Monday, January 17, 2011

Article: For Magazines, a Bitter Pill in iPad

Not surprising to me. They've got to bring the cost-per-issue way down. Ideally, a single-issue purchase should cost the same as the per-issue cost with a subscription. That's probably going too far for the publishers, so how about this: let people buy mini-subscriptions. Instead of the full-year price, 4-6 issues at that same discounted price. And without auto-renewal, so that there is no "poison pill" to trying the publication out.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Core Abdominal Strength

This was a good article on the heavy emphasis on "core strength". I started picking up on this obsession with "strengthening the core" about 3 years ago. Before that, I had never specifically heard of exercising "the core". Situps, yes, but no core. I thought at the time it felt a bit faddish...

Better to Exercise Consistently, For Life...

...than peak and then completely slack, as this article discusses:
Similarly, although in a more compressed time frame, a study published earlier this year found that when a group of world-class kayakers completely quit training (at the end of a competitive season), they rapidly lost strength and endurance. After only five weeks of not training, according to one measure of strength, they’d sloughed off about 9 percent of their muscular power and 11 percent of their aerobic capacity.
In other words, being almost completely inactive, whether for a short or prolonged period of time, inexorably de-tones muscles and compromises health. The benefits of regular activity don’t last long.
I've observed this phenomenon many times in my 20+ year exercising history. I'll start seeing someone at the gym every time I go, and I ask them about it, and they'll tell me they are going every day. I'm like, wow, that's great. Then all of a sudden I will stop seeing them. At all. I finally run into them outside the gym, and they sheepishly explain they got busy, or sick, or started traveling, and just stopped exercising. I try to tell them--much better to exercise 2-3 times weekly, for the rest of your life, than this kind of yo-yo routine.

When Did Ibuprofen Become the All-Purpose Exercise Recovery Drug?

More and more, I am hearing of people taking ibuprofen prophylactically, right  after a hard, but relatively routine, workout. One of the Bodypump instructors at our local Y has repeatedly recommended doing that. I have heard of other people even taking it before a workout--which this article casts some serious doubt on.

Anyway, it would never have occurred to me to do either one of those things. Maybe I am just weird, but very mild muscle soreness, the kind you get after an especially hard workout, is really not bothersome at all. It doesn't last long, and it carries a nice reminder of the virtue and pleasure of that workout. Even more significant soreness, as a fit person may get from an unaccustomed form of activity, is really not too bad.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bright Side: Fewer Lawyers?

One other comment regarding the post below, about the dim prospects and heavy debt for recent Law School grads...in the big picture, it is a disaster that we have so many lawyers. First, because lawyers make business for themselves--litigiousness, and excessive fear of unwarranted liability. Second, though, because of the diverted talent. All those bright young minds that go into law might be making a real contribution in a useful, needed field--science, engineering, medicine, social entrepreneurialism.

Article: Is Law School a Losing Game?

Interesting long article in NYT with this title. Some choice observations:

“I think the student loans that kids leave law school with are more scandalous than payday loans,” says Andrew Morriss, a law professor at the University of Alabama. “And because it’s so easy to get a student loan, law school tuition has grossly outpaced the rate of inflation for the last 20 years. It’s now astonishingly high.”
...
“This idea of exceptionalism — I don’t know if it’s a thing with millennials, or what,” she says, referring to the generation now in its 20s. “Even if you tell them the bottom has fallen out of the legal market, they’re all convinced that none of the bad stuff will happen to them. It’s a serious, life-altering decision, going to law school, and you’re dealing with a lot of na├»ve students who have never had jobs, never paid real bills.”
I think that most of what is said here, of Law School, applies at a somewhat smaller scale to an undergraduate college degree.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Rooted My Android Phone

I finally got a combination of frustration plus guts to motivate me to root my Samsung Vibrant Android phone (rooting an Android is not illegal or even unethical, it is just a "do at your own risk" activity). I was predictably visited by Murphy a few times, but not involving the actual rooting, and there was never a "have I bricked this phone?" moment.

