Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Today's Word: Gestalt

03-06-2009 The Word of the day - gestalt

This morning I was looking at a paper written by Ron O. Cook,
who is a writer on many things. Among those things is the idea of,
and evidence for the existence of, an advanced civilization on the
Earth prior to the ice ages or at least prior to the usually accepted
start of our current civilization. You can see it at: world mysteries

I encountered a sentence: "The truth of some of their work never
reaches the public ear however, because it would require a gestalt
paradigm shift for most of us to even understand the implications of
such enigmatic data." which contains a word juxtaposition which I
thought unusual. I have, of course, often seen the term "paradigm shift"
used in a non-technical way and the word "gestalt" is also common in,
at least some, technical writing usually, though, concerning psycho-
therapy.

Both terms: "paradigm" and "gestalt" are often defined in ways that
use the word "pattern" and frequently are offered with only that one
word as definition. Those of us who took a little math in high school
were taught that "things equal to the same things are equal to each
other" which is pretty basic to getting mathematics to work.

My relatively non-technical mind looked at two words from separate
linguistic sources, both normally used in technical writing, and both
commonly defined using the identical more common English word,
and because his construction of the sentence does not appear to be
mere redundancy for emphasis, I knew I had to learn a little more
about the two words in order to understand that usage.

Since I didn't want to dig out my OED (I wish) I looked them up on
the web, starting with TheFreeDictionary.com, and reading a little
more as I felt it desirable. So here's what I discovered:


Gestalt
ge·stalt or Ge·stalt (g-shtält, -shtôlt, -stält, -stôlt)
n. pl. ge·stalts or ge·stalt·en (-shtältn, -shtôltn, -stältn, -stôltn)


(from Wikipedia)
Gestalt is a German word that can be translated into English in various ways:

* as shape, form, guise or likeness (e.g., in Menschengestalt: in human form)
* as figure or as a synonym for person (e.g., eine dunkle Gestalt: a sinister figure)
* A collection of physical, biological, psychological or symbolic entities that creates a unified concept, configuration or pattern which is greater than the sum of its parts.


(from TheFreeDictionary.com)
A physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts.


[German, shape, from Middle High German, from past participle of stellen, to place, from Old High German; see stel- in Indo-European roots.]

Noun 1. gestalt - a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts

2. gestalt - pattern, form, shape - a perceptual structure;

"the composition presents problems for students of musical form"; "a visual pattern must include not only objects but the spaces between them"

Compare to Paradigm:

par·a·digm ( pear a dime - more or less )
n.

1. One that serves as a pattern or model.

2. A set or list of all the inflectional forms of a word or of one of its grammatical categories: the paradigm of an irregular verb.

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

[Middle English, example, from Late Latin paradgma, from Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknunai, to compare : para-, alongside; see para-1 + deiknunai, to show; see deik- in Indo-European roots.]

Usage Note: Paradigm first appeared in English in the 15th century, meaning "an example or pattern," and it still bears this meaning today: "Their company is a paradigm of the small high-tech firms that have recently sprung up in this area."

For nearly 400 years paradigm has also been applied to the patterns of inflections that are used to sort the verbs, nouns, and other parts of speech of a language into groups that are more easily studied.

Since the 1960s, paradigm has been used in science to refer to a theoretical framework, as when Nobel Laureate David Baltimore cited the work of two colleagues that "really established a new paradigm for our understanding of the causation of cancer." Thereafter, researchers in many different fields, including sociology and literary criticism, often saw themselves as working in or trying to break out of paradigms.

Applications of the term in other contexts show that it can sometimes be used more loosely to mean "the prevailing view of things."

The Usage Panel splits down the middle on these nonscientific uses of paradigm.

Fifty-two percent disapprove of the sentence:

"The paradigm governing international competition and competitiveness has shifted dramatically in the last three decades."

Scientific paradigm

Main articles: Paradigm shift, Sociology of knowledge, Systemics, Commensurability (philosophy of science), and Confirmation holism

Philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn gave this word its contemporary meaning when he adopted it to refer to the set of practices that define a scientific discipline during a particular period of time. Kuhn himself came to prefer the terms exemplar and normal science, which have more exact philosophical meanings. However, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as:


* what is to be observed and scrutinized,
* the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject,
* how these questions are to be structured,
* how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted.

Alternatively, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines paradigm as "a pattern or model, an exemplar." Thus an additional component of Kuhn's definition of paradigm is:

* how is an experiment to be conducted, and what equipment is available to conduct the experiment.

Thus, within normal science, the paradigm is the set of exemplary experiments that are likely to be copied or emulated. The prevailing paradigm often represents a more specific way of viewing reality, or limitations on acceptable programs for future research, than the much more general scientific method.

An example of a currently accepted paradigm would be the standard model of physics. The scientific method would allow for orthodox scientific investigations of many phenomena which might contradict or disprove the standard model; however grant funding would be more difficult to obtain for such experiments, in proportion to the amount of departure from accepted standard model theory which the experiment would test for. For example, an experiment to test for the mass of the neutrino or decay of the proton (small departures from the model) would be more likely to receive money than experiments to look for the violation of the conservation of momentum, or ways to engineer reverse time travel.

