Oct 22, 2007

The great cities rest upon our broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms, and grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country. -- William Jennings Bryan, Speech given at the Democratic National Convention, July 9, 1896

Oct 10, 2007

Insanity in individuals is something rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule. -— Nietzsche

Oct 9, 2007

The Dilbert Blog: Curious Robot Maneuver

I noticed a long time ago that I get in a funky mood when I don't have time to exercise for a few days in a row. For me, there seemed to be a direct correlation between exercise and mood. Now the science supports that: Mayo Clinic

Over the years, I have also noticed my mood turns down in the autumn and winter when there’s less sun. Now there’s evidence to support the link between sunlight (and its impact on your vitamin D production) and mood: WebMD

Lately I’ve been experimenting with carbs and their impact on my mood. Try eating a bowl of white rice in the middle of the afternoon and see what it does to you. You’ll want a nap. It drains the energy right out of you. Protein doesn’t have that effect. So now I stay away from the carbs that sap my energy. That helps my mood too.

I have found that many bad moods are caused by a feeling of not having control. People can put up with extreme hardship, climbing a mountain for example, if they have the illusion of choosing to do it. But even a little aggravation can make you nuts if you feel you can’t avoid it.

I have a fix for that loss of control problem. I call it the “curious robot maneuver.” When things are not going your way, sit back and change your frame of mind to one of curiosity. Imagine you have no free will, and you are just a moist robot. Everything you have done and will do is programmed. So there’s no reason to stress over your lack of control in certain situations because you have the same degree of control in ALL situations: none. What you do have is the capacity to watch the show, and marvel as it unfolds. You have front row seats, right behind your own eyeballs, and the theater is surround-sense. You can actually FEEL the action!

You can take almost any upcoming event in your life, from a vacation to the next day at work, to a relationship, and ask yourself “What happens next?” It’s like watching a fascinating TV show that happens to involve your own life. Curiosity is a huge motivator. It's what makes you turn the page in a good book, and sit through a three-hour movie. You can use it to your advantage in your real life.

I’d be surprised if this method works for most people, but it might work for some. It’s a good way to take you out of your feeling of a loss of control and just imagine reality as something different until you can get some protein and sun and exercise.

I know my readers, and a number of you are already planning to leave a comment saying it is absurd to try and do this curious robot maneuver if you have no free will, because you have no choice whether you do it or not. But now that I created this post, and you just read it, your programming will be influenced. For some of you, that might be enough. Aren't you a little curious whether you will try this technique in the future?

Oct 4, 2007

Liberals are fine with some people getting benefits they don't need in order to ensure that the people who do need the benefits get them; Conservatives are fine with the people who need the benefits NOT getting them in order to ensure those who don't need them, don't get them.

Oct 3, 2007

Sep 21, 2007

There are 2.5 twists per inch in a Twizzler.

February 1865 and February 1999 were the only months in recorded history not to have a full moon.

A standard book of matches contains 20.

Adults are more likely to tell a lie in bed than anywhere else.

"Kalewala," a Finnish poetic saga, devoted 400 verses to beer. Only 200 verses were devoted to the creation of Earth.

Each year, about 46 million Cokes, five million pounds of French fries and seven million hamburgers are consumed at Walt Disney World.

Approximately 20% of Americans have a passport.

In poker, an ace-king hand is called "Big Slick." That's because AK is the postal abbreviation for Alaska. "Big Slick" refers to the Exxon Valdez oil spill that took place off the shore of Alaska.

The eyes of babies don't produce tears until the baby is six to eight weeks old.

The herring is the most widely eaten fish in the world.

Dill seeds are so small that about 10,000 dill seeds are needed to make an ounce.

Sno-Caps candies were originally called Bob Whites.

The Eiffel Tower is painted approximately once every seven years and requires nearly 50 tons of paint each time.

Beethoven's last symphony was his ninth.

Scott Baio's (Chachi on the TV classic "Happy Days") first sexual partner was Erin Moran (who played Joanie on that show).

Mississippi is the poorest state.

The human eye consists of more than two million working parts.

The card game solitaire is also called Patience.

Research shows that only 43% of homemade dinners served in the U.S. include vegetables.

Aug 13, 2007

We are great fools: He has spent his life in idleness. We say, "I have done nothing today." Really, have you not lived? This is not only the most fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations… Have you been able to think about and manage your life? You have managed the greatest burden of all… To compose our nature is our responsibility, not to write books. To gain order and tranquility, not to win battles and provinces, is our goal. Our grand and glorious masterpiece is to live suitably. -- Michel de Montaigne

Aug 7, 2007

Aulophobia is the fear of flutes.

The longest confirmed lifespan on record was that of Jeanne Louise Calment of France. She died in 1997 aged 122 years, 164 days.

"Email," in French, translates as "enamel."

The oldest military unit is the Vatican's Swiss Guard. It dates back to January 21, 1506.

American and Russian space flights have always included chocolate.

The German phrase, "Sieg Heil," means "Hail to victory."

