I liked the Matrix films and look forward to re-watching 2 and 3 some more. I was trying to figure out the whole bit of the story explained by the Architect today and turned up this script. It's a pretty enjoyable abridged version of Reloaded, very funny.
I found the real script here, if anyone else is interested. Check out the abridged link though for sure.
Comments are best posted here.
The expanding American waistline has been a well known subject of discussion and distress for decades now, hitting full domestic stride in the 80s at the latest with a continuing self-conscious diet sub-sector in our economy continuing to flourish. It's an odd phenomenon considering how much we know about the problems associated with being overweight, namely heart disease, cancers, diabetes, bone problems, muscle problems, poor circulation, and many other issues. Some specialists have put obesity as the greatest health risk of all, higher than smoking even (as in, it's better to be a thin smoker than an overweight non-smoker). As if knowing the risks weren't enough, we know all about what to do: get more exercise and activity and eat healthier. Americans don't move, eat suboptimally nutritious foods, and eat too much of it.
Oddly, even this combination of knowledge about problems and solutions isn't enough. Americans are getting fatter every second. It isn't just Americans either, though. As GDP rises, so does the percent of obesity, reflected from the east and west of the United States in Europe and Japan respectively. As it stands, modern economically successful social structures contribute to incredibly unhealthy humans.
Activity is a big problem, especially in the United States. Stop and think about how much activity you get. The few people who read this board actually probably get an average amount as many work in manual labor jobs, so exceptions are probably high in this sample. But many people walk around the house a little bit in the morning, walk to the car, walk to the seat they sit in for 80% of the next 8-10 hours, walk back into the house, and maybe a few hundred more steps around the house between the table, den, and bedroom.
I dare you to test your activity with a pedometer. I used to wear one (I still would but I didn't bring it with my to my in-laws when we moved here for the baby). 10,000 steps is supposed to be a good standard of activity; not really enough to burn weight off, but enough to keep you at wherever you are without gaining more, pending an intelligent diet. When I leave the house for school or work, I have a number of 10-15 minute connections between home, work, and trains as well as walking between classes, so hitting 10K isn't hard for me on work days. On study days, I'm pretty sedentary. My personal worst was 642 steps. That was essentially get up, hit the bathroom, sit in front of the computer save 1 or 2 bathroom breaks, 15 steps to the kitchen for lunch, and that's it. Shameful, eh?
At my biggest, I breached the 240 mark (109 kilograms = 240.3 pounds ±) but have been able to get down to a respectable 222 and falling as of today. The biggest thing for me was reducing the size of my portions. It's not that hard to do and has a huge difference. I've heard that restaurant portions in the U.S. have grown by 1/3 since the 1970s, and other researchers have shown how the way our food is presented to us actually leads us to eat more. We eat more fast food which is well known to be more fatty and less healthy than home cookin'.
But it isn't just that we eat too much, as everyone who is fat isn't guilty of gluttony. And it isn't as simple as the food being just high in fat and bad calories. Caloric content is closely related here, but the richness or energy content of the food is also a contributor. The type of food we predominantly eat now is consistently more energy dense than what our appetites have evolved for and thus we end up eating more calories. Our bodies have a metric that is employed to determine how much we should eat but this metric isn't tuned to the caloric content of the food we eat and we end up overconsuming. We get tricked by the food we are eating.
Some people try to compensate by eating healthy at home, a move that typically consists of adding more fruits and vegetables. It's been recently discovered though, that microwaving vegetables essentially destroys their nutritional value, at least as far as free-radical destroying antioxidants are concerned. It's best to cook vegetables at least a little bit, as even though they have more nutritional value raw, its locked up in forms that aren't so easy to digest. Steaming works best, and pressure cooking is decent, especially if you use the water left over to make soup or something. Boiling destroys about half the nutrition and a lot of what is left over gets thrown away in the water, and nuking the veggies destroys over 90%. Saves time maybe, but doesn't help you at all.
