Datapad 2015

Talking to mechanical objects – less embarrassing than you’d think. (Perhaps less than it should be, sometimes…)

I was reading an article in The Economists about Hewlett-Packard and Dell, the two big American PC manufacturers. And I thought: “There probably won’t be much left of them in 5 years.” Because the pads / tablets will likely take over around then.

There are two simultaneous trends that are lifting the tabs: Improved displays, and “cloud” storage. With data stored remotely (and in some cases processed remotely), the tablet becomes mainly an interface, an input / output unit for the invisible “real” computer.

This is pretty much how it is already, and this is fine if you just want to read or watch video or play music. But the third part is on its way to join: Speech recognition technology. Today I can speak to my desktop computer and it correctly guesses 90-95% of my words. For native English speakers, the rate is 98-99%, enough that you can fire off the average email with no mistakes, and certainly fewer mistakes than if you typed it.

In contrast, when I speak English to my Android phone, I might just as well speak Norwegian for all it cares. It seems to react randomly, when it reacts at all. Again, I presume this is different for native English speakers; certainly the cool demonstration on YouTube is very different from my experience. But my point is, once the tablet has the same level of speech recognition as my desktop computer has today, or better, we will no longer depend on our sausage fingers for input.

You may think it is awkward and embarrassing to speak to an inanimate object in public, but a large number of cell phone owners seem to disagree with you. In fact, some of them seem almost immune to embarrassment, but let’s skip that topic for today. I agree that you would probably not want to address your tablet on the subway and say “search Google for Russian bride pictures”, even if you were working on a thesis about the change in Russian wedding customs at the end of the Soviet era. On the other hand, if you are at the office you probably won’t have any problem with saying “open spreadsheet Johnson & Johnson 2015 April summary”.

OK, perhaps 2015 is a bit optimistic. After all, it took more than 4 years for Dragon NaturallySpeaking to reach its current near perfection on the PC, and it was at least good for entertainment when I first got it, even if it wasn’t actually useful if you had hands. But the listening (and hopefully obeying) datapad definitely be in the near future. If we have a future at all… Opinions on this seems to vary lately?

Reading for understanding

Madness is not the only danger in books. There is also the danger that something may be understood that can never be forgotten.

Having finished The Torah for Dummies, I’ve started on How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler (who wrote the original) and Charles van Doren.

One of the very first concepts introduced – before I even got one Kindle dot into the book – is the difference between reading for information and reading for understanding. This is something I have written about before, as I have been introduced to the subject by the Catholic scholar A. G. Sertillanges, and before that more briefly by Ryuho Okawa, founder of Happy Science. Apart from them, and a reference to Sertillanges statement on the blog One Cosmos, I don’t think I have seen or heard this anywhere. Or if I did, it was well before I was ready for it, for no trace remains.

When I wrote about this myself a while ago, I compared the first to someone filling a container with a liquid, for instance pouring juice into a glass. The second sort however expands the container, for instance making the glass taller so it can hold more juice. The first is ordinary, the second is miraculous. But then, we are humans so miracles are not uncommon. At least not for those who wake up to the divine heritage, so to speak.

What Mortimer Adler writes about here seems actually to be an intermediate level of mind change, perhaps. The first change is just in the content of the mind, and the third change in its size. But to introduce another metaphor, you could say that reading for understanding puts more tools in your toolbox. I would say that expanding the capacity of the toolbox itself is yet another level, but let that rest for now. I think his brief introduction simply combines these advanced forms of reading (or listening, on some occasions).

His point is that if you understand perfectly what the author says, your mind and the author’s mind are of the same mold. You don’t understand more afterwards, you just know more. This is not the same thing! You need some knowledge to understand, but you don’t understand better infinitely as you pour on more knowledge. Past a certain point there is no noticeable gain in understanding by adding more and more examples.

When you don’t understand a book (but it presumably is understandable, which can not be taken for given in these days with self-publishing), you need to put more work into it. You can ask someone else to explain it, or read a book that explains it, but if they do so too well you still have not understood the original. When you by your own effort understands a book you did not, you have acquired new understanding. Your mind has leveled up, so to speak: You have a new way of thinking or seeing things that you did not have before. This is a pretty awesome thing to have happen to you.