One important aspect of Kuhn's paradigms is that the paradigms are incommensurable, which means that two paradigms can not be compared to each other. A new paradigm which replaces an old paradigm is not necessarily better, because the criteria of judgement depend on the paradigm.

nuance [new-ahnss] (fr.)

Noun 1. nuance - a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude.
2. nuance - a subtle difference, as in color or tone

Pattern - you'll have to look this one up for yourself as it takes up too much space to deal with here. There are a lot of nuances in the word and we use it to mean a lot of different but, maybe, related concepts. But most directly related to my word for today were these next two lines.

Pattern - gestalt - a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts.

Pattern - paradigm - code of behavior, code of conduct - a set of conventional principles and expectations that are considered binding on any person who is a member of a particular group.


So after looking at this and considering it for some hours, I think I've decided that what Mr. Cook meant to say is that the gestalt is the body (pattern) in reality - the actuality of what is and what actually preceded that which now is. Whereas the paradigm is the system (pattern) under which the "Scientific Establishment" allows that gestalt to be investigated, imposing prohibitions on some research and sanctions against those who would violate those prohibitions...


It, my analysis of his sentence, might miss the mark a little but the process demonstrates pretty well why it's difficult to use mathematics to describe everything and why mathematicians keep trying to do it. In English we have a lot of words which are nearly completely interchangeable, saving only a nuance of meaning or tone, on the other hand we also have a lot of words which mean different things depending upon the way they are used.


In some ways it reminds me of the often quoted statement that the Arctic Native People's languages possess a lot of different words for snow whereas English has only one. That is not exactly correct when you examine it, each different word that those languages contain which we would have to translate with our word "snow" expresses a property of that "snow" which we would have to explain by adding modifiers to our basic term, assuming that we could even recognize the noted distinctive property.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Avoid a future cataclysm: Forget the past

GREAT news, there may be a way to avoid a looming disaster. All you need to do is forget all about it by "resetting" your memory.

That's the claim of physicist Saibal Mitra at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and it is predicated on the existence of parallel universes.

The "many worlds" concept is an interpretation of quantum theory - our best description of the microscopic world of atoms and their constituents. Many worlds takes literally quantum theory's idea that a quantum entity like an atom can exist in many states at once, and posits the existence of parallel universes containing infinite copies of you with different histories and futures.

To understand how the many-worlds scenario could allow a future disaster to be avoided, says Mitra, consider a hypothetical machine intelligence that regularly backs up its memory. If it encountered a glitch, for example, it could reset its memory to, say, the previous day's state.

Imagine that on learning of an impending disaster - perhaps a catastrophic asteroid strike on its planet - the machine resets its memory. Now, an observer sat next to the machine can verify that the "same machine" will still face disaster after the reset. But from the perspective of the machine's reset memory, the state of the universe in the many-worlds scenario becomes "undetermined". After all, for all the machine knows, the reset probably occurred for a mundane reason, such as a crash of its operating system.

The next part defies our natural instincts: according to the many-worlds interpretation, all of these undetermined possibilities actually exist and open up to the machine. Even though it followed one particular history up to its resetting, it can be dealt a new card, says Mitra. So, from its unwitting perspective, the machine could "switch" to a parallel universe. The probability of a memory reset due to a rare event like an asteroid strike would be far smaller than the probability of a routine reset due to a glitch, and so there will be many more universes in which the disaster does not occur. "Consequently, the machine will almost certainly find itself in one of these universes and avoid the catastrophe," says Mitra (http://arxiv.org/abs/0902.3825)

"If we could find a way to reset our knowledge of an impending disaster, we too could avoid it," he says. The downside of such memory resets, however, is that there is a small chance you will "wake up" in a universe facing an even more cataclysmic disaster than the one you were trying to dodge. "You'd have to weigh up whether it would be worth the risk," Mitra concedes. Read the rest here

Now, people. I know I'm opinionated and curmudgeonly but - really:

Even if he happens to be correct - which I doubt, it still leaves me with "other dimension" versions of myself which suffer all possible catastrophes and corresponding painful forms of injury or demise.


Each instant of existence would - in that view generate a multitude of branching universes in some of which the world is destroyed, in some of which the world is only seriously injured and in some of which the world escapes serious injury.


Every action a person takes (or does not take) would, perforce, generate a branching of reality - and this multiplied by all the billions of humans now living (or who have ever lived) - leaving us with literally uncountable billions (or a couple of orders of magnitude beyond) of co-existent realities which we would not be able to discern in any fashion as each would form a separate universe from its branch point.


I have read some science-fiction stories which use this device as a factor in the plotting and it makes for pretty interesting reading - but to believe it is actually so and can be an alternative to global damage caused by man or star is beyond madness as all that is offered is a possibility that the particular branch of reality that you are conscious of will avoid the catastrophe which leaves multitudes of less fortunate outcomes in which other "yous" will suffer every possible outcome of the event.


And then there is the sheer physical issue: IF (big if) every possible outcome of every possible situation happens simultaneously, what is the membrane which conceals from us the myriad exploding stars and colliding planets which did not happen in our version of reality?


