Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crap health data on the web

There is a ton of crap health data on the web. Here is a screen grab from
Notice the caclulation for calories burned:
"Calories burned by exercise = (METs x 3.5 x weight in kg) / 200 x duration in minutes"
If you don't understand math that might make sense to you, but, any of us familiar with math will tell you the equation is crap. Essentially with this equation the longer you do something the fewer calories you burn.
1*3.5*100 = 350/200*1 = 1.75
1*3.5*100 = 350/200*2= 0.875
So if you do an activity for 1 minute you burn 1.75 calories and if you do an activity for 2 minutes you burn 0.875 calories.
Lets look at their example equation:
(5 x 3.5 x 81)/200 x 60 = 425 calories burned.
1417.5/1200=0.0118125 not 425
The equation should be:
"Calories burned by exercise = (METs x 3.5 x weight in kg) / (200 / duration in minutes)"
(5 x 3.5 x 81)/(200 / 60) = 425 calories burned.
I am not picking on Livestrong. I noticed the error because I like the website and I use it. The point is that even people or websites with the best intentions who appear to be knowledgeable about the subject make errors and if you try and plan a diet using the data from Livestrong you end up making bad plans.
We need to double check our data. Livestrong does not have a "contact webmaster" link, so I couldn't copntact them and let them know they made an error. Often when I report an error I get an e-mail flame in return. Sometimes I am ignored and occasionally the webmaster thanks me for pointing the error out.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone and there isn't a problem with making mistakes. Making mistakes is good because it helps us become better people. At the same time people need to double and triple check every piece of data they use in their decision making process.
It is easisest to make mistakes when we have bad data.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Political Opinions and assholes, everyone has them

I get a lot of crap from people who think I am far left or far right and whose political opinions are based almost entirely on propaganda. I have developed my political ideology over time and based entirely on reading all opinions about a position as well as factual research materials (really hard to find).

Most of my political opinions are based on the basic economic fact that demand creates a supply. There is a demand for a cure for cancer so you can buy one, there is a supply. There is a demand for prostitution so there is a supply. There is a demand for recreational drugs so there is a supply. There is a demand for firearms so there is a supply. There is even a demand for shit and there is not enough supply. Really.

Once a person accepts the basic economic fact that as long as there is a demand a supply will exist making decisions on a lot of political issues is pretty easy. I can either try and force people to accept my opinion that recreational drugs and prostitution are bad OR I can legalize, regulate and tax these markets. One decision creates a dangerous and unregulated black market that costs society a tremendous amount of money. One decision creates a reasonably safe and effectively regulated market which creates tax income for society.

Now that seems like a brain dead decision to me. Unfortunately not everyone agrees with me. Many people feel it is necessary to force people to abide by their opinions of morality, public health and safety.

Democrats want to ban guns which will create a dangerous black market in guns. When the British outlawed guns in Palestine the Jewish people built clandestine firearms factories. One of the most famous was under a laundry. Banning guns does not work.

Recreational drugs and prostitution have the same issues. For years we have fought a war on drugs that has cost the United States in lives, medical costs, enforcement costs, imprisonment costs. If recreational drugs and prostitution were handled the same way alcohol and gambling are handled the country would be in much better shape financially, increased jobs, reduced costs and increased tax revenue.


Yes to the 2nd amendment.

Yes to choice in womens reproductive rights.

Yes to legalization, regulation and taxation of prostitution.

Yes to legalization, regulation and taxation of recreational drugs.

Yes to legalization, regulation and taxation of gambling.

Yes to legalization, regulation and taxation of anything else people want and I or someone else doesn't think they should have.

Health Care:

Health care is a different mess. I can buy an individual plan for about $400 a month. Spending on Medicare runs about $7,000.00 per person. So for $7K per year we could pay $550.00 per month per person on commercial medical insurance and lose all the hassles with who accepts medicare and guess what? That includes prescription coverage.

So here is my opinion. We, as a democratic government, need to put together a required benefit package for health insurance. Then we negotiate with non-profit health care companies for a rate and control that rate the same way we do rates for utilities, through a state or county consumer service committee. Finally we require employers to pay for the employees plan. When a person is unemployed the government pays for the plan. If a person is part time the employer still pays for the medical insurance. Period. If a person is an independent contractor the employer pays for the insurance. Period. None of these “independent contractor” loopholes that screw people, doctors and hospitals while giving employers enough money to buy a hummer and a vacation place in Costa Rica.