Will it matter for the citizens of the United States? I doubt it. I expect more and more people to keep getting fatter and fatter, dying of more heart attacks and cancers. Some people have suggested banning fast food advertisements aimed at children (I think we should ban all advertising aimed at kids actually), a proposal worth considering especially in light of evidence that fast food is addictive. I think we need to start being aware of what, why, and how we eat though, as a paradigm shift in our conception of diet is the only thing that will matter. But by then, the signs that our nation's growning fat and opulent is an indicator of our decline will likely be seen as predictors instead.
Come on in and tell us how fat you are!!
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As usual, Bob X. Cringely has really come up with a great solution to the current debacle known as electronic voting in the U.S. Anyone interested really should take 10 minutes and read that article as well as the one before where he talks about the problems a bit more.
Basically he points out how utterly odd it is that there is not a paper trail built into the voting machinery that would allow an audit in the case of a recount or other such situation. As it stands, there is no way to confirm that the machine counted your vote as you cast it, nor is there any way to go back and recount or check or anything. Black boxes of sin!! What is really odd though is that Diebold, the company with the greatest skid-streak on its underwear with regard to electronic voting machines, actually specializes in ATMs and subway/ train ticket machines, machines that all have paper trails that allow for internal checks on function and whatnot. Why wouldn't they have included such a function in their voting machinery? Were they just in such a rush to cash in on the $3,900,000,000 (3.9 billion dollars) the U.S. government is throwing at the problem following the fiasco of Election 2000?
It all doesn't matter though, as Cringely points out that there is a much better solution available to us. We've gotten so addicted to technology we not only make the mistake of thinking that it can solve everything but we twist that further into thinking that it HAS to solve everything. Got a problem? Digitize it!
Why don't we just have a basic system of voting where you check/ mark an X on a sheet of paper with public counting of the pieces of paper afterwards? As Bob points out, Canada has such a simple system and is able to count their national elections in a matter of hours (4) instead of the complete and total inability we had in 2000 to get it done at all. Canada's system costs $1.81 (U.S.) per person to run; the new voting machines that don't guarantee stability, accuracy, accountability or security costs $10/ person.
Part of the reason Cringely rules so much is that he is capable of seeing when the tech is needed and when it isn't. I think that our national faith in technology is almost if not more dangerous than our substance addictions (not just illicit drugs, but pharmaceuticals from the government subsidies on down). Maybe I'll get around to talking about that some other day.
Yesterday I ran into a bit of Japan that I tend to do a fairly good job of avoiding on the train ride home. The Japanese like rules and tend to follow them simply because they are the rules as opposed to because the rules serve good purposes. It seems as if the concept of the letter of the law was as far as they got in judicial theory and failed to develop the critical perspective of searching for the spirit and intended purpose. As a result, the rules that are there don't really need a particular justification; they deserve to be followed simply because they are the rules. There is no need to question them either.
As you may know, cell phones in Japan are a big deal. People live on the cell phones here. Lately the interconnectivity of text messaging, email, and web browsing on the phones has alleviated the problem, but the disruption caused by people, often young adults and teenagers, yakking on their phones really achieve social crisis levels. Many people adopt a very conservative phone stance, cupping one hand over their mouth so as not to disrupt those around them, but enough didn't that trains especially enacted rules against using phones.
Commuter trains don't really enforce it; there is just an announcement and some signs and PSA posters that remind people that it causes others discomfort (there are also nice PSA signs that remind us to give up our seats to the old and infirm. Always 'cutely' illustrated too.). On the longer distance trains, the seating carriage is enclosed in seperate doors with alleys (I can't think of a better term to describe the little hallways between doors) that house the entrances and washrooms. The carriages are better insulated and not as noisy or cold, but because they are quieter and not as crowded (long distance trains have forward facing seats, often assigned on the ticket, as opposed to bench seats running along the wall), the rules say we should move to the alleys when we have to talk on the phones.
