Saturday, July 27, 2013

From Normal or Overweight to Fit 'n' Ripped in Only One Hour

It's all smoke and mirrors 
writes Andrew Dixon about the fitness industry. Many of us knew, or suspected, that, of course, but who knew that a before photo and an after photo that look like an interval of "months of hard work and dieting" could be produced in only one hour?!
There is no doubt that we live in a world of manipulation, false promises and exaggerated claims. This is especially true in the fitness industry.

 The reasons these programs become so popular is because they are presented and marketed very well. These marketing campaigns use testimonials and before-and-after transformation photos. Before I claim it's all bullshit, I want to make it clear that there are definitely some very impressive, genuine physical transformations out there. What I do take issue with are the transformations that are manipulated with Photoshop, professional lighting, postures to degrade or enhance their look, pro tans, sucking in or pushing out a bloated belly or flexing muscles vs. not flexing to obtain an optimal look.
I decided to take my own transformation photos to see what was possible with just a few easy tweaks. About six months ago I was around 185 pounds and about 16 percent body fat. I was feeling particularly bloated on the day, so I asked my girlfriend to take a before shot. I then shaved my head, face and chest and prepared for the after shot, which was about an hour after I took the before shot. I did a few push ups and chin ups, tweaked my bedroom lighting, sucked in, tightened my abs and BOOM! We got our after shot.

As you can see [two photos above], I'm no bodybuilder, but I had enough muscle on me to catch some shadows from the all-important overhead lighting.

Just a few weeks ago I took another series of photos in an attempt to be a little more deceptive. I wanted to show a series of progressions that look like a few months of hard work and dieting. I'm about 200 pounds and 19 percent body fat in this photo series. This took under an hour to produce.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sexual Activity: most people mainly want to prove that they are sexually functioning, and that’s all

FOR a period of my life, from my 27th to my 39th years, I slept alone
writes Sophie Fontanel, the author of the forthcoming book “The Art of Sleeping Alone”:
I had no sex. I wasn’t unhappy. Or frustrated. In fact, I found no sex preferable to disappointing sex.
 … [Back then,] I asked myself, “Sophie, is your sexual life so very stimulating, actually?” And my answer was, “No.” I realized that even when I took pleasure, I was not ecstatic with my sexual life. In fact, I seemed to be going through the motions of lovemaking because, I thought, that’s what everybody did. I decided to take a break, to recover a true desire.

And what a break! Twelve years! 

It was so easy to stop.

At the beginning, I kept the fact that I had given up sex a secret, and nobody around me could guess how untouched I was. I knew perfectly well that people accept all kinds of sexual behaviors, just so long as you are doing something with your body

Are you single, married, engaged, “it’s complicated”? Are you straight, gay, a lesbian? All of these categories suggest sexual activity, which somehow reassures us. You are doing something. 

  But I don’t think that’s our true life and rhythm. We are not machines. Nothing is so tidy about our sex lives. We are very alone in how we dream. We are not making love as easily as we boast we are. And when we are making love, it is not always enjoyable. 

We are liars, poor liars trying to mystify one another. Perhaps French people are especially big liars. At the very least, we are full of contradictions. If you visit Paris, you will notice that we are very thin, even if we are the country of bread and cheese. We are also very sexy, but maybe it’s only a show to save our reputation. 

By giving up sex, I abandoned all this pretense. During the 12 years I didn’t have sex, I learned so much. About my body, the role of art in eroticism, the power of dreams, the softness of clothes, the refuge and the importance of elegance.

 … I’ve learned that most people mainly want to prove that they are sexually functioning, and that’s all. Strangely, people are ashamed to admit that they are alone in their beds, which I discovered is a huge pleasure.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Those Who Aren't With Us Are Against Us, Said the President of the USA — 50 Years Ago

Those who aren't with us are against us, said the president of the United States — 50 years ago.
1963 De Gaulle Warned on Allies
FRANKFURT — President Kennedy, in a blunt rebuttal to French President Charles de Gaulle’s concept of an independent Europe, said … that those who would split allies “give aid and comfort” to enemies of the West. “The United States,” Mr. Kennedy promised, “will risk its cities to defend yours because we need your freedom to protect ours. ... Those who would doubt our pledge or deny this indivisibility — those who would separate Europe from America or split one ally from another — would only give aid and comfort to the men who make themselves our adversaries and welcome any Western disarray.” Mr. Kennedy tackled the “De Gaulle problem” in a major foreign policy address in Frankfurt’s historic Paulskirche — St. Paul’s Church.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Did 2 French Aviators Reach North America by Plane in 1927, a Few Days Before Lindbergh Landed in Paris?

Two French aviators had done it, it seemed
writes Scott Sayare in the New York Times
— accomplished the first, near-unthinkable flight between Paris and New York, and on May 10, 1927, newspapers across France proclaimed “the triumph of French wings” and a “golden age of French aviation.”

“Nungesser and Coli have succeeded,” declared La Presse, going so far as to detail their sea landing in New York Harbor and the “cheers that rose up from the ships that surrounded them.”
Those heady first reports proved false. Charles Nungesser, a daredevil aristocrat and top French flying ace, and François Coli, a one-eyed mariner and former infantryman, had not arrived in New York. Their hulking single-engine biplane, L’Oiseau Blanc, or The White Bird, was never recovered. 

They had vanished “like midnight ghosts,” wrote Charles Lindbergh, the American who only days later reached Paris from New York. The Frenchmen were thought to have gone down in the English Channel, or perhaps over the Atlantic, or somewhere between Newfoundland and Maine.
Their disappearance, considered one of aviation’s great mysteries, has inspired decades of hypothesizing. 

