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links for 2010-11-29

Audio Post

Christmas Gift Guide 2010

Volume Two: The Beauty of Smoking

Smoking is back. No more patches. No more self-help books. No more missing out on your nicotine all-day in the office. No more lung cancer.* Modern technology has saved an ancient treat. Cigarettes are back!

The e-cig can be used anywhere (right now, anyway, the nannystaters are coming). On a plane, in a restaurant, in your car with your kids, at work, inside, outside. Anywhere. welcome to freedom, or what we used to call “The 1950’s.”

This product is great for everyone. Smokers who want to quit. Smokers who want to cut back. Ex-smokers. Heck, even non-smokers can now enjoy what it feels like to be cool without all that annoying emphysema.

And, if you’re worried about becoming addicted to nicotine, there are nicotine-free options! You can’t lose.

Hey, you’re not going to live forever. It’s time to light up. And buy a pack or two for your friends.

*Maybe, I’ve seen at least one study that shows nicotine might be a contributing factor to throat and mouth cancer, but the relationship was extremely small.

links for 2010-11-28

  • Quote:"In the current study, music was used in a “dual-task” paradigm to facilitate performance under pressure. Three “choking-susceptible” experienced female basketball players were purposively sampled from 41 screened players. Participants completed 240 basketball free throws in a single-case A1-B1-A2-B2 design (A phases = “low-pressure” and B phases = “high-pressure”), with the music intervention occurring during the B2 phase. Following completion of the phases, an interview was conducted to examine perceptions of choking and cognitions associated with the effects of the music lyrics. Participants improved performance in the B2 phase, and explained that choking resulted from an increase in public self-awareness (S-A). The music intervention decreased S-A, and enabled participants to minimize explicit monitoring of execution and reduce general distractibility.
  • Quote:"During the other rides, the tempo of the tracks was slowed by 10 percent or increased by 10 percent. The riders were not informed about the tempo manipulations.

    But their riding changed significantly in response. When the tempo slowed, so did their pedaling and their entire affect. Their heart rates fell. Their mileage dropped. They reported that they didn’t like the music much. On the other hand, when the tempo of the songs was upped 10 percent, the men covered more miles in the same period of time, produced more power with each pedal stroke and increased their pedal cadences. Their heart rates rose. They reported enjoying the music — the same music — about 36 percent more than when it was slowed. But, paradoxically, they did not find the workout easier. Their sense of how hard they were working rose 2.4 percent. The up-tempo music didn’t mask the discomfort of the exercise. But it seemed to motivate them to push themselves…

  • Quote:"On average, the participants performed more than twice as well on a verbal fluency test after listening to music while exercising than they did after exercising without the music.

    "When there was no music, there was no change," Emery says.

    Emery chose Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" for the project because prior research by other scientists with that particular piece indicated that it helped patients with lung disease perform better mentally.

  • Quote:"Personal trainers should be very attuned to the background music playing as their clients workout. Slower, sedative music decreases a person's muscular fitness potential. Many persons may actually prefer a silent atmosphere, where there are no musical distractions, even of a stimulative quality.

    // Interesting stuff. If only my elementary school gym teachers had let us listen to music.

  • Quote:""Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects, in a cruel experiment, whereby we are created sick, and commanded to be well.

    // Hitchins has it wrong. Atheism makes us objects. Meat machines in a cruel world without spirit, where we play out our materialistic destiny like marionettes.

From The Notebook

View of Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1855

Image via Wikipedia

Books Finished:

Forgotten English, Jeffrey Kacirk (2005). This wasn’t really a book, it was a page-a-day calendar. A very dense one. I got half-way through it before a series of moves sent the remains into a box I finally got around to unpacking. I started reading though it a few weeks ago. Good stuff. If you can find this calendar, or buy the book by Kacirk of the same name, I highly recommend it. It’s filled with some great history and some awesome words.

– Volume I of Grant’s Memoirs. Volume takes the reader from Grant’s childhood, through his West Point year, into Mexico and finally to the siege and surrender of Vicksburg. A surprisingly good read. Grant was not a tactical guy. But he did know what he wanted, to attack and defeat Confederates. Volume I was about how the people above him stood in his way. I can’t wait for Volume II.

– Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld. Purchased this writing guide because it was on-sale. There is some interesting stuff in the book, definitely some helpful tips. But, this wouldn’t be the first writing self-help book I would buy.

– Letters and Epistles of the New Testament. These represent the Christian Literature where most of the skeptical criticism of the New Testament originates. But you have to take these documents in context. The most important context being lost to history (those issues the letters specifically address and are in response to).

links for 2010-11-27

TSA Again

Transportation Security Administration notice

Image by timbrauhn via Flickr

Another way to look at the new security procedures at airports since 2001 is in how much time it wastes. This I know from experience. The new procedures take longer. You have to get to the airport earlier. About an hour per flight. So here’s an easy calculation. One hour, times 750 million domestic air passengers per year (taken from the BTO website) times nine years since 9-11.

That’s six billion, seven hundred fifty thousand man hours destroyed.

Put in human terms, that’s 10,274 human lives (assuming a person lives 75 years). You can probably increase that number by 30%, as you don’t get to sleep through a TSA screening.

Imagine a company that employs over 856,000* workers (full time). Or, more accurately, enslaves these people. That company does nothing. It pays nothing. I just takes 856,000 people out of the world who could be doing something else: working, gardening, building, sleeping, reading, learning, leading; and prevents them from doing anything productive. Anything fun. Anything they want to do. Away from work. Away from their families.

And while wasting their time, they also force them to be touched on their genitals by strangers. Or, they can let strangers see their naked bodies. They are forced to put on or take off their shoes. Belts. Whatever. Just mindless nonsense.

Would we put up with the existence of such an entity without positive results of any kind?

Now tell me, how many terrorists have TSA caught?

*Made an error in my calculations, this number should be 375,000. Still, even this number would represent the fourth largest “employer” in the US, with more “employees” than Target or Sears.

links for 2010-11-26