Walk a Mile Without a Man’s Shoes

Barefoot pavement
Picture courtesy Pixabay

Barefoot, or minimalist, footwear took off in 2009, loosely, with the Vibram FiveFingers.  Almost overnight, fanatics in the running world embraced the minimalist movement and Vibrams suddenly captured over 2% of the market – which is a lot when you’re talking an industry with about $48billion in annual revenue.  While the vast majority of elite and semi-elite runners maintained their devotion to previous styles, the trend was born and has kept pace with the running world.

Chris McDougall July 2010 TED Talk – courtesy TED

A Minimalist Messiah

Much of the craze around minimalist running gloms around Chris McDougall, an American author, journalist, and exercise enthusiast who published the 2009 memoir cum travel journal, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.  The book was a travel log of the Tarahumara Indian tribe of the Mexican Copper Canyons written in conjunction with a personal examination of his own running activity.  He was fascinated by the tribe’s ability to run hundreds of miles each week with few issues while wearing nothing more than thin slips of rubber as “shoes”.

Being a journalist, he researched modern athletic sneakers and wondered why the industry, which is only about 50 years old, seemed to make heavier and thicker soled shoes every year and yet the rate of sport’s injuries only seemed to increase.  His conclusion was complicated, but boiled down to an advocacy for increasing the natural stride by diminishing the disconnect created by modern shoes.

The shorthand: running barefoot allows the foot to run; let the foot do its magic.  While McDougal never intended to lead a movement, Born to Run became known as the Barefoot Manifesto and the movement took off.

vibram graniteMaking the Most of the Minimalist

So-called “barefoot shoes” offer the closest feel to running truly barefoot. Soles provide the bare minimum in protection from potential hazards on the ground. Many have no cushion in the heel pad and a very thin layer (as little as 3-4mm) of shoe between your skin and the ground. Others offer a bit more cushioning.

Most significantly, all feature a “zero drop” from heel to toe. (“Drop” is the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe.) This encourages a midfoot or forefoot strike. Traditional running shoes, by contrast, feature a 10–12mm drop from the heel to the toe.

Courtesy REI Expert Advice

foot strikes
Courtesty Mud and Adventure

It’s a Striking Question

While McDougall may have kicked off the avalanche, he wasn’t the first to challenge the running paradigm.  Much of the science behind McDougall’s claims came from the paleoanthrobiologist and Harvard Professor Daniel E. Lieberman AB, MA, PhD.  Lieberman, and his team, studied the gait of ancient and modern man and found, among other things, a major difference came from the modern tendency to run with a leading heel strike as opposed to a forefoot strike.  He found: “most forefoot and some midfoot strikes (shod or barefoot) do not generate the sudden, large impact transients that occur when you heel strike (shod or barefoot)”.

In effect, modern footwear has led us to walk on our heels which is out of sync with how the skeletal and musculature originally developed.  In theory, a different kind of running style might lead to a more natural impact pattern and fewer injuries.  Publicly, Lieberman was quick to note that he’s not advocating for a certain style of running but merely reporting his analyses.  (not so)Privately, Lieberman is a barefoot marathoner and enthusiast and is often called the Barefoot Professor.

The main difference between the forefoot and heel strike involves how force is exerted through the body.  Simply put, when we run heel->toe (cowfooted) there are two impact points: when we plant our heel; when our midfoot strikes.  This initial, sharp heel-strike, and the overall style, exert different kinds of pressures to the knees and ankles and, according to Lieberman, are not in line with how these mechanisms naturally developed.

heel strike
Heel striking

However, when we run mid-foot or forefoot (foxfooted), there is a far smoother impact transition which engages muscles in a more natural rhythm and doesn’t included that very sharp and extra initial impact.

heel strikes
Forefoot striking

More Walking, Less Talking

The science, and controversy, behind minimalist running is immense.  For every Vibram’s Lawsuit (which cost them $3.75m for overstating health benefits of their minimalist shoes) there are umpteen stories of Zola Budd and Tegla Laroupe who have competed and won in the Olympic, Goodwill games, and New York marathons while barefoot.  While the pendulum has swung away from the 2012 minimalist heyday, it hasn’t returned to the heavily stuffed and “ankle-locked” shoes of the 1990s.  Likely, there is a balance to found between the two extremes, allowing the foot to work as it naturally developed grown and maximizing its potential through science and industry.


