14 April 2008



Nutrition Schmience

Nutrition science seems sillier by the day. From a BBC article:
[UPenn Researchers] wrote: "There is no clear evidence of benefit from drinking increased amounts of water.

"Although we wish we could demolish all of the urban myths found on the Internet regarding the benefits of supplemental water ingestion, we concede there is also no clear evidence of lack of benefit.

"In fact, there is simply a lack of evidence in general."
I read a fun book by Marion Nestle titled What to Eat. "Not enough evidence" is the general rule. Even about water!

Can we just recognize that the human body is incredibly complicated? How does it handle salt? Probably in a way I can understand after a few hours reading. But how does its handling of salt interact with its handling of all the other things you eat? And how you slept? And if you exercised recently? And and and...

The nutritional idea that seems right to me is: eat what we evolved eating. That's probably what my body is good at handling. I have no idea what that means I should eat though.

I like blanched green beans.

13 April 2008

I've contracted abulia

Abulia. Who gave it to me? Marianne said she's had it longer than I have...

First Desire for Nanotechnology

I know I'm a computer geek and all, but nanotechnology freaks me out. That probably bans me a priori from 30% of my professional organizations. But the concept of nearly undetectable tiny robots disturbs me. I think of super-efficient killing-machine gnats. And gnats are gross.

Last night, though, for the first time ever, I had the thought, Hey, that's a great application for nanotechnology. I was flossing. Flossing is incredibly boring. So boring that I would rather fill my mouth with undetectable nanoscale killing machines.

10 April 2008

On "On trust and understanding"

I drafted a post one month ago call "On trust and understanding". It began...
The dichotomy between trust and understanding is new to me. I don't know when exactly I recognized it or by what prompt, but it swept through my thoughts as a unifying duality. You needn't trust something if you can instead understand it.

I recognized that I nearly always prefer to understand than to trust. I'm not religious. I'm hesitant to take advice. And I'm a skeptic and an empiricist – I consider the scientific method to be the best known recipe for true wisdom.
It ran real thin after that, so I stowed it. What I wrote put me in a dark place, hence The Silent Month (The Big Silence, Annie?). Now I'm cannibalizing that post in an attempt to liberate myself from myself (57"?). My favorite part comes after a break-neck discussion of moral skepticism, the futility of all prediction, and life goals.
So pick something and shoot for the stars, huh? What if I shoot for the stars and accidentally take out a jetliner full of infants? Or what if I become so committed to shooting for the stars that I wipe out an entire culture because I need their resources for my giant star laser?
That was for giggles, this is for my emotional blog photo.
I don't know what I am for. I don't know what humanity is for. I don't know where life or the universe came from. No one does. No one ever will. So I only permit myself to wonder about that stuff. How do people choose who or what to trust, anyway? They pick the one that makes them comfortable. Or maybe the one that positively challenges them. Whatever the reason, it comes from inside and inside alone and usually incurs a fair amount of close-mindedness thereafter.

It terrifies me what we sometimes do based on such a silly choice.
I still feel that way.

The heart of the problem actually occurred to me as I put aside "On trust and understanding" and wrote that Ben Stein rant instead. As the opening paragraph showed, I think the scientific method is pretty savvy. But I realized I trust it. I believe in it. I'd brushed that off before as "well, it's different," but now I can't look past it. Even the scientific method is turtles all the way down and that kills me - I thought I was standing on bedrock.

I had put Understanding on a pedestal only to realize I couldn't reach that high. I have principles, yes, but no reasons for them. Realizing that brings a lot of doubt and I'm still trying to choke it all down.

As far as I can tell, moral skepticism can't be directly denied; its biggest problem is its impracticality. Add in Hume's problem of induction and I've got quite the quarter-life quagmire. (That is a 24 Scrabble-point alliteration.)

I'm more lost in life than I've ever been; the ground is not real - there is no ground.