Silent Archimedes

Archive for August, 2008

Book Review: Why Men Die First, How to Lengthen Your Lifespan

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 30, 2008

Author: Marianne J. Legato, M.D., F.A.C.P.

WHY I READ THIS BOOK

Why Men Die First

Why Men Die First

Dr. Marriane Legato

Dr. Marianne Legato

So after reading three books on the current economic downturn in America, it was time for a change of topic. I started going to the gym consistently again the past couple of months and a book on health seemed appropriate. It was actually by chance I came across this book on display at the campus library. Why Men Die First had just been released and was on display in the new book section. If you’re a  health conscious guy and you accidentally come across this book, chances are you do a double take and at least read the back cover; especially when it appends the title with How to Lengthen Your Lifespan. So I checked it out and it took two tries to get it done. You’ll see why in my review below.

THE AUTHOR: MARIANNE J. LEGATO

Dr. Legato is an internationally known women’s health specialist. Which makes it interesting that she wrote a book about men. However, she is also well known as the founder and director of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. The partnership is interested in research that produces a better understanding of the differences between men and women. It is also apparent that her observations of her dad throughout her life tremendously influenced this book. Her residency was in cardiology and branched out more into gender-specific medicine a few years later. She is also the author of Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget.

THE REVIEW

Prostate Exam

Prostate Exam

The chapters are organized in the stages of male life and describes the challenges and vulnerabilities of each stage. For example, the second chapter, Beginnings: Surviving the Womb and the First Weeks of Life describe how the female fetus has a much better chance of surviving until birth than the male fetus. Not just surviving, but being more developed and self-reliant at birth. Some of these chapters are already well-known, such as Men and Cancer, Sports: The Price Men Pay, and The Male Libido: Men and Sex. The chapter on cancer is pretty much what one would expect. Legato goes through the dangers of the cancers that men are most vulnerable to, prostate (image right, courtesy of Abbot Diagnostics), lung (mostly due to smoking), colon and testicular. She mixes stories of her experience as a doctor to show that men are afraid to get preventive exams. The stories are a nice addition to the typical scientific relay of information. However, the fact that the people she talks about are nameless, there’s not as much oomph to the stories. Also, there are so many stories because she has seen so many patients, that it also makes it a little detached. Her writing is easy to read and understand.  Each chapter is sectioned off into smaller topics and nicely labeled. However, in books like this, it’s hard to avoid using medical terms, such prostate specific antigen (PSA), adenomatosis polyposis coli (APC), and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).

Man and Sex

Men and Sex

There’s not much persuasion to get men to be a proactive and responsible person. The only methods are equating it to women going through gynecological exams, or the usual “catch it early and you’ll have a better chance to survive” saying. Another chapter is The Male Libido: Men and Sex. Pretty straightforward here as well. Men love sex. Men always think about sex. Men by nature are not meant to be monogamous. A lot of men have erectile dysfunction. Testosterone is both good and bad. The suggestions are also well-known. Use condoms. Be as monogamous as possible. Have regular exams if you are promiscuous.

Male Depression

Male Depression

I was more interested in the chapters that most men do not know about. The ones that don’t define the stereotypes of manhood. The silent killers. The two chapters that stick out with this in mind are Educating Boys: How Well are we Doing? and Male Depression: It’s Causes, Expression, and Treatment. Legato brings some interesting ideas from the field that most of us are not aware of. One suggestion is having gender specific education for children. In other words, all-boys classes and all-girls classes. Because boys mentally mature slower than girls, it might be a good idea to taylor teach each gender. The idea of depression and man is tough to understand. It is under-diagnosed due to the stigma that males should just work through it. However, more and more people are understanding that females deal with stress and challenges much better than males. Males are pretty unidirectional and goal-oriented that all other aspects of their lives are neglected. This was the most interesting chapter, that I wished it was longer. Maybe it shows how little male depression is known. However, the number of statistics used to convince the reader that males have issues with depression is probably a little overboard.

Since the second part of the title, How to Lengthen your Lifespan, is one of the reasons I picked up this book, I expected a long final chapter on what a man can do to, well, lengthen his lifespan. Maybe something of a checklist through life or a lifelong way of living that would help in having a more healthy and longer life. There was no such chapter. It seems that what the author had in mind for this part of the title was the little suggestions in the chapters and the small little boxes at the end of some of the chapters that ask you to keep some things in mind. Were the numerous statistics used throughout the book supposed to scare the reader into change? I must admit, as a guy reading this book, I skipped some of the statistics. That’s when I put the book down the first time. The statistics and some of the obvious stuff started boring me. The second time I picked up I finished it, but skimmed half the time.