Where lies the sorry Earth on which the Third Reich was triumphant in 1944 and repelled the allied invasion? Where is the Earth on which King George's armies swept the field of Washington's little army? Where is the Earth on which the USSR still lives and holds sway over the people of the world? Where is the world on which Captain Cook was not killed for being stupid in Hawaii? Where is the world on which the native Americans were not susceptible to European diseases and repelled invasion by the contemptible little bands of colonizers? Where is the world where the African people effectively resisted European and Arab slavers?


I'd like to see the math that explains the separation of all those possible outcomes of every decision point effecting each and every moment of the existence of the universe. I'd like to see a cogent explanation of the physical means of separation of each "separate universe" or "divergent reality" created in that fashion - wouldn't you?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Famed pastor predicts imminent catastrophe

Best-selling author, Teen Challenge founder, sees 'earth-shattering calamity about to happen'


Posted: March 08, 2009

David Wilkerson


A respected pastor, best-selling author and founder of a major ministry to teens predicts an imminent "earth-shattering calamity" centered in New York City that will spread to major urban areas across the country and around the world – part of what he sees as a judgment from God.

David Wilkerson, author of "The Cross and the Switchblade," a book about his ministry to troubled New York street kids that was later made into a movie starring Pat Boone, tells readers of his blog this weekend that he is "compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message" about his prediction.

"An earth-shattering calamity is about to happen," he writes. "It is going to be so frightening, we are all going to tremble – even the godliest among us."

Wilkerson's vision is of fires raging through New York City.

"It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires – such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago," he explains. "There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting – including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. In Psalm 11 it is written, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

Autographed copies of Ray Comfort's new book, "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can't Make Him Think," are available exclusively in WND's online superstore.

Wilkerson is the founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City, where he launched a ministry to gang members and drug addicts in 1958. He is a highly regarded mentor to other pastors in evangelical circles and travels the world holding conferences for other Christian ministers.

His work in New York in the 1950s and 1960s led to the formation of Teen Challenge – a nationwide ministry to reach out to people with life-controlling habits. Teen Challenge has grown to include 173 residential programs and numerous evangelism outreach centers in the United States, and 241 centers in 77 other countries. The program claims a recovery rate of 86 percent.

The story of Wilkerson's first five years of ministry in New York is told in "The Cross and the Switchblade," a book he co-authored in 1963. The book became a best-selling phenomenon and more than 15 million copies have been distributed in over 30 languages.

"God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations," claims Wilkerson. "He is destroying the secular foundations." Wilkerson urges everyone to stockpile a 30-day supply of food and other necessities to deal with the catastrophe he foresees.

"I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off," Wilkerson concluded in his message. "I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose."

A past vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention is hoping believers pay attention to Wilkerson's message.

"I have known David Wilkerson for more than 25 years as well as many of his friends and associates," said Pastor Wiley Drake. "He is a godly man and I believe he is listening to God. I encourage each Christian to read and heed what God is saying through our brother."

© 2009 WorldNetDaily

This is a "For What It's Worth" posting, I am not a psychic nor have I received any direct message about this from any "higher source", but, as I said: I use this blog to post things that I think are interesting and this article fits into that quite nicely... You have to decide whether you think it is of interest to you.

Visit the site

Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's a new year... 2008 is over, only the atershocks remain

Last week I dropped Lance Armstrong and his website on you. I said I'd do updates. I said I would become healthier and svelte (great word). I know Millions hang on my every word, that would be Fred Millions, an old friend, who doesn't so much hang as spit... But, never mind the technicalities.

So, it has been about a week... I went to the Doctor's office today and got prodded and poked... The scale showed 219: 5 lbs less than last week! I adjusted my el cheapo bathroom scale to show the same weight as the balance beam scale at the doctor's office so I can check it everyday to keep myself motivated.

Of course, the primary reason for this is to allow my medication to get my cholesterol back under control by eliminating most fat and nearly all animal fat from my diet - but I decided that if I had to, ugh, diet anyway I might as well try to get rid of the 50 or so extra pounds I've been lugging with me everywhere.

Friday, February 27, 2009

about the current foreclosure crisis...

There is a lot of rant about borrowers who did something fraudulent and got a mortgage on a half million dollar house while having near zero income.

There might, indeed, be such cases, but those people would be "investors" looking to flip the house quickly in an UP market and not people buying a house in which to live...

We have seen the govt give away nearly a trillion dollars to banks, etc. which bought all those fraudulent notes (supposedly) in a effort (supposedly) to help the people of the US by stabilizing the economy and getting banks to again write mortgage loans.

We have not seen any value received for those dollars nor have we seen any help for real homeowners who are really caught in the double squeeze: lost income with which to pay the mortgage coupled with loss of value of the property making it impossible to refinance at a lower rate of interest, or to sell.

The outright gifts of hundreds of billions of our dollars to the banks and to Wall St undoubtedly were a great help to the bankers and financiers who received the largesse of the government, using our future tax dollars as a source, but there is not a hint of benefit to the millions of working class homeowners caught in this bursting bubble while attempting to live on fraction of their former income with rapid inflation of costs of living and tumbling value of their largest investment and 401ks that are worth a fraction of last years values.

The real beauty (?) of the situation is that it's not even possible to sell the house and cut the family's living expenses by moving into a lesser accommodation until conditions improve.

