Sunday, May 01, 2011

Plans, Personal and Continental


A Plan and Two Ideas

By John Taylor; 2011 May 01, Azamat 03, 168 BE





A Plan and Some Thoughts about Weight Loss

Idea One: An Idea About Continental Embassies

Idea Two: Pooled Funding and Voting




My Plan for Weight Loss




My body mass index is, as I recall, 36, just over line into "obese," as opposed to just overweight, which is under 35. I just weighed myself, and I presently weigh some 232 pounds. About five years ago I became a vegetarian, and stopped eating the horrible diet of junk food, sugary cereals and TV dinners that my wife prepares for our kids. I started cooking my own meals, which tend to make more sense from a dietary point of view. At the time I dropped down to about 205 lbs. Unfortunately, the weight loss lasted less than a year. As happens in about 95 percent of diets, I shot right back up to where I had been before, to slightly less than 240 pounds.


Now that I think of it, probably what happened was that I started to eat my meals and the junk food that is always left lying around the kitchen as well. If food is set before me, I eat it. It is not only hunger, but a desire not to waste. As a result, I become around here a sort of walking garbage can. This is probably because I was an athlete as a teenager, and I got into a lifetime habit of vacuuming up whatever is presented before me. So now I subsist on two diets at once, one sensible and the other junky. I do not know much about dieting, but I think it is safe to say that two diets are not a good idea, even if one of them is a fairly decent diet.


Last week, some hope broke on my horizon as I was going through a science magazine. I read about a study that was inspired by an old bit of folk wisdom, the proposition that if you drink a glass of water before a meal, it will be easier to lose weight. These scientists decided to test it with a controlled experiment. They set up a year-long randomized study that had some subjects do nothing, just eat normally, while others drank a half a litre of water just before each of three meals a day. The results after six months showed that in fact they had lost weight. Subjects were so encouraged by their weight loss that after a whole year all but one of them were still drinking the two large glasses (by my calculation) of water before meals, and still losing weight.


You could not ask for a cheaper and easier diet! I swear, even I, weak willed non-entity that I am, could do it.


So, I think I will try.


I have been on the water before meals diet a couple of days now, and it is easy as pie to follow. Already I find I can go longer without eating than I tended to do before. It is so easy probably because I already drink prodigious amounts of water during the day in order to control my migraines. Now it is just a matter of switching the times that I drink water over to just before mealtime.


I noted above what I weigh right now. Next year at this time let us note on the blog what my weight and BMI are. Hopefully, this will work.


Continental Embassies.




We have friend who is a teacher at the high school where my daughter is a student. This teacher runs an annual school sponsored trip, lasting ten days or less, sometimes. This year they are going to Paris and Spain, at a cost of several thousand dollars, well beyond our means. Even if I could afford it, though, I would hesitate to send our daughter on such a brief trip. It seems extravagant to travel so far, and burn up so much carbon into the upper atmosphere, just for an experience, however edifying, of only a few days.


To save on flying, and to encourage immigration, we should start up continental tourism centres tied to the educational system in each locality. Then we could eliminate much unnecessary travel, while still reaping the advantages of frequent flying. With these centers, tied in closely to local immigrant groups, whenever tourists, students and businesspersons contemplate visiting a certain continent, they can go to the center and take an orientation or a more in depth course. Contacts can be made and consultations carried on virtually, without having to leave in person at all.


Build a continental embassy and tourism center into every neighbourhood, and you would expand the educational uses of tourism -- and, better still, you would do it in a much more egalitarian way. Let every student take a virtual tour of a given continent as a class trip, instead of the small minority who can afford it, as now. A continental center would be much closer and cheaper to visit, so why restrict students to a rare trip to one continent? You could require, as part of the curriculum, that students visit and study virtually at least one new continent every year.


Starting in the earliest grades, send every class of young people every summer or Christmas vacation on a two or three week virtual tour of one continent. Make sure that when every student graduates from high school they have studied and toured all of the continents. This would, at the very least, assure that parochialism, local bias and geographical ignorance would soon be a thing of the past. Once students enter post-secondary education, they could then be prepared to go on to visiting places in the flesh.

What would be in these continental tourist embassies? Build in them huge multimedia cinemas that can duplicate as closely as possible a trip to any point on that continent. Stage in the center epic educational adventure games set in the continent to which it is dedicated, rather like the old computer game, "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" Bring along touring musicians, artists and other cultural groups from that continent; this would expand contacts of visitors with that continent's legacy to the world. Also, the center would strive to tie in local residents who are native to that continent.


The great advantage of these continental centers is that, organized properly, they would equalize the cultural impact of the several continents. The domination of the rich continents, meaning Europe and North America, over the minds and hearts of the world would be gradually reduced as each school child throughout their formative years visits virtually all continents, include places presently ignored, like Antarctica, South America and Australia. Indeed, why not consider the sea as a "continent," the most ignored one of all, the one that takes up most of the surface area of this planet? We would be much more cosmopolitan if we visited places like that as often as we do the usual tourist magnets.


