Friday, January 30, 2009

Backup Software

In this age when much of people's lifetime work consists of computer data, you DO NEED some reliable way to back up that data in case of error or catastrophe. It is incredibly painful and frustrating to work for hours or years on some project and have it all vanish in an instant. In the bigger scheme of life, you might actually benefit from a hard disk crash every once in a while if it forces you to rethink your life (just like a forest fire clearing out the dead wood), but it's still something you want to avoid if you can.

Precisely because data backup is so important, you can't rely on backup software to do it for you. Depending on some outside process only lulls you into a false sense of security. Backup software also backs up much more data than is really needed and unnecessarily complicates things.

If you truly care about your data, then you need to know where it is at all times. Instead of backup software, you should develop an intelligent backup strategy. Here are a few elements of mine...
  1. Don't worry about backing up applications and systems files. These can be reconstructed from the original software disks that you have stored in ONE place. For backup, you only need to worry about files that contain REAL WORK (e.g. image files, word processing documents, spreadsheets, etc.). These are what you need to keep track of and replicate in multiple places.

  2. Wherever possible, store all of your new documents in a single file folder by month. For example, nearly all of my work this month is stored in a folder named "January" in the subdirectory "2009" on my computer. When I copy this directory to a DVD or an external hard disk, I know I have preserved most of my work for the month.

  3. Buy an external USB hard disk. (They are quite cheap now and will probably have more storage than the disk on your P.C. or laptop.) EVERY TIME you complete a significant amount of work (say, more than 30 minutes worth), copy the data file you have worked on to the external hard disk (using the same monthly filing system as described above).

  4. Whenever you leave your home base, disconnect the external hard disk and hide it from view, so burglars don't walk off with it. (It's not normally something that appeals to burglars—vs. a computer itself—but you don't want to make it obvious.)

  5. Whenever you leave home base with a laptop, assume that it will be stolen or broken, and back up your latest work to the external hard disk.

  6. At the end of every month, back up the contents of the month folder onto a DVD (or whatever your permanent medium may be). Make TWO copies of the same DVD. Store one near the computer where it is handy. Store the other far away, preferably in a different building.

  7. Be suspicious of any application that stores all of its data in a single file or folder than can't be easily backed up on one DVD. It make not be a necessary application to begin with.

  8. Wherever possible, store your data on the web. Servers maintained by big-name corporations are for more reliable than any computer you can own. (When was the last time you heard of a Google or Yahoo server crashing and losing people's data?) A document that exists both on the web and on your computer hard drive can be considered adequately backed up for now. A document that exists ONLY on the web might also be adequate if the work is something you can reproduce if you have to (like an address book).

  9. Don't try to have a perfect backup of everything. Instead strive for "good enough" backup of documents that are most critical to you. Divide your data into things you MUST preserve (like the novel you have been working on for years) and the data you would LIKE to preserve if possible (like your old email). Concentrate your backup energy on the important documents, copying them frequently, and worry less about the optional stuff.

Data backup, like everything else in life, is a balance of risks and costs. You need to be paranoid, but not too paranoid. You should at least be paranoid enough not to trust some outside entity to back things up for you. Know your data, feel it, sense what it wants and how it might go bad. Only then can you feel truly secure.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


In a world of great tragedy and overwhelming need, where millions if not billions of children are inadequately cared for, the most irresponsible and narcissistic thing you can do is bring yet another life into the world.

Now, I am a product of childbirth myself, so I have some sympathy for those who do it. I recognize that children who have already come out of the womb can't be put back in, but if the choice is yours and has not yet been made, the only moral option is to not produce children at all.

It is noble to care for children who are already here but not to create a whole new obligation where none previously existed. It seems the ultimate exercise in vanity, like ordering a luxury full-course meal when all the people around you are starving. It is an insult to the under-served children in your own neighborhood, never mind the millions in needier parts of the world.

Childbirth is also extraordinarily risky, far more so than anything else you can do, like skydiving or driving drunk. The chance that something will go wrong between conception and adulthood is statistically huge. There are genetic defects, birth complications, childhood illnesses, etc. Add it all up and there is a substantial risk that you will be burdened for life with a child who is not fully functional. This is an obligation that would never had existed had you not made the choice to have a child, so it is your responsibility.