Instead we millions are caught in a situation where only bankruptcy will allow us out of the contracts we're in. This process will make many people a lot of money at the expense of millions of families made destitute and lacking even the credit score needed to rent a home.

I have read, with interest, for the past several months the crap put out by holier-than-thou people who are not in that situation - perhaps they haven't yet bought a home, perhaps they were lucky enough to have already paid it off or perhaps they have not yet lost one of the jobs they depend on to pay expenses or perhaps they are simply wealthy enough that losing 50% of their net worth or 75% or more still allows them to meet all obligations, whatever their situation - the one thing I've seen little expressed is common humanity.

The thing I have seen is a predatory glee, a sense of unbridled opportunism held in check only until they feel the property can be snatched up (stolen - is my thought) from the distraught people who are poised on the brink or who have already fallen into the chasm of foreclosure and bankruptcy and thus have made or will make these great bargain properties available to be exploited.

I'm happy for the good people who have, thus far, dodged the bullet - I really am - most of them are hard working people who provide jobs for many others and are entitled to the fruits of their labor. That being said, let me add that they are no more entitled to the fruits of their labor than are their employees.
The thing is that if this economy continues to slow, as it appears that it will, more and more of the comfortable middle class business owners will find themselves closing the doors of their businesses after having exhausted all that they had in trying to keep it going. At that point most of them will be in the same rough spot that so many now occupy, debt without means to pay. The thing that is different about small business owners (and large business owners) is that most consider themselves to be far above the common herd of mankind: "There are chiefs and there are indians." Nearly none will accept the idea that "the luck of the draw" had anything to do with their success, rather it was their innate business acumen which brought success. That's so true, until they, too, fail.

I may not lose my house, but like many, I have lost nearly half of my former household income - and what used to be a normal living expense has become a monthly struggle to meet which is added to the knowledge that it is worth less than the mortgaged value and might not recover for a long time. It cannot be sold except through a "short sale" and even that is difficult to secure.

For whatever reason, it seems that the lenders would rather foreclose than accept a short sale of the property - making it pretty much impossible to escape the court at some point for many families. I don't understand the reasons for the situation with the short sales but I'm confident that it has to do with the bottom-line of the lenders as that is all that matters to them.

This is a difficult and dangerous situation for the country as a whole, we are in the process of creating a new class in modern America - "the dispossessed" - which will number in the tens of millions before this sorry exercise is finished (if something of substance is not done quickly) and they - possibly we - will be cynical of government promises and hostile to big banking and other financial interests and aware that we have been sold out by the country as a whole for the profit of the few who were able to plunder the public treasury at will while our neighbors and former friends stood by and did nothing except call a real estate agent to check out foreclosures..

In the aftermath of the bankruptcy for many of the families involved will be the fact that with a sullied credit record employment will be much more difficult to obtain than it was before and even when the job market begins its rebound those people will be "damaged goods" relegated to less desirable positions as a result of having been driven to bankruptcy in this recession.

Not only that, but to add injury to insult, they will pay higher car insurance (people with lower credit scores have more claims?) and be required to post cash deposits for utilities and will be denied many opportunities which might otherwise have been theirs simply because they have damaged credit. As might happen to some, finding a job while having no permanent address, say camping in your RV at a convenient roadside rest area, is even harder.

Had the government really intended to solve this situation, they - all of them - would not have been stampeded like mindless cattle into hocking our grandchildren - more than they were before the fact - by handing out the money to the financiers without conditions or oversight, rather they would have deliberated and decided the benefits versus the cost of actions that might be taken and might have done nothing, or might have actually tried to use the money to help the people who actually needed help (not really likely)...

Had that happened, there would be a lot of bankers and Wall Street types in the soup lines with us commoners and the treasury would be a trillion dollars or so less in debt. The foreclosure crisis would be what it is and everything would still be as stated before, only they wouldn't need to raise taxes as much.

There is some hope that the new administration will figure out a way to keep us, in our millions, from being forced to default on our mortgage loans
but I'm afraid it's a slender hope, at best, as I don't see any understanding of what's at stake shining through the rhetoric coming from Washington, DC.

You can always buy gold, if you have any cash left after paying the 30% interest on your formerly 5% interest credit card balances. The gold merchants are looking for you, right now, trying to unload the stuff they've been stuck with since 1982. I always think it's amusing that they, who have the gold, want to exchange it for your soon-to-be-worthless, according to them, federal reserve notes... I'm missing something on that one.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trying to shape up

2008 was the worst year of my life, in almost every respect.

There have been quite a few years included in that life and a few of them have been pretty bad. 2008, though definitely thus far, has appropriated the black laurels as worst to date. On the positive side of the balance, it has ended. Therefore one must optimistically move onward with what is left and attempt to make this year better and maybe even outstanding as a good period.

For myself, I have decided to make it (2009) a new beginning and to reach for excellence, as the years go, by having it be the start of something positive. I know all about the downturns in almost everything, economy, personal finance and home values leap to mind and then there are the diminished employment prospects due to the aforementioned downturns. Those items, although certainly significant and daunting, are background to life itself and should be considered as such.

