Worth checking out

• Charlie Hamilton’s post at Web Worker Daily on the new Palm Pre, and why he hasn’t bought one…yet.
• Fahim Farook‘s new children’s game for the iPhone, Hoot Dunnit? Learn about animals and the sounds they make. (Note: Farook’s cat is better behaved than mine are.)
• This Cardiac Science post on automated external defibrillators and why you want to make sure there’s a AED in your school or workplace.

Life is easy, and then you die

Mr. Arakawa and Ms. Gins are conceptual artists whose challenging loft apartments in Japan include brightly colored walls, bumpy, undulating floors and floor-to-ceiling ladders.

bioscleave_verticaljpgYesterday’s Wall Street Journal had a front page feature on a New York couple who design environments that challenge our cognitive assumptions — and, they believe, stimulate us in ways that prolong our lives, perhaps to the point of immortality.

The couple’s savings were lost in the Madoff scam, halting their work.

Mr. Arakawa and Ms. Gins are conceptual artists challenging loft apartments in Japan feature brightly colored walls, bumpy, undulating floors and floor-to-ceiling ladders. They’ve also done a house in the Hamptons, priced at $5.5 million. Their goal was to build an entire village based on “transhumanism” priciples.

I’m intrigued by this approach, and would very much like to spend a week or two living in one of their lofts. Until the past century, humans spend  much of their lives in environments that were extremely challenging, biologically and psychologically. It makes sense to me that, at some level, we need this more than we do CAT-5 wiring, motion sensing lighting, and bug-repellent clothing.

Hello? Hello? We’re losing that mind-body connection

Yesterday’s New York Times had a mindboggling article about a New York area fitness club that revoked a man’s membership because he was making a grunting sound while lifting weights. He was bench pressing 500 pounds at the time, bless his soul.

If this were the independent action of a particularly fussy club manager, it would be one thing, but the “grunt-and-you’re-out” rule is a policy of the club’s parent chain, Planet Fitness — a company whose management would, indeed, seem to be from outer space.

This article caught my interest because I’m currently doing a “trailer park” yoga program four days a week. It mixes yoga with weightlifting, jumping rope, running stairs, working with wrist and ankle weights, and working with heavier weights, including 15-pound handweights and a weight bench. I haven’t heard anyone in our group of two dozen women grunt, per se, but I have heard plenty of moaning, shrieking, and screaming. And maybe a howl or two. The teacher, who is the most inspiring fitness instructor I’ve ever encountered, encourages the sound effects.

I tend to shriek, myself. Fifty leg lifts hurt.

According to the Times article, the club’s no-grunt rule (and a few other weird ones, as well) has nothing to do with cutting down on distracting noise in the gym. It’s based on the chain’s philosophy that most members are intimidated and discouraged by body builders and other serious fitness types. The club therefore has crafted rules that discourage those fitniks from patronizing the gym and disturbing the place with sounds of physical effort.

Oh, heaven forbid anyone should connect hard work, physical or mental, with achievement. Americans are fervent believers in overnight weight loss, cosmetic surgery, and unregulated herbal potions. Hard work and discipline? Argggh! Fortunately Planet Fitness is here to protect us from the sight — and sound — of it.

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