Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I guess I am a libertarian now, or maybe I've always been one and never knew it?

I've never paid much attention to politics, but even when I did, I just assumed, like most people do, there were no other significant parties besides the democrats and the republicans. I found this Centrist party, which I found very interesting and inspiring.

Check out this message on their page:

"America is 70% Centrist. So why are we letting 15% from the left and 15% from the right control our nation? We need to support Independent and Centrist candidates, or risk losing another election to special interests."

Sadly, as professional looking as their site is, the party is currently pretty much non-existent, as far as I can tell. Fortunately, the libertarian party is basically the same thing. Socially liberal like the democrats but financially conservative like the republicans... claim to be.

I'm fairly new to this, but I have a feeling the reason so many people don't realize that libertarianism is a good third option, is because there are a lot of misconceptions. Because of the party's focus on freedom, it tends to attract atheists, anarchists and gun freaks.

I have to give credit where credit is due, Stefan Molyneux really convinced me. But a quick word of warning, Stefan Molyneux has some crazy ideas, so take his personal advice with a grain of salt and check his resources for yourself if they seem dubious.

Here's the path that led me to libertarianism. First I read "Entertaining Ourselves to Death" which convinced me of the need to stop spending so much time playing video games and educate myself about the world around me.

My next big discovery was the paleo diet. I spent several months devouring books about that. One of Mark Sissions recommended books "The Vegetarian Myth" got me thinking about the fate of the planet and whether the lofty goal of feeding the world is even possible.

Then I read "The Bottom Billion" about how corruption, lack of infrastructure, civil war and greed can keep a country from growing. Reading "Behind The Beautiful Forevers" gave me a better idea of what the day to day struggles of the poor are like.

The Isla Vista shootings got everyone talking about gun control, which led me to Stefan Molyneux's videos and also got me very interested in bitcoin, which has the potential to be more stable than a lot of fiat currencies and could help the third world.

On top of all this, I noticed Penn Jillette is a libertarian, and I'm a huge fan of Bullshit!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Paleo is not a diet, it's a lifestyle

I live in Japan, so I don't know how much this misunderstanding persists. And I know there are plenty of more well known bloggers who have covered this topic in more detail. I just want to throw in my two cents. 

Vegans and vegetarians still struggle with this, but I know there are some places where you can tell people what kind of vegan or vegetarian you are and they can get a general idea of what sort of dish to prepare for you. I want that for paleo! I want to be able to simply tell people "I'm paleo" and not have to go into great detail about why I don't eat grains, dairy, drink alcohol or eat processed foods.

But first, there needs to be an effort to dismantle all the misinformation out there. I have a feeling there are still lots of people out there under the impression that paleo is all about eating loads of raw meat. It's not. The rules are not set in stone, but basically we eat real, natural foods. There is no "one true" paleo diet. Being paleo means learning about the affects of various foods and using that scientific information plus a little self experimentation to find the best foods, portions, combinations of foods, etc, that work for you. 

If even someone like John Green can misunderstand what paleo is, there is a big problem. He's the guy who said one of my favorite quotes ever, "the truth resists simplicity" so it seems utterly bizarre for him to have such a presumptious idea of what paleo is. I literally yelled at my computer screen. Ugh... 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

10 Reasons Not To Drink Alcohol

After six years of drinking, I think I am ready to stop. Since I grew up in the Mormon church, "god says it's bad" was the only reason I needed as a kid. Now I've stopped going to church, and I am surrounded by the drinking culture of Japan, so I need better reasons to not drink even though everyone around me drinks. I've tried to quit in the past, but I'd always google some research about the benefits of moderate drinking and not worry about it. Lately though, since I started eating paleo. I've been researching more and more, reading the good and the bad, reading lots of people's different experiences with alcohol. I've decided I've had enough.

10. It's Expensive

I've heard of people spending $300 or $500 dollars a week on it! I've never spent money on alcohol at that rate, but I think I have spent $100 some weeks in the past, and that is just crazy. Add up all the money I've spent on alcohol over the past six years, and I know I could have a nicer car, nicer TV, more money in the back, more money to make investments with, all kinds of things!

9. It's Acidic

Your body tries to achieve homeostasis, not too acidic, not to alkaline. I like veggies, sure, but I think we all know that it's the acidic stuff we crave. Taking alcohol off the menu makes it that much easier to maintain homeostasis and not cause your body unnecessary damage while still enjoying some tasty acid foods like sweet fruits and juicy meat.

8. It Causes Liver Problems

Smoking causes lung disease, sugary, high carb diets cause diabetes, alcohol causes liver disease. This should really be the only item on this list, but we humans have a hard time dealing with stuff in the distant future. That's why I've formed a habit of visualizing myself going into a doctor's office and getting the news that I have diabetes or liver disease whenever I get tempted by junk food and alcohol.

7. It Makes You Take Stupid Risks

This could be a list of its own... I've only broken a bone twice in my life, both times I was pretty drunk. I've only been arrested once, I was drunk at the time. I've spent time with some shady folks in bars who I would have gotten the hell away from had I been sober. I have trouble keeping track of things when I'm sober, so drinking only makes my absent-mindedness much worse. I've lost an MP3 player, a jacket, my car key (which cost $100 to get a new one made since it was my only copy at the time).

6. It Upsets Your Gut

I've thrown up, had stomach aches, diarrhea, fatigue and a few other obvious ill affects on my health as a direct result of drinking alcohol. Mark Sisson's post about this is very interesting.

5. Black Outs

Not remembering how you got somewhere or what you did last night is extremely unsettling. I never want it to happen again.

4. It Makes You Lose Your Voice At Karaoke Faster

Most people say they need a few drinks to sing karaoke, I'm the opposite, I love singing. I don't know if it's the alcohol directly damaging my throat as it goes down or if it's because I have a tendency to talk and sing louder when I'm drinking, but sometimes I lose my voice after only 1 or 2 songs, and that sucks.

3. It Prevents You From Burning Fat

Sometimes, I look at the dumbbells in my room and think of those ever elusive six pack abs I've been trying to get. Maybe with getting rid of alcohol on top of eating paleo, I'll finally be able to get them? Only one way to find out!

2. You Can't Eat Salmon

According to the Perfect Health Diet, eating salmon or sardines with alcohol is a big part of why alcohol causes liver problems. So you have to choose one or the other. I'd rather have salmon sashimi for breakfast than a beer for a nightcap.

1. It Alters Your Brain Chemistry

Being a heavy drinker doesn't make you addicted in the clinical sense, but being at risk of addiction doesn't sound a whole lot better, does it?

What about the benefits?
The few positive affects of alcohol as a source of anti-oxidants and as a stress reliever can be much more well achieved in other ways (eating dark chocolate and playing video games for example). 

So that's my list. Writing it all down like this makes it look like such an obvious decision, but it's so easy to slip back into old habits. So, from now on I think the only alcohol I will drink is complimentary or celebratory champagne once or twice a year. If I haven't eaten any salmon that day.

2 people who have never had alcohol who I admire.
Penn Jillette
Arin Hanson (Egoraptor)