We Are Nowhere Close to the Limits of Athletic Performance

Hsu_BR_LewisTHE PREVIOUS MODEL: Carl Lewis running the anchor leg of the men’s 4x100m relay race at the 1984 Olympic Games.David Madison/Getty Images

Genetic engineering will bring us new Bolts and Shaqs.

For many years I lived in Eugene, Oregon, also known as “track-town USA” for its long tradition in track and field. Each summer high-profile meets like the United States National Championships or Olympic Trials would bring world-class competitors to the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. It was exciting to bump into great athletes at the local cafe or ice cream shop, or even find myself lifting weights or running on a track next to them. One morning I was shocked to be passed as if standing still by a woman running 400-meter repeats. Her training pace was as fast as I could run a flat out sprint over a much shorter distance.

The simple fact was that she was an extreme outlier, and I wasn’t. Athletic performance follows a normal distribution, like many other quantities in nature. That means that the number of people capable of exceptional performance falls off exponentially as performance levels increase. While an 11-second 100-meter can win a high school student the league or district championship, a good state champion runs sub-11, and among 100 state champions only a few have any hope of running near 10 seconds.

Keep going along this curve, and you get to the freaks among freaks—competitors who shatter records and push limits beyond imagination. When Carl Lewis dominated sprinting in the late 1980s, sub-10 second 100m times were rare, and anything in the 10-second flat range guaranteed a high finish, even at the Olympics. Lewis was a graceful 6 feet 2 inches, considered tall for a sprinter. Heights much greater than his were supposed to be a disadvantage for a sprinter, forcing a slower cadence and reduced speeds—at least that was the conventional wisdom.

So no one anticipated the coming of a Usain Bolt. At a muscular 6 feet 5 inches, and finishing almost half a second faster than the best of the previous generation, he seemed to come from another species entirely. His stride length can reach a remarkable 9.3 feet,1 and, in the words of a 2013 study in the European Journal of Physics, demonstrated performance that “is of physical interest since he can achieve, until now, accelerations and speeds that no other runner can.”2

Bolt’s times weren’t just faster than anyone else in the world. They were considerably faster even than those of a world-class runner from the previous generation that was using performance-enhancing drugs. The Jamaican-born Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson achieved a world-record time of 9.79 seconds at the 1988 Olympic Games, beating Lewis and boasting that he’d have been faster if he hadn’t raised his hand in victory just ahead of the finish line. It would later be found out that he’d been using steroids.

The potential improvements achievable by doping effort are relatively modest.

Even the combination of an elite runner and anabolic steroids, though, was not enough to outcompete a genetic outlier. Bolt achieved a time of 9.58 seconds at the 2009 World Athletics Championship, setting a world record and beating his own previous record by a full tenth of a second.

We find a similar story in the NBA with Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal was the first 7-footer in the league who retained the power and agility of a much smaller man. Neither a beanpole nor a plodding hulk, he would have been an athletic 200-pounder if scaled down to 6 feet in height. When Shaq got the ball near the hoop, no man (or sometimes even two men) could stop him from dunking it. Soon after his entry into the league, basket frames had to be reinforced to prevent being destroyed by his dunks. After the Lakers won three championships in a row, the NBA was forced to change their rules drastically—allowing zone defenses—in order to reduce Shaq’s domination of the game. Here was a genetic outlier whose performance was unequalled by anyone else in a league that has long been criticized for its soft anti-doping policy; for example, it only added blood testing for human growth hormone to its program last year. Whatever doping may have been going on, it wasn’t enough to get anyone to Shaq’s level…

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http://nautil.us/issue/51/limits/we-are-nowhere-close-to-the-limits-of-athletic-performance-rp

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What the Buddha Taught Us About Race

What the Buddha Taught Us About Race
The Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Thailand | Photo by Christopher Rose http://tricy.cl/2evDRt3

Thai forest monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu discusses four main takeaways from his new translation of the Sutta Nipata.

By Emma Varvaloucas
Below, the monk answers four quick questions about the Sutta Nipata.
 

What are some suttas in the Sutta Nipata that are not famous, but are worth getting to know? Perhaps the most important section of the Sutta Nipata is the Atthaka Vagga, a collection of 16 poems on the topic of nonclinging. But there are some hidden gems in the rest of the collection, too. The Arrow (3.8) is a very strong statement on the need to overcome grief, and The Rod Embraced (4.15) starts with the vision of the world that led the young Buddha-to-be to seek awakening. As he says, he saw people floundering like fish competing with one another in small puddles, and there was nothing in the world that wasn’t laid claim to. Every time I read that passage I think of the time I saw salmon arriving at their spawning grounds in a stream no more than an inch deep, struggling to flop themselves over other salmon already dead, while bears were hovering around ready to strike. All that fighting, while in the end they were all just going to die.

