28 Feb 2010
Man and person
There is this commercial running almost non-stop during the Olympics entitled “The World’s Greatest Spokesperson… in the world.” It’s supposed to be funny, but all I hear is that one word: spokesperson.
The great columnist, Joseph Sobran, noted how egalitarian usages like “person” instead of “man” destroy the simple vigor and beauty of the language. A master of the English language like Sobran would find plenty of bad grammar on this site (the problem is that I don’t know where), but I don’t willingly abuse the language. “Spokesperson” is a grating and willful abuse of good taste.
But it’s more than that. It’s even more than protecting smelly little orthodoxies. At heart, usages like “he and she” instead of “he” are a denial of the Scriptural truths of creation and and godly submission. These Biblical truths are an offense to rebellious hearts, and thus we get nauseous words like “spokesperson.”
13 Feb 2010
Conservatives complain heartily about Barack Obama. “Bush wasn’t the best, but this guy is spending us into oblivion.” Obama believes, or so he says, that he has no other choice.
It’s necessary to see the larger picture before putting Obama on a special pedestal of infamy on the specific topic of government spending. I believe that we’re seeing a historical crescendo. Since 1971 the dollar has been unhinged completely from gold, and this, along with other factors such as the dollar’s currency reserve status, has led to an explosion of spending and debt. Politicians became addicted to cheap money and huge deficit spending (even the “balanced budgets” of the 90s were frauds because they were raiding the misnamed “Social Security Trust Fund” the whole time, and thus massively growing unfunded liabilities). As the heroin addict needs ever greater hits to get the same high, a debt-laden economy requires ever greater infusions of government spending to postpone collapse. The federal debt has more than doubled since 2000, and the debt ceiling has been raised with increasing regularity. The scope of government bailouts continues to widen. Problems are hitting the shore in waves, with the largest wave hitting in late 2008. Ensuing waves have been increasing the destruction, and the government response (propping up large and insolvent banks, guaranteeing nearly all mortgages, and so on) is ensuring that larger waves are in store. In short, the crescendo is building.
Eventually, just as a junkie will crash, so will the economy. The government will be forced to stop spending and make life-altering changes when it can’t find enough borrowers, or if it sees prospect of monetary collapse, or some other crisis. Perhaps it will lose control and we’ll see a hyperinflation. You will definitely be seeing broken promises. They were never sustainable promises.
If the crash doesn’t happen in the next few years, expect the next president, regardless of party, to be a larger spender than Obama. Both parties share a devotion to Keynesian economics and both parties realize that, politically, they don’t have any other choice but to keep spending. Economically, they do. Morally, they do. Politically, they don’t.
Politics always wins out with political parties. They are not going to do the right thing and let the economy (that is, all of us) freely restructure through a lot of pain. The voters won’t stand for it, and politicians know it.
06 Feb 2010
Some thoughts on diet
I am in the best shape of my life.
I don’t diet. I don’t count calories. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m full, I usually stop. If my scale is to be believed, I currently have 11% body fat.
I’ve written before about exercise. What follows are my theories on eating, based on reading and personal experience, in hopes that it will help someone, somewhere. I don’t claim to be an authority on nutrition. A lot of people do. There are doctors recommending low-fat diets, internet experts recommending high-fat diets, low carb and high carb camps, vegans and primals. Organic devotees. On it goes.
My philosophy: eat a balanced diet of mostly whole foods. Few people get fat eating steak, chicken, apples, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat, carrots, peas, and so on. They get fat eating chips, frozen pizza, Pillsbury biscuits, juice drinks, Frosted Flakes, Hamburger Helper, french fries, soda, white bread, and lots of condiments. When they get the urge to “eat healthy,” they’ll buy a processed food with Omega 3 or vitamin additives instead of eating whole (i.e. real) food.