 

In full disclosure, I’ve been wearing minimalists shoes for about four years (except when with my fiancé who won’t be seen in public with me if I’m wearing “those ugly things”).  Part of my attraction to minimalism is pure contrarianism, ¿who is Nike to tell me how to walk?  And, part comes from my attraction to a more “natural” approach to movement.  I’ve run 5 and 10k races and am working toward a minimalist marathon.  I’ll always be more of a finisher than a contender, but I look forward to crossing many a ticker-line wearing toe-shoes and a smile (and probably pants, but ya never know).

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Orange you Happy I didn’t Say Banana?

bananas
The Common Cavendish – courtesy wikimedia

With over 140 million tonnes produced every year (FAOStat), bananas are the fourth most cultivated fruit (technically a berry) on the planet.  When most Americans think of a “banana” — nine iches, yellow, shaped like a boomerang (of course a boomerang, ¿what else?)– they’re thinking of the Cavendish.  But, the Cavendish is only one of more than a thousand cultivars of two wild species, Musu acuminata and Musa balbisiana.  The variety of bananas (and the genetically similar plantain) is mind-boggling, ranging in colour from bright red to darkest brown, from just a few inches to over a 18, and every taste, tang, and consistency imaginable.  There are even bananas with seeds so dense they can chip a tooth.

By far, the Cavendish is the most cultivated banana variety on the planet.  Exploding in popularity in the 1960s, this variety represents 99% of the banana export market.  Due to its thick protective rind and slow ripening process, the Cavendish is almost uniquely designed for export from the warm equatorial countries where the banana thrives.

Sri Lankan Bananas
Bananas in Sri Lanka – courtesy Sudu-araliya-mal

Big Mike and His Long Reach

Back at the turn of the 19th century, however, the Cavendish was merely a curiosity in a British hothouse, obscure and unknown.  The unopposed king of the banana Empire in the late 1800s and into the new century was the Gros Michel (‘Big Mike’).  A shorter, but much sweeter, smoother, and, by many accounts, far superior banana to its slender cousin.

The Gros Michel was so tasty, that between 1900, when United Fruit (later renamed Chiquita) introduced it and 1910, US consumption rose from 15 million to over 40 million bunches a year.  Gros Michel built United Fruit into such a powerhouse, they become a major force of governmental and industrial influence throughout Central and South America.  The term Banana Republic was, in part, coined as a description of the Honduran plutocracy surrounding the banana industry.

Panama Disease
Panama Disease – courtesy @Bananaresearch

The Cavendish Dervish

The might of the Gros Michel hits its heyday in the mid 1920s and dwindled into death and obscurity by the 1950s.  No, it wasn’t fickle American stomachs or stricter wage laws, it was the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum or, more commonly, Panama Disease.

Panama Disease is a highly invasive, strangely resilient plant disease which feasted on the Gros Michel.  Through a mechanism not entirely understood by even modern scientists, the fungus gums up the cells and internal pathways of the plant, leading to slow dehydration and internal rot.  Panama ignores most herbicides and can live dormant in soil for decades, making it easy to trek from field to field, or even country to country through muddy boots, shared farm equipment, or poorly cleaned transplants.  In a short 30 years, Panama wiped out over 100,000 acres of Gros Michel and cost the industry nearly $2.3 billion.  The Gros Michel become functionally extinct, with the banana industry near to follow.

Into the suddenly empty ring stepped the Cavendish.  Though less resilient to other diseases, and unpardonably less sweet to gourmets, the Cavendish happily withstood Panama.  Standard Fruit (later, Dole) introduced the Cavendish and soon eclipsed United Fruit as the industrial banana powerhouse.  Fast forward to Today, and the Cavendish banana is so popular in the US, it outsells both apples and oranges combined.

banana peel.jpg

¿Headed for the Big Slip?

With the Cavendish crowned and Big Mike a slipnote in Panama Disease history, the future of the banana is secured, ¿right?

Not so much.  Many feel the the world’s favorite yellow fruit may be sundowning.  For all its potassium and health benefits, the banana is a surprisingly delicate fruit.  Or, rather, a delicate clone.  The banana we know is actually a hybrid mule, sterile and only able to reproduce asexually.  Almost every banana you eat is a close genetic clone to the ones they produced in the 1960s.

