July 27, 2013

Space, the finite frontier

I feel like making some funny comments on subjects of extreme skepticism.

Moon landing: There are some videos that make it look like the Apollo program landed men on the moon. Is there really proof of it?

Rocks supposedly returned from the moon don’t count as proof, because NASA also claims they collected moon rocks that fell as meteorites on the Earth. (In 1966-67, Wernher Von Braun took a trip to Antarctic, where he may have participated in collecting some of those alleged moon rocks, but a hoax theory doesn’t require that his expedition collected all the moon rocks, or any of them.) An alleged moon rock was found to be a piece of petrified wood in 2009. The rock had been given to former prime minister of the Netherlands Willem Drees in 1969, by ambassador J. William Middendorf during a visit by the Apollo 11 crew on their tour after the first alleged moon landing. Questioned about it, Middendorf told the Dutch public broadcasting network NOS that the rock had been given to him by the U.S. State Department. (Source: USA Today, Dutch museum discovers moon rock is really petrified wood)

Reflections of lasers from the moon don’t count as proof, because before the Apollo manned missions allegedly placed laser reflectors on the moon, there were already observatories measuring laser reflections from the moon. A laser was used for moon reflections as early as 1962, by MIT, in a project called Luna See. In 2009, the lunar laser ranging program was discontinued. NASA could have simply chosen the locations for landings where they would claim to have placed reflectors at points that they had already found had good natural reflection.

The original tapes of the first alleged moon landing in their original format are missing. Taped over. The blueprints of the alleged lunar landing craft are missing. I’m sorry, but if any organization claims to have done something as incredible as landing a man on the moon, they’d better keep good records of it, or believing them isn’t a scientific historical belief.

Clues Forum: Built around a 9-11 conspiracy theory called September Clues, Clues Forum is one of the most extremely skeptical or disbelieving sites on the Internet. Maybe I should call it a site about belief in a maximum of conspiracies that news and history are fake, which is a different thing from being purely skeptical. Pure skeptics who are extreme would claim that they don’t know whether each news item and historical event was fake or real. Clues Forum on the other hand, does some of what they call “research,” which consists of posting some photos and asking questions about apparent anomalies in the photos that lead to suspicions of fakery, then concludes that their case for fakery has been proved and proceeds to ban “shills” meaning anyone who persists in disagreeing with their conclusion on a particular topic after that. I haven’t tried posting there, because I’m not that kind of “researcher” or debater, but the forum leads to some great entertainment, both for disbelievers of everything and for mockers of disbelievers elsewhere.

One of the latest areas of activity at Clues Forum is questioning everything about astronomy, because they’ve already discredited all claims of manned space missions and probably any satellites too. So one of their top “researchers” has been busy lately trying to overthrow the Copernican system, making charts of his system in which the sun orbits around the Earth, and the Earth makes only a relatively small circle each year. That complicates the solar system and theories of gravity, because in the theory, Mercury and Venus and other planets than the Earth still orbit the sun, while the sun and moon orbit the Earth. The cool thing about the theory though is that nearby stars would be reachable if the outer planets are reachable, because their parallax indicates much less distance if the Earth is actually moving much less than in conventional astronomy.

Cosmic microwave background: Now that we have the news that there’s B-mode polarization in the cosmic microwave background, and understanding that far-fetched theories that try to explain the origin of the universe itself are probably just mythology, in any culture, there’s a need for a better explanation of what this cosmic microwave background really is. The simple theory of microwave background is that it’s blackbody radiation indicating the background temperature of interstellar space. Big Bang theorists haven’t provided anything that actually replaces that theory of the CMB, they still sometimes even themselves call it the “temperature” of the universe, they just want you to imagine it as a temperature that started with the Big Bang and has been cooling ever since because of the imaginary expansion of space.

The B-mode polarization is a variation of less than 1 part in 10 million of the total CMB. Plasmas emit polarized radiation. The conventional Big Bang theorists put their plasma billions of light years away, in the imaginary hot and dense early universe. It could just as well be much closer and cooler.

Maybe future interstellar travelers will journey past the outer planets, then through the cosmic microwave background, then pass some quasars, then reach other stars, all within a few months traveling at less than light speed.

October 31, 2012

How to delete Google+ notifications

Warning: The following article is not good advice. It's sarcasm. If you were looking for reliable instructions about using G+, you've come to the wrong place. I was a little frustrated when I wrote it, for no particular reason, and I was expressing that in sarcasm. Besides that, it was written years ago.

They said it couldn't be done, but I did it. I deleted notifications that I had received from Google plus. (This is not about preventing future notifications. A lot of pages that talk about deleting notifications are actually instructions for turning off future email notifications, which Google+ has settings to do. I'm talking about deleting and permanently removing notifications that you have already received. My method deletes notifications from the Google+ notification button that displays how many unread notifications you have, and from the Google+ notifications page that "View all notifications" shows you.)

Step 1: Back up any of your Google+ content that you want to save.

Step 2: Delete any information Google has about you that may have resulted in receiving the unwanted notification, such as a Gmail contact to a person to whom the notification refers.

Step 3: In Google+ click the gear icon then click "Settings" or use any other way to get to the "Account Settings" page. On that page, find "Disable Google+" and click the "here" link.

