Thursday, December 1, 2016

Still Crook

I spent the past few days desperately trying to convince myself that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I technically still had lungs.

Now I am painfully reminded of the existence of my lungs every minute or two because they are filled with pain-flavoured gunk and are quite miffed about this fact.

And yet, I can't help but notice that in my previous post I elected to assign an arbitrary five-digit number to the simpleton of a cell that kicked off this misery and for the second time since I started this blog, I managed to inadvertently produce a five-digit prime number.

If it happens once, it's an anecdote. If it happens twice, it's data. That is definitely how logic works and any attempts to explain otherwise will be destroyed by the unshakeable edifice of confirmation bias.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fucking Cold

This was my day.

Me: I think I will accomplish many things (or at least update that ratty old blog I used to have).

Sinus Cell #14939: Hey! I found this neat particle! You know what would be really cool? Making a billion more of them! And then dying!

Other Sinus Cells: Wow! That is cool! Let's all participate in this new trend!

Human rhinovirus: *goes viral*

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Game of Thrones

The reason Winterfell was conquered and its owners killed or scattered is because they were absolutely dedicated to playing the game of thrones but also very dedicated to playing it badly.

They were aristocrats through and through. Their support for the common people, though often expressed, was completely disingenuous; their sole concern was power and the maintenance thereof. However, the support of the common people is a substantial asset in maintaining power, and their main skill was convincing those common people that their greedy violent aristocrats were somehow "better" than anyone else's greedy violent aristocrats. Leveraging that popularity could have kept them supplied with wealth and power for thousands of years, but they threw that away in support of an incompetent failure simply because it was their "turn" to have power. Starting a war and screwing over the common people economically because of their aristocratic notions of whose "turn" it was to take power didn't end well for any of them and they have only themselves to blame.

This is not a commentary on any recent American elections. Why would you think it was?

PS— Congratulations America for making Brexit not the dumbest electoral decision to happen in 2016!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

My Mum Is A Conversational /dev/null

You can say anything to her and she will passively acknowledge having heard and understood it, but it will either go right over her head or right through it— in one ear and out the other.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stupid Café Fucked My Order

The stupid café down the street fucked up my order. I asked them for a flat white and they gave me a latte.

The place is amazingly cheap so I'm normally inclined to overlook mistakes, but giving me a latte instead of a flat white is not a mistake I can overlook because I am lactose intolerant and a latte has, at a guess, about six times as much milk as a flat white.

At least this place understood the meaning of "decaf." Given my brain's hostility to the idea of sleeping regularly every night, consuming any amount of caffeine would be a Very Bad Idea®.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sleep Status: AYFKM

Having been up for over 24 hours, I finally went to bed and actually managed to fall asleep.

For two hours.

Then I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep.

I lay in bed in the dark for awhile to maybe hint to my brain that I was still bone-shatteringly exhausted and maybe I should remain unconscious until I was properly rested, but my brain advised me that this was unnecessary— it's the middle of the afternoon (despite the clock insisting it was 1 in the morning), and a two-hour nap should be more than sufficient to keep me coherent until bedtime despite the fact that "bedtime" only exists hypothetically.

So I've been up since then. And my serious post has been languishing in drafts still half-written waiting for me to be coherent enough to finish it.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Little Things That BUG Me #11

Still not up for a proper post but I can probably manage a LTTBM so here goes.

When a work featuring non-human characters (alien, robot, talking animal, etc) neglects to replace human-specific language with more appropriate terms, that bugs me a bit. Why, exactly, is the alien who has never even seen a human before excusing his faults by saying: "I'm only human?" It doesn't make sense.

But what bugs me more is when such a work replaces species-agnostic terms with derivatives that specifically refer to the non-human nature of the speakers. The word "everybody" does not make any reference to species, so if you are an adult who is creepily obsessed with a certain children's cartoon, be very careful with your language or I might have to sever your leg.

Just to make things a little more complicated, all of my writing assumes the word "person" is a species-neutral term for any social sapient who might be present; mandraga are clearly not human but they'd be quite upset if a bigot declared they're not people. Not everyone shares this assessment (being as humans are the only people we know of IRL, it's not like the matter is easily settled by common usage), but I've been using it that way so long that seeing a non-human character replace "person" with a species-specific term just bugs me.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Post Poned.

I was planning to write an actual post with all the words and everything but I'm feeling crook and can't do things right now.

