Today’s Interesting Stuff

Speecy Spiicy, Hotsy Totsy

American parents tend to feed their children bland foods to avoid potential allergies or just because that’s what Dr Spock or the latest parenting magazine told them. Easy on the stomach, and the poop ain’t so bad.

Parents in other countries tend to feed their infants whatever they are having, and their children experience the full gamut of cultural flavors from very early ages.

And yes, I’m advocating for American parents to be more like foreign parents. Look out the windows, there be pigs in the air!

First, bland doesn’t necessary mean easier for the stomach. Take ginger, for instance. A very sharp and strong flavor, nobody would call it bland. But is the natural and effective remedy for upset stomachs? Ginger. No citations here, just try this: Purchase a bottle of Reed’s Ginger Brew. If you can handle the Extra Strength, get that. Then fast, and when your stomach is most uncomfortable, usually just after the normal time for the next meal, drink the Reed’s. Instant stomach relief.

Second, you’re limiting your child’s future ability to eat and enjoy wide varieties of food, including many foods you and I take for granted.

This article chronicles the embarrassment, the worries, the challenges of being an adult picky eater. One telling comment?

Amber Scott, of Enon, Ohio, has eaten only about 10 different foods since she was 3 years old.

Not that exposing your children, when young, to significant varieties of food will totally preclude such problems, but they would take a significant bite out of them.

The Office

Empty office space keeps rising. This is not a good sign for the economy that is on the mend, according to certain people whose grand plans are fully in swing here. Corporations are using less and less office space, which means they aren’t hiring.

The really scary part?

Job growth and office-space use are closely intertwined. While some major users of offices, such as federal regulatory agencies, have been expanding, big banks and corporations have lagged behind in increasing their real-estate footprint, according to some analysts. That is a sign that these larger companies have been slow to return to their pre-recession staffing levels, a contributing factor to the persistently high U.S. unemployment rate.

Yea, that’s a sure sign of a growing and recovering economy. Regulators are gearing up for more business. Only one problem, regulators business is to keep real businesses out of business.

My Buddy Hugo

The ones really benefiting from the drilling moratorium? National oil companies. That means President Obama’s marxist buddy Hugo Chavez is loving us right now. Was this a quid pro quo? Or was it yet another unintended consequence of a short sighted and dishonestly supported policy? I’d say the latter, but wouldn’t be too surprised at the former.

Oh, and this would be the same Venezuela that just stole oil rigs from US corporations and we heard nary a peep in protest for this thuggish thievery from the government that is supposed to be supporting US interests abroad.

Muhammed In Space

Perhaps a new round of “Let’s Draw Muhammed” is in order. It would probably improve our chances of NASA actually being less irrelevant than it already is going forward.

NASA has apparently been ordered to reach out to Muslim nations in an effort to improve goodwill. And NASA is the right agency for this why?

Former NASA director Michael Griffin says sympathetic nations will be drawn to us when NASA succeeds at great things, not when they’re given an inflatable space shuttle and commemorative plaque.

Griffin said Tuesday that collaboration with other countries, including Muslim nations, is welcome and should be encouraged — but that it would be a mistake to prioritize that over NASA’s “fundamental mission” of space exploration.

“If by doing great things, people are inspired, well then that’s wonderful,” Griffin said. “If you get it in the wrong order … it becomes an empty shell.”

Griffin added: “That is exactly what is in danger of happening.”

And the coup de’ etat?

He also said that while welcome, Muslim-nation cooperation is not vital for U.S. advancements in space exploration.

“There is no technology they have that we need,” Griffin said.

Once again, why is it NASA’s job to reach out to any nation?

I’d draw Muhammed in space alongside the Muppets.

Just A Reminder

Some people still claim that Liberals are the bigger and better givers, both of time and money. They’re wrong. Badly wrong.

People who said they were “very conservative” gave 4.5% of their income to charity, on average; “conservatives” gave 3.6%; “moderates” gave 3%; “liberals” gave 1.5%; and “very liberal” folks gave 1.2%.

And this cannot be explained by religious versus secular giving:

The 2008 data tell us that secular conservatives are now outperforming their secular liberal counterparts. Compare two people who attend religious services less than once per year (or never) and who are also identical in terms of income, education, sex, age and family status — but one is on the political right while the other is on the left. The secular liberal will give, on average, $1,100 less to charity per year than the secular conservative. The conservative charity edge cannot be explained away by gifts to churches.

