AotM #13: Mischief Night

I never knew this before, but it certainly makes perfect sense that it was those hooliganish Brits who invented Mischief Night.


  1. No matter how often studies like these that promote the benefits of exercise come along, I’ll never stop sharing them, since getting sweaty really does make everything better. Today, Tai Chi reduces depression and joint pain in the elderly, and moderate exercise can lessen or even prevent flu.
  2. Although it’s certainly nothing new, here’s yet more research showing that even just beginning to study and play music improves brain function and memory. Get out and play something now!
  3. Where does dust come from? Surprisingly, we didn’t quite know where until now.
  4. While it’s about 90% true that you always get what you pay for, Monster Cables are one solid example of the remaining 10% of utter scams. Never trust marketing or commissioned “experts” (cough cough RadioShack).
  5. Here is an excellent proposal describing why English should NOT ever be legally made our official language. The fact that this topic is even an issue really does only go to show how discombobulated and disconnected we have become as One Nation, Indivisible, with Liberty & Justice for All (I have omitted the “Under God” since it’s a relatively recent addition to the Pledge). If we felt more unified as a nation, it wouldn’t matter what languages people spoke.
  6. Finally, here’s a fascinating study showing how our unconscious biases effect the “results” of torture. Combined with the uselessness of most lie detection methodologies, we as a nation should most definitely forbid torture for anything related to our national interests. It just doesn’t work, and only serves to reduce our standing in the world.

AotM #12: United Nations Day

If you’ve never visited UN Headquarters in NYC before, it’s well worth the trip. Their gift shop is (exorbitantly) fun too. Happy UN Day!


  1. Writing with a pen and paper is actually faster and more accurate than typing, at least for kids. Let’s bring back the dying artform! Also, just out of curiosity, when was the last time you wrote someone a letter, essay, or report longhand? What about in cursive?
  2. Our sense of vision is amazingly protean, and we can learn to see and perceive new things. This ability reminds me of the Marine instructor I met at Quantico who was an award-winning shot, who was describing how he actually become able to see the bullets he fired as they arced toward the target. Pretty cool stuff.
  3. Clean smelling spaces make people behave better. So, warn your kids that in a few years all public schools will smell like Windex.
  4. And actually, something else that leads to better behavior (and health) is spending time surrounded by nature. Nature is good for you, simple as that…So put down the phone or mouse and go outside!
  5. What is this, like the third study in just the last few weeks telling us to eat our veggies? It’s obvious, of course. But, since only about 20% of adults in the US eat an appreciable amount of vegetables, and since we still don’t even really know how much nutrition is even in processed fruit and vegetable foods (both facts from previous AotM articles), further “obvious” news like this is a good thing.
  6. Finally, here’s are two hilariously accurate descriptions as to why one should take even science news with a large handful of salt: “How Science Reporting Works” and “The Science News Cycle“.

 

AotM #11: National Nut Day

Yes, that’s right, National Nut Day. So, barring any allergies, go nuts with some healthy snacks!


  1. In honor of National Nut Day, extremists are more likely to be vocal than the moderate majority. This certainly explains the reporting tendencies of the MainStream Media, the silliness of the Dems and the GOP, and many other arguments in life. Maybe we Moderate Majority people need to start speaking up as early and often as the whackjobs, ignoramuses, jerks, and idiots out there, and thereby do our part to bring balance to society.
  2. Here’s the full text of a book about exercise and health by one of the fittest amateur athletes in the world in the late 1800’s. Muller’s ideas about cross-training, stretching, diet, etc, were all way ahead of his time, and his exercises are still well worth doing. [EDIT: In fact, here’s a 2011 article about how the Muller System is still going strong.]
  3. Are you one of the millions of people who consider ketchup to be their favorite condiment? Are you one of the tens of people who’s wondered what the origin of the word “ketchup” is? Well wonder no more, and read on to learn how ketchup was originally fish sauce from Southeast Asia.
    The linked blog has a number of fascinating posts about the Language of Food, including this amazingly well-researched essay that goes into great depth on what “entree” actually means, and how American meals differ from French or Italian meals, etc. Anyone who loves food, loves eating at nice restaurants, or loves arguing with European gourmands would all love this article.

AotM #10: National Dessert Day

I’ve decided that from now on I’m going to dedicate each Articles of the Moment post to whatever random and strange holiday happens to fall on that day. Because why not?

So…Today happens to be National Dessert Day. Treat yourself to some delicious pastries.