THE VERDICT

Male Cardio Work

Male Cardio Work

This book is a nice start because it’s a book in a new genre about male vulnerabilities and gender-specific medicine, which I find very important to the survival of the male gender post-feminism. Legato mentions that what men need is something equivalent to the feminist movement. Men need to start realizing their own vulnerabilities and taking action before it’s too late. However, not enough suggestions are made. She mentions having a healthy diet and exercising, but she doesn’t go into detail about what to eat and how to exercise to increase lifespan. For example, she might have mentioned that doing cardio work is healthier than the more popular weighlifting. She mentions reducing stress and talking about personal problems to reduce the potential of depression. However, these are obvious suggestions and doesn’t offer any new insight into male longevity. The title of this book should simply be Why Men Die First. This is a why book and not a how book. Even as a why book, I found myself skipping several sections that either didn’t pertain to me or interest me, like Syphilis: The “Great Imitator” or Firemen (we know why firemen have dangerous jobs).

Overall, this book is a fun read for the most part. Too much in society has focused on women being the weaker gender. “Be a man!” “You throw like a girl!” “Stop being a pussy” “Men don’t cry!” “Being in touch with your feminine side” It’s time the scientific community see men as being vulnerable. In my experiences watching and talking to men and women, I must say, although women are more outwardly emotional, men seem to have a tough time being open-minded, patient, mentally strong and responsible. It’s time to openly discuss this. Or soon, as many people have alluded to, women will not need men! 🙂

6 out of 10 Male Mars Symbols

Rating: 6 out of 10 Male Symbols

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Please do something with the NFL football pre-season games!

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 29, 2008

I have a request to the NFL. Please do something about the preseason games. Not necessarily getting rid of them, but somehow spicing them up. They are sooo boring to watch, and they are complete waste of TV time. The scores don’t mean anything, and the whole purpose for them is for the coaches to evaluate position battles, young players and to keep key players healthy.

Here are some suggestions I have:

1. Four games is too much. I suggest reducing to two preseason games, and add another regular season game. It would actually be nice to also add a second bye week for each team. Injuries play too much into the success of a team. Giving a second bye would allow some players to heal again, and to take a mental break from football. If it’s so hard to schedule, I suggest a league-wide bye during the weekend of the World Series.

2. Spice up the games. Instead of having regular games, play different scenarios instead. For example, you can have the first quarter played exactly as if it’s overtime in college football. How exciting would this be for fans to watch, even if it’s no name players. The second quarter can be played entirely in two-minute drill, although this is similar to the previous idea. The third quarter can be played with each team having five downs per possession instead of the usual four.

3. Don’t charge for tickets! Let fans that usually can’t afford or can’t find seats during the regular season games get a chance to see their favorite team play. If you are going to charge, charge very little to cover the cost of the game. You can also donate some of the proceeds to special charities, like the NFL veterans charity.

4. Make winning a game in the preseason an incentive. Just like winning the baseball all-star game has an incentive now, you can somehow find an incentive for the preseason games. Now you don’t want the incentive to be so big that teams end up playing their starters too long, but something small but big enough to help a team. An example might be for every game your team wins in the preseason, they get to have an extra player on their practice squad for the whole year. Or if they win all four games, they get to have an extra player on their active 53 player roster for the whole year.

I’m so happy the preseason is over. It’s been horrible. No matter how much they try to avoid injury, key players still get injured in the preseason. My poor Giants lost Osi Umenyiora for the whole season just last week. Something must be done.

Posted in List, Opinion, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Initial Reactions – McCain picks Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, as VP choice

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska

My initial reaction of McCain picking Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, was, “Wow, who the hell is she?!” After reading more about who she is, I’d have to think that the McCain camp is really making a risky choice in picking her. Here are my initial reactions:

1. Experience – Palin’s total experience? Two years as governor of Alaska! She was mayor of Wasilla (population 5,470 in 2000) in 1996, and ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor in 2002. She became governor in 2006. Are you serious? All this time of McCain attacking Obama having no experience to become president and he picks Palin as VP choice? She is one step from becoming president of the United States! And McCain is no spring bunny here! That was McCain’s strongest point against Obama and now he can not use that again. Actually, with Obama picking Biden, the Dems ticket seems a lot more experienced and formidable than the Republicans.

2. Purely a Political Move – I’m not sure what Palin really brings to the table that the other potential VP candidates would have brought. Romney, Lieberman, Ridge or Pawlenty, all bring a lot more to the main Republican base. Palin is known as a maverick, but having only two years of experience is tough to justify as having a career of independence. One last reason he might’ve picked her is the oil play. Listening to her on CSPAN after the speech, she rambles stats and stats about Exxon Valdez and Artic drilling. It seems like this is a strategic move and not a who’s best for the job move. She is female and seems like McCain is trying to pick up the Clinton supporters that are still unwilling to support Obama. He is also trying to run the anti-Washington reform card.

OK, so reading more, it seems like she was chosen also to try to invigorate the evangelical vote. She is strongly pro-life and an NRA lifetime member.

3. Harmony – I don’t see how McCain, 72, and Palin, 44, can work well together. He is from Arizona and she’s from Alaska. He’s a senator, she’s a governor. How much does he really know her? The longest he must have known her is two years. There’s no chance he knew her when she was mayor of a small town in Alaska. How would they work together if in office? He could be her father? Would she be too intimidated by him?

