Archive for Seriously

Gluten-free, organic, bullcrap

Here’s a post on Gawker on why you shouldn’t believe everything you read about “what’s bad for you”.

STOP CUTTING SUGAR OUT OF YOUR DIET. I’ve been attending a lot of food events these days, and I cringe every time a mother upturns her nose and says that she doesn’t allow her little children to have any sugar. THAT IS SO MEAN. Yes, sugar is bad for you, but the World Health Organization has guidelines that you and your family can follow to consume just enough. You can also read this long and detailed article which investigates whether sugar is toxic. From the article:

It’s one thing to suggest, as most nutritionists will, that a healthful diet includes more fruits and vegetables, and maybe less fat, red meat and salt, or less of everything. It’s entirely different to claim that one particularly cherished aspect of our diet might not just be an unhealthful indulgence but actually be toxic, that when you bake your children a birthday cake or give them lemonade on a hot summer day, you may be doing them more harm than good, despite all the love that goes with it. Suggesting that sugar might kill us is what zealots do.

HUMANS HAVE BEEN CONSUMING GLUTEN FOR THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF YEARS, WITH NO PROBLEM. So many people I meet these days are on gluten-free diets, citing “intolerance”. As a person who has suffered from an actual food allergy my entire life, I find it upsetting that people don’t appreciate having a healthy body. MODERATION, FOR GOD’S SAKE. Here is a genius New Yorker piece on gluten:

For many people, avoiding gluten has become a cultural as well as a dietary choice, and the exposition offered an entry ramp to a new kind of life. There was a travel agent who specialized in gluten-free vacations, and a woman who helps plan gluten-free wedding receptions. One vender passed out placards: “I am nut free,” “I am shellfish free,” “I am egg free,” “I am wheat free.” I also saw an advertisement for gluten-free communion wafers.

I would like to go on about the other sort of carb-free, organic, “natural” fad diets that people are subjecting their bodies to, but I think you get the point.

Eat well, exercise, follow scientific dietary guidelines, and you’ll be fine. Or a truck might run you over tomorrow. Or you may die from pollution-induced cancer. Or you may have bad genes.

Moderation.

Fad diets



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To Love Muath

1

I’ve been worried to death about Muath since I heard about his fallen plane in late December. Yesterday’s news was one of the most horrifying moments in my life, second maybe only to my father’s death.

There isn’t much to say. I believe that violence begets violence, so I will not join the ranks of people calling for vengeance. We need to weed out extremism from our midst, and that can’t be done with violence. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing.

I’m getting really upset by the people dwelling on the details. I find it really rude and cowardly when I hear people discussing the validity of the video. I know the incident is disgusting. I know we don’t want to believe it. But we must face the truth. Muath died a horrible death to keep you safe. He died so you can go to your job in the morning, and come back home to your family at night. Don’t you forget that, and don’t you belittle that.

The Jordanian government says Muath was murdered a month ago. That means that the ISIS assholes had a whole month to add special effects to make the experience even more sadistic. Special effects don’t bring Muath back to his wife, mother, father, and to us. He’s still just as dead.

May you rest in peace, Muath. You’re a hero.

We love you.



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Justice, Racism, and Accountability: The Serial Podcast

I listened to “Serial” this weekend, a podcast that tries to “solve” a murder case that happened 15 years ago in 1999, in which a Pakistani immigrant called Adnan Syed was charged for murder.

I strongly recommend you listen to “Serial”. For one thing, it’s real. Adnan is a real person, and he really is serving a life sentence for the alleged murder of his girlfriend. He was convicted in Maryland, the United States, when he was 18, and if you listen to the podcast, you’ll see that the conviction was pretty shady.

The podcast is an amazing insight into the nature of justice, the objectivity of perspective, and racism. Sarah Koenig meticulously goes over every piece of evidence at hand, both incriminating and otherwise. She interviews every person related to Adnan and Hae, the victim. She poses questions that tackle every single angle. She is so thorough it’s impressive.

Yet, even with all Sarah’s thoroughness, my own personal conclusion is that there isn’t enough data to decide whether Adnan is innocent or guilty. The information is inconclusive.