Or by giving of time versus giving of money:

Q. Monetary giving doesn’t tell us much about total charity, does it? People who don’t give money probably tend to give in other ways instead, right?
A. Wrong. First of all, there is a bright line between people who give and people who don’t give. People who do give time and money tend to give a lot of it. According to the Center on Philanthropy, the percentage of givers donating less than $50 to charity in 2000 was the same as the percentage giving more than $5,000. Similarly, the same percentage of people who only volunteered once volunteered on 36 or more occasions in 2000.

Second, people who give away their time and money to established charities are far more likely than non-givers to act generously in informal ways as well. For example, one nationwide survey from 2002 tells us that monetary donors are nearly three times as likely as non-donors to give money informally to friends and strangers. People who give to charity at least once per year are twice as likely to donate blood as people who don’t give money. They are also significantly more likely to give food or money to a homeless person, or to give up their seat to someone on a bus.

And it is not offset by political giving either:

Perhaps you suspect that the vast political contributions given to the Obama campaign — $742 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, versus $367 million for the McCain campaign — were crowding out charitable giving by the left. But political donations, impressive as they were this year by historical standards, were still miniscule compared to the approximately $300 billion Americans gave charitably in 2008. Adding political and charitable gifts together would not change the overall giving patterns.

Conservatives continue giving more in economically difficult times, decreasing their giving by less than their liberal counterparts:

Economists measure the “income elasticity of giving” to predict how much people change their giving in response to a particular percentage change in their income. It turns out the response in 2008 was dramatically different for left and right. For instance, a 10% decrease in family income for a conservative was associated with a 10% decrease in giving. The same income decrease for a liberal family led to a 16% giving drop. In other words, if this relationship continues to hold, the recession will almost certainly exacerbate the giving differences between left and right.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: Modern liberal ideas are selfish ideas.

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27 thoughts on “Today’s Interesting Stuff”

  1. I'm interested in the first part of your posting, i.e food for children. I can't agree more with you! I do believe that children should really have as diverse food as adults do. Probably not in their very early childhood but still early enough. This may help to avoid obesity problems as well as develop some healthy eating habits.

    1. Yes, in very early childhood it is important to bring the child gradually into different forms and tastes. But once they can eat solid foods well and consistently, bring on the spice.

  2. On your blurb about the Venezuelan takeover of U.S. oil rigs (Helmerich & Payne's rigs):

    perhaps Chavez's supporters Oliver Stone and Sean Penn can explain this to us in a way that will make it like a Hollywood dream. I read that Stone's movie about Chavez tanked in Venezuela, since the citizens there already have way too much of him on a daily basis.

    1. Wasn't there a big presser called by NASA a month or two ago that had all the infodudes and babes a twitter regarding what it is this big press conference could be about? The speculation tended to center around the idea that NASA had found some sort of proof of extraterrestrial life that may or may have been more substantial than what we've seen previously. And then what happened? It was a wash.

      A quick Google search brought up the details, see above. It was the beginning of December.

      The first point is, I'll believe it when I see it.

      Reading the article you linked, it seems this has as good a chance as any of being legit. The specimens were found only after breaking the meteorite open. This along does not totally preclude the chance these specimens may have originated on earth. After all, considering the size of the various meta-meteor craters we see a points around our globe, it is entirely possible a landing meteor could have both entombed organic matter and cellular life and sent said specimen into the into nearby space. There is also no mention of how long the particular meteorite has been on earth and subject to our own little beasties getting into it.

      Your real questions, though, have nothing to do with how I may dismiss this finding, and everything to do with how my philosophical and religious sensibilities will react to the finding.

      Religiously? Jesus died for the human beings here on earth. Homo Sapiens. According to Christian theology and my own observations that bear this out, we're the ones with the sin problem and we're the ones God has chosen to bestow his love upon. Animals are a lesser form of creation which mankind is to tend and manage as part of their responsibility for the care and subjugation of the earth.

      Short version? All intelligent forms of life require salvation from the consequences of their sin. Salvation from said consequences only happens one way. The act that brought about that salvation could only occur once. If this serious of arguments is correct and an accurate description of reality, there cannot be another intelligent form of life besides human kind.