Except gakking my lungs out. That I think I can handle.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why Jasper Is Simultaneously Great And Terrible

I haven't slept and I will likely not be able to sleep. I asked my internal clock what time it was, and my internal clock said: "NaN" because it is just that brokened.

So instead of sleeping, I will post as to why Jasper is simultaneously great and terrible.

Reasons why Jasper is great:

1. It is quite charming.
2. It is very mountainous and scenic.
3. It has bears who are cute and cuddly.
4. Adjusted for population size, the food is amazing.
5. It is conveniently accessible by train.
6. It has a cable car.

Reasons why Jasper is terrible:

1. It is in Alberta. Alberta is not charming.
2. It is fucking cold in winter. Winter lasts from October to April.
3. Glomming bears is bad for your health and intactitude.
4. Everything is very expensive.
5. The trains are also very expensive.
6. I think it has a cable car. I didn't actually check. I was only there for two days, four years ago, and I couldn't sleep then either.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Today Is Tuesday

Tuesday is a good day to suffer a spell of SIWOTI Syndrome and end up explaining the intricacies of a foreign country's criminal code to a flock of furries on a forum.

And then forget to hit post until it's too late and the title is a filthy lie.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Factoid Of The Day #1

Yet another recurring series! Now I'm going to start posting a Factoid Of The Day!

Today's factoid of the day:

The "factoid of the day" feature is the one thing I reliably post on this blog every single day.

Friday, July 15, 2016

My Cousin Is Getting Married

A little while back, I used the example of a hypothetical cousin's third marriage as something I could care less about.

Less than a week later, I checked my email last arvo and found a missive from my IRL cousin who, it seems, is in fact getting married.

Not for the third time. In fact, she's actually marrying the partner she's had since before I was born, who I grew up calling my "cousin" by not-quite-marriage. I'd make some snarky comment about her being the third member of my family to end up marrying a shiksa goddess, but apparently her partner actually converted (from a Catholic-in-name-only atheist to a Jew-in-name-only atheist) so it looks like I don't get to.

I've been invited to the wedding but I'm not sure I can make it. Either way, I could care less.

Friday, July 8, 2016

This Post Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With South African Economic Policy

It is, instead, a post about language vaguely inspired by this completely random post made years ago on a blog I don't read and never even heard of until I fcuked up an important document and indignantly googled for the proper way to make a sacrifice to the great Tpyos.

The linked post contains a quote from this post elsewhere, the gist of which is thusly:

Because really, what is language for? When you distill it right down to its essence, it’s all about the teleportation of ideas and imaginings, right? Think about how strange this process is: I see something in my mind, or I have a thought, and by emitting a strange series of sounds (or by drawing a string of symbols), I can implant into your brain what was previously in mine. Bizarro. And yet we do it every day and take it completely for granted.

If language is meant to communicate, why do we get in an uproar when it does its primary job, but with slight imperfections? In most cases, the intent of an error-filled sentence is clear. Heck, you can leave all the vowels out of this entire blog post and most people would still be able to read it. The Idea-Teleporter that we call “language” can be missing quite a few bolts and springs and still do its job.

And yet, many people expect perfection out of a tool that does not require it. It’s like wanting a car that not only delivers us to our destination, but emits no road noise, has plenty of cup holders, and will not break down. Ever. It can’t simply do what it was meant to do, it has to do it without error or a scratch. I can’t think of many things that are held to this standard, but the written word seems to be one of them.

The blogger in my original link made some vague comments in response, but didn't really say any of the things I thought of.

So I will write a response of my own. To a four-year-old post. On a blog I don't read. And then post it on a blog no one reads. It's called being internet famous.

Anyway, it's entirely true that language is a tool for communication. It evolves with use, and prescriptivists who obsess over rules they make up are completely failing to grasp the purpose of language in the first place. That said, just because language doesn't have top-down rules imposed by an authority doesn't mean it doesn't have rules.

It's true that language doesn't have to be perfect to be understood. You're udnersanding off these sentence bes'nt effected bye it's pore grammars, speling + tpyos. Hll, vn ths sntnc s t lst smwht cmprhnsbl nd t hs n vwls. However, while you may be able to understand those flawed sentences, it takes more work to do so. Essentially, the ideas teleporter carries a cost in the form of work— either the writer must do the work of making the passage comprehensible or the reader must do the work of (mentally) correcting its errors.

