Thursday, August 15, 2019

How I Lost 60 lbs and Kept the Weight Off

At the start of 2016, I decided it was time to lose some weight and get in better shape. Since then, I lost around 60 lbs and have kept the weight off. I've had several people ask me how I did it, and while I've written about it a few times already throughout the process, I thought I might be able to pull it all together into one entry that better explains things (fair warning - I've copied fairly liberally from the earlier entries).

Before & After
The obligatory before & after photos (Click to embiggen)

For the 'explicit' photos, click below:
Before & After Photos - No Shirt

It's not like I have any secrets. You can find all this information other places. However, there's just so much information out there that it can get overwhelming and confusing, so I thought sharing what worked for me may be helpful for some people.

Continue reading "How I Lost 60 lbs and Kept the Weight Off" »

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Trump's Racism and the Increasing Authoritarianism of Republicans

Donald TrumpI hesitate to comment on Trump's tweets because they're so often a distraction from more important actual policy. His latest racist tweets risk overshadowing his attempted policy change of restricting refugees from seeking asylum (more info: Vox - The Trump administration is dramatically restricting who can seek asylum). But the combination of these tweets being so beyond the pale, a chilling interview I heard on NPR yesterday, and a few disturbing studies I've come across recently, have all contributed to my decision to write about this issue.

Although it's almost surely common knowledge by now, over the weekend, Trump issued a series of tweets with a profoundly racist message:

So interesting to see "Progressive" Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how....
....it is done. These places need your help badly, you can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

Although he didn't call them out by name, it's well understood that Trump was mainly referring to Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Three were actually born in the U.S., while Omar became a naturalized citizen as a teenager. Unless you're being deliberately obtuse, it's obvious that Trump was trying to imply that these women weren't 'real' Americans, and the racist intent is quite clear.

White supremacist groups certainly took it that way. The Anti Defamation League compiled a slew of reactions from such parties, with perhaps the most explicit being from Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin who wrote, "This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for," and "So this is not some half-assed anti-immigrant white nationalism. Trump is literally telling American blacks to go back to Africa." (The other reactions weren't much better.) When asked point blank by a reporter if this white supremacist support bothered him, Trump answered, "It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me." (source)

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All that would be bad enough on its own, but yesterday morning on my way into work, I heard a chilling interview on NPR where they interviewed Adam Kennedy, the official White House Deputy Director of Communications (White House Spokesman Doesn't Back Away From Trump's Racist Tweets). This wasn't simply some random right wing pundit - he was an official representative of the White House. And while I know that politicians always put spin on things, this interview was so chilling because of the outright propaganda, the hostility to these women, the divisive accusations, and the combative stance against the journalists.

I'm going to quote some rather long excerpts from NPR's transcript of the interview, so you can see that I'm not pulling out short isolated comments to try to make Kennedy look worse. The authoritarianism and propaganda are real. Here's the first excerpt:

NOEL KING, HOST: Did the president know the history of this specific racist language when he decided to use it?

ADAM KENNEDY: I don't think any of the president's language was racist...

KING: You don't...

KENNEDY: ...I think what he was talking about was that we have some people in this country who liken it to garbage, who attack historically persecuted minorities and who hang out with people who actually killed civilians of allies of this country. And the president wants to stand up and make sure the American people know that he's proud of his country, he's going to stand up for people who aren't.

KING: I think we could refute everything that you just said there, but this is a short interview. You're saying the president...

KENNEDY: Please try. Please try.

KING: ...The president's language is not racist. So the White House is not - is standing by this remark that these women should go back to where they came from.

KENNEDY: The president said that they can stay, they can leave - but that people should be proud of this country. There's a lot to be proud of, just like he is.

KING: Does the president know that three of these women are from the United States of America - born here?

KENNEDY: Again, the point that the president was making is that when you liken this country to garbage; when you say that there is - that the reason we support another country is because of money, which is a historical trope against a persecuted minority in this country; when you hang out with people who attack military and civilian personnel of allies, that's something that should be shocking and that people in this country should be - should know about.

KING: You're talking in part about comments that Representative Omar has made about American Jews - that American Jews found very insensitive, which she apologized for. Before President Trump was president, he was a very vocal critic of President Obama. He was elected after being very critical of the U.S. government. But now he's telling this congresswoman - these congresswomen that they should leave if they're not happy with their government.

I mean, isn't it a core value of this country, of this democracy that you get to criticize people in power, that you get to be critical of the government?

KENNEDY: Absolutely. And this president has said from the beginning that you can be critical of this government. That doesn't mean you have to be - that doesn't mean that you don't have to be proud of this country. This president was proud of this country under President Obama; he's proud of this country now. Some people in this country, some people who say they serve this country haven't said one word about how they like this country. They refer to it as garbage. They say we're having concentration camps. They refuse to condemn attacks on law enforcement personnel. So I think that is very troubling.

KING: All of these congresswomen have said that they love this country. I imagine they would not have run for office if they didn't think the country could improve.

Moving on to the next excerpt:

KING: The president was asked yesterday whether...He was concerned that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with him. He said, quote, "it doesn't concern me because many people agree with me," end quote. Does it trouble you that his language is resonating with white nationalists?

KENNEDY: I don't know why it was. But I am troubled that some members of the far-left resonate with terrorists, that their language resonates with people who want to see an ally of this country destroyed, who want to see essentially the character of this nation destroyed.

KING: Sorry. The president said it doesn't concern him that white nationalists are finding common cause with his language. I wasn't clear on your answer. Does this concern you?

KENNEDY: Again, I think what's concerning is that you have people that are trying to cozy up with friends of terrorist organizations, with people who have supported terrorist organizations. And that should be known.

And here's the final excerpt, Kennedy's last substantive comment:

KENNEDY: Again, the president is pointing out the fact that there are some people on the far-left who have decided that the best way forward is demonizing this country and the people in it. That's what he's standing up against. That's what he's pointing out.

The whole interview reeks of propaganda and authoritarianism. Kennedy was blatantly attempting to change the meaning of what Trump actually wrote in those tweets. Go look over Trump's tweets again after having read these excerpts from this interview. I know that Trump has tried to add new comments since those tweets, but what Kennedy is saying is manifestly not what Trump wrote. Despite Kennedy's brief lip service, this really does seem to be attacking these congresswomen for having the audacity to criticize this particular administration.