A growing body of evidence, however, suggests that the aviators crashed off the tiny St.-Pierre, a craggy outcrop of lichenous rock and boxy, brightly colored houses about 10 miles from Newfoundland. It is a theory championed by Bernard Decré, an obsessive and excitable French septuagenarian who has committed the past five years to a full-time search for L’Oiseau Blanc.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Return of Françafrique: Without much notice from the French, Hollande is bringing France back into Africa

On Bastille Day this year, African troops from Mali, Chad and other nations proudly marched down the Champs-Élysées as part of the traditional French national-day military parade
writes Pierre Haski in the New York Times.
It has been a long time since Africa was honored so prominently in France. That reflects a significant shift in France’s interest in Africa, created in part by the decline of France’s global influence in a changing world. 

Relations with Africa, and particularly with France’s former colonies, have long been sufficiently important for Paris to merit a French advisory unit in the president’s office known as the cellule africaine (African cell). 

When France gave most of its African colonies independence in 1960, it retained considerable control. French advisers pulled the strings in ministries from Abidjan to Libreville and reported directly to Jacques Foccart, Charles de Gaulle’s powerful chief advisor on African affairs, a man who could decide to overthrow a president or send French paratroopers to rescue one. 

These arrangements, dubbed “Françafrique,” remained almost untouched for nearly three decades, no matter who ruled in the Élysée Palace.

 … In Mali, [President Hollande] tried for months to promote an “African solution” to the jihadist takeover of a territory in the Sahel region as big as France. 

But when the rebel columns began advancing on Bamako last January, Hollande moved in decisively with troops and jets, seeking at the same time to mobilize regional forces to take over from the French as soon as possible. 

Then in May, the French president traveled to Addis Ababa for the 50th anniversary of the African Union, the only Western head of government to do so. And he surprised his audience by inviting all 54 African states to Paris next December for a “summit on peace and security on the continent” to discuss Africa’s failure to deal with its own security issues in the past half century. 

This is the biggest diplomatic initiative taken by France on the African continent in many years. And even if some African leaders felt “summoned” rather than “invited,” they recognized the validity of the issue. 

Without much notice from French public opinion, which is focused more on gloomy economic statistics, Hollande is bringing France back into Africa. President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Africa shows that the United States may likewise be showing a greater interest in the continent.

Monday, July 22, 2013

If the U.S. were to treat Mexican nationals in the same way that Mexico treats Central American nationals, there would be humanitarian outrage

There are many strange elements in the current debate over illegal immigration
writes Victor Davis Hanson (gracias por instapundit),
but none stranger than the mostly ignored role of Mexico.

  … Is elemental hunger forcing millions of Mexicans to flee north, as it may have in the past?

Not necessarily. According to a recent United Nations study, an estimated 70 percent of Mexico's citizens are overweight and suffer from the same problems of diet, health concerns and lack of exercise shared by other more affluent Western societies.

Mexico is a severe critic of U.S. immigration policy, often damning Americans as ruthlessly insensitive for trying to close our border. It has gone so far as to join lawsuits against individual American states to force relaxation of our border enforcement. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon sharply criticized the United States for trying to "criminalize migration."

Is Mexico, then, a model of immigration tolerance?

Far from it.

Until 2011, when it passed reforms, Mexico had among the most draconian immigration laws in the world. Guatemala has criticized Mexico for initiating construction of a fence along its southern border.

Mexico has zero tolerance for illegal immigrants who seek to work inside Mexico, happen to break Mexican law or go on public assistance -- or any citizens who aid them.

In Mexico, legal immigration is aimed at privileging lawful arrivals with skill sets that aid the Mexican economy and, according to the country's immigration law, who have the "necessary funds for their sustenance" -- while denying entry to those who are not healthy or would upset the "equilibrium of the national demographics." Translated, that idea of demographic equilibrium apparently means that Mexico tries to withhold citizen status from those who do not look like Mexicans or have little skills to make money.

If the United States were to treat Mexican nationals in the same way that Mexico treats Central American nationals, there would be humanitarian outrage.

 … In truth, many thousands of Mexicans flee northward not necessarily because there are no jobs, or because they are starving at home. America offers them far more upward mobility and social justice than does their own homeland. And for all the immigration rhetoric about race and class, millions of Mexicans vote with their feet to enjoy the far greater cultural tolerance found in the U.S.

Indigenous people make up a large part of the most recent wave of Mexican arrivals. Those who leave provinces like Oaxaca or Chiapas apparently find the English-speaking, multiracial U.S. a fairer place than the hierarchical and often racially stratified society of Mexico.

People should be a nation's greatest resource. Fairly or not, Mexico has long been seen to view its own citizens in rather cynical terms as a valuable export commodity, akin to oil or food. When they are young and healthy, Mexican expatriates are expected to scrimp, save and support their poorer relatives back in Mexico. When these Mexican expats are ill and aged, then the U.S should pick up the tab for their care.
Related: "Undocumented Worker" — The Left's Preferred Expression for "Illegal Alien" Is False and Misleading 

No, Senator Rubio (and No, Liberals): There Is Not a Single "Undocumented Worker" in the United States (or On This Planet)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

If 2nd Amendment Only Applies to Muskets, Does 1st Amendment Only Apply To Quill Pens?

I'm not going to sit here and let Michael Moore tell everyone on national television what he thinks we should be doing on the Second Amendment
says Former U.S. Navy SEAL Dom Raso.
As if he has any credibility on this issue because he is a celebrity …

In his words, the Second Amendment only applied to muskets where you put the little ball thing in …

If the Second Amendment only applies to muskets, I guess the First one only applies to quill pens and parchment…

There's no logic in following the constitution when you feel like it; and mocking it when you don't.