(Also, this is mostly why I write these days. You have Google right there, you can know anything on Earth. What I want is to give you a glimpse of a different and hopefully higher perspective, another angle, a new dimension. The wonder and the glory and the stars in the sky. Still very much a work in progress, obviously.)

Mortimer Adler stresses that the author needs to have superior understanding compared to you. That is certainly true in a limited sense, namely within the context of the book. However, for the “mid-level” (one more tool in the toolbox) reading, you may well be the superior in a broader sense. Let me show this by an example:

If I were to write a book about the Norwegian language, I would be superior to most of my readers. I am, at the very least, a master of my mother tongue New Norwegian, the western and rural version of Norwegian, to the point that I feel confident mainly poets and highly trained academics can wield it better than I. However, the reader of my hypothetical book may be a world renowned linguist, fluent in more than a dozen languages from different language families and written in different scripts. By any sensible third party this reader would be my superior and have a vastly deeper understanding than I. Just not in the topic at hand.

This is just an example. What I really mean is that a person does not need to be a higher spirit, so to speak – a greater genius – simply in order to have an understanding you don’t. This is what I mean by saying that such learning adds to your toolbox.

In contrast to this, there is a third level. This is the one Sertillanges and Okawa writes about, the High Spirit, the Genius. What they do is open up our very capacity for new understanding. They add new dimensions to the container. You may have been fascinated by teachings that you found could make your glass taller, but you had no idea that it could also increase in radius. Then suddenly you see this, and everything changes. Nothing can quite become the same again.

So what M. Adler writes about is indeed reading for understanding, as opposed to just reading for information. But what I speak of in the last few lines is to read for revelation. And usually this does not even happen, but rather one just reads and the revelation presents itself. When the student is ready, and not before. Still, some places you are more likely to meet it than others.

May 17

Another reason to dissolve the union between Norway and Sweden: You can only have so many hot blonde girls in one country before it grinds to a halt. So to speak.

Today is May 17th, Norway’s national day. Since I live in Norway – and indeed have never left the country even for a brief visit – I have the day off from work. It is kind of like a holy day, except for the holiness. Old people even go to church. New people are mostly atheists so only go to church on Christmas Eve or weddings, burials etc, but some of the most nationalist may possibly tag along to church today as well.

Norwegian nationalism is pretty tame, actually. You’d think not, given that we have twice turned down membership in the European Union, by referendum no less. Although the majority was somewhat less than in the referendum about continued union with Sweden, in 1905, when only 184 souls voted for continued union! (Of course, democracy was still pretty new by then and the whole “anonymous” voting was perhaps not fully implemented… not to mention the voting locales being decorated with Norwegian flags, stuff like that.)

That said, Norwegians like independence, but we don’t like attacking and occupying other nations. We’ll tag along when allies get involved in a war, but we would rather stay at home if we could. We haven’t even gotten back the couple provinces that Sweden kept when the union was dissolved. But we’ve bought a lot of the property there, and probably most of the booze.

Oh, right. We kind of just kept the land of the Sami, the reindeer-herding people up north, which we had annexed during the union years. But it was either that or let the Russians have them, Russia was really trying to expand back in the days. In recent years, the Sami have some token independence. I suspect if they really, really wanted full independence from Norway, they could have it. It is not like the area runs a surplus, exactly: It is mostly arctic tundra, or nearly so. If you don’t like reindeer or midnight sun, you are unlikely to have any errands there.

Of course, Norway enjoys a similar status in Europe as a whole. Except we also have mountains. Lots and lots of mountains. With reindeer on them. Plus Germans in particular tend to die easily here. They are just not used to nature being, you know, untamed. Mountains you fall down from, rivers that throw you off into a waterfall, seas with big waves, roads with sudden bends, things like that. I think more Germans than Norwegians may lose their lives to Norwegian nature some years, even though we live here all the time and they only visit as tourists, and then bring their own beer. (I am not sure to what extent the beer contributes to the casualties…)

Anyway, one more thing, although I have said it in earlier years at this time: May 17 is not actually our Independence Day. That is June 7, 1905. May 17, 1814 is our Constitution day. The logic seems to be that it does not matter whose king you have, as long as you have your own laws. And that is probably the truth. Just look at the Jews. They got their laws thousands of years ago and will probably still be a people of their own as long as there are humans on Earth. Hopefully that will be a long time yet.