And look at the actual ways Kennedy is trying to demonize these women. Even if there are kernels of truth to some of these accusations, Kennedy is twisting them beyond all meaningful interpretation, and adding in a few outright falsehoods, to try to make these women look like enemies of the United States.

There's absolutely no contrition or remorse, or even recognition that what Trump said was racist. In fact, there was a glaring lack of any effort by Kennedy to try to distance the White House from white nationalists.

I'm shocked that this was the response from the official White House Deputy Director of Communications during a public interview. How is the media supposed to deal with this White House or be balanced in interviewing both major parties when this is the type of interview response they get from the White House Deputy Director of Communications?

Rather than go into depth myself on Kennedy's various accusations, here are a few appropriate articles and reports:

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The other issue I wanted to discuss is the increasingly authoritarian mindset of rank and file Republicans as revealed through a study that I recently learned about. The study is described in the article, What Donald Trump got right, and Justin Amash got wrong, about conservatives: Conservatism is an identity more than an ideology, and Trump knows it. Here's the description of the study from that article:

A clever 2018 paper by political scientists Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope tested this experimentally. Trump was constantly adopting contradictory positions on issues, and his reputation for saying and doing anything primed voters to believe he really had said whatever you told them he'd said. "There has never been a president (or any party leader) who shifts back and forth so often between liberal and conservative issue positions," they wrote, and that opened space for a revealing study.

Here's how it worked: Barber and Pope asked voters if they agreed or disagreed with different policies. Because of the, erm, flexibility of Trump's rhetoric, they were able to pick policies where Trump had, at some point, taken both a liberal policy position and a conservative policy position. And so some voters were asked about the policy without a cue telling them what Trump thought, but other were asked about the policy and given either Trump's liberal position on the policy or his conservative one.

The idea here was to see how much of a difference Trump's positioning made, and to whom. Among the most interesting findings is in the chart below. The people who identified as most strongly conservative were the likeliest to move in response to Trump. And the effect was about the same size whether Trump was taking the conservative or liberal position. It was the direction of Trump, not the direction of the policy, that mattered. Interestingly, there wasn't an equal and opposite reaction among strong liberals: They didn't change position much to oppose Trump.

"The fact that stronger conservatives are the ones most likely to react to the treatment -- regardless of the ideological direction of the treatment -- suggests that the nearly ubiquitous self-placed ideology measure is less a measure of principled conviction and more of a social identity," write Barber and Pope.

It's enlightening and disheartening at the same time. It explains why my own debates with conservatives over the years haven't been very productive. The Republican Party does not seem to be a principled conservative party based on a desire to institute conservative values, but a cult of personality around Trump, with an authoritarian deference to what Trump wants done. Perhaps the expression of Owning the Libs isn't just a slogan for right wing Internet trolls, but more indicative of the conservative mindset in general.

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All this together has me very worried about the future of the United States. I've posted before in my Trump & Politics Roundup entries about the dangers Trump poses for leading America down an authoritarian path (e.g. linking to the article, How democracies die, explained: The problems in American democracy run far deeper than Trump.), but these recent stories have me even more worried. Trump was already well known for trying to demonize immigrants and minorities to make them scape goats, and his recent actions towards immigrants have only been getting worse. Now, he's openly writing racist accusations against Congresswomen in the U.S. House of Representatives and telling them to go back to the "places from which they came," even citizens born in the U.S. His Deputy Director of Communications is issuing divisive propaganda openly during a media interview, practically accusing the President's political opponents of being enemies of the U.S. And, many rank and file Republicans have such an authoritarian mindset that they're willing to change their own opinions based solely on what they think is Donald Trump's opinion. I worry about where the nation goes from here, especially if Trump escalates his authoritarian tactics.


Here's an article that I came across just after posting this with some even more depressing news:
New polling indicates Republicans actually like Trump more following racist tweet controversy: Responses to Trump's racist tweets reflect how polarized the country is.

Just to pull out two excerpts:

Although a USA Today/Ipsos poll found that a majority of people, 68 percent, saw Trump's tweets as offensive, there was a stark partisan divide: 93 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independents found the tweet offensive, while only 37 percent of Republicans did, according to the poll, which was released on Wednesday. Meanwhile, 57 percent of Republicans said they agreed with Trump's tweets, while only 7 percent of Democrats agreed.
The polarized responses to Trump's tweets can also be seen in Trump's approval rating. Following the uproar surrounding Trump's racist comments, support for the president among Republicans rose by 5 percentage points to 72 percent, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday. The same could not be said for his support among other groups: His net approval rating dropped by 2 percent among Democrats.

How in the hell can you read a message to U.S. citizens born in America to go back to the "places from which they came" as anything other than offensive? And more than half of Republicans agreed with the message, and his approval rating among Republicans even improved! Trump is a problem, but he's only a part of the problem.

If anyone ever asks me why the rest of us view the Republican Party as racist, this is a prime example of the rot in the party.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Understanding Evolution - Transitional Forms

This entry is part of a collection on Understanding Evolution. For other entries in this collection, follow that link.

This particular entry is adapted from a Quora question. Some of the topics here may seem familiar if you've read some of my other entries on evolution, but they help to make this a standalone essay that makes sense on its own if you haven't read those other entries.


There's an embarrassment of riches when it comes to transitional forms. These can be transitional fossils, but also living creatures that have preserved an ancestral condition. There's even value in looking at modern animals that may not be closely related to animals from a specific transition you're interested in, but which live a similar lifestyle. I'll show a few of my favorites in this entry, but there are many, many more than what I've included.


Snail Eyes - An Example to Explain Concepts

I'll start off with snail eyes as an example case to explain a few concepts. Here are various eyes from living snails.

Snail Eyes
ABOVE: Various eyes from living snails
SOURCE: StephenJoayGould.org - futuyma_eye.gif)

First, you can see how these eyes are all of varying complexity (and if you wanted to look to other lineages like starfish, you could find even more primitive eyes that are merely light sensitive spots). The eye labeled 1 in the diagram (which I'll refer to as type 1 for convenience) is little more than a cup, but it at least allows its owners to determine the direction of a light source. Going through the other eyes shown, you can see the eyes become increasingly more complex, until the type 6 'camera' eye, which even has a lens. So, as evidenced by the fact that living animals use these eyes, it's clear that all of the 'intermediate' forms are still functional and useful to their owners.

