An amusing discussion at work over the “Zeitgeist” movie.

Every morning at work we gather in the cafeteria of one of the buildings to check-in with the boss and find out what most of us will be doing that day. For me it’s the same thing, I run tickets, which I hate, but which I’m overly competent at so all the RC’s ask that I be put on tickets. Depending on what’s going on this little session can take an hour or so to play out and as we’re waiting we make small talk and bullshit with each other. This morning one of the guys, I’ll call him “Mark” for the purposes of this entry, starts talking about this amazing film he watched on the Internet last night and it’s clear he’s quite excited about it. Turns out it’s the Zeitgeist conspiracy documentary that not only tries to show that Christianity is false by using the Jesus is a copy of Horus argument which we’ve talked about here before, but also goes on to try and claim that 9/11 is a conspiracy on the part of the U.S. Government. When this movie was first making the rounds on the blogs I had a lot of folks send me the link and I watched it and was very unimpressed with it. I intended to write something about it, but so many other people have debunked it already that I didn’t see the point.

What I found really amusing about the discussion itself was the way “Mark” started it up. He began by saying that he thought the first third of the movie—the part that claims Christianity is made up of a lot of other older religions—is pure and utter bullshit while the rest of the movie was one hundred percent factual and dead on the mark. His argument was basically that you can’t prove religion true or false because it’s all based on faith so the “religion bashing” is bullshit, but all that other stuff was totally factual. I actually had to laugh at the fact that he was claiming that the filmmakers didn’t know what they were talking about when it came to religion, but that he trusted them implicitly about 9/11 and the whole Bankers Are Out To Screw Us conspiracy. My laughter was not well received and he challenged me to disprove the claims on 9/11 as he apparently thought that’s what I found so funny. I tossed him a couple of softball questions and then let it drop because at least one other co-worker was nodding along with him and agreeing that it was all one big conspiracy and the last thing I needed to do was start a big argument first thing in the morning.

If nothing else it was an excellent example of confirmation bias at work. Because “Mark” doesn’t agree with the first third of the movie he writes it off as bullshit, but because the rest lines up with what he already believes he accepts it as factual and fails to see the irony in holding these two opposing views on the same documentary. Maybe I’ll point this out to him later when it’s less likely to result in a huge scene, but considering how evident it was that he bought into the conspiracy theory hook, line, and sinker it’ll probably be a waste of time.

Fast Food and Portion Sizes

Not the usual post that shows up here, but I found an interesting article with some conclusions that came out of the Documentary “Super Size Me” by Morgan Spurlock. First off, if you haven’t seen the movie go check it out

Back to the topic at hand, the article, “Self-Experimenters: Filmmaker Gained Weight to Prove a Point about Portion Size”, is an interesting look into the aftermath of doing such an experiment as Morgan did.

Morgan Spurlock’s “really great bad idea,” as it would later be called, came to him after a gluttonous Thanksgiving meal. Jeans unbuttoned, stomach engorged with turkey—and eyeing a second helping—the 32-year-old playwright noticed on the television news that two teenage girls from New York City were suing McDonald’s for allegedly making them fat.

“It was the dumbest thing I’d ever heard of,” Spurlock recalls thinking. Until, that is, a McDonald’s spokeswoman appeared on screen to deny any link between the chain’s food and the girls’ obesity, claiming that Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets and the rest of the gang were nutritious. “That was even crazier than the lawsuit,” says Spurlock, now 37. “If it’s so nutritious, I should be able to eat it every day.”

I agree with him, most of those lawsuits against McDonalds are pretty stupid. At some point the user has to be held accountable. I will say that companies such as McDonalds can be very deceptive in their advertising and marketing, as well as statements from their spokespeople about having healthy meals. If McDonalds wants to make the statement their food is healthy, we should hold them accountable for such a statement.

To prove the statement by the spokesperson was ludicrous at best, Spurlock set out on a crazed diet of nothing but McDonalds for 30 days. If their food is healthy there should be no problem right?

But what most alarmed his physicians was the damage to his liver, which became so engorged with fat that it could have been marketed as pâté. “I expected his triglycerides would increase temporarily, his blood pressure would go up, he’d feel miserable,” said Dr. Daryl Isaacs, Spurlock’s general practitioner. “I never expected an acutely fatty liver. By the third week he had the liver of a binge alcoholic.” All three physicians ordered Spurlock to stop, but he nervously stuck it out.

Aside from the obvious issues with the diet like weight gain and cholesterol, he also experienced more severe or shall I say scary by-products of the diet such as lack of sex drive, heart palpitations, and the above issue: the liver of an alcoholic.

Spurlock’s self-experiment brought attention to unusual obesity-related illnesses. Lisa Ganjhu, Spurlock’s gastroenterologist, says the film increased public awareness of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a severe liver inflammation that is not due to alcohol but rather brought on by rapid weight gain; it is associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Fredrik Nystrom, a professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Linköping University Hospital in Sweden, replicated Spurlock’s experiment with 18 subjects, nearly all of whom experienced the same rapid liver damage, but recovered after they ended the fatty diet.