Step 4: A page appears with a radio button labeled "Delete Google+ content" to select what you want to delete. Click it. (Trust me. I know what I'm doing, and this is the way to do it. Just don't click the radio button labeled "Delete your entire Google profile".)

Step 5: Click the check box labeled "Required: I understand that deleting this service can't be undone and the data I delete can't be restored." (You want to get this done don't you? It's currently Google policy that there's no way to delete notifications, so you're lucky that there's even this way to do it. Buck up and go ahead.)

Step 6: Click the blue bar labeled "Remove selected services".

Step 7: If desired, enter your reason for leaving as "notifications can't be deleted" or words to that effect, or a complaint about the notification that bothered you and that you couldn't delete it.

Step 8: Click any further confirmation buttons as necessary to complete the deletion.

Now your deletion of Google+ notifications is complete. If you still want to use Google plus, just sign back in, simple as that. (Of course, if you had some Google+ content that you want to use again, such as lists of contacts in circles, you'll have to enter it again. That's why you did the backup in step 1. You did back up your data, right? Well, that was your responsibility, and you were warned.)

[Disclaimer: I have no financial affiliation with Google nor with any other social network service. No warranty of suitability of the instructions provided herein for any purpose is expressed or implied.]

June 07, 2012

Switch to LibreOffice! Now!

I just switched over to LibreOffice.

Trying to read the documentation for Basic at OpenOffice.org, I ran across the page where there are warnings about a bunch of bugs in the Currency type variable, which is supposed to store and calculate amounts of currency accurately (to four decimal places without rounding errors and amounts up to 922 trillion.) Trying some little tests that others had written in Basic, I reproduced those errors on my computer. The errors weren't small; they were like 5 times 50000 equals 10.949 trillion for example. It couldn't deal with any amount over 214 thousand reliably. The errors were still there after years and versions of people complaining.

I thought "I'm not having any of this" and as soon as I had documented how the tests went and found out that the LibreOffice team had found a solution to that bug in 2010, I shut it all down and went out to get something to eat. The next time I started the computer, the first thing I did was uninstall OpenOffice, then find the LibreOffice download page, look at their latest version, restart the computer, download it, install it, load up the Basic tests I was working on, and surprise, surprise, enjoy the clean, neat feeling of having 5 times 50000 equal 250000.

Update June, 10:

Don't trust the Basic Currency type variable to get every hundredth of a cent right on amounts multiplied to over 92 billion. In LibreOffice 3.5.4 it definitely works better than OpenOffice 3.3 did (one of the versions with extreme, unacceptable errors.) However, a Currency type product goes off by a hundredth of a cent on some results just over 92 billion, with more frequent and proportionately larger inaccuracies for higher amounts. Inaccuracies are almost inevitable at high amounts, because variables get cast to float at many points if you don't watch out [see hint below] and double check everything, and because the Currency type is a 64-bit integer representation of a fixed-point decimal fraction number, by the integer representing 10000ths, and it probably doesn't get multiplied into a 128-bit number before it's converted back to a 64-bit result, or at least it doesn't get the extra bits over 64 perfectly accurately. So some information can be lost when the result of a multiplication is greater than (2 ^ 63 - 1) / 10000 / 10000. That's just over 92 billion.

A useful hint in this sort of Basic is that the statement

[a sheet object].getCellByPosition(column, row).setValue(cTotal)

where cTotal = a large product you've calculated in Currency type, will lose precision in the spreadsheet display with default settings. Instead of  setValue(cTotal), use:

[a sheet object].getCellByPosition(column, row).setString(str$(cTotal))

Then it will show all the digits of precision (as you widen the column to make room) so you'll be able to see whether you're getting any rounding errors.

I also wrote a base-10000 multiplier with 32 decimal digits of precision to double check everything I'm writing about. Overall this has been sort of fun for me, because it's about learning not to make mistakes in programming, which I made a lot, and learning to make the computer not make mistakes. I think JavaScript and Python would be more practical and up-to-date languages to use.

May 16, 2012

txt to html v7

Here's the latest version of the JavaScript bookmarklet I wrote that changes an unformatted, unwordwrapped page into an html page with word wrap. (For better ways to deal with word wrap, see my old post word wrap for Firefox bookmarklet, which I just updated because I noticed it was getting traffic for that.)

txt to html v7


It's hardly different from txt to html v6. It's still non-standard and not the right way to do it. But it's funny that a program that short that runs from a bookmark can seem to do the work of an HTML editor, turning a plain text file into a local webpage.

April 10, 2012

Atomic Weapons Unreal Hoax

It has come to my attention that many things are fake. Nuclear weapons are fake. I don't mean just some purported nuclear explosions were faked, I mean all of them. Some may have included radioactive materials, to increase the fear of harm from them, or for "realism," or for chemical or mechanical reasons as depleted uranium is said to be used in some weapons, but the explosive power was purely chemical. Films were staged or manipulated, to make bomb tests seem larger than they actually were. So the fear of nuclear war was a result of a false propaganda project.

There was a forum of skeptics on nuclear subjects called "nukelies" for a year that suspended operation this March. A snapshot of that site is available currently at http://www.raetowest.org/ If you look this subject up for yourself instead, please bear in mind that there are also individuals who say that nuclear weapons can only be detonated at certain places and times, for pseudoscientific or mystical reasons, which might be part of the propaganda campaign, to make believing in nuclear weapons look sane compared with that alternative.