Pooled Funding




How would all this happen? Such things always start with money. All you need to do, then, is forbid donations directly to the embassy/tourist centers of any given continent. Every dollar, be it a donation or tax allocation, must go into a common pool, which then is distributed by a world cultural authority equitably to all of the continental educational centers. That way, the poorest continent, Africa, would have same representation as any other continent.


This has to apply especially for the rich nations. Right now, the United States, Earth's richest nation, spends great sums spreading its influence, which goes beyond cultural to the geopolitical realm. With a world government all geopolitical spending would simply be converted into international taxes. If the U.S. wants to spread its cultural influence, let it contribute to the central continental tourist center fund, which in turn will improve all continental centers, including those of North America.


Generally speaking, this idea of limiting funding options should be applied to other areas as well. Medical research, for example. For whatever reason, people are willing to open their wallets to fund research on breast cancer but not on lung disease or lower bowel disease. As a result, diseases that are more likely to kill us are ignored, while those that pull on our heart strings are given lavish attention, even when, as with cancer, the possibility of a cure or of having an effect on mortality is remote. Let epidemiologists and other disease experts decide where research money is spent, not the general public.


This principle of funneling funding into larger pools should apply for science generally. For example, it should be illegal for companies to pay for research in areas in which they have a vested interest. All money for forestry research, for example, should go into a single fund that is distributed in such a way that humanity, not any single industry or company, will be the main beneficiary. If a company wants to spend money researching something in their interest, let them do so, but do not call it scientific unless and until it bears scientific scrutiny. If a scientist wants to research something that is clearly wrongheaded or futile, let him, but strip him of the title "scientist" until he proves to his peers that he is right and they are wrong.


This is what my Cosmopolis Earth book series contemplates for the funding of religion and politics too. When I give money to my religion, a percentage of my donation should automatically be directed into an interfaith funding pool. If it is true that all religions have a common purpose and similar ideals and teaching, then that should be reflected in how people fund their faith. A common interfaith pool would pay for projects that are in the interest of all religions, not just my parochial religion.


Same thing for political donations. Redirect part of every political donation into a common fund promoting the purpose of politics, which of course is peace. Let this peace fund help fund world peace through world government, and then when that is secure, direct it into more local bases of peace.


Pooled Voting






Not only funding and taxes but democracy as well should reflect our commonalities and the fact that we live on one planet. Why not have votes and representation not only for politics, but for official interfaith affairs organizations? These interfaith groups would have a neutral goal, to encourage cooperative initiatives that involve all faith groups in the local population, as well as all people who are not committed to any particular affiliation as well. Elections should be a part of the world of work and careers -- why do so few workers have the right to vote in their own bosses? -- and schooling too.


Future historians will look back at us and wonder why were content with so little democracy, and why our so-called democracies tolerated such primitive, stunted ways of choosing our leaders.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, It will take me a week to carefully read this posting. Of course I read the lead topic with care. My sincere understanding/sympathy goes with you. I have struggled with weight issues since elem. school. It has been a life long struggle. I share generally your brief mentions of history, athletics and an unrestricted, undisciplined appetite during high school and even through college. As I am considerably older than you are, I will say only from my experience what ever strategy you use you will have to use will power, exercise, dieting of sorts, and more exercise all your life until the very last days of your physical active time and then watch or if you get some form of dementia, it won't matter after that. As I have witnessed with both of my parents when they were finially unable to walk regularly. This message is to gird you up for the very very long haul.
my latest stragegy is to eat alot of raw vegetable fiber at breakfast to fill me up. I eat alot of rice here in Japan, but never without some accompaning vegetable fiber as raw as possible to make my stomach feel busy. It seems to work.
And the liquids, I found that I ate because I wanted to be alert, so I drink hot water (easier on my stomach than more coffee) and make my coffee lighter, and drink more green tea of course. instead of eating something. well you already know all these tendencies, right?

Did you run across the new US research news that saying people who are overweight but not "obese" their condition is just as harmful physically as smoking 1 pack of cigarettes....but what was the time frame? I forgot.

More importantly wanted to ask you if you could suggest a work of fiction which, comes closest to capturing the ethical behavior of a society governed by the incpiration of Comenius. Of course there is no actual work of fiction that I am aware of, so we have to look at something that is as close as possible to the spirit of what guides the characters in some novel, old or more recent. Actually I suspect that you don't devour much fiction, so perhaps you have only a suggestion of line of investigation of some reference.
regards from Japan, said...

Thanks for the dieting advice, I will try that too.

As for fiction, you might try Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov and Notes from Under the Floorboards. He describes a spiritual dilemma that Comenius was trying to solve.

Anonymous said...

I was afraid you might mention the brooding of Dostoevsky. Ultimate psycho-drama. Yes When I first came to Japan instead of studying Japanese I read alot of his works from our nearby library. sigh, Well you mentioned that he was trying to solve/avoid these dilemmas, and I believe my question was what fiction would you recommend that would give a flavor of a society where approx. to Cominius' answers already are the rules of society. You know like 1984 :~).