      If it were proven there were intelligent forms of life on another planet, I would have to cease believing in the truths of the Bible. Given the freedom of will to choose God or sin, an intelligent life will eventually choose sin, as did man, and as man, be in need of a Savior. There only being one God the Son, and that Son only being sent to die as a substitute, in my place, taking my punishment, and being now risen and alive, cannot have died for the people of another planet, unless they already had observed us and there were some way of their knowing Jesus was here for them too, an altogether unlikely set of circumstances.

      There could, conceivably, be non-intelligent life forms elsewhere, which would not cause serious troubles with orthodox Christian theology, but given the very narrow set of environments that are conducive to life and the infinitely vast array of probable environments given the possible variables, the probability of there actually being another planet with the correct environment and there actually being life there is remotely remote.
      My recent post Protecting Privilege

    2. And here it is:

      Other NASA scientists say the scientists behind this finding has been on this particular stump a long time. The most damning evidence:
      "The simplest explanation is that there are microbes in the meteorites; they are Earth microbes. In other words, they are contamination," Pilcher said, adding that since the meteorites studied by Hoover are fell to the Earth's surface between 100 and 200 years ago and had been previously handled by humans, "you would expect to find microbes" within them.
      My recent post Protecting Privilege

  3. I have to say, that was a more open-minded response than I expected. I'm curious though what you think man's sin is? Sex? Drugs? Rock n roll? Individuals can sin, but I've never been clear on what mankind's sin is that bible-beaters claim Jesus died for. If it's greed and glutony, then we have not learned our lesson, nor will we ever as history has shown us time and time again.

    Back to the article, there is no doubt in my mind that there are millions and millions of other life forms throughout the Universe. I've always been a believer that bacteria may not have formed here on Earth and instead been placed here by chance through a meteor, as on many other planets throughout space. Due to the favorable conditions here on Earth life was able to evolve into the many forms we've found in fossils and the many that still survive today. There are many more on Earth we do not yet know about.

    Another quick question…define intelligent life for me.

  4. Sin is breaking God's law. In the old testament, prior to Jesus' coming, the law was the 10 commandments plus the various explanations and amplifications throughout the latter books of the Pentateuch. Jesus condense the law from what had become a blizzard of rules and regulations dealing with every aspect of personal, business, and social life into two simple commands: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. With neighbor being defined as everybody, especially those we don't tend to think of as such (Parable of the Good Samaritan).

    Jesus explained through his life that keeping this "new law" was, first, not a break from the old as it encapsulated the law and addressed it's true spirit, and second, was not just about acting out compliance but also required a heart attitude and motive of compliance. In this way the "new" law was even more demanding than the old. Not that anything had changed, God had required a willingness of heart above letter of the law perfection since He first gave the law to Moses. The spiritual leaders of Jesus' day had, however, turned a law of the heart into a law of do's and don'ts, and this needed addressing.

    So sin can be an action that is against the law of God, but is much more frequently a thought that is taken possession of or an idea that is pursued or a motive that is against the law of God.

    Intelligent life has always been hard for me to define in a scientific sense. My most accurate description right now is "I know it when I see it". Every human being I've met qualifies except one or two of my brothers. Just kidding. While various researchers have found qualities in certain animals that seem to correlate with our ideas of intelligence, a common quality of these findings seems also to be a deep familiarity with the animal subjects. Psychology today has found that deep familiarity and attachment can cause us to project upon even inanimate objects personality and qualities of a human sort. That does tend to throw such findings of intelligence, primarily found in lower mammals, in some doubt.

    Currently, a ven diagram of humans and intelligent life would show one circle with both labels.
    My recent post Protecting Privilege

  5. First, yes some of the microbes could be from Earth. But, there were some that have never ever been seen before and are very different from typical Earth bacteria. Does that mean they are from outter space? No. Personally, I think there's no doubt that life exists elsewhere. Second, your sin comment played right into my hands actually as God himself does not practice what he preaches. He broke one of his 10 original commandments to create Jesus. Last time I checked one of the commandments was, "Thou shall not commit adultery", or something along those lines. Mary was a married woman (to Joseph) at the time of the immaculate conception. God impregnated a married woman. He very literally broke one of his own laws and you therefore worship a sinner. Third, your definition of intelligent life is very humanistic. Who's to say our ideas are the only right ones? If you ask me, anything that lives, even a single-celled protozoa, has a certain level of natural intelligence. How else do they know to eat, reproduce, and adapt to various environments? "Thought" is not necessarily the only basis for "intelligence".

