Saturday, February 21, 2009

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Coming to your dining room soon, interesting and important people from the past for the perfect dinner party.  You can be the envy of the local social scene by entertaining dead presidents, prophets, philosophers and musicians in the comfort of your own home. Sounds like something from Star Trek, HG Wells or CNN, (remember Wolf Blitzer talking to the ghostly Campbell Brown on Election Night?), but it is coming soon.

A US technology company,  Infosys Technologies has been granted two patents in the areas of holography communications that contain the development plans behind an actual 3-D communication method using computer-generated holography such that we shall all be viewing true 3D videos and playing holographic games in about two years time.

By 2010, the devices will routinely beam 3D films, games, and virtual goods into our laps and our dinning rooms.  Combine these new visual capabilities with the amazing interactive capabilities that exist in contemporary computer games and you are able to put yourself in the game, or in the case of your dining room, project the players into your Victorian cherry wood chairs.  

Combine all this together with a giant interconnected database of historic figures and their works through services like Wikipedia and just like that,  you are having some very interesting people coming to dinner.

It has always been interesting conversation to speculate on the perfect dinner party guest list.  You want to perfect mix of intellectual, philosophical, artistic and religious individuals, such that the conversation can be spirited and entertaining...without someone getting hurt. (The good news about holographic images is that they can shoot each other in anger and its all in fun.)

Being both a cook and a gadget freak, I am already planning some of my initial dinner parties.  I thought it would be interesting to invite not only interesting dead people, but at least one other live person, (other than my wife, Kitty, my kids and me) to join in for a contemporary viewpoint and for historical perspective.  I submit these for your feedback (and to elicit envy).

Guest lists for parties in order they would be held.  

1. Jesus, Adam and Eve, Moses, Buddha,  Muhammad, John Smith, Jim Jones, Pat Robertson

2.  Mark Twain, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Malcolm X, Attila the Hun, Sean Hannity 

3.  Anais Nin, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Henry Miller, Bob Guccione,  Sarah Palin

4.  Simone De Beauvoir, Ernest Hemingway,, Henri David Thoreau, Shakespeare, David Sedarus 

5. Nostradamus, Herbert Hoover, John Maynard Keynes, Jules Verne, Alan Greenspan

6. Keirkegard, Socrates, Jean Paul Sartre, Lao Tzu, Neitzsche, Bill O-Reilly 

7. Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Pavlov, Abraham Maslow,  Martha Stewart

8.  Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, Barrack Obama 

9.  Karl Marx , Frederick Engels, Jesse Helms, Tiny Tim, Rush Limbaugh

10.  Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Darwin, Galileo, The Pope

11.  Mozart, Beethoven, Bob Marley,  Kurt Cobain, John Lennon, Brittany Spears

12.  Johnny Unitas, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson,  YA Tittle, Michael Phelps

13.  Frankenstein, Helen Keller, Barney, Moe (from the Three Stooges), Gary Busey  

14.  King Solomon, Sadam Hussein, Hitler, Stalin, PeeWee Herman

15.  Marylin Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior, Kid Rock

  16. Lewis and Clark, Sacagewea, Sir Edmond Hillary, Ferdinand Magellan, Lou Dobbs 

Of course the problem would be what to serve.  Many people on this list have never seen sushi, lettuce wraps, southern style barbeque, or even a Big Mac.  As interesting a problem as this is, the reality of the situation would be that your guests might appear to be eating, but since they are electronic the food would just sit there and get cold.  Wouldn’t want to waste a great crab cake on a holograph...I don’t care how smart or famous they are.

If any of you have some good guest list them to Kitty and she’ll start the inviting.  And remember, even though polite conversation in the South does not include religion and politics, in this case it is encouraged.   Bonn Appetit!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bad Vitamins...Bad Cola

I am sure some of you will think what you are about to read is bad news, since it is all bad news these days.  But this is good news...the hundreds or thousands of dollars you have been spending on vitamins, vitamin infused drinks, and diet soft drinks are a total waste of money and are probably bad for your health.  Now you can save all that money and be healthier at the same time.  How often does that happen?

Yep, the jury is in on man made vitamins.  They don’t do anything that they claim to.

After numerous studies by different research entities on tens of thousands of people, health scientists have concluded that ““Consumers spend money on dietary substances with the thought that they are going to improve their health, but there’s no evidence for this,”  “Buying more fruits and vegetables might be a better choice.”  

And the good news, they are much cheaper than bottles of vitamins.  The tens of billions spent on these products are totally might as well be taking sugar pills or placebos. (There is one exception, according to my friend Betsy and my friend Dr.  Pepper, (ironically that is his real name) pure fish oil capsules are full of natural Omega-3, which is really good for you.)

So now, the so called vitamin waters and Diet Sodas spiked with vitamins come under the microscope.  The assumption must be made that they too, are a monstrous waste of money.  Give the people in the marketing departments of the companies that make these beverages credit....they were working with what they had.  But I think they need to find another way to sell water and soda.

This is where I sort of get wound up.  According to Coke's CEO E. Neville Isdell "Diet and light brands are actually health and wellness brands,".  He was referring to a product called Diet Coke Plus, which is Diet Coke plus a few vitamins. (I think this is the guy that also said that all those plastic water bottles piling up in the oceans and landfills are biodegradable....”they will have completely disappeared in 5 thousand years”)

Let’s deconstruct a “heathy” Diet Coke.  This popular drink (which we refer to as “Brown Drool” in our family)  consists of artificially blackened water tinged with synthetic chemicals. Here are its ingredients  from most prevalent to least: carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate (to protect taste), natural flavors, citric acid; and caffeine.

