Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm going to give God a chance to prove to me that he exists

Here's the deal. God can prove to me that he exists by winning the lottery for me three times. I'm going to play Powerball up to three times. The odds of winning a jackpot are 1 in 175 million. If I win the first time I play, that would be very lucky. I'll play again, though, to give God a chance to prove it was him, not blind chance. (If I lose, I'll stop playing, because why throw good money after bad?) If I win the second time (odds of winning twice are 1 in 175 million x 1 in 175 million = 1 in 30,625,000,000,000,000), I'll be agnostic. I'll think, "Maybe that was God." The odds of winning all three times are about one in 5,359,375,000,000,000,000,000,000 (1 in 175 million x 1 in 175 million x 1 in 175 million), so if I can do that, I'll consider it a miracle and personal proof of God's existence.

That would convince me that there is a God. Here's my promise: if I win three jackpots in three tries, I will believe in God, tell everyone my story, and put the money to good use (i.e., I won't spend all of it on cars, hair plugs, and sugar babies). If there is a God, let's see if he's willing to step up and prove it. (I won't hold my breath, though.)

Edit: Tried to fix the math.

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Monday, September 02, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day, Americans and resident aliens!

Happy Monday, everyone else on this side of the International Dateline!

Here's a music:



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Friday, August 09, 2013

Who should I cosplay? (poll embedded)

Since my stroke, some people on my recovery team have suggested that I need some new hobbies. They think it would be good for my brain to learn some new skills and do something that gets me out around people more. I've been thinking about that, and here's an idea I came up with: cosplay. It seems like a pretty engaging hobby. Since I'd hate to do something like that in a half-assed way, I'd need to do character research and learn how to do costumes, makeup, and props. Then, I could go to cons, which would cover the "people" part.

To do cosplay, the first thing I need is a character. Here are my ideas so far for characters I could cosplay:
  1. Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin's character) from Firefly
  2. Klingon warrior from Star Trek
  3. Zed (Sean Connery's character) from Zardoz
Who should I choose? Of course, there are pros and cons to each of those. Here's a breakdown:

Jayne
Pros
  • Authenticity: Physically, I'm a natural for the part. I'm the same age as Adam Baldwin (we were born 27 days apart) and about the same size (I'm actually a skosh bigger).
  • Simplicity: All I'd need are boots, fingerless gloves, khaki pants, an appropriate T-shirt, maybe a fatigue jacket, a Jayne hat, a big knife, and a couple of big guns. All easily available. I wouldn't have to worry about a hairstyle; I'd just keep the hat on. And I already have the beard, I'd just need to trim it a little differently and darken it.
  • Bonus: The character has his own cool theme song that people might sing to me:

Cons
  • Simplicity: It's actually a little too simple. I'd probably end up buying almost everything rather than making it, which would kind of miss the point a little bit.
  • Obscurity: Of course, anyone at a con would probably recognize a Firefly character, but if I were to be Jayne for Halloween or something, only cool nerdy people would even know who I am.

Klingon
Pros
  • It'd be challenging. A good Klingon costume requires extensive makeup, including prostheses for the nose and forehead, a wig, and an elaborate costume. I'd have the opportunity to learn and apply a bunch of new skills. But, do it right and it can look this good.
  • Creativity. I don't have a specific character in mind (just "a Klingon"), so I could invent one, along with a backstory, on my own.
  • Recognizability. Just one glance, and everyone would know what I am. It would be just as good for Halloween as for a con (if not better).
  • In a good costume, I'd make a hella imposing Klingon. I figure I'd be about 6'9" (206 cm) from the soles of my boots to the top of my skull ridges, with girth to match. In fact, I'd probably be a lot like James Worthy:

Cons
  • It'd be very challenging. I'd have to learn how to do makeup, how to make facial prostheses, and how to sew. I'm not sure I really want to put in that much time. And it's easy to make the prostheses look bad, like you're just wearing a bumpy helmet or something.
  • It'd be expensive. I'd need a wig, makeup, liquid latex, and a lot of material, including leather (or at least vinyl), which isn't cheap. Plus props.

