Friday, May 22, 2009

Another good reason to stop drinking Cola

I stopped drinking carbonated stuff about five years ago. I'd suffered, for the previous six years or so, from intermittent bouts of terrible stomach problems that were diagnosed as either "irritable bowel syndrome" or "colitis." Either way, waking up at 3am with cramps bad enough to keep you on the floor isn't fun. When I stopped drinking pop, the episodes lessened in both frequency and severity to the point that they really don't bother me at all anymore. Once in awhile, a little tummy-ache, as opposed to 6-12 hours of incredible pain.

I'm pretty sure it was the pop. Maybe not as a single cause, but certainly as an exacerbating factor. I've never had such direct, fast results from one diet change. At first I only stopped drinking Cola, and kept on with stuff like Ginger Ale from time-to-time... but any of it tended to ramp up the digestive discomfort.

Now word comes from the International Journal of Clinical Practice that Cola can cause muscle problems:

We are consuming more soft drinks than ever before and a number of health issues have already been identified including tooth problems, bone demineralisation and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes” says Dr Moses Elisaf from the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Ioannina, Greece.

“Evidence is increasing to suggest that excessive cola consumption can also lead to hypokalaemia, in which the blood potassium levels fall, causing an adverse effect on vital muscle functions.

I like the taste of many sodas. And I like the tingly feeling. It just ain't worth the trouble, though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My hunting theory is gathering steam

New York Magazine has a lead article called, "In Defense of Distraction." It's good. On page seven, we read:

The truly wise mind will harness, rather than abandon, the power of distraction. Unwavering focus—the inability to be distracted—can actually be just as problematic as ADHD. Trouble with “attentional shift” is a feature common to a handful of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and OCD. It’s been hypothesized that ADHD might even be an advantage in certain change-rich environments. Researchers have discovered, for instance, that a brain receptor associated with ADHD is unusually common among certain nomads in Kenya, and that members who have the receptor are the best nourished in the group. It’s possible that we’re all evolving toward a new techno-cognitive nomadism, a rapidly shifting environment in which restlessness will be an advantage again.

This is a decent synopsis of what I've been saying about the rise of "hunting" behaviors over "gathering" ones:

How do I get credit for being a genius? Where can I go to cash in this wonderful insight for some Omaha steaks or something?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Now taking applications for new zodiac signs

My son (a Virgo... explain that to a 9-year-old) and I (a Cancer... worst. sign. ever) have determined that the current zodiac sucks (Leo is cool, as is Scorpio... in a James Dean kinda way... but twins? sheep? scales? yeesh). Therefore, we determine to create a zodiac that makes good, clean, modern sense. So far we have the following signs sketched out:

    1. The Basset Hound

    2. The Beef Taco

    3. Schadenfreude

    4. Mr. Potato Head

    5. Duct Tape

      We need several more. Our thoughts, thusfar, on the new astrological pantheon:

        1. A final zodiac of between 18 and 91 signs would be best.

        2. Overlapping signs will be designated such that no person is forced into one sign, but has a choice of at least three.

        3. Like the current zodiac, the symbol and/or pictogram for the sign need have no relation to the actual thing. For example, the symbol for "Beef Taco" will, inexplicably, look like a bell.

        4. Relationships between the zodiac signs (eg, "Beef Taco and Duct Tape should never marry, except so as to settle matters of vendetta") will be determined by the most random method available, or by group consensus, or by me.

        5. No connection between random star patterns and zodiac signs will be allowed. That's highly unscientific at best, and, at worst, reeks of those filthy astronauts. Feel free, however, to "discover" a diagram of your sign's symbol in syrup, cheese rinds, rubber lizards (those peels of truck tires you see beside the highway), used dental floss, crayon shards, Hollywood Squares re-runs or any other pattern that suits your glib fancy.

