8-20-03 - 2


Thoughts on the Atkins diet - first of all, I think it's ridiculous the way everyone in America is dieting these days. I've been working out and watching my diet since I was 15, about ten years now; at first I was kind of out of place; I'd go to an aunt's for dinner and they'd make some cheesy butter-drenched thing that I would just hate to have to eat. These days when I go to an aunt's they're serving low-fat ice cream, low-carb cookies, and all manner of ridiculous food. Which brings me to another rant - if you want to eat healthy food, eat grilled fish, eat vegetables, eat natural delicious good food, don't eat chemical bizarre artificial "healthy" versions of unhealthy foods! don't eat low-carb cakes for desert and low-fat soy bacon for breakfast, have yogurt for desert and ham for breakfast!

Ok, back to Atkins. I think Atkins is a little nuts and perhaps unhealthy, but to some extent it does work. Why?

  • It's certainly true that refined sugar is very bad for you. It gives you a brief rush, then an energy crash, which makes you crave more sugar. If you don't work out very hard after having it, it's just turned into fat. It also puts your body in a metabolic (storing energy) rather than anabolic (using energy) mode.

  • It's also true that eating a lot of carbs is probably bad for you. Something like a big plate of pasta has a lot of calories in all that flour without a lot of nutrients or protein or anything else. It also provides a ton of medium-term energy which is great if you're running a marathon the next day, but not good if you're going to sit on your ass at work like most of us.

  • It's also true that fat makes you feel full, while carbs don't. Often after a dinner of carbs you'll keep snacking, while if you have a reasonable amount of fat (such as you would get from a steak or salmon), you won't.

  • I think a lot of why Atkins works for many people is incidental. That is, most people who are over-weight do a lot of snacking, and the vast majority of unhealthy snacking is on carbs - chips, cookies, sweets, bagels, etc. So, obviously if you forbid carbs, you forbid those foods, you forbid all that snacking. Thus Atkins isn't working for any magic reason, it's working because you've cut the favorite foods of all these people.

  • Another incidental issue is just that food without carbs gets kind of boring. Now I'm the first person to advocate the joys of simple grilled meats, fish, fowl, steamed veggies, etc., but if that's all you can eat every day, it gets boring, and you're not going to be too excited about eating lots of it. If you add carbs to your choices, there are a multitude of tasty goodies to temp your taste buds and entice you into eating more than you should.

  • A related issue is that it's hard to eat a ton of calories really fast without carbs. It's pretty easy to eat 1000 calories in less than half an hour if you allow carbs (start with bread, have a plate of pasta, chase with cake and ice cream). In fact, people do it all the time. You don't even feel full until you're done. Without processed starches and sugars it's hard to have such concentrated calories that you can get so quickly, so you're more likely to take enough time to feel full by the time you're over-eating like that.

  • Now, is Atkins actually a good idea? I really don't think so, but I don't have strong evidence for that. Certainly if you do go Atkins, I highly recommend a large amount of vegetables to supplement all the meat. I strongly believe in moderation when it comes to diets, and Atkins just seems too extreme. Certainly if you can't stick to it and you "fall off the wagon" from time to time, then it's not right for you. All that said, I am eating a low-carb diet these days, thought I've not cut carbs. I believe cutting processed sugar and white-flour products is far more important than cutting things like whole-wheat products.

  • The stuff Atkins says about fat being fine is a load of BS. Bacon is not healthy. Calories of any kind are going to make you fat, and animal fat is full of calories. Sure, a moderate amount of fat is not only ok, it's necessary. For men, you need about 25g of fat a day for proper testosterone production (that's why vegetarians turn into wusses: not enough fat (I'm joking)); for women, you need some fat for the soft layer under your skin, for your breasts and butt, and for proper hormone balance; hard-exercising women know how their menstrual cycle can be screwed up, that's because of hormone production going out of whack due to fatty acid defficiency.