To explain how eyes in living animals can represent transitional forms, here's a hypothetical, and overly simple, family tree of how this might have happened (you can do searches for snail phylogenetic trees to find some real ones).

Hypothetical Snail Family Tree
ABOVE: Hypothetical Overly-Simple Snail Family Tree
SOURCES: David Peters Studios and StephenJayGould.org, with some editing on my part

Imagine that the colors in the family tree represent snails with a certain type of eye. Black is the most primitive type 1 cup eye. Blue is the type 2 eye. Red is the type 3 eye. And on through green, magenta, and cyan. Note how once a lineage evolves a new innovation to the eye, it's the only lineage with that innovation. For example, once the type 2 eye evolved in a single species of snail, only descendants of that species had type 2 eyes, because they were the only ones that could inherit it. It couldn't share that trait with its cousins. But, all of the snails with the original type 1 cup type eyes didn't all of a sudden all go extinct just because their cousins evolved a new type of eye. So, the snails with the type 1 eyes continued to evolve and diversify in their own lineages. But, their eyes remained similar to the ancestral condition.

That's why a primitive feature in a living animal can still be considered something of a transitional form. The lineage that led to that existing animal simply wasn't a part of the lineage that evolved the newer version of the feature, so it still has the 'original' version.

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Fossil Transitions

Fish to Land Animals

Tetrapod Limb Development
ABOVE: Evolution of tetrapods from lobe finned fish
SOURCE: Berkeley - The origin of tetrapods

Let's get a little more explanation out of the way with this example. Even though all those animals are known from fossils, it's very unlikely that any of them are actual direct ancestors of any of the others. Fossilization is a very rare event to begin with. And finding fossils that have been exposed through erosion, but before the erosion can carry on to destroy the fossils, is even more rare. In fact, there are plenty of living species, so that we know for a fact that they exist, that we've never found fossils of. So, the fossil record is spotty.

But, these transitional fossils are still similar to the actual direct ancestors. Consider the discussion of the snail family tree up above, and how certain primitive traits persist in some lineages. If a fossil is of an animal close to the actual direct ancestor, it's still going to have retained most of the ancestral traits.

Or, think of it in more human terms. Your aunts and uncles aren't your direct ancestors, but they're more similar to your parents than non-relatives. I know that I can definitely see the family resemblance between my parents and their siblings, on both sides. Even if a fossil is found of a species that isn't a direct ancestor, the fossil will be more similar to the ancestor than other, more distantly related animals would be.

So, with the long explanations out of the way, let's look at some more examples.


Horses

Horse Evolution
ABOVE: A somewhat simplified representation of horse evolution
SOURCE: Wikipedia

Just to be clear, that diagram is rather simplified. Horse evolution was very bushy, like that hypothetical snail family tree I showed up above. But this does show some representation animals from that transition, especially highlighting the dramatic transformation of the foot.

I did find another great image that makes the 'bushiness' a little more apparent, but it's copyrighted and clearly marked not for reuse, so you'll have to follow the link: "Evolution of the Horse"


Hoofed Mammals to Whales

Whale Evolution
ABOVE: Evolution from land based, hoofed animals to fully aquatic whales
SOURCE: Weebly

Whale evolution is such a great example, showing a transition to a completely different habitat. It also shows how evolutionary contingency forced whales to evolve features different from their ancient fish ancestors.

More Info: The evolution of whales


Turtles

Turtle Evolution
ABOVE: Evolution of turtles from non-shelled ancestors
SOURCE: How the turtle got its shell -- clues revealed by fossils

Turtles are another great example, showing the evolution of something as seemingly unlikely as a turtle's shell.


Non-Flying Dinosaurs to Birds

I'm going to show two diagrams for this one. The first shows better how birds fit into the overall dinosaur family tree, and highlights when specific features appeared. The second is a little more detailed on the skeletons, especially the arms/wings.

Bird Evogram
ABOVE: Bird 'Evogram'
SOURCE: Berkely - The origin of birds

 

Bird Evolution
ABOVE: (A) Diagram comparing a non-flying dinosaur, Ornitholestes, with Archaeopteryx and a modern pigeon, (B) Arm/wing evolution from non-flying dinosaurs to modern birds, (C) Hind leg evolution from non-flying dinosaurs to birds
SOURCE: Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters


Ancestral Pinniped to Walruses

Maybe not the most dramatic transition, but I just love this one:

Walrus Evolution
ABOVE: Evolution of skulls from seal like animals to walruses
SOURCE: Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
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Living Animals with Ancestral Condition

Flying Frogs

Flying Frog Progression
ABOVE: Common Tree Frog, Green Flying Frog, and Wallace's Flying Frog
SOURCE: Screenshot from Gliding Frogs, The Green Flying Frog, and The Wallace's Flying Frog

I love this 'progression'. The common tree frog has preserved the ancestral condition, which is still common in most tree frogs, of having normally sized feet, and simply spreading out its limbs when falling to help slow down its fall. The green flying frog has evolved slightly bigger feet, so that it has a slightly better glide ratio, and can control its fall a bit better. But even that is an 'intermediate' form compared to Wallace's flying frog, which has absolutely gigantic feet, and an even better gliding ability.

More Info: Quora - If natural selection drives evolution, how did birds survive the intermediate stage before their wings could glide or fly?


Platypuses - Egg Laying, Primitive Mammary Gland

Platypus Mother and Babies
ABOVE: Baby platypuses 'suckling'
SOURCE: Imgur

While it may be a bit hard to tell from the photo, those baby platypuses aren't sucking on a teat, because female platypuses don't have teats. They have more primitive mammary glands, with multiple ducts to the skin, rather than all coming together at a teat. Baby platypuses have to lick up the milk that secretes onto the mother's skin, rather than suck it. This preserves a stage in the evolution of mammary glands, before they were quite as complex as those in modern placental mammals. (more info: Quora - How did evolution design the mechanism for breast feeding?)

And while I didn't show a picture, it's common knowledge that platypuses lay eggs. That's the ancestral condition of mammals before one of our ancestors evolved to give live birth.


