Happy Friday everyone! Over the course of this week we went from nearly 50F to getting wind chill warnings and a few schools in our area getting a two hour delay as we hit another nearly -20F wind chill morning. Let me say it again – Ugh.
On Instagram and Facebook this morning I posted another selfie of myself alongside the temperature. Needless to say I looked the same as every other Polar Vortex run … and I just couldn’t use another one of those pictures! So – you get the condition of my New Balance Minimus shoes. I first showed them here … and now they are just past 550 miles. They still feel great and seem to have plenty of life remaining.
I have continued to enjoy finding things to share – enough that I have this list and will have more running-centric things tomorrow, so here we go with this week’s Five Things Friday!
1. Is your iPad Making You Sick?
For years there has been research into the impact of viewing motion-based content on computer screens – the oldest example I could find quickly was from 2006, but I remember having these discussions back after Doom came out in 1992!
Anyway, now researchers from the University of Minnesota have done similar studies with playing games on the iPad – looking also at accelerometer-based controls compared to touch controls. Here is just a sample:
Half of the participants played the game in “tilt control” mode, controlling the game by manually moving the device. Those participants rarely became sick. The other half that played in “touch” mode, using fingertip contact on the screen exclusively, were nearly five times as likely to get motion sickness.
I have been fortunate – FPS games never bothered me, and I don’t have any issue with motion sickness using my phone or tablet. How about you?
2. Losing Our Personal Cultural Heritage
This week a couple of celebrities died – Harold Ramis and Paco De Lucia. Do you know them? Probably you know Ramis for his work in Ghostbusters at least. He was also a hige contributor to SNL-rival SCTV, Animal House, Caddyshack, both Ghostbusters films, Groundhog Day and more. He left a huge impact on the world of comedy as we know it today.
Paco De Lucia is someone you wouldn’t know unless you follow guitar players closely, or Flamenco music. He is one of the great masters of the style, and is legendary in the genre. But around 1980 he broke out with a set of trio acoustic guitar recordings with jazz fusion legends John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola. The recording ‘Passion, Grace and Fire’ summed up the different approached of the musicians.
Here are two clips from Harold Ramis, one from SCTV and the other a New York Times bit putting some context around his contributions.
And here is a video of Paco De Lucia playing with Al Di Meola and John McLaughlin. This would have been around the same time as I saw them live a couple of times.
As a result of these losses, I have been listening to the Paco De Lucia recordings in my iTunes library, and looking back at the work of Harold Ramis. The realization is that each of these men contributed to parts of my cultural development – and as is true when people like this die, it causes us to look back at their contribution in the context of our own lives.
It is also a realization that as we age, just as we have friends and relatives passing away more frequently, so too are many of our heroes and icons leaving us. I think that the impact is related to our own mortality – just as we grew up watching our grandparents age and die, so too do we as adults watch our parents age and see our ‘timeless icons’ become elderly and die. It is the natural cycle of things, but it makes sense that it has an impact.
3. Simple Test to See if Your Religious Liberty is being threatened
With the now-vetoed law in Arizona being alternately called ‘anti-LGBT’ and ‘religious freedom protection’, an article setup as a ‘quiz’ by a minister in 2012 has been recirculating. Here is what the author says:
I’m a religious person with a lifelong passion for civil rights, so this is of great interest to me. So much so, that I believe we all need to determine whether our religious liberties are indeed at risk.
This is definitely worth checking out – because it serves as a reminder for all of us: this is about religion, but the reality is you could change up the questions and have it about most things, and it reminds us about the meaning of ‘liberty’.
Here is one of the questions:
9. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.
4. Military Justice Improvement Act
More and more I like Senator Kirsten Gillenbrand from New York – she came in to replace Hillary Clinton and then won re-election, and has proven a champion for people and businesses around the state and the country.
One key item she has been working on is the “Military Justice Improvement Act”, and here are some of the reasons:
An estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact and sexual assaults occurred in FY2012, a 37% increase from FY2011.
25% of women and 27% of men who received unwanted sexual contact indicated the offender was someone in their military chain of command.
50% of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed that nothing would be done with their report.
Of the 3,374 total reports in 2012, only 2,558 reports were unrestricted, which means they were actionable. Of those unrestricted reports, 27 percent were for rape, 35 percent were for abusive and wrongful sexual contact, and 28 percent were for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault. The remaining cases were for aggravated sexual contact, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault and attempts to commit those offenses.