You could also raise an Einstein, but the chances of this are statistically low, even if you perceive yourself as being genetically superior. The most likely outcome is that your kid will be, well, ordinary, not disabled but not excelling in any particular way. In other words, you're going to devote a major portion of your own resources—20 years or more—raising one new child, at the expense of all the others already here, and the results will just be one new number added to the already bloated world population.

I don't mean to diminish the role of parents who are now caring for children who are already here (be it by birth, adoption or informal means). Parenting is a noble and necessary duty. But if you created the obligation yourself, there is a certain sense that you are filling in a ditch that you yourself dug. There is no net improvement to the world.

Do you have a "right" to procreate. No! You don't have the right to do anything in this world without considering its real effects and risks. If the human population were dying out or you truly believed that your genes were superior to everyone else's, childbirth could be seen as a service to mankind. Otherwise, it's just a vanity, an invented need. It is something you are doing selfishly because you've hit a wall and have no other direction.

You may think raising "just one little baby" will be no problem at all, but it's going to take almost every discretionary resource you have. There will be very little left to pursue your own goals or for good works elsewhere.


You DO NEED humor to survive. Humor is the human way to process and accept the ironies of life. If you see that you have made a mistake and can laugh at your own foolishness, this is humor. It is also humor to be able to accept the weaknesses of others and to recognize the absurdities of the world around you without giving up hope. Nothing in the world is perfect, and you need humor to grease the wheels so it works anyway.

That doesn't mean you need comedy, however. Comedy is a consumer product (entertainment) designed to entertain a passive audience. Comedy can contain humor, but they are not the same thing. More often comedy is masked aggression. It will cynically do whatever is necessary to get a laugh.

Just because something makes you laugh doesn't mean it is good for you, just like something sweet and sugary isn't necessarily good for your health. There must also be substance behind the comedy for it to be USEFUL.

A sitcom is comedy, but it may contain almost no real humor. A stand-up routine is comedy, but your life is rarely improved by sitting through it. Humor is natural, while comedy is usually forced, because the comedian is desperately trying to make people laugh. Comedy knows that it has to make you laugh or it won't be paid, and this corrupts the humor within it. Humor, on the other hand, happens naturally and arises out of the current situation.

Comedy can be useful when it's truly fresh, new and insightful, but that rarely lasts for long in any commercial venue. Comedy can also be a crutch and an addiction, and people who happen to be funny may come to rely on it rather than fixing problems and taking action. Humor shared with others can help smooth social interactions and release people's tensions when they are trapped, but the best thing to work toward is not being trapped at all. The more comfortable and self-actualized you are, the less need you have for overt comedy.

I draw a distinction between "honest" humor and commercial laugh-driven comedy, which is fundamentally dishonest. Honest humor doesn't necessarily involve open laughter; it is simply a grasp of an absurdity, perhaps only within oneself. Commercial comedy, however, requires an audience and has to produce laughs. Once someone sets out to make you laugh, his honesty has already been compromised, and you probably don't need his product. If, on the other hand, someone sets out to say something meaningful and it turns out to be funny, that is true humor.

Comedians are a sad bunch. Once they set out to be funny, their innocence and honesty is lost. If their goals are realized and someone buys their product, they will be enslaved forever serving the "beast"—the dumb audience that expects to laugh and is paying for it. This applies to big-name comedians as well as your local class clown. Comedy is a prison, and although it may harmless to visit, you don't want to be trapped there.

Humor is certainly part of ones arsenal in any art form, but it can't be an end itself. You don't want to consume a product just because it makes you laugh any more than you would buy cocaine just to feel good. You want to be doing real things and pursuing meaningful goals, and if humor happens along the way, so be it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hot Meals

People often equate a "hot meal" with a nutritious one, but the temperature a food is served at has no bearing on its nutritional value. After it is eaten, it is all going to be processed as mush in the stomach at body temperature.

Some foods DO NEED to be cooked, but cooking is different than the temperature of consumption. Cooking changes the chemical composition of some foods, like meat, vegetables and potatoes, and makes them more easily processed by the digestive system. Cooking also sanitizes the food, reducing the chance of some viral and bacterial infections. Because it has been purged of live bacteria, cooked food tends to keep longer than raw food.

But there is no reason the food has to still be hot at the time you eat it. The preference for hot food (and food we expect to be served cold) is strictly one of culture and habit. Cold chicken is no different than hot chicken as far as the body is concerned. Some foods may seem unpalatable when they are not heated—e.g. fringed with congealed fat—but this may be a sign that the food isn't good for you anyway.