4. Alaska – Nothing against Alaska, but it has not had good press the past few years. First the bridge to  nowhere, and then the senator Ted Stevens being indicted on seven felony counts and still wins the primary race? Or Rep. Don Young having legal/ethical troubles as well. Don’t forget former Senator Mike Gravel’s hilarious attempt in the Democratic primary race. To me, it seems like they are pretty disconnected to what’s going on on the continental US. Life there is much different than what is happening on the main land. Palin’s spent her whole life in Alaska, so how much does she know what is happening to the middle class for the majority of America? What do people think of when somone mentions Alaska? Cold. Exxon Valdez. Wasteful earmarks. Nice in the summer. No sunlight in the winter. They wanted an outsider? They got the most outsider you can be.

It’s funny. In her interview with CSPAN in February, she talks about Wasilla as one of the fastest growing areas in Alaska. Wanna know the numbers she’s referring to? Population in 1980 was 1600, in 1990 was 4000, in 2000 was 5470, and references to it being around 9000 now. Wow. This makes it the fastest growing areas in Alaska?? Hehehe… I think more people than that travel to and from NYC in less than an hour.

5. Maverick – McCain is overplaying the maverick card. Palin is known as a reformer and independent thinker, but it’s definitely much easier to make such changes in Alaska. Look at Gravel! How did he become senator? If McCain wanted to make a splash, he could’ve picked Lieberman, or someone with more experience and appeal.

6. Palin not without controversy – Just a month ago, she dissed the VP job as being unproductive! She was on the Kudlow & Co. show, and she replied, “I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?” In February, on CSPAN she replied that she doubt McCain would ask her to be his VP choice. Additionally, there is controversy about a firing she did in her office. An investigation is being done into whether she did that as relatiation for her relative being fired earlier.

7. Can’t wait for the VP debates – There better be some debates between Biden and Palin. They are going to be amazing. Biden will eat her alive. That might be bad for Dems though, as many people might feel sorry for her. But the experience of Biden will be hard to overcome by her.

I just don’t understand this pick. It seems like a desperate move. Reminds me of the Dem’s Mondale-Ferraro ticket in 1984 and the Bush-Quayle ticket in 1988. Let’s pick a young newcomer to motivate the base voters. I think this pick will completely blow up in McCain’s face.

This year’s election is so different than what anyone would’ve thought. It was supposed to be Clinton and possibly Guiliani. Who would’ve imagined Obama/Biden vs McCain/Palin two years ago! Wow, gotta love the American political process.

My other link:

Further Reactions – Sarah Palin as VP choice

Posted in Opinion, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

McCain camp so out of touch with poor and middle classes!!

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 28, 2008

Wow, I just came across this article on CNN about something a McCain adviser said about health insurance:

Source: CNN Political Ticker

A health care policy adviser for the McCain campaign told a newspaper reporter that nobody in the United States is technically uninsured, because everyone has access to hospital emergency rooms.

“So I have a solution [to the health care crisis]. And it will cost not one thin dime,” John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, told the Dallas Morning News in an interview published Thursday.

“The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care. So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.”

Hospital emergency rooms cannot technically turn away anyone for financial reasons.

Are you kidding me? This is the most twisted way of explaining something to your own liking. Goodman’s explanation totally misses the point of health insurance. The fact that hospital emergency rooms cannot turn away people for financial reasons has absolutely nothing to do with an individual’s health insurance. It is simply an extension of the Hippocratic Oath. The two things it accomplishes is that the hospital will not let anyone die or suffer on their watch in the emergency room and the patient can safely know that he or she won’t die in an emergency room due to money.

However, health insurance is not about dying! Of course, a hospital is not going to let someone lying bleeding on the emergency room floor die because they don’t have insurance. The consequences of treating that person is still debilitating. Even if society pays for the care of that person, that person in essence is marked for life. He or she will have a very difficult time getting health insurance, or being treated for long term care again. It’s part of their record. This cannot be considered health insurance. It’s simply a moral issue for the hospital. What Goodman is saying is equivalent to an uninsured car driver hitting another car. The other driver’s insurance might pay for his damages. The police and ambulance will treat him there. The city will move his car away. But this doesn’t mean he’s fine after that. He’s scarred for life financially, mentally, etc etc.

Healh insurance is about risk management. It’s about the ability to get adequate care without knowing that the care you get will affect you financially the rest of your life. It’s about having peace of mind that you won’t have to go bankrupt because you needed an operation. Insurance is defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium.

Additionally, hospitals cannot turn you away only in emergency room.s Emergency rooms are overcrowded nowadays. If your injury is not severe enough, you will get turned away. If emergency rooms are considered a form of health insurance for poor and middle class people, than this country is in trouble.

I’m just at a loss that someone can claim this. Wow…

And this after McCain could not answer a reporter’s question about how many houses he owns.

And this after McCain said you are only rich in America if you make at least $5 million a year!!! Not net worth of $5million, but income per year!

