Star Wars Ukiyo-e

July 24th, 2015

Japanese period dramas, or jidai-geki, influenced George Lucas well beyond lending the Jedi their name. Now traditional Japanese artists have crowdfunded ukiyo-e woodblock prints of Darth Vader, the Battle of Hoth, and Queen Amidala (with R2-D2 and an adult Anakin Skywalker):

Ukiyo-e Anakin and Amidala Close-Up

Ukiyo-e Battle of Hoth Close-Up

Ukiyo-e Darth Vader Close-Up

The Revenant

July 24th, 2015

The story of Hugh Glass, mountain man, survivor, is a gruesome one:

In August 1823, old frontiersman Hugh Glass was scouting ahead for a fur trapping expedition in South Dakota when he surprised a grizzly bear mother with her two cubs. The bear charged him immediately, knocking his rifle away and mauling him badly. Glass drew his knife and fought the grizzly hand-to-hand (maybe I should say hand to paw?), stabbing it repeatedly as it clawed and bit him. Hearing his screams, two trapping partners soon arrived and found him laying unconscious on top of the bear in a ghastly mess of human and animal blood. They finished off the dying bear with a rifle shot to the head, then took Glass with them back to their camp. Expedition leader Andrew Henry took a good look at the mangled mess of a man and announced that he would soon die of his injuries. Henry asked two trappers to stay with Glass until he died, give him a good burial, and then rejoin the group.

Jim Bridger and John Fitzgerald volunteered to stay behind with Glass and began to dig his grave. What happened next is uncertain. The two men later claimed that they fled for their lives after hostile Arikaree Indians discovered them, but there is no evidence of that. They soon caught up to the rest of the group heading to Yellowstone and reported that Hugh Glass was dead. However, the old mountain man did not die—after an unknown period of time he woke up in his shallow grave, under a thin layer of dirt and leaves. All his weapons, equipment, and protective clothing were gone, taken by the two men responsible for his burial. His leg was broken, and the rest of him was hardly better off. The bear attack had cut him so badly it exposed rib bones on his backside. He had lost a lot of blood, and his wounds were festering. Alone and defenseless, he was more than 200 miles away from the nearest settlement, Fort Kiowa. He set his own broken leg, wrapped himself in the bear hide that had covered him in the grave, and started crawling.

It took Glass six weeks of crawling on his hands and knees to reach the Cheyenne River, 100 miles away from his grave. The bear had nearly torn off his scalp. He suffered from fever and advanced stages of infection. To prevent gangrene from progressing in his wounds he lay back on rotting logs and let the maggots eat his dead flesh away.

That’s just the beginning. Understandably, his story has been turned into a novel, which has been turned into a movie, starring a rather grizzled Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is “inspired by true events”:

Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. The Revenant is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award® winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel).

Silicon Valley White-Asian Divide

July 23rd, 2015

Samuel Liu grew up in a once-white Silicon Valley suburb, where a white-Asian divide became apparent:

To say that whites resented Asians or Asians resented whites would be a gross exaggeration of a largely utopian merger. Youth soccer leagues were run by parents of multiple ethnicities: Indian, white, Chinese, Korean. Often, they were co-workers in their fields. Parental involvement was unified in activities spanning from musicals to the Parent-Teacher Association.

But it was in academics where one could smell the distinct coded scent of a split. There’s a nearby high school called Lynbrook, which by now is probably upwards of 90 percent Asian. I had a friend there who used to joke that they called the white people “the few five.” Everyone knew the one black student by name.

The Wall Street Journal came out with an article in 2005 documenting “The New White Flight,” a twist on the term used to describe the phenomena of white people moving out of poor neighborhoods, taking their tax dollars with them, and often leaving largely black schools derelict and underfunded. At Lynbrook and nearby schools, the Journal writes, whites weren’t quitting schools because the schools were bad. And they weren’t harming them academically when they left; more Asians just moved in.

“Quite the contrary,” the article read. “Many white parents say they’re leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of liberal arts and extracurricular activities like sports and other personal interests. The two schools, put another way that parents rarely articulate so bluntly, are too Asian.”

Reading that article was a bit like accessing a cipher. It swiped away the coded rhetorical veneer that I had so often heard preached at my school. The administrators at my school, largely white, had spoken for years about limiting competition, decreasing stress, preventing students from skipping math levels. Around me, I noticed that almost all the parents or students complaining about the policies were Asian.

