The Internet is not JUST for Porn

July 7, 2009 at 4:19 AM | Posted in Rants | 1 Comment

[This is copied over from my facebook account, and I thought it would serve as a decent introduction for any readers.  This is a rant, so you’ve been warned.]

Hopefully I’ve caught your attention with the title. I was doing some quality thinking while teaching physics lab (as I always do), and I reached a conclusion that goes something like this: the Internet is the closest thing we have to a comprehensive library of all the knowledge that mankind has gathered since the day he set sentient foot on the planet, and yet its power as such is widely unappreciated and unused.

For those of you about to TLDR this, the reading of the first few paragraphs should provide you with enough information to intelligently comment and/or attempt to appear as an intelligent douchebag disguising a flame.

As I have reached higher tiers of education during my stay as an undergraduate engineering/physics student at UNO, I have learned a lot more than mechanics, thermodynamics and theoretical astrophysics of the interstellar medium (ok, I did that on purpose). In fact, I would say that the most important thing I have learned is that there is A LOT to learn out there, and there are A LOT of things that no one has ever done before – things that NEED to be done. Research and progress in fields like conservation, aging, chronic pain, degenerative disease, space travel, government and psychology (to name a few) are in the stone ages of what we need now.

What do I mean? Well, as many of you know, I’m an adamant environmentalist and activist, but let me give you some straight-up, no-bullshit truths: there are almost 9 billion people in the world and the natural capacity of the planet to support humans has been exceeded (note I said the NATURAL capacity – the earth can support many more humans, but at an ever-increasing cost to wildlife, ecosystems and one another). The cost to our ecosystems, wildlife and weather patterns is UNDENIABLE: we are seeing its effects as I write this. I’m not saying global warming is the cause of everything ever and cap and trade will fix it. No, I’m referring to the very real, very verifiable facts: terrible water quality, the almost-complete annihilation of prairie land and all of its wild inhabitants, solid waste, groundwater contamination and deforestation/desertification, and this is just the beginning.

What’s the point of all this? Many of the people I know (especially the older ones) maintain the opinion that nothing can be done and all is lost. Even some young people have given up all hope on issues like the environment. But wait! I’m not completely self-serving. I’ll give you something you SHOULD care about: aging! For as long as I have known, with the exception of a number of people I can count on my right hand, everyone accepts that aging is a biological process that is programmed into all humans and serves to kill us all by some method or another by the time we reach old age. Would it surprise you if I told you this simply was not true? Of course not, you expected such a radical claim from me right there. But you probably choose not to believe me. Fine, but let me get to the point.

In my free time, I spend a lot of time on the internet searching random things that interest me. One of my favorite things to do is see how many characters it takes before Google anticipates my question. Sometimes it doesn’t! Either way, what I’m saying is I’ve found a lot of things I never knew were true and never suspected to be true. I’ve also found that there exist HUGE gaps in our combined knowledge as a species. Ask someone what they think the big mysteries of the universe are. They’ll probably point to quantum mechanics, cancer and space, or something along those lines. Sure, those are definitely mysteries, but what about things like aging? What about old growth forest restoration? What about trees that live naturally where you do? What about the proper way to brush your teeth for crying out loud!? I bet most of you don’t brush your teeth the right way.

Don’t get me wrong, I do my fair share of joy-riding on the internet. I spend time reading useless news like movie reviews, game FAQs and, occasionally, stuff about bands I like. And I do recognize that the biggest (and definitely one of the most important) purposes of the internet is porn and facebooking. But there are so many more useful things you can do! You can read e-books, familiarize yourself with the classics (and find out they suck), read about a health condition you have or learn how to prevent aging. You can do a lot of other things too, like stop taking useless facebook quizzes and wasting your life reading random facts about people you never talk to.

For the TLDR readers, about here is where you can stop. What follows is a more personal list of rants, recommendations and a discussion of the more interesting and, I feel, important things I’ve found while searching the internet.

There are very knowledgeable people out there with enough tech-savvy to create blogs about really cool things. Take, for example, Lauren’s Fitness blog. She is a professional volleyball player from Australia and she plays in Europe. Sure, that’s almost useless information. But what she has on her site is some of the most valuable information you could hope to come across for those of you suffering from chronic muscle pain or tightness. She has two three-part miniseries on fascia tissue and trigger points. What did I just say? You know that bum shoulder that hurts all the time, or your lower hip/back that always sucks it up when you attempt to stop taking facebook quizzes? That can probably be worked out for $1 with a tennis ball and a little know-how. You can self-massage with a tennis ball! It’s better than a deep tissue massage unless you have a REALLY good therapist, and it’s way cheaper. If you don’t believe me, look up foam rolling and tennis ball therapy, or just go to Lauren’s Fitness blog.