It seems a diet high in crappy food can have some drastic side effects. The movie has a pretty eye opening scene where the doctor is trying to explain this phenomenon (at least at the time it was) to Spurlock and he was completely dumbfounded and surprised at the results. He recommended Spurlock stop the diet immediately. What surprised the doctor was that all estimates and best guesses assumed his cholesterol and heart issues would stop Spurlock before a bad liver would.

The other interesting thing brought up in the movie and article:

The striking documentation of his health problems put fast food purveyors on high alert. “Food portions in America have increased in parallel with rates of obesity,” Lisa Young, adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University, wrote in a recent study published in the Journal of Public Health Policy. Obesity in adults skyrocketed in the U.S. from 15 percent in 1980 to nearly 33 percent in 2004, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, putting Americans at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Young says that the average daily U.S. food intake per person has increased up to 300 calories since the 1980s.

Within weeks of the movie’s May 2004 debut at the Sundance Film Festival, McDonald’s pulled Super Sizes from its menu, saying the move was designed to simplify diners’ choices. “The only thing that got McDonald’s to reduce its portions,” Young tells Scientific American, “was the publicity of the movie.”

Food portions have increased at a very close rate to obesity rates. Something confirmed by a study I read in a book by that asshole on TV… oh yea Dr. Phil. Anyways, the study mentioned looked at food portion sizes in Europe (I think specifically Great Britain and France) and America and also looked at obesity rates and average weight of adults. The study found that portion sizes in America are about 24% greater than Europe and the average weight is also about 25% greater. Something that goes right along with the study mentioned in the quote above from the article.

Anyways, my weight loss plan for the last 8 months has just been to eat less and exercise more along with getting some help from what appear to be decent sources of information (the authors of this book got a team of researchers together and poured through over 10,000 studies and research to find the best info). So far I am down 15 lbs, have a ton more energy, and I haven’t really gained any fat weight.

3 guys with one camera recreate Omaha Beach landing.

One of the reasons I got into computers at a young age was because I thought it would provide me with the creative tools to do cool things on video. It would be years before the possibility would be realized and I never did develop the skills to do it myself, but these days it’s quite common to see amateur efforts that rival many Hollywood productions.

These three guys aren’t exactly amateurs, but it’s still impressive that just three guys, some hand held green screens, and a single camera were all that was needed to create a small Omaha Beach landing scene for a documentary:

Yeah, there’s a part of me that still wants to learn how to do that sort of thing.

Five hour video game documentary to air on Discovery Channel.

The folks over at Kotaku.com fill us in on an upcoming video game documentary:

Today the Discovery Channel announced that it’s going to air a five-hour prime time documentary entitled “Rise of the Videogame.” It covers the entire history of the industry and has interviews with the likes of Ralph Baer, David Jaffe, Will Wright, Peter Molyneux and even some now-obscure names like Ken and Roberta Williams, the founders of Sierra Online. I should disclose that I wrote the treatment for this show and served as a producer on it alongside World of Wonder (the company behind Inside Deep Throat). As opposed to a standard “History Of” documentary, the series takes a look at how the social and political climate shaped games and game designers in the 70s through present day. The first episode will premiere on Wednesday, November 21 at 8 PM (ET/PT) with new episodes to follow every Wednesday night through December 19th.

Damn, I really need to get a DVR at some point.

James Cameron claims he’s found Jesus. Literally.

*Sniff* *Sniff* Smell that? That’s the smell of trouble brewing! Seems James Cameron has a new documentary in the works and boy is it ever a doozy! It claims that Jesus wasn’t resurrected at all and, in fact, his family grave has been found:

Let’s go back 27 years, when Israeli construction workers were gouging out the foundations for a new building in the industrial park in the Talpiyot, a Jerusalem suburb. of Jerusalem. The earth gave way, revealing a 2,000 year old cave with 10 stone caskets. Archaeologists were summoned, and the stone caskets carted away for examination. It took 20 years for experts to decipher the names on the ten tombs. They were: Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Mathew, Jofa and Judah, son of Jesua.

Israel’s prominent archaeologist Professor Amos Kloner didn’t associate the crypt with the New Testament Jesus. His father, after all, was a humble carpenter who couldn’t afford a luxury crypt for his family. And all were common Jewish names.

There was also this little inconvenience that a few miles away, in the old city of Jerusalem, Christians for centuries had been worshiping the empty tomb of Christ at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Christ’s resurrection, after all, is the main foundation of the faith, proof that a boy born to a carpenter’s wife in a manger is the Son of God.

But film-makers Cameron and Jacobovici claim to have amassed evidence through DNA tests, archaeological evidence and Biblical studies, that the 10 coffins belong to Jesus and his family.

Someone make up a big batch of popcorn pronto! This is gonna rile up a shit load of True Believers™ in no time. Sure most of them will just keep on believing anyway, but I’m sure they’re going to have one holy hell of a hissy-fit in the process.

Thanks to KPG for sending me the link.