It wasn’t until I read the article that I was able to recognize the code words that the administrators used were, intentionally or unintentionally, aimed at countering an “Asian” school. I don’t mean to suggest any covert or overt racism on the part of my school administrators. They are not racist. But what their words and policies did show was a lack of understanding of Asian academic drive. At my school, we were inoculated against the evils of doing things for college applications, counseled to lessen our workload, reminded that true meaning in life was found not in academic success but in “personal worth.” I heard the phrase “self-esteem” so much that I wanted to throw up every time an inspirational speaker waltzed into our school.

This was all well and good, but at the same time the faculty advocated taking easier classes, avoiding tutors, and participating in fewer extracurricular activities. And not only was there a parent at home to scorn those ideas, our competitive drive immediately found them repulsive, also.

Put the Marines Back in Submarines

July 23rd, 2015

David C. Fuquea argues that we should put the Marines back in submarines, where they haven’t trained since before Afghanistan and Iraq:

There have been opportunities to put marines back on subs, but they have been missed. The Navy and Marine Corps have recently reoriented back towards amphibious operations after the land-locked conflicts of the last 13 years. Gen. James Conway, during his tenure as commandant, advocated a “return to the amphibious roots of the Corps.” One manifestation of this advocacy was the return to large-scale training events on both the East and West Coasts. The “Bold Alligator” series of exercises on the East Coast began slowly in 2010 with staff-level discussions and culminated in 2012 with the largest peace-time exercise amphibious landings since Exercise Purple Star in 1996. In 2014, United States Navy and Marine forces, along with forces from several nations, executed a second large-scale Bold Alligator exercise off the coast of North Carolina. In 2011, I served as the lead planner within 2d Marine Expeditionary Force for Bold Alligator and recommended strongly that, given the A2/AD threat, a submarine be integrated into the exercise. My discussions with other planners involved with Bold Alligator 2014 indicated that a submarine was once again recommended for inclusion in the large-scale amphibious exercise. Yet, despite the notoriety and scale of these two exercises, not a single submarine was integrated into the amphibious planning for either. With these as the first large amphibious exercises since the late 1990s, and given the complicated nature of water-space management and amphibious operations, the Marine Corps has a generation of planners and senior leaders responsible for amphibious doctrine who have never even contemplated how submarines can execute ship-to-objective maneuver (STOM), ship-to-shore movement (STSM), and over-the-horizon (OTH) operations, and be employed as critical platforms to enable success in an A2/AD environment.

That the platform most capable of surviving the greatest threat facing Marine Corps amphibious operations in the 21st century is not being trained with or planned for means marines may die needlessly. The cornerstone document for how the Marine Corps will conduct modern amphibious operations, Expeditionary Force 21, is less than a year old. With “assuring littoral access” as “the main mission,” the document is rife with examples of the danger to mission accomplishment in the amphibious realm that Anti-Access/Area Denial poses. These A2/AD capabilities “threaten freedom of action at sea.” The document established that the Marine Corps must become proficient at using “alternative seabased platforms” and operating in smaller task-organized forces. The threat from widely proliferated A2/AD systems is so pervasive, Expeditionary Force 21 calls for amphibious forces to stand off from landing sites and objectives at least 65 nautical miles until threats are mitigated. Doctrine requires amphibious vehicles launch from at least 12 miles off shore, despite their anachronistically slow ship-to-shore movement speeds brought from World War II. Even the most modernized versions of the Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) still move to shore at the same speed of their predecessors from the assault on Tarawa in November 1943. The current planned replacement for the AAV will be a wheeled vehicle with even more limited capability to move autonomously from ship to shore. Unfortunately, submarines, the only platforms with the ability to stealthily penetrate the A2/AD screens to be faced, are not even mentioned as an “alternative platform” to be considered for this purpose within Expeditionary Force 21. This conceptual oversight must be addressed and remedied.

The introduction to the fleet of the “guided missile” class of submarines is the perfect tool for amphibious operations in the 21st century, yet is being ignored by the Marine Corps. In 1999, the U.S. Congress funded the conversion of four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines into guided missile submarines, or SSGNs. At 560 feet long and over 18,000 tons (submerged) in displacement, these “boats” are like their predecessor the Argonaut with far greater capability. The SSGNs have long-term billeting for 66 personnel and, with “hot-racking,” have managed 100 or more embarked personnel for short-term transits. Missile tubes that previously protected our nation through nuclear deterrence now hold a mixture of Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles (TLAMS) and gear for amphibious operations. Two of the former missile tubes have sprinkler systems to afford considerable space for ammunition storage. Remaining storage areas can hold up to 39 inflatable boats (CRRCs), enough for over 200 marines to move from ship-to-shore by this World War II-era conveyance. The SSGNs also have an operations center for embarked troops that rivals those aboard any of the amphibious ships currently at sea in any navy, giving an embarked commander the ability to command and control forces ashore effectively. “Through-deck” connectors allow access while submerged to two Dry-Deck Shelters (DDS) mounted to the exterior deck of the SSGN behind the “sail.”