Dump medicare and medicaid.

Social Security:

Social Security is a scam. Every employee in the United States needs a retirement plan. Roosevelt sponsored Social Security to bust the momentum the Union was building. The three primary issues unions addressed were working hours, medical benefits and retirement benefits. By passing legislation that addressed working hours Congress pulled one leg out of the Unionization movement. By creating Social Security Congress pulled another leg out from under the Unionization movement.

All money put into the social security fund should be invested in real, safe investments that do not drive up the United States national debt.

Housing and mortgage regulation:

This is a big issue. A lot of our mortgage rules are fine. The FHA is a good system, provided appraisals are honest.

I believe all housing appraisers should be federal government employees. This eliminates the pressure on appraisers to increase the appraisal value to make sure they have a job tomorrow.

What people don't get is that the real problem with the mortgage crisis is that housing appraisals were inflated and that caused the bubble. Those appraisals were done locally by one of our neighbors.

Copyright Law:

Is crap. Copyright should be 20 years, same as patents. Period.

Free speech should always trump copyright, unless there is a profit involved on the part of whoever is accused of breaking copyright law.


The United States guarantees Freedom of Religion, Not Freedom from Religion.

Regions are going to have religious predominance. Display of a religious symbol does not mean support for that religion. If it did we would have to outlaw the wearing of crosses. In fact by outlawing the display of religious iconography we trample on freedom of speech. The only time the display of religious iconography should be interfered with is if it is associated with actual discrimination.

Sure, discrimination can be hard to prove. Bureaucrats in the United States are often corrupt, breaking the law based on their individual bigotries based on skin color, religion, dress, or any other reason people feel justifies their ignoring the law and making up their own rules. A corrupt court clerk in Oakland country once told me “We make the rules!”. Courts do not make rules, but, she did and she screwed me over pretty well. No recourse without access to legal aid willing to address the issue and what lawyer wants to go to bat against a court for some Joe Schmoe?

Bureaucratic Bigotry and Discrimination:

We need something like the Inspector General to investigate every complaint about Bureaucratic corruption. Everything bureaucrats do should be recorded, the way police officers have dash cams these days. Phone conversations, even conversations across the counter. If a complaint is made the IG can investigate by reviewing the recording. The recordings and investigation process should be made publicly available on line. Open Government.

Obama illegally fired an Inspector General. That is corruption. No one cared and Obama was not even repentant about it. This kind of government corruption needs to be held to account.

Court System:

Lady Justice is depicted as blind, but, lawyers and judges treat trials as if they are dramatic presentations and people are often convicted or released based on the charisma of their attorney.

We need to put the blind into justice. Testimony and cross examination should not be in front of a judge or jury which will decide the case. Once testimony has been established and any motions or appeals about the testimony and presentation of evidence have been decided the Jury should review the testimony. In fact, even the name of the accused should be redacted for the decision making process. Justice should be as blind to anything but the established facts and allowed testimony as is possible.

Supreme Court Judges:

Need to have passed the bar. It should be a law.


People are our most important resource. We need to care for our national human resources as if they are our most important resource. We need to maintain people who are not capable of maintaining themselves for whatever reason, disability, retirement, unemployment.


Every person capable of being accepted at a State University should have their education paid for. We need some kind of standardized testing. People who graduate high school should be able to pass a GED. People who graduate from a class should be able to pass the CLEP exam for that class. Yeah, I know a small number of people do badly on tests even if they are literate and know the material. They freeze. Heck, everyone goes brain dead and can't remember things sometimes. I get that. That doesn't mean we should keep passing illiterate, uneducated students out into the business world.

Education should begin at age 3, during formative years. We need to use vouchers to create competitive education systems that address the bureaucratic stagnation currently so common in our education system.

I feel strongly about all of these issues. I have researched them and believe I have educated opinions founded in logic.

A doctor of clinical psychology once told me that it was okay for Harry Potter books, which popularize the Wican Religion (not very specifically) are okay but Christian fiction was bad because as a culture we consider magic to be fantasy.

