Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of 2011 List

Best of 2011

The items below were not necessarily new in 2011 but were what I discovered this year and came to mind first when doing this list.

Best Movie (theatre) – Deathly Hallows Part II. I thought the movie was well-done and was glad the Harry Potter series came to an end. I was tired of it but also enjoyed the sense of completion.

Best Movie (DVD) – Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere series.

Best Book – Keith Richards autobiography. He really laid it all out there without making himself come across like some elite guy better than the rest of us. Interesting story of human failure and success on personal and work levels.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Self-Mutilation is Evil

Bruce Charlton posted this over on his blog. The title is Deliberate self-mutilation is an evil. At first the message seemed self-righteous and I was prepared to dismiss it, but, the more I thought about how I really felt, the more I agreed.

All forms of tatoo, piercing, plastic surgery, etc have always seemed inherently wrong to me. I could not articulate the reason and never really had a reason to think deeply about it until now. Here is part of Charlton's article.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Modern Christmas Story

This video caught me off guard and completely disarmed me. So, I was suspicious and did a little research and from what information is available apparently it is for real and not done by actors.

The guy is Timothy Tiah Ewe Tiam, the co-founder of an ad-blogging site called Nuffnang. His Malaysian girlfriend who is a blogger and now his fiancee is Audrey Ooi Feng Ling. A nice vid to watch around the holiday season which is also a wonderful time to propose - I know because I did many, many years ago on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Everything You Think You Know, Just Ain't So

It seems I cannot get enough of playing devil's advocate with myself. Here is one more article from the Al Fin blog that challenges us to look at our beliefs about reality. While living in a System One (fast, intuitive mind) world probably will save my life in the short-term, spending more time in my System Two (slow, logical mind) world will benefit me and humanity the most when looking at the long-term results.

Our System One mind is too unreliable for making good decisions about complex subjects and is correct about those areas of study only by chance and luck. The information about how people believe they understand what someone else thinks better than that person (asymmetric insight) borders on amazing for me. Only recently had I started to become aware of this characteristic and having terminology to describe this behavior is helpful.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Contrary Brin: Gingrich, Asimov, and the "Flash" Computer-Trading...

Check out the new post by David Brin over on his blog. It starts out being about Newt Gingrich but ends up in very interesting territory. He goes into the pros and cons of a trading transaction tax currently being proposed in the EU. I think his argument in favor of the tax is compelling and think it would help on balancing the budget and making trading fairer for the individual investor.

Contrary Brin: Gingrich, Asimov, and the "Flash" Computer-Trading...: Both Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Nobel prize winning Keynsian economist Paul Krugman have a trait in common.  They grew up fervent science fiction fans, especially transfixed by the future-historical speculations of Isaac Asimov.  Gingrich wrote about this influence that helped to shape his life.

“While Toynbee was impressing me with the history of civilizations, Isaac Asimov was shaping my view of the future in equally profound ways….For a high school student who loved history, Asimov’s most exhilarating invention was the ‘psychohistorian’ Hari Seldon.  The term does not refer to Freudian analysis but to a kind of probabilistic forecasting of the future of whole civilizations.  The premise was that, while you cannot predict individual behavior, you can develop a pretty accurate sense of mass behavior.  Pollsters and advertisers now make a good living off the same theory.”

See the rest of this post here >>>

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Happened to the Tea Party

Good video on The Tea Party that includes a Q&A with one of the original Tea Party founders that talks about how the movement was co-opted by moneyed interests.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Post 911 Blunders

The majority of Americans understood this to some extent before the Iraq invasion and it was understood by W's daddy. Why couldn't Rummy and Cheney get it? I have heard the argument we had to send a statement to Al Queda and their supporter - the Saudi's and Iran, but that we couldn't tackle them so Iraq was the bow shot.