So - I have decided to become thinner and healthier in 2009 and to thereby reverse a long trend of becoming less healthy and less svelte ( a cool word not often applied to old men) by eating foods which are lower in fat and other potentially harmful substances. Lest you think that I have become geriatrically narcissistic in my advanced and hypertrophied age, I assure you that it is all due to a phone call from my physician's assistant informing me that in spite of the ongoing medication, etc. - my cholesterol level has started to increase again.

I was treated (in every sense of the word) ten years ago, to a quadruple coronary artery bypass which was offered as the only way to long delay my certain, but uncomfortably (then) imminent demise. I accepted with an unaccustomed alacrity, I'm not afraid to die - I'm just in no hurry - and had the surgery. It was not really a treat, in the sense of receiving something pleasant - unless one counts survival as pleasant, because it was scary and uncomfortable - particularly the removal of the abdominal drainage tubes.

The short-term Frankenstein aspect, provided by the metal staples in my right arm and right leg as well as my chest, was fun ( especially when watching a summer lightning storm from the patio - scared my poor wife, who insisted that I get inside before I added "electrocuted" to my other accomplishments) even though I couldn't get out much to show it off. The scars are still pretty impressive, though, even after ten years.

So anyway, here I am - fat, dumb and working on happy, when the doc's office calls and tells me my cholesterol is again becoming elevated. We discussed diet, we discussed medication (of which I already take too much) and decided to try diet modification. I have become lax, in the last few years, about the foods I eat, pretending to be, simply, a gray-bearded teenager. Not that I had become the triple cheeseburger at the fast-food stand twice a day variety but I was not a lot better. Today that has changed. Call it dietary epiphany if you like obscure words as much as I do. Otherwise just call it a revelation of the obvious.

The Doc sent me a letter showing the healthy foods which I should be eating and listing the unhealthy foods which I should avoid, I have 14 earlier letters showing essentially the same thing. I know that stuff, I even paid attention for a few years. But then I drifted into culinary non-compliance (once again - or maybe thrice again) and started eating too much fat, too much meat, too much sugar and all those other good tasting no - nos, did I mention cheesecake or chocolate.

Someone in the medical profession once told me that he thought that our problem is evolutionary in origin. We are omnivorous hunter-gatherers by heredity and we select for energy foods to allow us to live for days without eating and still retain the energy to run down and club a struggling moose to be the guest-of-honor at dinner.

The problem today is that we eat the stuff we like but don't go for days without eating and then we just drive to the closest supermarket to buy a chunk of pre-caught moose: no running down. Just sauntering cooly down and emerging with a week supply of moose to eat at one sitting, and more for the next day - and the next. It's not so much what we're eating as it is how often we eat it and what we do between those feedings that loads up the arteries.

I could, of couse, choose to run to the market every third day and buy my half pound steak to eat that day and then run there again every day but only buy and eat on the third day. That probably would help. Still: our hunter-gatherer forebears usually only lived long enough to procreate and to raise the offspring to about 8 or 9 years old before succumbing to some fatal incident. For that reason, if for no other, longevity of a mature individual human far past breeding age was really not a factor of importance in our genetic heritage. We, of course, have the leisure time to ponder the meaning of life rather than simply trying to preserve it until the next moose falls.

I, for one, have pondered long and hard the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Thus far I have arrived at no final conclusion and, therefore, desire more pondering time which, oddly enough, leads back to the reason for this whole blog entry. I'm too fat and my cholesterol is too high. Today I found a website, which you might already know but of which I was unaware.

Lance Armstrong sponsors it and might even write some of it if he has the time. It's about living longer and living better by, well, living better. Just follow the link above and you will see what he has there. There are tables of nutrition data and recipes along with other information on exercise as well as tools to help you - and me, too - get to the weight you want, whether you need to lose or to gain, in a safe and proven manner. I'm back to calorie counting and even more essential, for my body, watching my fat intake and I have used Lance's tools to compute what my daily calorie intake needs to be in order to achieve my publicly stated goals.

I need to lose fifty pounds. More would probably not hurt. That not withstanding fifty pounds is my current goal and I have selected 2.5 pounds per week as a reasonably number by which to gauge my progress. That simply means that I need to consume 912 calories, per week, less than what is required to maintain my current weight.

It sounds simple and it really is, but not so easy, first: the site provides a calculator to tell you what it takes, in calories, to maintain your current weight and then based upon your input it tells you how large a reduction is required to attune your to body to your goal. From there it becomes a process of food selection and learning how to maximize nutrition while at the same time providing yourself with food you will want to eat. If you are relatively young the benefit of doing it now will last a lifetime. If, like me, your only connection to "young" is your grandchildren doing it now it will still last a lifetime, just not as many years as it might have had you started earlier.

And it does not have to be unappetizing "cardboard" food, the site provides you the tools to make recipes for the foods you like, while understanding the calories and other things involved and also provides suggestions of how you might modify a recipe to lower the calories (if needed) or to provide more nutrition if that is your goal. It is a great resource and can be an aid in accomplishing your goals, whether dietary help or strength building information is your interest.

Tune in next week for more.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama Open Government Memoranda: New President, different approach.