Lungfish

Lungfish
ABOVE: Lungfish
SOURCE: Wikipedia

As the name implies, lungfish have lungs, and can breathe air. Having lungs is actually the ancestral condition for bony fish. It's the ray finned fish that have gone on to specialize their lungs as swim bladders. As far as us land animals, lungfish are lineage that branched off from the lobe finned fish, so they're actually more closely related to us than a goldfish.

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Similar Lifestyles in Non-Related Modern Animals

Frogfish

You actually get a video for this one:

Okay, I guess it's time for a little more explanation. The example above and the ones about to follow don't represent an intermediate form of a different transition in unrelated animals. For example, frogfish aren't particularly closely related to land animals - no more so than any other fish. Frogfish don't preserve a primitive form of walking that our ancestors developed further. Frogfish evolved their walking completely independently of our own. But what frogfish do show is that walking underwater is a perfectly viable trait for a species. It doesn't have to be foresight planning ahead for a life out of water - walking in the water is a successful strategy for living species.

More generally, these types of animals have a lifestyle that in some ways is similar to what an ancestral form in another animal might have been, demonstrating that there are indeed niches for the lifestyles of the ancestral forms.


Mudskipper

Mudskipper
ABOVE: Mudskipper
SOURCE: Wikipedia

Mudskippers shows the value in an amphibious lifestyle at the water's edge, for an animal that's still mostly 'fishy', but can get around decently on the land.


Seal

Seal
ABOVE: Seal
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons

Seals show the value in a mostly aquatic lifestyle for an animal whose ancestors started off on land, and who's still very much reliant on returning to the land periodically to survive.

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If you want to learn more about any of those specific transitions,the links to the image sources are fairly informative. In a few cases, I also included additional sources. If you're interested in seeing more of these transition-type diagrams, here's another good source for those:

A New Method for Teaching Evolution Evidence

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Comparing Jesus to Another Purported Holy Man

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of AtheismIn discussing religion with Christians, there seems to be this blind spot about the vast array of different religious beliefs out there. Many seem to see religion as a dichotomy - either Christianity is true, or religion in general is false. In many of their arguments, they just don't seem to even consider other religions (Pascal's wager is an obvious example of this blind spot). It results in many of their arguments being special pleading, but since they seem to be so unaware/dismissive of other religions, I'm not sure they even realize it's special pleading. But the end result is still that the arguments aren't particularly persuasive.

So, for some context, let's consider a different purported holy man besides Jesus. This man began a ministry and attracted many followers. According to his followers, he was prophesied in scriptures, and was God in the flesh. They claim he performed many miracles, including healings, levitation (somewhat similar to Christ's walking on water), making objects appear, changing water into other drinks (very similar to turning water into wine), physically emitting brilliant light (similar to Jesus in Matthew 17:2), and other miracles less analogous to Jesus (such as being in more than one place at the same time). His followers believe he will come again (through reincarnation). People who had never met him personally had visions of him, and he purportedly continued to visit his followers in visions after his death. There are many claimed eye-witnesses to his miracles and these visions, and a written account of his life, including many of the miracles he performed.

Now, lest you think I'm referring to some ancient figure whose reputation grew legendary over generations, this man was born in 1926, and he only died in 2011. His biography was written while he was still alive, and many of the eye witness testimonies are available on the Internet (such as here). His name was Sathya Sai Baba, and he still has devoted followers.

And I chose Sai Baba rather arbitrarily, because I've just happened to learn of him recently. There are many other purported holy men I could use for comparison, such as Ram Bahadur Bamjan, believed by some to be the reincarnation of the Buddha; Sun Myung Moon, who claimed to be a messiah continuing Jesus's work and who wrote new scriptures (i.e. Exposition of the Divine Principle); Joseph Smith, a prophet who claimed to have visions of Jesus and visits from angels and who wrote his revelations into new scriptures (i.e. the Book of Mormon); Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary of Jesus whose paragraph long mini biography is practically identical to Jesus's, but substituting Roman gods for the Jewish God (of course there are plenty of differences in the details); and countless others (there's also a long list of people claiming to be the second coming of Christ). And let's not forget about urban legends, such as those found on Snopes, to show how untrue stories can spread very quickly to become believed by large numbers of people.

Now, if you're like me, you probably don't believe the miraculous claims about Sai Baba or any of these other purported holy men (or the urban legends on Snopes). There are far more likely explanations to their claimed miracles than actual divine powers. But it provides context for the early Christians. All these holy men did exist. Their followers did and still do sincerely believe the miraculous stories and claims. Their scriptures have been preserved faithfully. Jesus is just one of many such holy men.

As one more bit of context, consider the religious landscape at the time Christianity was getting started. The early converts to Christianity would have been Jews or Roman pagans. Many Jewish people already believed in the God of the Old Testament and in prophecies of a coming Messiah, so the challenge in their conversion would have been convincing them that Jesus was the fulfillment of these prophecies. The Roman pagans already believed in many gods and miracles, so the challenge in converting them would have been limiting them to believing in one God. The early Christians wouldn't have been trying to win over skeptical atheists and agnostics, or people who doubted the supernatural in general. For someone who grew up believing in the labors of Hercules, it wouldn't have been too difficult to believe that someone else walked on water or turned water into wine.

It's one thing to claim to have writings that faithfully represent the beliefs of a religious sect, or even the overall life and times of a religious leader. It's quite another to claim that these writings are completely true, including all the divine claims and miracles. Jesus and Sai Baba can't both be God, so for any arguments about the divine aspects of Jesus and the New Testament to be convincing, you shouldn't be able to turn around and use similar arguments on Sai Baba and his biography, or any of these other religious leaders to prove their divinity. If an argument could be used to claim the divinity of both, then it must be a flawed or incomplete argument (unless you do think they're both God).

To put it another way, when listening to the arguments from apologists, you would do well to consider how these arguments might sound if being applied to a different holy man like Sathya Sai Baba, and whether you would still find them convincing.