Zed
Pros
  • Simplicity. All I'd need is a wig (I could grow the mustache), boots, and some red material to sew. (It's not like I'd need to make a shirt or pants.)
  • Authenticity. I'm a lot like Sean Connery. Middle-aged? Check. Hairy? Check. In decent shape, but nowhere near good enough shape to really rock thigh-high leather boots, bandoleers, and a red bikini? Check.
  • High comedic value. In that costume, I'd be sure to attract a lot of attention and laughter, and I'm all about the laughter.
Cons
  • Authenticity. I'm a lot like Sean Connery. Middle-aged? Check. Hairy? Check. In decent shape, but nowhere near good enough shape to really rock thigh-high leather boots, bandoleers, and a red bikini? Check.
  • High comedic value. In that costume, I'd be sure to attract a lot of attention and laughter. Sure, I'm all about the laughter, but I really prefer that people laugh with me, not at me.

Well, that's what I'm thinking. Help me make up my mind by clicking one of these answers, and, if you want, explaining why in a comment.


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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ever notice what happens when you look at the "Ramones" logo in a mirror?

Here's the famous "Ramones" logo that you see on T-shirts all over the place. I direct your attention to the upside down "Dee Dee" at the bottom.



















But here's what happens when you look at the logo in a mirror:



















"Dee Dee" is now right-side-up and forward. Trippy.

"So what?" you say? Well, here's a Ramones song for you then.



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Friday, June 21, 2013

Beat kuri's Quiz Score: Ambivalent Sexism Inventory

The Ambivalent Sexism Inventory measures two separate but related tendencies:

  • "Hostile sexism," which involves negative feelings toward women
  • "Benevolent sexism," a knight-in-shining armor ideology that offers protection and affection to women who conform to traditional gender roles (e.g., cute girlfriend, obedient wife, etc.)

Scores on each dimension can vary from 0 to 5, and although there is no fixed point that divides sexist and nonsexist people, higher ASI scores are related to greater degrees of sexism. For example, people with high levels of hostile sexism are more likely than others to hold negative stereotypes about career women, and they express attitudes that are more tolerant of sexual harassment and spousal abuse of women.

In contrast, high scores on benevolent sexism are not related to overt measures of hostility toward women. Nevertheless, benevolent sexism can turn ugly when women venture beyond traditional gender roles. For instance, one study found that benevolent sexists were more likely than others to blame a female victim for being raped after she invited a man into her apartment (presumably because the victim's behavior violated norms of female chastity).

My scores? Here you go:

Hostile Sexism Score: 0.09
Benevolent Sexism Score: 2.18


So how do I stack up? Here are the averages of everyone who's taken the test on the website:


Hostile Sexism Score:
     Average male:    2.74
     Average female: 2.05
     Me:                   0.09
Benevolent Sexism Score:
     Average male:    2.74
     Average female: 2.05
     Me:                   2.18



And for the USA (from a study conducted in 2000):


Hostile Sexism Score:
     Average male:    2.24
     Average female: 1.60
     Me:                   0.09
Benevolent Sexism Score:
     Average male:    2.30
     Average female: 2.00
     Me:                   2.18



You can take the test yourself right here. But this time, don't try to "beat" my score. It's not that kind of test. Just answer honestly and see what you find out about yourself.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

The three men who taught me how to be a dad: Ward Cleaver, Atticus Finch, and Benjamin Sisko

Growing up, I never had a good fathering role model. My dad was pretty much a disaster as a father. So, I had to look elsewhere for fatherly role models. Like a lot of people in my generation, I found them in popular culture. There were three people who taught me most of what little I know about being a dad: Ward Cleaver, Atticus Finch, and Benjamin Sisko.

I learned two main things from Wally and Beaver Cleaver's dad: Always keep calm, and don't embarrass your kids in front of their friends. Because no matter what shenanigans Wally and Beaver got into, Ward always managed to handle it without yelling and hitting.