The problem with these highly processed foods is that they are expertly engineered to taste good by adding lots of sugar, sodium, and 15 other mysterious and unpronounceable ingredients. My wife theorizes that people eat more bad food than they need to because their bodies are grasping for nutrients (we learn more every year about the good things in the fruits and vegetables God has made for us). My wife may be right. After a baked potato and two eggs, I’m satisfied. After a few Double Stuff Oreos, which is about the same number of calories, I’m just getting started. I eat cookies by the row. I used to eat chips by the bag, and mac and cheese by the box. Does anyone actually eat the serving size listed on a package of processed food? You’re better than me if you do.
Some people are addicted to caffeine. I still need to conquer a love of sugary junk food. By “conquer,” I don’t mean “avoid completely,” but instead to desire it with self-control instead of as an enslaved addict seeking a fix. Gluttony is still a sin.
The key with eating is simply to see diet as a noun, not a verb. Dieting ends, usually with a return to bad eating habits, but a good diet is for a lifetime. When I started eating whole foods, I honestly didn’t know if I liked enough of them. I created a list of foods that I do like and split the list into categories like carbs, meats/proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables. I’m trying new things and adding the stuff I like to the list. Slowly, I’m finding that I don’t desire processed stuff as much. I don’t really miss most of it. I just ate it because it was easy and because I’d always eaten it.
Here’s the kicker to this “exercise and eat mostly whole foods” lifestyle: I can eat my fill without my clothes getting tighter. I am not forever hungry as I was on Weight Watchers. No more Lean Cuisine or counting out how many pretzels I eat. If I like a certain condiment, I use a bit of it without fretting that it’s adding a point or two. Sometimes I find a replacement food that I like just as much (e.g. a spritzer or apple cider vinegar instead of salad dressing). If I want some pizza on occasion, I have some pizza. When you eat mostly whole foods, you can “cheat” occasionally. My concern is more with eating too little rather than too much.
(One last thing: I’m not a big believer in the organic movement. Take some of the tired myths about conventional farming with a grain of salt. While Michael Pollan has useful insights — his larger theories on whole foods have influenced me — farmers and nutritionists often contradict his details. Farming industry reps may be biased, but the people who push organic foods, free range chickens, veganism, and all that rot have their own agenda. Also, your whole foods don’t need to come from the expensive, good-on-health-care, bad-on-Planned-Parenthood grocery chain that goes by that name and actually sells its share of highly processed stuff.)
02 Feb 2010
The age-old urge to “do something”
Recently I heard an author on a talk show. The author correctly explained in great detail why the economy was in its current situation. He even implicated the Fed. Then the host asked what to do. The author proceeded to explain that the government needs to spend a trillion dollars (!) rebuilding our infrastructure, with massive “investments” in stuff like solar energy.
Yes, solar energy.
The author commits the same error as politicians: he thinks he knows how everyone else’s money should be spent. Since the wealthy pay an indiscriminate share of taxes (the top 10% of earners pay over 70% of the taxes), he’s replacing the wisdom and knowledge of all the entrepreneurs and businessmen out there. He thinks he has the knowledge and intricacy to spend the confiscated assets of tens of millions of people more wisely than those people would’ve done it.
Think about how arrogant that is. It’s what politicians and bureaucrats do every day.
Politicians have the advantage of trafficking in what is seen. People see $50 million spent on some boondoggle and the jobs it produces despite massive inefficiencies. They don’t see what businesses and products and employment will never come into play because that $50 million has been spent.
The ruling party comes up with a spending plan, they blow hundreds of billions of dollars, and then six months later the opposition says “ha, it didn’t work!” … as if politicians ever spend money on anything that does. The opposition party’s stimulus plan wouldn’t have worked either.
A better idea is to stop all “recovery” and “stimulus” plans, but that’s seen as inaction. Egged on by the voters who want them to “fix” problems and end the suffering, the politicians will never let it be. They have to “do something.” They’re like alchemists in a lab, squandering wealth day after day to find that elusive golden formula.