Yeah, not buying that logic. Just because a religious viewpoint is in the minority and the majority think it is horsecrap does not make it less valid in my opinion. It is just this kind of “popular” logic that dismisses people and encourages bigotry.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

ZEN and Ignorance

ZEN is the art of being aware. Awareness is enlightenment. Seeking out enlightenment is a waste of time. It is like looking for your car keys when they are in your hand or seeking out your sun glasses when they are on top of your head. We only seek these things out when we are not aware of them. To become aware of them we must seek them and come to the realization that we have wasted our time because the keys were in our hand all along.

The most important step in becoming aware is the realization that we are missing something. Our keys. Our sunglasses. Our awareness. Many Christian's call this the realization that Christ is missing from their lives and they seek Christ in the words and actions of other people. The awareness that Christ is missing is not an awareness of Christ.

A person cannot fill their lives with people and with Christ. Once a person realizes they are missing something a person can be filled with the things of people or with the things of Christ. The things of people are not the things of Christ.

The first step in awareness is becoming aware of our breathing because we are usually most ignorant of our breathing. Breathing has become automatic. We do it without thinking. There is no specific way to breathe. You may be told that slow, deep breaths are good for you and this is true. That does not mean you cannot breathe in short, fast breaths. The important thing is to be aware of your breathing.

I am almost always aware of my breathing. Sometimes I forget to be aware because I am focused so intently on something else. When I realize that I am breathing it is like being born. I am aware and I am aware that I am aware.

One of the exercises I was given when I first began practicing ZEN was to be aware of when I blinked. We blink often. I just did it, just now. I was asked to slow down my blinking so I could feel the motion of my eyelid. This was not easy. It took me a long time. I knew when I blinked but I could not control it. I could not slow the motion of my eyelid down. When I could it became a great victory that I never discussed with anyone. I myself was aware and my teacher was aware that I was aware because the speed at which I blinked had become slower. Even today, if I choose I can slow my blink because I am aware of it.

I almost always chest breathe. I enjoy the feeling of the expansion of my chest and the contraction of my chest. I am aware of this and I am aware that it makes others uncomfortable. I will sometimes breathe with my stomach because it relaxes people around me.

My teacher was a martial artist and chest breathing changes the physiology of the person. Breathing with your chest actually increases the adrenaline to your system. I would sit in ZEN with my stomach muscles tightened, feeling my chest expand and contract. I could feel the energy building inside of me. Later I learned to tighten my abdominal muscles and breathe with them tightened.

When I am in a dangerous situation I am careful to breathe with my stomach. Most people will breathe with their chest when they are stressed.

I do not suggest that anyone learn to make chest breathing a habit. For some of us it is a good idea, even if it creates distance from the people around us.

Be aware that the unaware will always assume a chest breather is upset or stressed. "Ready to Explode" This is a tool that people who are semi-trained in body language will use badly. "If someone is chest breathing they are stressed" this is not always true, but, the badly trained person will always assume it is true. Like all things chest breathing is one indicator which must be combined with other indicators to indicate a probability. Not a reality.

A lie detector will measure the cadence of a person's breathing. It will also measure the expansion of the chest. If you are taking a lie detector test it is important to be aware that you should stomach breathe and change the cadence of your breathing based on the questions.

Typically people will stay farther away from a person breathing with their chest. They will become upset when they are around a person breathing with their chest. They will become defensive as if they are being attacked even when no attack has been made. The more unaware they are the more likely they are to become afraid or angry when they are around a person breathing with their chest.

If you want to find out if a person is tolerant disagree with them. A tolerant person will agree to disagree. An intolerant person will reject.

Chest breathing is a tool that can be used to understand the people around you. People will react differently.

If you want to identify people who are semi-aware you can chest breathe while relaxed. The unaware will become nervous. The semi-aware will either become slightly confused or smug.

Some people will try to invade your space because they think it will make you more stressed. You can choose how to behave. Normally when a person invades someone's space it is either an invitation to physical closeness or a challenge. Not always. Be aware. Choose your behavior. Move slightly closer or move away or stay where you are. Girls and women do this often. When a woman invades my space I will often change to stomach breathing, if I am interested in being close to them.

As I sit here writing I am switching between stomach breathing and chest breathing. Often I use both. I love the feel of my chest expanding as air fills my lungs. I love the feel of my ribs coming together as the air leaves my lungs. I can feel my lungs deflating. I do not enjoy breathing through my stomach nearly as much.

