The Pillsbury Doughboy

I started going to the gym again. When I last had a health club membership, it was something I did because I knew I should do it, but going was a chore. I went once a week and going once a week is like not going at all. Now, I want to go. I can’t explain it, but I’m just sick of looking like I do.

I don’t think my problem is eating. While I certainly can make some improvements in my diet, I don’t think that is the primary problem. The big problem is that I have a very sedentary life. Like most kids, I was pretty active playing outside all the time. I played sports through my sophomore year in high school. Then…..I joined the debate team. While debate is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done, it doesn’t do much for your body. If you’ve been to a debate tournament, you can take a look around and realize this pretty quick.

In a larger sense, I’m sort of representative the problem society has with weight. For most of human history, the primary focus of humanity was eating. Hunting, gathering, and farming. The amount of time it took to acquire and prepare food was many many times greater than it is now. Today, (in developed countries at least) the amount of work needed to acquire and prepare enough calories to survive is trivial. We pay farmers not to grow food. The largest dietary problem amongst the poor in the US has dramatically gone from malnutrition to obesity.

On the other end of things, we don’t have to work very hard anymore (in the burning of calories sense of the word, not in terms of time). Television is often blamed for most people’s lack of exercise, and to some extent its true, but even with out TV, people wouldn’t necessarily be out working up a good sweat. My personal devil is the PC. I don’t really watch too much television despite the link up above. My television watching is pretty efficient due to Tivo, and I really don’t care for most of the programming outside of the educational channels. The PC is a much greater time suck for me than TV ever was, because TV is finite in its content whereas the Internet is not.

So, having eaten the easy to come by foods and having sat on my ass, I am now counteracting it by running in place, lifting things that serve no purpose, and sweating like a pig (and when I sweat, I really sweat). Nonetheless, I like it and feel much better having done it.


Hail Caesar

I watched the TNT mini series “Caesare” tonight. Its too much story to put into two episodes. Hell, just Caesar and Cleopatra took 2 hours in the movie Cleopatra and that didn’t deal with anything prior to the defeat of Pompey.

The mini series does appear to use a fair amount of CGI in the battle scenes, which is a trend in epic films. I think its a great thing if it mean more historical epics being made. Baz Luhrmann is currently working on Alexandar the Great and there are several other large scale epics in the works. The idea of a Baz Luhrmann historical epic has me worried, but I’ll reserve final judgement till it comes out.

A Caesar motion picture would be a great, but they have to pick and choose what they want to deal with. The whole story of Caesar is too much for one film (in the same way in which “Gods and Generals” was just trying to do too much in one film). I think the march on Rome and the Roman Civil War would make for the best story, and the one which really hasn’t been done well by Hollywood.


On the right and the left…

One of the things I’ve noticed in my travels that that nations which drive on the left hand side of the road tend to be islands. Most of the island nations I can think of all drive on the left: UK, Ireland, Australia (an island for the purpose of this discussion), Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, and pretty much all of the Carrebian. Most of these places also had a significant British influence. (Labrador and Prince Edward Island also drove on the left until the early 20th Century)

I began to wonder if there were any places that were not islands that drove on the left. Sure enough there are a bunch. 1/3 of the world infact. India, Pakistan, Kenya, Buthan, Thailand, Malaysia, Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Uganda, Guyana, and Botswana. If you can imagine a map of the world, you have Africa basically split in two. There is a line that runs along the southern and eastern borders of Angola/Congo/Ethipoa where driving switches. You also have a cluster in South Asia east of Afghanistan, south of the former USSR and China, but not including former French Colonies. Guyana is alone on the South American continent.

You have to wonder if this effects trade at all where you have a border where you have to switch sides? Having driven on the left side of the road during a trip to the Bahamas, you really have to pay attention when you turn. Its nothing something I’d want to have to switch back and forth doing on a regular basis.

Nova Scotia (1923), Labrador (1927), Sweeden (1967), and Burma (1970) have all made the switch from left side driving to right side driving.

This is the sort of crap that I think about. Up next: voltage differences and electrical outlets.


True, oh so true

This months Wired Magazine has a column by J. Bradford DeLong discussing the productivity of computers. He writes:

In the spring of 1994, I wiped the game Civilization off my office computer. I wiped it off my home PC. I wiped it off my laptop. I threw away the original disks on which it had come. It was clear to me that I had a choice: I could either have Civilization on my computers, or I could be a deputy assistant secretary of the US Treasury. I could not do both.

Sigh. Been there, done that. Kind of nice to see that this happens to people in high places. In the future, it would be neat to see a President impeached over playing too much Everquest.


First they came for the handwriting analysists…

According to Slashdot, cursive writing is going the way of the dodo. I’ve been talking about this for a few years now. I haven’t written in cursive since 3rd grade, save for my signature. It appears from the comments that I’m not alone. I have easily written more in Graffiti than I have in cursive in my lifetime.

Not only has my skill in cursive gone away, but my ability to use a writing implement has gone away. Since I’ve stopped judging debate on a regular basis, I’ve had little reason to use a pen. When I need to take notes at bord meetings or if I’m judging the occasional speech round now, I do it on my laptop. I can type faster than I ever could write, and flowing with a laptop is easier to read and faster than flowing on paper.

Cursive is going the way of shorthand….actually, it already has. There is no reason to teach it anymore. There will be those who will lament that fact that kids won’t learn cursive anymore and will sigh for the good ol’ days. They can have it. Gimme my keyboard.

On a side note, this report came from the “International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting”. I’m amazed that such an organization even exists. Please note the following paragraph from the CBS News article on the subject:

Nabeel Khaliq, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Mississauga, Ontario, comes from a family of cursive enthusiasts and can’t imagine not writing. He took first place in his age category in the 2002 World Handwriting Contest, sponsored by the Albany, N.Y.-based Handwriting for Humanity club.

I’m not sure which of the following stupifies me more: “cursive enthusiasts”, “World Handwriting Contest”, or “Handwriting for Humanity”.