While a huge benefit to the fruit industry, as it assures near uniformity of texture and taste, asexual reproduction leads to genetic rigidity and difficulty in breeding.  It also means that a single disease, say one from a certain famous canal, might just evolve into a strain which could wipe out the entire Cavendish variety just like the Gros Michel.

And, it already happened in Taiwan.  A strain of the Panama, Tropical Race 4 (TR4), reduced the country’s Cavendish exports from nearly 400,000 tonnes in the 1960s to just a few thousand today.  Furthermore, a study in PLOS Pathogens reports TR4 is rooting itself into Asia and spreading out slowly and inexorably toward India and China, the leading global banana producers (26% between the two).

While the US might just be forced to suffer a higher cost for bananas or switch to the variety of readily available apples, many other countries are not so fortunate.  Of the 140 million tones of bananas annually produced, only ~18% are exported (India and China, for example, export nearly zero).  The vast majority are eaten by low-income, subsistence farmers.  The UN estimates that some countries make up to 30% of their daily nutrient intake from the banana.  In addition, heavy banana-exporting countries like Ecuador (93% of its total exports) will be devastated by a global blight.

Certainly, the banana industry has access to far more robust agricultural and scientific research than the 1960s, but the world’s hesitance to accept genetically engineered food has lead the industry to focus on the murky prospect of breeding programs – a risky, longterm bet at best.  Fortunately, unlike the first Panama epidemic, the world caught the disease early and is fighting to quarantine and curtail its outbreak.  But, global banana production is five times higher than in 1960.  It’s a much steepier slip if we can’t avoid the peel.

We Don’t Know if Guns Kill People

In 2013, the Center For Disease Control (CDC) reported:

  • Motor Vehicles accounted for 33,804 American deaths
  • Firearms accounted for 33,636 American deaths

That year, the CDC had an operation budget of $11.2  billion and included  “$137.8 million for injury prevention and control programs that will support efforts to reduce premature deaths, disability, and medical costs associated with injuries and violence.”  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) spent over $600 million to “help States identify their highway safety problems using data, evaluate safety programs and activities, provide technical assistance to State program managers and training on a variety of programmatic subjects.”  The NHTSA has a division dedicated to “implement research programs to continually further the Agency’s goals in reduction of crashes, fatalities, and injuries”.  Based on 2013 research, the NHTSA reported: about 1,630 lives were saved by motorcycle helmets; crashes were not among the top 10 causes of death; the percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent…  And On, and on.

In 2013, the CDC, the only US agency to research gun violence, spent $0 dollars on research into gun violence.  Total injury and death rates were cobbled together by the FBI, local PD, and secondary review sources.  We don’t know if they’re accurate.

File:Blank stare.jpg
¿Are blank stares more deadly than a .22? We dunno

The Dickey Amendment

This dearth of research funding for firearm research is thanks to former Representative Jay Dickey (R-Arkansas) who successfully added language to the 1996 congressional budget quashing all governmental research into firearms.  The Dickey rider states:

None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.

To drive the point home, Congress then reduced the CDC budget by $2.6 million, or the exact amount invested in firearm research the year before.  Scientists took the hint.

For the next 20 years, it was known that putting your name on firearm research was a career blackhole.  Other research agencies were also affected: the National Institutes of Health and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism budgets were trapped with similar research stipulations suit against firearms research.  Between ’93 and ’99, the US Department of Justice (The National Institute of Justice) conducted 32 fire-arm related studies; they’ve completed none since.  

Research publications on US firearms use and their impact dropped 60% between ’96 and 2010.  In effect, Dickey largely eliminated governmental research into US firearm use.

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Courtesy – Creative Commons, David Ohmer

But According to Studies…

In 2014, after the Newtown tragedy— this funding freeze continued.  While President Obama requested $20 million to expand the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System and $10 million for new research, Congress has been largely antagonistic to these efforts.  Some within the CDC are calling for change, but the agency and thus those researchers who rely on it for guidance and funding, still refuse find a way over this third rail of Constitutional politics.

In effect, the public and legislators are reduced to either emotional arguments or biased funding sources.  There is no question this topic is contentious, but without careful research and proper analysis, it’s turned from an empirical question into opinionated chest-beating. Even Jay Dickey, original sponsor of the ’96 rider, wrote in a 2012 Washington Post op-ed piece:

We were on opposite sides of the heated battle 16 years ago but we are in strong agreement now that scientific research should be conducted into preventing firearm injuries and that ways to prevent firearm deaths can be found without encroaching on the rights of legitimate gun owners.

