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Archive for December, 2011

My mother and I went to the park to shoot off rockets. While I was parking my bike an eight foot tall Samuel L Jackson was waiting for me. He squealed with delight and kissed my forehead, then he picked me up to swing me around. All the while he kept saying “It’s my best friend!” and my mother was nonplussed.

Then Sam Jackson handed me an envelope. Since I can never read in dreams, Sam had to tell me that the envelope was a summons from our mutual boss and mutual buddy. The boss was having a contest and he wanted me to both take part in and help judge. Next thing I know we are at a cabin with a red kitchen waiting for the boss to arrive. Sam Jackson begins telling me that the boss has a new business and I get inordinately happy. “Did he get to design the logo? His dream in life is to design a logo!”.

The door to the cabin swings open. In strides a creature who is a cross between a goat (in stature) and a donkey body with a buffalo head. A naked baby with the head of Roger Ebert–Pre-cancer–is riding the buffalonkey’s back. I start jumping up and down cackling “It’s the logo!! It’s the logo!!” and then reach across the table to pet the long fur on the buffalonkey’s face.
Baby Roger Ebert yells ” you can’t pet him! He’s a logo!” and then I wake up.

I seriously HATE my dreams.

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I’m being purposefully vague here because I don’t want to hate on a specific author whose other work I’ve enjoyed to various degrees. And after having one author show up here under good circumstances this week I don’t want to lure another author here only to harangue them.

I had trouble sleeping last night and decided I’d read a light, holiday themed novella. Of course, I had paid $10 for it and thought it was an actual BOOK. But no actual book for grownups is 100 pages unless it is a novella, short story or insipid autobiography by an addled pseudocelebrity. So when I realized it was 100 pages I figured I’d polish it off in an hour and we’d all go to bed happy.

A few years ago Stephen King published a book called Needful Things. It was one of those curious works of his which starts off with an intriguing premise and goes downhill as he runs out of ideas. I remember it well because I loved the premise and hated the direction in which he took it.

Well, the book I read last night pretty much retold the story of Needful Things. Except this time the odds and ends in the weird store weren’t for fomenting discord but for bringing about hopeful changes Just In Time For Christmas. Something tells me that most of the target market for this book are not Stephen King fans and had no idea that the story owed such a tremendous debt to him. But I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it because it felt like such a ploy.

This is one of the reasons I balk at being under contract as an author. Not that any have been offered or that I’ve even submitted my work. Because I’m a big chicken–but that’s a story for another time. I just picture this author under the gun to get the Annual Christmas Book out in time and struggling for a good story. And I picture that author saying “well, none of these people read Stephen King”.

Except…I do. And I did. And it really lessened my opinion of both the book and the writer.

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My post earlier in the week about Fathead seems to have ignited strong feelings across my (admittedly smallish) readership. I have several friends who are enjoying the Paleo Diet and are kind enough to hope that I can find my way to better health by trying it myself. I genuinely appreciate the interest, time, and kind intent of others who point this out to me, because I think they have everyone’s best interest at heart. If I feel better, then that’s terrific for me and also a good point in favour of this diet.

I rail against diets here on the blog because I find them to be generally harmful things not unlike a boyfriend you meet on a cruise ship who is fun and loving and treats you fantastically for six or eight weeks then moves in, wrecks your life and steals your favourite t-shirt before moving on to the next girl. Like skeezy boyfriends and Kardashian marriages, diets don’t last. Of course, one in a hundred cruise ship relationships turns into a 50 year marriage and some people love their new diets forever. If you are one of those people just consider yourself lucky.

I think though, as I read through the emails, FB Messages and comments that I’ve gotten over the last couple of years, that there are some misconceptions I should clear up.

1. Other than being very sick, I’m in pretty good health.
All those things people associate with bad health in blood work–thyroid, cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure–those are all fantastic in my blood. What’s high are the things that say “you’re sick”. Sed rate, C reactive protein. There is no stick to pee on with a plus sign for diseases like mine, so they hunt for the small things. I do have anemia, but that’s a side-effect of my disease.

2. I don’t overeat; if any thing I undereat
I tend to have a lot of “Pharmacological anorexia”. My drugs cause me to lose appetite. So when I can eat I tend to have very small portions.