And I remember this one episode, when Wally was getting a little older and starting to shave, he borrowed his dad's razor without asking and used his last razor blade. So Ward was really mad, and he bawled out Wally right in front of his friends, including saying, "You don't even need to shave yet, anyway." How humiliating.

Well, Ward felt bad about that, so later in the show he made up for it. Ward and Wally were at a barbershop, and when some of Wally's friends came in, Ward told the barber to give Wally a shave, proving to the friends that he does need to shave, after all.

So, I've tried to stay calm and to avoid getting on my kids in front of their friends. Not sure how well I did at the former, but I think I did pretty well at the latter (to the point where my kids recognized it and sometimes tried to take advantage of it ha-ha-ha).

Atticus Finch was the one fictional father who actually made me envious. After I read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 10, I used to wish I could trade my real dad for him. I loved the way Atticus talked to Jem and Scout. What I learned about parenting from him was this: Children can be treated as intelligent beings who are capable of rational thought and understanding. You can actually explain things to them, instead of just bossing them around.
Sisko is the only one of these three fictional dads that I first encountered after I had already become a father myself. I rather envied the affectionate nature of his relationship with his son. I wished that I could have more hugs and kisses with my kids than I do, but that's just not my way. What he did demonstrate, though, was that a father should support his child's ambitions, not his own ambitions for his child. Sisko hoped that his son, Jake, would follow in his footsteps, enter Starfleet academy, and become an officer like him. But Jake only ever wanted to be a writer. And Sisko was nothing but supportive of his ambition ever after.

The first time I really had to apply that was, somewhat ironically, when my children began to distance themselves from the (Mormon) church in which we were bringing/had brought them up. Although today I'm proud of them for overcoming their lifelong indoctrination at such young ages and recognizing the church for what it really is well before I did, at the time I was still a believer and I found their disbelief somewhat wrenching. But, like Sisko, I recognized that they have to find their own way and their own path in life, and I tried to be supportive and I refrained from placing heavy pressure on them. So their growing disbelief didn't turn into the kind of giant family conflict that so often erupts in such situations.

I imagine that Avery Brooks, who played Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, would probably be pleased to know that his portrayal of Benjamin Sisko as a father had such a positive impact on one family's life.

I should also add that my longtime style probably isn't a coincidence, either (although I could wish that my head was a little shinier).


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Monday, June 03, 2013

Beat kuri's Quiz Score: Test Your Vocabulary

"Your total vocabulary size is estimated to be 40,300 words."

And no, I didn't cheat (because I sincerely wanted to know). I just read a lot. I guess the word-holding part of my brain, at least, is still pretty intact.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy 420!

I don''t favor recreational drug use, but this is genius:

"The Smoke-Off" by Shel Silverstein (yes, the same guy who wrote The Giving Tree)



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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (4/17/2013)

Haven't done one of these for awhile....

Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness.

A Yemeni man live-tweeted a US drone attack on his village. Highlights include: "#USA taught me English 1 day & took my life frm super miserable 2 very promising. 2day, it droned my village. The most divided feeling ever".

The elusive "good war".

"Neurotics are conscientious team members and should be appreciated and used more effectively in organizations." People should hire them.

Amazing self-portraits by a photographer with depression.

Bouncing from link to link in the usual fashion, I ended up on the Tumblr of a magnificent woman who calls herself the Goddamazon. I read some of her "sexcapades" posts (NSFW, of course), and now I kind of feel that my life has been a waste.

Much of my youth was spent listening to songs by people who hated Margaret Thatcher. Here are 21 of them.

Hundreds of Thousands of Rat-Sized, House-Eating Snails Invade Florida.

Ever wonder what you'd get if you crossed a duck with a horse? Or a lion with a guinea pig? Or a killer whale with a penguin? Now you can find out.

"Can someone please Photoshop the Sun between my fingers?" There are a lot of smartasses with Photoshop on the interwebs.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

In which I have a stroke (Part 3: Beautiful Nurse B-- is beautiful)

Not Beautiful Nurse B--, but in the same ballpark
My first morning in the ICU after my stroke, I awoke to find in my room perhaps the most beautiful woman I've ever met. "Good morning," she said with a beautiful sunny smile, "I'm your nurse this morning. My name is B--."