A Decade Later
Guest Editor
Haviland Smith
We are now getting close to the 10th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks of 9/11. Although a decade is an insufficient period for most historians to comfortably draw firm conclusions about anything, it is possible to look at our world today and see how it appears to have been affected by that disastrous event and the ensuing decade.

It is critical to remember that terrorism is not designed to overwhelm. It is designed to undermine. In that context, whatever it does to cause or initiate anxiety in targeted populations and governments, it relies on the reaction of those populations and governments equally as much to achieve its final goals. And America has reacted in ways that have haunted us and will continue to haunt us for decades. Al-Qaida could not have wished for more.

Domestically, we have seen major changes in our lives. Think of our color-coded terrorist warning system, our current airport controls, our paranoia over anyone who “looks like a Muslim” (whatever that is), or “acts differently.” What is that paper bag doing in the subway? Airport? Train station? Movie?

In the aftermath of 9/11, Americans were clearly prepared to and ultimately did surrender their civil liberties and individual rights in the hope that doing so would add to their own physical security. We forgot Benjamin Franklin’s injunction that “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The Patriot Act, where it was designed ostensibly to increase our security here at home, did many other things that have negatively affected the way we lead our lives. It increased the government’s ability to spy on us, to monitor our activities in a very broad and general way. It introduced warrantless wiretapping and the monitoring of fund transfers and Internet communications. It also initiated the national security letter process that required any person or organization to turn over records and data pertaining to individuals without warrant, and all this without probable cause or judicial oversight.

The other major domestic impact of the decade has been financial. During that period, we have gone from what was verging on a national surplus to a deficit that is now approaching $15 trillion and increasing at the rate of $3.95 billion every day. We got there through a combination of factors, including tax cuts, the “War on Terror,” and unfunded military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and now Libya. Brown University’s comprehensive June 2011 “Costs of War” project, factoring in all the costs associated with the decade, arrives at close to $4 trillion. Tax cuts add $2.8 trillion. There seems virtually no doubt that in the absence of our reaction to 9/11, we would be fiscally relatively healthy.

In addition to the foregoing difficult domestic situation, which we largely created for ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11, the changes we have seen in our foreign policy will haunt us for years to come. In that arena, our move to military-based, unilateral policy was a radical change. Yet our invasion and defeat of Iraq and the ascendance to power of the Iranian-allied Iraqi Shiites will likely prove to be our most egregious blunder.

It’s not that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was in any sense enlightened; it is very simply that Saddam’s Iraq was the only effective impediment to Iranian control over the Persian Gulf. From 1980-88, Iran and Iraq fought a war for supremacy in the gulf. In the absence of a clear resolution of that conflict, the fact that Iraq survived served as a critical deterrent to Iranian dreams for hegemony there.

Our invasion and defeat of Saddam’s Iraq was something the Iranians could never have accomplished on their own. With Shiites now assuming power under our new order in Iraq and Iran threatening the old Sunni positions in the Gulf States, Iran has come even closer. We have destroyed the last real impediment to Iranian dreams for the gulf.

We have had our chances to deal with 9/11 in ways that would have better favored our own national interests. Instead, we panicked, invoked questionable practices at home and became involved in military adventures abroad that will almost certainly ultimately be viewed as disasters.

Without the active, witless involvement and acquiescence of our government and Congress over the past decade, al-Qaida terrorism would have caused us far less pain than it ultimately has and we would be a great deal safer, richer, wiser and internationally more powerful and respected than is now the case.


Haviland Smith,
for The Daily Reckoning

Ed. Note: Haviland Smith is a retired CIA station chief who served in Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East and as chief of the counterterrorism staff. He lives in Williston.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Place your bets! What is Bernanke going to do?

You can see what Aaron Task and Henry Blodget think here......

Congress and the President will show their spinelessness because as Task and Blodget say, a majority of Americans do not want to give up anything whether it is defense spending, Medicare, Social Security or any of the expensive budget busters dragging the US down. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oil Prices Manipulated by Financial Markets

I thought this short video conversation from Tech Ticker was interesting in explaining oil prices....

