Sunday, November 29, 2015

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tis the season to go for it

The headlines:
In a new book, Mark Edmundson, University Professor at the University of Virginia, writes that Americans have become wholly pragmatic and small-minded, always on the lookout for the main chance and conditioned to be greedy for the gaudy trash supplied by our consumerist overlords. We move restlessly from want to want, never discovering any lasting satisfaction. As for living heroic or noble lives, our video games and movies do that for us. Meanwhile, Edmundson adds, “the profound stories about heroes and saints are passing from our minds.” Our days have no purpose. Instead of aspiring to grandeur, we surrender to pettiness and accommodation.

Meanwhile, before reality sets in:
As the Wall Street Journal highlights, the idea of Black Friday discounts is a complete hoax achieved via the process of price massaging throughout the rest of the year. 
The scam also relies on shoppers impulse buying another product that has a 98 per cent mark up value. So even if the first item represents a genuine discount, the vastly inflated price of the impulse purchase more than makes up for it. 
“How come retailers are able to make such drastic reductions and not have to give the store away too?” asks boss Ning Lee. The answer; “Mark-ups. And high ones at that.”
BTW, I don't need any more socks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The straight face award goes to ...

The Winner: "Next week, I will be joining President Hollande and world leaders in Paris for the Global Climate Conference. What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children.” ~ Barack Hussein Obama

Love at first fright.
Runner-Up: The Clinton campaign is promoting "Bill and Hillary's love story" in a new fundraiser that quotes the Democratic fundraiser calling her hubby, "the best company I know."

Second Runner-Up: "Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken from. Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga." ~ University of Ottawa’s Centre for Students with Disabilities

Civilization vs scumbags

Andrew Neil, in his introduction to his BBC program, This Week:

Morning Rush: Mosques, magicians, and more

Here and there on the Web this Wednesday, November 25, 2015:

Check your address here.
Do you live near a radical mosque?

Why do magicians have assistants?

They're stuffing your mailbox

Nature's newest strongest material

How to hide your online movements

Make every day April Fool's Day

The list of Bill Clinton's victims

Mindfulness meditation vs pain

Terrorism deaths soar under Barack

How fish make themselves invisible

Your government at work

Extreme loneliness can kill

How much do you need to retire?

More backdoor gun control

Yes, you can grow new brain cells

How To: defend yourself with Krav Maga

Today's Word: a feeling of joy

Hahaha: Refugees are relieved

The Talkies: The language of lying:

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: success

"Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Eat like a Victorian

Will live forever.
I wrote the other day about the Victorian diet, and I've since come across more information about how people in England between 1850 and 1890 ate and worked.

Right off the bat, if you live through early childhood and reached age 5, you stood to live as long as people do today -- but without the degenerative diseases we suffer.
The incidence of degenerative disease was 10% of ours. Their levels of physical activity and hence calorific intakes were approximately twice ours. They had relatively little access to alcohol and tobacco; and due to their correspondingly high intake of fruits, whole grains, oily fish and vegetables, they consumed levels of micro- and phytonutrients at approximately ten times the levels considered normal today.
All of this without our modern medicine. The Victorians worked hard for long hours. As a result, they ate twice as much as we do, but remained slim; overweight and obesity were relatively rare.

Here's what we know about their diet:
The working class diet was rich in seasonal vegetables and fruits; with consumption of fruits and vegetables amounting to eight to 10 portions per day. This far exceeds the current national average of around three portions, and the government-recommended five-a-day. The mid-Victorian diet also contained significantly more nuts, legumes, whole grains and omega three fatty acids than the modern diet. Much meat consumed was offal, which has a higher micronutrient density than the skeletal muscle we largely eat today. Prior to the introduction of margarine in the late Victorian period, dietary intakes of trans fats were very low. There were very few processed foods and therefore little hidden salt, other than in bread (Recipes suggest that significantly less salt was then added to meals. At table, salt was not usually sprinkled on a serving but piled at the side of the plate, allowing consumers to regulate consumption in a more controlled way.). The mid-Victorian diet had a lower calorific density and a higher nutrient density than ours. It had a higher content of fibre (including fermentable fibre), and a lower sodium/potassium ratio. In short, the mid-Victorians ate a diet that was not only considerably better than our own, but also far in advance of current government recommendations.
Their diet more closely resembles the Mediterranean diet, proven in many studies to promote health and longevity; or even the ‘Paleolithic diet’ recommended by some nutritionists.