I propose that any food that is really good for you is probably going to taste good whether it is served hot or cold. (The same applies to ice cream or soft drinks: If it isn't palatable at room temperature, why would you eat it cold?)

Frozen food obviously needs to be thawed, because it is difficult to consume otherwise. Heating may also improve the taste of some foods, but taste itself is not something you need for good nutrition. This may be significant when you have access to quality food but no kitchen facilities. As long as the food has been previously cooked, immediate access to a stove or microwave oven may be unnecessary.

Because cooked food keeps longer, you can probably eat yesterday's chicken cold even if it has been left at room temperature. Cooked meat lasts even longer if you dry it—in a food dryer or an oven left on at low temperature—and can be safely consumed weeks or even months after drying. Therefore, even refrigeration can often be unnecessary as long as you consume or process raw foods shortly after purchase. As long as you have a facility to initially cook raw food—be it a microwave, hot plate or campfire—the whole rest of the kitchen may be unnecessary.

To our ancestors, who got their food from local farms and had few options for long-term storage, hot food indicated wholesomeness because it implied both cooking and sanitation. Today, however, we get much of our food from cans, cellophane packages and frozen boxes, where cooking has already taken place and sanitation is reasonably assured. Our ancestors would envy our year-round access to safe food, but we often complicate things when we insist on re-cooking our food to adhere to their ancient standards.

You may have a gag response when you try to eat cold a food that you are used to having hot, but you'll get over it. It's not going to kill you, and it will keep you alive just as well as the hot stuff.


"Taste is Everything!" says an advertisement for a certain soft drink. That's not true. Our sense of taste is merely a tool. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Humans developed a sense of taste to guide their eating behavior, and it is USEFUL today only to the extent that it leads us in a healthy direction.

Just because something tastes good doesn't mean it is good for you. For example, in the environment in which our species evolved, sugar, fat and salt were rare and valuable nutrients, so we developed a preference for them. Today, we are surrounded by sugar, fat and salt—far more than we need—but our tastes haven't changed. If this leads us to obesity or high blood pressure, then we have to accept that taste can be wrong and learn to overrule it when appropriate.

Wherever humans have developed biological attractions—be it for certain tastes, sounds, images or sensations (like sex)—people will be tempted to devote themselves exclusively to these stimuli while neglecting the underlying need. In the case of food, you have connoisseurs who indeed insist that taste is everything. They neglect both the actual nutritional value of the food and the better things they could do with their resources. If you eat a lot of great food in your life, have you really accomplished anything or just wasted time and money?

The most misunderstood thing about taste is that it isn't constant. Your tastes are going to change based on your body's needs and your own satiation. Even the most fantastic tasting chocolate cake is going to turn bland if you are surrounded by the stuff. Taste can't be nailed down, and if you try, you're going find yourself trapped in your old preferences even after your taste has moved on.

If you stumble upon something that tastes good, by all means enjoy it. Have a second helping! It is a mistake, however, to order a truckload of the stuff or significantly alter your future behavior to get more of it. Just enjoy it for the moment: "Wow, that was really great chocolate cake!"

Because taste is so fleeting, you can't expect that the moment will ever be repeated.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Water has no right to take this form, and if it does, you need to get away from it if you can.

Snow is solidified water vapor that is nothing but a pain in the butt. If you have to live in it, it makes life much more difficult. It may not be in your power to escape from it, but don't be deluded into thinking it's pleasant or good for you. There's nothing romantic about snow, although people who are trapped in it insist there is. It's just a hindrance.

Snow wouldn't be so bad if it chose to stay in solid form, but in most places it doesn't. It melts, then freezes, then turns to slush. If it gets in your shoes or clothes, it turns to water again and gets in the way of most outdoor activities. (The ideal fluffy snow of the ski slope is rarely encountered in the city.)

Where there is snow—that is, where the temperature stays well below freezing in the winter—life becomes much more complicated. Construction becomes more expensive; heating costs become higher, and homes have to be heated continuously to prevent pipes from freezing. Snow removal can become a significant burden for both municipalities and homeowners. Then there is the problem of transportation in the snow: It's dangerous and difficult. Apart from shoveling snow and expensive ski trips (a vain and useless entertainment), exercising outdoors is difficult, so snow is ultimately bad for your health.