Of course, I couldn't answer with what I really wanted to say, which was (since the "drafty" hospital gowns left me waking up cold every morning I was in the hospital), "Good morning Nurse B--. I'm cold. Would you please snuggle under the covers with me until I feel warm?" Instead, I just said, "Good morning Nurse B--." Then I thought I should express some personal interest in her, so I asked her if "B--" was short for something, like the name it's usually short for. She said it wasn't short for that name, it was short for something else, a name I'd never actually heard before.

In my mind, I had already christened her "Beautiful Nurse B--." And this song kept running through my head:



I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.
I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.
I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.

I guess if you're a straight guy and when you meet a beautiful woman, mainly you think about the Ramones, you may be overly immersed in popular culture. Or, I guess it means I really am a pinhead.

Well, next Beautiful Nurse B-- took my vital signs and went though the standard stroke patient tests to check for hemiplegia and weakness, which are "Squeeze my fingers" and then (with me still holding her hands) "Now pull me closer" and "Now push me away."

When she got to the "Push me away" part, I managed to come up with, "I don't want to push you away," for which effort I was rewarded with a patient smile, rather than what I deserved, which probably would have been something more like, "Stop trying to flirt with me from your hospital bed, you elderly1 ass-clown!" Of course, that actually wasn't very cool of me to do, because I'm sure she gets that kind of stuff all the time, and she's probably pretty tired of it. So I was kind of sorry afterwards, although she was so nice about it. And I left the nurses and other female personnel alone after that.

But they didn't leave me alone. Because, the next day, one of them (not Beautiful Nurse B--) came into my room to give me a sponge bath. Which can be a little embarrassing. Or a lot embarrassing, in some cases. Obviously, if you're a heterosexual male, when a kind woman gently ministers to your body with a warm sponge, there is a certain natural reaction that threatens to take place. Which, if it did, would be quite embarrassing to everyone involved.

In order to avoid that natural reaction, one therefore attempts to distract one's mind from physical sensations by deliberately thinking about things that are horrifying and repulsive, for example, "Rotting, dismembered corpses!" or "Drowning in a pit of raw sewage!" or "Ann Coulter!" Those thoughts turned out to be quite successful, and in the end I was left clean and without serious embarrassment (and admiring my own self-control a little bit). Of course, that was probably only because it wasn't Beautiful Nurse B-- who was doing the washing. If it had been, the effort would likely have been futile. I doubt even "Ann Coulter!" could have saved me then.

Anyway, for me it was kind of a positive sign that in the ICU the morning after I had a major stroke, I could still try to flirt a little with a woman half my age (although it was a little hard on her, and I'm sorry). It was proof that I wasn't that far gone. On the other hand, I think I must have actually been pretty far gone after all. Because my speech therapist2 said we met while I was in the hospital, but I didn't really remember her when we started outpatient therapy. Which is weird, because she's really great, and I would have expected to remember her quite well.

She's super positive and helpful, and gives me lots of useful mental exercises and stuff to do. Plus, she seems very insightful. I really feel like she gets me, which a lot of people don't. She does a great job of keeping the mood light (and even kind of laughs at me sometimes), which is exactly what I need, because I can be such a gloomy fuck sometimes. I deeply admire competence in a woman; I love a woman who's good at her job, and she sure is. Not only that, she's insanely cute too; absolutely adorable, with the most amazing infectious smile (complete with dimples) and beautiful brown eyes. And -- Oops! I better stop there, 'cause there's actually a pretty good chance that she's going to read this sometime, and I guess I've already embarrassed myself enough for one post. Sorry.

1Technically, I'm not elderly yet, but since I'm about 25 years older than Beautiful Nurse B-- is (and she's beautiful, of course), she'd be entitled.
2It's called "speech" therapy, but it's not actually that much to do with speaking per se, since I don't have any big problems in that area. It's actually more like cognition therapy, because it's all about getting my mind working right again.