The two shelters of an SSGN provide over 3000 cubic feet of dry storage for ship-to-shore movement systems for marines. The inflatable CRRC, the most prominent conveyance when marines last conducted submarine training, is an antiquated, anachronistic World War II system — not to mention highly vulnerable in a firefight — and needs to be discarded. While not the vehicle deck of a landing platform dock, the purchase of current off-the-shelf technology can give marines legitimate over-the-horizon delivery capability at high speeds across water, and then transition to a land vehicle with equally impressive performance from the DDS. Mr. David March, who works through Fountain Valley Bodyworks based in Fountain Valley, California, designed and builds the fast amphibian known as the “Panther.” The Panther looks like a jeep but combines a V6 engine with a conventional water-jet to give highway-speeds on land and over 40 miles per hour on water. On a single tank of fuel, builders of the Panther have documented ranges of 60 or more miles on water, followed by equal ranges on shore. A second off-the-shelf platform for use — equally innovative and viable — is the Gibbs Quadski. This vehicle resembles a standard 4-wheeled all-terrain vehicle (ATV). The Quadski, however, can transition from land to water mode in approximately five seconds. Capable of 45 miles per hour on land and water, the Quadski is designed for one passenger but can accommodate two and sells for approximately $40,000. Marines launching from an SSGN with these types of vehicles would have speed and range to get to the shore from OTH, mobility once they arrive, and fire power inherent in being able to carry crew-served weapons on a vehicle. Employing the critical technique of “maneuver warfare” and landing where the enemy is not, small-mobile-fast Marine units with substantial firepower would have legitimate combat capability to a scale and scope exceeding the size of the unit by an order of magnitude. Additionally, the ability to drive out of a DDS directly into the water equates to much greater safety for the submarine, as compared to marines toiling on the deck inflating CRRCs while the sub waits to submerge again. The DDS would provide space for at least two, perhaps four, “Panthers,” allowing the insertion of up to 16 marines simultaneously. Unfortunately, this type of innovative thinking is not being considered in the operational Marine Corps.

He seems most concerned that various special operations forces are taking over this role.

Alonier

July 22nd, 2015

Bloom County is back — and alonier:

Bloom County Alonier

What Finland Can Teach America About Baseball

July 22nd, 2015

Finland has its own, faster-paced version of baseball, called pesäpallo:

Tired of pitchers ambling around the mound? In Finland, there is no mound. Pitchers stand beside the hitter and toss the ball vertically over the plate.

Falling asleep waiting for the next batted ball? In Finland, hitters put nearly every pitch in play, sending fielders scampering in every direction. Players aren’t allowed to call for time between plays or pitches.

[...]

A few years ago, one player wore a pedometer during a game and was found to have run 10.5 kilometers from start to finish. By comparison, soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo averaged 9.6 kilometers covered during Champions League matches this year.

Finnish Baseball Fielder

Finnish baseball is the brainchild of a former Olympic track and field star named Lauri Pihkala. According to historians, Pihkala was studying in the U.S. in 1907 when he attended an American baseball game in Boston and made an observation that was ahead of its time: Fascinating game. A bit slow, though.

He went on to develop the Finnish version in the 1920s, billing it as a military training exercise, but its popularity long outlasted wartime in Europe. It was a demonstration sport in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.

Finnish Baseball

Instead of grass, fields are made of short-cropped artificial turf covered with a thin layer of sand. Instead of sitting in dugouts, players line the circle surrounding the home-plate area and heckle the opposing pitcher. Instead of trying to overpower hitters, pitchers must mix heights and locations to keep them off balance, with the only requirement being that they throw the ball at least one meter above their head. The manager gives signs to the hitter and base runners with a multicolored fan.

The ball has to land in fair territory to count for a hit, meaning the only home runs are of the inside-the-park variety. A triple counts as a home run. Teams use different strategies for where and how hard to hit the ball, depending on the situation, while fielders deploy a range of formations, depending on a hitter’s tendencies. The degree of movement from play to play evokes NFL defensive schemes more than Major League Baseball defensive shifts.