So most of you probably don’t care about what I just said. Sure, your feet are pointing out when you stand up, your femur is stuck in external rotation, your hip rotators are tight, painful and unnaturally short. You might even have a head that sits way too far forward and strains your neck all day, or terrible posture at the desk. So what, you don’t care, do you? Well, you know that grandma or grandpa you had that could never move in his or her old age? Or how about that old guy with a walker or a wheelchair? If you want that, go for it. But these simple things (tennis ball and an ocassional trip to the gym) can save you from such a terrible fate. You could probably live to be 150 years old and NEVER have to give up your quality of life if you gave a tiny shit about what I just said – give your body a tuneup with the damn tennis ball. Seriously, check it out.

But Frank, why do I want to live that long? My teeth will fall out when I’m a hundred anyway! I won’t be able to eat without dentures and everybody knows you can’t have what you like if you eat healthy!

Sure, that’s another case of ignorance. You can cure ignorance with the internet, did I tell you that yet? Anyways, the myth that eating healthy is expensive and tastes like shit is just that: a myth. Furthermore, if you have any doubt about the things you can find on the net, let me give you further proof: look up how to floss, or how to brush your teeth. Yea, your dentist probably showed you and you didn’t care. But he could have been wrong, even if you follow his instructions. (But Frank, the internet can be wrong too. Sure it can, but multiple sources that all say the same thing is a bit easier to believe that one guy living in the boonies in Nebraska who was trained at Creighton, where people who don’t live around here don’t give two shits about). Anyway, if you brush your teeth correctly, floss and use an antiseptic mouthwash, your gums will stop bleeding, you’ll stop needing fillings all the time and you won’t have so much tooth sensitivity. Of course, you probably already have gingivitis and significant gum recession, but you can at least stop it where it is with the right measures. If your gums keep receding, pretty soon your teeth WILL fall out. Point is, it’s avoidable and it ISN’T a necessary, unavoidable effect of getting older.

What about that food thing I was talking about? Well, if you think about it, it’s not that hard. Common sense. The internet doesn’t have everything, that’s for sure (Google “How to cure cancer.” Nothing. Google “How to prevent cancer.” Now we’re talking). I know there are a lot of dipshits out there who think food preservatives and packaging have nothing to do with cancer, but if you believe that, you’ve got a lot of bigger problems to deal with before I will consider your opinion. It’s a well-known, well-supported fact that our mass-consumerism lifestyle has a lot to do with cancer. Cancer didn’t exist before mass production. Of course, people died a lot sooner so maybe they didn’t have the chance to develop cancer. Consider this though: In no other animal population besides humans and their pets has cancer ever been found. Granted, it hasn’t been a top priority to look for it, but I’m willing to bet it just doesn’t exist in any appreciable amount.

So, how to prevent cancer: Eat fresh, whole food with no shit in it and cook all of your stuff as close to “from scratch” as you can.

Problems you may cite with that approach:
– Fresh food is expensive. Have you seen the price of steak?
– I hate the taste of [insert food here].
– I don’t have time to cook everything from scratch!
– How are you going to store fresh food? You can’t just go to the supermarket every night! You have to plan in advance! My time is worth too much for this.
– I’m a sissy girl who wants to complain about every possible thing ever and continue my horrible lifestyle and live in peace in white suburbia America. It’s my right.

For those of you who sympathized with the last one, keep going. The world needs people like you to die off faster (cancer or whatever it be) so the rest of us can get on with a more productive collective human lifestyle.