Across the Services, 74% of females and 60% of males perceived one or more barriers to reporting sexual assault. 62% of victims who reported a sexual assault indicated they perceived some form of professional, social, and/or administrative retaliation.
This week partisan bickering blocked a vote on the MJIA, instead focusing on attaching sanctions against Iran. Which is too bad, because rather than debating about making a ‘muscle flexing’ show, we could be working on actually helping out those who serve in our military.
But that didn’t stop a public forum around military sexual assault. And many brave people came forward … like this one veteran:
The aftermath of Kenyon’s rape left her feeling ostracized and depressed. She was disciplined for getting treatment and therefore chose to leave the military to help other victims. Since her honorable discharge she has worked with thousands of veterans, active duty members, and their families, and founded MilitarySexualTrauma.org.
“I currently suffer from severe depression, bouts of insomnia, debilitating memories and thoughts, triggers of all sorts, anger, chattering in my head, and constant anxiety to the point where I am forced to use all of my concentration to appear normal,” Kenyon admitted to the Senate panel. She says these conditions hinder her ability “to read, write, have a conversation, or remember things in the short term.”
To me this epitomizes the hypocrisy of so much of our government – they are first to call our service men and women ‘heroes’, but when it is shown that some members of the military are being assaulted and victimzed and that the chain of command is often complicit in cover-ups … they would rather engage in international sabre-rattling than helping those who volunteer to serve their country worldwide.
5. Radio Stations Playing Fewer Songs Than Ever Before
When we took our vacation in Washington DC a few years ago, we laughed about the local pop station (Hot 99.5 I think?) – it had an incredibly shallow playlist, generally rotating 5-10 songs. Since then we have continued to notice a drop-off in the number of songs played on pop radio wherever we go – there are fewer songs played more often.
Apparently that perception is actually real – new data shows that there has been a HUGE compaction of playlists in just the last decade … and anyone listening back then would have told you that deregulation was already leading to smaller and more common playlists dictated by labels. According to DMN:
Major radio station are playing less music than ever before, according to playlist data now surfacing. And the reason is simple: fewer, more familiar songs keep more people listening more often, which means higher ratings and more advertising revenue.
Which also means that there are few winners, though the songs that are played are blown into the stratosphere.
In what has to be one of the most saddening things for me – which shouln’t be surprising to anyone who has checked out the music choices I post each week – this trend has to do with the tendency to shun the new and unfamiliar:
The strategy is based on a growing amount of research that shows in increasingly granular detail what radio programmers have long believed—listeners tend to stay tuned when they hear a familiar song, and tune out when they hear music they don’t recognize.
So rather than give a new song a chance, people will change channels until something they recognize comes on. So the strategy of constant repetition plays into that by giving listeners familiar music, but also by adding new songs to the rotation in a ‘deluge’ format.
This is also why a song like Lady Gaga’s ‘Applause’ can be all over the radio but lose tons of money – the label had to BUY those radio slots, which they do to get it into the popular mind. But once the purchase period ended, no one cared and sales had already plummeted.
And in case you were wondering – this is also the reason (a) this year’s hits bear more than a passing resemblance to last year’s hits and (b) artists like Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake have great success playing songs that are very much modeled on the popular work of other artists.
Bonus: Planet Bonanza – Kepler Keeps Finding Planets!
If you went back just 20 years, guess how many planets we had identified aside from those orbiting our sun? If you guessed ZERO … you are RIGHT! And even after the early discoveries, a planet-by-planet verification was required. In a stunning new paper, researchers from Nasa revealed that using the Kepler space telescope has enabled them to identify 715 new planets orbiting 305 stars, including some multi-planet systems.
The research team used a technique called verification by multiplicity, which relies in part on the logic of probability. Kepler observes 150,000 stars, and has found a few thousand of those to have planet candidates. If the candidates were randomly distributed among Kepler’s stars, only a handful would have more than one planet candidate. However, Kepler observed hundreds of stars that have multiple planet candidates. Through a careful study of this sample, these 715 new planets were verified.
“Four years ago, Kepler began a string of announcements of first hundreds, then thousands, of planet candidates—but they were only candidate worlds,” said Lissauer. “We’ve now developed a process to verify multiple planet candidates in bulk to deliver planets wholesale, and have used it to unveil a veritable bonanza of new worlds.”
What have you been reading or thinking about this week?