In the snow, you can't live close to the environment. Instead, you have to be bundled up in many layers against it. People who claim to enjoy snow aren't really experiencing it. They're just looking at it through their picture windows and taking occasional forays into it with high-tech equipment. Snow is for the wealthy and well-heated. A few hours trapped in it without shelter would cure them. In its raw form, snow is a killer and has no practical benefit in its favor.

You could say that snow encourages intellectual activities by forcing people indoors, but any form of prison can do this. That doesn't mean that you should choose prison if you have the option to go elsewhere. If you live without the burden of snow, you just have to use your freedom wisely.

You would think that life in warmer places would be more expensive, since there ought to be a premium for comfort, but that's not necessarily true. Life in warm places is usually cheaper! Not only is living in snow uncomfortable, but people have to pay extra for the privilege!

There may be reasons to live north of the snow line, but they have to be good ones—like making a LOT more money. What really counts, however, is ones quality of life, and in the snow, it sucks, regardless of how much money you have.

Don't let water do this to you! If the opportunity arises to escape, do it!

Also see: The Scourge of Humidity (Homeless by Choice, July 2009).

Thursday, January 22, 2009


In modern society, entertainment can take a dizzying array of forms, from video games to movies to amusement parks to crossword puzzles to skydiving.

You don’t need any of it and would be better off without it.

You DO NEED exploration, play and enlightenment—that is, an opportunity to expand your experience of the world. Many art forms labeled as “entertainment” can occasionally give this to you. For example, you may see a movie that changes your view of the world and gives you a new set of tools for dealing with your own problems. You may hear a song that sticks with you because it has something meaningful to say relevant to your own life. This isn’t entertainment, I contend, but something more akin to education.

Entertainment is a product. It is usually produced by someone trying to make money and consumed by someone with little self-direction who is seeking stimulation. Because there is money to be made, a big marketing machine is usually pushing entertainment as a worthy use of your resources. Few people question what the machine tells them.

Ride our roller coaster! See our show! The marketing machine wants you to believe your life will be changed by consuming their product. Some entertainment, like a magic or acrobatic show, can be amazingly skilled. You may marvel at the “talent” displayed there, but that doesn’t mean your life is expanded by consuming it.

Entertainment is a passive product. You sit there, and the experience is dispensed to you. It is a lot different when you go out and seek an experience—say, by visiting a country you have never been to before. That is exploration, and although it may be “entertaining”, entertainment isn’t really the purpose of the journey. A cruise, on the other hand, is passive entertainment. The experience is prepared for you, and you have only to consume it.

Everyone ought ride a roller coaster, see a magic show, try a crossword puzzle and take a boat ride—once! However, after the experience is processed and understood, further repetitions of the same thing are a drain on your resources that gains you nothing. Entertainment, like caffeine, is an addiction, not a need.

Also see: Comedy

Also see: Kilroy Café #16: Mindless Entertainment Wasting Our Planet

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Automatic Dishwashers

Automatic home dishwashers are a sure sign of too many dishes in the kitchen. In perfect world, a dishwasher might might make life easier, but in the real world it only defers responsibility and makes home life more complicated.

In the simplest kitchen scenario, when you use a dish, you wash it. The automatic dishwasher adds a whole new layer of bureaucracy—and more opportunities for family members to slough off. Someone has to LOAD the dishwasher, then someone has to RUN it, then someone has to UNLOAD it. Household members are no more inclined to perform these tasks than they would actually washing the dishes, but now they are detached from the tasks by minutes or hours. No longer is cleaning the dish directly attached to dirtying it.

And there's always the political problem of knowing whether the dishes in the dishwasher are clean or dirty. Marketers claim to have solved this problem by selling you reversible signs to paste on the dishwasher saying "Clean" and "Dirty"—but of course nobody ever sets them!

I propose that the kitchen with a dishwasher is no more efficient or "labor-saving" than one without, except that now you've added a complicated piece of unnecessary equipment, requiring capital, energy and maintenance.

It is debatable whether a dishwasher wastes more or less water than hand-washing. (It depends on your water efficiency when hand-washing.) Certainly dishwasher soap is more expensive than standard dish soap. Is a dishwasher more hygienic? Probably, because it uses hotter water, but I contend that our lives are too hygienic to begin with. We NEED a few germs to keep our immune system healthy, and they are all around us anyway.

