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Tuesday, March 11, 2008
  A possible solution to The Fermi Paradox
The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations.

For me, anyway, this is a fantastic philosophical question, great for giving the brain a good workout as there are so many different angles you can take it.

Obviously there's no RIGHT answer, but here's my current thinking on this...

- It's reasonable to assume that evolution on our planet is normal, if our planet is an average planet, orbiting an average star, in an average galaxy, we have reason to doubt this.
- So I think it's also reasonable to assume that on other similarly-sized planets that when intelligent life does evolve, it would do so at one particular spot on the planet.
- Those intelligent beings would relatively early on in their evolution develop the ability to travel long distances and then begin to spread out, migrate across the planet.
- This then creates the opportunity for distinct groups to begin to develop independently of one another, and thus in an asynchronous way.
- Some groups will advance quicker than others, whether it be due to weather, availability of natural resources, etc.
- If you fast forward several thousands years, you end up with (a) groups of intelligent beings that have really advanced technologies, potentially including technologies that in the wrong hands could spell existential risks (Nuclear Weapons, Nanotechnology, etc), living alongside (b) groups of intelligent beings that still believe in ancient mythologies, and believe that their worldview is the absolute truth and that anyone who does NOT share their view (including those in group (a)) should be destroyed.
- Once group (b) gets a hold of the technologies created by group (a), in their attempt to follow their beliefs & mythologies they end up wiping out the entire planet, and voila... We see no signs of intelligent life in the cosmos....

I'd love to hear some comments, am I totally offbase or it is reasonable to assume that this is not only a possibility, but perhaps a distinct probability and almost a universal challenge?

Next Question: Is there ANYTHING that can be done to get all of humanity on the same page in terms of what it will take to allow our species to escape this possibility...
Friday, March 07, 2008
  Fitness Update
I've made health/fitness a bigger focus since the beginning of the year, here are some of my new learnings. None of this is rocket science by the way, just perhaps some new ways of interpreting things...

1) Sleep - Getting a good night's rest is a key element of weight loss. This is something I'd read in a number of places, but it never really made sense to me. How is laying on your backside helping you to lose weight? Do you burn calories while you're sleeping? Then over the past few weeks, in tracking my own well being and weight loss I discovered a corrolation. On days when I'd not gotten say 6-8 hours sleep the night before, I generally felt sluggish, had low energy levels (ok, sure, that's obvious). But perhaps what wasn't so obvious is that, when you're awake during the day, and can't say NAP to get energy, how else do you get it? EATING! So when we talk about needing sleep in order to lose weight, you can really say that SLEEPING provides you with Energy WITHOUT any calories... It would be interesting, actually to try to draw a mathematical formula, basically tie in a # of equivalent calories from a subjective 'energy level' perspective that you GAIN in getting a good nights sleep, thus avoiding consuming some potentially BAD calories at lunch or as an afternoon snack in order to compensate.

2) Weighing in / Tracking - When I'm tracking what I'm eating and getting on the scale EVERY DAY, I'm more likely to stay on track. This keeps the metrics in your mind, and helps you to make good decisions about what you eat. It's really like any goal or project, you want to have all of the appropriate information available in order to make a good decision. So when choosing what to eat - it's important to know what your weight is, what your goal weight is, how many calories you're entitled to in a day, how many you've already consumed, how many are in the food you're considering eating. Some people may find tracking what they eat to be too tedious and time consuming, but my argument is, IF your health/fitness are a priority for you, then spending 20 minutes a day tending to this (by tracking your food via some online tool (like - the Daily Plate, or others), is time you're INVESTING in your health and fitness, not WASTING.

3) Good Protein Sources - I'm still struggling a bit on finding a good balance between healthy eating and getting sufficient protein. As a vegetarian, it can be challenging to structure your meals to provide the required amount of protein. The formula of how much you should be getting is roughly 1gm of Protein per Kilogram of body weight. I weight 178 lbs = 80 kg = 80gms of Protein a day. In order to keep within my calorie range ~ 1500-1700/day, it's tough to get 80gms in IF I'm not really selective about what I eat.

I need, on average to consume 5.3gms of Protein per 100 calories.

I can't just eat carbs and veggies!

Example - People talk about Peanut Butter for instance being a good source of protein, well let's then look at a Peanut Butter Sandwich:

Whole Wheat Bread (2 slices) - 250 calories, 8gms of Protein
Peanut Butter (2 tbsp) - 190 calories, 8gms of Protein
Total - 440 calories, 16gms of Protein = 3.6gms/protein per 100 calories

So I really need to be looking a Tofu, Soy Milk, Cottage Cheese and other options that providing HIGHER protein/calorie ratios...

4) Push-ups - Near the begging of the year I started thinking, gee, doing pushups is a dead-easy thing, so special equipment, can be done anywhere... And I've set myself a goal of being able to do 100/day. Starting out, I'd struggle to get in a set of 20. But even within a week, I was able to bump that up to 25, I'm now able to do a set of 30 pushups! My plan is to do 2 sets a day, and work my way up to doing sets of 50, so 2 x 50 = 100 pushups...

5) A Healthy Breakfast w/ Egg Beaters - I really enjoy having egg & cheese on a bagel for breakfast, I see it as a really enjoyable treat, HOWEVER, having a whole egg w/ cheddar cheese on a whole bagel is a lot of calories. So what I'm now doing is just having half a bagel, or once slice of whole grain bread, or two slices of Weight Watchers bread, and using the Egg Beaters substitute - which is basically eliminating the fatty yolk party of the egg, and using partially skim-milk cheese - this way I still enjoy a savory treat, but it amounts to about HALF of the calories, still retaining most of the protein. I'm not saying I'd have this every day, but it's certainly more nourishing than just an banana or apple.

That's all... I'm planning to shave off another 5 pounds or so this month, and finally push into that "Health Weight" category of the BMI chart! Whoohoo!

Then Beer/BBQ/TFC Season starts and who knows what'll happen! hehehe...
A personal blog by John Walter.

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I think a lot. Some people say I think too much... However, I don't want to be seen as being aloof or pretentious, it's just that I really enjoy philosophical questions and deep thoughts. That's not to say that I don't find pleasure in more down-to-earth or trivial things, like beer and soccer :) I'm happily married with 3 wonderful children. I'm a partner in a technology services company based in Toronto. Myers Briggs says I'm an ENTJ

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