Posted in Economics, Opinion, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I don’t get the Hillary Clinton supporters…

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 24, 2008

Hillary enjoys a laugh at a rally

Hillary enjoys a laugh at a rally (NY Daily News)

This is the problem with the Democrats, as I see it as an independent. They really have a problem getting their act together and uniting as a party. The past eight years has given Democrats countless opportunities to take advantage and expose the incompetence of the Bush administration. When angry voters overwhelmingly put Democrats into the majority in Congress in the 2006 elections, a huge opportunity was wasted to show that they can make decisions favoring the majority of Americans. Instead, nothing has gotten done the past two years under Nancy Pelosi, and the approval ratings of Congress is at or lower than George Bush’s.

Now two months after Hillary Clinton dropped out of the primary race, and still 25-50% of her 18 million supporters have not united with the rest of the party behind Obama is completely absurd. What makes it even more preposterous is that many plan to vote for John McCain instead. Considering how the two-party system dominates American politics, this is in essence suicide or at least sleeping with the enemy. Maybe it’s because there isn’t one or a few defining issues that unite the party (like the Republicans have), I don’t know. The McCain camp and Republicans must be enjoying this. However, this is really making them look bad. From a third person perspective it looks like:

1. They are a bunch of sore-losers. Get over it, the process was followed. Obama can do whatever he wants in choosing his VP.

2. This is what makes politics look bad. Everyone knows campaigns are partly a popularity contest, but this just makes it too obvious.

3. Yes, Hillary had the best chance for a woman to become a primary candidate, but don’t blame the process for her not winning the primary. Don’t blame Obama for Michigan and Florida not following party rules. Move on…

4. If the Democrats lose the election, especially after the past eight years, the Hillary supporters that voted for McCain out of spite must be partly to blame.

5. This makes independents and centrists disenchanted with the Democratic Party.

6. At least give some credit to Obama. There’s no entitlement. He earned it. He ran a perfect campaign. He understood the way caucuses worked. He used the internet to perfection.

I honestly cannot believe that at this point in the election process, the polls are that close. It shows how united the Republican Party can be. It shows how the Dems still haven’t united as a party. It shows how the independents are seriously considering McCain.

One thing that Obama has going for him that everyone has stopped mentioning is the age issue. The past three elections in which an elder politician has ran against a younger more energetic politician, the younger one has won. Bill Clinton beat George HW Bush in 1992. Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole in 1996. George W. Bush defeated John Kerry in 2004. If the Dems get their act together, especially at next week’s Democratic Convention, this trend will continue…

UPDATE 08/24/08 – Yup, the McCain camp is definitely enjoying this. They are stoking the fire. McCain’s new ad says Obama snubbed Clinton because he’s still mad about her criticism of him during the primary.

UPDATE 08/28/08 – Oh my god, this is so annoying me. I am watching CSPAN, right after Obama’s speech, where they have callers call in. At least 1/4 of the callers are still harping that Clinton did not get selected as the nominee. One caller says that Hillary’s speech was so much better than Obama’s tonight.  Jeesh, people!!! Move on!! It’s now about Obama versus McCain!! Hillary has moved on (well, at least publicly), and is fully supporting Obama. You should too! Move on!!!!

Posted in Opinion, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Striking similarities between the two Bush presidencies

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 23, 2008

You would think that after the elder George Bush presidency ended in such economic turmoil and low approval ratings that the country would think twice about picking another Bush as president. Well, it happened. As the younger Bush’s two-term presidency comes to a close this year, one can’t help but look back at the eight years of chaos and controversy to see striking similarities between the two presidencies.

George H.W. Bush George W. Bush
George H.W. Bush George W. Bush

1. Approval ratings – Both Bush presidents saw very high approval ratings in the early part of their presidencies. However, this had more to do with patriotism at the start of wars rather than what the presidents had actually done. This point is supported by looking at Truman’s approval ratings during WWII.

What makes the Bushs similar is the precipitous drop of approval ratings for the rest of their presidencies.  Neither was able to transform early support to long-term success. The elder Bush was unable to transform a very popular and successful Persian Gulf War into domestic success. Note that the graph below shows younger Bush’s lowest approval above 30%. However, many polls had it in the 20s.

Approval Ratings of US Presidents since 1945

Approval Ratings of Past and Current Presidents

Iraq War

Iraq War

2. Iraq War – Both presidencies have been defined by a war in the middle East. Not just any war, but wars led by the United States against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The first Persian Gulf War was highly successful, both in terms of tactical combat and political endearment. The unprovoked invasion of Kuwait by Iraq led to a swift overwhelming response by the rest of the world, including most of the other Middle East countries. The second Gulf War has become a completely different story. A preemptive offensive led by W. and the United States against Iraq for its supposed burgeoning nuclear capabilities has led to far-reaching implications. The evidence for war has since proven highly exaggerated. The complications of ethnic fighting has drawn the war into its fifth year. With recent lowering of violence, the key issue now becomes how long the United States will have a presence in Baghdad.