The smallest commandment

Guide me, O Endless Light! To the space elevator! It will glint from Heaven like lightning!

No, I have no idea which commandment is the smallest. I suspect if ten Rabbis gathered to discuss this, there would be at least ten opinions, probably more. However, there is a reason for my strange subject today.

On the commuter bus, I am still reading the Torah for Dummies, by Arthur Kurzweil. He is very supportive of his students, assuring them that taking an interest in the Torah will not be in vain, even if it is on the “for dummies” level. But when asking several Jewish educators where they recommended a newcomer to Jewish life begin, they all answered: Find one mitzvah (one divine commandment from the Torah), and do it forever. Become an expert on that one mitzvah.

This reminded me brightly of a song of encouragement that the Christian Church at Brunstad used to sing when I was young. It is in Norwegian, but the two lines that struck me translate as follows: “Begin now with the smallest commandment, it will glint from Heaven like lightning.”

When people wanted to discuss the teachings of Jesus Christ, he told them: “If anyone wants to do my Father’s will, he will learn whether the teaching is of God or whether I speak from myself.” Somewhat disturbingly, Ryuho Okawa says something similar. Start giving love without expecting reward from people and see if you don’t get happy! Of course, you do so at your own risk. When you actually begin to do something, you get drawn into whatever greater system of teaching you engage with, be it for good or ill.

It is not like people who take no interest in religion do nothing, either. Even they engage with a system of thought that is prevalent in this world at their time. But the the worldly system of thought is rather different from the religious. This is what I call the lower gravity. When you begin with the smallest commandment, you hook up to a divine “space elevator” which is capable of eventually lifting you up to a height where you can start to feel Earth’s gravity growing weaker, and a new more subtle pull from above. Or so it would seem.


Opium of the masses

Behind those eyes…

I want to expand something I tweeted today: Trying to not think about death, we also fail to think about life.

The most obvious meaning of this is the literal opium of the masses, drugs, and by extension alcohol as the most popular of them. This is not exactly evil; but it is a sad state to be in, that one feels the need to numb oneself even at the cost of one’s health.

The existential fear, the sense that life is meaningless, bothers many people today. Those who feel it most keenly are probably those who flee most desperately, thus the drugs and the drink. In a sense, such people are not far form religion, if the can overcome their fear. And arguably, religious people may not be far from drugs and drunkenness, should they lose their faith.

But literal drugs are not the only, and probably not the most common, escape from thinking about life, death and the meaning of it all. Most of us are able to find refuge in entertainment. For some it is necessary to have as much sexual activity as the body can reasonably keep up with; for some an entertaining book is enough. For the majority, it seems that TV is doing the trick. You sit down in front of the box and tune out. Going to bed, you wonder briefly where your day went, but then forget about it.

There are many things, from computer games to sports, that tend to absorb us. While immersed in these things, we don’t really think much about what we are doing, what we should do, and what we should have done. So these things allow us to continue our unreflected life. Not that they don’t have good sides too. Actually, I suppose some may think of distraction as one of the good things. I don’t, obviously, but clearly there are health benefits to exercise, and computer games train the brain. Social activities are also good for your health, especially your mental health, which is often the weakest link in the chain anyway.

There are many things people consider important, and even feel obliged to put their thought and effort into. Earning money, of course: Bills don’t pay themselves, at least not in America. It is a bit easier here in Scandinavia. Then there is the keeping of the house, whether it is cleaning or maintenance. And the car and the garden and probably other possessions as well. The more we buy, the more time goes into just maintaining it all. And having done so, we feel obliged to use the things we have put so much time into.

In the end, we more or less drift through life, rarely stopping to wonder whether we are on our way toward our goal, or even whether we have a goal. Immersed in all these things we are almost asleep. And I won’t deny that religion can also be one such “busy-ness” to distract us.