It is running noticeably faster and more smoothly, and battery life seems much improved. Oh, did I mention I both got rid of Samsung's proprietary, utterly unnecessary TouchWiz "skin", and the long-delayed Android Froyo/2.2 update? Beyond that, I haven't done much to take advantage of root, though I do have a few things in mind.

Things I learned along the way:

  • Installing from SD does not literally mean the actual, physical SD card. For whatever reason, there is also a virtual SD parition in the phones on-board memory.
  • That same virtual SD can get corrupted, so make sure to back up. It gave me a confusing Windows Explorer error, and it took me a while to conclude that I needed to re-format the SD partition. Not sure how it got corrupted.
  • Use Titanium Backup before you flash a custom ROM, it will save a whole lot of re-installation. Oh, and make sure to use the "and system settings" option..
  • XDA Developers is am amazing resource.

Minivan Denial

To me, going to ridiculous lengths to avoid driving a minivan is the automotive equivalent of a comb-over: you look more foolish, pretending to be something you aren't (young and cool), than you would if you just accepted reality. This very sentiment, of course, it what gave us the SUV-craze.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

January at the Gym: The Attack of the Resolutionaries

Amusing article, that will immediately ring true to all veteran exercisers. I think the point below captures a truth about gyms:
Humans have a need for rituals and routine. Humans in gyms display this need in a hyper-developed, 'roidy kind of way, which makes sense: The gym is the place we go to control one of the few things in life we can control (dumpiness) and so it becomes the place where we become the people who try to control everything else (diva-ness!). The gym is a microcosmic symbol for how splendidly the world could work, if only everyone would wait their turn, properly hydrate and remember to wipe down whatever they touched with a lemony Pine-Sol solution.
My own personal peeve--which does not apply exclusively to newbies--relates to waiting for machines. There is a certain body language that one needs to exhibit, to indicate that one is waiting for a machine. It needs to be subtle, so as not to inappropriately crowd the person currently on the machine (unless of course they are resting between sets, in which case they are breaking the rules and being unfair themselves, and deserve to have pressure applied--up to and including crossing the non-verbal barrier, of being asked outright "okay if I work in?"). But it needs to be clear enough to inform the sequencing decision of other patrons. It is frustrating to think you are next in line for a machine, only to have someone come flying from across the gym to claim it. There is an instinctive art that most people seem to grasp, but a few are either unconsciously or willfully oblivious to. Here is a list to help them:

Do's and Dont's:

  1. Don't rest between sets. Ever. Even if the gym seems empty, discipline yourself to clear off the machine, to give others a chance to work in. Don't make them ask.
  2. As a corollary, don't "guard" the machine. This involves complying with the letter of the law, by getting up off the machine, but violating its spirit, by hovering so close that another person can not gracefully access the machine.
  3. Do realize that proximity is very important. You can't signify you are waiting for a machine if you are across the gym.
  4. Direction is also important. You need to be generally facing the machine you want, and without staring, you need to let you glance drift toward it occasionally. 
  5. Which brings up the next rule--while waiting, be aware of others. If you sense that they are trying to evaluate whether there is a wait for it, you need to give off clear signals that you are in line. But not aggressively. Your operating assumption should be that they are not competitors who must be actively deterred, but rather rule-abiding fellow exercisers of goodwill, who, like you, are merely seeking to optimize their time.
  6. You absolutely can't be waiting for one machine while you are on another. Not even if they are right next to each other. (A possible exception--some gyms may try to set a priority for those who work in sequence. In my opinion, this is both undesirable--because different people have different ideas of the proper sequence--and just leads to disputes. But if it is the posted letter of the law at your gym, you should respect it.)
  7. Don't exercise in packs. It isn't fair for 2-4 people to monopolize a machine by trading off sets. (Note: this probably varies with the culture of the gym, in hardcore, male-oriented facilities this may be the norm. You will know if you are in the wrong place.)