This is also fits with many analysts views that we have plenty of oil and that the price is independent of supply of demand much of the time.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Homeland Security Uses Taxpayer Resources Unwisely

So, this is how our taxpayer dollars going to Homeland Security are used.

This was a good site for finding links to, and watching sports events that are freely available on network TV. How were they a terrorist threat that Homeland Security had to get involved with this?

Another stupid waste of government resources.

Other links to this news - click here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why We Get Fat

I took this off the website.  It is a post by Grant Peterson and he might take it down.  Since many of Sojkas Call readers are in the 50+ range it seemed a good post for the new year.  I subscribe to the basic tenets of the Primal Diet theory and have seen positive effects on myself when using it diligently. Grant's post goes beyond just PD so please give this a read and let me know what you think either pro or con and whether you are just going to intellectualize it or actually do something.

Good luck to all Sojkas Call readers in 2011 in whatever endeavor they pursue.


H. Pneu Year

January 1, 2011

Today and only today, not any other day of the year, unless this remains up tomorrow and beyond, and then later in the blogarchives, I speak to you as Grant Petersen, AA, 1975, Diablo Valley (Junior) College in the all-encompasing field of "General Studies." It was quite an undertaking, but I wanted a broad education in a short time span. No test-tubes and petrie dishes for me. That's to establish my credentials for today only, not later on when I put on my "skinny tubes and good clearances and high handlebars" hat.
One of the biggest, pervasive, and most harmful lies is that weight gain or loss is simple a matter of calories-in versus calories-out. In a non-exerciser's world, it's the notion that you can deprive yourself skinny. In a cycler's world, the notion that you can ride yourself skinny. You can't believe skinny people when they say they rode themselves that way. They're not the experts in they own bodies. It's like asking the local 101-year old the secret of long life, or worse.
Everybody knows a pound of fat has 3,500 calories, and that exercise burns calories. If you don't know that, you haven't been paying attention.
Everybody knows that pro road racers and top marathoners burn calories like there's no tomorrow and are lean. Doctors and exercise experts all over the world tell you weight loss is just a matter of burning more calories than you eat. It is mathematically irrefutable, scientifically incontrovertible, verbally unassailable, indubitably indisputable, athletically a slam dunk, but is also and unfortunately a lie of Paul Bunyan proportions.
It's tough to burn 3,500 calories on a bike ride or bike rides (or a hike, or anything else) without compensating by eating most or all of those calories back on.  Hard riding burns maybe 700 calories an hour.  You want to ride off a pound of fat? Go ride your bike hard for 5 hours. If you eat two Power Bars, or a Power Bar and a Clif Bar during the ride, better make it 5:45. If one of the hours wasn't hard, cover yourself by making it six and a half hours, just to be sure. Don't drink a pint of Gatorade, or you'll have to add another 20 minutes onto it.
That's how it works in the mathematically correct,Calories-in/Calories-out world.
The idea of compensatory eating isn't new. Your granny called it "working up an appetite." That's an expression we've all heard, can all relate to, but when it comes to fitness articles and promoting running or cycling as a way to get lean, it gets ignored. It's no less real for being ignored, but isn't it funny how they never tell you the obvious---that you're going to be hungry as a goat after those long hard rides, and so those rides can't, actually, be effective in weight loss.
It's not about not doing those rides. They can be satisfying,  even a blast. It's about not doing them for the purpose of weight loss. Don't look at skinny guys who do them and figure they weren't that way to begin with. Lots of skinny people do endurance stuff, because being skinny makes it easier, so they get there by gravity.
Any exercise increases your appetite and makes you eat back on the calories you burned. It's likely that skinny marathoners and BORAF riders would be skinny even if they didn't ride so much. Sure, Eddy Merckx got fat after he retired, but for every athlete who gets fat after retiring, there are two dozen athletes who are fat, or at least not as lean as they'd like to be, despite years of obsessive and often hellish exercising. It's because they're eating incorrectly and eating too much.