You see, I’ve spent a good portion of time in the past few years consciously training myself to think critically. This has involved learning formal logical fallacies. Ultimately, it is fallacious reasoning that keeps us from knowing the truth. As I listened to the prosecution, all I could do was count the logical fallacies I heard: Fallacy of Presumption, Ad Hominem, Appeal to Authority, Biased Sample, Appeal to Ignorance, False Dilemma, Poisoning the Well, Questionable Cause…

Yes, I’m aware that misusing fallacies is a natural part of the justice system. Tapping into people’s inability to think critically is what law seems to be all about: manipulation by those skilled in the art of rhetoric.

This is where accountability comes in. Our humanity is based around the concept of accountability. What makes us different from animals is not intelligence — animals are intelligent too — but accountability. Thousands of years of laws, tradition, and religion has cemented our need for accountability.

There is not enough evidence in the case to assess Adnan’s innocence or guilt. Regardless of whether Adnan is guilty or not, it seems to me that Adnan was convinced to hold someone accountable for the death of an innocent girl.

And this is why Serial is so amazing. It just shows you what such a screwed up thing justice is.

Yet, the worst part by far is the motive claimed by the prosecution. Racism screwed up a kid’s life. It is atrocious, disgusting, racist, and xenophobic. According to the prosecution, Adnan’s motive was something in between being the “crazy possessive Muslim guy” and the hypocritical bad guy who is pretending to be a “good Muslim” but is instead doing something “evil”. He was after all, they claimed, dating in secret, due to not wanting to his conservative families to know.

It was this “motive” that was used against Adnan by the prosecution, and he was made out to be the psychopath who hid his dating from his family because he is a psychopath. They said Adnan was guilt ridden about lying to his family about having a girlfriend, and so he killed his girlfriend. They presented him as this two-faced bastard with a split personality.

This is where I was like WTF.

In 1999, when Adnan was convicted, I was a teenager too. I keep going back to 1999 and feeling horrified that this poor guy basically got locked up for hiding stuff from his parents, when me, myself, and everyone I knew were hiding stuff too.

They put a kid away simply because they couldn’t relate to his background.

1. Hiding stuff from parents during your teenage is the normal thing as far as Middle Eastern culture is concerned. You operate thinking that your parents don’t want to know these things. I hid stuff from mine all the time, even though I knew they wouldn’t have given a crap. I hid it because everyone else in the community hid it from their own parents.

2. Middle Eastern culture is very strongly connected to religion, so it’s harder to face parents. Their concern over their children’s behavior is deep-rooted in the fear of God. Parents get really worried when they think their kids might go to hell, and so kids just avoid letting their parents know that they’re doing stuff that “god might not be too happy with” for their parents’ peace of mind. This is totally normal. It doesn’t make anyone a bad person. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, it’s really sweet. Let the mothers sleep soundly at night, yeah?

I can’t believe that the prosecution used this against Adnan. It really is atrocious.

So yeah. A lot of thinking about a podcast. Listen to it, it’s really good.



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How to Be Happy, According to Kant

The topic of happiness is one that fascinates me. Maybe because I discovered the secret happiness a few years ago.

Immanuel Kant also said stuff about happiness:

The more a cultivated reason gives itself over to the aim of enjoying life and happiness, the further the human being falls short of true contentment.

It’s true, you know. Stop hoping to be happy and just be happy.



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Should You Worry? Here’s a Flowchart That Answers That Question

Worrying sucks. The good news is you can do something about it.

Simply follow this flowchart:

Via LifeHacker



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Sponsored Video: A Leap of Faith / قفزة ثقة

[Sponsored video]

مرض شلل الأطفال معد وخطير، ويمكن أن يصيب الصغار والكبار. يسعى فيلم قفزة ثقة إلى نشر الوعي حول شلل الأطفال وجهود التطعيم في باكستان. احموا أطفالكم من شلل الأطفال والأمراض الأخرى. شجاعتكم ستحافظ على صحتهم

Polio is a preventable disease that affects young children and adults. Leap of Faith seeks to raise awareness of polio and vaccination efforts in Pakistan. Protect your children from polio and other preventable diseases. Your courage will keep them healthy.

مرض شلل الأطفال معد وخطير، ويمكن أن يصيب الصغار والكبار. يسعى فيلم قفزة ثقة إلى نشر الوعي حول شلل الأطفال وجهود التطعيم في باكستان. احموا أطفالكم من شلل الأطفال والأمراض الأخرى. شجاعتكم ستحافظ على صحتهم

Polio is a preventable disease that affects young children and adults. Leap of Faith seeks to raise awareness of polio and vaccination efforts in Pakistan. Protect your children from polio and other preventable diseases. Your courage will keep them healthy.



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