January 22, 12:30 AM
by Michael Salla, Ph.D., Honolulu Exopolitics Examiner

On his first full day as President, Barack Obama issued two Executive Orders and three Presidential Memorandum that will start an era of transparent and Open Government. The White House Office of the Press Secretary released a statement outlining the sweeping changes to be implemented by the Obama administration. In his Presidential Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, and the Presidential Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act President Obama instructed :








"... all members of his administration to operate under principles of openness, transparency and of engaging citizens with their government. To implement these principles and make them concrete, the Memorandum on Transparency instructs three senior officials to produce an Open Government Directive within 120 days directing specific actions to implement the principles in the Memorandum. And the Memorandum on FOIA instructs the Attorney General to in that same time period issue new guidelines to the government implementing those same principles of openness and transparency in the FOIA context."


President Obama emphasized that his Administration “is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” ...

see more at: The Examiner

My comments:

The new President and the new government have many detractors. There are a great many people in this nation who are predisposed to consider any action proposed, or taken, by The President or his administration to be anti-American and in some way totalitarian socialism at work to subvert our national heritage, identity and well-being. It remains to be seen whether there is any validity to their position. I prefer to adopt a supportive, if reserved, position and await actions and events - without, however, abdicating the right to offer constructive criticism to the leaders of the new government.

It is, whether you approve or not, the government of all Americans - nationals of The United States of America, that is - and must, if you claim to be a patriot, be supported unless your claim that it is the beginning of a totalitarian dictatorship should prove to be correct. I might remind you, in fact I will remind you, that as recently as January 19th some left-wing websites were still preaching that President Bush and "Darth Cheney" would somehow contrive to circumvent the election and refuse to relinquish their offices. That has not proven to be correct, in spite of all the venomous rhetoric served up and swallowed by the leftist conspiracy theorists and their rapt followers.

That tinfoil hat leftist excreta having been put to rest, for now, we are now being inundated by parallel , if not identical, excreta from the tinfoil hat right. As a free-born American citizen, and- thank God -that is now the only kind we have, you have the right to disagree with your government and to say so. You might, arguably, have the right to malign the office holders unjustly and to accuse them of any kind of scurrilous action of which you can conceive including unjust ad hominem attacks, note that I said "arguably", that perceived right is the province of the courts - however, those actions are definitely not in the best interests of The Republic.
A more constructive course of action for a reasonable citizen would be to watch events and to communicate to your elected representatives, including President Obama, areas where you believe things are being done incorrectly or improperly - you might even consider offering ideas as to how things might be done correctly.

President Obama won this election by putting in place a communications network, over the internet and in person, which collected people who thought that the paradigm being followed by the administration of President Bush was missing the point, as far as they were concerned. It was not done by Bush-haters or McCain haters. It was not done by haters, period. It was done by millions of people, mostly working class, who felt that the government was concentrating effort, and tax dollars, in the wrong places, with the wrong priorities. It was done by the efforts of millions of people who were, and are, optimistic enough to care - and to act.

President Bush is justly proud that his efforts helped to keep us free from terrorist attacks in our homeland subsequent to September 11, 2001. The Obama campaign, as far as I know, did not belittle nor diminish that achievment and neither do I. Everyone is aware that it is possible, even likely, that the international terrorists against whom we are making war will seek to strike at us - in The United States - now that we have a new administration in charge. Electing Senator McCain would not have changed that. The terrorists will be probing for weak points and would have done so without regard to whom we had elected. Whether they will perceive that there is, in fact, an opportunity to strike effectively and will follow it up is at this point unknown.

Many question whether President Obama's administration will be able to defend against or follow up such an attack, should it occur, as well as a Republican administration would be able to do. I'm sure that the terrorists likewise are wondering. I think that President Obama's detractors do a major disservice to the nation by airing those doubts and in effect offering reassurance to the terrorists that they might succeed where they surely would not against a republican government. If you have doubts about our national readiness to prevent or to retaliate against such an attack - I urge you to communicate with your elected representatives: members of Congress, Senators and the office of the President in private rather than using newspapers or radio or television or the internet as a forum to sound off about our possible weakness or lack of preparedness.

There are people in the world, many of them, who are - for one reason or another - not friends of the US. Unfortunately a lot of them also live within our borders, I'm not - in this instance - talking about illegal immigrants, or any other group of immigrants, I'm referring to those among us who seem, always, to take the attitude that whatever the US wants or does is wrong. I'm not asking for a witch-hunt or any kind of latter-day pogrom, I'm asking for a little introspection by Americans who feel alienated from the government, populace and apparent aims of the United States.

This country is not, unfortunately, always right. We have made a lot of mistakes during our approximately two and a quarter centuries of self government. We - OK, our ancestors, - allowed slavery to persist, for economic reasons even though everyone knew - KNEW- that it was wrong. We, the part of us that is European in descent, for most of us that would be only one side of the family tree - nearly exterminated the Native Americans. A lot, if not most of us, are descended either from those slaves or from those Native Americans (often both) as well as from the Europeans and a lot of us are too new the the country to have ancestors who were involved in any way in any of it. There were a lot of ugly things going on in this favored land in colonial times and in early independence and right up to this very day some of it still rears its ugly head.

But, and this is a very large "but", we have the ability to change and to fulfill the promises made by the founding fathers of the nation, even if they might have been a bit hypocritical in the documents which they left us. We don't have to keep our brothers and sisters down in order that we might reach the top. We can all advance together and actually form that "more perfect union" and make available to everyone "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" - unfortunately we cannot guaranty that everyone will be a "rock star" with money for nothing and... well you know. But, you've got to admit that it does sound good. Unfortunately it does not work that way.