3. I don’t watch what I eat
Over the course of time I’ve learned which foods bother me (cereal, eggs, pork products, red onions) and either minimise (eggs) or eliminate (cereal) those all together.

4. I’m not on any sort of diet

This isn’t true. For the last 3 or 4 years I’ve been practicing what I call simply “The Matthew 6:31 diet”.

31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

In all the years I did various diets I spent too much of my precious, limited, God-given and God-called time doing things like figuring out how many points were in a hamburger or how many cooked carrots would put me over my carb limit. I spent my time focused not on God or my work or my family and friends but on what I had put in my mouth last and what I would put in my mouth next. I was selfish, self-absorbed and worshipping my body instead of God.

Then, as I was studying Matthew 6 in general I came across that verse and it hit me in a whole new light. I WAS worrying about what I ate and drank. Not in the context with which Jesus meant it, of course, because he was talking to people who didn’t know where their next meal was coming from.

So from that time on I made a decision. When I was hungry I would eat what I wanted, When I was thirsty I would drink what I wanted and be unconcerned about it. Since that time I’ve maintained a weight that is the same thing I weighed 20 years ago and 50 pounds lighter than my highest weight. I have lost a good portion of my sweet tooth, whether through age, attrition, hormone shifts or other means. I have gained a lot of time in my day and a lot more confidence about who I am.

So I guess you can either call it a diet, a way of eating, a freedom from bondage, a stupid move or any other thing. But it works for me.

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I’ve been hooked on Fantasy for about a year and a half now, and the closest I’ve come to enjoying a series as much as George RR Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire is by reading the trilogy I’ve just finished.

David Anthony Durham’s Acacia Trilogy is the most well-done, best thought-out series I’ve yet read. He started a trilogy and ended as a trilogy. Questions asked in the first book were answered in the second; any new questions that arose in book two (The Other Lands) were answered by the story’s conclusion in The Sacred Band.

The world-building was spot-on and the character development was fascinating.

Don’t get me wrong; I still love Martin and am enthralled by the scope of his world. But it was a wonderful thrill to spend three weeks immersed in a world that was both fully realised and quickly resolved with elegant story themes. If you are at all interested in Fantasy or Historical Fiction I urge you to dip into Durham’s work.

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After about a month of every libertarian I know telling me I had to watch this movie, I finally did. The women who came over for our Game of Thrones viewing party were big fans of the film, and so we viewed it as an appetizer.

The movie purports to be a hollaback to That Idiot Morgan Spurlock’s award-winning Super-Size Me. The movie also purports to be a myth-busting outing that takes on the “bologna” of governmentally-approved (hence the libertarianism) nutritional facts. The movie also purports to be about a new way of eating.

And there you have your problem.

I liked about two-thirds of the movie very much, even though they were merely recounting things that all of us Health At Every Size advocates know and have blogged about.
–The obesity epidemic was contrived by organizations pushing for government funding and/or class action lawsuits.
–Obesity watchdog groups are often fronts for trial lawyers and veg*n vigilantes, both of whom have agendas far different from the benevolent wishes of good health for the nation.
–It is possible to be at the right end of the BMI scale and still be in overall good health.
–Much of the Obesity epidemic is racially-motivated, demonising populations who genetically trend larger and are also non-white.
–There is little difference between those who seek to ban transfats and soda and the Temperance crusaders of yore.

If you’ve read any of the Fat Acceptance or Health at Any Size writings, you are very familiar with these points. But it is fun–after hours of bombardment with anti-fat propaganda–to have an hour of upbeat music and snazzy graphics telling you the other side of the story.

The parts of the film that were meant to satirize Super Size Me were sometimes funny and sometimes strained. But Super Size Me was seven years ago. It was sort of odd to be watching Fathead discussing some governmental or nutritional fact only to break into a scene that didn’t make sense unless Pink Kitty was sitting next to you explaining that the scene was a take-off on one from Super-Size Me. Satirizing something in the dim and distant past is harder than you may think, especially when one of the women in the audience (that would be me) fell asleep during the original movie. Still, I admired both the points that the film’s creator Tom Naughton made and that he attempts over the course of the film to lose weight on a McDonald’s diet.

So what didn’t I like?