3. Economic turmoil – The past two recessions in the United States have both been under the Bush presidencies. With a third, and a second in W.’s reign, possibly on the way. Although both have been relatively short, it can be argued that the irresponsible short-term actions of the Feds and Alan Greenspan prematurely moved the United States out of the recessions, but at the expense of future credit.  The Persian Gulf wars also took much needed domestic cash and credit to fund the wars, which led to huge increases in national debt.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle

3. Incompetent vice-president Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney? ‘Nuff said. The first was intellectually incompetent and had the foot-in-mouth disease. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, either one is fine. But potatoe?? What about Quayle comparing himself to JFK during the election campaign? Other funny sayings? “We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward“, “The future will be better tomorrow“, “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix“, and “It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system“. Although the country mostly knows him as the vice-president, another interesting question that needed to be asked, what were the people in Indiana thinking electing him to the House in1976 and 1978, and Senate in 1980 and 1986?

Richard Cheney

Richard Cheney

Then there’s Cheney. The ultra-hawk who is more inconspicuous than Ed Harris as a sniper in Enemy at the Gates. Actually, Cheney’s head is just a rounder version of Harris’. Cheney acted like a sniper, incognito, firing barbs from behind the scenes, or inside a bunker. Round after round of incidents, Cheney appeared impervious to controversy. He weathered the weak WMD evidence for attacking Iraq, the CIA leak scandal, the hunting incident, CDC global warming testimony deletions, health problems, and completely elitist, hawkish comments. Both supporters and detractors of Cheney regard him as a shrewd and knowledgeable politician who knows the functions and intricacies of the federal government. This is a major contributor to him weathering controversies.

Can you believe that both Quayle and Cheney were each one incident away from becoming president of the United States?

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

5. The Russian Bear – Both presidents had issues with Russia, although in differing directions. The elder Bush oversaw the end of the Cold War and the deconstruction of the Soviet Union. The younger Bush is seeing the return of the Russian Bear led by former KGB man, Vladimir Putin. As Russia’s fortunes increase due to expansive petroleum exports, it has steadfastly returned to old Moscow traditions and become more emboldened. The recent Russia-Georgia war shows its increasing power to defend and expand its circle of influence.

6. Supreme Court appointments – Both presidents oversaw the appointment of two Supreme Court justices. H.W. appointed David Souter and Clarence Thomas, to replace William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, respectively. W. appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to replace William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor. Although Bill Clinton also appointed two new justices, the appointment of four by the Bushs has kept the Supreme Court in a slight conservative slant.

7. Next president is young and new to national scene – If Barack Obama wins the 2008 presidential election, both Bushs will have been succeeded by young Democratic presidents in their 40’s, Bill Clinton and Obama. The Democratic presidents will both be elected on a change platform that invigorated the public. Both will also have been new to the national scene.

With such striking similarities between the Bush presidencies, a lot of people were a bit hesitant to support another candidate, Hillary Clinton, that would have led to comparisons to her husband’s presidency. Had that happened, the United States would have had either a Bush or Clinton in the top two positions of the country for atleast 32 years!

Posted in Economics, List, Opinion, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Do you know how many houses you own? McCain doesn’t.

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 21, 2008

How in the world does John McCain not know how many houses he owns????

In the news today, when McCain was asked how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own, he replied,

“I think — I’ll have my staff get to you,” McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. “It’s condominiums where — I’ll have them get to you.”

Let me put it this way. If you are not a big time millionaire (which he is), you know how many houses you own. Chances are, you can count them on one hand, maybe you’ll cross over to your second hand, but counting up to ten should be easy enough. I’m assuming he has a big time accounting staff that handles his taxes and money. Either that, or we are in big trouble with him as president. I don’t want to bring up the age issue…

This after he said a few days ago that being rich in the U.S. meant earning at least $5 million a year!! Wow! Tell that to the majority of Americans that make $50,000 or less a year. I think they would disagree with that. Hell, earning $150,000 should make you rich in America. I guess this is why Republicans don’t like taxing the people earning between $200,000 and $5 million because they need their money so bad to survive. After all, they are not rich.

The whole houses issue is still not resolved. His campaign later said he has AT LEAST four houses. How do you not know the exact number? Isn’t it on your tax forms. Hmmm, let me see how many houses I own? NONE! That was easy math. Newsweek’s own assessment said they own seven. I wonder if the McCains bought at the top of the housing bubble. Unless they are scooping them all up now now that the bubble has burst. Maybe it’s their way of infusing capital into the economy. Maybe it’s because so many are still in the buying process, so he doesn’t know if he should put them as being owned or not. He’s such a good guy…

Obama’s response? “I guess if you think being rich means you’ve got to make $5 million and if you don’t know how many houses you have, it’s not surprising you might think the economy is fundamentally strong.”

This shows how polarizing this country has become. Wasn’t Bush suppose to unite this country? That was one of his campaign mottos in 1999. Now I just see a country strongly divided down the middle. The rich and religious on one side, and the poor and liberal on the other side. What happened to the third class, which is supposed to be the biggest in terms of a strong democracy? The middle class and practicality??