But to some of us at least, that is far from the case. The supposed comfort of religion is a puzzle to me. For me, religion has been like a fire alarm going off in the middle of the night. A cause of terror and struggle to overcome deep sleep. But most of all an intrusion of reality destroying my comfortable dream. Until recently, the most important word in my religious vocabulary was “Hell”. That was what it boiled down to. I felt that my life in this world was good, and could have been even better, if I did not have this threat hanging over me. If not for fear of judgment, I could have done so much more. I could have enjoyed myself without restriction. I did not fear death as much as the things that come after death.

Things have changed a bit. I now believe in a happiness that runs through this life and the next, and this is the joy of giving, of being helpful, of spreading hope and courage and understanding. I have not really achieved much in that regard, but this new life makes sense to me now. I still distract myself, sometimes just out of habit, but the gravity of the old world is losing some of its grip, and another gravity is pulling me upward. So that is good, as far as it goes.

I can very much understand those who want to keep sleeping. But the truth is that the house is on fire: Not only our own life, but everything we hold dear in this world is like the picture in a kaleidoscope, bound to fall apart and change into unfamiliar forms at the slight shake of a hand. Our house, our job, even children and grandchildren for those who have those… All that has form is sure to come to an end. Even the human race, even Earth, even the visible universe is heading toward dissolution. It will be utterly forgotten like the last dream of a child that dies before daybreak.

I am sorry, but this is what science tells you. But if you get drunk, you can forget it. Or if you wake up, you can experience eternity while you are still in time.

I think everyone who has family or friends, have at least a vague feeling that these souls are more worth than anything in the world, even if we can forget and take them for granted. Deep down, we know. When everything shakes, and the picture of your world shifts into something unfamiliar, you realize that one human soul is more than the whole world, more than the planets and the stars in the sky. Eternity lies behind those eyes.

After the golden age

Collect the small moments that make you smile, that make you feel warm inside, that make you think “I am glad I did that”. They may not show up in your budget or even in your obituary; but when you go to die, they will make a world of difference.

I realized this spring:  I have pretty much stopped warning people about the economy, as I routinely did before. It is too late for that.  Instead, I will concentrate on the gospel of finding happiness in small things. Because small things is all most of you will be able to afford in the coming age.

The age of growth is over in the USA and its closest allies.  But there are still those who just dig in and hope for the golden age to return. It won’t.

“Our golden age has ended; so say our analysts.” A familiar phrase for those who played the strategy game Civilization. Based on thousands of years of history, the second version of the game incorporated the idea of “golden ages” for each civilization. There certainly seems to be something to it. In any case, the US and its best friends had a glorious one, better than any time in known history. So let us not be bitter. All things that have form come to an end; strive diligently!


Riches come and go; customs and fashions change; the values of one generation differ from the next; even languages drift over time. But there are many joys that have existed since the dawn of history. Already Aristotle wrote glowingly about the greatness of friendship. It is just as great today, and for the time being at least, we have a rare ability to make friends all over the world. This is amazing. But to be able to visit a friend or invite a friend or a few, to listen to them talking and see their smiles (and occasionally frowns), is just as great as it was more than 2000 years ago.

The beauty of nature is still available to most, thought it is not right outside the door for all. But even a park can be a place of beauty, yes, even a backyard. Flowers grow even indoors, and the clouds in the sky are still free.

Do you remember when you were a kid and enjoyed a blank piece of paper and some crayons? (Well, unless you grew up in the age of computers, I guess.) Crayons are still affordable for pretty much everyone in the English-speaking world, long may it last! You may even be able to get your hands on some good watercolor sets. I can’t count how many hours I spent drawing and painting when I was a kid, although I have less than no talent for it; in fact, I may literally be brain-damaged in that regard. I still enjoyed it, and if I could, so can you.

For those who enjoy listening to music, the golden age has definitely not ended. There may not be much good music created lately, but the music from the past is still around, reaching centuries back for those so inclined, although some prefer to stop in the 80es or 60es. Your taste may vary, but there sure is a lot of music in this world! And should you want to make your own, there are various instruments that don’t require a huge expense, at least not until you reach the level where you want to perform in public. And if it is the day before payday, hopefully you still have your singing voice!

If you have read this far, you are definitely good at reading, so you may want to borrow a book at the library or from a friend. Be a friend and lend someone a book, if they are not known for vandalizing them at least. And there are books you may want to buy, when you can afford them, because they are worth reading not just twice, but many times throughout your life and in generations to come as well.