    1. Regarding the possibility of life somewhere besides earth, do you think that based on personal belief or factual evidence. If factual evidence, what are the strongest points of that evidence?

      Yes, the commandment is as you state it, and Jesus even upped the ante when he said that to fantasize about committing adultery is the same as actually doing it.

      However, there are a few problems with your claim. First, you do not believe God exists, and so to your mind God could not possibly have committed adultery with Mary. And if God does not exist, the worst that happened is that Joseph engaged in coitus with Mary a bit before the ceremony that sanctioned such actions socially. So for you to make such a claim of the sin of God is rather, um, laughable.

      Second, if you presuppose God exists and that the narrative of the Bible is historically accurate, even then it is not sin. While man is made in God's image, it does not follow that God looks like man. God does not have a phallus and does not engage in sex, and yet the relationship of individual Christians and the Church as a whole with God is repeatedly compared to that of marriage, with God as the bridegroom and us as the bride. God, as the creator of all that is, is necessarily outside of the laws of physics and nature. Just as it is necessarily the case that a composer is not part of his composition. And so God is free to act in ways that are not constrained by those laws he created. To God, the act of causing life to form within a human womb simply requires an act of his word carried out by the Holy Spirit, in the same way acts of his word brought about the forms of creation.

      I would call my definition of intelligence human-centric, but that's just splitting hairs. If you are asking, by what is intelligence, what is that which differentiates between man and beast, or between man and not-man, if you presuppose the differentiation to be mere points upon a continuum of cleverness, the divide can only be defined as man and not-man; if you presuppose the differentiation to be that which God formed from the word of his mouth as opposed to that which he formed with his "hand" and breathed life into, then you can use the division of man and beast. The point being, because we approach the issue from two very different foundations, we end up talking about two very different things while using the same words.

  6. The strongest point towards factual evidence is that many of the microbes found in the meteorite were embeded extremely deep in the rock and were extremely unique compared to what we've seen before. That isn't hard proof, but it is pretty good evidence, much more so than say living your life according to nothing but a book.

    I know god and Jesus didn't exist, but my question isn't laughable, how else would I ask you those questions? Let me flip your question about why I believe the microbes to be extra-terestrial to why you believe in god and Jesus? What proof is there besides a book? Not to mention that the book was written well after Jesus had supposedly died by someone who had never even met the man.

    1. It is difficult to prove a negative according to the laws of science and logic, so do you KNOW know that Jesus and God don't exist? Or do you just really hope they don't/didn't? Or do you believe the preponderance of evidence indicates they do not exist?

      The canard about the book (I assume you are speaking of the gospel accounts of Jesus' life on earth as contained in the bible) being written well after Jesus was dead and by people who hadn't met him is just that, a canard. And a false one at that. None of the gospels mention the destruction of Jerusalem, which would have been a direct fulfillment of some of the words of Jesus and thus quite worth noting. This is but one reason there is a high probability all the gospels (and the subsequent book of Acts) were written before AD 70, or within 35 years of Jesus' death. This means a high percentage of people who met and knew Jesus would have still been alive when the gospels were being disseminated to the various churches.

      To claim that Jesus was not God makes one a skeptic, to claim he did not exist at all makes one a lunatic.
      My recent post Protecting Privilege

  7. Matt, you find me one piece of HARD evidence that Jesus existed. Fact is, if he was such a powerful figure don't you think there would have been numerous writings of him during his existance? I think that one who lives their lives strictly according the existance of a man who has absolutely no proof if life other than a book written and so blindly turns his eye against science and reason because of this is the true lunatic.