The game is also shorter. Last season, the average Superpesis game took 2 hours 18 minutes, 40 minutes shorter than the MLB average this season.

Gone With The Wind and the Confederacy

July 21st, 2015

When Americans think about the Confederacy, they often think about Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 classic, Gone With the Wind, Cass R. Sunstein says:

Inspired by recent debates over the Confederate flag, I decided to give the book a try. I confess that I did not have high hopes. I expected to be appalled by its politics and racism, and to be bored by the melodrama. (Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, and Ashley Wilkes? Really?) About twenty pages, I thought, would be enough. I could not have been more wrong. The book is enthralling, and it casts a spell.

I felt the same way about the movie.

Both are now considered Confederate propaganda:

But in 1936, The New York Times thought that Mitchell “writes from no particular point of view, although now and then there glitters a dull rage at the upset that ended such a beautiful civilization.”

[...]

At this point, skeptics might respond that subsuming the actual politics of the war, and the pro-slavery convictions of the Confederacy, beneath the gauzy romance of the plantation is precisely what the Lost Cause has been about — that in the end, Gone With the Wind is inescapably a set of political claims, designed to promote political ends. That’s a fair objection to some depictions of the world of the plantation, but it’s grossly unfair to Mitchell’s book, which is much more interested in memory, love, and resilience than it is in causes, won or lost. Of course, Gone With the Wind is a novel, not a work of history, and what it offers is only a slice of what actually happened. But as Americans remember the war and their own history, they have an acute need for novels, which refuse to reduce individual lives to competing sets of political convictions. That is an important virtue, even if one set of convictions is clearly right and another clearly wrong. In fact that very refusal can be seen as a political act, and it ranks among the least dispensable ones.

Is The Fish Kick the Fastest Swim Stroke Yet?

July 21st, 2015

The fish kick may be the fastest swimming stroke yet:

Until recently, competitive swimming has focused almost entirely on what happens at the surface of the water. In early 19th-century England—which many consider to be the birthplace of the modern sport—swimmers raced using the breaststroke. A few decades later, Europeans learned a faster stroke when two Native Americans visiting London demonstrated a way of swimming they had learned growing up: the front crawl. One observer wrote, “they lash the water violently with their arms, like the sails of a windmill, and beat downwards with their feet, blowing with force, and forming grotesque antics.” The Brits eventually got over their shock. The backstroke came next, followed in the early 20th century by the butterfly stroke, which overcame the drag of the underwater recovery required by the breaststroke. The butterfly became the second fastest stroke after the front crawl.

All swimming at the surface shares the same speed restriction. “You’re always limited by your hull speed,” says Ryan Atkison, a sport biomechanist at the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario. It’s a nautical principle that also applies to swimmers. The theory goes that a swimmer on the surface cannot go faster than the bow wave that he or she creates. The bow wave increases with swim speed until, in theory, it stretches along the whole length of the swimmer’s body. Atkison says that the maximum speed is one body-length per second, which is about 1.9 to 2.6 meters per second for a swimmer about 2 meters (6 feet, 5 inches) tall.

“You can’t go any faster than that unless you climb up over top of that wave,” says Atkison. “Some animals can, like dolphins can porpoise and jump over top of that bow wave, but humans can’t physically climb out of that trough,” he says. “The only real way to get faster is to be better under water, where we don’t really have those upper limits on speed.”

Coaches began to take advantage of this fact in the 1980s, when Harvard University coach Joe Bernal realized that some of his swimmers were faster if they stayed underwater and dolphin kicked. This is essentially identical to the fish kick, except that the swimmer is flat on his stomach, rather than turned on his side. Some especially strong underwater swimmers stayed submerged almost the entire length of the pool, since there was no rule against it. That all changed in 1998, when FINA, the world governing body of competitive swimming, ruled that swimmers performing the backstroke had to surface after 15 meters.

Hyman came of age as a world-class swimmer during the underwater revolution. “I was 13 when I started staying under water longer than is typical,” she says, explaining she could go 30 meters without breathing. “I found I could be faster under water than at the surface.” Most swimmers were using the dolphin kick to propel themselves underwater, but Hyman’s coach, Bob Gillet, wanted to experiment. In 1995 he came across a study in Scientific American about how tuna were able to swim at almost 50 mph, where dolphins top out around 25 mph. The study found that the flick of a fish tail generated more efficient thrust than that of a marine mammal tail. Gillet wondered whether the dolphin kick might be more powerful on its side, so the undulations were horizontal, like those of a fish.