8-20-03 - 1


I think the new Mac G5 is a design disaster. Yes, it's fast, but it looks like a PC, which is destroying Apple's cool branding and image which they had established with the iMac and G4 Cube and such. Update - Greg G says Apple is not going for the consumer market here, they're going for the server market, so they intentionally want the machine to look "professional" and "industrial" and all that; maybe, I still don't like it.

Tom Green is at times like a new Andy Kaufman (at other times he's just a moron, but let's not talk about that). At his best, he's making fun of his audience and the people he's interviewing. Sometimes he'll interview really trivial celebrities and just point out to them how lame what they're plugging is and make them so uncomfortable, totally ruin the flow of an interview. One of his best schticks is to do something odd or wacky, and then do it again, and again, and again, and again, the audience laughs a bit at first, then again, then the laughter peters out, and they're silent as Tom does it again and again; the audience gets uncomfortable becuse they're not sure if they're being made fun of or if this is supposed to be funny or what. Just when they're on the border of walking out, Tom will stop.

I have a real moral quandry with girls. I've always been disgusted by the objectification of girls; so many of the married men I know just talk about girls all the time, how hot Britney Spears is, etc; all these 40 year old men watching girls their daughters' age "go wild". That stuff turns my stomach. At the same time though, the attraction of the female body affects me strongly; I think in this the difference is a bit of class and discretion. If you're a married man, you shouldn't blatantly stare as the young girls walk by, and you shouldn't talk about it to the guys; it is ok if you sneak a bit of a peak, though.

The bigger issue I've had lately is that I've been going out to the bars more; I've never really enjoyed the pick-up scene, and I've never had a "one night stand" in my life, not that I'm morally opposed to any of that, I just find it kind of disgusting, like watching "Elimidate" or one of those shows - the desperation and the manipulation just turn me off. Actually, I am morally opposed to doing things like taking home girls who are really drunk and hardly know what's going on and certainly can't resist. There's this pattern that most people go through in a night out with the bars, it goes something like this -

Early on, the groups of girls sit together and talk; the guys sit together and ogle them. Ocassionally at this point there are some forays across the breach, but usually the girls turn them back with some BS about "I'm just out with my friends"; of course what they really want is hot loving, but at this point they still are trying to be proper and not do what they really want. Everyone drinks. As it gets later, people drink and start to get crazy, the girls become exhbitionists, they want to be oggled now; the same stares they would have complained about during the day are exactly what they crave now; more than anything they want to be wanted, they want to be admired by lots of men. As it gets close to 2 (or whatever time last-call is) everyone starts to think about going home, and the people who came out to hook up don't want to go home alone. At this point the bar becomes kind of like a game of musical chairs - everyone wants to pair up so they're not left as the odd man out. Now, the girls and guys will hook up with people they would have called "dogs" to their friends earlier. Some of the pairing up here is done not because they really want to, but more because they don't want to be seen to "fail" and go home alone. Generally these people have nothing in common, usually the sex is poor (drunk sex is never good), and they don't speak to each other again. The guys feel happy afterward, proud that they succeeded in their conquest, and they want to brag about it, and their guy friends feel jealous. I don't really know how girls feel after one of these nights, I've never had an honest conversation with a girl about these things. The most disgusting thing about this all is that the guys who are experts at the pick-up/one-night thing tend to be real scum-bags. They manipulate and lie; I've known many guys who say "the secret is just to lie, lie, and lie some more"; they tend to think of girls are brainless physical objects, and just say horrible things about them and totally degrade them.