To be wealthy you have to either be very lucky- inheriting is good... Or you have to work very hard - and be very lucky, or you have to be very smart - and very lucky, or be very talented - and very lucky, or steal the money - and be lucky enough to not get caught. Ok, we failed all those, we missed the lucky part. Most of us are pretty smart and we work pretty hard and we are pretty talented at something, some of us are very talented but still didn't have the luck it took to make the big bucks. It's a sorry deal, but, no matter how many people are in the pyramid, there's still only one at the top.

Support your country, try to make it what it promises to be. Support your country as you would a beloved family member, not by hiding the faults, but by trying - in private, out of the view of outsiders, to counsel for correction. This Nation, and this People, is worth that consideration.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A recent news story in the Las Vegas area - re: legal prostitution

Lawmaker Proposes Saving State Budget with Sex

Updated: Jan 22, 2009 06:13 PM


State law bans prostitution in Clark and Washoe Counties and it is up to individual county commissions in rural counties to allow the practice. But State Senator Bob Coffin says it could be time to revaluate those laws.

Political leaders say legalizing prostitution, and then taxing the industry's revenues, could raise hundreds of millions of dollars for state coffers. Senator Coffin believes the time has come for Nevada to seriously consider the concept.

"The point is that this act continues to occur and will always occur and it cannot be stopped and it can only be regulated, and perhaps taxed," he said.

Coffin says his first goal would be to tax existing bordellos, such as those currently operating in Nye County, as well as strip clubs and escort services elsewhere in the state, "When you add it all up, there's a lot to be said for creating a tax on the bordellos, the strip clubs and the escort or entertainment services."

Mayor Oscar Goodman says he's always been willing to have a discussion about legalizing prostitution, but says he will not go so far as to advocate for the change, "I have met with folks from that industry who make a very compelling argument that it could generate $200 million a year in tax dollars. That would buy a lot of textbooks, pay for a lot of teachers."

Proponents believe that legalizing prostitution would also make a safer environment for those working in the industry.

But UNLV Assistant Professor Alexis Kennedy says the research does not necessarily back up that claim, "Research that has been done on the brothel system has shown less violence in the brothels, but it does not remove violence and it is only open to people who can work there legally -- those without diseases, addiction issues, of the age of majority. So it does not capture all of the population either."

A spokesman for Las Vegas Metro Police says, at this point, the department does not know if legalizing prostitution would create any public safety issues. The department says they are going to reserve judgment until they see the specific language of the legislation, if it ever gets that far.

See original story here.

My take on this issue:


Never mind Oscar (Las Vegas' Mayor Goodwin), the clown prince, It seems to me that - given the huge amount of illegal prostitution in Las Vegas and Reno - a governmental regulation which mandates the things that are required in legal brothels in Nevada could only be a positive thing.

The prostitution is not going to cease. Whether you approve or not is of no significance, it will not diminish the big dollars generated. Unless you are currently a customer and decide to no longer buy the services.

If there were legal, regulated brothels many of the women who work the streets would be there in a minute, as it is a far less dangerous environment in which to conduct business.

If there were legal brothels - IMHO - many, if not most of those looking for paid sex would patronize those establishments as a far safer alternative to picking up a streetwalker or bar-cruiser of unknown health and of unknown motives. Patrons are often robbed or otherwise harmed by unregulated prostitutes or their controllers. Often it is not something the women take part in voluntarily.

I think that the casino industry does not want the competition of the bars and other amenities provided by brothels or we would have them already, after all - conduct which was, and still is in many places regarded as sinful, has been the "stock-in-trade" of Nevada in general and Las Vegas in particular for generations. Yes, folks, it's not our huge manufacturing capacity which pays the bills here...

I don't patronize prostitutes, and I don't particularly care for the business in any form but that certainly does not change the fact that they exist and that there are customers aplenty for the services offered. If you should happen to want to see for yourself, I recommend a short tour through the Sprint - sorry -Embarq yellow pages: start just past engraving and you will find entertainers and so on. Full page advertisements in the yellow pages are not inexpensive. I'm guessing that these businesses generate a lot of income.

I also think that the availability of legal, regulated brothels would cut deeply into the profits of those who entice or force young women and under-aged girls into the sex trade. I don't know of any hard data which will support or falsify my opinions pertaining to this matter but will welcome any hard information. I'll even listen to your unsupported beliefs. Yes, yes.. I know that it's a sin and that Christians are against it as are Jews and Muslims. Hell, maybe even the Zoroastrians are against it by now. Fear of being stoned does not stop the behavior, fear of prison does not stop it - curtail it a bit? Probably that is true - but it certainly is not stopped.

Few rational men would choose a liaison with a woman of unknown health and possibly larcenous designs for sexual gratification if a legal, licensed and regulated establishment were available to them. There are among us men, and maybe some women too, who are not really interested in having a sexual partner who is above the legal age of consent. I choose to consider that as irrational. Those people will not, probably, go to a brothel but will continue to pick up - or kidnap young girls off the streets if they are able to do so... That is a whole separate issue, and is properly a law enforcement challenge. People who coerce under-age children, even those who think that they are grown-up, into prostitution are beneath my conception of human and... well, I'd better not go there.