One cool December day in Phoenix in 1995, Gillet put it to the test. Hyman showed up for practice at Gillet’s outdoor pool, and he asked her to try it. “In the most respectful way, I called him a mad scientist,” she says. Her first attempts were awkward, and she ended up three lanes over from where she started. But she got better, and soon she was cutting through the water like an eel. She was going faster than she did with the dolphin kick. Faster than she had ever swum before. This gave Gillet another idea.

They went to the local country club pool, where the lighting was brighter and Gillet could walk out to the edge of a diving board to capture video. They took a long, thin rubber tube, fastened it to Hyman’s wrist, ran it down the length of one side of her body, and fastened the other end to her ankle. Then they filled the tube with store-bought food dye, and Hyman corked the tube with her thumb. She jumped into the pool, released her thumb, and took off as Gillet filmed. What they saw in the footage afterward astonished them. The dye swirled out to reveal huge vortices after each of her horizontal kicks. Gillet suspected that these miniature whirlpools, reaching 4 feet in diameter, propelled her forward. He also thought it was possible that when Hyman did the dolphin kick facedown, the bottom of the pool and the surface of the water interfered with these vortices and slowed her down.

How Chicago Is Trying to Integrate Its Suburbs

July 20th, 2015

The Atlantic explains how Chicago is trying to integrate its suburbs — by replacing its housing projects with Section 8 vouchers to subsidize apartments outside the city — and Steve Sailer pokes some fun:

You may have somehow gotten the impression that tearing down Cabrini Green was all about driving out poor black people from right next to the Gold Coast to add billions to local property values. But, it turns out, it was really about Chicago generously Sharing Diversity with deprived suburban municipalities.

The Real Reason for the “Tactical” Reload

July 20th, 2015

Gun-nut Tim explains the real reason for the “tactical” reload:

Dropping magazines, especially partially loaded ones, on the ground is often very hard on the magazine. Apart from dirt, mud, and other detritus that gets inside the magazine, baseplates and feed lips will sometimes crack, and tubes will sometimes bend or dent. This fact is, believe it or not, where the so called “tactical reload” came from.

I actually discussed this with Tom Givens in his Intensive Pistol Skills class a few weeks ago. In the early days of Gunsite the gun that 99.99% of people showed up with was a 1911. In those days there was no Wilson/Rogers 47D magazine and folks didn’t show up to classes with massive piles of magazines for training. Everyone was using GI or factory Colt magazines in their guns. Dropping these magazines on the crushed granite of the range ended up destroying them to the point of students almost put out of commission because they didn’t have any functional magazines left.

If the magazines never hit the granite, then you never have that problem, right? Voilà!! The “tactical reload” as we know it was born. Just think: All that arguing about reloads you see on the internet dates back to a practice adopted to get around the fact that 1911 magazines circa 1977 sucked out loud.

Alone

July 19th, 2015

Arnold Kling sums up William Manchester’s view of the 1932-1940 period in British history in two paragraphs:

The British ruling class was rotten. The British Prime Ministers of that era were dull-witted and feckless. Traumatized by the first World War and frightened of Bolshevism, they came up with an endless list of excuses not to confront Hitler. The role played by the media during this period was dreadful — covering for Hitler and suppressing the views of Churchill until very late in the game.

Churchill was, in many ways, more out of touch with the twentieth century than were other members of the ruling class. However, he had the strength and intelligence that the leading politicians lacked. And unlike most others of his class, he saw Hitler with clarity.

Between the time he wrote that and posted it, an Islamist terrorist attacked and killed multiple American service members in Tennessee:

A casual reader of the Washington Post could be forgiven for blaming the attack on conservatives and the National Rifle Association. The lead Post story said that this was “the latest eruption of gun violence in the United States.” The print newspaper also provides a second front-page story, headlined “Shooter grew up in conservative family.” [The online version says “middle-class Muslim family.”]

I read every word of the second story, looking for the basis for terming the family “conservative.” Did they have a Romney bumper sticker on their car? A subscription to National Review? Perhaps they flew a Confederate flag? Were active in the Tea Party?

[...]

I would love to know how the Post determined on the basis of the content of the story that the best adjective to describe the family was “conservative.” Getting back to the 1930s comparisons, I do not want to equate Muslim radicals with Nazis, because I think that there are important differences. What I am getting at here are the similarities between the British media in the 1930s and what we find in the U.S. today.

