Thursday, August 28, 2014

Looking Behind the Current

Recently several of my long running discussions with internet friends on the web have heated up. These conversations often include lurkers adding pithy comments and a good deal of arguments not supported by anything resembling facts. When citations are given, they often come from specious studies done by pseudo-research institutes often funded by conservative or liberal private funds. Then there are the wildly non-scientific "science" statistics tossed out like just because someone wrote them down that makes them valid.

On that note I would like to point you to an article on: How to read and understand a scientific paper - a guide for the non-scientist.  I don't expect you to actually attempt the process suggested in this paper, though it contains wise, clear and unbiased advice. But simply reading this "How to" article should provide some much needed cautions about using internet data to support your political or social arguments. Ignore the first paragraph of the piece that dips into the 'vaccine controversy,' the remainder of the article is free of social or ideological agendas.

Hmm, let me rephrase that last statement. The article is prejudice in that it rests the entire argument on the foundations of science. If you are one of those who doubts the scientific method and the evidence based findings of science, this article will not dissuade you. And furthermore, what the hell are you doing reading my blog, you vacant-minded neanderthal. My apologies to our extinct cousins.

Seriously, take just a few minutes to consider that access to basic scientific research is available to all of us thanks to the internet. You don't have to rely on anyone else to interpret the data or summarize the findings, you have complete and open access to these studies right at your fingertips. It might take awhile to glean the information through some of the obtuse language, but remember as the article points out; often scientific language uses unfamiliar or dense terminology to obtain the necessary specificity that scientific research requires.

Go to the primary source when you can, don't rely on those with political or social motives who are going to twist and spin the truth to support their position.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Advice for Your Tummy

We've all seen them. Articles that tell you what foods are bad for you. Fat food, fast food, food full of sugar, food that isn't food at all and, of course, ridiculously expensive food. But if you followed more than a couple of those lists, you might die of starvation. Here are a few I found in just one hour of net surfing.

27 Foods You Should Never Buy Again 
-this list has more economic information than health tips, some of them are quite good, check out the write-up for the last item on the list.

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Smoke & Cured Meats
"Blueberry" items
Multi-grain Bread
Reduced fat peanut butter
Bottled tea
Tomato based pasta sauces
Energy drinks
Gluten-free bakery products
Flavored non-dairy milks
Foods made with Cellulose
White rice
Gourmet frozen vegetables
Microwave sandwiches
Premium frozen fruit bars
Boxed rice entree or side-dish
Energy or protein bars
Spice mixes
Powdered ice tea mixes
Bottled water
Salad kits
Individual servings of anything
Trail mix
'Snack' or 'lunch' packs
Pre-formed meat patties
Gourmet ice cream - It's painful to watch someone actually pay $6 for a half-gallon of designer brand ice cream. Don't bother. There's usually at least one brand or other on sale, and you can easily dress up store brands with your own additives like chunky bits of chocolate or crushed cookie. If you do like the premium brands, wait for that 3-week sales cycle to kick in and stock up when your favorite flavor is discounted.

33 Unhealthy Foods You Should Avoid
-now here is an all-star unhealthy list: trans fats, high fructose corn syrup etc.

Fast food
Packaged cookies
Cake frosting
Microwave popcorn
Frozen meals
Colas & Sodas (yes even diet)
Ranch dressing
Fried foods
Packaged chips
'Light' foods
Packaged diet snacks
Salty snacks
Lunch meats
Ice cream
Pork Products
Whipped cream
Fatty meats
Milk shakes
Specialty burgers
Pasta dishes
Chocolate (Bastards!)
Coffee drinks
Movie popcorn

Feeling a bit hungry about now?

50 Seemingly Healthy Foods That Are Bad For You

Oh no! Even the good stuff is bad?

Microwave popcorn
Light salad dressings
Trail mix
Artichoke spinach dip
Flavored no fat yogurt
Dried fruit
Flavored soy milk
Energy drinks
Smoothies (What the hell!)

Let's skip ahead and get deathly serious.

Top 11 Health Foods That Can Kill You

Fruit juices
Whole wheat
Agave nectar
Sports drinks
'Heart Healthy' vegetable oils
Low fat and fat free anything
Gluten-free junk
Margarine and Butter fakes
Energy bars
Low carb junk
Healthy cereals

and finally, since you have no food at all left in your pantry

7 Foods that were supposed to be incredibly unhealthy but are actually anything but . . .
Coconut Oil
Whole milk
Chocolate (Damn Right!)

Now head for the cupboard and let's stay confused out there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

a musical cul-de-sac (final)

A step away from rock 'n roll for this twelfth and final offering in this series. This is perhaps the widest range of interpretations from an all time classic - Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz.

