vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
[saved as an oversized Tumblr post. Click here for that conversation in full.]

Read more... )

If the foregoing is too long to read, or if it seems rambling and out of context, I invite the reader to consider:
  • Were the Pharisees infected with a fungus that clouded their judgment?
  • Where is the proof of the existence of the seven sickly cows that ate the seven fat ones? If they never existed, is Pharaoh's dream thereby not inspired by God?
  • Are Judas Iscariot and Joseph's brothers blameless because they were only doing the will of God in their evil acts?
  • When the Mosaic law forbids the flesh of bats in the explicit context of clean and unclean birds, are we required to reject any taxonomy that does not include Chiroptera in Aves?
  • Are we required to hold that every one of Christ's parables actually happened?
  • How can you slay someone before the foundation of the world, when clearly death does not exist until some time after?
  • If Adam had no concept of death, why would God warn him that he would die? If he had a concept of death, where did it come from? If Adam had no concept of death and God's warning was a deliberate setup to help him learn what death was, then what is so important about death that God would do such a thing?
  • If Adam and Eve died the day they ate the fruit, and they did not conceive until after they did this (and consider the time it takes to sew enough fig leaves together to wear as a garment and to process the shock and horror of what had happened after the banishment before anyone could possibly be in the mood for sex - surely more than one day all told), and the death of the Fall must be one and the same as biological death, how did Eve's body manage to gestate Cain, Abel and Seth?
  • If Christ has defeated death with his Pascha, how come people still die?
  • [EDIT not found on Tumblr: What are the waters above the heavens?]

Some of these points are petty and others are central to the faith, with others in between. I have made minimal effort to sort them. The point is that there is enough room in Scripture, if a strict historical exegesis is made a condition of the faith, to allow the simplest Marie Henein treatment to be much stronger grounds for apostasy than the modern evolutionary synthesis on its own.

(That Youtube link calls for further comment, if for no better reason than lest I play right into another commenter's insinuation that I myself am an apostate. I think, without having any great knowledge in that field, that the archaeological data is more or less as the author characterized it - and yet I remain a Christian. This is because I believe that God revealed Himself to Israel through those pre-existing myths and took on the particular god Jehovah to lead them to Him. Consider the parallel between this and God appearing again among a whole host of this time not gods, but Jewish rabbis and self-proclaimed Messiahs, distinguishing Himself from them by words and deeds of authority of which the others prove ultimately incapable. Scripture is filled with these appropriations from pagan gods, most notably Psalm 104(103):3 (among many other similar references) and Acts 17:28. To try to explain away all of them is to do more violence to the text than denying the historical accuracy of certain specific texts or to admit that some were written in a (subjectively, at the time) self-serving manner. It is a kind of textual violence that we never see the apostles doing in the NT, and even if you rope in a convert here and there I do not believe it is constructive in preparing anyone for their long-term salvation.)
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
In response to this comment:
I’d be very interested in the atheist-to-orthodox “take” on this sort of discussion.
I'm not even sure if I count, since I was brought up as a Christian before I became an atheist (de facto in my teens, explicitly in my twenties), but it did get me to try to articulate just what might've been going on in my head in the months leading up to my visit of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Mission on the evening of February 1, 2014.*

Read more... )


*a date that I've always remembered as January 30 or 31 until I checked the day of the week just now. The reading of the life of St. Brigid I remember more distinctly.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
[Include this paragraph if there is any chance that someone may believe you are heretically praying for the salvation of the animal's personal soul. Which is usually.]
I do not know, Lord, and am unworthy to inquire, what plan of salvation you may have for this creature. But I beseech You, who in Your unfathomable wisdom have made even Your sinless creation subject to futility in hope of salvation from corruption into Your glorious freedom, to extend all such mercy You have planned for that with which we have had this privilege of sharing Your gift of life.

[Include this paragraph if we were responsible for its unnecessary death.]
Forgive us, Lord, in our haste and our brokenness, poor and unprofitable stewards of these Your gifts, and ever guide us to repentance that we may do all things in accordance with Your will.

Lord Jesus Christ our God, bless this Your creature in accordance with its kind, as it returns to its dust whence it had been brought forth from Your living earth, that all your creation may be restored to the joy of Your salvation, O Resurrection and Life, in Your everlasting mercies with Your unoriginate Father and All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


[Written for want of anything remotely resembling such an occasional prayer in either the little red Antiochian prayer book or the green Ancient Faith prayer book, and the total inappropriateness of attempting to use any existing prayer for the dead as a base.]
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
First, a passing thought:
A good design is seamless, unified, harmonious, whole. A bad design is fragmented and arbitrary, its elements stuck together ad-hoc with no consideration as to how one flows into the other. When the intelligent design researchers (and what they do is genuinely, legitimately research - I say this as a barrister and solicitor) look for signs of design, the usual formula is to isolate a harmonious design, deny the existence of its effective cause within creation, and conclude therefore that God must have done it. This is to deny that the effective cause is part of the harmonious whole, and to claim that there has been some kind of unnatural severance within creation. In other words, the signs of flaws and corruptions of the unified design of the original. If these are the signs of the Designer we seek, then that designer is not the One who designed causation for our use, Who is everywhere present and filling all things, Whose designs are at all friendly to us.


And now, have some cave worms (note: taxonomically not worms) to cleanse the palate.

According to this study, if you're white, male, well-educated or in the scientific "in", you are more likely to believe GMOs are safe. Or, rather, distrust increases the further you move out of this inner elite circle. There appear to be no controls for socioeconomic class. Am immediately reminded of Lewis' critique of Man's power over Nature being ultimately the mere power of some men over others.

Relatedly, I'm not the first to compare our economic system to a Paperclip Maximizer. The only real debate is just what is analogous to paperclips - mammon itself, or consumer products.


And now for some less short-form reblogging...

Fr. Stephen Freeman posts a trilogy of posts about sex and gender.

In case the blog is ever moved and the pictures are lost again, here are the pictures the accompany each:cut for spoiler - their best impact is when you read each article itself )

All three are well worth reading. That said, one quote struck me in particular:
In all discussions of our gendered existence, Christians must remember that male and female are eschatological images – they are images towards which we are moving, not givens according to which automatically live. The male who is not self-emptyingly male, is not yet what he shall be nor what he should be. The female who is not self-emptyingly female, is not yet what she shall be nor what she should be. And, of course, our situation is still more tragic and broken. For some, the experience of the energies of our nature is changed – whether through the brokenness of genetics or nurture. They are not yet what they shall be nor what they should be. We share a tragedy that is common to all humanity.
This is incomprehensible without an understanding of what Blessed Mother Maria Skobtsova was getting at in her reflection concerning the emulation of the Mother of God. It also provides, in my experience possibly for the first time, a framework for how we should approach masculine and feminine identity and prescription, in a way that finally relates to the theology of kenosis and the Cross (beyond the way in which all suffering so relates).

This leaves, of course, the content open: just what is male and what is female kenosis? Mother Maria's analysis is tantalizing, providing enough to offer a start to the dialogue but leaving nothing close to a clear, yes-no-depends method of recognizing either or both in another.

I'm starting to understand how Thomas Aquinas felt.

One possible answer: the distinction, outside of biological functions, is more descriptive than prescriptive in that if we simply follow the Way the means of that expression will make themselves known. But why then are there any commandments aimed at consciously maintaining the distinction?

Then Dana comments on Part 3 referencing a book called "Flight From Woman", and another hint suggests itself: every known effort to create a genderless society has only succeeded in creating a misogynistic society. Whatever the reason for it, it just happens that in our civilization the male is unmarked and the female marked, and to try to reform society such that everyone conforms to neutral the obvious thing to do (given the mindset of the revolutionary who is typically also an iconoclast) is to purge that which is marked. The requirement to maintain the distinction - especially in the New Testament where the early Church was going up against the gnostic heretics - may be (inter alia) a safeguard against that evil, which would be toxic to (again, inter alia) anyone who would otherwise have sought salvation through the feminine route.

I say "anyone" at the end of that paragraph. I do not believe in a strict individual (lit. individuus) binary where being on one side on one thing necessitates being on that side on everything else to the exclusion of the other. To believe in such exclusion would be to deny that any woman can carry her Cross, or that any man can be pierced to the heart by the sorrows of another - a denial both theologically monstrous and obviously untrue in experience. One of the most liberating and beautiful things I've found about Orthodoxy compared to Western theology is that to say X is Y is not to imply, in the absence of a genuine contradiction, that X is not Z.

But then how are we by (prescriptive, theological) nature male and female, but not all androgynous (~male and female created He every one of them~)?

Perhaps to all these statements should be added "without limitation", as the lawyers do. Are we each created, then, to find only the highest fulfillment in only one of the paths, however great our works may be down the other? We might, instead, speak not of paths but aspects, or abilities and potentials, or differing gifts of grace, or even statistics in an RPG (tempered, of course, by the constant remembrance that without God our works are nothing).

Or perhaps another test question is: which is worse off: a woman devoid of the feminine and a man of the masculine, or a woman devoid of the masculine and a man of the feminine?

I offer a very crude example.

The former (failure of own gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.

The latter (failure of other gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.

If both are equally bad, then this gives us no reason to believe that humanity is not fulfilled by total positive androgynity; if the former is worse, then that supports what we are taught.

This is increasingly becoming a matter of "I'll know it when I see it", without any ability to formalize what is going on. The Thomist understanding frustratingly remains.

Will hit Post for want of a logical conclusion.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Progress is, in many ways, a modern myth and a rhetorical device by which Modernity doesn’t have to give a reasonable account for its failures. Everything’s in progress so no matter how bad we’re doing, “we’re improving.” And, as we’ll see in an article I’m working on now, everything that doesn’t agree with this is simple “like something out of the Middle Ages…” That is, able to be dismissed as not even belonging to our own time period.

This technique was used repeatedly by the colonial powers in order to justify their wholesale rape of other cultures – and continues to justify the wholesale rape of many traditional cultural values in our own land. It should rightly (and accurately) be compared to the repeated 5-year Plan justifications of the Soviets, for whom wholesale slaughter and genocide could be justified by Marxist progress. The Brave New World has almost destroyed the inhabited earth several times within the last century.


We had plagues and infections. Now we have obesity, diabetes and cancer.

We had cripples and the lame. Now we have crippling debt and the overqualified unemployable.

We had slaves that we owned and had to feed and care for. Now we have indentured workers who have no ability to exercise their theoretical choice to stop working, that we have no responsibility for and can throw away at any time - rented from no lessor.

We had soldiers who would burn down and depopulate inconvenient villages for us and send the survivors into slavery. Now we have corporations and gentrifiers who enslave first, and backhoes and law enforcement to do the rest. (Admittedly, the killing is now kept to a minimum, or at least a reasonably slow trickle.)

We used to live at the mercy of the weather and the elements, which at any time may destroy all that we hold dear. Now we live at the mercy of stock prices, market forces and the politics of government regulation.

We used to live in regular dread of famine. Now we are in danger of the entire world becoming unable to produce food and we don't feel a thing.


And now an idea for that far-future thing:
ancient alien race lives for tens of billions of years fleeing dying star after dying star, with only survival in mind. they attack earth, and capture a saint for interrogation. they torture him to death over the course of a year trying to get "the truth" out of him, about what humanity "really" is, and the result drives the torturers insane in a reverse Lovecraft scenario. someone picks up the transcripts and disseminates them to all public channels, sending ruin among the stars as the ancients destroy themselves in a nihilistic orgy of violence. we take their ships and infrastructure, learn to replicate it and use our newfound habitable planet indices and FTL travel to colonize the galaxy. we never learn how the FTL actually works and after the initial wave there is a gradual deterioration until everyone is isolated again.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
The best stupid pun ever.

But I don’t want to stop there. There a few deeper and more mysterious applications of this. The Lamb slain at the foundation of the world as a type of evolution.

That said, another, biologically more, philosophically less cf. colonials: more* ambitious take on the Nth Men story.
(Also he has thought out giant spiders :O :O :O||||~)


*2014-08-21 EDIT: The more I think about it, the more I think Bogleech is right. This is better in every way: humane where MAM was profoundly misanthropic, humble where F&LM was arrogant and certain, hopeful even in death where MAM and F&LM are ambivalent. This is what science fiction ought to be.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
The holy Fathers were making predictions about the last generation. They said ‘What have we ourselves done?’ One of them, the great abba Ischyrion replied, ‘We ourselves have fulfilled the commandments of God.’ The others replied, ‘And those who come after us, what will they do?’ He said, ‘They will struggle to achieve half our works.’ They said, ‘And to those who come after them, what will happen?’ He said, ‘The men of that generation will not accomplish any works at all and temptation will come upon them; and those who will be approved in that day will be greater than either us or our fathers.’

Abba Copres said, ‘blessed is he who bears affliction with thankfulness.’
Building on this. A speculation on a buildup to the great apostasy.

tw: rape, depression, violence, body horror, middle eastern politics )

Clearly something is not being mentioned here, as it is of course much easier to paint Hell than Heaven. I must take some more time to think about this, but it is my intention that the Church is to be noticeably present throughout, if only as a very quietly hummed ison.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Someone posts a picture of a seal of a demon on Tumblr. I'm curious what the various bits mean. I pull up DuckDuckGo and pray for protection from heresy and delusion, a standard procedure of mine when I am about to look something up respecting occult symbols or demonology.

I fail to find anything explaining the meaning and I give up in a mix of mild awkward discomfort and despair that I would find anything worthwhile (morally edifying, finding the Holy Spirit at work in all things, casting some light on some scientific, mathematical or historical curiosity or other) respecting this sort of thing.

My prayer is answered when about a page or two later in my Tumblr feed I read a science article in which there is an insistence that the only thing distinct about humanity, language, is "a quirk of evolution", when it occurs to me to stop the beginnings of an attempt to formulate an objection to the implied "merely" and recite the Nicene Creed to see just what part of the faith the thing I was reading actually contradicted (spoiler: nothing).
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
It occurs to me that when I indicate that I am a Christian that might mean all sorts of things to people who are not themselves Orthodox Christians. With that in mind, I wish to compile a brief list of the various heresies and paganisms I DO NOT subscribe to. Wherein I DO NOT believe in all sorts of things... )

I think that covers all the big stereotypical ones and anything else can be dealt with as it comes.

In the meantime, here's something I had not thought I would have needed to believe, but should.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
I was not aware of this. tl;dr brown Aragorn is canon, God said it, I believe it, end of story


Ask versus Guess culture. (h/t [personal profile] conuly)
More judgmental commentary here. Given I had reblogged this with the tags "shame culture" and "guilt culture" I will admit I agree with this commentary.


one tab
the immediately following tab
Totally unintended.


Day 1 – I got a haircut today. It’s a lot shorter now but not working class short, not army short. Back at home, Sarah said that she liked it, that she could see herself playfully gripping tufts of my hair during sex. I said, “Why don’t we test that hypothesis?” and she obliged. God, I love her so much. If anything were to happen to her, I swear…

Day 2 – Sarah’s dead.


overlooked D&D monsters.
Also his comic (arbitrary example) is my Best Thing Ever of the whole week. (It really is.) (seriously.)


[personal profile] helarxe, I would be surprised to learn you had no part in the making of at least one of these alien races.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Imagine there were people on another planet very close by. The planet is about our size, has water, generally livable (unless we caught some awful disease or couldn't eat the food or something), and orbiting far, far away from a very bright pair of stars in a busy cluster.

We'd never see it with our telescopes.

We probably would not be visible to them either - they would see Sol, Jupiter, Proxima Centauri, the Oort Cloud, any stars between us and them, maybe they might infer there are other gas giants in this system. They might even make a mistake about the scale and think there could not be any small rocky planets in between because they'd get pulled apart by gravity or something - and thereby stop looking.

First contact would require that we already be capable of interstellar travel, just to get close enough to notice anything like what we'd be looking for. But why develop interstellar travel if we know of no destination? This very moment we are living the brutal unravelment of the naive notion that scientific advancement and technological mastery of the universe are self-evidently good things that will be pursued and promoted as such. There must be economic impetus to drive us to the stars.

An interstellar story must start with that impetus.

What could it be?
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
First of all, dinosaurs. holy shit dinosaurs.

Kinda dovetails (npi) with a thought from last week I've been wondering what to do with: one of the beautiful things about evolutionary theory that was so wastefully lost on 20th-century thought is that there are no "proto" features except in retrospect: every single intermediary stage in the development history of a species was its own kind, its members no more or less capable in their context than those of its successors.

Even if the successor looks remarkably like an HD remake of a videogame.

Even if the successor is the answer to the question of the predecessor.


"The male spent a most of their brief stay in the jar aggressively standing over his partner, as above. The pair would would periodically mate, but mostly they just sat, platonically, in this position."


And now a mental health break:



And Nintendo, when asked, reported he only made love to his wife once. "Once! Silly impotent casual!" the black-clad rivals jeered, "and what did she tell you in the morning after that?" "'Don't stop.'"
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
I've always wondered about that smell!

It's a fascinating simulation though I'm still convinced the land-crawlers look exactly like my mental image of the things crawling out of Abhoth in "The Seven Geases":





Some followup thoughts to these musings follow.

Better that the post be cut, than the tradition of cutting it. )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
I hope one day you will
forgive me.



The Swarm is a vast, complex, self-correcting set of algorithms executed over the network that takes everyone's opinion on something and crunches it all together into a (usually, hopefully) unified whole that represents the democratic voice.

When people consult the Swarm, they access the network and enter 2 or more questions, each question written by one of the parties immediately involved in the discussion and the order of which is shuffled and the sequences randomly distributed among the viewers. All cameras watching the persons involved relay the last few minutes of footage along with the question, or if the parties are communicating over the network, the last 3000 words of the discussion. A 15-minute break is called and everyone available is expected to comment anonymously to the Swarm; if enough commenters request more time, more time is granted, but still giving a preliminary first-impression opinion is considered "polite" (as far as that concept may apply to faceless network commenting). It is also safe, as requests for more time are seldom granted, or more accurately seldom ultimately requested.

Anyone with the hardware to run it can install a new Swarm. Many specialized communities have a Swarm that only takes information from people in that group, or from that group plus whatever it could mine from other similar groups. Some people can even install an ad hoc Swarm to settle a discussion between 2 people, but the result is usually less than satisfactory (or comprehensible).

Some corporate lobbyists have been trying to get a clampdown on "free" Swarms for years, insisting that such practices be regulated to approved professional providers such as their client entertainment and security firms, but the vast proliferation of Swarms both general and specialized has been such a useful data collection source for marketing and government surveillance that these efforts are generally allowed to be crushed by grassroots opposition (many of whom express their grievances through the lobbying firms' own Swarms).

(Who programs the Swarm? Best not to think too hard on that.)


In other news, the following thought just went through my mind while checking the dominant spelling of a word: "Google was quite happy to give me those results." (emphasis on "those")


In further news, a depressingly conservative futurism, in all senses of both words. )

Still nothing motivating a dramatic, fundamental change, while yet even this cannot possibly last forever.
I may revisit this later on.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Civil Unions by Another Name: An Eastern Orthodox Defense of Gay Marriage

Every single paragraph of this is gold, so I'll just quote the most important part of the intro.
There will always be Christians who oppose "homosexuality" on moral grounds, but enlisting the state to protect "the sanctity of marriage" is a mistake. Such efforts demonstrate a fundamental - even idolatrous - misunderstanding of the meaning of "holy matrimony," effectively denying Christ by vesting the state with divine authority.

California's infamous Proposition 8 and similar measures sure to make it onto the ballots during next year's election fall prey to the so-called Constantinian temptation. When Constantine legalized Christianity in the early fourth century, some began to see an almost godlike authority in the state. An increasing number of Christians found it difficult to tell the difference between the things that belong to Caesar and the things that belong to God.



No More Steubenvilles: How To Raise Boys to be Kind Men

The whole thing is worth a read, so all I can will be arsed to do is cherry-pick a single quote that happens to continue from a theme referenced in one of the links here:
We must teach our boys what it truly means to be brave.

Bravery doesn’t always feel good. I’ve heard it said that “Courage is being afraid, and doing it anyway”. How many of those young men in Steubenville knew in their sweet boy hearts that what was happening was wrong, but still they remained silent? They were afraid to ruin their own hard-earned reputations, afraid of what their peers would think of them. They were afraid of getting in trouble, afraid they wouldn’t know what to say. Teach your boys that bravery can be terrifying. Courage can be demanded of you at the most inopportune times. Let them know that your expectation is that they are brave enough to rise to the occasion. And show them how.



If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Part Four pretty much explains how between 2005 and now I went from typical Nice Guy to wannabe PUA to whatever the fuck I am now (but I would like to think better than what I was before).

Also, analogy of the week:
Imagine you're reading a Dr. Seuss book about a bunch of beasts living on an island. There are two kinds of beasts: Fleetches and Flootches. (Stick with me here! I love you!) Though the two are functionally identical in terms of intellect and general competence, Fleetches are in charge of pretty much everything. They hold the majority of political positions, they make the most money (beast-bucks!), they dominate the beast media, they enact all kinds of laws infringing on the bodily autonomy of Flootches. Individually, most of them are perfectly nice beasts, but collectively they benefit comfortably from inequalities that are historically entrenched in the power structure of Beast Island. So, from birth, even the most unfortunate Fleetches encounter fewer institutional roadblocks and greater opportunity than almost all Flootches, regardless of individual merit. One day, a group of Flootches (the ones who have not internalized their inferiority) get together and decide to agitate to change that system. They call their movement "Flootchism," because it is specifically intended to address problems that disproportionately disadvantage Flootches while benefiting Fleetches. That makes sense, right?

Now imagine that, in response, a bunch of Fleetches begin complaining that Flootchism doesn't address their needs, and they have problems too, and therefore the movement should really be renamed Beastism. To be fair. The problem with that name change is that it that undermines the basic mission of the movement, because it obscures (deliberately, I'd warrant) that beast society is inherently weighted against Flootches. It implies that all problems are just beast problems, and that all beasts suffer comparably, which cripples the very necessary effort to prioritize and repair problems that are Flootch-specific. Those problems are a priority because they harm all Flootches, systematically, whereas Fleetch problems merely harm individual Fleetches. To argue that all problems are just "beast problems" is to discredit the idea of inequality altogether. It is, in fact, insulting.



Junkfood Science: How we’ve come to believe that overeating causes obesity

Major takeaway points, with the interesting backstory removed:
The last part of the Minnesota Starvation Study revealed perhaps the most important effects. When the men were allowed to eat ad libitum again, they had insatiable appetites, yet never felt full. Even five months later, some continued to have dysfunctional eating, although most were finally regaining some normalization of their eating. As they regained their weights, their suppressed metabolism and energy levels returned, although even three months after ending the diet none of the men had yet regained their former physical capacity, noted Dr. Keys.

While it seemed the men were “overeating,” Dr. Keys discovered that their bodies actually needed inordinate amount of calories for their tissues to be rebuilt:
Our experiments have shown that in an adult man no appreciable rehabilitation can take place on a diet of 2,000 calories a day. The proper level is more like 4,000 kcal daily for some months. The character of the rehabilitation diet is important also, but unless calories are abundant, then extra proteins, vitamins and minerals are of little value.
In other words, they weren’t really “overeating,” it was a biological, normal effect of hunger and weight loss. The men regained their original weights plus 10%. The regained weight was disproportionally fat, and their lean body mass recovered much more slowly. With unlimited food and unrestricted eating, their weights plateaued and finally, about 9 months later, most had naturally returned to their initial weights without trying — giving scientists one of the first demonstrations that each body has a natural, genetic set point, whether it be fat or thin. Despite the fear that with unrestrained eating everyone would continue to grow larger, it isn't true.
When obese people are at the size genetically normal for them, their energy balance and requirements per unit of lean body mass are indistinguishable from you or me or any other ‘normal’ weight individual, said Dr. Rudolph L. Leibel, M.D., now at Columbia University, whose laboratory at Rockefeller University, New York, has conducted some of the most detailed, complex metabolic research on energy balance and the biochemistry of fat. “An obese person is metabolically just like a lean person, except they’re bigger,” he said.
In the years following this classic study, Dr. Keys put no stock in weight loss diets or height-and-weight charts. He called those charts “arm-chair concoctions starting with questionable assumptions and ending with three sets of standards for 'body frames' which were never measured or even properly defined.” And “diet fads are for the birds, if you don’t like birds,” he said in a 1979 University of Minnesota Update. He also noted diets such as those promoted by Adele Davis, based on natural foods and fears about processed foods, are “just full of hogwash.” There’s “no great sense to them at all.”



The Most Ridiculous Scene in Jurassic Park

A piece about people, work, and of course Hollywood getting it wrong again by assuming all techne is indistinguishable from majjick.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
First, to soften you up for the link that follows, proof that there is a God.

First the parted stream of ants, now the River of Fire.

In which someone finally explains a non-retributive model of Hell to me in a way that doesn't feel like a copout. Incidentally, it occurs to me that it is precisely the stakes posed by Pascal's Wager that I am far less inclined to believe in God than I am to believe in, say, electrons. (Actually I've often gone by the reverse Pascal: if such a God really did exist and I am damned, I'm happy to let my one lasting achievement be the eternal defiance of such a manifestly evil tyrant.)

tl;dr (and it really quite tl): I was brought up with the idea that God made Hell to punish God's creation for disobeying God's rules and that God had to kill Jesus/himself as a proxy to save us from Hell because our disobedience was so horrible that someone had to be killed to satisfy the blood debt; I thought this was either bonkers or barbaric (a Christian might use "pagan" here) and am happy to learn that there's an entire tradition of Christianity that feels similarly and has a coherent alternative.

See also: http://glory2godforallthings.com/2009/06/16/more-on-the-justice-of-god/ and comments thereon


Also: Curiously, wonderfully optimistic quote of the last week:
If we, the faithful, who are sinners, who are unworthy and who with our frequently ungodly lives give reason to people to criticize and fight Christianity for two millenia have not yet managed to destroy it, then I am confident that no outsider really stands a chance.


...

Even though we drink nothing but tainted milk powder, we still must kill all the Japanese.
Even though we consume gutter oil everywhere, we still must brandish our knives and slay the dwarf pirates.
Even though all we eat is meat laced with clenbuterol, we still must send troops to destroy [those who inhabit] the Eastern Sea.
Even though every day we are "represented", but we still must regain the Diaoyu Islands.
Even though in our old age there's no one to take care of us, we still must occupy Mt. Fuji.
Even though are old homes are forcibly demolished, we still must capture Ai Fukuhara alive.


...

And speaking of pirates, here's a small but hopefully important and lasting victory against corporate raider scum.
[42] Mason says TELUS is participating in a smear campaign. It does not matter whether Mason’s primary purpose is to exit profitably from its arbitrage plan. Shareholders invest with a view to a profit and it matters not how Mason intends to profit.

...

[109] Mason argues that the problem of empty voting is irrelevant. The question of conversion ratios is a legitimate issue that affects all Common Shareholders and is something that should be discussed. Mason’s interest is aligned with the interests of the other Common Shareholders, in that both Mason and the Common Shareholders have an interest in being compensated for the historical premium paid for Common Shares. Mason further argues that s. 167(2) leaves no room for the court to look behind a shareholder’s voting interest in shares into their true economic interests or purposes.

[110] I cannot agree with Mason’s submissions on either point. While the issue of conversion ratios is indeed a matter of legitimate concern to all Common Shareholders, it is of overriding concern only to Mason. Only Mason stands to profit if the price differential between Common Shares and Voting Shares increases. And only Mason is indifferent to the overall value of TELUS itself.

[111] The fact that Mason shares some interest with other Common Shareholders does not mean that its interests align with those Shareholders in a broader sense.

[112] Nor does s. 167 oust the power of the court to consider the reasons underlying a requisition. Section 167(7)(d) specifically contemplates an investigation into the motivations behind a requisition. And s. 186 gives the court broad discretion to make orders relating to the calling, holding and conducting of meetings “for any ... reason the court considers appropriate.”