I will not go on and on, but if you don’t hate people, there is no reason to live and die unhappy. This world is a good place and every day the sun rises again, even the days when you can’t see it. Be calm, be friendly, forgive mistakes as you also make mistakes, create something, give a gift or a word of appreciation, and live with light in your heart. It is cheap and your happiness will last for this life and, I believe, into the next.


Living with imaginary girls

For some reason he was praying that he could meet her again – even if no one else could.

No, it is not about my imaginary gURLfriend from City of Heroes and Sims 2, but rather the anime Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, called AnoHana for short. (I appreciate that. I believe this means “that flower”, and the whole thing means something like “we still don’t know the name of the flower seen that day” or some such.) Spoiler for episode 1.

The main character is a boy who shuts himself in and does not go to high school. This seems to have happened at some time after his mother dies. But what really bothers him is the girl who died when they both were around 10 or so (from the looks of them). She was his best friend and when someone asked if he liked her, he got flustered and called her an ugly bitch or some such. She died that night, falling off a cliff, perhaps while looking for him. Anyway, he clearly feels that he is at fault.

And then she comes back to haunt him – sort of. One summer she appears at his home, looking as much older as he is, but still behaving as the child she was before she died. She is very clingy, which embarrasses him even though she is nor particularly attractive and is wearing decent clothes. She seems not to hold any grudge against him, but neither is she sure why she is there. She thinks one of them has to fulfill a wish, but it is not clear what.

While the main character can both see and hear and feel the ghost girl, nobody else can. When they are alone, she can move things freely, even to the point of cooking (which she does not do very well). If there are other people present, she only rarely moves anything in the room, and always in such a way that people think someone else did it or it just moved on its own.  Naturally the boy decides to not even try to convince others that she is real, and people look at him like he is crazy when he forgets himself and talks to her or make weird gestures seemingly to thin air.

A pretty original story, as far as I can see.  I know of only one other story based on this premise, and it is written by me and never published.


The actual story as it develops is different from mine, but the whole invisible girl thing is disturbingly similar.  Admittedly it took me some time to arrive at it: My first story of this sort was not about a girl but an adult “goddess” from a higher-dimensional reality, and due to the doubt of the man he could not touch her, although she could move things when no one else was looking. He was able to hear and see her though.  This was also the premise of one of my NaNoWriMo stories, although it ultimately failed. The story was written from the viewpoint of another young woman, so it is no wonder I had to give it up. I don’t really understand women at all. Or humans, really, when it comes to it.

The next iteration, however, had the “goddess” (now a completely alien being from a six-dimensional world where our universe is just one of many bubbles) take on the exact body of a girl who died in a traffic accident around the age of 10. In so doing it gains her memories exactly as they were at the moment before her death. The main character is a young man in his first year at college. The girl used to live next door and they were very close. When his parents also died, the people in his small town decided that he was cursed with bad luck and he became isolated from everyone. Oh, and the resurrected girl has the power to make herself age up and age down as she sees fit, to his worry.  In any form, however, nobody else can sense her at all, even when she does things right before their nose. They just attribute it to some natural cause.

I won’t exclude the possibility that I have copied the idea from somewhere, but I doubt it, since I arrived at it gradually and still have the writings from the earlier incarnations. There is  a whole series of these on my hard disk, bringing the concept of the female character ever closer to that in AnoHana – which was not even published at the time. This seems to be a direct to anime production, so presumably no one has published anything about it, certainly not in any language I can read.

Regular readers will notice that this is something I am more or less used to already. I still have the original manuscript of two or three stories about a boy who attends a magic school in an old stone castle and his relationship to girls, his learning magic and his repeated fights against evil, for instance.  There is no way I could publish that now; not that it was ever good enough for that. I also invented online persistent role playing games before they existed, and in my childhood invented the entire genre of roleplaying games before they were invented again in Sweden a few year later.  In all fairness I was just a kid then, so there was nothing I could have done. But you see the point here. Good ideas come to me; I fail them; they go elsewhere, to someone who can get them right.