This development means I have to re-evaluate all my political opinions, to take account of pervasive propaganda being the way war and politics are conducted. So guess I should be glad that very few have ever read my blog so far.

Update, May 15: After reading about nuclear technology more, I would now say that nuclear weapons are most likely exaggerated in explosive force and numbers in stockpiles and radioactive effects, maybe by factors on the order of 100. I'm not trying to pass a purity test for a forum about disbelieving all war and terror and space propaganda, such as September Clues. I'm just trying to be realistic about it.

There are so many people who've studied nuclear materials and calculated how they can have a chain reaction and melt down, that's probably true and probably produces some explosive force if over criticality is initiated rapidly. The idea that a small lump, a kilogram or so, of uranium or plutonium that has melted down, vaporized, and is expanding rapidly can continue reacting until it's practically all converted into energy and nuclear waste seems doubtful, let alone that physicists can make an impressive amount of hydrogen fusion happen in the middle of that explosion reliably. Plus there's every reason for governments that have nuclear weapons to exaggerate and keep secrets about them as much as they can.

Further update, May 16: Looking at the question again, I think it's likely nuclear weapons may be exaggerated by 100's or 1000's of times or even of insignificant force, though there is radioactive uranium that can melt down and explode, with less or maybe more force than a chemical explosive.

Much as I dislike recommending videos when reading is faster and smarter, considering this is a subject that's largely about television/film/video, as the main way the story was sold to make the public believers in nuclear weapons, video is very helpful for evaluating whether the story is incredible propaganda. Here's the original nuke skeptic YouTube video: BIG LIES - Annotated NUKE LIES - very first nuke skeptic video of 2008 Here's a thoughtful video that suggests interesting explanations about being trapped in a lie for why so many countries would spend so much money and make such exaggerated claims: Nuclear Weapons do not Exist The voice over is quiet so turn it up.

April 07, 2012

Why does America love Israel?

The entity is technically called "the State of Israel." How can an abstract organizational entity be evil? It could if a person believes in spirits, I guess.

So there are a lot of Jews in the United States who support Israel, sending money there or voting as single-issue voters on whether politicians will support Israel or writing on politics with the interests of Israel being their number one concern. That support is influential even though Jews are about 3% of the population, because they're an educated, affluent group. They mostly arrived later from Europe than other European Americans, more urbanized already, and maintained their multilingualism for religious reasons more than other 19th century immigrant groups. Studying Hebrew or Yiddish written in Hebrew letters seems to have more effect on intellect than studying languages written in the Latin alphabet. I have a feeling about that because I studied Hebrew for a few lessons when I was about 9, though I'm not Jewish. Because Hebrew letters are written right to left and have special marks for vowels added between the consonants, it maybe wakes up some analytical or linguistic talents that people might not otherwise know they could have if they haven't studied it. That's a similar effect to studying music notation, which has been found scientifically to increase intelligence.

So anyway, it's not just Jews in the United States supporting Israel, it's a lot of Christians too. Out of the half of Americans who are churchgoers or strongly Christian, about half of them seem to think that when the Bible says "Israel" in prophecy, it means the State of Israel right now. Christians in the Middle Ages would NOT have thought that if the Jews launched a crusade to take the Holy Land, Christians should support that and God would bless it. In the actual crusades, Christians were trying to take back the Holy Land from Muslims who had recently (as time was measured back then) conquered it, oppressing the local Christians. Christians before the 19th century all believed that Jews were in error, not accepting Christ, and that God's promises went to the descendants of Israel who were Christian. Otherwise they would have converted to Judaism, of course, and some did. How else would there be so many Jews so far north speaking Yiddish, which is a dialect from medieval German? (The idea they were pure Khazars is a suspect mythology just like the idea they were purely from ancient Hebrew tribes.)

Why is there this idea of the Holy Land, and why do I capitalize it? To emphasize that it's being used as a proper noun, to name a ridiculous idea people have, not using words accurately. Europe was ruled from Rome and tied together culturally by Latin and Latin-derived languages and the Roman alphabet. Rome had been overtaken by Christianity since Constantine. So Rome became a cultural sort of capital, and Byzantium in the east, spreading Christianity to the "barbarians" further north. (Though Vikings like the Icelanders had democratic, equal societies before they were Christianized, and everywhere else in the world was barbaric in that sense.) So the class of people who could spend their time reading and teaching and writing history even in the dark ages, collecting taxes, were religious people who had the Bible as their foundational text, collecting taxes as "tithes" and justifying their privilege in that religious scheme. Modern European culture was built on top of that.

In the Renaissance (c. 1300-1500) Western Europeans attempted to recover scholarship in Greek, but they were Christians and often pursuing that for Christian reasons such as reading the Bible in Greek, so they didn't go far enough. Although some Greek texts were reinforced as more foundational for Western European culture, which led to the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment, the idea of the Bible "in the original Greek" was also reinforced. That led to Protestantism, the idea each man has to read and believe it for himself from the text, which worked at cross purposes to the advancement of science and reason.

The United States was founded on Enlightenment ideals, the founding fathers being rationalists, deists, scientific minded, distrusting and warning against literalist Christians. However, America, the country and people that the United States government was imposed on, had a Protestant tendency that spread out on the frontier, with revival movements, and a mythos of furthering Protestantism being the destiny that moving from Europe and populating this land was all about.

