Friday, February 27, 2015

From Riley's "Race Relations and Law Enforcment"

Blacks ultimately must help themselves. They must develop the same attitudes and behaviors and habits that other groups had to develop to rise in America. And to the extent that a social policy, however well-intentioned, interferes with this self-development, it does more harm than good.

This concept of self-help and self-development is something that black leaders once understood quite well, and at a time when blacks faced infinitely more obstacles than they face today. Asked by whites in 1865 what to do for freed blacks, Frederick Douglass responded: “I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! . . . If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength . . . let them fall! . . . And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs!” Douglass was essentially saying, give blacks equal opportunity and then leave them alone.

Booker T. Washington, another late 19th century black leader who had been born a slave, once said that it is important and right that all privileges of the law be granted to blacks, but it is vastly more important that they be prepared for the exercise of these privileges.

Douglass and Washington didn’t play down the need for the government to secure equal rights for blacks, and both were optimistic that blacks would get equal rights eventually, although neither man lived to see that day. But both men also understood the limits of government benevolence. Blacks would have to ready themselves to meet the challenge of being in a position to take advantage of opportunities once equal rights had been secured. The history of 1960s liberal social policies is largely a history of ignoring this wisdom.

-Jason L. Riley in "Race Relations and Law Enforcement,"  published in the January 2015 issue of Hillsdale College's Imprimis.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

"Give Me Ten Push-Ups"

After work yesterday, Carol and I drove to North Broward to meet my niece Audrey and her husband, Bob, at a restaurant that friends  had recommended and that would have some vegan entrees, Thai Spice.   (Bob and Audrey were down from Tallahassee and were staying in West Palm Beach for a day or two on business, and Thai Spice was halfway between us.)

We had been told that Thai Spice was a very popular place and it was.  Even on a Tuesday night its parking lot was packed; there were no open parking spaces.  I dropped Carol off and drove down Commercial Boulevard and found a nearby parking lot in front of small gym ("Intense Fitness") that was also busy (I could see through the big glass windows). It had a single open space.  I parked, but went into the gym to ask permission to park there.

It was a pretty hard-core gym, only young guys, very big young guys.  One of the young men came over and greeted me, and I asked him if I could park in the open space.  He said, "Sure, but you'll have to give me ten push ups" and smiled.  (I was dressed in my office attire, without the suit jacket.)

I said, "OK" and dropped down.  They all started counting, because by this time several of the guys had come over to us.  "One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Eight, Eight!" they shouted.  I got up on the third "Eight" because 10 is about how many I can do without straining.  They all cheered and gave me  high-fives.  What a great place!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Telemedicine at JMH

Before the earthquake, emergency medicine in Haiti was unreliable at best. Sometimes unattainable.

“There were many skilled physicians in Haiti,” says Dr. Toni Eyssallenne, a Haitian-American who’s an internal medicine and pediatrics specialist at the University of Miami and Bernard Mevs Hospital in Port-au-Prince. “But they were in a very frustrating, resource-poor setting.”

The disaster gave rise to improved trauma care in the western hemisphere’s poorest country. Today, if you suffer a heart attack or a bad road collision in Haiti, you have a better chance of getting proper treatment.

And a big reason for that change can be found not in Haiti but 700 miles away in Miami – inside a conference room at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center.

On a recent morning, Dr. Shailesh Garg, a trauma medicine fellow with Jackson and the University of Miami, sat in his scrubs surrounded by enough video screens on the wall to fill a sports bar.

 Through a webcam connection he was advising Dr. Kathleen Charles, a Haitian physician at Bernard Mevs.

-Read (and hear) the whole thing on the WLRN website.

(And where's my bumper sticker that says, "My kid's a resident at JMH-UM!"?)

Saturday, February 07, 2015

"The Professors' Bookshelf" from the UC College Magazine, the Core

I love articles where readers name their favorite books.  Here's a good one from University of Chicago professors. Among the books they named are:

Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars.

The Bible, "especially the New Testament."

Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, a title given by a senior lecturer in Economics who"had the honor of studying under [Friedman] and [who] became lifelong friends with [him], for his argumentation, logic, take-no-prisoners attitude, and willingness to tackle tough issues and take unpopular stands." The senior lecturer also likes Stephen King, whom he views "as the contemporary equivalent to Mary Shelley or Edgar Allen Poe."

Lolita - " the novel [that] taught me how to read anew  And it does so every time I read it."  This teacher also names Bohumil Hrabal's novel I Served the King of England, which he describes as "irredeemably beautiful."  Odd description:  Why would you want to redeem something beautiful, anyway?  Is that a sort of oxymoron?

Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, from another professor.  He also names Giorgia Agamben's Homo Sacer.  He said the book he "most enjoys teaching" is Dante's Inferno.  I much enjoyed being taught it at Duke.

Alex Kotlowitz' There Are No Children Here.

Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. 

Who Is Our Neighbor, the One We Are to Love?

Though there are almost no Samaritans left in the world today, there are many people we may be tempted to despise and reject.  I am thinking of people of another race, color, or culture; homosexual persons who are victims of homophobia; or people of another faith, such as Muslims.  Jesus's parable challenges us to overcome all such racial, social, sexual, and religious prejudices.  I am not suggesting that we compromise our Christian beliefs and morals, but rather that we do not allow these to impede our active love for our neighbor.  That is what "go and do likewise'" (v. 37) will mean for us.