Billions have been spent to research vehicle safety and use, and yet car owner rights are just as solid and legitimate as ever before.  It’s time for Congress to embrace a scientific minded approach to public safety and allow research into firearm’s use in the US.

Science and Tragedy: A Reminder

Last Friday, I was flying home to Chicago to see my family and celebrate my dad’s 75th birthday.  I was excited, anxious, happy for the the chance to see my fam and the Windy City – maybe get some real pizza  (sorry LA, you have nothing that compares to deepdish).  As Southwest calls group A, a peculiar Twitter tag starts boiling my phone: #ParisAttacks.  I missed my boarding group, barely made it between the doors as they closed, and, for the first time in my life, bought internet service on the airplane – all to follow the news.

This entry won’t be about the attacksDAESH, or the wholly execrable manner some politicians are reacting to the event.  It’s important to talk about the humanitarian, religious, and personal repercussions this event.  In a nominally scientific blog, I could talk about the physics of the weaponry, medicine used for the victims, even the demographic sociology which allows for and creates the US reaction; but I want to talk instead about what binds us together.  The pursuit of Science.

As an American, my education was entrenched in an eurocentric vision of scientific development.  Logic from the Greeks, Physics from Newton, medical advances from the English Enlightenment.  You can’t swing a pendulum without hitting five textbooks gushing about European intellectuals boldly pushing back the borders of ignorance.  These discoveries and bold thinkers are not to be diminished; they are  important and the European Scientific Revolution is not insignificant.

But as a scholar, I must look past my own blinders and boundaries.  A honest scientist’s first meaningful revelation is her limitless ignorance, her need to reach beyond what is comfortable into the disorienting unknown.  So, for a few minutes today, I want to explore a few people living during the Golden Age of Islam.  These men were prophets, scholars, theologians, but above all, scientists.

muhammadibn
al-Khwarizmi (780-850BCE), algebra’s progenitor

Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (محمد بن موسى الخوارزمی);  c. 780 – 850 CE.

Often cited as the founder of modern algebra, al-Khwarizmi lived in and around modern Baghdad.  He created many of the modern systems mathematicians use to solve linear and quadratic equations and even the word “algebra” comes from his text which spoke of al-jabr, “restoration”, in reference to adding terms equally to either side of an equation to cancel terms. His treatise “The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing” (الكتاب المختصر في حساب الجبر والمقابلة‎ )  was largely responsible for introducing the Hindu-Arabic numeral system to the west which ultimately lead to the modern numeral.  When his text was translated into latin, Algoritmi de numero Indorum, the eponymous shorthand, Algoritmi, become the modern “algorithm”.

bartolomeu_velho_1568
Geocentric Solar System – Portugal, 1568. Courtesy Wikimedia

Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Umar ibn al-Husayn at-Taymi al-Bakri at-Tabaristani Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi (أبو عبدالله محمد بن عمر بن الحسن بن الحسين بن علي التيمي البكري فخرالدین الرازی ); c. 1149-1280 CE.

Fascinated with ideas of astronomy and physics, he was a major player in the growth of thought surrounding celestial mechanics.  He was famous for forwarding a multiverse theory which suggested:

a thousand thousand worlds (alfa alfi ‘awalim) beyond this world such that each one of those worlds be bigger and more massive than this world as well as having the like of what this world has of the throne (al-arsh), the chair (al-kursiyy), the heavens (al-samawat) and the earth (al-ard), and the sun (al-shams) and the moon (al-qamar). The arguments of the philosophers (dala’il al-falasifah) for establishing that the world is one are weak, flimsy arguments founded upon feeble premises. (al-Razi, Matalib al-‘Aliya)

While his theories were couched in theologic terms, he roundly rejecting Aristotelian geocentric models, and refuted these theories through observable evidence and logic centuries before Kepler and Galileo were even born.

20091009-bw-heart
Human Heart – Courtesy Body Worlds

Ala-al-din abu Al-Hassan Ali ibn Abi-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi (علاء الدين أبو الحسن عليّ بن أبي حزم القرشي الدمشقي ) known as Ibn al-Nafis (ابن النفيس ), c. 1213-1288 CE.