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As a side note, this entry began life as an introduction to a review of Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ. I'm not sure if I'll be able to bring myself to finish the book and the review, but I didn't want this intro to languish in my drafts folder, so I figured I'd adapt it into a stand alone post. Just in case I never get around to a full review, I'll say that Strobel's book isn't very convincing. The apologists he interviews engage in a lot of these special pleading type arguments. And despite Strobel's touting of his journalism credentials, the book is very biased, with practically no expert rebuttal to the apologist's claims. If you're interested, here's a pretty good review on The Secular Web:

The Rest of the Story, by Jeffery Jay Lowder

Updated 2019-04-19: Slight change to wording in introduction

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Weighing Myself Over a Whole Day

Detecto Bathroom ScaleEver since I posted an entry about the techniques I found useful to lose weight (How I Lost 40 lbs in 6 Months), there's been a project that I've wanted to do, but I just got around to doing yesterday. I weighed myself continuously over a whole day to see how my weight varied.

In that older entry, I'd mentioned that one of the techniques I found useful was weighing myself daily. I explained how I did so in the mornings in only my underwear to try for consistency, and also how you shouldn't stress too much over small fluctuations. And while I knew from experience that my weight could vary by pounds over the course of the day, I'd never taken a detailed look to see exactly what that looked like. So I finally did. (It was actually a little bit more of a hassle than I'd anticipated, so don't expect another entry like this any time soon.)

Before getting into the longer explanation, here are the results, in two graphs. The first graph includes my body weight and the full weight on the scale (i.e. with clothes throughout most of the day). The second is just my body weight, so that the graph could be 'zoomed in' a bit more. Both graphs also include the next morning, just to help show the trend.

My heaviest body weight over the course of the first day was right after lunch, at 171.6 lbs. My lightest was right before supper, at 167.6 lbs. So, over the course of that day, my body weight varied by 4 lbs. Also, my clothes weighed around 5 ½ lbs, so my biggest number on the scale was 177.1, almost 10 lbs heavier than my lightest body weight.

Weight Over a Whole Day (Includes uncorrected scale weights)
Click to embiggen
 
Body Weight Over a Whole Day
Click to embiggen

Let's get into a few more details. First, here's my schedule over that period. I was up a bit late the night before, going to bed at midnight. I woke up at 6:00, made a quick trip to purge my bladder, then did my morning workout. Once I got to work, an office job, I ate my breakfast and started drinking coffee, making periodic bathroom breaks. Pretty much every sudden drop in weight throughout the day was a bathroom break, so I won't bring those up again. I ate my lunch at 11:00. For the rest of the afternoon, I tapered off on the coffee, with a protein bar snack around 12:30. I ate supper around 6:00, then changed to work clothes to go help my daughter on some projects at her house, having a drink or two of diet soda over there. I got home and went to bed around 10:00.

I didn't eat that much yesterday, not anywhere close to what I eat on weekends or special occasions. I'm pretty sure that if I did this on a Saturday, there would be much bigger spikes at meal times.

One thing I already knew, but which I still think is interesting, is how much my body weight drops while I'm sleeping - around a pound. I'm guessing this is a combination of basal metabolic rate (inhaling oxygen, but exhaling the slightly heavier carbon dioxide), perspiration, and losing just a bit of water to evaporation while breathing.

I had no intention to strip down to my underwear every time I was going to weigh myself, so I just did some math. I weighed myself with and without clothes in the morning before heading to work, and then again when I got home to get a pair of measurements for my office clothes. Then I did the same thing before and after heading to my daughter's house to get a pair of measurements for my work clothes. So, for each outfit, I had two measurements for the difference. I averaged it for each, and subtracted that from the weight on the scale. (It turned out to be right around 5.5 lbs for both outfits.) And to be thorough, I even made sure my pocket contents were the same each time I weighed myself (cell phone, wallet, keys, pocket knife, and mini tape measure at work, empty pockets at my daughter's).

That last paragraph brings up another caveat - my scale's not perfect. If it was, it should have shown the same difference in weight in clothes before and after work, and before and after going to my daughter's. But it didn't. It was off by 0.2 lbs in the first case, and 0.3 lbs in the second. That's not huge, but it does highlight just one more source of variation when weighing yourself.

So, this project helps to show the types of variation someone can have in body weight over the course of a day, and the even bigger variation you can get in the weight on the scale depending on the clothes you're wearing at the time, or even how consistent your scale is. If you're weighing yourself as part of an effort to lose weight or to maintain your current weight, keep this in mind as a reason for consistency in when & how you weigh yourself, and as a reason to not worry about small fluctuations.

Related Entries:

Bathroom Scale Image Source: Detecto.com

Updated 2019-03-26: Made a few minor changes to wording to help things read better, but no change to any meaning.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Weight Loss Follow-Up - Keeping the Weight Off

fitnessWell, it's the start of a new year, and a lot of people are making weight loss resolutions, so I figured it was a good time to revisit a post from 2½ years ago, How I Lost 40 lbs in 6 Months. I've managed to keep the weight off (in fact, I met a new lower goal - 60 lbs lighter than my original weight), so I'm counting that as long term success. But I've also made a few adjustments, and had a few short term slips, so I figured I'd share what I've learned since then.

In that older entry, I made a short list of what I did to lose the weight, and then expanded on each of those items. Go read it for the details, especially if you haven't read it yet, but here's the short list:

  • Count Calories
  • Weigh Yourself Daily
  • Exercise
  • Optimize Nutrition
  • Take Days Off, but Don't Go Crazy
  • Find Ways to Make it as Easy as Possible
  • Set Reasonable Goals

I don't mean to imply that this is the optimal solution for everybody, but at least it worked for me, so some other people might find it useful. Anyway, let's go back through those items again with new updates since that old post.

Count Calories / Weigh Yourself Daily

I can't emphasize enough how useful those first two actions were for me. I set a calorie goal per weekday (I relax a bit on the weekends), and use the MyFitnessPal app to track exactly what I eat for the day to make sure I meet the goal. For one thing, I just didn't have a good sense of how many calories were in various foods before I started doing this (especially restaurant food). For another, logging the foods helps keep me from cheating. Certain foods that may just seem like little snacks can really add up if you're not careful. One cookie here (570 calories at Starbucks). A handful of sunflower seeds there (200 calories in 1/4 cup source). Maybe one or two beers with dinner (230 calories per each Sierra Nevada IPA). And before you know it, you've busted your calorie goal on just snacks without even eating anything filling or nutritious.

