Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

Chiefs 31, Raiders 30.

That's what the obituaries are for

It seems that "insurgents want their stories told". Yeah, and they also want to kill people for attempting to have elections. Does the Associated Press support that too?

Via Belmont Club.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

To a 12 year old girl about her future

She's a hormone-addled adolescent just like her mother was not so long ago. I don't see much of her because I'm on the road so much, and it's not clear that it would make much difference if I were around. But what I want her to do is take life seriously long enough to make some plans for her life.

Say what? - she's 12, for crying out loud! Yep, and in 5 years she'll be getting out of high school, and in 10 she might well be out of college. And anywhere along the line she could even have kids of her own. And it wouldn't surprise me to find that none of this had ever crossed her mind.

Well, que sera, sera my eye. She can start influencing her future deliberately right now. It's not too early, and in some extreme cases it's actually too late.

So how do I get her started? Beats me. For lack of anything better I'm thinking of starting with a letter or speech like what follows:

Merry Christmas, kiddo. This may look like the lamest gift you've ever received, but give it a chance. Pay attention and maybe it can help you get something a lot better for yourself - a well-lived life.

Yes, you're only 12. And in 5 years you'll be 17 and ready to get out of HS. In 10 you might be graduating from college. In 15 you'll be older than your mother was when she had you. This may seem like an eternity to you now, but ask any adult and they can tell you that it seems that the older you get the faster the time seems to go.

You've had a chance to observe your mother's life up close. It hasn't always been easy. You might have decided that you want to live your life differently. And you can.

How? The first step is to have some goals. When in doubt, aim high.

Let's start with some examples to come up in the next 5 years. Would you like to be valedictorian? Date the school hunk? Start on the basketball team? Be head cheerleader? Be homecoming queen? Get admitted to your favorite college with scholarships? Get a car? Get a good after-school/summer job? Learn to play guitar? More ideas of your own? All of the above? Fine - for most of those, if you can dream it you can do it. If you get started.

Now let's look 10 years down the road. By then you could be starting on a good career, going to graduate school to be a doctor/lawyer/professor/whatever, raising a family with a good guy you met in college.... Or you could be stranded in a small town with two kids to raise and a husband who makes a lousy living, drinks and abuses you. All of that builds on what happens in the next 5 years.

Now say you have some goals. But they seem big - where do you start? The same way you eat an elephant - one bite at a time. Break them down. Here's an example.

I hear you were cut from the basketball team. OK, so was Michael Jordan in his freshman year in HS. Do you want to go out again next year and show them they were wrong? What can you do to make sure you make it then?

Well, I don't know how to help you get taller. But you can get stronger and get more stamina by exercising and eating right, and that will help you with a lot more than basketball. You can build skills by playing a lot, shooting hoops, practicing dribbling, going to camps, etc. It's up to you.

One goal you might have picked is "to be the most popular girl". Please think again. If it happens that's fine, but ask me or any of your older relatives how much time they've spent with their HS or college friends in the last few years. And ask anyone who's been to a HS reunion what has happened to the "standings". Peer pressure can seem overwhelming, but there's nothing cool about being busted for underage possession or drugs, or sleeping around, or staying out all night when you have responsibilities, etc.

Alright, enough for now. The idea is that the future is coming whether you're ready or not. So why not be ready?


Are they sure it's a mistake?

Duty, honor, yeah, yeah. Far be it from me to be a faithless elector if I had the opportunity.

But really, having to vote for John F. Kerry? Who even archpartisans like Kos are dumping on nowadays?

I'd think of something.

When is a Contract Not a Contract?

Ask XRLQ, who holds forth here about contract law and US Cellular's attempt to screw Spoons.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Would you like a dose of french fries with that?

French fries! Heavens, between the carbs and the grease they'll kill you! Pass the fish and those good ol' omega-3s.

Not so fast. I haven't heard much about it lately, but back in the late 60's/early 70's we heard incessantly about mercury pollution in our fish. Whether related or not, a trip down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago might well suggest that something was wrong - dead fish were always washing up on the beaches by the millions. Yecch.

It so happens that the mercury is still out there in high enough concentrations to get you under the right circumstances. People porking out on certain fish, usually in the name of health, are coming down with symptoms of mercury poisoning, and there are govt advisories on consumption of certain types of fish.

Here Glenn Reynolds notes Ukrainian candidate Yushchenko's dioxin poisoning and links to this, which suggests that use of "fake fat" (olestra), can help him clean the dioxins from his body and thus recover. Incidentally, the same thing might work for other bugbears such as DDT and PCBs.

Biochemical processes are very complicated, but in essence the above works because the substances are fat-soluble. They accumulate in your fat, and in turn they can be absorbed in other fats like olestra. Olestra does not remain in the body, any fat-soluble substances like the above it absorbs in its passage will leave the body with it.

And it so happens that the form of mercury that you get from the fish is fat-soluble. So maybe olestra could help clean out excess mercury too.

Now if only it made good french fries...