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Image credit: redav / 123RF Stock Photo

Sunday, April 14, 2013

In which I have a stroke (Part 2: I am hospitalized)

After my wife called 911 and we went through the stroke questions over the phone, the paramedics came and examined me. They asked me the same questions again. The answers were still bad. They seemed to spend a long time on asking what happened and stuff like that. My nine-year-old daughter was able to fill them in pretty well. I thought I was doing OK with the narrative, but they seemed to prefer her version. They referred to her a couple of times as "our best historian." I was kind of proud of her, but kind of annoyed at the paramedics at the same time, because I thought I was doing fine telling the story.

Then it was finally time to get me into the ambulance. I worried for a second if they would have trouble getting me down our front steps (at 270 pounds/122 kilos; I've lost 25 pounds/11 kg since then, although I can't really recommend stroke as a weight-loss method), but it was no problem. I tried to raise my head to look at my wife and daughter before I left, but I couldn't. I thought for a second something else was wrong, but I'd seen enough football players on TV get carted off the field with head injuries to know that they always strap your head down when there's any kind of head or neck problem, and I could feel a strap across my forehead, so I quickly figured out what was going on.

I have no memory at all of the ambulance ride itself. I don't know if I was unconscious, or maybe I even fell asleep. It was pretty late. We got to the hospital, and I remember going inside and all because it was kind of a bumpy ride. After a few minutes in the Emergency Room, somebody took me to the scanning room to get a CT scan of my head. The technician there introduced herself by saying, "Hello, my name is Destiny." I thought that was a little weird. I knew there are people named Destiny, but I'd never had anyone say, "My name is Destiny" to me before. So, of course, I thought (but didn't say, because I wasn't that into her), "I suppose this scan must have been inevitable, then."

Well the CT scan found my right internal carotid artery was blocked. A neurosurgeon inserted a catheter through my thigh and pulled a blood clot out of the artery. Then he gave me a clot-busting drug. When he was done, I could move my arm again. I was left, though, with possible damage to the right basal ganglia, right temporal lobe, and right frontal lobe.

So, I was hospitalized, for the first time since my birth.



Photo credit
.



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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sunday, April 07, 2013

In which I have a stroke and thus come closer to dying than I ever have... (Part 1)

Not my head
Update: title change.

I had a stroke in late January, only a few days before my 51st birthday. I'm kind of young for a stroke, but I couldn't just have a heart attack like everyone else, no I had to go and be different again. FML.

It all started in the early afternoon. I was jumping rope, when I felt this weird, painful popping sensation high in my neck on the right side. At first, I actually thought it was my ear popping, but the pain wasn't in my ear (though it was pretty close). Then I thought maybe it's some kind of TMJ pain, because I have some serious TMJ clicking on both sides anyway. But I figured out that the popping had nothing to do with my jaw.

That was followed by the worst headache I've ever felt. I had no idea what was going on, but I decided to persevere and finish my workout (only had a couple of minutes left anyway). And I did, still noticing no symptoms except the headache. So I ate something, swallowed a bunch of ibuprofen, and laid down for a nap. Those three things -- food, ibuprofen, and sleep -- had always cured any headache I've ever gotten, so I was pretty sure the combination would work on my super-headache.

Well, this time they didn't. I got up about four hours later, took some more ibuprofen, and decided I'd try going in the hot tub for awhile and seeing if that would relax me and get rid of the headache. That didn't work either. Through that point, I still hadn't noticed any symptoms except for the really bad headache. I'd been able to finish jumping rope, which requires considerable bilateral coordination, I'd walked around the house just fine, I'd changed into my bathing suit, had no trouble getting the big, heavy cover off the hot tub, got in and out just fine, put the cover back on, and got dressed again. Still no problems except the headache.

Then the weirdness started. I was in my kitchen getting ready to do the dishes, when I felt an arm bumping my back. "Whose arm is that?" and "Who's pushing me?" was what I thought. It seemed to me that the kitchen was suddenly very crowded, even though in reality my nine-year-old daughter and I were the only ones in the room. And the arm that was bumping me was actually my own.