If you want a simple life and the simplest of all possible cleanup procedures, stock as few dishes and pans as possible and ditch the dishwasher. Then simply wash the dishes as you use them.

Parents: If you can't get your kids to wash the dishes, you're probably not going to get them to clean out the dishwasher either!

More corporate propaganda.

Too Many Dishes

Everyone DOES NEED to eat, and dishes and utensils can make the job a lot easier (Imagine trying to eat soup without a bowl!), but why do people need to own more than one set of dishes and utensils per person?

Imagine there are two people using the same kitchen, but there are six bowls in the cupboard. What is going to happen to those six bowls? They're all going to end up in the sink! They won't be washed until the pile gets annoying enough, and then it will probably be the same person washing them every time, since one person's tolerance for filth is usually less than the other's.

Now if you had only ONE bowl, plate, fork and spoon per person, each person's equipment would have to get washed every time. There would be no need for an automatic dishwasher or even much discipline in getting the dishes washed. If a plate is assigned to you and you need one, you are going to wash yours when it is dirty. It could still languish in the sink for a while, but the dishes are never going to pile up.

This is yet another case where plenty is a bad thing. If you have more of anything than you need, that excess is probably going to contribute to some form of waste that gums up the whole works.

Parents, think this through: Each kid gets a plate, cup, bowl and utensils labeled with his name. There are no others in the kitchen. If the plate gets dirty or sits in the sink, you know who done it. There's no need for a dishwashing detail (except perhaps for cooking pots). Each person is responsible for his own. Even when all discipline falls apart (as it often does in most families), you're never going to have more than one set of dishes per person accumulate in the sink.

It's brilliant!

Also see: Automatic Dishwashers]

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Bed

In Western consumer culture, one is supposed to sleep on a "bed", which consists of a raised frame, box spring, headboard, mattress, mattress cover, bed skirt, top and bottom sheets, pillows, pillow covers, pillowcases, blankets and a bedspread (or a comforter)—all of them stylish and color-coordinated. The bed has to be "made" every day to keep all this complicated equipment in order. The bed and all of its accouterments are expensive, require a huge amount of dedicated floor space and absorb significant time and money for maintenance.

That's not how most of the world sleeps however. At night humans can be found sleeping in all kinds of set-ups, from hammocks to straw mats to shelves of ice covered with fur. For safe and comfortable sleeping—this is, getting the job done—the traditional Western bed is wasteful and unnecessary.

You DO NEED to sleep comfortably every night. Sleep seems to be essential for your health, sanity and daytime creativity. However, the exact physical circumstances of that sleep are open to negotiation.

The things you DO NEED for sleep are simple. You need: (1) safety, (2) warmth, (3) protection from wind and wet, (4) protection from insects, (5) some minimal padding beneath you, (6) the ability to raise your legs to the same level as your head, (7) relative quiet, (8) relative darkness, (9) relative isolation (so your sleep isn't interrupted), (10) the opportunity to shift position several times a night, and (11) the opportunity to sleep at about the same time every day. Some people might also add: (12) relative privacy and (13) the opportunity to pee in the middle of the night.

None of these require a traditional raised bed. If you have ever gone camping, you know that a sleeping bag and air mattress can provide the same sleeping satisfaction as anything Martha Stewart dreams up. Sleep consists primarily of a long period of unconsciousness where the body doesn't care where it is lying as long as it meets the essential criteria.

The raised bed seems to be a European creation of the medieval era. One can imagine sleeping in an unheated house in dreary England where you wanted to gather as much bedding around you as possible and also wanted to be away from the chilly, damp and vermin-infested floor. The permanent raised bed may have been the logical sleeping device for olden times but not necessarily for today.

Consider the humble sleeping bag and air mattress. They can be stored in a very small space when not in use and don't take over a whole room. You use the mass-produced sleeping bag until it stinks, then you throw it away and buy another.

Even if space or expense aren't an issue, there is merit in just being simple about things. When you want to sleep, you ought to be able to get to it quickly with minimal preparation, and when you wake up, you want to start doing things right away without having to waste much time on maintenance. Instead of following the herd, you need to listen to your own needs, respect your own resources and sleep wherever it really works for you. The important thing is the quality of the sleep itself, not where it happens.

What about other uses for the bed: for sex, for bedside chats, for thinking, for recuperating from the day's stresses, for a work space? These functions are all negotiable and don't necessarily require a flat, fixed, raised bed with all the trimmings.