  1. There’s a lot of fearmongering going on lately about all the chemicals and “toxins” we’re potentially exposed to all the time, and how many of them are untested and have unknown biological effects. Well, those are actually some good points. I don’t have much hope that companies will start voluntarily testing all of their products and additives extensively before release, but I do have hope that blood and DNA testing will become cheap and easy enough for individuals to self-examine. Eventually, this will lead to greater awareness in the public, which will put economic pressure on companies, which will ultimately lead to better ground-up testing and a safer environment for us all. But then, I’m an optimist.
    Of course, another way of looking at it is that cancer rates haven’t really risen that much despite all of these new chemicals around us, so maybe we should embrace our exposure and breed future generations of super-immune cockroach kids!
  2. You should always be healthily skeptical of any images you see, as they’ve always been doctorable, but with further changes in technology like this algorithmic image builder, you have even more reason to be wary.
  3. Here’s a long and in-depth, but very well-written & researched article about just how short-sightedly fearful and greedy Big Content as been over the last hundred years. It’s nothing terribly surprising, other than the fact that Big Content has been so dense and slow to adjust to the Internet Age.
  4. Continuing the environmental and technological thread of the other articles today, I present a very long but highly engrossing exploration of Earth’s fiber networks, which happens to be by my favorite author, Neal Stephenson. If you’re interested in networking, communications, technology, or geography, you won’t regret spending the time to read it. Enjoy!

On Chiropractic

I recently received a query from one of my readers regarding my opinions on chiropractic, so I’ll try to briefly address the subject here.

The majority of alternative and traditional medicines, remedies, and practices out there are definitely based on grains of truth. Especially since it has so many adherents who swear by it and/or practice it happily, chiropractic in particular must have some of that truth to it as well. However, having personally had experience with many other similar therapies like Rolfing, Feldenkrist, Alexander Technique, osteopathy, craniosacral therapy, and more general manual therapy, I’ll say that chiropractic is definitely far cruder than most other body manipulation therapies.

As chiropractic revolves around relatively gross adjustments and spinal manipulation, when it does have an impact, it’s a very noticeable and immediate impact for the patient—hence the one area that chiropractic is actually proven to work with is lower back pain. Especially because of the Western public’s Big Media/Big Marketing-brainwashed desire for immediate gratification and sublimation of all pain, many people adhere to chiropractic’s offerings. And, for some types of stresses and injuries, such major adjustments can actually be quite helpful and therapeutic.

In general, however, it’s my view that chiropractic is actually one of the least beneficial therapies when it comes down to overall and longterm health and musculoskeletal fitness. The other techniques I mentioned above, plus many others, including self-administered yoga and even just regular exercise, can all be just as useful in not only relieving pain and curing ills, but also in preventing future issues. Additionally, most other therapies are much more low-impact than chiropractic can be, and since even popping your knuckles too often can lead to lower grip strength and inflammation, cracking one’s back too often, over the long term, can’t be too good.

There is one major caveat here though—as in many other areas, medicine (whether alternative or standard Western) is practiced by people, and even the worst person in a med school class can become a doctor. Therefore a lot of the bad press that many therapies get, including the recent spate of anti-chiropractic news out there, can often be traced back to individual idiots, bad practitioners, mistakes, and ignorance. A great chiropractor might be more knowledgeable and helpful than a bad doctor, and vice versa.

All that being said, as someone who tried a variety of such physical therapies as a child due to severe knock-knees, restricted breathing, and other physical problems, the mode that ended up fixing the issue for me (permanently, I must add), was manual therapy, an offshoot of osteopathy that deals with more minute manipulations of the fascia and other smaller connective tissues. There’s a good description of it here. Combined with a regular low-impact yoga routine, I’ve personally never felt better in my life.

So ultimately it’s up to you, as an individual, to find out what works best for yourself, by finding the best individual practitioners of whatever medical or therapeutic practice makes the most sense for your situation.

AotM #9: Babies!

It’s been a long time since the last Articles of the Moment (there’s a reason I call these Articles of the “Moment” instead of Day, Week, or Month). So to start things back up, what could be more appropriate than a Babies theme?


  1. Infant pain can have a number of repercussions on adults. And here’s some additional, older research in the same vein. Kinda puts an additional twist to the circumcision “debate” (which, FYI, I don’t see as a debate at all—circumcision is a version of male genital mutilation that’s completely unnecessary in any modern culture that has access to running water and education).
  2. Children who are spanked have a lower IQ. It makes perfect sense that additional stress hormones in youth can impact our long-term health. Thankfully physical punishment of children is down, worldwide.
  3. Breast milk should be drunk fresh, not stored for later use, since compounds in it are tailor made for the moment. It’s especially useful for regulating infant sleep cycles.
  4. Another reason why children’s imaginations need to be encouraged and developed, not smothered with modern media: imagination (through guided visualization) has a significant impact on perception of pain.
  5. Even just a sip of water can help to reduce pain response and anxiety in children and adults. Chocolate and sweets work too, but not as well as simple water. It’s because we evolved to take advantage of the resources in front of us while we can (like drinking water or calories). Unfortunately this response probably also contributes to our obesity problem.