A vocabulary of grievances

"Over a half-century of institutionalized equal opportunity has not led to an equality of result. Particular self-identified groups feel collectively that they are less well off than others and are bewildered that this is still possible, since they can point to no law or custom that precludes their opportunity by race, class, or gender. Therefore, inventing a vocabulary of grievances is far more effective in gaining concessions than self-criticism and self-reliance are in winning parity.

In an affluent, leisured and postmodern society of $300 Jordan-label sneakers that sell out in hours, big-screen televisions at Walmart that become prizes for warring consumers on Black Friday, and over 50% of the population exempt from income taxes, it is becoming harder to define, in the material sense, oppression-driven victimhood. In such a world, even multi-billionaire Oprah has difficulty finding discrimination and so becomes reduced to whining about a perceived snub in a Swiss boutique that sells six-figure purses. Language is pressed into service to create victims where there are few, but where many are sorely needed, psychologically -- and on the chance such a prized status might lead to a profitable trajectory otherwise impossible by passé notions of work and achievement."

Morning Rush: Turduckens, mussels, and more

Here and there on the Web this Tuesday, November 24, 2015:

Yikes! It's raining!
This material follows the weather

A brief history of the turducken

Good gut bacteria vs cancer

The power of authentic praise

Are you overmedicating your kid?

It's super adhesives from mussels

Thanksgiving food safety questions

Why did Barack warn the bad guys?

Why did he describe them as moderates?

Why won't he let us question refugees?

Why is he at war with America?

Believe that you can improve

What remains of our language

The single best thing for your 401k

Clock boy tries to cash in

Today's Word: A sudden change of fortune

Hahaha: Peyton Manning's new best friend

Obama in his own words:

John Constable: beauty

"I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may - light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful."

John Constable, "Wivenhoe Park" (1816)

Monday, November 23, 2015

The greatest of virtues

Gratitude carries far more meaning than we suspect. Consider what these great minds say about it.

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

"When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude." ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world." ~ John Milton

So thoroughly does gratitude rescue us from worry, so completely does it center us in the moment, that grateful people tend to be physically healthier. It is not something to do on Thanksgiving Day but a design for living. Seneca:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

Idiots unite! What future awaits humankind?

"I am quite sane."
You have nothing to lose but your reputations!

Britain's Prince Charles has pointed to the world's failure to tackle climate change as a root cause of the civil war in Syria, terrorism and the consequent refugee crisis engulfing Europe.

This brings him in line with that other intellectual dwarf, John Kerry.

Remember: global warming produced Adolph Hitler. So you can't be too careful.

All this is right in line with the CIA's prediction that global cooling will cause political upheaval around the globe.

Meantime, in a breathtaking advance of science, climate scientists have just discovered that ice doesn’t melt at -30C, but somehow will still cause sea level to rise as it doesn’t melt.

Fear not! In a week world leaders gather for a crunch climate summit in terror-hit Paris to determine "what kind of future awaits humankind!"

Just in time!

Morning Rush: Pink dolphins, polar bears, and more

Here and there on the Web this Monday, November 23, 2015:

Becoming rare.
The last of the pink dolphins?

But polar bears are doing just fine 

Here come 3D printed sneakers

Why your blood is red

About those new chip cards

Intelligent gel vs cancer

Tree nuts vs cardiovascular disease 

Global warming strikes Chicago

It costs to live near good schools

Mobile is replacing the desktop

How meditation changes your brain

Why are these nations doing nothing?