When I want to really focus I often stomach breathe. My physiology changes. I often fall asleep when if I stomach breathe for a long time. I use stomach breathing as a technique to help me sleep. My system becomes slower.

My ZEN teacher never told me to smile while I sat in ZEN. Later I learned this and I understood.

People are more comfortable around someone who is smiling and stomach breathing. These techniques can help calm the people around you. By smiling and stomach breathing you can help calm the world around you if this is your goal. This is what the unaware expect when they are in the presence of a practitioner of ZEN.

ZEN is not the search for peace. We have peace. We may not be aware of the peace we have and so we seek it until we become aware that our search was a waste of time. We cannot become aware that our search was a waste of time without first seeking.

So our first step in ZEN is becoming aware of our breathing and the understanding that our breath influences the people around us.

The second step in ZEN is becoming aware of our facial expressions and how they influence the people around us.
The third step in ZEN is becoming aware of our thoughts and how our thoughts influence the people around us. To do this we must stop thinking. We must create the empty mind.

In Asian martial arts we first study the way of the empty hand. We learn that our empty hand is filled with a powerful weapon that we can use.

In ZEN we study the way of the empty mind. We learn that the empty mind is filled with a powerful tool which we can use.

What should we use these tools for?

There are those who tell us that we must always use these tools to create peace around ourselves. This is a goal. There is nothing wrong with it.

We all influence each other. We can control other people just by breathing. We control people by smiling.

Stomach breathing invites people into a closeness where we can control them. It is a web that a spider weaves. Two people coming close together often interweave a web that surrounds themselves and others and from which they find it difficult to escape.

Chest breathing encourages people to make their own individual decisions, often defensive from fear, but the decisions are their own and they are typically more aware of their behavioral decisions. Sometimes they have so little control and they are so ignorant of themselves and their triggers that they can not help but act out against another person. This is sad.

A smiling person can be inviting. Often the invitation is into a web.

A passive face is neither an invitation nor a rejection and yet many are rejected by it.

An aware person who is confident will rarely become defensive around a person who is chest breathing.

A tolerant person will rarely reject someone who disagrees with them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Crap science and deductions

I was just watching some dumb show on the History Channel, Brad Metzler's Decoded on the Statue of Liberty.

These guys reviewed a bunch of stuff about the Statue of Liberty, supposedly defining Illuminati and Masonic Influences and the number 7 and 16 and a bunch of other junk. It was laughably boring.

In spatial geometry you need 7 dimensions to define an object in a coordinate system. Not 3. You can't even define a point with 3 dimensions, you need a fourth dimension, the Origin.

Essentially you need an Origin no matter what you do. How do you define an origin? Essentially you just say "this is the origin" AND "this is the orientation of the origin".

Come again?

Pick up a cube and hold it. The X, Y and Z are really easy to define and the origin is in the center. Which is the YZ side and which is the XZ side? That is orientation and we can pick a side and define the orientation of the origin.

Now pick up a ball. The origin is in the center of the ball, but, where are the 3 planes located? They all pass through the center and they are all perpendicular to each other, but, how do we define that?

We can pick up a magic marker and make a point on the outside of the ball and now we can use that reference point to define the orientation of the coordinate system.

So the origin of our ball is defined and the rotational orientation of our ball is defined.

Put another point on the ball. This is a position.

To define where that point is we define the origin. We define the rotational orientation of the ball using one point and we define a location using another point.

7 numbers, one of which is always Origin or 0.

1 origin point and 6 dimensions to locate one point. 16.

16 is 4 squared.

Our dimensional system is 4 squared, an origin and 3 dimensional axis forming planes perpendicular to each other.

Why do I mention this? Because Brad Metzler's team wandered around the Statue of Liberty running into Masonic and Illuminati influences and the numbers 16 and 7 and 4.


What does the big G in the center of a square and compass mean? Geometry. Not necessarily two dimensional geometry. And how is it Mason's refer to themselves? As "On the Square"

Now personally, if I had a group which defined itself using Geometry I would probably go looking for geometric symbolism like 4 squared, 1 origin and 6 dimensions (16), and 7 (1 origin and 6 dimensions).

Of course what the heck, lets just ignore the whole geometry angle because most people won't get the ideas and are they are more interested in crazy conspiracy symbolism such as "Lucifer".

Crap sells better than math.