Tired of the Same Old Treadmill at Work? Try a Treadmill?

Tired of the Same Old Treadmill at Work? Try a Treadmill?

You might remember a famous scene from Charlie Chaplin’s movie Modern Times (1937) that features Chaplin’s character, The Little Tramp, at his impossible assembly line job. Two wrenches in hand, he tightens nuts on the parts that fly by, hour after hour. Conscientious to a fault, and falling behind during a sneeze—the line stopped for…

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April Fools! Remember the Barbie Liberation Organization!

April Fools! Remember the Barbie Liberation Organization!

For this April Fool’s Day, let’s recall a truly elaborate prank. In 1993, a madcap group of California conceptual artists calling themselves the Barbie Liberation Organization (BLO) seized an opportunity for comic mayhem about gender stereotyping in a revealing bit of cultural parody that they called “culture jamming.” When a version of talking Barbie that…

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Wrestling Rubbed Out? Now They’ve Done It!

Wrestling Rubbed Out? Now They’ve Done It!

The recent galling decision to drop wrestling from the Olympics has me steamed, but it has me musing about the virtues of the hand-to-hand contest, too. Wrestling and the Olympics go way back—back to the beginning, in fact. The amphora pictured here depicts a wrestling match between Peleus, the Greek hero and father to Achilles,…

A New Stadium and a New Museum Can Co-Anchor the Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester Mega-Region

A New Stadium and a New Museum Can Co-Anchor the Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester Mega-Region

For almost a quarter century, I’ve divided my time between Rochester and Buffalo. This gave me the opportunity to observe the contrasts of two cities so close together yet so different culturally. If Rochester is the East Coast of the Midwest as some have joked, then Buffalo surely must be the West Coast of the…

What Big Bird Means to the Presidential Debate

What Big Bird Means to the Presidential Debate

The morning after the first Obama-Romney presidential debate, with the commentators having had a chance to sleep on it, we awoke to a flood of psychologizing. The president had looked tense and acted dismissive, they noted. This hopeful man who had once campaigned on the prospects of the bright future seemed worn down by the…

New Rule: No Punting

New Rule: No Punting

The news that the Buffalo Bills recently released their longest-tenured player, punter Brian Moorman, came as a bit of a shock but not a surprise. With an injury rate of 100 percent, the average NFL career stretches only about three-and-a-half years; Moorman, though, has played in every game since he put on a Bills uniform…

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Nyad the Naiad: Finding Play at the Extreme End of Competition

Nyad the Naiad: Finding Play at the Extreme End of Competition

The Greeks imagined three kinds of water nymphs: Oceanids inhabited seas, ponds, lakes, and springs; Nereids swam in the deep salt water particularly the Aegean; and Naiads made their homes in fresh water streams, and even in wells and fountains. That Diana Nyad, journalist, radio commentator, ranked professional squash player, and most notably, endurance swimmer,…

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The Tree House of the August Moon: Play and Solace in the Carmel Valley

The Tree House of the August Moon: Play and Solace in the Carmel Valley

At home in the Carmel Valley, I enjoy a view of the steep ridge that holds the flood plain that the Carmel River (only truly a fast-flowing river in springtime) has cut into the rock. At points the shale is so friable you can dig into it with your bare fingers. The geologic past is…

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Knocked Cold and Loving It

Knocked Cold and Loving It

The opening of NFL training camp put me in mind of an encounter in a different field. On a routine doctor visit, I was answering the usual questions. “Do you smoke?” the doctor asked.  I said, “no.” “Never did?” she persisted. “Nope,” I replied. “And never will?” she asked meaningfully, leaning forward. A little weary…

Tanking the Game: Scheming and Disgrace at the Olympics

Tanking the Game: Scheming and Disgrace at the Olympics

I can’t pretend to care much about genteel Victorian pastimes. Bar skittles? Not a fan. Shove halfpenny? The game won’t get me going. Quoits? Shuffleboard? Zzzzzzzzzz…. But I will admit to amazement when watching Olympic badminton, resurrected from that bygone era, but startlingly athletic in its modern materialization. Engineers describe the shuttlecock, the feathered conical…

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