A singular mind and voracious scholar, al-Nafis was an expert in literature and jurisprudence as well as being a renowned physician.  An accomplished surgeon, al-Nafis is often cited as the first physician to describe the pulmonary circulation of blood; this position set him against most leading medical minds of the era.  Penning over 112 medical textbooks during his life, he is credited with leading a revolution in the field.


The Science That Binds

And on, and on.  My ignorance of this era of scientific and philosophical discovery is so profound, I can’t even conceive what I don’t know  (which is to say, apologies for anything I’m misrepresenting).  The era after the fall of Rome and before the Renaissance is often referenced as the “Dark Ages”, and nothing could be further from the truth.  It was an age of literacy, thought, and dramatic scientific advance.

As students, scholars, and scientists, we often feel our activities are somehow separate from the political world; that we’re above or beyond petty trifles of mankind.  In a way, this is true:  science has neither hometown nor accent.  But, really, the urge to explain, explore, and engage the universe is the greatest connection humans have.  The scientific method is just a process, a manner to sort and file data; the dynamo behind that process is universally shared human curiosity.   Science has no capital because it’s globally embracing; it has no tongue because we all speak its language.  It’s important to remember, especially at times like this, we are all scientists just looking to understand a little more every day.

Negative Relationship: Religion & Childhood Altruism

Ah, the holiday season approaches.  Around every corner, I find flocked trees, UnChristmas Starbuck cinnamon lattes (big redcup fan, btw), and people in an uproar about their celebration of the Season.  The bitter Lutheran child in me wants to write about the absurdity of the War On Christmas and just wax cranky about the commercialization of the holidays (a tradition hearkening from before the American Civil War).

But, nope.  Not gonna Grinch it up today.  Instead, I want to talk about the dear, lovely children.  ¿Aren’t they adorable?

¿Can you tell I don’t have any kids?

Tight-Fisted Religious Kiddies

If you’re like 84% of the Planet, you either have or had a religious upbringing – with a 65% likelihood of it being either Christian or Muslim.  If that’s the case, a new study suggests you were pretty stingy as a kid.  Alright, not You, of course, but the other 5.8 billion totally were.  According to researchers, in a random sample of 1,170, 5-12 year-olds, those from religious households were less likely to act altruistically and more likely to be judgmentally brusque.  That’s right – the godless heathen-children hold the Season close in their hearts:

“Our findings contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others. In our study, kids from atheist and non-religious families were, in fact, more generous.” Lead author Jean Decety

It’s not just You, It’s Everyone

But, “Hold everything!” shouts every religious parent, “that’s those brats from that other Major World Religion, my kid is an absolute delight!”  Yes, I’m sure she is, so let’s talk about all the rest of them for a moment – they’re abysmal.  The University of Chicago researchers took regional, societal, and cultural consideration in stride and selected children from six countries–Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa, and the United States–from both within and without the largest global religions (510 Muslim, 280 Christian, and 323 nonreligious children).

In the study (published in Current Biology), Decety et al. gave the children each 10 stickers and then, through advanced techniques in science and sociology (fibbing through their adult teeth), convinced the children to split up their own rewards: one envelope destined for themselves; and one for other children whom they’d never seen.  Kids take note: adults are tricksy and want your stickers.

When all the stickers settled, the researchers found nonreligious children gave, on average, 4.1 stickers while Christian and Muslim children gave away 3.3 and 3.2 stickers, respectively. The effect wasn’t “out-group” motivated either as the children were told the stickers were destined for other children in their same school and ethnic group.  This correlation was found across all the economic, age, cultural, and geographic groups studied.

Little bundles of joy

The researchers found other interesting affectations of religious children, namely they’re far more judgmental and punitive.  The same groups were shown a video of one child hitting another and asked to rate how mean the encounter was and how much punishment should be meted out.  Those children raised in religious households were more likely to condemn the aggressor and demand harsher punishment be levied.  Lotsa stones being thrown from glass treehouses.

Admittedly, this is one study among many, and does nothing to quell the overall discussion or debate regarding the intersection between religion and altruism.  Decety’s focus is on childhood morality and freely admits human ethics evolve and metamorphose as we age into tricksy adults.  All that being said, maybe it’s time to put down our red Starbuckaccino and really contemplate what it means when the holidays roll around.

After all, it’s at this time of year when we’re meant to celebrate the birth of one of the most influential, beneficial, and beautiful men ever to walk the Earth: Isaac Asimov, (b. Jan 2, 1920).