Most people aren't consciously aware of why they fly into a frothing rage over poor grammar and spelling. The usual comments about it reflecting poorly on the writer's education sounds like a rationalisation (and full of racist and classist assumptions at that). However, I think the reason why poor writing bugs so many of us is specifically because the writer is making us do the work to understand it— subconsciously, we are screaming: "You want to use the idea teleporter to teleport your ideas into my head AND REVERSE THE CHARGES??!" Even if it's not the product of laziness, we're viscerally annoyed— I know I get viscerally annoyed by it in much the same way I get annoyed by prescriptivists trying to impose silly rules. They're asking me to spend more cognitive power on language processing and they cannot offer a legitimate reason.

And this is now four posts in a row. That's something.

Vital stats:

Blog: Apparently
Date: Today
Current Mood: Prolific
Sleep Status: Yes
Word of the Day: Specific
Postage: 90p
Spoonage: 2000
Cat: Her name is Tabitha I think she's a witch
Tag: You're it
Gag: Rhyming stats
Fag?: I don't smoke
Job: I gotta stop you there. I'm pretty sure jorb is a four letters word.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Finally Got My Sploosh Machine Fixed

Because believe me, having your sploosh machine b0rked is a major inconvenience.

Tropes I Don't Like (Part 2)— Species Culture

It's not a recurring feature if it never recurs so now it's time for Tropes I Don't Like the second part.

Today's trope is Species Culture, which is Exactly What It Says On The Tin— the idea that a species has a culture.

This trope is widespread in sci-fi, fantasy, and especially anything that caters to the furry fandom— basically, anything that has multiple species involved will try to give each of them (except humans) a single culture. Elves are smugly superior lanky blokes who shoot arrows. Lombaxes are really good engineers. Wombats aren't cultural relativists, for extra irony points.

At its most basic, any work that refers to "[species name] religion" or "[species name] art" or law or music or what have you is committing the sin of species culture. However, more egregious examples abound, where a fairly cosmopolitan city inhabited by multiple species will have one culture for each species, and each culture is universal to that species— because obviously, a vahamere who was born in Westmoreland and thoroughly steeped in Westmori culture would have far more in common with a vahamere who was born and raised in The Fells than a mandraga who was born and raised in Westmoreland just one town over.

The worst examples of species culture are generally from works produced by or catered to the furry fandom. By its nature, the furry fandom generally focuses on characters who deliberately affect a small number of stereotyped animal behaviours while otherwise acting completely human, and whose authors are careful to avoid any humanlike characterisation that might overshadow the affected animal behaviours.

Meanwhile, in real life any species that's at least marginally intelligent will have some degree of culture learned from its upbringing that it will pass on to and exchange with those it meets— and the more intelligent and social the species, the more complex its cultures will be. This means that when it comes to this one aspect of behaviour, real animals are actually more humanlike than "anthro" ones so take that furries.

I Could Care Less

From now on, if I say "I could care less" about something, it means I care more than you think I do but less than you want me to.

So if I say I could care less about your collection of model trains, it means I do care, because you're my friend and I care about all the things you do, but I don't think it's nearly as important or amazing as you clearly want me to because seriously, they're just really expensive toys for grown-ups.

I could care less about my cousin's third wedding. She obviously thinks it's important enough to invite me to, and I wish nothing but the best for her and her third wife, but I just can't justify the expense of going.

I could care less about my boss's new baby. I genuinely do appreciate him being out of the office for the next six weeks, but it's just not that important.

I could care less if you try to "correct" my use of this phrase. Your smug "correction" will bother me briefly, but then I will link you to this post and be done with the matter. And if you're an arsehole who declares I'm wrong anyway? I couldn't care less.

Friday, July 1, 2016

On Odd Coincidence

The other day, I found myself suddenly pressed to explain the concept of public key cryptography in a google-free environment.

So I awkwardly tried to stammer through an explanation of the basic principle of creating mathematically linked public and private keys using an irreversible operation; namely, that it's computationally easy to multiply large numbers but computationally difficult to factor them. In the process, I came up with a large number off the top of my head - 74,257 - and used it to demonstrate the difficulty of finding a number's prime factors.

The minute I made it back to the internet, I double-checked a suspicion that had been bugging me for hours, only to have it confirmed— 74,257 is, in fact, prime.

So in the process of trying to explain the complexities of prime numbers, I inadvertently came up with a five-digit prime number on the first try unaided. Thanks to the miracle of confirmation bias, I will now believe that I have a supernatural knack for coming up with prime numbers on the spot and proceed to make a colossal fool of myself.

