem beseiging America (which might explain the Seattle Stadia):

From Alex R. Mayer
Paul Alien is the film that proves Seattle billionaire Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and the creator of Seattle's Science Fiction Museum, is collaborating with space aliens hell-bent on seizing control of earth. Why did these alien overlords select Paul Allen to be their front man? In an era where the disparity between rich and poor is ever-widening, why are private corporate interests allowed to secretly hire space aliens and get tax breaks to take over the world?

Paul Alien answers these questions and more while exposing the audience to Seattle's sordid economic underbelly of hobo street performers, anarchist junkies and an anti-alien resistance cell. Paul Alien contains shocking surveillance footage of Mr. Allen interacting with strange looking two-foot-tall alien creatures, known as 'Skoolabugs' and from the planet Zorkon. And, in a rare interview, media-shy Paul Allen admits that he plans to turn Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood into an intergalactic launch pad.
Learn more, watch the trailer, buy the DVD, and host a screening

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What would your mother say?

So, Nakuru -- where I lived for a few months in 1989 -- has done a little vigilante action. The mother of one of the boys who was captured, beaten to death and burned by the mob for rape and theft was interviewed by the BBC, and had this to say:
"I have never known my son to be a thief because at no time has he ever stolen from me," said Lucy Nduta.

"But if he was in the company of such robbers, then I cannot defend him."

Really, so glad not to be living in Boston

When I was in college, ending in 1989, I visited Boston quite frequently and thought that once they got the Big Dig stuff out of the way, it'd be a nice place to be.

I moved there ten years later, and left after another six, just subsequent to the opening of part of the Big Dig. Apparently, that hadn't gone well.

And it looks like they're going to have to do it over.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Poleward Hurricanes

So, I know this hurricane season is making you as tense as it's making me. Sure, they all start slow, but we've had very few enough tropical characteristics in our cyclones this past month-and-a-half. But, there's something rotten in the state of Massachusetts:
What this could be is the year of the upper latitude hurricanes. You know that kind of abstract pity we've felt for the people of Qunitana Roo, the Dominican Republic and other Carribean areas? You should start preparing to feel it for Big Tobacco.

Possibly the worst reason to support a presidential candidate

Is that he looks like me. Some guy I interviewed with two years ago was absolutely struck at Mark Warner's resemblance to me. Really, if he changed parties and put climate change, prison reform, and maybe another issue or two from my grab bag at the top of his agenda, I would support his bid for the presidency.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Measurements of Success

So, I've been getting more spam along the lines of

Make your girlfriend or wife speechless with increased hardness,
richer orgsms and more power in bed
Have more success with women and impress them with your power and
stamina in bed

Give credit where credit is due Do not look where you fell, but where
you slipped
Life is like a good book, the more you get into it the more it makes sense
Which don't make any sense to me. Now, I've been receving erectile dysfunction emails for years along with the rest of you, but only recently, I think, have they started telling me that 'increased hardness' will increase my success with women. I tend to think that if my hardness is an issue, I've already succeeded.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

7 % of people in the US have diabetes

So, there's lots of good news today. The new NEF Happy Planet Index is out, for instance, putting us 150th in happiness among the world's industrialized countries, for which I of course blame commuting. Manhattanites are happy people.

But, what caught my eye was the efforts of Bronx Council Member Joel Rivera to force diversity into urban food choices. You might suspect he's on the payroll of Big Seaweed, but for now let's take him at his stated goal of reducing obesity.

I was sharing with some Alabaman friends that -- due largely to Bronxian contributions -- New York had a 10% diabetes rate (it's actually 12.5 %, but there we were without a browser,) and they mocked me. Apparently, it's higher in Alabama. But, just 7 % overall, so we can still feel terrible about our standing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Technology Review backs up the president

Now, you recall my recent praise of George Bush, as he proclaimed the truth of anthropogenic climate change and announced solid steps toward addressing it. We always think of Bush as an Andover/Yale/HBS man -- highly connected, wealthy, believing most of humanity was a backdrop for the theater of the rich -- so it was surprising to see MIT's Technology Review echo him on the cover.
Special Report: It's Not Too Late. The energy technologies that might forestall global warming might already exist. Cleaner coal, smarter nuclear, bioengineered ethanol, and more... Page 37

Well, of course I turned to page 37, to read

Unfortunately, implementation of cleaner technologies has been thwarted by federal aimlessness. The Energy Department keeps changing its nuclear-research strategy, and a "FutureGen" zero-emission coal demonstration project announced three and a half years ago by President Bush hasn't yet picked a site.

At least one alternative energy technology is also coming into its own. Ethanol production from biomass is already a booming business in Brazil; with help from bioengineered organisms, it could soon be efficient enough to compete directly with traditional energy sources.

So, OK. Once again, Bush's mouth is in the right place, but there's no implementation. I don't know why I listen. I'm still waiting for the prison reforms he promised in the 2004 state of the union address.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Who, under the present circumstances, wants to become a Presbyterian?

In the linked Op-Ed "Liberal Christianity is paying for its sins," Charlotte Allen points out that as a church seeks metaphysical truth and tries to engage fundamental realities of human existence, it ditches the easy answers and heavy-handed semiotics which appeal to the main-stream church-goer. Really, people like to know whom to condemn and have comforting rituals to go through, the don't want to spend a lot of time reflecting on the nature of God. The Presbyterians need a good marketing campaign.

She also got a guffaw out of me with her phrase 'the laughingstock of the blogosphere.' This should be roughly at the bottom of the list of things you worry about being. Really, Congressmen do stupid stuff because other congressmen make fun of them, and everyone at some point or another lets the corporate news media shame them into overriding their better judgment, but the blogosphere?

Friday, July 07, 2006

People Magazine outs George Bush

This thanks to Slate. Now, the president says
I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it's caused by mankind or whether it's caused naturally, but it's a worthy debate. It's a debate, actually, that I'm in the process of solving by advancing new technologies, burning coal cleanly in electric plants, or promoting hydrogen-powered automobiles, or advancing ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.
Corn absorbs CO2 as it grows -- it may be a neutral impact. And clean burning coal is not necessarily greenhouse gas free, although the US Government is working on zero emissions plants. With any other president, you could assume that he meant the obvious thing, but with this guy, it really does matter what the meaning of 'is' is. Hydrogen powered automobiles really can reduce greenhouse gas production, by abstracting the power source.

But, if in his third sentence the President suggests reducing net CO2 production as a solution, how can his second sentence denying the 'anthropogenic' part of 'anthropogenic climate change' stand? Well, you have to have his facility for forwarding opposing concepts in the same paragraph.

Art of the possible, and all that. You go, George.