    1. There cannot be one piece of hard evidence that Jesus existed that you would accept. You may hide behind a veneer of open-mindedness, but let us dispense with this deceit: You are as close-minded as you claim me to be. For all the research and evidence pointing to the biblical writings of the new testament being written and disseminated throughout Asia and Europe and northern Africa within 2 generations of the life of Jesus of Nazareth you reject this. You will not accept my facts and therefore will remain unconvinced except for a change of heart on your part.
      My recent post Music ‘Cuz I Feel Like It

      1. I will not except your "facts" because they are not facts, they are merely words written by man. Science has evidence and mathematics to back it up, the bible has nothing but a corrupt corporate structure to back it up. You show me something besides a book and I'll open my mind to the possibility that god and Jesus are real. The problem with bible-beaters is that their mind is so closed they look reason right in the face and still cannot accept it. It goes so far as to corrupt your political views as well. I bet you still think Obama is a socialist. Shit, he's not even a true Democrat! He's even further to the right than Clinton was let alone being a socialist. Open your eyes Matt, open them to reality.

  8. Seriously Matt, why don't you actually start to question some of the contradictions in various gospels? Why don't you realize that the bible a book of tall tales. What's the difference between Jack and the Beanstalk and Jonah and the Whale? Did a man named Noah really build an ark the size of Texas and fill it with one male and one female of every single species on Earth? Don't call me a lunatic when you're the one who lacks all modern reason and individual thought. Every single post you put up is just a regergitation of some child molesting priest deprived of all natural animal instincts and neo-con politicians trying to keep the dollars in their pockets under a falsehood of bullshit. God has killed way more people than he's saved throughout history. He's not a saviour of mankind, he's a corruptor of power.

      1. What makes you think I admit there is a god? Again, how else am I to discuss with you unless I phrase things as such?


    I came across this blog a while back when in a discussion about how god is a vengeful character and not a forgiving one. This guy doesn't even take into account the millions upon millions upon millions of people killed by man in the name of god, ie- the inquisition, crusades, holocaust, conquistadors, etc. People who live by the bible are so friggin arrogant about thier beliefs that they have repeatedly forced people to abandon their belief systems for the word of god or face the sword. This is true for Islam as well. The only major theostic religion that has not waged holy war is Judaism, but believe me, as someone who was raised with it's tradition I find it just as crazy as the rest of them. Just not as violent.

    1. According to the Bible, Israel (Judaism) committed what was essentially genocide and was instructed to do so a few more times than they actually did. They don't get off either. But for all the millions you may claim have been killed in the name of religion (tracing the history of conflicts you find that more often than not religion was co-opted to rationalize the pride of man, cf the entire Crusades) it has been godlessness, institutionalized atheism, that has killed the most by far, and most of that has been in the 20th century, the bloodiest century in the entire history of mankind. The irreligion of Nazism (abetted by shrinking violets in the German church) committed the holocaust. It was the triumph of twisted science and a corrupted scientific mindset that determined Jews were unfit members of the human race, not some sense of religious necessity. It was the entrenched anti-god of the Bolsheviks that enslaved and killed untold millions of eastern Europeans and northwestern Asians, and the mini-me's of atheistic tin-hat despots that communism and socialism fledged have kept killing right along to the current day. You may have been raised in a tradition as "crazy as the rest of them" but you've chosen a tradition that's bloodier than any.
      My recent post Music ‘Cuz I Feel Like It

      1. It was religious arrogance that led to all of those mass murders. As for Israel committing genocide, the only time that happened was when King David united Israel as one. There is not a single other time in history when the Jews started a war or genocide. They did defend themselves time and time again, but have not since committed such atrocities. The current conflict is more UN-biased than the media will have us believe. Christianity repeatedly converted people by the sword.

        1. Please explain to me further why you think Atheism is bloody? I can't recall there ever being an uprising where Atheists drew swords or guns in the name of science and reason.

          1. As I stated in the comment, Nazism and Russian Communism were underpinned by the ideas and ideals of atheism.

  10. Communism was not underpinned by ideas of atheism, communism WAS a religion to those leaders under Stalin. While millions and millions of people were slaughtered by Stalin, it was clearly not because of his athiest beliefs, it was because they stood in the way of his perfect ideal of a communist state. Typical right-wing-style statement on your end. Stalin was an athiest, he killed a lot of people, must be because they weren't athiest. Spin all you want on that one, it just isn't true my friend.

  11. As for Nazism, again, this was not an athiest movement by any stretch of the imagination. It was racial, plain and simple.

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