My torso felt an arm bump it, but my arm didn't feel a torso. I didn't know where my own left arm was. I didn't realize it yet, but I had no feeling and no proprioception in my left arm. But I still needed to wash the dishes, so I kept at it. Since I was wearing long sleeves, my first task was to push my sleeves up to my elbows. I pushed up my left sleeve with no problem. Then it was time to push up the right. For that, of course, I needed my left hand. I could still bend my arm at the elbow, so after a couple of tries, I managed to get my left hand onto my right wrist. But I could only do it by looking. I couldn't tell where my left hand was unless I looked at it.

That was my first realization that something was wrong. I thought, "My proprioception is out of whack!" Then I watched in growing confusion and fear as I moved my hand to my wrist, and, unable to grasp the sleeve and push it up, watched my hand slip off again. I don't know how many times I did that, but it seemed like dozens. It's hard to describe what it's like when part of your body suddenly completely stops functioning. Even after I lost hope that my hand would work, I just kept trying to do the same thing over and over again. I was scared. I didn't know what it was, but I knew something was very wrong.

Then I collapsed. I still don't really know why. I felt a little dizzy. Did I lose consciousness? I don't think so, actually. Because I didn't topple over, I sank straight down with a big "Thump!" I heard the sounds very clearly: "THUMP!" I hit the floor. "Thump-rrrrrrroooolllll!" I knocked over a two-liter bottle of soda that we were keeping on the floor by the fridge, and it rolled across the floor. I think probably my left leg went numb and stopped being able to hold me up, but I don't know.

After that, I just stayed on the floor while my wife called 911. I don't think I even tried to get up. The operator started giving her questions to ask me. At that point, I realized that they were asking me stroke questions and that most of the answers were bad. That's when I knew I was having a stroke.

It actually was kind of like this (although less ridiculous, since I didn't shout, shouting not really being in my nature):



It's been two over months, but that's actually still pretty uncomfortable to watch. Kind of gives me flashbacks.

I'll talk about what happened in the hospital in Part 2 (and beyond). And I'll address my current condition later as well. I'm pretty OK, actually, pretty much intact. People keep telling me how lucky I am. Whenever they do, all I can think is "Lucky people don't have strokes." But among people who did have a stroke, I'm one of the luckier ones.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, Western-type Christians and anyone else who enjoys Easter!

Happy first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon that falls on or after March 21, everyone else!

Here's some Christian music (no video, just audio, and the sound is very faint at first).



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Friday, March 29, 2013

First I look at the tubercle of the upper lip

Two Scottish researchers have published research that found that "vaginal orgasm is more prevalent among women with a prominent tubercle of the upper lip." the results of thir study were:

A prominent and sharply raised lip tubercle was associated with greater odds (odds ratio = 12.3) of ever having a vaginal orgasm, and also with greater past month vaginal orgasm consistency (an effect driven by the women who never had a vaginal orgasm), than less prominent lip tubercle categories. Lip tubercle was not associated with social desirability responding, or with orgasm triggered by masturbation during PVI, solitary or partner clitoral or vaginal masturbation, vibrator, or cunnilingus.

Of course, there are some problems with the study. First, the number of subjects was small (n=258) and rather limited ethnically ("predominantly Scottish"). Second, tubercle size was self-reported rather than measured objectively. Finally, of course, the significance of the difference (if any) between "vaginal orgasms" and "clitoral orgasms" is not scientifically well established.

Anyway, as eager as I always am to contribute to scientific knowledge, I suppose I'll just have to take the researchers' word on the validity of their findings. Unfortunately, I'm in no position to carry out any further research of my own in the field. (Except my ongoing research where n=1, which unfortunately is not scientifically valid. Oh well.)

On a more personal note, maybe because I've got really big lips for a white guy, I've always paid a lot of attention to women's lips, and, strangely enough, I've always found a well-defined philtrum (yes, there is a word for those two lines under people's noses) and a prominent upper-lip tubercle to be very attractive in a woman. Give me a Cupid's bow every time. I guess I just have good instincts when it comes to women.