The scale also helps keep me on track. Now, don't stress over the numbers or fixate on weight entirely. After Thanksgiving, my weight on the scale went up 12 lbs. There's no conceivable way to gain 12 lbs of fat in a single day. But, the scale is still a good indicator, especially when you're on a normal routine. After weighing myself daily for a few years, I have a good sense of what my weekly pattern is like - a bit of a boost after my relaxed eating over the weekend, followed by a gradual decline to my target weight by Friday. If I relax too much over the weekends, as I did for a short time about a year ago when I also was lax about the daily weigh-ins, my weight will start to drift back up. Once I started weighing in daily again, it was a daily reminder of where I stood in relation to where I wanted to be, and I got back on track.

Now, I did alter my plan a bit as far as my long term daily calorie goals. My original plan was to ease my weekday calorie goal back up once I reached my target weight. But I've found that I prefer to stay strict during the weekdays, giving me a bit more cushion to relax on the weekends. It's a running joke in my family that I'm always hungry. This joke began before I ever even started on the diet (it's a big part of the reason I was so overweight to begin with). So I figure, if I'm going to be hungry, anyway, I might as well be hungry on 1250 calories a day as on 2000 calories a day. And it's a whole lot easier to be strict on weekdays when I'm eating at my desk at work or cooking a simple supper at the house, as opposed to weekends when we tend to meet up with friends.

Exercise

In that old entry, I mentioned that my wife and I were going to the gym a couple times per week. Well, it didn't last. The biggest reason was probably just the time - an hour at the gym plus time to change, shower, and drive all adds up to a decent chunk of the evening, especially with a few life changes that made us a whole lot busier. On top of that, my elbow gets aggravated when lifting weights, so my doctor recommended sticking to light weights at high reps. So, I switched to exercising with dumbbells at the house a couple mornings per week, and just recently adding in a leg day. It's still about 45 minutes per session, but I just roll out of bed to do it, and then go get the morning shower I was going to get, anyway, so I skip the extra time associated with the gym, and keep my evenings free.

During the spring & summer, I also try to jog and swim laps in our pool, but those are hard to find the time to keep up with. So, I try really hard not to slack off on my morning workouts.

And just to repeat something important from that previous entry - exercise is important for fitness, but unless you're a serious athlete, don't count on it to lose weight. You're probably not burning as many extra calories as you think you are. The best way to lose weight is to eat less.

Nutrition

I've stuck mostly with what I wrote in that old entry, but now concentrating mainly on getting enough protein and carbs even within my low calorie goals - 0.75 g of protein per pound I weigh, and 130 g of carbs. I haven't done any fad diets or specifically avoided any types of food (e.g. keto, Atkins, gluten-free), but just by default to get the protein and carbs without going over on calories, I've stuck mostly to lean white meats (chicken breast and pork loin), and baked or roasted foods. I also try to mix in different types of veggies for variety. And I usually have enough of a cushion to eat a ~50 calorie dessert with supper, which is just enough for a little treat.

I specifically mentioned Quest Bars and Muscle Milk in that old entry as supplements to try to hit my protein goals. And those are still good products, but they're not particularly cheap. So, I've switched to two protein supplements a bit easier on the bank account - Premier Protein Fiber Bars and Protein2o Protein Drinks. Like I wrote previously, those are mainly for snacks and as a post-workout drink. I still get the majority of my calories from 'real' food.

Just to put it out there, I recently wrote an entry on Good Sources of Potassium, back when I was starting to swim again but getting cramps. The surprising thing when I actually researched various foods, is that bananas aren't actually particularly good potassium sources. You're better off eating more vegetables, particularly zucchini and squash.

Take Days Off, but Don't Go Crazy

This is one of the areas I've found where I have to be pretty careful. Like I wrote up above, I'm always hungry, and certain foods are just packed with calories that can add up in a hurry. So, I can't just eat whatever I want for an entire weekend. I can relax a bit, and maybe pick one meal to splurge, but I still have to be at least somewhat disciplined.

Find Ways to Make it as Easy as Possible

This hasn't changed much. I still eat single serving microwave oatmeal for breakfast, microwave Lean Cuisines for lunch, and individually packaged afternoon snacks, and we still try to cook basically once per week, and then just heat up leftovers for the rest of the week. I just wouldn't have the dedication to make fresh, from scratch meals every day, let alone for every meal of the day. And I've already discussed how I've managed to fit in workouts the easiest way I could. It comes down to making habits you'll be able to stick with long term.

Set Reasonable Goals

This is one of the harder things to do longterm, and related to what maybe should have been its own topic - Find Motivation. My initial push was to get to a certain weight before a planned summer trip. But after reaching that goal and not having anything concrete to shoot for, it was easy to slack off a bit, which I did. But I buckled back down again for another vacation, then my 40th birthday, and then it was the holidays. Now we've got another trip planned in a few months. So, even though I've been managing, I know how hard it can be to find the motivation to keep the weight off. I've done it mainly by planning ahead for various events.

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So, I think that mostly covers the lessons I've learned over the past couple years of maintaining my weight loss. I hope that if you're reading this that it helps you out.

Related Entries (including updates):

Image Source: ClipArt-Library

Monday, December 17, 2018

Happy Wright Brothers' Day, 2018

Wright Brothers' First Flight, December 17, 1903

On December 17th, 1903, the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, became the first people to achieve an accomplishment that people had been dreaming of for millenia - controlled, powered flight. Now, they weren't lone geniuses working in a vacuum. Others had had earlier limited successes, and people would have figured everything out eventually even without the Wrights (and were largely on the path to doing so, since the Wrights kept so much of their own research a secret), but the Wright brothers had a systematic, logical approach, putting them years ahead of their contemporaries. When they gave their first public demonstrations in France in 1908, crowds were awestruck. They certainly deserve the honor of being the first to flight.

To quote myself from a previous entry, "Flying has become so common place today that we take it for granted. People complain about the cramped seats, the long lines to get through security, the bad food (if you even get any) on flights. But just remember how long people have dreamt of flight, for how long people looked to the skies wanting to emulate the birds. Flying used to be the stuff of myth and legends, reserved for the gods. Now, we can all get in an airplane, and soar above the clouds. It really is something special."