        6. If you want to name a sign after yourself, that's OK, but we'll need a nickname in quotes between your first and last name. So, while "Donna Dixon" is not acceptable, "Donna 'The Bowling Queen' Dixon" is just peachy.

        7. Do not try to slip any of the old zodiac signs in under synonyms. We're looking at you, "Lobster."

        8. No names related to major league baseball will be accepted.

        9. The application deadline is the fifth day of Duct Tape.


          Sunday, May 3, 2009

          Encyclopedias: from shoe leather to link love in 10 years

          A NYT article last month about the death of Microsoft Encarta is followed by one today that discusses the issue a bit more. All the obviouis stuff about free web content killing an old business model is in here. Not really news, just kinda interesting in terms of the particulars.

          Like, f'rinstance, that in 1994, when Microsoft dropped the price of Encarta to $99, Britannica's first cd-rom encylopedia was going for $995. Microsoft had tried to do a deal with Britannica, and some of the other encyclopedeia giants, but the "...conventional wisdom in the encyclopedia business held that a sales force that knocked on doors was indispensable, that encyclopedias were 'sold, not bought.'"

          That line really struck me. My family paid close to a grand for the Compton's home encylopedia when I was a kid. When your mom's parents are a high-school principle and a librarian, that's a no-brainer. That was in 1970's dollars and, I assume, spread across several years-worth of payments. I used the crap out of that encylopedia for close to 20 years, from the early 70's through the late 80's, even when I was in college. It was a good deal, and I have nothing but fond memories of using the set... except for, of course, when it didn't have what I needed. But that's the way it goes with everything-that-isn't-the-Web.

          So the idea of paying $1,000-ish for a computerized encylopedia doesn't seem unreal, right? I mean, if you're thinking inside that box. A family in 1985 will pay $1,000 for a print encylopedia so that Chip and Missy will have access to all that good stuff. Their folks have a computer with a CD-ROM, so why wouldn't they pay a similar price for a much more easily searched, multimedia chunk of educational goodness?

          Well... in 1985 they might have, but only a few people had PC's with a CD-ROM. That was the year they were introduced. Most of us were still chunking away on machines with 5.25" single-density floppy drives. I was a giant geek, and I didn't own a PC with a CD-ROM drive until around 1994. You know... they year Britannica decided to charge $1,000 for their CD deal-i-o.

          I remember looking at the Encarta CD-ROM at Microcenter for $100 or so back then and thinking, "If I had kids, I'd definitely get that." A lot of other people felt that way, too. According to the NYT article, Microsoft sold 350,000 units at $99.

          Problem is... how often do you buy a new encyclopedia? Right. Never. It's a one time thing you get for your kids. Maybe (as in the case of the Comptons set we had), you can opt for a yearly update. But if you bought Encarta so that 7-year old Missy could learn about plankton and volcanoes and Greek mythology... well, you don't need to do that again, two years later, when Chip turns seven.

          Except that by the time Chip turned seven, it was 1996. And from there, you could see the Web. We hadn't had the tech bubble yet, but we understood that something major was going on. And by 1999, when you thought, "I might as well give this Encarta CD-ROM to my brother, since his kids are now in grade school..." Well, your nephew was looking up volcanoes online.

          I remember seeing a set of CD-ROMs (like 30 or so) that contained every issue of "National Geographic" ever. Ads and all. It was at Barnes and Noble and went for around $300. I remember thinking, "When that hits $100, I might get it." Next time I saw it, it was in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart for $39.95.

          NatGeo has turned its brand around, and is now doing great TV shows and videos. Britannica? Not so much.

          "How much is a great education for your child worth?" I imagine the Compton's salesman asking. The answer of course is, "Priceless." And that's still the answer. The answer to the question, "What would you pay to guarantee a step-up for your kid in school?" has changed a bit, eh?

          Saturday, May 2, 2009

          The first 100 days Flickrstream

          This is just cool. The Whitehouse photographer is posting presidential photography at Flickr.

          View it as a slideshow here: