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Unbearably Sane
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Black_Rose, that's actually funny in a sick way. You are like the beasts that perish? :-\ In a similar way, I'm a little amused by people who think that "all bets are off when you're dealing with a sperg" while also believing that the evil "spergs" walk among us everywhere. One wonders how they handle the cognitive dissonance. Do they tell themselves they are perceiving something no one else can? Do they decide the label of "sperg" applies to anyone who seems to be creating a problem? Do they just go through life in a constant state of anxiety, wondering if the passerby or waiter or cashier is a "sperg" who might do something awful at any moment?
It's funny, in a sad way, that so many commenters here think that "spergs" are essentially inhuman while also being common enough to encounter frequently. People diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome don't lack empathy. That dumbness about not having a "theory of mind" was disproven many years ago, and only the sillier news sites are still on it. Such people are not unemotional, simply unemotive. They're quite capable of love, or of hate. Since it's currently a trendy diagnosis, I take any reports that so-and-so has Asperger's Syndrome with a bushel of salt. If Lanza actually did qualify, it would make him neither a ticking time bomb nor a gentle soul who could never harm a fly.
DaveinHackensack, come off it. Nobody ever lifted a mastodon singlehandedly, and you know it. Nobody here has said that old-style life-based exercise doesn't increase muscle. The point is that it doesn't increase muscle to the same degree that weightlifting does. Weightlifting is a modern shortcut -- bigger muscles in less time.
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2012 on Muscle mania at Half Sigma
Interesting, chesswife. I was thinking of times older than that, before wood was hacked, but civilization of that low level has been around long enough for us to have made some adaptations. I wonder if the change in entertainment personalities is as simple as the value of talent vs. "hotness" changing, and if the kids aren't trying to build muscle just to imitate what they see in the media. Perhaps it's as simple as that.
Toggle Commented Nov 20, 2012 on Muscle mania at Half Sigma
DaveinHackensack, a child old enough to be truly heavy should be doing his own walking. My son weighs about fifty pounds, and it's been ages since I carried him anywhere. Most carcasses, too, are nowhere near as heavy as the weights routinely lifted in gyms. That sort of activity -- or supporting part of one's own weight, as in climbing -- is a combo of aerobic with anaerobic. That's the "blended" I already mentioned. As for a boulder pinch-hitting as a door, I couldn't speak to prehistory, but personally I think I'd rather roll it than lift it.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2012 on Muscle mania at Half Sigma
However, weightlifting is not natural in that sense. Survival exercise was generally aerobic or blended. Lifting heavy things comes up only seldom, in a pre-civilization state.
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2012 on Muscle mania at Half Sigma
It's about status. In times of old, being scrawny (or fat) meant that a person had no need to do physical labor. Such a person might be appealing as a mate, even if he was less attractive on an animalistic level. Fast forward to the times when manual labor became low-status, and scrawny was in. Fat was out, because food had already become cheap and readily available -- fat signified a lack of self-control rather than enough wealth to afford extra food. The unmuscled office worker was appealing. Spin on a few more decades, and manual labor is practically gone. The meaning of muscles changes. Now it means that a person is high-status enough to have leisure time for gym workouts, which means that he must be outsourcing things most people do for themselves (cooking, yardwork, whatever). Now we want a low-fat and somewhat muscled body. In a touch of irony, that's also what would have probably been popular during prehistoric times. Fatness just didn't exist, but someone reasonably well-fed and athletic-looking was probably a successful hunter (or gatherer).
Toggle Commented Nov 19, 2012 on Muscle mania at Half Sigma
This is . . . oh, good grief. It's just disgusting.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2012 on Marathon outrage at Half Sigma
I've never liked "NAM," not only because it's opaque and insular but because it lumps together groups which often don't lump together well. It's as silly as "POC" (people of color, aka people who aren't white, for those who don't speak Progressive).
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2012 on Looting after the Frankenstorm at Half Sigma
"The ability to map and Google search on the go is virtually a necessity these days. Indeed, I'm not sure how we got along without it." That's . . . sad. "True, but smartphones can be used as an e-reader, a laptop, gps navigation device, lie detector, breathalyzer and so much more with the hundreds of thousands of available apps." They're sort of like Swiss army knives in that respect. They do a lot of things, but few of them very well. If you want to do any significant amount of e-reading, for example, then even an El Cheapo reader is a much better choice. They are certainly versatile, so they're a decent choice for people who want to do all of those things you list. Again, it's a Swiss army knife -- you don't want to carry a knife *and* a corkscrew *and* a can opener *and* a bottle opener, so you carry one multitool. The question is whether or not all that stuff is actually useful. To some, it is. To me, it hasn't been. "If you have a smartphone at all, chances are you're going to have to pay for an expensive plan. It doesn't really matter if you're on contract or not anymore. " Why? When I bought a smartphone, via eBay, I just popped the SIM out of my old "dumb" phone and put it into the shiny new Captivate. I never changed plans. I pay a small amount for cell phone service, and have no "data plan" because there are so many free wifi hotspots. It's the SIM which has service, not the actual phone.
In Eastern Europe, everybody walks everywhere. A mile or two? That's a pleasurable stroll, not an ordeal. True story: A Russian woman (studying in the USA) was dating an American man. She urged him to go for a walk by the river, so they did. She complained that nobody in America ever walks; he tried to defend his countrymen by saying that sometimes we do, and pointed out a middle-aged couple walking towards them. She greeted them. They replied with Russian accents. Russia 1, USA 0. :-\ It's not really that absolute, of course, but it illustrates the point beautifully. Closer to the original topic -- we already knew that exercise is bad for people with certain health conditions. It's not the world's biggest leap to think that some people might respond badly to the (relatively) intense activity we call exercising. Not everyone is cut out to be a smith or a farmer. The village needed tailors and scribes, too, and those jobs require people who can remain alive and reasonably healthy in sedentary lifestyles. Couldn't that mix of genes still be with us? In fact, my own example reminded me of a study from some years back which found that men with the last name of Smith had statistically significant upper body strength than men with the last name of Taylor. Still. After all these years. I'd like to see the study replicated, but it sure is interesting. I'm intrigued by the idea that some of us were made to sit still and work with our hands and minds. Except for walking and ordinary lifting, of course. With the exceptions of the very old, the very young, and the very sick, those things aren't exercise -- they're life.
Toggle Commented May 31, 2012 on Exercise might be unhealthy at Half Sigma
@Mild Speculation, there is one lower-class value which many of us wouldn't mind seeing a little more often -- obedience. Lower-class (white) parents tend to value obedience as a high virtue in their children, while the middle-class parents are more concerned with letting the tykes be creative and express themselves, letting good behavior flow from learning rather than being taken from an authority figure's orders. Obedience can be a terrible thing when taken to an extreme, but that's true of many values. All should be applied thoughtfully, at least after the person reaches adulthood. As for computers in schools -- yeah, overrated. They're not useless, IMO, but having the very latest models is not important. Our local elementary school is laying off staff, yet holding fundraisers so they can buy the very latest Macs. Most of the kids don't even use them for anything other than taking tests and learning "computer skills" (which is that time of day when the three smart kids show all the others how to type in a URL or change the font in a word processor). I guess it's nice to have a computer lab, for the benefit of those three smart kids and the other six who can pick it up when shown, but it isn't helping the other twenty or so in the class, and having ever-newer machines isn't likely to change that.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2012 on Yet another "gap" at Half Sigma
To BlogRaju, who is inexperienced at using sarcasm: I said nothing against mobile phones in general. They're a nice innovation, and I suggested two ways to get the real benefits (swapping SIMs with an older phone or using a cheap dumbphone). Would you like to try again? You might be able to come up with some real arguments in favor of smartphones. Others have managed it.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2012 on Are smartphones worth the money? at Half Sigma
@chucho is right. The reception is worse than with a real phone (a phone that's designed to be a phone, not a small computer). My old Nokia wasn't always awesome -- it was years old, after all -- but it was still better than this near-new Samsung. If any smartphone users wanted to make actual phone calls, a dedicated phone would be much better than a smartphone. I have no idea what kind of fools pay $800 for a Razr or even more for even hoity-toitier brands. I suppose they think the name-brand prestige is worth it. Or something. Honey had a smartphone, as of a few years ago. When the plan expired a few months ago, Honey just let it run out. It was so useless (to someone with a life) that it just wasn't worth bothering to renew, even though we could afford it. @Ode is right, too. Anyone who feels a so-called need to carry a hand-held entertainment and social-media device everywhere is lacking in something more fundamental. The simple truth is that nobody cares where you just checked in or what you did there. You're not updating your Facebook friends so much as annoying them. If you're out and about so much that a portable phone is genuinely useful, and/or you want other features like calendars and alerts, a dumbphone is fine and cheap. Smartphones are toys or status objects, and they're particularly absurd for people who buy the extortionate "data plans." There's something effete about smartphones. They're not good computers (too small and weak), and they're not good phones (poor reception, poor sound, awkward shape, dropped connection). The only things they do do well are either done equally well by dumbphones -- such as taking low-res snapshots on the spur of the moment -- or are nonsense to the core -- QR scans, games, Facebook checkins. Smartphones aren't really *good* for anything, yet many people insist that they can't live without scanning this and checking that and posting the-other every few minutes. Anyone whose life was changed by a smartphone must not have had much of a life to begin with. I have a smartphone, and I have the silly apps that people claim are vital, but it's still really just a not-that-great phone.
Toggle Commented May 30, 2012 on Are smartphones worth the money? at Half Sigma
Instead of paying a zillion dollars for a phone plus an exorbitant data plan, buy the phone on eBay and pop in the SIM card from your old phone (I'm assuming you have an old "dumb" cell phone to get a SIM). It'll save you some grief if the phone is unlocked for any carrier, but unlocking yourself isn't that hard if it gets you a better deal. You don't want a "data plan." All of these gadgets function as wifi devices, so keep using your phone-only plan in the new device via the old SIM. As to whether it's worth it, I say no. Mine was a gift, else I would never have gotten it or used it. The damn thing is always falling out of my pocket, since it's shaped like a palmtop computer instead of a phone. If I find myself unexpectedly stuck, I'd rather read on a reader (much cheaper) than a tiny little phone screen. Also, I do not feel the need for every device I own to run Angry Birds. Even if you currently have nothing, dumb phones (e.g., a cheap TracFone) will allow you to make phone calls, text, keep a portable calendar, take pictures, record sound and video, and do almost everything else described here. You don't really need the rest. You don't really need *any* of it, with the possible exception of the ability to make phone calls in an emergency, but some of it is truly useful. The truly useful stuff is on every mobile phone. The smart phones add only fluff. The world will not end if you are away from email and Facebook for a few hours. It's just not that useful.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2012 on Are smartphones worth the money? at Half Sigma
Now that the truth about Zimmerman's injuries (and Martin's bruised knuckles) is out, the DoJ has decided it wants to talk hate crime. They will be pursuing a federal hate crime case "aggressively" if they think Martin's civil rights were violated. They can seek the death penalty for this. It's incredible, but there it is. George Zimmerman may be *executed* for the crime of defending himself against a black assailant. The timing is awfully convenient. Just as forensic evidence strongly supporting Zimmerman's version of events is released, the DoJ says they may seek to execute him. Is this an attempt to scare Zimmerman into pleading? Here's HuffPo, with the usual nattering:
Toggle Commented May 16, 2012 on Trayvon Martin's knuckles were injured at Half Sigma
XKCD had a tangentially relevant cartoon today: Some of the verses are a bit strained, but it's true overall. They're all terrible in some way. Even STEM choices aren't surefire picks, since they require a certain amount of native ability and many people just don't have it. Getting a college degree just to get a college degree is a costly mistake. There you are, with your liberal arts degree or your STEM kinda-degree from a disreputable school, and now what? Unless you happen to be the scion of a wealthy family, you'll be floundering to carve out a life. Then again, what are your choices? If you don't attend college, you'll probably consign yourself to membership in the underclass. Speaking as a tutor who wearies of trying to help college students who just aren't capable of real college material, I'd like to see vocational training destigmatized. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a plumber or a mechanic. Skilled people who work hard at a useful trade should be able to make a decent living. Forgiving student loans? Whatever. I'd rather address the real problem of far too many people incurring student loans.