PS: I'm still not talking about Brexit. Maybe if I ignore it for long enough it will retroactively have never happened.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Halp the dog is sitting on my bed

how do I remove this dog from my bed I cant do anything while she is sitting here

Saturday, May 28, 2016

And Now, Our Feature Dream

I feel a bit of sympathy for people who don't remember their dreams after waking up. Dreaming can be quite fun, and mine seem especially so. I've had exciting dreams. I've had entertaining dreams. I've even had more than a few lucid dreams; far from every night, but often enough that I have a reality check to confirm that I'm dreaming when they happen.

However, one night last week I had a feature film. Produced by my subconscious. And delivered as a dream. That's never happened before.

In fact, it was actually remarkable because of its complete omission of dream-logic. Sure, it operated according to movie-logic which is no more realistic, but even a bad movie riddled with plot holes has a certain coherence to it that even lucid dreams generally lack; even after waking up from it, I was willing to suspend disbelief in much the same way I would for, say, a Doctor Who serial. (That the dream had the aesthetic of a no-budget film from the 1960s or 1970s certainly helped in that regard.)

The dream/film was set in New York City in/around Columbia University. No time period was specified, but it was presumably supposed to be the late 1960s or early 1970s; the dream looked like a movie from that era, the protagonist looked a bit hippie-ish, and the streets immediately outside the campus looked extremely rundown; the neighborhood around Columbia (called Morningside Heights) genuinely was rundown in that era, but when I was there (in the early 2000s) it was trendy and expensive.

Curiously, while no computers or mobiles or other era-inappropriate technology made any appearance, the cars were suspiciously current and did not resemble those of the era. I didn't register this fact until after I woke up, though, so I suppose it was just a facet of the scene being cobbled together from my own years-old memories of the neighborhood mixed with a few historical facts and photos and not actually part of the scene itself.

The film's protagonist was a long-haired 20-something hippie-ish man who I could have sworn was given a name but I don't remember it now. (I'd look it up, but IMDB does not cover private screenings for one provided by my own subconscious. I'll just call him George.) He was a student at Columbia who, one evening, walked into a restaurant near the campus and discovered that its patrons had all slid about halfway down the slope of the Uncanny Valley. Looking at them, it was impossible to point to any one thing wrong with them and yet, their mannerisms were just inhuman in some indescribable way— and this fact became apparent to both George the protagonist and me the viewer (and I still felt it having woken up). Shaken by the sight of them, George left immediately. He returned to the restaurant the following day around noon, only to discover it was abandoned— not just closed, but nonexistent; no tables or chairs, the storefront clearly available to let. That evening, he returned yet again only to find the restaurant once more quite existent, and quite busy with creepily inhuman patrons. Working up his courage, George went in and inquired about the place; a smiling (and decidedly normal-human) hostess cheerily informed him that this was a parallel universe restaurant situated in between a number of different worlds and open to all of them. She showed George a few strips of shiny gray metal tacked to the doorframe and informed him that the presence of that metal indicated a portal between universes.

Inspired by the discovery of parallel universes accessible through metal-marked portals, George met with his girlfriend (who had a name I've again forgotten; I'll call her Max). The two of them set out to investigate portals and parallel universes and through their investigation learned that the neighborhood was absolutely lousy with them. They also learn that the few people who've done enough research to know about portals and alternate universes can be granted their own private universe which serves as a paradise in which they can live the remainder of their lives in bliss.

Through research and investigation, George and Max successfully make arrangements to receive their own private paradise and are advised to go to a particular building on the campus to reach it. When they do, they find the building locked but they also find the distinctive portal-metal on the doors and so figure out how to enter the portal located on the threshold without physically opening the door. On the other side, they find a small garden with a portal-metal archway at its far end, to transport them to their destination. In the penultimate scene, they pass through the archway portal— and end up chest-deep in a disgusting swamp/sewer thing from which there is no means of escape; the portal that took them there only goes one way.

The final scene takes place in a classroom (presumably at Columbia, though never explicitly stated) in which a distinguished elderly professor lectures on the history of humanity's interactions with the elder gods, with particular emphasis on the fact that humans who make arrangements with them inevitably get screwed. Elder gods lie, you see. Their promises of paradise are not to be trusted.