First, Pink, who's voice I really like and she doesn't cut off the lead-in stanzas.

A moving tribute to the late Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and his version. Careful this one can really become an earworm.

Yes, an acoustic rendition from Jimi Hendrix

A solo vocal and guitar offering from Eric Clapton

For a old, old friend this presentation from Barbra Streisand, one of the truly great voices of our time.

Speaking of great voices - Ray Charles

And Judy Garland from the Wizard of Oz (1939).

-painting by Scott Gustafson

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A little test for all of us

A few months ago there was a graphic circulating around the web titled - The World As 100 People. Basically it divided the world's population into percentages. For instance - gender. If there were only 100 people on the planet, 50 would be male and 50 would be female. That surprised me just a little but I realized I was thinking first world, where women outnumber men. The rest of the earth's population balances the gender split out.

I jotted down several of the others categories that really surprised me. Let's see how you do. Answers way down below.

A. If the world had only 100 people how many would be over 65 years of age? Hint: don't get caught in the same logic trap I did. The question might be better stated as: What percent of the current world's population is over 65?

B. What if we divide the population into Europeans, Africans, Asians and people from the Americas. Which is the largest grouping and just how big is that group? All answers are between 1 and 100.

C. Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese are the 9 most spoken languages on the planet. What percent of the world speaks languages other than these nine?

D. Here's one that really threw me. How many can read and write and conversely how many cannot?

E. What percent of the world have access to the Internet?

A. Only 8% of the world's population is over 65 years of age.

B. Asians account for 60 out of every 100 bodies on the planet. 15 Africans, 14 from the Americas and 11 Europeans.

C. A whopping 62% of people speak languages other than the top 9.

D. 83 out of every 100 persons can read and write. I thought the literacy rate was so much lower.

E. 30% can access the internet, 70% cannot.

Here's the graphic you might have seen used to illustrate the original story.

source information here

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

a musical cul-de-sac (11)

George Harrison takes the lead on this offering from the Beatles - Here Comes the Sun. The more I wander about in the realm of artists covering Beatles music, the more voices and instruments I find taking up with the boys from Liverspool. This tune has another wide range of one off presentations.

Paul Simon, David Crosby and Graham Nash in a tribute to George Harrison at the 25th anniversary of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. I like George Benson and I particularly enjoy this piano and vocal take. A very James Taylor orchestral presentation at the Kennedy Center, take note of Yo Yo Ma's reaction near the beginning. There are several Bon Jovi videos out there, this one to me has the most energy. Richie Havens has released several versions of Here Comes the Sun, this is the original from 1971. And finally George Harrison backed by Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynn, Phil Collins, Elton John and Ringo Starr.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Another Parallel (Sports) World

I no longer follow professional sports, however I was intrigued when I heard that the San Francisco Giants were having a Filipino Heritage Night. In itself that is not unusual, teams have been having such events for a long time. It boosts attendance and encourages fan loyalty for non-sports related reasons. But what really intrigued me was the special item giveaway being offered for that game. If you buy the special event ticket you are entitled to a pair Filipino themed texting gloves.

I was going to explore the creation of and millennial need for texting gloves, but I'm going to leave that to you. Follow this link for more on this techno-cultural phenomenon.

The distraction from my original topic came when I went to the AT&T Park webpage and discovered that in multi-cultural, multi-verse San Francisco the themed night at the ballpark has taken on a whole new meaning. Here are just a few of the special event nights this year at Giants games:

7/30 Peanut Allergy Friendly Day
8/12 Jerry Garcia Tribute Night
8/15 Filipino Heritage Night
8/26 Bruce Lee Tribute Night
8/27 Irish Heritage Night
8/29 Wine Fest
8/31 Star Wars Day
9/9 Union Night
9/10 Masons Night
9/10 Video Gamer night (could there be a cultural conflict with the Masons?)
9/13 Fiesta Gigantes
9/25 Oktoberfest
9/26 African American Heritage Night
9/27 Yoga Day at the Park

Yes, only in San Francisco, a Yoga Day at the olde ballpark.

Monday, August 04, 2014

a musical cul-de-sac (10)

I looked at several top 100 lists of rock songs and what I found was there are just too many that simply can't be done by anyone but the originals. Can you imagine anyone other than the Beach Boys singing Get Around? How about the Kingsman and Louie, Louie or When A Man Loves A Women by anyone except Percy Sledge.

But then I looked a bit further like with Have You Ever Seen Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Seems fairly iconic. But . . .

Others voices fit the melody, like for instance Rod Stewart. Even more on the vocal mark - Joan Jett. And one I wasn't expecting from R.E.M.

image from YouTube CCR