Posted in Economics, Opinion, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt? Who had the greater Olympic achievement?

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 20, 2008

I’ll put in my two cents on this Usain Bolt versus Michael Phelps discussion.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

MICHAEL PHELPS

8 gold medals (7 world records, 1 Olympic record) (5 individual events, 3 team events)

Men’s 4 x 100m Medley
Men’s 100m Butterfly
Men’s 200m Medley
Men’s 4 x 200m Free
Men’s 200m Butterfly
Men’s 200m Free
Men’s 4 x 100m Free
Men’s 400m Medley

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt

USAIN BOLT

2 gold medals (2 world records) (2 individual events, 1 or 2 upcoming team events)

Men’s 200m
Men’s 100m

Bolt will most likely run on Jamaica’s 4×100 team, which is favored for a gold or silver medal.

.

.

ANALYSIS

1. Physical toughness of sport – I ran the sprints in high school, and the training for it is pretty straightforward. A lot of one-event-up training for endurance. For example, if you are training for the 100m, you run a lot of 200m and 400m wind-sprints. You also do a lot of leg work, like stadium stairs, stretching and form. Reaction time training is a must to get good starts off the blocks. In the end, it mostly comes down to natural ability plus endurance training and diet. Training will increase your times, but it is not as much of a factor as natural speed. Sprinters with “lanky” builds, such as Bolt and Carl Lewis, have made up for it with natural speed. When you finish a sprint, the body parts that are in pain are mainly your legs and heart. The arms and chest are secondary.

Swimming is a totally different story. It is a full body work out. Too much muscle will not lead to success. Too skinny will not either. Although natural ability does make a big difference, such as Phelps body frame, the sport definitely requires a harder training regimen. If you’ve ever tried to swim a couple of laps in the pool, you’ll know what I mean. When you finish a swim event, your entire body is in pain… from legs to arms to back to chest to head to heart.

Edge: Phelps

2. Diversity of events – Phelps’ huge wingspan, feet size and body frame make him perfect for the butterfly event. It is also a big advantage in the freestyle. However, the wingspan appears to not be ideal for strokes such as the breaststroke and backstroke. Although he is ranked 11th in the backstroke, Phelps has not swam in either one in his 8 gold medal events. All have either been in the freestyle or butterfly. He also does not swim in events higher than the 200m. In looking at the butterfly and freestyle, they do require a completely different set of skills. The breathing technique is different, the body motion is different, thus stressing different muscles. However, the start of the race begins the same for both races.

Bolt is a natural 200m sprinter. In high school he ran in the 200m and 400m. It is not unusual for a 200m runner to add another event to  his repertoire. If he is known to have good endurance, he might add the 400m. If he is known to have a quick start, he might add the 100m. Carl Lewis was a 100/200 runner and Michael Johnson was a 200/400 runner. No one has ever done a 100/400 pairing before. That wouldn’t make sense because of the attractiveness of the 200 for both 100m and 400m runners. There are only minor differences between the 100m and 200m races. The 100m requires a faster reaction time and quicker burst of speed. The 200m requires excellent turn running, fast finishing speed and a bit more endurance. However, both are still considered all-out sprints with no pacing. Most 100m sprinters also run the 200m at some point in their track careers.

Edge: Phelps

3. Difficulty of reaching finals of events – For each event Bolt was in, there were 3 preliminary rounds and then the final, for a total of 8 races. Each round was on a separate day. The 200m race followed after the 100m final was over, and thus Bolt ran in 8 straight days. The 100m started with 80 sprinters, and the 200m started with 66 sprinters. The times of the prelims are not important, since part of the strategy is to make it to the next round while conserving energy.

Phelps, on the other hand, had a much tougher path to the finals. He had a total of 9 preliminary races to get to the 8 finals. The three relays did not have any prelims in which Phelps swam in. His teammates took care of that. Four of his 5 individual races had two rounds each of prelims. Only the 400m medley had one prelim round. Although Bolt’s races each had 3 prelims, none of his races were on the same day. Phelps 17 races spanned 8 days, with 2 days having one race, 3 days having two races, and 3 days having three races!

Edge: Strongly Phelps

4. Mental toughness required – This one is clearly for Phelps. With 17 races in 8 days. With all eyes on him, it requires the ability to completely focus on the task at hand, while shutting out all the distractions of the media, fans, other athletes, past races, future races, etc. It is unimaginable what he had to go through, pealing a layer off one by one. He must’ve felt a huge mountain on him heading into the Olympics. Bolt had no such pressure on him. Although there was some anticipation of a Tyson Gay – Asafa Powell – Usain Bolt 100m dream final, the pressure definitely was on Gay and Powell to perform. Powell was trying to eliminate the label of choker of big meets and reclaiming the world record that he lost to a pure 200m runner. Gay was trying to overcome his hamstring injury and to reclaim the US waning dominance in the 100m. Bolt had the world record and it was evident in the way he ran and showboated in the 100 that he felt no such pressure on him. Additionally, there just wasn’t that much media coverage of him until he easily broke the 100m record. The pressure he felt in the 200m is still nothing compared to what Phelps had to go through.