Of course I do not do this, as I feel that I am above the rules and only suckers follow the rules. No, of course that isn't my reasoning, but I don't move to the alleys partly because they are noisy and cold and partly because I take care not to talk loudly when I'm on the phone. I've noticed it is a natural tendency for many people to talk louder on a cell phone especially, as if the volume you speak somehow aids in the tranmission clarity of your message. I've learned that the phones do a more than adequate job of picking up your voice as long as it isn't a whisper; just speak in a low volume conversational tone and no one on the other end will know. I tested this plenty. Plus my phone calls aren't more than two or three minutes 90% of the time and its hardly worth the effort to get up and move to the alleys. I'd make more of a distracting commotion moving around that my voice does on the phone.
So anyway, to get on with my story, there I was talking to my wife on my home, just to give her the vital information about my arrival time and to get a brief update on the baby's status, speaking in low non-distracting voice when an employee passes by and notices I'm holding a plastic electronic device to my head. He interrupts me and tries to tell me to go to the alley but I ignore him and finish up my conversation. He tries to explain to me that I can't talk on my phone in the seating carriage and have to move to the alley (and he made a good effort in English, to his credit). But I asked him if it was accceptable to talk to one's neighbor when they sit next to you, and he conceded that was within the rules. I then explained to him that I use the same if not quieter voice when I talk on the phone, hence there shouldn't be an issue. He still felt that I should move to the alley, but I was finished and went back to reading my book.
So here is my gripe. The rules were made because people were being a nuisance on the phones. I take care not to be a nuisance. There are NOT any rules about loud obaachans who talk across seats and aisles to each other, laughing and providing running commentary on their lives and the passing scenery for the duration of the trip. Nor are there any rules to prevent children from running around and playing in the carriage. I've been distracted from my reading, music, and sleep by these culprits far more often than from phones, and I usually am pretty good about blocking stuff out. In my mind, the rules should be focused on reducing distractions; if it isn't distracting, the rules don't apply.
The train employees just don't see it that way. It sounds like a piddling matter, and I suppose at the end of the day it is. It didn't upset me enough to get riled up or anything, but it was annoying that I got singled out when I was making the effort to not cause a ruckus. If he hadn't seen the phone in my hand, he never would realized that I was even talking on it. But such is the variety of life in Japan.
Comments and discussion are welcome
I'm a big fan of moral relativism not because it provides a license to deviate from norms (but I do consider that a feature rather than a bug) but because it places human cognition and the intentional creation of meaning at the center. Moral relativism is the idea that there are no absolute morals, no finite truths that can be discovered and applied to all situations to ascertain the morality of a situation or action. It's all relative, whether it be on a personal scale, among groups or cultures, or even at the largest pan-human scale.
Morality boils down to the values we use to determine what is good and bad. Not just in the context of how we treat each other but also with regard to the general values we apply to just about everything. I suppose this definition is a bit more liberal and encompassing that what is perhaps most commonly used, but as an exercise in relativity, I'm defining it as needed. Morality is the system that we use to evaluate the goodness/ positiveness/ desirability/ commendability or badness/ negativeness/ undesirability/ of objects, actions, thoughts, beliefs.
With that in mind, moral relativity simply conceives of morality as a system that is independently chosen by a person or group of. There is not an absolute moral standard, conceived by god or gods or spirits or kings, but an infinite number of standards that are created and affirmed on the fly.
I think one of the biggest dissatisfactions with moral relativism is that it is commonly perceived as including a statement regarding the equality of all moral standards. This is a misperception because moral relativity doesn't say that all are equally desirable and that we can't argue about the better-ness of a moral system. It just says that there are no absolute moral systems. It requires us to discard faith that any one system (coincidentally usually the one that we most often subscribe to) is the best one. There is nothing stopping us from qualifying the belief that our moral system is the best one for us, but it doesn't allow us to say that it is the best one for everyone else.
So many problems exist for so many people because they fail to recognize that morality isn't an absolute. They end up taking their perspective on what is good and bad far too seriously and get all bent out of shape when someone has a different perspective on the whole mess. They fear that recognizing the individual's interest and contribution to creating and maintaining a moral standard would negate the entire judiciary system of determining what is right and wrong in the world.