The average cup of coffee contains more than 1,000 different chemical components.

Catwoman's real name is Selina Kyle.

It is estimated that there are more than 169,518,829,100,544,000,000,000,000,000 ways to play the first 10 moves in chess.

George Michael's real name is George Panayiotou.

The "Dull Men's Hall of Fame" is located in Carroll, Wisconsin.

If you were to take a taxicab from New York City to Los Angeles, it would cost you $8,325.

Tipping in restaurants in Iceland is considered insulting.

Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote in 1869.

About 20,000 elephants are killed by poachers every year.

About 55% of all U.S. prisoners are in prison for drug offenses.

Helvetica, the name of the popular font, derived from Helvitia, the Latin name for Switzerland.

If humans could run as fast as a cockroach, we'd reach speeds of more than 300 m.p.h.

One side of the Nobel Peace Prize medal depicts three naked men frolicking.

The bloodiest battle in history was the Battle of Stalingrad, 1942-1943. More than 1.5 million people died.

Jul 30, 2007

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly. -- Buddha

Jun 18, 2007

No one has the right to destroy another person's belief by demanding empirical evidence. -- Ann Landers

Jun 8, 2007

The future you have tomorrow won’t be the same future you had yesterday. -- Chuck Palahniuk

Mar 9, 2007

“Ideas can be born anywhere, or be sired by anything, but it really helps if you’ve disciplined yourself to notice them. Of course, sometimes they just sit there like lumps, and you can walk right up and grab them by the scruff and hold your nose and bite right down, and they oblige with a shrug and then die, quietly, and are never heard from again. These tend to be filling for a few minutes, but I’m usually hungry again pretty quickly.

But the best ideas — the most nourishing — are tougher to see. They’re often the same color as the sky, or the grass or the couch or whatever they happen to be sitting on — sometimes they’re even transparent, and you have to trust your hunch and reach out and close your fingers around the air, to see if you can grab it.

Often you will find them, wriggling in your grasp, sometimes too spent to fight — and some will die right in your hands.

But others will roar back at you, suddenly springing at you with teeth bared and fangs flashing, upset at having been disturbed — these will dive into your gullet and take up residence behind your eyes and patiently gnaw away at any rivals they may find there. It is your duty to cage them, to draw them out carefully through your fingertips, and the faster you can pull on their tails the louder they will squeal and scrabble and dig their claws in and the more lively they will dance and shout and protest from whatever page you imprison them in.

These are the ideas you have to feed. You have to make sure that you attend to them and nourish them and keep them lively and bright, their scales shiny and their muscles taut, for these are the ideas that will keep you fed and satisfied and healthy for years. These are the pack leaders, that will draw others to try and free them. There is nothing more satisfying than lying quietly in wait with a sharp stick, prodding the caged beast so that it cries out — and then quickly and precisely plucking from the air all the others that come to its rescue.

So if you feel starved for ideas, it’s never that they’re not there — you simply haven’t trained yourself to identify them. Any time you see a flash of movement out of the corner of your eye, or notice a shadow flicker in and out of view in a blink — you should reach out and grab it, close your fingers around its neck, and rip a bleeding chunk from its flesh.

And even if it was nothing, even if it was just a trick of the light this time — well, the worst that happens is you look like an idiot.”
-- David Malki!

Jan 30, 2007

Nine requisites for contented living:
Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
-- Johann von Goethe

Jan 29, 2007

The average American uses 743 tissues each year.

It takes 20 human searchers to do the work of just one rescue dog.

Twenty percent of men admit to viewing Internet porn at work. Just 13% of women admit to doing so.

It only takes seven pounds of pressure to rip off a human ear.

The Tokyo World Lanes Bowling Center, with 252 lanes, is the largest bowling establishment in the world.

A polar bear can eat 100 pounds of seal fat in one sitting.

In ancient Egypt, the apricot was called the "egg of the sun."

A newborn baby breathes five times faster than an adult man.

The Pink Floyd album, "Dark Side of the Moon," stayed on the top 200 Billboard charts for 741 weeks (or 14 years).

January is the deadliest month of the year in America, accounting for 9.4% of yearly deaths.

The largest snowflake ever found was 15 x 8 inches. It was found on January 28, 1887, in Fort Keogh, Montana.

The term "surfing the Internet" was created in 1992 by author Jean Armour Polly. She came up with the term because her mouse pad had a picture of a surfer on it.

Just six percent of people say they keep a daily diary.

January is National Soup Month.

About 1.4 billion spam e-mails are blocked by AOL each day.

Plymouth Rock weighs 10 tons.

All but one of the actors playing members of the Fellowship of the Ring in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy got a tattoo to remember their filmmaking experience. The tattoo was Elvish script symbolizing the number nine. The lone hold-out was John Rhys-Davies, or Gimli the dwarf.

The ZIP in "ZIP code" stands for "Zone Improvement Plan."

For more than 300 years (1655-1970), the British Navy administered a daily "tot" (two ounces) of rum to each sailor as a health ration.

Lots of fishermen use gummi worms as bait.