Monday, May 9, 2011

I've Never Been So Happy to See Another Human Being Dead

That was some incredible news the other day. And those scenes of spontaneous celebration, in NYC, in front of the White House and at the Phillies game...I felt connected to my countrymen in a way I can't remember. Maybe 9/11, or when I was 8 watching the Olympics when the USSR was still in the mix. But the feeling didn't last long. Nor did I expect it to. It only took a few hours for the bickering to start, whether Obama is sharing enough credit with Bush, or if dead Osama pics should be released, or whatever other nonsense is out there.

And it's not that these questions are being asked that bothers me, but the nature of the debate. People are starting with their conclusions and working their way back to the facts that support them. The Salon did a good run down on the hater's guide to keep on hating. But most of us are aware of the ridiculous political conversations we see on our televison and read on the internet, the tribal partisanship that subdivides this nation. What can we do? Tribalism is just who we are as people, whether that's America or anywhere else.

No, the surprise wasn't the rehashing of the political arguments I've seen since my childhood. It was my joy in another human being's death. And it seems like I'm not alone. Even the Dalai Lama sanctions the hit. Although I was annoyed to see that Human Rights Watch thinks it was morally wrong to kill Osama. I was also bummed that Kurt Vonnegut is no longer alive to share his thoughts. He had such mixed emotions about human nature, it's hard to know where he would've ended up on this.

I just reread Cat's Cradle. Vonnegut had such a sweet perspective. That lost narrator working towards the book's resolution and finding his fate, clearly seeing what was wrong with other people, especially himself. He was at a loss to do anything about our collective fate except write. And my fleeting nationalism, that feeling of connectedness with my fellow countrymen, that was just a granfalloon. The nation is an arbitrary boundary which connects human beings on a superficial level. For the deep connections, I'll have to search further than the nation. Hopefully the new wife will be my duprass. Things are looking good so far, but only time will tell.

But what struck me most about all of this is how much one man directed world events in the last decade. Osama ordered 19 men to fly 4 airplanes (3 successfully) into U.S. buildings, killing nearly 3000 people. In turn, the US responded by invading two countries at a cost of 345 billion for Al Qaeda's protectors and 3 trillion for Al Qaeda's avowed enemy. The low end of total deaths as a result of these two wars is around 120,000, while it is possible the real number is much higher.

And yet Osama spent the last 6 years inside a mansion compound, his last days video taping himself watching himself on a 20' television, while we burned through that 3.5 trillion dollars and 120,000 plus people. And in the end it was a ridiculous amount of intelligence gathering, surveillance, patience, and a ballsy commando raid that took him out. All of it a reminder there was another way we could have conducted the war on terror, and how pointless that Iraq invasion was.

Anyways, I'm not sure how to end this post. Just a collection of thoughts on this guy and the last 10 years in this country. We overreacted at a terrible expense to our Treasury, our Armed Forces, and the civilian population of one Muslim country while not focusing early enough on the other. It felt great that he's dead, and it still feels good when I see unvarnished announcements of the death replayed. But it's a joy that doesn't last when I see d-bags talking about it. It's a reminder that nationalism is a false connection for those looking for real human contact, and that Kurt Vonnegut books are amazing. That guy really had a good sense of the complex beauty, humor and effed up aspects of human nature.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Human Nature

My wife and I started a pretty amazing diet 6 months ago, mostly because she had high blood pressure. She's 28 and was reluctant to take medication for the next 40-50 years. After talking with her brother, he got her to try the Paleo diet, something he's been doing for a while. Her blood pressure has gone from 150/100 to 125/80 without her significantly changing anything else about her lifestyle. The result can't be from anything other than the new diet (even though none of her doctors will credit the diet, and they've only recently conceded she doesn't need medication).

As for me, I've never eaten more fruits and vegetables in my life. That's sure to pay health dividends in the future. And while I've never been obese, I've still lost 10 pounds. I haven't been this lean since I was 25. I've also suffered from acne for the last 16 years of my life, along with shiny and plasticy skin. But all of that has cleared up, and my complexion has never looked better. (Alas, the receding hairline has remained. This diet is incapable of miracles.)

The Paleo diet has also given me a greater appreciation of foods. I enjoy the natural flavors much more. I no longer consume full bags of chips, or nearly as much tortillas, breads, and pastas; stomach fillers that dilute the nutritious meats and vegetables. Every week my wife makes salmon, steaks, rotisserre chicken, egg scrambles, fruit smoothies with cocunut milk... and writing this now makes my mouth water. It's really hard to communicate how delicious this diet is, and how great it makes you look and feel unless you try it for a month. The first few weeks are hard. The carbs and processed sugars are like a drug you need to cleanse out of your system. But once you've broken free of these substances, it's easy to stay on the diet. Now when I cheat (this diet also allows you to cheat a few meals each week without feeling guilty) and eat too much bread, candy, or drink too much booze, my stomach hurts in unnatural ways. And that's the point of the diet. Our bodies didn't evolve to digest most of the food we put into them.

So I like this diet. I feel like shouting it from the mountain tops. But I can't because most people don't give a shit (and why should they?) and the rest take it as a personal attack on their own eating habits. So I've gone with my blog, since if you've made it this far it's your own fault, and not because I trapped you in a corner at a party. Anyways, the diet is great and maybe you should try it. But if you don't want to, cool. I don't really care.

It's just that there are a small percentage of people who are annoying as shit about me being on this diet. (It's probably about the same percentage of people who are annoying as shit generally.)

The most common phenomemon is when other people tell me I'm cheating at my own diet. It's funny how many people suddenly become experts in the diets of caveman, even when they are saying things directly contrary to what I've read. The literature also makes it clear is there is considerable debate about what caveman actually ate. These people are clearly just making shit up on the spot. Again, a reminder that people find certainty that doesn't exist when they want to prove a point to win an argument. But I can't understand why people become personally invested in an argument about the food I choose to eat.

Probably the most frustrating thing that has happened is the behavior our active friends. Upon learning of my new diet they informed everybody that Paleo was stupid. A lazy man's version of the zone diet, which was also not that great. Essentially it was a waste of time with no health benefits. They're now on the diet. I can only guess this happened after they saw the physical affects the diet had on us both, since my wife also lost 10 pounds without changing her workout routine. Whenever talking about what they eat, it's all Paleo. But they can't bring themselves to say "We're eating Paleo". The other day, the husband finally admitted it's Paleo, but they still refuse to call it that. But he blamed the annoying hyped-up things cross-fit people say online about it, not that they just can't admit to their friends that they followed their idea (which we followed from a whole line of other people). God only knows why they want people to think they made it up. Anyways, so in conclusion this diet is great. And people can suck.