-Stott, "The Parable of the Good Samaritan," which Jesus tells in Luke 10: 30 through 37, and is today's reading in Through the Bible Through the Year.

All of this catches my attention, together with the whole of Stott's little essay and, of course, the Parable itself.  But what snags me most deeply during this reading is the phrase "active love."

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Crossfit for Old People

Carol and I are just into our fourth year of Crossfit ("XF") training.  Our goal is to go to the Crossfit gym ("the box" in the XF argot) three times a week, and we usually achieve that goal.  Now and then we will do four.  My conservative approach to XF training, however, includes the practice of allowing at least a day's rest between each session.  I take a conservative approach because Carol and I are two and a half to three times the age of most of the other people at the box, including the coaches, and workout routines are designed by and for those younger people, many of whom go to the box almost every day that it is open.  (I will be 69 this year.  Carol, my child bride, is much younger.) We simply don't have the time to attend so often and I don't believe we should push ourselves that far.  In many ways, we are on our own in this journey, but it is great fun - especially with Carol and me on that journey together - and the results thus far have been remarkable.

For one thing, we have had no respiratory problems of any significance during the XF period.  It is true that we are six years into a whole food/plant based diet and that has surely helped.  But we simply do not get colds anymore.  I can remember that for many years and at least once a year - usually during the winter months - I would get some sort of respiratory illness that would linger for weeks, even to the fourth week, when I would finally break down and beg the doctor for antibiotics.  I have nothing like that anymore.  Perhaps our respiratory health is related to how "out of breath" we get during the XF workouts.  We will work so hard that we will have to stop what we are doing for a few seconds to "catch our breath," that is to recover a bit, before going back to the routine.  During a given exercise component, I will get to a point where I must breathe very, very deeply; I am consciously and deliberately breathing in and breathing out at a pace that I measure but that I must purposefully increase until I just have to stop what I am doing and rest for a few seconds.  My theory is that if there is anything lurking down there in my lungs, it is being expelled or neutralized by the way that I am challenging my respiratory system.

Our strength has increased very significantly.  I regret that I have not kept a journal since we started XF, but the fact is that, even with our conservative approach we have gradually increased what we can pick up off the floor and how often during a set we can do so.  I dead-lifted 145 pounds on a 2 - rep basis the other day, which is not much for a 25 year old - male or female -  who has been doing it for as long as we have, but is still a lot of weight for an old guy I think.  I did a clean at 125 pounds two days ago.  I think that's pretty good.

I couldn't do a single push up when we started.  I now can do 20 at a time, and with a few seconds of rest, can do another ten, then a few seconds, then five.  Then I drop from a full push up to one where I leave my knees on the ground and do several more sets.

I couldn't do a sit up.  Now I can do 50 or more - even 100 if I can catch a few seconds of rest at 50 and spot another few seconds of rest every so often as I go up to 100.

I couldn't jump rope.  Then I learned, but had to stop after ten reps.  Now I can go to 50, even 60, before I have to stop for a few seconds and catch my breath.  If my life depended on it, I could go to 100 without stopping.  However, I can't do more than one "double-under" at a time.  I need to work on that.

I still can't do a pull up.  I don't know if a pull up is in my future, but I would like to do one.  (In the meanwhile I do "ring-rows.")  I can't do a hand stand push up either, but I can do a wall walk up to a hand stand and hold it for several seconds.  I don't know if a hand-stand push up is in my future. I hope it is.  I would also like to be able to walk a couple of paces on my hands, just to show other old people like me what they can do - as an encouragement.  But I'm not there yet.

Box jumps scare me.  I have fallen twice from the 18 inch boxes, and so I put a couple of plates down and jump up on them.  Maybe I'll improve, but I am definitely not pushing it with those boxes.

I never have been very flexible.  My mother could touch her toes.  I still can't.  But I'm working on it, but not at all sure I will get there.

I have a waist now, as one of younger women at our office noticed a year or two ago and remarked upon it.  That made me feel good.  When people see me after not seeing me for a couple of years, they often remark, "How good you look. What are you doing?"  I wear slim cut dress-shirts.  On the other hand, I still have a paunch.  It is not big, but it is there.  Now and then I think about having the surgery that removes that layer of fat - but its just a fantasy and of course I won't do it.  But getting rid of it would be nice.

When I was doing Weight Watchers 10 years ago, my goal weight was 155, and I actually achieved it.  People who saw me were alarmed.  They thought I was sick, and one lady at church told me to stop what I was doing.  Now I am between 165 and 170, and a good bit of that, I think, is muscle and not fat.  I feel good.  I stand up straight.  The slump that I had developed over the years is nearly gone.  This is great stuff.

I could not have done all this without the encouragement of others.  The XF box is full of encouragement.  Encouragement is a very high XF value.  The young people there are so good to Carol and me, once they get over their concern that we are going to drop dead during one of the XF sessions (called "WODs").  Then there is my family: all of my children and children-in-law do XF and they think its neat that we are doing it.  Finally there is Carol.  Every XF session is a date, and it is so much fun.

(Here's a link to the testimony of a 91-year old to the advantages of strength training.)