Third anniversary of plant-based diet

Lettuce leaf and tomato on a plateIn Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat, science writer Marta Zaraska does a great job of exposing these claims as myths.

“Vegetarian animals ranging from gorillas to water deer, she reports, have bigger, sharper canines than we do; our canines aren’t specially meant for processing meat. What we lack dentally is more important, in fact, than what we have. Gently open a (calm) dog’s jaw, and there at the back will be the carnassial teeth, “blade-like and sharp and perfect for slicing meat.” Lions and tigers, racoons and house cats — all carnivores — have them too. We don’t. All the high-quality amino acid proteins we require are readily available in plants, Zaraska says, listing soy, buckwheat, quinoa and potatoes as examples.”

“Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine even notes that when people switch from meat-eating to plant-eating, their intake of vitamins and other nutrients improves.”

Full story from NPR


Matt Taibbi says Donald Trump has killed the Republican Party. I’m guessing there will always be folks who call themselves Republicans but that will mean something very different than it did before The Donald. A few humorous excerpts from his latest piece in Rolling Stone.

Cruz glanced back and forth across the room with that odd, neckless, monitor-lizard posture of his. He had to know the import of this moment. Nothing less than the future of the Republican Party had been at stake in the Indiana primary.

“I want to thank and congratulate the Republican National Committee, and Reince Priebus,” he croaked, as his heavily-made-up, Robert Palmer-chicks collection of wives and daughters twisted faintly in a deadpan chorus behind him.

If the convention isn’t Liberace meets Stalin meets Vince McMahon, it’ll be a massive disappointment.

If this isn’t the end for the Republican Party, it’ll be a shame. They dominated American political life for 50 years and were never anything but monsters. They bred in their voters the incredible attitude that Republicans were the only people within our borders who raised children, loved their country, died in battle or paid taxes. They even sullied the word “American” by insisting they were the only real ones. They preferred Lubbock to Paris, and their idea of an intellectual was Newt Gingrich. Their leaders, from Ralph Reed to Bill Frist to Tom DeLay to Rick Santorum to Romney and Ryan, were an interminable assembly line of shrieking, witch-hunting celibates, all with the same haircut – the kind of people who thought Iran-Contra was nothing, but would grind the affairs of state to a halt over a blow job or Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.

A century ago, the small-town American was Gary Cooper: tough, silent, upright and confident. The modern Republican Party changed that person into a haranguing neurotic who couldn’t make it through a dinner without quizzing you about your politics. They destroyed the American character. No hell is hot enough for them.

30 years online

I started blogging in 2002 and still post a few times a week. It’s more of a journal than a public blog because a) I don’t get a lot of visitors and b) I don’t much care. With 5,000+ posts, “link rot” is always an issue but WordPress has gotten so good it’s pretty easy to manage things. Sifting back and forth through 14 years of posts, one becomes aware of how much has changed, in terms of the tools and services we have for online sharing.


I got my first computer around 1985, about the time local BBS’s (bulletin board systems) started popping up. Wasn’t long before CompuServe, AOL and Prodigy came along and I delighted in the topic forums.

I started blogging before there was a good tool. I used Microsoft FrontPage to create a website where I could post stuff but a few years later (1999) Blogger came along and I was in heaven. I stayed with that for a few years before jumping over to TypePad (a tortuous process) and then, finally, to WordPress.

Social media took off in the early-to-mid ’00s. Friendster, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, tumblr. These days it feels odd (to me) to use the term “social media” because it’s all social. Is there a newspaper, radio station, TV station, magazine that does NOT have an “online presence” (another quaint expression)?

It feels like all of this has happened almost overnight but my little graph tells me it’s been 30 years. How connected will we be in another 30?


Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 11.22.26 AMAn acquaintance is a firearms instructor and holds classes for those who want to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Attending one of these is a requirement in Missouri although it sounds like that might change. The state legislature passed a bill making such training unnecessary. Or so I’ve been told.

I don’t own a sidearm and have no interest in carrying one, concealed or otherwise, but I attended the morning session of one of these yesterday. We saw two hour-long videos by a self-defense attorney in Kansas City. The first hour explained the Missouri statute on concealed carry, and the second hour was about self defense laws in general and Missouri’s “castle defense” in particular. The attorney did an excellent job of making some complex shit mostly understandable.

Frankly, I was amazed that anyone would still want to carry a gun after watching the videos. I came away convinced that most people are far more likely to spend time in jail for misusing a firearm than successfully defending their home or person. But that’s just an opinion.

The afternoon session (I didn’t stay) was spent on the firing range. If I understood correctly, to get a permit you had to be able to put X number of shots into a target from a certain range. Most folks succeed I think.

Couple of takeaways. One, in Cole County, Missouri (where I live) the local sheriff processes 17 applications a day for concealed carry permits. Some of those are renewals but if only half are new permits that’s what… 2,000 a year? My other takeaway came when during the morning break when about 15 of the 20 people in attendance stepped outside to suck down a couple of cigarettes. Since most of these folks were getting permits to carry a gun so they could protect themselves, I found it strange they were not fearful of lung cancer.

All and all, it was an interesting morning and I came away with a slightly better understanding of the concealed carry mindset.

Phone calls

Penang Pay PhoneI’m not certain I could easily make a long-distance phone call if I lost my mobile phone. It probably wouldn’t be difficult to find someone who would lend me their phone but I’m not sure I could remember any numbers to call. (I wrote a few down and put them in my wallet)

When I did most of my road work (80s and early 90s) every phone call on the road was made from a pay phone (usually a Hardee’s or Casey’s for me).

We had a toll-free number to call the home office and they gave us Sprint phone cards for all other calls. As I recall, I had to dial a ten digit number to get into the Sprint system; then my calling card number; and then the number of the person or business I was calling. What’s that, 30 numbers? Not a big deal because we all had those first twenty numbers memorized.

For personal calls from the road, I think I could call a number and then have the call billed to my home phone number (something I no longer have). So placing a “collect call” is no longer an option.

All of which serves to remind me how dependent I have become on my mobile phone.

Evolutionary Argument Against Reality

Interview with Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. Hoffman has spent the past three decades studying perception, artificial intelligence, evolutionary game theory and the brain, and his conclusion is a dramatic one: The world presented to us by our perceptions is nothing like reality.

“Useful as it is under ordinary circumstances to say that the world exists ‘out there’ independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld.” — Physicist John Wheeler