The Jolliest Elf
The Jolliest Elf

,

You Can’t Run from the Earth

The Oct 26, 2015 earthquake in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan measured a 7.5 moment magnitude (MMs), roughly equivalent to 10.7 megatons of TNT, and left 260 dead and more than 1,800 injured.  Just five months earlier in April a 7.8 earthquake near Nepal, India left almost 9,000 dead and more than 21,000 injured.

Picture of earthquake damage in pakistan
Afghanistan, Oct, 2015.t  Photograph by Basit Gilani, EPA – NatGeo

While the loss of life, immense property damage, and immeasurable suffering affected the world, these details touch me on a very different level.  I see these pictures and wonder when that will be me – as a Los Angeleno, I live every day over the tremble of the Big One.

There are over 300 fault lines criss-crossing California, the most famous being the San Andreas.  Running nearly 810 miles along the length of the state, the San Andreas forms one of the shifting boundaries between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. As both plates are moving in opposite directions, the fault line is under tremendous pressure.

Plates tect2 en” by USGS

With each passing year, scientists become more and more concerned regarding the pressure between these plates, and along other fault lines.  Kate Hutton, a seismologist from the US Geological Survey, predicted the destruction from a 7.8 quake in LA would see 50,000 injured and over 1,800 dead in a 2014 TheWeek article.  That’s not even the worst of it.  Seismologists are continually uncovering more information on the region and now feel a 7.5 quake along the Puente Hills fault line would result in a catastrophic 18,000 dead and $250 billion in damages.

Don’t even get me started on The Really Big One along the Cascadia subduction region north of California through the Pacific Northwest.  Some scientists are looking to that zone as the crack which will tear off parts of Oregon, Washington, and western Canada.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/2014/01/AAFG001347_a_l.jpg

So, ¿how worried should I be?  Well, there’s the rub.  Seismology is a very exact science dealing with extraordinarily complex and unknown factors.  Predictions run the gamut, but some experts estimate an 80% chance for a major ~7MMs quake in the next 50 and and ~10% of a catastrophic (9+) in the same time-frame along these lines.  These predictions are open to huge debate, but the one thing most of the experts agree: each year without a shift increases the tension and pressure; each year without a quake increases the magnitude of the next one when it comes.

Cracking the Unknown Tomb: Science-blogging

King Tutankhamen’s tomb near Luxor (1923), The Times [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the next few weeks, I embark on a new adventure in my Master’s course at Chatham U, ¡SCIENCE!  A science-blog a week for six weeks covering myriad topics from the astrophysical peculiarities of Super Massive Black Holes (not a proper noun demanding capitals, but I’m not gonna be the one to tell Mrk335 that) to the social science vagaries of the Milgram and Zimbardo studies (neither of which are as damning as popular perception).

A word of warning: I am NOT a scientist.  I have neither spiffy lab-coat nor umpteen letters trailing my name.  I have a background in English creative-writing and a foreground in belligerent skepticism.  In college, I was voted most likely to say “¿What crappy source told you that?  Yanno, 83% percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.”  (that last fact is totally true, though the growth of the internet has reduced that number by ~8%).  I didn’t date much in college.


“Why does the sun come up? Or are the stars just pin holes in the curtain of night, who knows?”

Ramirez, Highlander (1986)

I’ve gotten better since college (marginally) as I’ve slowly realized knowledge is a process rather than a product.  In my case, the last moment of my childhood was the meta-cognitive realization that not only will I never know everything, but that most of what I did know was either pointedly relative or downright inaccurate.  A focus on answers, on “Truth”, obscured the greater pursuit of investigation and the punctuated equilibrium of analysis.  There is no end-point to science or education; only more and better refined questions.  At least in my case, I’ve found far greater fulfillment, joy, and revelation in uncovering the hidden maze of the unknown than in admiring the few gaudy trinkets of my accumulated knowledge.

I’ll be collecting topics as I go, but am happy to address anything you find interesting.  Just leave a comment and I’ll do my level best to research and spread the word.  I’ll be experimenting with form and style as I work to explore topics and fulfill my scholastic obligation.  A large part of the process is reading anything and everything provocative, so if you know a good feed or blog I should check out, don’t keep it to yourself.  Thanks.


p.s. 75% +/-2% of readers won’t find the above false statistic.