That all adds up to America becoming a country that paradoxically considered itself destined, blessed above other countries, and yet not the Holy Land. Zionist editorialists easily shaped public opinion through the 20th century into equating Holy Land with their State of Israel for Jews project. Thus the seeds were sown for the Third World War, intended by each of several sides to disprove the other's religion and pretensions of world domination decisively, by an exchange of nuclear weapons.

March 10, 2012

Scientific worldview mostly wrong, but don't panic

Not everything is important. There can't be a large number of very important issues that deserve getting worked up about. There can't even be any for the average person who can't do anything about them, only personal issues about what's immediately in front of them, food, clothing, shelter, whom they're going to be around that day, etc.

Part of how this works is that the mainstream scientific conventional worldview is wrong about a lot of things, especially things involving prehistory, so that a lot of the excitement about scientific debates and a lot of conventional science-based fears such as about medical issues are completely wasted effort. It's not that Genesis is right. That's even more wrong taken literally. It's that scientific conventional views, no matter how reasonable, don't include enough imagination that they can be wrong and missing major parts of the picture about things they say happened thousands, millions, or billions of years ago, including the time scale.

The conventional scientific worldview is all built from extrapolation from things like a chipped rock to tell the story of people before history or better examples of human art or artifacts. Some redshift of galaxies and a background temperature of deep space is spun into the story of the Big Bang. The furthest reaching extrapolations or speculations that stand up to reason as possibilities given the limited evidence win in the marketplace of ideas. The alternative that
prehistory is unknown and there's too little evidence to judge or say for sure what happened within orders of magnitude on the time scale is ignored as not really seeming like a competitor. Ideas about geological and biological history build up into a grand story over billions of years to which individual scientists just add pieces.

So worries about viruses and the supposed need for vaccination with toxins (an originally superstitious not scientific practice, to inject a batch of toxins) are mostly wrong in a way that's been debunked, while worry about harm from vaccinations is also often overblown, but some of that harm is real. There is an underlying reality after all where physical causes trigger physical effects, such as that sticking a concoction of biological junk and toxic preservatives called a vaccine directly into someone's bloodstream triggers strong reactions in some individuals.

The story of AIDS has been debunked. How much simpler to say that having some sorts of sexual activity and drugs often, or some dirty injected heroin, or malnutrition with diarrhea in Africa, causes some individuals to have a condition that includes higher reactivity of their blood components to some supposed HIV test, a condition that then looks like full-blown AIDS if they're treated with the same extremely toxic drugs as other AIDS patients were out of desperation and fear that they had an incurable fatal disease. The actual story of who was said to have AIDS or HIV and how they were treated is much more complicated than that. Even debunking the scientific conventional view, it's easy to sound like one is proposing an alternative grand story, instead of saying it's all a muddle where the supposed disease entities or categories involved are shifting social constructions, and yet some people actually are sick, for various real reasons.

The importance of this kind of thing to the individual is not to be a political activist about such issues, it's to learn not to worry about things that have been fed as fears by the mainstream media and schools, while also taking reasonable care of one's health by looking out for one's body.

So what about political issues? Are there issues that are important for people to know about and express opinions on, as voters or good citizens? Some would say a person should be informed about anthropogenic global warming, pollution, extinctions of species and biodiversity, war in general and specific areas of conflict such as Israel and neighboring countries, the energy crisis and which sources of energy to support or use, nuclear energy and the balance of nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation, economics at the international scale enough to take seriously news of debt crises and countries in rapid growth and foreign aid, and understanding various
other issues on a scientific basis, including the need for more and better science education in schools to make everyone else more informed too.

It's all useless. It just isn't possible in human affairs for there to be issues that private individuals should be informed and active on, other than knowing which way the wind is blowing to take care of themselves, because this is a planet with billions of semi-intelligent people all trying every day to solve the problems that are in front of them and, when they have the opportunity, to solve as many other people's problems as possible for profit or fame or honor, or for the intellectual thrill of it, which is the motive that gets the hardest technical and mathematical problems solved.

November 09, 2011

Returned to the Web

I was offline for 28 months. I missed everything for about a month. Then I was still thinking about some of the good interesting things I had read online for a few months. Then it faded away into not seeming there most of the time, not that it ever seemed very real in the first place.

The one area of interest that lasted longest that I picked up from the Web was hypotheses about the effects of food, whether diets change people and determine emotional and intellectual differences between people, the sort of differences that people with axes to grind or "common knowledge" or pet theories attribute to genetics or parenting or economic class or infection of the brain, such as by toxoplasmosis. It's an open question.

Anyway I've returned and I'm trying to do everything better this time.

After I had reached an apogee from the world of live electronic media, I began to fall back into it with a new AM/FM/SW radio, then more cable TV. Now I feel like I'm on the hard stuff: Internet with live games and chat at the same time, and Web searches for the latest things going on. It's about twice as much effect as caffeine, or about as much effect as drinking, but in the opposite direction.

March 24, 2009

Topics of skeptical, iconoclastic, and experimental thinking

I was thinking of using this blog for posting on a wide range of fringe topics, things I'm skeptical about, "skeptical" in the true sense of "looking, don't know yet," and iconoclastic ideas, and positions taken as experiments in thinking outside the box, and so on.