That’s just the kind of guy I am. It is kind of halfway cool and halfway pathetic. I guess on average I am kind of human, after all.


Sitting kills! Perhaps.

Don’t sit down with your computer if you value your life, says Daily Science. Happy Science disagrees, but only slightly.

I have written about this before, but Science Daily has rather a bunch of articles on the evils of sitting, especially in front of screens, and worst of all the TV. Since I consider the TV a tool of Evil, I am not surprised at the last part.  Not so sure about sitting in front of the computer screen though. I think it depends on what you do there.

But there seems to be an actual bodily mechanism that makes sitting hurt the body. Not just the back pains that are common among office workers these days, but there is also a link to heart disease, diabetic and other typical western lifestyle diseases.

Basically, sitting down causes the large leg muscles to shut down. These don’t simply keep us on our feet, but also function as a kind of internal organs: They are largely fat-powered, so they release chemicals that cause fat to be absorbed into muscles rather than drift around in the bloodstream making trouble. They also regulate the balance between “bad cholesterol” and “good cholesterol”.

(It is probably worth mentioning that some of the largest leg muscles are in the buttocks. If nothing else, at least every mention of healthy buttocks is likely to shift the article several pages up in Google.)

Some effects of sitting start at once, some gradually build up over time. You can reduce the damage from sitting by getting up now and then, at least every half hour is recommended. But you cannot eliminate all effects by getting up at certain intervals, just some.

Me, just to be sure, I get up every now and then from my boss chair in the home office and walk to the fridge and back…


When studies say that sitting increases risk of death regardless of whether you exercise, that does not mean exercise is pointless unless you remain on the feet all day.  It means that if you exercise and sit, you are worse off than if you exercise and just potter around. And you are worse off to the same degree that someone who does not exercise is still worse off sitting than just pottering around in the house or garden.

It is worth noticing that these studies mainly look at recreational sitting, not sitting as a job. Obviously the same bi0logical effects appear at work, but there is probably not a lot people can do in the current economy to pick a job with less sitting. It is advised to place some office equipment out of reach, but employers generally aren’t too fond of putting the printer far away. They pay you for the hour, but they don’t bear the expense when you get sick. Well, probably not. Here in Norway they do to some extent. My current employer has exercise equipment and organized (but voluntary) walks during work hours. You should probably not expect that in the USA, unless you work for Google or similar.

Now, the thing these reports don’t say, and which I am burning to know, is: What do these people do who don’t sit for two hours or more on an average day?

My best guess is that they have toddlers, in which case Evolution (or whatever your name for God) has probably thrown in some extra protection because, let’s face it, a toddler is not going to live long without parental supervision, or something very similar. The natural response to this is a divine decree that Chasing Toddlers Shall be Good for Your Health.

One study goes after television in particular, another lumps TV, computer and video games.  Sitting in front of these is evidently a shortcut to early death. But what about sitting with a book? Has anyone ever studied that? What about sitting in church?? Several studies show that people with high church attendance are less likely to die than people who boycott church. (The same effect holds true for at least some other religions, but church attendance is by far most common in the USA, so most reliable data are on this.)  How can sitting in the church keep you alive while sitting at home kills you?  Mysteries abound!

This is where I part ways with Daily Science and team up with Happy Science instead. (Happy Science is a new Japanese religion.) In their worldview, illness rarely begins in the physical body, unless you are run down by a car or some such. Typical lifestyle illnesses are instead caused by changes in your astral body, or aura body. Your mind gets poisoned and the body follows.

That seems like pure superstition, but the fact remains that placebo remains one of the most useful and potent forms of medication around, the standard against which all other medication is measured. In other words, what happens in people’s minds really DOES influence their bodies, all other things being equal. Things that cause negative thought patterns (like most TV channels and most video games) will have a completely different effect on the body than things that cause positive thought patterns (like benevolent religions, good books, or good friends).

If we strip the religious language, I think Happy Science really is scientific in this. Certain inactivities are worse than others, because they harm the will to live, while others strengthen it.

Or as myself  said to me this morning:  “If you don’t do anything meaningful, it is like calling the Angel of Death to say ‘I am finished here’.”