The body is remarkably adaptable if you give it a chance. Many of the nighttime aids that you think are essential may turn out not to be. You don't need a waterbed, Tempur-Pedic™ memory foam or a Craftmatic™ Adjustable Bed. Our ancestors never had these things yet seemed to have survived. From a practical standpoint, the more circumstances you can comfortably sleep in, the better prepared you are for whatever life throws at you.

If you are not sleeping well, is it really the bed's fault, or is the bed just a convenient excuse? Does your back hurt in the morning in spite of your fancy bed or because of it? People are always looking for technological solutions to their personal problems, and the overwrought sleeping device is sometimes a reflection of this.

How much of our daily lives is really essential, and how much is sucker marketing (and sucker tradition) that we have blindly fallen for? You decide.

It "may" improve your life—at huge expense.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Professional Haircuts (male)

I don’t pretend to understand female hair needs, but for men professional haircuts are unnecessary.

You DO NEED to cut your hair or you’ll end up looking like a caveman, but there is no reason you can’t do it yourself.

Just buy a cheap hair clipper ($10 at the Mega-Mart), install the biggest styling attachment and run it over your head once a week. Voila! Your hair will be longer than a crew-cut but not so long that it has to be combed (solving another problem).

You have only one hairstyle to choose from, but the benefit is low maintenance and the huge savings in time and money that you would have spent at the barber.

Or you can travel to the barber, wait in line, pay good money and waste part of your day. It's your choice.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Parasitic brain-sucking device. You don’t need it!

In the modern age, video is unavoidable. It’s everywhere, but you don’t need to invite this parasite into your home.

Television CAN be educational. It CAN give you access to other people’s lives and parts of the world that you might not otherwise experience, but it is also a powerful addictive substance that can quickly become a substitute for real life.

Television force-feeds us a steady stream of emotional images, so many that we don’t have time to process them. Even an “educational” show needs time to sink in, and if you move immediately to the next show and the next, you’re never going to have the time to derive any nutritional value from what you have seen.

Television promotes a sort of information obesity. It’s junk food for the mind. Like having a refrigerator full of goodies, having a TV in your home invites bingeing. You won’t just consume one show a week; you’ll take in dozens—with the same queasy feeling like you’ve eaten too many Twinkies.

For the health of your brain, television is something best taken in very small doses (like a half-hour a week), and the best way to control it is to not have one.

Don’t worry, you won’t be missing anything! You’ve already seen plenty of TV, right? You can just extrapolate from your past experience to imagine the current season. There will be drama. Characters will get themselves into messes and then get out of them, but you will have gained nothing by watching.

Television exploits the same emotional circuitry use for real relationships, except it is only a pseudo-relationship. These characters can’t really interact with you, and you have no influence over them.

Why not interact with life FOR REAL? Every hour spent in front of the TV is not being spent on real pursuits.

If you don’t have a TV yourself, you’ll still see plenty of it, since your friends probably have it, and it is everywhere in public places. All those movies you’re missing? You can catch them in the theater or play them on DVD on your computer—when you are ready. One good movie a month ought to be enough to keep you stimulated without overstimulation.

In spite of TV’s educational potential, the primary conveyance for ideas is still the written word. If what you read leads you to a piece of video that you really must see, you will find a way to view it.

Even educational shows can be an addiction. Like dramas, they are non-interactive and non-responsive. You are not really using the knowledge for anything, just collecting it obsessively.

Television should not be guiding your experience of the world, because it is a highly distorted reality. If you experience the world through television, you may think you know what life is like but you really don’t have a clue. When you eventually have to deal with real life, you’re going to fall flat on your face.

Television is not reality but an artificial simulation of it. It’s better to break out of the simulation and experience life directly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


For years, the world has been distracted by the wrong question: "Are UFOs real?"

The more important question is: "Are they relevant?"

The resounding answer is, "No!"

Whoever the aliens may be, they are keeping a low profile. If they abduct somebody, they almost always bring them back. If aliens have observed or visited this planet, they seem to be respecting the Star Trek "Prime Directive" of non-interference—which is the most we can reasonably expect of any alien race.

Aliens didn't create the problems of Earth, and aliens can't solve them. Aliens can't solve the problems of your life either. Whether or not they are circulating in the atmosphere has no bearing on what you have to do on this planet. UFOs are a big distraction for anyone who chooses to look for them. Isn't there something more important you can be doing with your time—something real?