[113] That said, in light of my findings regarding the validity of the Requisition, it is unnecessary to consider whether the Court ought to exercise its jurisdiction in this case.
Appeal to be heard in a couple weeks. In barbaric South Nation terms, let's hope the appeal result is more Roe and less Kelo.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Before getting to the dump: does anyone know how to block specific users and groups from showing up on your Network page? I'm sure the nice folks at [community profile] milliways_bar are having a ball but it's just drudgery to have to wade through all those posts to find something that actually engages me.

Beware the "intelligent" designer.
Without physical stuff to remind us of how we supposedly differ from one another, our hierarchies would be awfully ramshackle; stripped of our possessions, categories like “class” start to look like just a bunch of learned behaviors and confused ideas. Whether prohibitively priced cars, gendered garments, or separate schools for blacks and whites, social hierarchies are always maintained with the help of physical objects and spaces designed to reflect those hierarchies. Otherwise everyone’s claims of superiority and difference would be quite literally immaterial.


A thing which is to be read. It is about people.
First of all, both of these flatworms are hermaphrodites. They don't have penises, but organs that deliver sperm. Also, the flatworm who gets pregnant is hardly a "loser" — every insemination is a form of "winning" for both parties, since both will now pass along their genetic material to a new generation. It's likely that the first scientist who called this mating act a "fight" was projecting human gender stereotypes just like our character in Left Hand of Darkness did. If penises are drawn, it must be a fight! Because men have penises and they fight! Right.
Would be nice if this could be taken as true on face value, but given one of the parties has to waste all that time and resources on the gestation process I see no reason why they wouldn't end up trying to avoid it, with the main selective pressure being avoiding it too well leading to an evolutionary dead end on a local group level.


A thing about a thing they've since said they'll postpone for another 5 years in the wake of the mass outcry.
That educational program may be effective. The tone of Internet postings in China these days is often fiercely nationalistic with regard to Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea and South China Sea. The Japanese coast guard’s arrest last month of activists from Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen who had landed on an island claimed by China but controlled by Japan touched off anti-Japanese protests in Chinese cities.

I would like to rebut this with an analogy. Imagine, as an American, Romney winning this year with a Republican supermajority and all the electoral reforms kick in, and the next four years the GOP institutes enough major changes to civic procedure such that you basically have to fit all the GOP demographics to vote; by the end of the second term of Romney's successor America is generally considered a one-party state, as a mass exodus of people continues towards urban holdouts close to either border. Imagine that, in, say, 2042, this one-party America experiences two events: 1) the federal government announces the introduction of a mandatory "Real American Values" class for kids in Washington, California and New York; and 2) the same federal government downplays and tries to ignore the arrival of a Neo-Soviet Russian naval patrol over Anchorage.

Now imagine you're a typical liberal, freedom-loving, latté-sipping concerned parent in Seattle living in all this. How do you feel about each of these events?
(more here, here and here.)

And more of the other thing:
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
ANTS. The pictures say it all.

also weasels.


Evil empires! (actually depressing as fuck until one realizes that this is the beginning of a thing)
The problem of a thriving enthusiast press is wrapped up right there in its name: games are an industry that survives on consumer loyalty nearly as much as hard-won cash. And it may be virtually impossible for a journalist or critic to be a journalist or critic without a background as a gamer, and thus to one extent or another a fan or games. But surely that doesn't have to be the final word. No one would suggest a film critic must uncritically support the financing or marketing decisions of major studios; why should game critics be held --on pain of blacklisting-- to such an improbable standard?

"Fan" is not synonymous with "slavish devotee." "Criticism" does not silence the conversation. "Freedom of speech" is not a magical shield intent to protect the user from any and all reproach, and if anyone's going to use it to derail the conversation, let it be the attacked, not veteran journalists rushing in to defend a billion-dollar industry.
The beginning of something new. Something better.


EDIT: I would say related, except that I'm quite sure with a thing like this I would have seen relation no matter what I had previously linked to (with the proviso that "things I link to" is already quite a narrow, pre-vetted band of possibilities).

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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