Have you ever been sick in bed for several days and lost weight? The effect is more dramatic if you're strong going into it. Even if you don't throw up and get diarrhea, you tend to lose weight because you're eating less, and you're eating less because you're exercising less. Meanwhile, your muscled body is still burning more calories than a body bereft of tone would, so there's a net loss.
When you recover, your exercise resumes, your appetite recovers, and you gain back the weight. I bet one in five of you reading this now can relate to that.
I'm not making a case for lying around in bed. That's no way to live.
Today is the day when many of you may be here resolve that you will exercise more and eat less, as part of a weight loss plan. It will work on paper, or on your computer spreadsheet, if you resolve to ride 200 miles a week and eat 1000 fewer calories per day, or 250. Counting calories is too hard and no way to live, either. It's tedious, depressing, and not sustainable. It gives you false hope.
I can't hear or say or read the word "hope" without this 1961 Bob Dylan poem lyric coming to mind:
But hope's just a word that maybe you said and maybe you heard/On some windy corner, 'round a wide-angle curve.
It is false hope. You may have tried it last year, or five years ago. It never works, but hope is a powerful force, because in its absence people tend to blow their brains out, or at least throw in the towel.
There's a new book out, published December 28. It's by Gary Taubes, science writer, and it's written for all the people who didn't read his monster-long Good Calories, Bad Calories
It's a short version of that book, with fewer scientific references and footnotes, and about 1/4 as many words. It is a book that will make any authority who's gone public or built their empire with the Calories-In versus Calories-Out chant peeeeeee in their pantaloons and wish for a Do-Over.
Maybe we'll carry the book. I have three copies of it. I've read Good Calories, Bad Calories, and I didn't find it hard to get though, but I'm kind of into this stuff. The new book, and of course I'll tell you what it is in a few moments, is like reading Dear Abby, or your favorite column in the Sunday paper, or the Sports Section, or whatever. Gary Taubes is a terrific writer, and his plan is to Not Lose You Along the Way.
We will stock the book. It's a companion to The Primal Blueprint. Don't think you don't need it, just because you've read TPB, though. Everybody wants to not get fat or to lose the fat they already got, or a good chunk of it, anyway. It's harder as you get older, as you've noticed. If you're 50 you may have given up, but here it is the start of a new year again, and out of habit you say you'll give it another shot---exercising more and eating less. It's perfect on paper and mathematically, but it won't work, and the you'll beat yourself up for not having will power. It's not about that, either. Will power is a circular, explanatory fiction.
The book is Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It, and if you are concerned with your weight, frustrated by past failed attempts to lose it, and barely willing to give it one more shot, get the book. The book is great. It spills the beans right on -- I think it's page 10 of the introduction. He doesn't mess around, and there are no menus with nutritional breakdowns or any of that.
The best way to get it is to go to It's a great photo blog. The owner is some kind of a friend, and makes money on the ads and the links. Don't look at the Joyful Nudes link  on the lower left. Focus, focus, focus on the Amazon link at the top right. if you link to Amazon from that, he'll get a small percent, and it won't cost you any more, and that'll be my way of feeling good about this. In two weeks we'll have the book, but don't delay.
It's a dreary day here, all cold and rainy, and I'm going out now. 
Monday we'll all be back to normal. I may delete this post, I'm not sure. I'm about 1/3 the way through Why We Git Fat, and it's good. He's a good writer.
A customer just this minute posted this to me:
I don't know if that works. If not, go to eBay and seartch for item
I think it's kind of dirty pool, but on the other hand, it would be dirtier pool if it were a wild and rare exception to the rule, but it seems to be the rule. We don't know how it happened, but failures should be dents, buckles, and slow fatigue failures, and this isn't any of those.