Edge: Strongly Phelps

5. Natural ability – This one is somewhat harder to determine. Although Bolt’s natural ability clearly has a profound impact on his performance, it is harder to determine how much of Phelps performance is due to natural ability instead of training. Swimming is more of a learned talent than running is. Although Phelps has an ideal body frame consisting of long arms, big feet, wide wing span and long torso, it’s hard to think he would be as good in swimming if he did not have the muscle and endurance from training. However, Bolt’s build might not be that different to normal athletes without Olympic training. His natural speed, height, quick long strides cannot really be learned in training.

In thinking about this area further, and reading Red’s comment below, I believe there is another component to think about when it comes to natural ability. What makes Bolt’s races so amazing is that he is only 21 years old and has not fully reached his natural potential. As he fills out his body both mentally and physically, it is scary to think what he can accomplish. Phelps appears to have reached his natural ability in this Olympics. Although the question of who had the greater Olympic achievement focuses on current results, the potential factor of the athlete has to be accounted for because of the WOW factor the public and media reacts to such achievements.Thus, I would have to give the edge of natural ability strongly in Bolt’s corner. He is still very raw.

Edge: Strongly Bolt

6. Walking the walk – Although many fans, media and other runners were clearly dismayed at Bolt’s showboating in the 100m final, I personally enjoy seeing that confidence and joy in track and field. I just wished he would have waited until he crossed the finish line. Not really because of the showboating, but because I wanted to see how fast he really could have ran. Blowing past the world record and other runners would have made a much bigger statement than showboating. I also have seen many races in the past where runners ease up too early only to be caught by other runners. However, Bolt clearly walked the walk. He seemed so relaxed and confident during all 8 races. He was clearly ahead of the rest of the field.

Phelps had a different story, however. At least two of his races were down to the wire, and not necessarily a lock for him to win. He clearly had to stay focused, and had no chance of celebrating. However, in the end, he walked the walk and accomplished something no one has ever done before.

Track and field requires a level of confidence and rivalry that borders on conceit. Swimming, however, is more of a fraternity. Where everyone respects each other and would never show up anyone else. It’s just two difference cultures, and neither is better than the other.

Edge: Even

7. Any changes in sport that might increase performance – The biggest swimming story leading up to the Olympics, other than the athletes themselves, was the new Speedo’s LZR swimsuits. It was obvious they were making a big difference in the world of swimming. By reducing drag, and increasing aerodynamics, swimmers in all events were bettering their personal bests. Swimming is going through a major evolution, in terms of science and technology. Suits are better. Technical analyses are better.

Sprinting has had no such evolution. The closes thing to change in the past ten years has been the sneakers. Because the clothing of sprinters is so minimal, and because runners run straight into the wind, it is very difficult to increase aerodynamics. Swimming on the other hand cuts through the water horizontally, thus allowing improvements in friction and drag to be made.

In this rating, the less change in the sport the better. That means the athlete is more comparable to old world records.

Edge: Bolt

8. Domination of world records – Let’s see the domination of Phelps’ and Bolt’s individual world records at the Olympics. We will only analyze individual world records, and not relay world records or Olympic records.

The metric we will use is something I call the record impact. Using the event’s 1990 record as the baseline (0%), and the most recent event record (even if held by Phelps or Bolt) as the topline (100%), how much did the the new record impact this record progression. The record impact is calculated as follows:

((2008 record – world record) / (1990 record – 2008 record)) * 100

Michael Phelps individual world records are based on long course 50m pools only

Event 1990
Record (s)
2008
Record (s)
New
Record (s)
Record
Impact (%)
Men’s 200m Medley
Men’s 200m Butterfly
Men’s 200m Free
Men’s 400m Medley
2:00.11
1:56.24
1:46.69
4:14.75
1:54.80
1:52.09
1:43.86
4:05.25
1:54.23
1:52.03
1:42.96
4:03.84
10.7
1.4
31.8
14

Phelps’ Average World Record Impact: 14.5%

Event 1990
Record (s)
2008
Record (s)
New
Record (s)
Record
Impact (%)
Men’s 200m Final
Men’s 100m Final
19.75
9.92
19.32
9.72
19.30
9.69
4.7
15.0

Bolt’s Average World Record Impact: 9.9%

This is unfortunate for Bolt. His showboating costs him here. If he ran hard throughout the 100m final, he easily gets the edge here. To beat the 14.5% record impact of Phelps, all Bolt had to run was a 9.67. This was easily attainable had he not slowed down. If he ran a 9.62, as some have predicted he could have done had he not slowed down, his record impact would have been 50% for the 100m, and his average world record impact would have been a gaudy 27.5%, putting the edge strongly in Bolt’s favor. Quite unfortunate.