Is there extraterrestrial life "out there" somewhere in the universe? Almost certainly. But as long as it is light years away or not showing itself overtly, you have to make your own decisions without reference to it. There will always be things beyond our current understanding (Imagine explaining electricity to the Romans!) but we have to make decisions based on the knowledge and tools we currently have.

Do aliens have superior technology? If they have reached our planet, they certainly do, but that technology cannot and should not be used to help us. On Earth, when outside technology is introduced into an indigenous culture, it always screws that culture up. ALWAYS! So let's be grateful to the aliens for keeping out of our business.

If the aliens could speak to us, what would they say? "Get a life, Dude!" We've got to work out our own problems using our own resources and stop looking to the heavens for salvation.

Fiji Water

Gimme a break!

Take water from an industrial plant in the South Pacific, haul it halfway across the globe and sell it to suckers in Europe and America. IT'S JUST WATER! Secret formula: H20.

Probably some water molecules you drink from the tap have been to Fiji at some point in their careers. How does it make one bit of difference?

It's just an excuse for Europeans and Americans to show how "discriminating" they are—i.e. how much money and resources they can waste.

The marketing machine justifies it like this: Because Fiji is so remote, water there is somehow more pure than the rest of the world. It's a stretch. Life is full of impurities. Even Fiji is full of impurities. My only question is whether the parts-per-billion of these trace elements—present or not present—are enough to realistically impact my health. Yes, certain contaminants in drinking water are known to be bad news, and science has established some standards for safe water systems, but beyond that, the fear of impurities is purely emotional. Fiji is a pretty place (at least in the tourist brochures) so consumer nimrods figure the water there must be better.

No matter what you drink, you're still going to die, probably long before any trace impurities ever catch up with you.

It's another case of the "Charlie the Tuna" phenomenon: people trying to prove they have "good taste" through the ostentatious products they buy.(Also see my commentary on bottled water in Kilroy Cafe #1.)

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are utterly useless, addictive, wasteful, unhealthy and stupid.

You DO NEED water to support your body's biological functions, and you DO NEED food energy. While sugared soft drinks provide both, they do so in an extremely wasteful package.

Manufacturers love to sell you soft drinks because they can turn a penny's worth of ingredients into many times that. This huge profit margin is what supports the massive soft drink advertising all around us. The more they advertise, the more people think they need soft drinks, but it's all a fraud.

Most soft drinks contain a highly addictive substance: caffeine. When people think they are "thirsty" for a soft drink, it is usually just a craving for caffeine. Like any other drug, the pleasant effects of caffeine (the "pep") diminish with use until the drug itself doesn't feel good anymore; instead, you consume it just to avoid feeling bad. Soon the craving controls your behavior until you are going far out of your way to address it.

Thirst is something different and reflects an actual depletion of bodily fluid levels. How do you know your real fluid levels? Check your pee! If your urine is clear or light yellow, you have plenty of fluid in your system and your thirst is illusory. If it is dark yellow or you haven't peed at all in a long time, thirst could be an issue.

The carbonation in the soft drink gives the consumer the tactile illusion that he is drinking something of substance, but of course it's just flavored sugar water: Kool-Aid plus carbon dioxide.

Sugared soft drinks: (1) waste your money, (2) encourage obesity, (3) promote tooth decay, (4) often substitute for healthier foods, (5) waste environmental resources in their manufacture, packaging and distribution, (6) establish an addiction and possibly encourage addictive behavior in other areas.

Diet soft drinks aren't much better: All they do is deliver caffeine. Hey, if you're addicted, why not just admit it and start taking NoDoz caffeine pills?

Do you really need the food energy contained in sugared soft drinks? Look at your waistline. If you consider yourself underweight, maybe you do need the caloric intake, but there are more efficient and balanced ways to do it.

The thinking process you use to justify the purchase of a soft drink can easily transfer to much more dustructive behavior, like buying a luxury car you can't afford because it has the right "fizz." Let's concentrate instead on what works and what gets the job done.

Drink water! That will restore your fluid levels at minimal expense. We can argue about whether bottled water or tap water is better, but the basic compound H20 is what your body really needs. Why not go for it directly?

Another Blog You Don't Need?

This is a new blog about all the things you don't need. Hopefully, if you eliminate all the things you don't need, you'll end up with the essential things you DO NEED.