And, like I said, I've always paid a lot of attention to women's lips, but lately I find I'm really paying attention. With apologies to the J. Geils Band, I also often find myself singing this song:

Some fellas look at the eyes
Some fellas look at the nose
Some fellas look at the size
Some fellas look at the clothes

I don't care if her eyes are red
I don't care if her nose is long
I don't care if she's underfed
I don't care if her clothes are worn
First I look at the tubercle of the upper lip!

Some fellas like the smiles they wear
Some fellas like the legs that's all
Some fellas like the styles of their hair
Want their waist to be small.

I don't care if their legs are big
I don't care if their teeth are big
I don't care if their hair's a wig
Why waste time lookin' at the waistline?
First I look at the tubercle of the upper lip!

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy New Year, fellow Tolkiendili!

For...
...in Gondor the New Year will always now begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell....

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Best of kuri 2012

I didn't blog much last year, but when I did, I:

Analyzed how the LDS (Mormon) church creates "porn addicts",

Boxed up the remnants of my failed academic career,

Warned not to be overconfident on marriage equality, because of the To Kill a Mockingbird effect,

Explained the origin of the Trinity,

Discussed a (not so) great work of art, Vampire Jesus Strikes Again!,

Had an attractive woman stick her finger up my butt,

Retitled Paula Broadwell's book about General David Petraeus, and

Realized that the LDS (Mormon) church thinks drinking coffee is worse than torturing people.

How was your year?

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Repost: It's the Tour de France, not the Tour de Happy Pretty Candyland

I've been sure for a long time that Lance Armstrong was a doper. Here's an "I told you so" repost from over two years ago (August 2010).

The one thing I'd want to clarify now is that my admiration for Armstrong extends only to his athletic accomplishments. His vehement and ruthless responses to his critics and accusers over the years were appalling. [Update: Here's a story about some of the people he ruined to cover his lies.]


Here's what I believe about doping in sports:

The most important thing to remember about doping is that it works. It works like hell. It can make mediocre athletes good, good athletes elite, and elite athletes great. It's almost impossible to win without doping in a sport where there is widespread doping. In fact, if the doping is widespread enough, it's almost impossible even to compete at a high level without doping.

Here's what I believe about cycling and the Tour de France:

In terms of doping, cycling is just about the dirtiest sport in the world, and the Tour de France, a grueling, superhuman test of endurance, is the dirtiest event. It has a culture of doping that dates back more than a century. It's rife with banned athletes and trainers. Entire teams have been banned en masse for doping. Winners of the most prestigious events have been caught and banned. Former competitors confess and accuse left and right.

Here's what I believe about Lance Armstrong:

Armstrong has been accused of doping by journalists and by former competitors, teammates, and employees. Some of his teammates have been caught doping. Retrospective testing of his urine samples was positive for EPO (but the results were correctly thrown out for violating numerous protocols). For years, he employed a doctor strongly associated with doping as part of his training team.

I believe that all of the above makes it far more likely than not that Lance Armstrong doped while he was dominating the Tour de France. It is almost impossible for a non-doper to not only win but dominate for seven years against a field loaded with dopers. Even if we were talking about someone who had remained squeaky clean with never a shadow of doubt touching him, it would scarcely be credible. But that's not who we're talking about. We're talking about a man who's had dirt swirl all around him but never quite stick. The most reasonable conclusion -- not the only possible conclusion, but the most reasonable one -- is obvious.

But you know what? I don't care. I admire what Armstrong did, not what I want him to have done. He came back after almost dying from cancer and dominated arguably the toughest sporting event in the world. He did it for seven straight years. And he did it coming from a country with little cycling tradition. It was like a Japanese guy becoming the NFL's greatest running back or something.

So I don't care if he did dope. He beat a bunch of dopers. If he doped too, all he was doing was leveling the playing field. He didn't win because he doped, he won because he was the best.

Apparently, though, I am a "cynic" because I believe those things. In other words, I'm a "cynic" because I believe that that Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France, the dirtiest event in the dirtiest sport in the world, and not the Tour de Happy Pretty Candyland, which seems to be the event some people wish he had won.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013