A good breakfast means better grades

Obamacare is in a death spiral

Are you a stranger in your country?

Big changes in Social Security

Apps: The best for Android only

Today's Word: vigor, vicacity

Hahaha: The new fad in office desks

The Talkies: The reality of refugees"

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Vespers: Lament of the Mother of God

The Choir of Winchester Cathedral, under the direction of David Hill, performs John Tavener's 'Lament of the Mother of God." an Orthodox text chanted and sung on Great and Holy Friday to mark the death of Christ on the cross and remember the sorrows of His mother.

In the Orthodox Church, the Lament of the Mother of God is normally sung on Holy and Great Friday.

In its full length it lasts about half and hour, and it is intoned by the Priest or Bishop while the people venerate the Epitaphios (or Shroud of the Dead Christ), which is in the centre of the church and decorated with flowers.

The Lament must be sung with an ikon-like stillness and great purity. It grows in intensity as it climbs in tessitura, but without anything sudden or remotely melodramatic.
For the Orthodox Church there is never the sense of absolute desolation felt by the Western Church on Good Friday. Hence the cry of the Mother of God "Dost thou change my grief to gladness by thy Resurrection?", followed by the full forces: "Rise O God, and judge the earth."
Sir John Kenneth Tavener (1944 – 2013)
was a British composer, known for his extensive output of religious works, including "The Protecting Veil," "Song for Athene" and "The Lamb."

At age 24, he was described by The Guardian as "the musical discovery of the year," while The Times said he was "among the very best creative talents of his generation." During his career he became one of the best known and popular composers of his generation, most particularly for The Protecting Veil, which as recorded by cellist Steven Isserlis became a bestselling album, and Song for Athene which was sung at the funeral of Princess Diana. The Lamb featured in the soundtrack for the film "The Great Beauty." Tavener was knighted in 2000 for his services to music.

Not one church spire

Germ free renaissance.
"In Toronto, a 'renaissance in downtown living' has pushed house prices, even for a dive, towards one million dollars; and skyscraper condominium apartments have sprouted in glassy jungles around all the major rapid transit points. The same thing is happening out there in the satellite towns: the 'sleeper suburbs' now going vertical.

"There is no community. The public spaces are sterile, the surfaces all designer-paved, and elaborate by-laws prevent anything human from growing in the cracks. Restaurants outnumber groceries; each is a fake, in menu and decor; the groceries flog ready-made microwave meals. The people themselves are permanently 'in transit,' many throughout their lives, on a journey that is the opposite of a pilgrimage. They have allowed themselves to become almost pure economic factors, with a job and a place to sleep, plus free time for demeaning entertainments. It is an environment in which there are more dogs than children — especially those small, yappy, and spoilt, on which the females ladle their maternal instincts. (On one recent walk I counted specialized retail outlets: eight for pets, and two for children.)

"More fundamentally, Christ is not welcome there. It is hard, anyway, to see Him in the city glare; just as it is hard to see the stars. But the flip side of social atomization is the extraordinary peer pressure it brings to bear. The place is religion-free, as it is germ-free. Look from the window of the rush-hour train over any new patch of sprawling suburb, with thousands of balloon-frame, ticky-tack houses, and you will see not one church spire; only the occasional minaret. For the white people to acknowledge Christ would be to lose one’s defensive anonymity. It would be to acquire some personhood, of the most inconvenient kind. It would put one in a church, surrounded by the weird, united in a mysterious 'body.' It would take one out of oneself. It might expose one to germs."

The Alpha and the Omega

From The Lectionary:

Revelation 1:4b-8
1:4b Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,

1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,

1:6 and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1:7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen.

1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Holly Lisle: choices

“You must learn to face the fact, always, that you choose to do what you do, and everything you do affects not only you but others. ”