Anyway, let’s look at each problem one at a time, because I feel like those are legitimate complaints that can easily be solved with a little information. 1. Price: Yes, it costs more to buy fresh food. Fresh veggies, fresh meat, all of it is more expensive. There are two things you can do. You can buy frozen veggies and fruit and it is considerably cheaper, but be careful. Look closely at the ingredients list here: you don’t want things like disodium phosphate, cow shit or guar gum in your food. If it says any of that, put it back and go for a different brand. Frozen meat is the same way. Don’t buy frozen all-American Jimmy Dean Sausage n’ Biscuits. Buy frozen sausage with an ingredients list like: pork. Usually, it’s not hard to find these things either because they are advertised as natural (that’s an important point: organic is expensive, NATURAL is the same thing for way less). Regardless, some things simply aren’t frozen. What about mangos and New York strips? Well, first off, beef is expensive and it is the king of meats. Lower your standards and add some variety: learn to cook chicken, pork and other stuff – it can be just as tasty. Try fish, even if you hate it. You can find recipes online and do lots of cool things with it and YOU control how it tastes then.

Another thing you can do is learn to cook oddball cuts. Cow tongue may sound disgusting, but it’s actually incredibly good if you cook it right. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a daunting, pre-planned event to cook it, but it’s rewarding. Consider it much like cooking a roast. There are a lot of cuts that aren’t as nice as a New York strip or t-bone that you can get a lot cheaper, too. If you aren’t willing to branch out and try new things, you probably fit in the last category and I can’t do a whole lot to help you anyway. That’s your problem, not the world’s problem or some profound inability to come up with a solution.

Ok, points three and four (I covered two already). A freezer is a great way to store fresh food. If beef is only frozen once or twice it still tastes JUST fine when you thaw it properly and cook it the way you like it. Frozen fish is about the only way to ensure not dying from eating fish here in the Midwest. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer and you like to catch and clean fish from the wild, let me remind you that our waterways are so polluted and depleted that, if you find ANYTHING at ALL, it’s probably not good for you (yes, for those of you unaware, there is almost no wildlife left in our rivers and streams thanks to irrigation and water pollution). At any rate, what you can do is stock up when there’s a sale and freeze things. If your freezer is full of things like chocked-full-of-preservative ice cream, bomb pops and pizza rolls, now is the time to clean the shit out and make some room for actual food. You can also freeze fresh veggies if you do it right (look it up on the INTERNET), and take a look at canning. That’s right, you can can your own fruits and vegetables in GLASS so that they don’t taste like aluminum and fill your body with heavy metals and cost a thousand dollars from Wal-Mart. Don’t know how? The internet does!

And lastly, cooking does take time. If your time is worth SO much that you can’t find time to cook, you probably have enough money to eat out every night of the week and you supersede the rules. But, since most of you are probably just too lazy and would rather fill food preparation time with taking facebook quizzes (Have you gotten the message there? Facebook quizzes are the most mindless thing I’ve seen since myspace) or watching funny youtube videos, or mindlessly watching tv commercials, maybe it’s time for a small change of lifestyle. Simply put, eating healthy tastes GOOD and is WAY better for you, and it IS attainable by your average middle-class suburbia family of four with several SUVs and a couple of dogs.

Some specific ideas for those of you who actually care: make a bunch of cream corn with fresh corn and freeze it for later consumption. Heat it up in a saucepan to a boil and enjoy. It’s really delicious. Of course, use fresh corn and half-and-half that’s not got xanthan gum and cream of earwax in it. It will still be good, I promise. I don’t know about you, but I love mangos! They can only be found during a few weeks of the summer for a cheap price and at the peak of ripeness, however (as with most fruits). So I can only enjoy good mangos for a little while, right? Wrong! Save up and buy a box or two when they are in season. Then, can them and eat a jar sometime later that winter when you’re craving some summer fruit. Or, save that watermelon rind and make pickled watermelon! But, wait, you don’t know how. Oh, check the internet!

A little time and preparation can go a LONG way to keeping you cancer-free and in excellent health. And it doesn’t even take a lot of money to do it. If you don’t see a point in investing time and a little money in your own health, then you have problems anyway.

So far, I’ve demonstrated how the internet can help you avoid cancer, avoid having your teeth fall out and avoid muscular and skeletal injuries and chronic pain. There are a lot of other things out there too, like how to replace your brake fluid, how to change your oil (and yes, it covers YOUR make, model and year specifically) and how to fix your leaky gutters. There are multiple video how-to sites (check out eHow) and plenty of instructional sites. There is a multitude of MASSIVE recipe databases for ANYTHING you could ever possibly want to cook (How do you think I made cow tongue? Check out chicken feet soup! No, just kidding). Take a recipe, try it, then put your own spin on it and bam, you’ve got a family recipe to add to the cookbook. “Just like grandma used to make” is becoming an archaic saying since nobody knows how to make shit anymore and grandmas are beginning to die.

