July 28, 2005

Guaranteed Weight Loss! Ask Me How.

Category: Miscellany — Cranky @

Are you having difficult fitting into your summer clothes? Are you ashamed to let your midriff show? Have you been struggling with your weight for your whole life?

Fret no more – the solution is available to you for the very low price of… nothing. Indeed, the answer is so simple that you may ask, “Cranky, is this really all there is to it? Surely there must be more!” Yes, it really is that simple.

Eat reasonable portions. Exercise regularly.

That’s it.

I don’t care about your thyroid, your glacially slow metabolism, or your genetic predisposition. If you don’t eat too much, you won’t gain weight. If you eat reasonably and exercise, you will lose weight.

The problem is that western society in particular has trained us to think that a 12-oz steak with fries, beans and rice is reasonable. In truth, restaurant-sized portions are almost always too large. Potato chips come in innocuous looking bags that pack a 300 calorie whallop. Chocolate bars come in over 200 calories each. Even breakfast cereals list their calorie content in quantities much lower than most people consume. In fact, we are systematically being lied to by implication. Nutritional labels fail to list their values in anything resembling a real serving.

But it comes down to basic awareness, and self control. Shortcuts that avoid these always backtrack eventually.

400 calories a day of cardio, plus a suitable portion-controlled diet and success is guaranteed.


July 26, 2005

Basic UI Design and "Star Wars III"

Category: Entertainment — Cranky @

These days computer users take a few things for granted. For instance, if a mistake is made, there should be ways to correct it.

Before the days of the iconic trash can and/or recycle bin, we lived in fear of accidentally deleting an important file. But now, first you are asked, “Are you sure you would like to delete this file?” And if you lose your brain momentarily and say “yes” when you should have said “no”, you can pull it right back out of the trash.

Basic user interface design.

Now lets pretend we’re designing the control centre for an industrial facility that has to sit in the middle of a lava flow for some reason.

Where exactly would you put the “destroy this facility” button? I mean, if you had the audacity to create one in the first place. Most people would avoid designing a control so sensitive as to turn “stable” into “complete structural failure”.

If you’re Lucas, apparently you put it right smack in the middle of the console, so that when two people are fighting, they can bump into it and send the structure to a fiery death.

No, “Are you sure you would like to destroy this facility?” At the very least if they really wanted to complete the destruction they should have had to empty their trash icon.

I can accept a lot of things, but seriously… for a guy who embraces technology at the expense of storytelling and style, Lucas makes some surprisingly poor choices for script devices.


July 25, 2005

Americans and "Freedom of Speech"

Category: Political — Cranky @

I’m so very tired of hearing Americans flap their lips yelling “Freedom of Speech! Freedom of Speech!” like it’s some kind of magical mantra that opens the floodgates. Why?

Because most Americans haven’t got a clue what is guaranteed them by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Allow me to quote it.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. The government agrees not to interfere.

You are not guaranteed a forum for your opinion. No paper must print your thoughts. No website must carry your words. Your online postings in public forums can be deleted, censored, or even edited at will.

Indeed, even the pathetic little bit of freedom guaranteed there – that the government will not shut you down – is subject to a huge list of exceptions. Your freedom of speech and of the press will certainly be affected if you start talking loudly about state secrets, or your press starts printing material defined as unacceptable by the government.

In short, freedom of speech is a polite myth that only serves to give Americans another untrue reason to feel smug. You’re only allowed to believe in it so long as you play by the rules as set forth by the government.

So, Americans, the next time you find the words “freedom of speech” at the tip of your tongue – or at the tips of your fingers – please… just stop. Chances are you have no idea what you’re talking about.

Your freedoms aren’t being taken away. You just didn’t understand that they don’t exist.