Anyway, the quandry I'm faced with is this - given that I find all this repulsive, I also find it attractive. Sure, it's a desparate meat market, but sex is great and I like to meet girls. It's a very fine line to walk, being in that world without letting your mind think terrible demeaning thoughts; I know it's not a healthy emotional environment, I wish it could be. I like to meet girls when we're both sober, it's a much better experience, but the vast majority of people won't act on their impluses unless they're inebriated; everyone dreams of just throwing caution to the wind and running away with a stranger, but faced with the chance, I have yet to meet someone who will actually do it. Part of my problem with going out is I don't know any/many guys who are womanizers but also respect women; I think that's the fine line that I try to walk - I love women, their bodies, their emotional sides, conversation, etcetera, but I also respect them and treat them as human beings, and there are actually very few people that do both. I really think that in some ways women bring the "macho man" upon themselves; guys don't naturally want to be that way, it's an act that they very consciously put on in order to hook up with girls, and the reason they do it is because it works, many girls really do go for the thing they always say they hate. The girls that don't go for the macho man are incredibly difficult to pick up in a bar, so their opinion doesn't really affect the sample. If you only consider the subset of girls which are likely to go home with you, 90% of them will go for the arrogant-demeaning-macho-bastard act.

I wonder if all the dating and reality shows on TV are contributing to the downfall of civilization? They make you feel rotten and take your mind to a place where all sorts of disgusting behavior are acceptable.

I'm thinking about buying a new car or motorcycle; I don't really need one, but I figure my youth is on the way out, and I should get a toy while I can still enjoy it, rather than waiting for my mid-life crisis; or maybe I'm just having an early mid-life crisis now? I have always done things early in my life, coding at 9, college at 15, grey hair at 22, mid-life crisis at 26, makes sense. I'll probably be in depends when I'm 30.

Anyway, the primary car under consideration is the BMW M Roadster, probably a 2000 model. If I get a motorcycle, it would be a pretty cheap cruiser, maybe something like a Japanese 800cc V-twin, used. If I get the car, I'd sell my Prelude (SH, 99). I suppose I could always do both. The M Roadster would cut into my savings quite a bit; it would cost about $15k to upgrade from the Prelude to the Roadster, which is something like 6 months of decent living without working. That's a lot of money to spend on a toy, but of course I just spent $400 on one night in LA, and could easily spend $3000 on a new computer.


8-10-03 - 1


My oven exploded again. Every time I cook Italian sausage in wine (the only way to do it), the alcohol in the wine explodes in my oven. The first time I did it, it burned off my eye lashes. I wonder if this is common or am I doing something wrong? Maybe I shouldn't keep the lid on the pot? Update - Mama Muratori gave me some great tips; to prevent explosions, just cook on the stove-stop in a dutch oven, so the alcohol fumes can escape. She also gave me some nice recipes, the core of which is to saute' the sausage a bit first with some savories like garlic and onion before boiling in wine.

The internet is the core of computing these days. It's still woefully under-used. I want to know a good restaurant near the Bicycle Casino - how do I find that on the internet? It's a big mess. Only the most crafty of computer users (like myself and most readers of my site) can build up a repertoire of search techniques that can answer their queries; the average shlub has no hope of navigating the mess of information that is the net.

So, some ideas of how to make this better. The key is a big database of side-data which has information associated with a user id and a web site. So, for example, I would log into the net, and then there would be various queries of this database. Some examples -

Comments on web sites. At every web site, you would have a side-bar. You would be able to rate the site, and that would go into the database; you could also comment on it, ideally even insert comments ala Wiki. You would also be shown several comments. You would be shown the comments of the people that you had most highly rated (more on this later), plus a few more random ones. These comments could for example, include things like "this site sucks, use one instead".

Crucial to all this is the "network of trust". You rate other users, just by adding your friends, or by putting approvals on other peoples' comments. This way the database builds up a network, of "who do I trust", then indirectly "who do they trust", and "who do they trust twice removed", etc. Then, you can do searches like "show me a website on bicycles which is approved by someone I trust (directly or indirectly)". Obviously the strength of trust goes down by the indirection of the relationship. You could even get into "similar-taste networks" on specific topics, like so you could find web-sites on music that are highly-rated by people who you agree with *on music*. That way your trust network could be different by topic.

Then you can add nice little UI things, like whenever you go to a site, you get some links in your side-bar which are related recommended sites that your "friends" approved. You can also just play around and navigate your friends recommendations in ways like GNOD

old rants