Here are a few of the better aviation related pages/entries on this site that would make for good reading for Wright Brothers Day. The first entry on the last is brand new today.

So as you go about your business today, take a moment to look up and find an airplane, and marvel a little at the achievement.

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Much of the content of this entry was recycled, sometimes verbatim, from previous Wright Brothers Day entries.

Responding to a Flat-Earther Question: How Much Force Does It Take to Accelerate an Aircraft Sideways as It Flies North-South

In honor of Wright Brothers Day, I'm going to post an aviation-themed entry today. This entry started life as a comment on Quora, in response to a flat-earther. The most interesting aspect of the comment thread was a question the flat-earther raised that I'd never really thought about quantifying before.

If you think about the globe spinning, the equator has the highest velocity, going through one rotation per day. The poles have basically zero velocity, being just spinning about a point (from an earth-centric reference frame, at least).

Earth Rotation Diagram

So, if an aircraft flies directly north-south (or vice versa), in order to remain over the same line of longitude, it's sideways velocity has to change - it has to accelerate sideways*. And that means there has to be a sideways force. Just from experience, you know intuitively that it's a negligible force, but can we quantify that? How much of a force are we really talking about?

The flat-earther actually proposed a good thought experiment to think about the issue. Suppose there were a giant merry-go-round, the same diameter as the Earth, spinning at the same rate of 1 rotation per day. If you started at the center of the merry-go-round, you would have zero sideways velocity. If you walked outward on a straight line painted on the merry-go-round, your sideways velocity would start to increase, keeping matched with the merry-go-round. By the time you got to the edge, your sideways velocity would be quite high - close to 1000 mph.

So, let's actually use the merry-go-round thought experiment to determine the necessary forces. The results will be at least in the right order of magnitude, and it makes the math a whole lot simpler than trying to model all this on a globe.

So, here's a diagram of the scenario. You've got a merry-go-round spinning at some rotational velocity, ω. You have an object moving outwards on that merry-go-round at some radial velocity, Vr. That object, because it's on the merry-go-round, will also have some tangential velocity, Vt.

Figure 1

Our goal is to find tangential force, Ft, which is going to be defined by tangential acceleration, at, so we need to find changes in tangential velocity. So, let's let that object travel for some time, t. In that time, it will cover a certain radial distance, dr, which is obviously just defined by dr=Vr*t.

Figure 2

At the first point, 1, it will have a tangential velocity Vt1, where Vt1=ω*R1. And at the second point, 2, it will have a tangential velocity Vt2, where Vt2=ω*R2. Okay, I think that's got all the definitions taken care of. On to the equations:

R2 = R1 + Vr*t

ΔVt = Vt2 - Vt1
ΔVt = ω*R2 - ω*R1
ΔVt = ω*(R1+Vr*t) - ω*R1
ΔVt = ω*R1 + ω*Vr*t - ω*R1
ΔVt = ω*Vr*t

at = ΔVt/t
at = ω*Vr*t/t
at = ω*Vr

Ft = m*at
Ft = m*ω*Vr

So, things simplified quite nicely, where you don't need to worry about where exactly you are on the merry-go-round. All that matters is how fast the merry-go-round is spinning, and how fast the object is moving radially.

Let's calculate one more value, tangential load factor, nt, which is the g's the object will experience in the tangential direction, and is simply the tangential acceleration, at, divided by the regular acceleration due to gravity on Earth, g. Note that this is only dependent on speeds, not masses.

nt = at/g
nt = ω*Vr/g

Now, let's plug in some numbers, going through an example step-by-step. Let's consider a 200 lb person walking briskly at 5 mph (I'm an engineer in the U.S., so I usually stick with ft, lb, seconds, and the like). So first, rotational velocity, ω, will be one revolution per day, which works out to 6.94e-4 rpm, or 7.272e-5 rad/s. The person's mass is found by converting pounds to slugs, and since m = W/g, we get 200 lb / 32.2 ft/s² = 6.21 slugs. And their speed is 5 mph * 5280 / 3600 = 7.33 ft/s. So, we just plug those into the equations:

Ft = m*ω*Vr
Ft = (6.21 slugs)*(7.272e-5 rad/s)*(7.33 ft/s)
Ft = 0.0033 lbs

nt = ω*Vr/g
nt = (7.272e-5 rad/s)*(7.33 ft/s)/(32.2 ft/s²)
nt = 1.656e-5

To summarize, for a 200 lb person walking briskly at 5 mph, the tangential force required to accelerate them as they walk outwards is only 0.0033 lbs, or 1.656e-5 g's. That force is about equivalent to the weight of 5 staples (according to this discussion, at least). That's really, really negligible.

Let's add a few more cases, but instead of going through all the math step by step, again, let's just put the results into a table.

Person, 5 mph Car, 60 mph 747, 570 mph
ω, rev/day 1 1 1
ω, rpm 0.000694 0.000694 0.000694
ω, rad/s 7.27E-05 7.27E-05 7.27E-05
Vr, mph 5 60 570
Vr, ft/s 7.333333 88 836
Wt, lbs 200 4000 735,000
m, slugs 6.21118 124.2236 22,826.09
at, ft/s² 0.000533 0.0064 0.060796
Ft, lbs 0.003312 0.794974 1387.726
nt 1.66E-05 0.000199 0.001888


Those are all small accelerations, and correspondingly small forces (at least in relation to the size objects). Obviously, the acceleration goes up as tangential velocity goes up, but even at the 570 mph speed of a 747, the radial acceleration is still less than a hundredth of a g.

Granted, the actual magnitude of the force on the 747 looks big enough to be somewhat appreciable, but remember to keep it in comparison to size of the aircraft - 1388 lbs of side force on a 735,000 lb aircraft. To further put the force in perspective, keep in mind that if the aircraft weighs 735,000 lbs, the wings have to create that much lift. So, to get 1388 lbs of side force, the aircraft would have to be banked just 0.11°, since arctan(1388 lbs / 735,000 lbs) = 0.11°. Another way to look at it is in comparison to the engine thrust. Since a 747 has an L/D of around 15.5, that means a drag of around 47,400 lbs, and an equal thrust from the engines to counter that. Even if you completely ignored aerodynamic means of accomplishing the side force, it would mean skewing the thrust just 1.7° off of the flight path. These are very small numbers.