All told, the story was actually a bit boring and certainly loaded with plot holes. No one can see the portals that are right there in the open. There are apparently portals on nearly every building yet George never explores them. The final scene comes completely out of nowhere; there were no mentions of gods at any point prior to that. If this were a real film, I'd say it was a bad one and not necessarily an endearingly bad one despite its no-budget-1970s vibe. Frankly, the novelty value of having a feature film as a dream is really the only reason I'm even bothering to write about it.

Incidentally, according to Google Street View, the location of the extra-universal restaurant from the dream is occupied by a real restaurant called Vine Sushi and Asian Cuisine. That's... actually a little bit creepy, I think. If you happen to find yourself in the area, can you just check to see if that place has two vertical strips of shiny gray metal nailed to each side of the doorframe?

Rating Summary:

Medium: Dream
Genre: Sci-fi
Availability: Nonexistent
Bechdel Compliance: No (apparently, my subconscious is sexist?)
Rating: I literally slept through the whole thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

On My Own Eating Habits

Apparently, my eating habits are so routine at this point that if I go to my local greasery* and order a "barger and frims"** for takeaway, they will know exactly what I want. I confirmed this through experimentation.

*Emphatically a real word, my dude.
**Not actually real words; I just made them up.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I Don't Want To Comment On Brexit

So instead, I will be discussing diet. This issue is decidedly uncontroversial— I'm right, and a bunch of numpties are wrong.

A few days ago, I found myself googling for lactose-free ice cream. Because I am lactose intolerant and yet I enjoy ice cream. Obvs. Naturally, if I search for lactose-free ice cream, it is unmistakably clear that I am seeking sources of productage which meet two criteria, namely (1) is lactose-free, and (2) is ice cream.

You can google the phrase yourself and verify that no such results are produced. Instead, I get many pages and sites promoting various dairy-free ice cream alternatives. Is that what I am looking for? No. Of course it fucking isn't. It meets criterion #1, in that dairy-free products are devoid of lactose, but it fails on criterion #2 in that an alternative to ice cream, surprising as this may seem, isn't bloody ice cream.

It's not like lactose-free ice cream is impossible to create. It just needs to be treated with lactase enzyme to break down the lactose into glucose and galactose. We are talking about a product that physically exists on the Earth at this time, not some science fiction wondermaterial. Yet not only have I yet to acquire this tasty yet non-toxic delight, but it seems the entire internet has failed to understand why this might be in any way relevant.

OK, so I'm not the only person on the interwebs who understands concepts like diet and what the words "healthy" and "restrictions" mean when used in relation to it. However, for some reason, dietary health is one field in which the internet has been absolutely inundated with thickies who don't let their complete and utter ignorance of all things food-related prevent them from offering detailed earnest advice on how to improve your health. In fact, just while googling for the name of that lactose-free ice cream I've never actually seen in the shops, I ended up finding this load of dross about ice cream.

Just the title is enough to set sensible people on edge:

9 Delicious Alternative Ice Cream Brands: From Organic to Lactose- and Gluten-Free

I'm not sure what an "alternative brand" is (my opinion on the subject of brands already being well-covered on this blog), and all ice cream is organic by definition, since "organic" means "carbon-based" which lipids and sugars are. Then we get "lactose-free" and "gluten-free" side by side, as if they were equally noteworthy when, in fact, ice cream does not naturally contain gluten under any circumstances while it does contain lactose unless treated with lactase enzyme.

The very first line of text offers this little insight:

Nothing says summer like a rich, creamy ice cream cone -- and who says this has to be a guilty indulgence?

I have a heuristic I find quite useful when evaluating food and advice relating thereto— if the person purveying it believes there is a non-zero chance I might feel guilty for eating something, they are not worth listening to.

And then we get this:

Options from these nine companies include a lactose-free flavor with naturally more protein, one made with coconut milk and gluten-free cookie dough, and an organic ice cream sandwich.

In which a health-mandated dietary restriction (lactose-free) is treated as indistinguishable from bullshit fad diets (more protein). It gets even worse on the next page, in which it describes goat milk ice cream thusly:

If you're lactose intolerant, then you'll appreciate that it won't affect you like cow's milk. If you're a health nut, then you'll like rest easy knowing it has more protein and calcium than other ice creams.


All ungulate milk regularly consumed by humans has the same amount of lactose— about 6% give or take. If you're lactose intolerant, you will get just as sick from eating that as you would regular ice cream. If you are allergic to milk, you can probably consume it safely, as milk allergies are usually triggered by a protein specific to cow's milk but milk allergies are incredibly rare compared to lactose intolerance.