It turns out the net of blogs is divided up into a lot of little interest groups in which individuals may have their own favorite one or two radical or unconventional opinions, but tend to use any other unconventional or unorthodox opinion as a byword for crazy, wrong, evil, stupid belief, as the word "geocentrism" is often used. The title of this blog "Return of the Sasquatch" puts readers on notice that if they think that way, they might not get it, and I sort of intended that. This is not for people who mock everything they don't understand, and think anything treated as funny is therefore not true. (That reminds me of Jim Bohannon as a guest host on the Larry King radio show in the '80s, who mocked the fringe topics that Larry King and his regular late night callers liked to talk about, by using a smarmy tone of voice in reading fringe news, something like saying, "Here's some news of the odd and stupid," and associating those as equal.)

It's alright to laugh with a topic that might be true. Only falsehood fears joking around. The truth is not afraid of questions or smart alecks.

I could go on preambling for a while, so without further ado:

topics of radical skepticism or unorthodox opinion
  • AIDS/HIV - People don't seem to take this seriously, but tens of thousands of people are being killed by toxic treatments, for a disease that doesn't really exist. I'm wondering as I write this: Am I supposed to go along with some tacit conspiracy that homosexuals, IV drug users, and Africans deserve to die anyway, so it's not worth sticking your neck out to question medical orthodoxy on this point where it's obviously at least half wrong? http://hivskeptic.wordpress.com/ This is so serious, it's something that should be covered more by blogs that aren't fringe than ones that are, because maybe association with the fringe makes it look less credible, but every fringe topic suffers that problem of apparent falsity by association, and this is not the blog for following the rules of that orthodoxy perpetuating system.
  • 9/11 - What's so hard to believe about a conspiracy to cause plane crashes? Are we supposed to think it was just an accident that there were apparently two collisions of planes with skyscrapers in New York city, on the same day? So everyone agrees it's a conspiracy, right? Then the FBI quickly releases a list of suspects who supposedly flew the planes into the buildings kamikaze style. Most of those suspects were still alive and interviewed elsewhere. Why was that list never corrected? That's the power of orthodoxy and mockery of conspiracy theories. Anyone at the FBI or other law enforcement or news agencies who questioned and tried to get corrections would have been derided as a conspiracy theorist, going off the deep end, putting careers in jeopardy. Then gradually the news media built up an idea that those suspects were associated with the allegedly existing terrorist organization "Al Qaeda" (meaning "the list" in Arabic, as in the list of CIA contacts in Soviet occupied Afghanistan [correction: "the base" see footnote 1]) allegedly led by an allegedly alive "Osama bin Laden" (someone who spoke against US military presence in Saudi Arabia and was exiled by his Saudi oil family) who allegedly at first disclaimed connection with the attacks then allegedly belatedly claimed credit for the attacks in a video allegedly of him. Supposedly this blaming of Muslim terrorists led to American acceptance of wars of aggression against Afghanistan (obviously planned beforehand, since it began soon after 9/11) and Iraq (obviously already brewing for a decade during which Iraq was unconscionably punishment-bombed.)
  • Election fraud - Then supposedly despite all this provoked anger in the American populace, we freely chose to democratically elect "Barack Hussein Obama" (Barry Sotero, born in Kenya according to his relatives and raised as a Muslim in Indonesia) president, without any disruption of "the process"?! That's one of the biggest "conspiracy theories" going, in the sense of "theories of history that don't make any sense." They've been stuffing the ballot boxes so long, and now using computers to do it, and pushing the public's opinions with "push polls" using leading questions, and feeding us news that's propaganda for their system, that they, the political operatives and polling companies and foundations that run this operation, can't remember how to make a plausible show of public opinion leading to election results.
  • Electric universe - see http://www.thunderbolts.info/home.htm This is so much more tame and scientific and serious than other fringe subjects. The only thing that makes it fringe is that conventional astronomy tends to be like a religion with people. Religion is often about "the heavens" which originally simply meant "the skies." Once people start talking reverently about "the Big Bang" and "black holes" and such things, it pretty much takes a Reformation to change orthodox opinion. In fact, it never changes. Scientific revolutions happen because the old generation dies out. The new sciences don't even use the names of the old ones. Astronomers or cosmologists will be arguing far in the future about the intricate details of their imaginary cosmology and its inventive theorists, just like astrologers are still going strong, and a lot of other religions that began as descriptions of celestial events.
  • Fresh fruit diet - Some call the optimal natural diet "raw vegan" but that term sounds a bit dated and frankly oxymoronic to me, and some raw vegans eat correspondingly weird food as that title sounds, instead of mostly fresh fruit. For cutting edge discussions of fresh fruit and natural diets, see 30 Bananas a Day! and Living and Raw Foods.
I'm a bit tired now. That's just a sampling. It's not necessarily what I would write about those topics; it's just bringing them up. Oh yeah, one more I always wanted to see covered on the Nets:
  • Nuclear weapons - So there are these weapons that supposedly use a totally new source of energy, one that's never been harnessed for everyday purposes, and scientists don't know if it ever will be. These are weapons no one has ever seen with their own eyes, because they would blind you, and besides there's an international treaty against using them above ground. These weapons are bombs that supposedly can be thousands of times more powerful than the bombs used against civilians in Japan that were equivalent to some number of tons of TNT that could have been used instead. Do you believe in them, just based on hearing that? From politicians, who you know are lying when their lips move? Because there's a movie clip from the '50s of some explosion that supposedly was one? The science of it is secret, top secret for obvious reasons. Do you really think they tell the public the truth about things like that?