Edge: Phelps

9. Quality of world record – Another thing to look at is how long the previous record was held before being broken in Beijing. If it was broken in Beijing prior to the final, such as in the preliminaries, we use the record prior to the Olympics. We also need to look at how many times the record has been broken since a certain baseline; we will use 1990 again. The final parameter to look at is how many people have held this record since the baseline.

An event that has a high quality of world record means it is difficult to break the world record, only a few athletes have had the world record since 1990, and that the last time it was broken was a while ago.

I calculate the quality of record as:

C – (A + B) = Years since 2008 record – (Unique athletes holding record since 1990 + Times record broken since 1990)

The higher the number the better the quality of the world record. Obviously this is not a scientific calculation.

Event Times record
broken
since 1990 (A)
Unique athletes
holding record
since 1990 (B)
Years since
2008 record (C)
Quality of
Record
Men’s 200m Medley
Men’s 200m Butterfly
Men’s 200m Free
Men’s 400m Medley
10
10
12
11
4
5
5
3
0
1
1
0
-14
-14
-16
-14

Phelps’ Average Quality of Record: -14.5

That’s a funny coincidence that Phelps Quality of Record is the same as his Record Impact Percentage!

Event Times record
broken
since 1990 (A)
Unique athletes
holding record
since 1990 (B)
Years since
2008 record (C)
Quality of
Record
Men’s 200m Final
Men’s 100m Final
3
9
3
6
12
0
6
-15

Bolt’s Average Quality of Record: -4.5

The edge here is obviously in Bolt’s favor. The quality of breaking the 200m world record balances out the ever changing 100m world record. It is obvious that the swimming sprints are going through an evolution, even if a lot of the records are being broken only by Phelps and a select few colleagues, such as Crocker and Thorpe.

Edge: Strongly Bolt

FINAL DECISION

So who wins the award as the greatest 2008 Olympic achievement? Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt?

Strongly Phelps = 2 * 2pts = 4
Phelps = 3 * 1pt = 3
Even = 1
Bolt = 1 * 1pt = 1
Strongly Bolt =2 * 2pts = 4

Final: Phelps 7, Bolt 5

Michael Phelps and his 8 gold medals (SI cover)

Michael Phelps and his 8 gold medals (SI cover)

Winner: Michael Phelps

One interesting to realize here is that the showboating of Usain Bolt actually costs him this contest. As mentioned in the 8. Domination of World Records, if Bolt had not slowed down and ran a possible 9.62, we would move 1 pt from Phelps, and add 2 pts to Bolt. Then the final score is Bolt 7, Phelps 6. Even if  Bolt runs between a 9.63 and 9.66, the edge is to Bolt, and the final score is Phelps 6, Bolt 6. Wow!!!!

What do you think?

Who had the greater Olympic achievement?

1) Michael Phelps
2) Usain Bolt

View Results

My related Olympic posts:

Suggested Phelps vs Bolt webpage:

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Men’s indoor volleyball – Cute volleyball spike 3D animation

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 20, 2008

I’m currently watching the Olympic men’s indoor volleyball match between the United States and Serbia. It is a pretty amazing sport to watch. A fast game of timing, speed, reaction, spikes, digs, and chaos. It’s just amazing to watch.

Out of curiosity, I found this cute little animation by animatedpunk on DeviantArt. It’s a basic 3D animation of a cartoon character spiking. I found it cute. Enjoy!

3D animation - by animatedpunk

3D animation - by animatedpunk

If you can’t play the video, click here.

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With McCain now leading, Obama must pick Hillary to revive and unite party

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 20, 2008

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

The presidential race has not been as exciting as the Democratic primary race between Obama and Hillary. With the public inundated with Obama news the past 3 months, there are signs of Obama-fatigue in the public. This has allowed McCain to take the first lead ever in the Reuters/Zogby poll. McCain’s 46% to 41% lead over Obama is more about Obama-fatigue then McCain making a huge comeback. This is dangerous territory for Obama. What has always been his strength is the excitement he has brought to the political arena as a newcomer and bringer of change. However, if the public starts seeing him as “old news”, then he must find some way to invigorate the party and independents. His best and possibly one of his last chances at doing that is the upcoming vice-presidential selection. Names such as Biden, Kaine and Bayh would help in certain demographics but would not provide the excitement or unity that the Democratic party needs so bad. The only name that would do that is Hillary Clinton. Although there is still bad blood remaining from the primary race, making such a move would mean so much to the party. It would unite the party and bring the remaining Clinton supporters off the sidelines or out of the McCain camp and back into the fold. It would also show that Obama really is about making the right changes and is not afraid to select anyone. Hillary still seems like a long shot, but Ralph Nader, the independent, believes that is exactly what will happen.

With rumors of McCain possibly picking a non-typical Republican, such as abortion-rights supporters Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge, the view of McCain as a maverick might be evoked once again. Although McCain might turn off the strong evangelical Republican base if he does that, he would attract independents and even Hillary supporters. Obama must go on the offensive now, after a month of McCain attacks.

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