I am a professional tutor. I tutor many, many students in college who are unable to write coherent sentences, draw obvious conclusions, or even comprehend college-level writing. Some can't grasp the basic concept of research -- their own preexisting opinions are they only thing about which they can write. A few of them are ESL or have some other conquerable barrier, but most of them are just what used to be called "not college material." Universities have responded by dumbing down the assignments. If you're over 40, were you ever assigned a *three*-page paper in college? Did you ever have a term assignment as pointless as explaining your own cultural background? I sometimes wonder if there's a new major called something like Inanity Studies; it would explain a lot. The degree isn't worth anything if it doesn't represent skills. Yes, it's rough out there, but today's young folks would be better off apprenticing as plumbers or electricians than wasting thousands of dollars on a degree in Inanity Studies.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2012 on College post number one at Half Sigma
HS, why are you watching this garbage? [HS: Because it's the biggest topic in the blogosphere since Trayvon Martin.]
Toggle Commented May 2, 2012 on Girls, episode 3 at Half Sigma
I'm not sure about that, @Jehu. Leaving bennies only for blacks will just tie the idea to them more tightly. Slavery! Repercussions of slavery! Ghetto! And, of course, racism. Giving bennies to people who clearly don't need them -- Asians, later-generation Hispanic people, etc. -- highlights the absurdity of doing it at all. The complaints of blacks are undermined by the success of other races.
Toggle Commented Apr 27, 2012 on Hispanics in TV shows? at Half Sigma
The prosecutors say he should "turn over" all the money to the government, since his bail was set in part on his ability to pay. The usual idiots are claiming that Zimmerman must have lied when he claimed to be indigent. Since the web site was only just shut down, it ought to be obvious that this money was donated *while* Zimmerman was in jail and thus he couldn't have known how much was in it. Surely even these bozos don't believe that prisoners get free unlimited wi-fi. I guess the obvious isn't obvious to people who've joined a lynch mob. On topic: Yes, there have always been a fair number of Hispanic people on TV. They don't seem to whine as much. They do stuff, instead of waiting for "outreach." Traditionally, many insisted that their children speak only English in order to assimilate better. Could there be a lesson in there somewhere? Nah, racism is the only reason why black people ever fail.
Toggle Commented Apr 27, 2012 on Hispanics in TV shows? at Half Sigma
As others are mentioning, the questions are fine. You're just unusual. Romney and his handlers probably know that intelligent people, who consider wider views, are more likely to vote Republican (the super-rich don't, but they're a small number of votes). The truly conservative are also guaranteed Romney votes, if they can overcome their disgust with the whole process long enough to vote at all. He needs slogans which will appeal to the undecided. These questions are fine for that. Gas *does* cost more, the job market *does* remain pretty brutal, etc. The supporters yelling their agreement increases the bandwagon effect, which influences our inner monkey brains into following that monkey all the other monkeys are following.
Toggle Commented Apr 25, 2012 on Romney is asking the wrong questions at Half Sigma
@Jim, here is the info on where to send donations for George Zimmerman:
"John" presumably feared for his life all along, hence the pseudonym. I hope the judge carries. His life was already threatened just for letting Zimmerman out on bail. I hope "John" carries, too, although the worst of these idiots probably can't fathom that a black man would choose truth over racial loyalty. His skin color might keep him safe, but a concealed weapon would keep him safer.
The George Zimmerman defense fund now exists. To donate, write a check payable to "George Zimmerman Defense Fund." Mail it to this address: O’Mara Law Group 1416 East Concord Street Orlando, FL 32803 I'd like to ask HS to put this info into a separate post, since not everyone reads all the comments.