This is often easy to see with old people. Many look forward to their retirement, but when the time comes, it does not take long before they start feeling useless. After that, it goes downhill fast. They get sick, they complain, become pessimistic and either die early or linger in ill health for a long time. But grandparents who have small children living in the house often remain vital and healthy longer, and even a pet can substantially improve the health of many elderly. Intellectuals who read and write a lot also tend to live longer and healthier lives. And famously, gardeners live the longest lives of all.  Evidently being connected to life, encouraging life to grow, keeps the power of life flowing through the body.

So perhaps we should think of it this way:  If you sit down, you better have a reason for it!


Why liposuction sucks

Maybe you did get fatter, but there are worse fates than being a little chubby.  Liposuction, for instance.

I readily admit that I don’t speak from experience this time. On the other hand, I have news for the average person. So please spare a little time if the topic interests you or anyone you hold dear. Or even an enemy, I guess, though I am not responsible for what you might do then. I desperately seek to not be an enemy and, if feasible, not have enemies.

If one has enemies, though, liposuction might be something one would wish for them.

This is not obvious. Body fat is bad, right? So having less of it should be good! Alas, it is not quite that simple.

Fat has a natural place in our body. Every cell in the body has some lipids (fat) in it, and it makes up a rather large part of the brain.  (The brain grows slowly though, so there is no need to fatten your kids excessively. Just don’t give let them grow very skinny.)

Besides being a building block, however, fat is also (and mostly) a fuel. The body burns it to get energy. But you already knew that.  This is the obvious reason why our body has “adipose tissue”, large collections of fat cells, storing lots of fat for the dry season that never comes these days. Until recently, this was the only way this tissue was viewed. It turns out there is another aspect as well.

Fat that is locked inside the fat cells is mostly harmless. Fat that floats freely in the bloodstream, however, is not. It causes inflammation. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration. What it does is increase the tendency toward inflammation. A small infection or just chafing can develop into a pretty big inflammation if there is lots of fat in the blood, but barely register if not. I am not sure whether there is yet a logical explanation for this, it is a fairly new discovery. I think I first read it last year.

When you eat more fat than you can burn off, the fat cells will quietly snatch fat molecules from the blood and store them away. In this way, they keep the blood fat down. In fact, the more efficient they are, the less fat in your blood, and the less infections of anything from gums to arteries, if all other things are equal. So a person who puts on weight easily can be very healthy. In fact, this is common. During the years of ballooning, you have few health problems.  But then…

When the fat cells reach their capacity, which varies with families and even individuals, bad thing begin to happen. Suddenly you become more prone to a lot of illnesses, from hangnails to diabetes. It seems that even cancer is more likely, although I am not sure how.

Some people don’t have a lot of fat cells and they reach their maximum while still looking thin. This is not a good thing: Even though they don’t look fat, in a sense they are, and they suffer fat poisoning. Another person with more fat cells could have continued to absorb fat from the blood for a long time and remain healthy.

Now you see why liposuction sucks:  You are left with fewer fat cells, and have less ability to absorb new incoming fat.  And most people who have had a liposuction regain the fat within a year or two!

If you have had liposuction and you change your lifestyle, exercising more than you eat, you actually have a kind of benefit from the surgery.  Since you are less heavy, you will be able to exercise more easily, with less pressure on your knees; these are hard pressed during many kinds of exercise, and more so the heavier you are. Exercise also feels more comfortable when you are not so big and heavy.

But if you don’t change your ways to a low-fat diet or plenty of exercise, you are left with more fat in your blood, and it will poison you in subtle ways, making you more prone to a wide range of diseases.  And most obvious, diseases of the circulatory system. So take care. Don’t let vanity be your doom.


PS: One related but slightly different explanation of the mechanism may be more exact: When fat cells overfill and are about to burst, they release distress molecules of the “dying cell, cleanup crew required” type. This excites immune cells, who may then attack the wrong target.

Science is just now catching up to the fact that fat is more than just a “dead weight”, so there will likely be more exciting discoveries in the near future. May we all be there!

PPS: Read more at ScienceDaily. Also with nifty links.

Mundane day

Panties! So, what does this have to do with my day? Read and find out!

So, what am I doing here in the 3-dimensional world on Earth?

