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 #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 #5: Let’s get a little more controversy going

Although I generally avoid specifically political or religious topics here (to each their own), I am a strongly opinionated person who enjoys rationally presented evidence, pushing people’s buttons, and exploring boundaries and assumptions. Forewarned is forearmed!


  1. Physical warmth makes for “warmer” interpersonal interactions. So, next time you throw a party, hand everyone a hot cup of tea, coffee, or cider as they come through the door. Or, even better, make them hot toddies or Irish coffees, since….
  2. …It seems that moderate drinkers are happier than teetotalers, in general. Although regular exercise and not smoking also help with happiness.
  3. The interesting contradictions between attitudes toward sex and actual sexual behavior in teens. My takehome: as always, openness, honesty, and love are more important than stricture or structure.
  4. Pregnant women should avoid flaxseed oil (only the oil).

AotM #3

  1. Enjoy these breathtaking photos of our sun. They may serve to remind you of just how awe-some and beautiful that gigantic ball of life-giving, furiously boiling nuclear plasma in the sky is.
  2. Who’d a thunk it?? A walk through a quiet park is better than meds at increasing concentration for kids with ADHD. ADHD is far more of a societal illness than a individual “condition.” It’s a reminder that we all need to get back to nature, get outside, get away from screens and papers, and use our bodies as well as our minds.
  3. An amazing story of an eyeless cat chasing off a home invader. As a cat person, it’s nice to read about a cat behaving responsibly. But also, it’s another reminder that animals are far more sensitive and intelligent in some ways than most people give them credit for.

Learning the Wallflip

This past year I’ve been hanging out with the Penn Gymnastics Club, which is open to anyone with a PennCard. I decided to join since I realized that practicing basic parkour moves and elementary acrobatics in a safe environment full of experienced people and soft mats was probably a better idea than jumping around on concrete and grass while hungover (cough cough like the Collarbone Incident in 2005).

So I have been learning a lot and having a blast on the mats with my fellow club members.

It’s interesting—all of the women in the club have at least some experience in gymnastics (some are even part of Penn’s actual gymnastics team), but the majority of the guys in the club are, like me, amateurs looking to learn acrobatics for parkourish purposes.

But in any case, the following video was recorded a month or so ago (April 2008) and reveals my process as I finally learned how to wallflip. It’s quick, and it’s not pretty. But hopefully it is amusing.

I suppose the takeaway, though, is that it’s never too late to learn this stuff, since here I am at the ripe old age of 26 doing acrobatics for the first time.