1. Al Qaeda means "the base" in Arabic, short for the database of the participants in the Islamic Conference, sometimes used for communication by resistance fighters in Afghanistan, source: Al Qaeda -- the Database, by Pierre-Henri Bunel, Global Research, November 20, 2005 or if you prefer conventional orthodox sources, Al Qaeda means "the base" as in a training base for resistance fighters in Soviet occupied Afghanistan (who were supported by $200 million in mainly American and British aid according to In the Spotlight: Al Qaeda (The Base), by Colin McCullough and Anthony Keats, CDI Research Assistants, and Mark Burgess, CDI Research Analyst, December 30, 2002.) When the "database" interpretation of "al-Qaeda" was popularized on the radio, it was sometimes imprecisely reworded as meaning "the list" in Arabic. Thanks to Skidoo of Skeptical Acid for pointing out my error.

July 24, 2008

Best site arguing for a natural diet

The best site I've found that argues for a natural diet is ecologos.org. It's not advertising anything. It's just one person on a mission to tell the world the truth about what diet is natural for humans. It's entertaining if you care about what is true, regardless of having to bend your mental habits and tastes a little to appreciate correctness and correction rather than only sloppy thinking.

Many products and diet-related sites such as mercola.com and various blogs and forums use the word "natural" a lot, but mean food that has a little more to do with what occurs in nature than with what occurs by high technology, not whether it's natural for humans to get that food. Ecologos draws a clear distinction between "natural" and "cultural," putting more on the cultural side than less observant and less logical thinkers do, and has an argument for a natural diet consistent with that.

Some advocates of a meat-eating "Paleodiet" argue that in the Paleolithic, humans ate meat to survive, so that's what humans adapted to eating, by evolution, and what we should eat now. All meat eating by humans is culture, not nature. It involves using tools and cooking, which is how we get the archaeological evidence that it was done. Tools and cooking are culture and artifice, and without them killing and eating wild game is one of the hardest things a human could do, totally against instinct, and quite dangerous. Any meat eater who doesn't recognize that meat eating is artificial and cultural, requiring tools and training, is living in a fantasy world. Meat eaters who are realistic and concerned with preparedness for wilderness survival would agree that tools and training for hunting, cleaning, and cooking meat must be emphasized, or else faced with a live wild beast or a stinking carcass, eating meat in any quantity is not going to happen. Especially not if there's fruit on a tree nearby, and the human hasn't been properly acculturated to think "Fruit is bad for you, it has too much sugar," but instead follows his or her instincts to eat what looks, smells, and tastes good, and is easy to get by hand.

It is a great fallacy to believe that whatever humans have done culturally for a while, we're adapted to doing at a basic biological level. The equivalent fallacy is to believe that whatever we are starting to do, we will soon adapt to doing, by miraculous seeming powers of evolution to cause extremely unlikely, for all we know impossible abilities, for no particular reason. After all: "Evolution is cleverer than you are." (Orgel's Second Rule) So, humans will soon be adapted to breathing in the vacuum of space, because humans are spacewalking on a regular basis. At least humans will soon lose some of our toes, becoming more like horses, because we've been wearing shoes for a few hundred or thousand years. That one was what one of my sisters heard from a biology teacher, who believed it.

Species live well on foods and in conditions that satisfy their biological nutritional needs. If they can live on artificial food or in artificial conditions for a while, food and conditions adjusted to let them survive, that doesn't cause their biological needs to change. No selection pressure means no evolution by selection.

Rational culture should aim to fit human biological needs, not to excuse irrational, unexamined culture with rationalizations of evolutionary adaptation. Dietary culture is rapidly changing, not a stable tradition, because people know we are unhealthy compared with what's possible and we were worse in health before modern conveniences such as refrigeration. Therefore, it's absurd to rationalize cultural diets as something we're adapted to eating, when they certainly evolve many times faster than humans hypothetically could.

April 30, 2008

State of Fear, by Michael Crichton

I already totally didn't believe in global warming, because I was following the scientific debate, and the case for it was so lost by 2007 that the IPCC didn't even bother to try to hide that their report summaries are written by UN bureaucrats and approved by UN diplomats without any scientific input or review, like they tried to hide it back in '95. In other words, as of 2008, only the sort of morons who don't know that politicians lie, and don't know or don't care that all their speeches and books have been ghostwritten since at least JFK, still believe in global warming. So it was kind of late to read this book, and the opinions in the book were not really daring or fresh. Maybe they would have been if it had been written in '99, just after the record hot weather year of '98 that made alarmist predictions of global warming catastrophe a popular topic.

It was fun to laugh at the characters who didn't know that global warming was all a crock yet, as they took time to be clued in. The graphs make that a richer experience, as you can think back to looking over some of the same graphs yourself for the first time, and be reminded of your own learning experience. That isn't as boring as it sounds, because it's given a pique by being put in the setting of a violent action novel.

The part with cannibals was over the top and at a similar point in the story structure as the use of cannibals in Forrest Gump. It was also a ham-handed way to express a comeuppance wish on people who have naive views, in the author's opinion, about primitives or savages and nature.