If you're a health nut, then the protein and calcium might well appeal to you, but it will have exactly bugger all effect on your overall health.

So now that I'm done ranting about the very most recent bit of diet-related rubbish I found, how about some meaningful advice? What actually does make a healthy diet?

It's actually fairly simple. Your body needs a certain amount of energy to power its vital functions. Energy comes from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Meeting your body's energy requirements is simply a matter of consuming the right number of kcals per day. It doesn't matter where they come from, although fat is more energy-dense than either protein or carbohydrates.

In addition to energy needs, your body also needs protein and very small amounts of a large number of other chemicals like riboflavin and ascorbic acid and iron, but if you live in a developed country and you've got enough money to buy groceries at shops regularly and you're not following any weird fad diets then you really don't need to think about any of them; you'll meet your body's need for those things without even trying.

If you have any specific health conditions, you will need to accommodate them. However, just because someone has them doesn't mean you do; many fad diets (see: gluten-free) are based around taking a food or ingredient that is genuinely unhealthy for the often-small minority of people who have an often-obscure health condition and declaring, sans evidence, that it is unhealthy for everyone.

So if you have no diet-restricting health issues and you have regular access to shops that sell food you really only have to worry about total kcals consumed— well, and also quirks of your metabolism about when to eat them, and there's rather a lot of meta about what will make you feel full and so forth, so in fact it wasn't entirely true to say that diet is easy. Perhaps I should have said that there are certain complications you can just ignore because they are all rubbish.

So let's focus on those.

QUESTION: How do I tell whether a particular food is healthy or not?

ANSWER: There is no such thing as a "healthy" food or an "unhealthy" food. A diet can be healthy or unhealthy overall depending on whether you are consuming the right amount of the many various chemicals you need but there's no such thing as a food which is inherently healthy or unhealthy in isolation without regard to how much of it you eat how often and what else you eat. (Unless it's gone off; mouldy food is unhealthy.)

QUESTION: What about all the studies that say [$INGREDIENT] is good/bad for you and may cause/cure cancer?

ANSWER: Did you read the study itself, or just the headline of the Daily Mail article that misunderstood the study? Firstly, any scientific study can produce spurious results; the effects of various foods on health has been so over-studied that chance alone dictates that most foods can be "shown" to cause/cure a particular malady. Secondly, science can be done badly; a lot of money rides on our food choices and companies are happy to invest massive sums into "proving" that their food improves your health and the competition harms it. Thirdly, even when science is done right, the accurate and robust study will be filtered through pop science publications that want "groundbreaking discoveries" that the slow and methodical process of science rarely provides and misinterpreted by woo-woos pushing fad diets before it reaches you; thanks to this massive game of Chinese whispers, a robust scientific study showing that, say, pregnant women who consume milk chocolate are just as unlikely to damage the brain development of their feotus as pregnant women who consume dark chocolate will be released to the public as articles proclaiming chocolate to be "brain food" that improves your intelligence.

QUESTION: OK mister clever clogs, if you know so much about diet then how do I lose weight?

ANSWER: You can't. It's impossible. Sorry. If you want to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off, then you're right fucked and should probably try for a more realistic goal like winning an Olympic medal.

I know that's not the answer you want, but that = the facts. The diet industry is feeding you lies (and usually very nasty food as well).

In theory, losing weight is a simple proposition of burning more energy than you consume; the resulting deficit must be extracted from your fat reserves, so you lose weight. Basic physiology doesn't lie; maths neither. Psychology (and more complex physiology), on the other hand, are about to heap a bunch of complications on this "just don't eat so much" plan. Basically, your body regulates your appetite and metabolism in order to maintain itself in good condition. Unfortunately for our fat friends, it interprets whatever you weigh now as your "baseline" to maintain and if you start going below that your body will assume that you're starving and will crank up your appetite and slow your metabolism in order to conserve the energy it thinks is precious. The slower metabolism limits your calories burned, all while the increased appetite drives you to eat more, creating a surplus that cancels the earlier deficit. This brings us to the part where a bunch of people start prattling about "willpower." If only you had the willpower to keep to your diet and not binge on food just because your appetite cranked up, you could be skinny now! I would like to suggest that those people conduct an experiment: Light a candle, then hold your hand right in the flame. Continue to do so for as long as you can. How long did you last? Two seconds? Ten seconds? I bet most of you didn't even have the willpower to put your hand in the flame at all. Maybe some of you are super tough and lasted a minute or two. Congratulations! You can try the second task: Hold your hand in the candle flame forever. All it takes is the "willpower" to override your survival instinct nonstop for the rest of your life, which you think every fat person can do.