As for the American educated in class in general, consider Harry Painter’s analysis of summer reading lists for college students.

Upon browsing the list, one might conclude that all of humanity’s best books are about minorities fighting and ultimately overcoming the oppressive constrictions of Western, male-dominated society.

That thought would have eventually disappeared

July 19th, 2015

Dr. Ben Goldacre (@bengoldacre) explains what he likes about Twitter:

What I love about Twitter is that you can follow a thousand people who are all working in different and interesting fields and just every now and then, trail your fingers into this river of information as it passes by. Also, as it is so low threshold, you gain access to the passing thoughts of very clever people which you never previously would have had. In the past, if Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet, was waiting in the check-in queue at Heathrow and was reading a global health story in a newspaper which he thinks is wrong, that thought would have eventually disappeared. But now, he can pull out his phone and tweet that the news story is incorrect as the The Lancet published an article on that subject some months back.

So being able to sift through those tailored feeds of serendipity is absolutely amazing and I think it is also really interesting for showing you who is truly clued up on their subject matter. I have a deep-rooted prejudice which is that if people can talk fluently in everyday language about their job, it strongly suggests that they have fully incorporated their work into their character. They feel it in their belly. There are people with whom you talk about technical stuff and it almost feels like they can only talk about it in a very formal way with their best work face on — as if the information they are talking about has not penetrated within. Twitter cuts through that and is a way of finding people who are insightful and passionate about what they do, like junior doctors one year out of medical school who take you aback when you realise they know more than people whose job it is to know about a particular field, such as 15 year-old Rhys Morgan. He has Crohn’s disease and went onto Crohn’s disease discussion forums and discussed evidence, whilst noting down people making false claims about evidence for proprietary treatments. He ended up giving better critical appraisal of the evidence that was presented than plenty of medical students. This was all simply because he read How to Read a Paper by Trish Greenhalgh and some of my writings, so he has learnt about how critical appraisal works and what trials look like along with the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of evidence. Thanks to Twitter, I have been able to read about people like Rhys in action and to see ideas and principles really come alive and be discussed and for that, it is wonderful.

Resistance to Control from Afar

July 18th, 2015

The banning of the Confederate battle flag infuriates Fred Reed:

Why? Although a Southerner by raising, I would far prefer to live in New York City than in Memphis. Yet I value my boyhood in Virginia and Alabama. My ancestors go back to the house of Burgesses, and I remember long slow summer days on the Rappahannock and in the limestone of Athens, Alabama.

When the federal government and the talking heads want to ban my past — here, permit me to exit momentarily the fraudulent objectivity of literature — I hate the sonsofbitches.

A lot of people quietly hate the sonsofbitches.

To them, to us, the Confederate flag stands for resistance to control from afar, to meddling and instruction from people we detest. It is the flag of “Leave me the hell alone.” And this Washington, Boston, and New York will… not… do.

Why it makes sense to bike without a helmet

July 18th, 2015

While explaining why it makes sense to bike without a helmet, Howie Chong notes the risk of head injury per million hours travelled

  • Cyclist – 0.41
  • Pedestrian – 0.80
  • Motor vehicle occupant – 0.46
  • Motorcyclist – 7.66

If we’re so concerned about head injuries, he asks, why aren’t we wearing helmets all the time?

With that in mind, a light, convenient, hat-like helmet might be better than nothing — at least if it doesn’t create a false sense of security:

A recent study from the National Ski Areas Association found that, despite a tripling of helmet use among skiers and snowboarders in the United States since 2003, there has been no reduction in the number of snow-sport related fatalities or brain injuries. On the contrary, and 2012 study at the Western Michigan University School of Medicine found an increase in head injuries between 2004 and 2010 despite an increase in helmet use, while a 2013 University of Washington study concluded that snow-sports related head injuries among youths and adolescents increased 250 percent from 1996-2010, a timeframe that also coincides with the increased use of head protection.

Five Hours of TV per Day

July 17th, 2015

The average American watches more than five hours of live television a day:

More if you’re African American. Quite a bit more.

Less if you’re Hispanic or Asian American.

For all ethnic groups, TV viewing time increases steadily as we get older, according to the March 2014 “Cross-Platform Report” released by the Nielsen media ratings company.

Once we pass 65, we watch more than seven hours a day.

The average American then spends another 32 minutes a day on time-shifted television, an hour using the Internet on a computer, an hour and seven minutes on a smartphone and two hours, 46 minutes listening to the radio.

Averages can be deceiving, but wow.