And, keep in mind, we simplified things with a giant merry-go-round, which is actually worse than everywhere on Earth except 2 precise locations. The only locations matching this are at the poles, where the surface actually is perpendicular to the rotation axis. Everywhere else, the surface is more angled relative to the rotation axis. Right at the equator, this force/acceleration drops to zero. All latitudes in between will have force/acceleration values somewhere in between this worst case and zero.

So, an object traveling north-south on a spinning globe does indeed have to have some side force to account for the changing tangential velocity. And while we may know intuitively that the force has to be negligible, it's nice to be able to break out the math to calculate what it would need to be.

Spinning globe image source: zaleta.pbworks.com
All other diagrams by author

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*All this actually applies any time traveling north-south, not just directly north-south along a line of longitude. I was just keeping things simple for the sake of discussion.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Big Christmas Post, 2018

Christmas TreeChristmas is less than two weeks away, so it's about time to get up my now annual Big Christmas Post. I've written quite a few Christmas related entries over the years, and posted various comics and memes, so I've decided to gather up links to all the best stuff into one post. I know this is recycling, but it's still good stuff, especially if you've never read it before.

 

Jolly Posts

AOPA Christmas Card A Plane Christmas Greeting
This is a poem written by my late Uncle Bud. We both shared a love of aviation. This is his version of "The Night Before Christmas" (or "A Visit from St. Nicholas" for you pedants), with an aviation twist.
  
Koch Fractal Snowflakes An Early Christmas Present - Koch Snowflake Christmas Ornament 3D Printer STL Files
Last year, I played around with making snowflake ornaments for my 3D printer. But since I'm a nerd, they couldn't be any old snowflakes. These are fractal snowflakes.
  
White Wine in the Sun Merry Secular Christmas 2018 - Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Charity
I have a tradition of posting a video of this song every year around Christmas. This year was no exception. Go give it a listen, and donate to the autism charity, Aspect, while you're at it.

 

Curmudgeonly Posts

Santa in the Crosshairs War on Christmas
This was my first War on Christmas post. It covers a bit of the history of Christmas in the U.S. ("a nightmarish cross between Halloween and a particularly violent, rowdy Mardi Gras"), the Pagan origins of so many modern Christmas traditions, and in general why it's silly to get upset over an imagined War on Christmas.
  
Santa is no more Yes, Virginia, There Are Liars
I've never particularly liked lying to kids about Santa Claus, nor the whole mindset around Christmas time that kids should suppress their doubts and critical thinking skills. Playing pretend with kids is one thing, but lying is something else.
  
Scrooge When Happy Holidays Isn't Good Enough
This was an incident a few years ago that still stands out in my mind - a Salvation Army worker getting physically punched for wishing somebody a 'happy holidays' instead of a 'merry Christmas'. I included a meme that shows the appropriate response to any holiday greeting.
  
Take that, Santa Unintentionally Hilarious War on Christmas Video
Well, this could go into Jolly or Curmudgeonly depending on how you want to take it. This was a video I came across this year from a extreme right wing website - so extreme that I had to do a double take to verify it wasn't parody. Anyway, the video was so over the top that I couldn't help chuckling over it.

 

Should I Donate to _____ Charity?

Since so many people start thinking about donating to charity around the holidays, here are a couple entries on charities.

Salvation Army? The Salvation Army - To Give, or Not to Give?
As much as they try to portray a completely wholesome image, the Salvation Army isn't without their controversies. I'm not actually going to advocate that you do or don't donate to them (but if you don't, please donate to somebody else), but you should at least understand some of the activities they engage in that you may not agree with.
  
Charity Debunking an E-mail on Charities
This was written in reply to one of those email forwards, decrying all the supposed waste from certain charities, and suggesting you donate your charity money to other, more worthwhile charities. Well, suffice it to say, since it was an email forward, it wasn't particularly reliable. Granted, it's been a few years since I've looked into each of these charities, but it still gives you a sense of how legitimate various charities are, and provides links to a few watchdog groups.

 

Christmas Memes & Comics

You may have to click to embiggen to read this one.
Calamities of Nature Comic on Charlie Brown Christmas
Source: Calamities of Nature (via the WayBack Machine)

 

Santa Jesus Meme
Source: Master Marf (no idea if that's the original creator)

 


Source: Meme Generator

 

You'll never see one of those cutout plywood nativities the same way, again:
Source: Scoopnest

 

Christmas Tree Image Source: Free christmas Tree Backgrounds

Merry Secular Christmas 2018 - Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Charity

In a yearly tradition for this blog, it's time to post one of my favorite Christmas songs, White Wine in the Sun, by Tim Minchin. But more than that, this is a chance to support Aspect, an Australian charity supporting children and adults on the Autism spectrum. For the past several years, Minchin has donated all procedes from sales of the song around Christmas time to the charity (previously known as the National Autistic Society - more info). So, if you don't own a copy of the song, yet, now's a perfect time to buy it.

If you've never heard the song, there's a description on Minchin's site from 2010 which reads, "This is a captivating song and a beautiful and intelligent exploration of why Christmas can still be meaningful even without religious beliefs. There's just the right amount of sentiment and some very gentle humour illustrating Tim's feelings about Christmas and the importance of family and home. It is a heart-warming song and may make you a little bright eyed."

So, with all that out of the way, here it is, White Wine in the Sun. And new for this year is a new(ish) recording of the song (new for this site, at least):

Also new for this year, I'm including the lyrics, if you want to read along (per Google, from an older recording):

I really like Christmas It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it I am hardly religious I'd rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu To be honest

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I'm looking forward to Christmas
Though I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus

I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don't go in for ancient wisdom
I don't believe just 'cause ideas are tenacious it means they're worthy
I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords
But the lyrics are dodgy

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To the mis-education of children who, in tax-exempt institutions
Are taught to externalise blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong
But I quite like the songs

I'm not expecting big presents
The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate's is just fine by me

'Cause I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You'll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won't understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who'll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if my baby girl
When you're twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You'll know what ever comes
Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun

When Christmas comes
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling, whenever you come
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun
Darling, when Christmas comes
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Waiting

I really like Christmas
It's sentimental, I know

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