The good news is that obesity isn't nearly as bad for you as most people think it is. I know that won't help with the social stigma but I can at least throw you that bone.

Now that we've handled that I shall finish off this post with a quick primer on the difference between lactose intolerance and milk allergy, which by virtue of being posted on a blog with literally no readers, will serve to educate the entire population of the Earth so that I never see the two confused and conflated again.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to metabolise the sugar lactose, a disaccharide comprised of glucose and galactose. Like most polysaccharides, lactose cannot be absorbed by the intestine directly and must be broken down into its constituent monosaccharides by an enzyme called lactase. Lactase is produced by the intestinal tract of infant mammals who have not yet been weaned and by adult humans who have a mutation called lactase persistence. As such, lactose intolerance isn't a health issue as such; lactose is only found in milk, so being unable to digest it is the default condition for all animals other than infant mammals who are nursing. Lactose is found in all milk, and it is found in the same quantity in all milk adult humans regularly consume, however it is not found in a wide variety of products derived from milk. For example, because lactose is a sugar, it is effectively absent from butter (which is all fat), from heavy cream (which is mostly fat), and from most cheese (which is mostly protein and fat). Consuming lactose when you are lactose intolerant will cause various digestive complaints because while you can't digest it, your gut flora can and they will do so via fermentation, much to your chagrin.

Milk allergy, on the other hand, is an allergy, meaning like all allergies, it is effectively an autoimmune disease. Rather than being caused by your gut flora calling bagsies on a food source you clearly can't use, it is caused by your immune system launching all-out war on a harmless substance. Accordingly, while a milk allergy can cause digestive complaints similar to lactose intolerance, it can also cause hives, anaphylaxis, and death. While lactose intolerance, as the name implies, is a reaction to the sugar lactose, a milk allergy is usually a reaction to a specific protein found in cow's milk. As such, while lactose intolerant people must avoid all milk but not sugar-free dairy products like butter, cream, and hard cheeses, people who are allergic to milk must avoid cow's milk and any products derived from it.

Some people (including those linked earlier in this post) believe that goat's milk is better for lactose intolerant people than cow's milk. I've seen this spewed anecdotally in many places but it's almost certainly bullshit (or goatshit as the case may be). Taking lactase enzyme supplements is effective, but only to a limited extent.

So hopefully you will now make good choices related to food rather than wasting money on fad diets and wasting effort on trying to keep track of which foods are "good for you" and "bad for you" according to pop science articles misinterpreting studies. Remember, when you know how nutrition really works, ALL food is guilt-free!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Apparently I Am A Primate

So I was in bed last night but sleep was not a thing which was forthcoming. (If it were that easy, I wouldn't include "sleep status" in the vital stats.) Being as a state of blissful dreamy unconsciousness was waylaid (having apparently fallen asleep en route to my bedroom and ended up in hospital after driving into a tree) I found myself doing... whatever. I'm not even sure. It's not easy to pass the time when you're barely coherent and should be asleep.

But pass the time I did, and in the process I somehow managed to do some weird scrunchy contortion thing. And while midtortion* I ended up looking at myself from an unusual perspective. Gaining this new perspective on my body made one revelation unmistakably clear: Yep, I'm a primate alright.

Why I'd even go so far as to say I'm probably an ape of some sort.

Now technically I already knew this was the case. I mean, everyone already knows where humans fit into the whole evolutionary tree thing. But even though we all know it, it's still weird to see it so suddenly when you weren't expecting to. Probably the whole bipedalism thing— your body is literally beneath you most of the time and doesn't bear much thinking about. Then something sort of forces you to take a look and you go: "Why am I, a human brain, stuck in an ape body? Oh wait, that's my body. Also technically it's all me and I should probably stop dismissing it as just a life support system for the real me upstairs."

Now it's right proper morning and the sun is singing and the birds are blooming and I still haven't slept a wink. I'll try again after lunch. My boss is surprisingly lenient about paying me to sleep on the job.

*Absidefinitely** a real word, mateys.

**Not actually a real word. I just made it up because it sounded cool.