Well, remember that business trip I made this spring? As is the custom around here, I sent a travel bill to my employer (not sure what these are called in English, as I don’t travel abroad), to get my money back. This was supposedly confirmed today, so I will probably get the money back this summer.  It was not a lot of money but hey, it’s not like I enjoy traveling, let’s punish them by making them pay.  ^_^

Actually I haven’t asked my employer to cover my travel expenses usually, because I am lazy.  Filling in those forms are extra work and I already have food. But I did it this time.


It rained a few drops.  That’s pretty much all it has done this spring. After the snow melted, the ground was of course wet, but that is quite a while ago.  Now it is really dry. A forest fire further west in the province (very safe distance, not even smoke smell here) is now under control, but the whole of southern Norway is like tinder. Anyone throws away a lit cigarette and FWHOOM! Hopefully nobody does that around here.

It never rains in southern California, according to the famous song, but it rarely rains in southern Norway either, surprisingly. The exception is the summer vacation. It usually rains then.  And also somewhat in the fall. But overall there aren’t many days without sunshine here. I enjoy overcast days because I can read all the way on the bus (without getting migraine, which I get only from reading in sunshine). But sunny days are nice too, they make the other people happy, the 99.999% who don’t get their migraine from reading in sunlight.  So that is good too.

OK, I really should rein in that Pollyanna act.


I got up an hour and a half early thanks to a bee again. They naturally seek to the window, which is rather close to my face. There is a colony of them outside on that side of the house, so they are fairly common visitors at this time of the year. Perhaps I should turn the bed and take the chance that they don’t actively seek out a human to sting. Or perhaps I should just use the second bedroom.  Although the dead bumblebee on the floor there does not convince me.


City of Heroes is down today as they are merging the North American and European server list.  Not the actual servers, but the accounts:  European players will now get access to the American servers as well, and the other way around. There were more American servers than European, so this is especially a gift to their European players.

I have played on the American servers except for a few months, even though I live in Europe. To be honest, the choice was largely for cultural reasons. I found the American community to be more polite and competent, strange as this may sound. I blame the fact that in Europe, superhero comics are considered “for kids”, while in the USA, it is perfectly normal and acceptable for fully employed family fathers (and even some mothers) to read them.

In fact, there is supposedly a new movie out over in the States about Thor, based on the comic rather than directly on the original Norse Myth. I am somewhat acquainted with both, but not enough to steal the movie on Pirate Bay.


Speaking of which, Norwegian copyright law is to be tightened a bit again, I read in the IT news today. I am not sure whether this means that I can not stream my music to my friends any longer. What little I have heard is of a more technical nature, that the law will make it easier to find and prosecute illegal file sharing.

That is a bit of, as we say here in Norway, “closing the barn door after the horse has left”.  In this case, it is more like closing the barn door several years after the horse left and while it is about to die from old age.  BitTorrent, the superior file sharing protocol, used to take up more than 3/4 of the Internet bandwidth. The latest numbers are 8%. These days, it is streaming that is in.  America has Hulu for TV (I think) and Pandora and Rhapsody for music. Europe has Spotify for music, and increasing also the Norwegian Wimp is expanding abroad. I don’t think we have legal TV streaming, but seriously, who would want to watch European TV anyway? Instead, you should watch Crunchyroll, which streams Japanese anime. I have tried it, and it is pretty good.

(We are coming to the panties soon, I promise.)

If your teen boy discovers Crunchyroll, make sure to bring him water at least once a day until he recovers.  Resistance will gradually build up, but it may take some weeks.

It does however contain some decidedly non-Republican titles. Not porn exactly, but there could be panties and excessive bounciness in some titles. The Japanese don’t really understand Judeo-Christian sexual morality. Or perhaps they just don’t care.  Or perhaps they are almost immune to panties because of the short skirts that Japanese girls wear in real life too.


Speaking of things God hate: Eating SHRIMPS. (Actually they are icky.  But they also happen to be very much not kosher, for those concerned about that.)

I went to the largest supermarket in the city. They had more than half a dozen different brands of shrimp salad, including at least 3 shrimp & egg salads. But not one single egg salad without shrimp. Not one!

Anyway, it is past bedtime and the bees will probably be up early.