The last third of the film was a typical nightmare for your basic Health At Any Size advocate. Because after two-thirds of the movie talked loudly and long about how Diets Can’t Work and are doomed to fail the filmmakers do what every diet hawker in the history of time has done.

They start promoting their own diet.

Fifteen years ago it was Susan Powter in her blonde buzzcut, striding across the stage talking about how Fat Makes You Fat and carbs save your life. She piled on the hate for previous low carb diets and then told you to buy her book.

Ten years ago it was Dr. Atkins telling you sweetly from behind his white coat that carbs were how they fatten cattle for slaughter and proteins were the way to go. And then he told you to buy his book.

A few years after that another white-coat seized on Atkins’ death by heart attack and offered a modified version of that diet complete with “healthy carbs”. You can read about it if you buy the South Beach Diet Book.

So after an hour of jaunty music and fun graphics and jokes about how we’ve all been fed a lot of Bologna by the government…

Yes. You guessed it. Fathead tries to promote another Way Of Eating.

If the film had stopped before delving into their take on the latest WOE fad (gluten-free, wheat-free, paleo dieting) I would have been completely charmed. But I have a hard time embracing someone who poses as an Agenda Buster once they turn around and throw their own agenda at you.

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I used to have a rule for myself when I started the blog that I wouldn’t delete things. I wanted a place to write from total honesty, because when you write fiction the temptation is to always make your factual stories “better” by embellishing them. It’s also necessary to sometimes separate yourself from the world you’ve been letting your mind live in. So I promised myself two things: this blog would tell the absolute truth and I wouldn’t delete things.

I have to say that while I’m still absolute truthing it, I’ve been Moving To Trash like a madwoman. I’m starting to lose count of the partial posts I’ve crumpled up and discarded into vapor. Then again, it’s not like any of them are that profound. I just usually realise about two hundred words in that the post is either not at all interesting or may be offensive to someone. My goal is to intrigue people without hurting their feelings. (Although, sometimes, I have to say something that may just offend someone but I have to say it anyway. One of those things is coming up in a paragraph or two.)

I can’t delete this post because I’ve already thrown out one partial and the ideas for three others. I’ve got to get something down, and even though the two things I want to say are only kind of related, I need to put them somewhere. But now as I get this far I realise that I DO have enough for two posts. So we’ll save my writings on the movie Fathead for later. Right now I’m going to talk about something I have pretty high standards about.

DATA.

Not that robot guy from Fake Star Trek. The actual points of information.

A few years ago in the comments on a blog (this one or someone else’s–the origin is lost to time) someone introduced me to a word that I love and now use constantly. That word–anecdata–is loosely defined as “A personal story someone tells about themselves or someone they know which they expect to serve as a fact to settle a discussion”. Anyone who has been around the internet for any time at all knows exactly what that is. You’re having a conversation about, say, whether or not vaccines cause autism*. You–or someone like you, assuming you are a factswonk like me–present a lot of scientific studies to support your case. Then along comes another commentor who says something along the lines of “My cousin Heather Anne vaccinated her son and now he’s autistic.”**

The sad truth is that most people find stories about Heather Anne to be more compelling than, say, actual science. So these junk arguments stick around to clutter up the world.

I will never change my mind about any held position based on anecdata. Appeals to emotion do not work on me. So don’t try to get me to support gay marriage*** by talking about how heartbreaking it is that your cousin Leroy can’t marry his life partner Thad. Don’t try to get me to support aid to foreign nations by showing me little kids with flies on their face. And don’t ever ever think I’m going to change my position on the overdiagnosis of High Functioning Autism, ADD and ADHD by telling me about the people you know who “really have it.” I personally know people who Really Have all of those things, but that doesn’t mean that the numbers lie.

*they don’t.

**just a reminder: My favourite statistical axiom is that Correlation Does Not Equal Causation.

***as a libertarian I support a separation of Covenant Marriage–the religious concept–from Civil union. I support homosexual civil unions and think all churches should have the freedom to decide who in their church can receive a covenant marriage recognised by the church. And I think those Covenant Marriages should be more strictly regulated than the state regulates civil union. We in the church have gotten far too lax about marriage and need to stop asking the government to fix what we broke.

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I think both of you could find a place in your hearts for this fellow:

The Huggable Cthulu: Love Him Before He Destroys All

You can have your very own by shopping here.

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