My point is this: take your hand off your penis and/or clitoris (yes I did say and/or there) or finish it up quickly, close the youtube video of a guy’s girlfriend falling off the back of a moving motorcycle and accept the fact that, while facebook says you are, you are not a Michael Jackson song and, even if you were, that quiz probably isn’t right anyway. The next time you have a spare twenty minutes or you’re bored at work, Google something you care about. My passion is health, muscle-building, the environment and physics. What do you care about? What do you do in your spare time, besides yourself? (Have you ever wondered what your pet SHOULD be eating? It’s probably not cat or dog food, that’s for sure. Hello, diabetes.) Ask Google a burning question you’ve had for a long time. Read about the history of the Henry Doorly Zoo – it’s really interesting. Get caught up on news – don’t watch the damn tv either – it’s full of horrible media. And when it’s voting season, you can use the internet to become an informed, responsible voter and ACTUALLY exercise your right to vote. There are people in other countries who would KILL for a democracy and you don’t even vote. What do you have to say to that?

Some sites to get you started, if you’re interested:

– Google Reader is an excellent way to keep on top of current events in things you are interested in. I don’t give a damn about what congress is doing, but I love the environment and love to see headlines about the first baby buffalo born in the wild in 150 years! This actually happened a few weeks ago in Wisconsin in a state park. Congress is busy arguing about a bill that will attempt to reduce carbon emissions, but in reality, even environmental bloggers are saying it’s a horrible idea. Who gives a shit, congress is the most useless facade of government that an uninformed voter population let be elected in the history of mankind. Ok, so point of this side-rant: Google reader lets you pick what kind of news you want to see and pick what source it comes from. A great way to get started, keep busy at your dead-end job you’re always bored at and maybe even inspire you to do something more important with your life.

– Google itself is the best way to discover sites and sources about things you are interested in. Ask Google a question. Literally type in “what does the pectoralis minor do” (no punctuation). It will tell you. Googling random things you are interested in leads you to other places on the net, too. Google Nebraska conservation – you’ll get a host of sites that represent organizations that do cool things like the endangered sturgeon rehabilitation program at Gavin’s Point Dam, or a group of five people in west Nebraska that have been going around restoring areas of Nebraska to native prairie. You probably don’t even know why native prairie is important, or that honey bees and other related species are endangered. You probably don’t even know that the most beautiful of wildlife doesn’t live in Nebraska anymore because there’s nowhere for them to live. You’re UNINFORMED and ignorant of so many things.

– Wikipedia is a good starting location for just about any topic you want to know more about. Wikipedia isn’t just for curiosity either, though. If you’re having a meeting today at work to discuss a business deal or you’re going to make a decision about your company, Wikipedia might have some info on that company. Example: your office building may be voting on a small paycut to establish a green roof on top. Why do you care? Take a second to look up green roofs and what they do. Instead of voting no because you don’t feel like losing money, consider the long-term benefits and look at both sides. You might be able to plant fresh veggies and fruit on top of your building and distribute them fairly between building coworkers and what not. You can probably derive some benefit, or maybe you just get the satisfaction of knowing you did something good for the world and weren’t a completely self-serving prick today.

– Finally, forums are excellent. Forums are usually organized by topic. If you have a very specific question that you can’t find an answer for on Google (like a health condition you might be suffering from), forums are your best bet. If you have a question, chances are someone else wondered it at one time as well and had the forethought and consideration to post their question on a forum where a number of specialists and/or interested individuals could take a look and offer an answer. Car problems, health conditions, how-to’s and general curiosities belong to the realm of forums and blogging. There are even very specialized sites that offer extremely valuable information on some topics (for example, T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com for muscle-building and strength athletes).

I’m not telling you to stop masturbating or watching pointless, humorous videos and/or Hulu. By all means, that’s what keeps us sane. But you can use the internet for so much more that it’s a WASTE if you don’t. You can improve your health, you can become very good at something you love, or learn to do something new and branch out and try new things you never knew were possible, just by searching the internet. In the end, it just makes you a better person. And with such a shortage of decent people in the world, a proactive approach is the only way anybody is going to get started on making the world a better place.

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  1. Great blog, I am an ex-engineer turned artist and strive to live a healthy lifestyle. I dont believe in man made medecines, but that true medecine is found in natural unprocessed foods. I looke forward to reading your posts.


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