The portrayal of terrorism and terrorist groups and their motives is cartoonish, standard action novel/movie fare, which is surprising given that the book was presumably written after 2001, which should have caused some thought. It's an area where you have to do your own thinking, taking the novel as an example of what people imagine, without any helpful commentary from within the novel. People imagine terrorists and secret agents killing each other with abandon, each believing they're doing what is necessary for ultimate good purposes, saving lives really. That imagination seems so far from reality. I wonder if there are people who believe that as their reality and go around killing on sight whoever is their enemy or target, according to the plot as they see it, and aren't just suffering from paranoid delusions.

January 27, 2008

New look and fruitarianism

I just selected custom colors for Return of the Sasquatch, replacing the popular green theme it used to have. I feel like making a lot of changes. New subjects, new directions in my life.

For instance, this year I've already tried two extreme diets, though only for a few days each strictly: First, I tried a very low carb diet, meat and eggs only, except one serving of greens I had in three days. So my diet was the no carb, meat-only diet the other two days. Then with a headache from that, I wanted to try a fruit and nuts only diet, which is pretty close to what I was tending to eat for snacks last year anyway, so the argument that it's the instinctive natural diet for hominids agrees with my taste.

Some people say a fruitarian diet causes too much weight loss and some fruitarians seem to believe that and try to justify becoming unusually thin as healthier. I don't need to lose weight, I just want more energy. Nuts are 2/3 fat by weight, and dried fruit is over 3/4 carbohydrates by weight, so calorie density can be higher than any other diet, for convenient cheap fruitarian snacks.

Nuts are botanically fruit and generally understood as part of a what's meant by a fruitarian diet. A lot of fruitarians define their diet as about eating raw, living food and so might not consider unsprouted, processed nuts and dried fruit and fruit juice and canned fruit really fruitarian. I don't want to be like the ovo-lacto-pesco-pollo-vegetarians who have ruined the word vegetarian, so I don't want to corrupt the word fruitarianism with whatever is convenient to eat. I think it's reasonable to limit what sort of food is considered fruitarian to fruit that can be eaten raw, not to include wheat as some who call themselves fruitarians do just because it's botanically a fruit-like seed of grass, although no one eats it raw like a fruit. However, there are important distinctions between fruitarian and raw fruitarian and raw vegan which get confusing when those terms are treated as equivalent. Many who call themselves fruitarians actually advocate a sort of raw veganism, including almost every vegetable that can be eaten raw.

Is a fruitarian diet survivable long-term? Apparently, according to modern science, fruit and nuts are enough only if they have a lot of insects and bacteria on them to provide the required vitamin B12, which some monkeys probably get that way. The needed amount of vitamin D would be provided by sunlight. I still take vitamins, the fruit of civilization, so to speak, and I've only tried fruitarianism for a day or two at a time between eating other food, so long-term survivability isn't an issue with it for me yet.

October 10, 2007

Avid activity vs. depression

Physical activity can be quantified.
  • It's not the same as the level of depression in terms of amount of non-depressed behavior.
  • However, physical activity may be useful as a treatment for depression.
Mental activity is hard to quantify.
  • A variety of activities in a day, a lot of hours used for some different activities every day, isn't necessarily a lot of mental activity, and isn't necessarily not depressed.
  • A lot of time each day used for difficult mental activity that has some results or progress, even if a hobby, isn't necessarily not depressed. (It might be required work or a habit, and going very slowly or unenjoyably.)
The kind of not depressed I want is an "appetite" for learning and activities, and "energy" to put hours into various hobbies and activities every day.

It's hard to express in abstractions and generalities.

A very depressed state is sleeping in, sitting around, not taking much of an interest in anything, —which means specifically when one happens to look at a book, turn on a radio or t.v., pick up an instrument, there's nothing important about it, it's all boring, and even if one has hours to spend doing that one thing, it's only the most casual amount that gets done and it doesn't catch on to doing every day— going along with watching t.v. sometimes, but not even consistently about that and losing interest in longer, boring things because it gets hard to pay attention.

A moderately depressed state is having activities at various times of day every day, being able to have a routine of media consumption, scheduled radio and t.v. programs that one likes, and reading time to keep up with some periodicals and reading novels, being able to have an exercise routine and regular meals, shopping, laundry. But choice to do new things isn't there much, and avidity to learn and to progress is lacking.

A positively not depressed state includes the ability to take an interest in learning something, to read and to study it avidly for hours every day, to make the time for it, just because it's interesting and one is curious or feels challenged. It doesn't have to be part of a school program or have anyone else's approval as an activity that's "not a waste of time."

It's hard to fake a proper interest in a hobby just by putting time or money into it or making some product or performance to show for it. Without interest, whatever art it is, one barely might put out cookie-cutter, paint-by-numbers, crude models, school-level unenthusiastic performances, etc.

With a proper interest, one can produce results from areas of interest that don't seem to lend themselves to showing results. One can have a wealth of knowledge and skills and related products and accomplishments to show for it, where others if they just heard of the area of interest would think there's nothing really to do in that area, at least not for an amateur who isn't well funded, because there isn't a conventional expectation of school-like project results to show. For instance, people can see how an interest in boats might be demonstrated by the result of having a boat or the result of making model boats, because that's relatively conventional, but to take some arcane, useless-seeming curiosity and make a product people wouldn't expect out of it, resourcefully not extravagantly, is possible with a proper interest.