On the other hand I don't think that unemployed females should be denied unemployment compensation by the state because they decline to accept a job in a brothel. I'm not a lawyer and can't interpret the law in such cases but have not heard of such a thing happening in Nye County or any county in Nevada where prostitution is allowed. If you know different - please enlighten me.

In short - denying that prostitution exists does not make it go away, nor does making it a crime. People, male and female, will do what they want - or need - in this area without respect to its illegality or your - or my -belief in its immorality. No jurisdiction, even using draconian measures has ever in the history of the human race succeeded in eliminating sex for pay, even when or where it was a capital offense . Refusing to legalize the business because we believe it to be wrong does not change the facts.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

MAJOR SECURITY FOR PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION

From "The Scotsman.com"


Published Date: 20 January 2009


By Chris Stephen in New York


WASHINGTON DC is going into lockdown today for the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, the biggest single-day security operation the world has ever seen.


With crowds of up to four million predicted and most of the world tuning in, a 3.5sq mile area of the city will be sealed off, with entry possible only via airport-style metal detectors.


Further security cordons extend in concentric rings out from the Capitol building, with all bridges sealed off within an even larger area. Some 50,000 security personnel from 58 services will flood the city, in an operation costing $80 million (£55 million).


"It will be the most security, as far as I'm aware, that any inauguration's had," the homeland security chief, Michael Chertoff, said.


Drawing on the experience of the 2005 London Tube bombings, when the bombers used outlying stations as staging points, 1,000 plainclothes FBI officers in 155 teams will mingle with crowds at subway stations across Washington, hoping to spot would-be terrorists.


At the tip of the security spear are the so-called "Men in Black", a 100-strong unit of snipers from the Secret Service.


Armed with a customised weapon, the snipers are able to hit a target the size of a saucer at 1,000 yards.


From early this morning, they will be deployed in teams of two on rooftops along Pennsylvania Avenue to watch over the presidential motorcade.


When one of the team spots a threat, the other trains his rifle on the target while the spotter takes the role of "wind caller", advising on corrections for wind based on flags and chimney smoke – one reason the Secret Service says the more flags on display the better.


Pictures from Washington's 5,265 surveillance cameras will be fed into a central security command centre.


More than 8,000 state and federal police are in the city, with attention centred on the 1.9-mile Mall, where more than a million will gather to watch the swearing-in on giant TV screens.


An additional 10,000 part-time National Guard troops will be deployed, with 20,000 in reserve, along with an undisclosed number of regular troops.


Hoteliers, meanwhile, have received training on how to spot a terrorist threat, with the authorities mindful that the Mumbai attackers in November singled out hotels as "soft" targets.


Chemical, biological and radiological detectors, installed after 9/11, are already in place, and public buildings will be closed.


Coast Guard craft will patrol the Potomac river, and F-16 fighters will roam the skies, with all civil air traffic banned. "I think we are ready," Mr Chertoff said. "Part of my job is to hope for the best and plan for the worst."


For today, the "worst" includes not just the risk of a terrorist attack, but managing huge crowds and guarding against stampedes or injury during and after the noon ceremony.


Much of the security effort is focused on the internet, with unprecedented attention being paid both to al-Qaeda cyber traffic and messages sent by so-called white supremacists.


In August, a group of white neo-Nazis with sniper rifles were arrested at the Democratic Party's Denver convention.


The only public airing of neo-Nazi views has been the declaration by the National Knights, a faction of the Ku Klux Klan, that they will wear black armbands and display the US flag upside down to protest at the inauguration of the first mixed-race president.


'We should learn from King's vision'


THE president-elect yesterday brought a whole new level of interest to "watching paint dry".


Barack Obama helped paint a wall at a shelter for homeless teenagers in south-east Washington, an area marred by poverty and deprivation, to mark the public holiday celebrating the birth of the assassinated civil rights icon Martin Luther King.


The shelter provides training for the youngsters and places an emphasis on self-reliance, a virtue that Mr Obama extolled during his election campaign.


"Dr Martin Luther King's was a life lived in loving service to others," said Mr Obama, who, in earlier years, worked in similar projects for the unemployed of Chicago's South Side. "His was a vision that all Americans might share the freedom to make of our lives what we will."


He appealed to the nation to remember King through service to others.


"As we honour that legacy, it's not a day just to pause and reflect – it's a day to act," he said.


"I ask the American people to turn today's efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching the lives of others in their communities, their cities and their country."

See original article

One hopes that the deranged and/or extremist element of the US population as well as their ilk from other lands will stay away from the capitol Tuesday, and that this historic event will be allowed to occur without untoward incident. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the election results this is democracy in action and is the will of the majority of the people of the land and should be respected by all for that reason. To president George W. Bush: Thank you for all the good you have done and best wishes for the future. To President-elect Barrack Obama: Congratulations upon achieving the highest office of the nation and best wishes for a successful term of office and for a satisfying future.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

DRAMATEL

This a commercial clip that you should not miss!
You might need this service, or, someone might be planning to use it on you...
The ever observant Mac Tonnies has blown the whistle.
See it here: Posthuman Blues