But acknowledging the relativity of morality doesn't mean that you can't have moral standards or that you can't condemn murder and oppression on moral grounds. What works for you is what works for you and that's just fine, and there are some elements of a moral system that are so common among all the members of a group as to percolate out as moral "fact," but that still doesn't alter the true relative nature of the particular precept. We choose moral standards that suit us and when an element is widely chosen by most, it becomes enforceable. But just because condemnation of baby-raping attains widespread or total acceptance as a moral fact doesn't make it absolutely true, it just makes it widely accepted and subscribed to, which in turns permits the group to work together in imposing that standard on the group. If a member of the group violates that precept, they suffer the consequences, end story.
But because the mistake is made of thinking that the rule is absolute, other moral rules, ranging from other rules up there with opposition to baby-raping all the way down to personal opinions about politics, religion, and the best way to raise a child (I suppose down even further to best car manufacturers, computer operating systems, and beer brands as well) get wrongly legitimated with the same moral absolutism, spawning fervent belief in the rightness of one's own beliefs as absolute and thus requiring us to find disagreeing perspectives as morally lacking.
And that's where words start to bite, fists start to clench, and missiles fly.
If you've got anything to add, post a comment or even better, hit me in the forum.
I finished my doctoral dissertation last weekend, coming in just under 50,000 words. I am not going to indulge in self-stroking here by talking about what an accomplishment it was or how I finally put the capstone on 25 years of formal education (for the low, low price of $56,000). I do however want to mention that I was really surprised at what happened to me afterwards. I was motivating myself to write by reminding myself about how much fun I could have on the computer once I was done. Guilt free gaming and internet browsing, writing about all the thoughts and topics I want, do some NationStates roleplaying, maybe run through some Photoshop and other program tutorials, I could transfer all the video of the baby and start some post-production, all sorts of stuff.
Oddly, I haven't touched my computer much at all since the final printout. Part of it is that I've spent more time with the baby and I've had to catch up on a lot of uncorrected homework, but even if I had all the free time in the world, I wouldn't want to spend it sitting in front of my computer. I think I got sick of using my computer. I just wasn't interested in sitting in that damned computer chair any longer than I had to. I also have a substantial backlog of paper books I want to read, and they are really appealing right now. So I'm getting back into reading books, a habit I've follen out of in the last few years since I got broadband access.
The internet is a great place, no doubt about it. But it's overwhelming sometimes and I've found that I have a hard time concentrating on one thing. The dissertation didn't help, overloading me with all different threads of theory and ideas that I had to hold in my head. I'm interested in so much stuff that sitting down to read the news easily turns into an all day affair. Tech news, social issues, check the political science publications, then cruise over and hit some message boards for a bit of interactive intelligensia (or not, as the case often is).
It's a lack of discipline, undoubtedly. To really achieve professional status as an internet user, a person has to learn to cut themselves off. There is so much information online that it is pointless to try to take it all in. Failure to focus ends up cutting your knees off at the hip, and I've spent hours reading sites and following links only to come to the conclusioin that there isn't time to read everything I want to so I bookmark it all. I end up spending a long time perusing a bunch of pages but don't invest any quality time to actually read and digest something.
Bookmarking and programs like StickyBrain make it easy to store something for later retrieval. But a consequence of this is that I don't make the effort to actually store it in my brain. One perspective portrays me as a cutting edge adopter of technology who is augmenting his memory with the silicon partner; another says that I'm letting my brain atrophy by not remembering anything and that I'm doing a disservice to myself by not storing it in my own brain. Both of these are right, but I tend to spend more time in the latter train of thought.
I need to get back to basics when it comes to learning. I'm well read and well informed, but my interests have become so wide that my knowledge is superficially retained at best. I have lots of knowledge in my bookmarks and databases, but what good is that when I'm in an online discussion (or GASP! an actual real-life discussion!!!!??!)? I'm always thinking about where to go next and what to read next that I fail to live in the now and take advantage of the effort that got me to where I was.
Okay, this has gone off entirely in the wrong direction (but a good one, in the end) and is getting longer. Expect a revitalization of this space in the coming weeks (I think its the third wave of activity so far). If you like what you read, spread the word too. It's nice having people read and comment on what goes up here.
Go on and drop a comment in the forum.