In the 1890s, bicycles became safer and more comfortable to ride (detailed in this Wikipedia entry on the history of the bicycle). This may have something to do with the increased number of women who were attracted to bicycle riding. (There’s a correlation, but the causation is undoubtedly much more complex.)
Some celebrated this development. Susan B. Anthony, for example:
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel … the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.
An amusing discussion by Will Davies on the economics of selling infidelity. Ashley Madison is a discreet dating service for people who are already in a relationship.
Of course infidelity is as old as fidelity. But it is interesting to consider what happens once it is administered and economised. Firstly, it must surely become considerably less fun, as its taboo is lifted. I don’t doubt that there are people many years into marriage who seek out infidelity in a mundane way, to rival the search for other consumer goods; they may be the initial target of Ashley Madison. But beyond these people, infidelity is being parcelled up as safe and predictable, for those who presumably did their best to steer clear of it, until (for whatever unforeseen reason) they couldn’t resist it. Like hipsterism, the promise of administered infidelity is to have one’s cake and eat it, to experience the rush of living on the margins without any of the risks that once went with that.
Sitting at a desk all day is hard on the body, especially the back. What the body needs is variety and the ability to move. One solution is an adjustable-height desk – one that allows you to alternate throughout the day between sitting and standing.
Farhad Manjoo describes his experience with one such desk in a New York Timesarticle. He tried out the GeekDesk, which comes in two models, selling for $749 or $799 (plus $110 shipping to the 48 states). Not cheap. It includes an electronic motor that adjusts the height with a flick of a switch, from anywhere between 26″ and 46.5″.
You can find inexpensive versions of the adjustable-height desk, such as this one I found at Best Buy, but you have to do the adjusting manually. That means removing your computer and monitor and possibly everything else accumulated on your desktop, then putting everything back after you change the height. Right there, that’s an impediment to alternating between sitting and standing with any frequency.
When did we start calling the whole day before Christmas “Christmas Eve?” I thought Christmas Eve was the evening before Christmas. But no. Senators voted on health care reform at 1:00 AM on Thursday December 24th. To me, that’s still Wednesday night, but it was widely reported as happening on Christmas Eve. Perhaps publishers want to save ink. Or we live in such fast times that it takes too long to say “The day before Christmas.”
Anyway, here’s a flock of interesting stories I’ve come across recently.
Aging, end-of-life, and death
The Breadth of Hope, Selling Hope, and More on Quelling Thanatophobia, (Pallimed: A Hospice & Palliative Medicine Blog)
One unspoken message behind the “sell hope for a cure” ads is “we will not only cure your cancer so that you can avoid death, but we’ll also make it so it’s a non-issue in your life so that you can return to the way things were before. It’ll kind of be like getting your car’s air conditioner recharged.”
The National Football League (NFL) commissioned a survey on the incidence of dementia and other memory-related diseases among its retired players. The results that came back showed early-onset dementia occurring “vastly more often” compared to the national population. The NLF dismissed the study as unreliable.
The data comes from the 88 Plan, a financial assistance plan for retired players with dementia. Confidential data from the plan indicates that the rate of dementia among football retirees is several times higher than the general population. The rate may actually be much higher than the data indicate, however, since many retirees are reluctant to admit they have a problem. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admits that the 88 Plan data underestimates the problem. Read more
Malcom Gladwell (of Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point fame) has an article in the New Yorker called “Offensive Play.” The subtitle is “How different are dogfighting and football?”
In dogfighting, the dogs are injured and suffer permanent damage. It’s becoming clear that the same is true for professional football players.
The damage Gladwell talks about is not the typical and obvious athletic injuries — sprains, dislocations, broken bones, and an arthritic old age. He’s talking about what happens when the brain is subjected to repeated traumas – high speed collisions with massive bodies. Gladwell estimates that linemen are hit in the head 1000 times in a single season. Over the course of a career, that could add up to 8000 blows.
A Rosen Method Movement class takes students through a sequence of movements. The sequence prepares the body to move with ease across the dance floor. All movements are done to music, but not just any music.
The songs used in a class need to have a tempo that’s not too fast and not too slow. A tempo that allows moving in both single and double time (“let’s do that twice as fast”) is ideal, but not a deal-breaker.
Selecting music always brings up a number of subjective issues for me. I avoid religion and politics, for example. I don’t use rap because some students find it offensive, I try to strike a balance between music that students would clearly enjoy (standards, familiar songs), music that’s more of a stretch, and my personal favorites at the moment.
Rosen Method Movement: Gentle, yet powerful movement and dance designed to lubricate all the joints in the body. Classes help you stay active and healthy, improve balance and coordination, and cope more effectively with stress. Developed by an innovative physical therapist as a way to prevent difficulties before they arise, each class follows a sequence that prepares the body to dance across the floor. Low-impact, both energizing and meditative, and definitely fun. Read more
The US government, through the Centers for Disease Control, has an official opinion on how much exercise we need. Adults should get 30 minutes a day, five days of week, of moderate activity, such as brisk walking. This doesn’t need to happen in 30-minute segments. Ten minutes at a time is enough, as long as it adds up to 150 minutes in a week.
Does this seem too good to be true? Whatever happened to running, jogging, and aerobics with Jane Fonda? Is brisk walking really enough to make a difference in health and longevity? Read more
The trikke (pronounced “trike”) is essentially a scooter with two wheels at the rear instead of one. You don’t push your feet against the ground to go forward, however. You lean from side to side, similar to the way you’d propel yourself on skis. It takes a little practice, but it’s not hard to learn. If you watch the video at the end of this post, you can see how it’s done.
Fans of trikking claim that it’s great exercise. On a bike, you use your legs. They move the pedals, which drive a chain, which turns a wheel. On a trikke, you use your whole body to create forward motion. You can even alternate between using your upper body to tilt the handlebars from side to side, using your pelvis to sway the trikke from side to side, or using a combination of both. Riders claim it has the potential to use and tone all the muscles in the body. Read more