To protect taste? What are people supposed to be tasting? Oh right, there it is: "natural flavors." Diet Coke contains more of the chemical designed to protect said flavors than the flavors themselves. (BTW, the "natural flavors" are the part that are secret and some swear contain addictive substances.....the only way to explain the constant consumption by many people).

In essense Diet Coke is a nutritional void. Human bodies evolved to make use of a variety of foods, but I doubt isolated versions of phosphoric acid, etc., are among them. And aspartame, aka Nutrasweet, may cause active damage.

Even worse, the “diet” in Diet Coke is a sham. Multiple studies have shown that people who drink diet soft drinks don't lose weight. In fact, they gain weight.

Some of the findings come from eight years of data collected by the University of Texas Health Science Center and were reported at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association.

According to the report, "What didn't surprise us was that total soft drink use was linked to overweight and obesity,"  "What was surprising was when we looked at people only drinking diet soft drinks, their risk of obesity was even higher."

In fact, when the researchers took a closer look at their data, they found that nearly all the obesity risk from soft drinks came from diet sodas.

"There was a 41% increase in risk of being overweight for every can or bottle of diet soft drink a person consumes each day,”

For regular soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:

26% for up to 1/2 can each day

30.4% for 1/2 to one can each day

32.8% for 1 to 2 cans each day

47.2% for more than 2 cans each day.

For diet soft-drink drinkers, the risk of becoming overweight or obese was:

36.5% for up to 1/2 can each day

37.5% for 1/2 to one can each day

54.5% for 1 to 2 cans each day

57.1% for more than 2 cans each day.

For each can of diet soft drink consumed each day, a person's risk of obesity went up 41%. 

What is the lesson here?  If you are going to put something in your body, make sure it is real beverage and food, not some sort of elixir or food-like substance cooked up by the marketing department at a beverage or processed food conglomerate.  They cannot come up with anything that is near as good as the real thing.  (The exception may be the newest drink in India made from cow urine.)

Indeed, to look at the chemical composition of any common food plant is to realize just how much complexity lurks within it. 

Here’s a list of just the antioxidants that have been identified in garden-variety thyme: Some of these chemicals are broken down by your digestion, but others are going on to do undetermined things to your body: turning some gene’s expression on or off, perhaps, or heading off a free radical before it disturbs a strand of DNA deep in some cell-Terpineol, alanine, anethole, apigenin, ascorbic acid, beta carotene, caffeic acid, camphene, carvacrol, chlorogenic acid, chrysoeriol, eriodictyol, eugenol, ferulic acid, gallic acid, gamma-terpinene isochlorogenic acid, isoeugenol, isothymonin, kaempferol, labiatic acid, lauric acid, linalyl acetate, luteolin, methionine, myrcene, myristic acid, naringenin, oleanolic acid, p-coumoric acid, p-hydroxy-benzoic acid, palmitic acid, rosmarinic acid, selenium, tannin, thymol, tryptophan, ursolic acid, vanillic acid.

I don’t know what any of that stuff is, but it all works together in mysterious and wonderful ways that are not fully understood by nutritionists and the marketing people at Shaklee or PepsiCo.   So, to stay healthy, and keep some extra money in your wallet, go straight to the fruit, vegetable, and natural juice sections of your local store and avoid the soft drink, snack and frozen food sections if you can.  Your body and bank account will love you for it.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tips for Woman Over 40 Looking for a Man

I have been losing a lot of sleep lately worrying about all the 40 plus year old women that I know that are looking for a new man in their lives. Kitty Kinnin, who tells me she just turned 40 after being 39 for an unspecified number of years says that there are a lot of women in this situation. She tells me that women at 40 are still in the prime of their dating/relationship lives and finding the right man is still high on their list of priorities.

It is sort of conventional wisdom, (at least with men) that for some reason women in this age bracket are at the height of the their sexual desire. While no one really knows for sure if this is truly the case or why, there is sort of a Darwinian explanation for the phenomenon that goes like this. When men are young, (teenage through 40) they are essentially sex crazed. One statistic says that guys in this age group think about sex about every ten seconds.

This level of desire in young men is connected to the human's innate need to reproduce and propagate the species. The conventional wisdom goes on to say that with this much sexual energy being focused on the male of the species, the females can be more choosy and laid back about their choices, again for the benefit of the species. (supposedly, a picky female guarantees that only the men with the best traits to pass on to future generations will get the right to reproduce. These important Darwinian decisions are usually made after 10 Bud Lites in a smokey bar.)

So when a women reaches 40 she starts to notice that men aren’t quite as interested as they used to be. Most women get down on themselves about it, thinking they don’t look as good as they used to. This is plain wrong...just look at Jennifer Anniston, and all her 40 year old friends. The reason that men don't seem as interested as they used to be is that they are thinking about sex every 5 minutes, instead of every 10 seconds. This doesn't seem like a big difference, but it is. It means that the male has more time to think about sports, beer, his car, his job and his that order.

So the Darwinian theory says that women have to pick up the sexual slack to make sure the species survives. This explains a lot of 40 year old female behavior and the development of a brand new type of female called "the Cougar". More on that in another rant.

So Kitty sent me over a list of things that a women over 40 needs to pay attention to when looking for a man. I have posted the list here.

The list is long and detailed, so I will not get into it here. has some surprising components that mostly have to do with how we dress, our personal hygiene and what we do for a living. There are also some traits that are admired, such as unconditional love, tolerance of animals, (especially in the bed) and taste in baubles. Thankfully, looks are barely on the list. the list, then like Kitty did, redact as much of it as you can. Darwin would say that this list artificially interferes with natural selection and the evolution of the species. However, the counter argument is that any guys that don't meet at least half these criteria should not be allowed to breed anyway.