But not to get materialistic about having products, or to make interests about having something to show off.

With interest, one can take a curiosity about a language, for example, and learn the language and read interesting books in it, and so on.

With less interest, less avidity, one reduces language learning to having to know a list of words that are substitutes for what one already knows, so it becomes intensely boring, then one doesn't seem to have the energy to spend hours on it every day, even if there's still an interesting part left one feels a lack of energy to get through the overhead to getting to that part and would rather sit around and daydream than spend time on it every day.

It has to do with a distinction between "interest" as having a motive to do something that's in one's interest, then it's all a means to an end and one needs to have willpower and low time-preference to get through it for the long-term result, and the more colloquial sense of "interest" as one's curiosity about something, pleasure in learning it, which is really living not preparing to live.

With depression one feels "stuck," "blocked," fears and inhibitions and dislike of routine and tiredness blocking getting through the basic requirements of activities that would be "interesting," that is, mentally stimulating and learning experiences.

August 26, 2007

What are we all?

We're part of life on Earth. What life on Earth really is, how new species arise, we don't really know. Random mutation and natural selection doesn't explain it, it just restates the problem of what life is at another level of detail. What is really random and where does randomness come from? That's a deep problem for the philosophy of life and existence. If mutations are random how do they end up so often when and where needed and not very often at other times? That's a problem to keep at least geneticists busy for a long time, if the answer doesn't lie somewhere beyond their specialty. How is "natural selection" different from "what survives, survives," a redundancy?

At least we know we're part of life on Earth. We're just like any other land mammal, except for our behavior. We're adapted to the Earth's atmosphere, gravity, Earth foods, Earth bacteria. There are skeletons of presumable human ancestors who lived about any number of years ago you care to name. Not a skeleton for every year, but enough to fill a picture with links including some extra links that probably aren't ancestors. Within the last 12,000 years, the skeletons are supposed to be about the same anywhere as up to 1492. For skeletons that are believed to be about 40,000 years old, the ones in Europe that looked less like ancestors of anyone were called Neanderthal, and the ones that looked a lot like local ancestors were called Cro Magnon. Since that terminology was vague and misleading for human remains outside Europe, finds that would have been called Cro Magnon are now called "anatomically modern humans" as the preferred terminology. If anatomically modern humans weren't our direct ancestors, then who was?

The story scientists are telling now is that about 100,000 years ago, in East Africa some hominids who were already pretty much anatomically modern humans began spreading out over the whole world, and also became human in behavior, at least as far as painting with ocher and making figurines and other things archaeologists can detect that are beyond just making one kind of sharpened stone by habit. But the alternate story that there was some mixing of regional varieties with a spreading group of humans with modern behavior still has some life in it, because science always has new measurements and hypotheses. Maybe there was a bottleneck roughly 100,000 years ago in terms all human ancestors, then those spread out, then roughly 50,000 years ago behaviorly modern humans arose, and spread out and mixed with the earlier wave, but that spreading and genes for intelligence becoming predominant is not yet complete.

Why hominids split from apes and when is a totally separate range of prehistory problem, whatever you believe about the accuracy of various forms of radiological dating. Of course there are still apes, there are still jungles for them to live in and stay safe by climbing trees, where modern humans are in danger from predators because it's harder for us to climb trees, being adapted so well to walking upright since Australopithecines, which they say lived 4 to 6 million years ago. If it weren't for apes, it would be some other distant relative of humans that creationists would ask their question about. Why are there still cows, if humans and cows share a primitive mammalian ancestor? Why are there still flies? Why are there still rocks? If life evolved and humans are the superior product of evolution, then everything in the universe should be humans, nothing else remaining, according to creationist logic.

Now scientists are saying there are a few more million years to wonder about between Australopithecines and a common ancestor of apes and humans. I think that could be the time in which the pre-hominids developed from forest apes to all the adaptations to walking upright that we have. I tend not to believe that random point mutations and selection can explain major changes in species like that, because if you look at the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees, there are entire chromosome reorganizations. Truly distinct species are unable to produce fertile offspring together, due to chromosome set differences, which implies for every species there was a bottleneck of one lucky complete mutant as the founding mother or father of the whole species, and since it's so hard to breed successfully with chromosome differences, a lucky breeding incident of that mutant and the previous normals, or else parthenogenesis.

As for humans having 26 hour biological clocks, I think the deeper physiological clock of humans that regulates heat has been shown to run at about 24 hours, but the sleep clock runs at about 25 or 26 hours when humans are separated from natural cycles of sunlight and dark. That's a good thing, because it allows rotating your sleep to adjust to the seasons and changes of what parts of the day are good for activities and for sleeping, and it may allow a hunter or scavenger to make use of moonlight, following the almost 25 hour cycle of when the moon is up.

The Garden of Eden is an allegory for something that really happened: Humans started judging what was good to eat for themselves, and invented agriculture, instead of just eating the easy and appetizing fruit and nuts and meat that don't have to be cooked to be edible. That choice condemned their descendants to earning their bread by the sweat of their brows, as it is written.

[I wrote this as a comment to a post at Vault-Co. It stands well enough on its own as a sample of where my thoughts on human evolution are.]