You describe the common thread among the suttas in the Sutta Nipata as a response to the culture of ancient India, where brahmanical doctrine was the prominent religious tradition. How would you describe the Buddha’s relationship to the brahmans and their system of belief, and how does this collection illustrate that? We know from other texts that brahmans in the time of the Buddha were obsessed with the question of defining the true self, whether the true self survived death, and if so, how to make sure that it had enough to feed on. And we know from other parts of the canon that the Buddha regarded all these questions as wrong-headed because they got in the way of answering what he saw as a much more important question: how to put an end to suffering and arrive at a dimension where there’s no need to feed. The Sutta Nipata, though, touches on these topics only briefly. Instead, the brahmans presented here seem to be united only in their belief that they are better than everyone else, and the Buddha goes into great detail as to why people cannot be judged on their birth and social status, and should be judged by their actions instead.

That sounds especially pertinent to the issues of racism and classism that we still deal with today. How can we apply the Buddha’s positions from ancient India to contemporary times? Two of the Buddha’s teachings on racism and classism are especially applicable today. The first is the point I just mentioned: There’s nothing about birth or social status that makes a person good or bad. People are good or bad solely in terms of their actions, and so that’s how they should be judged—not by the color of their skin. There’s a nice passage in the Vasettha Sutta (3.9) where the Buddha notes that, with common animals, you know the animal by its coloring and markings, whereas the same standard doesn’t apply to human beings: There’s no physical mark that tells you whether a person is trustworthy or not. If you judge people as good or bad by their appearance, you’re reducing human beings—yourself and others—to animals.

The other teaching is a little less intuitive but just as important. There’s a sutta on the topic of body contemplation whose title, interestingly enough, is Victory (1.11). It gives a long catalog of the disgusting details of the human body, and then ends by saying, “Whoever would think, on the basis of a body like this, to exalt himself or disparage another: what is that if not blindness?” If you think that white skin is somehow special, imagine what a pile of white skin would look like on its own. That should be enough to subdue racial pride…

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https://tricycle.org/trikedaily/what-the-buddha-taught-us-about-race/

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Trump encourages gross violence against Muslims after Barcelona attack

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump has suggested that some Muslims should be executed with bullets dipped in pig’s blood, hours after a deadly terror attack in Barcelona, Spain.

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught,” Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon. “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”

Trump’s tweet referenced a dubious story about US Army General John Pershing’s handling of Muslim prisoners during the Moro Rebellion (1899–1913) in the Philippines. The rebellion was an armed conflict between Muslims and the United States military.

During the 2016 election campaign, Trump frequently told a tale of how Pershing had Moro Muslim prisoners in the Philippines executed with bullets soaked in pig’s blood to quell rebellion against American rule.  

Speaking at a rally in Charleston February last year, Trump said General Pershing “took 50 bullets and he dipped them in pig’s blood.”

“And he had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’ And for 25 years there wasn’t a problem,” he said.

According to some historians, Trump’s tale is false. They have concluded it would have been “out of character” for Pershing.

But some other historians have suggested that American troops did use pigs or pig’s blood to intimidate Muslims during the Philippine conflict in the early 20th century.

US troops in the Philippines during the Philippine-American War (1899–1902)

 

“So yes, there were deliberate efforts to offend Muslim Filipinos’ religious sensibilities,” Christopher Capozzola, a history professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told TIME last year.

“And yes, there was large-scale violence against their communities. But I know of no event like the one that Mr. Trump describes,” he stated.

Muslim advocacy groups have challenged Trump to debate a representative from the American-Muslim community “on the issues” he has “raised about Islam and Muslims.”

Earlier in the day, Trump condemned the attack in Barcelona. At least 13 people were killed and 80 were injured after a van plowed into a crowd in the Spanish city.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/08/17/532079/Some-Muslims-should-be-executed-with-bullets-dipped-in-pigs-blood-Trump

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John Quincy Adams on Efficiency vs. Effectiveness, the Proper Aim of Ambition, and His Daily Routine

John Quincy Adams. Portrait by John Singleton Copley, 1796.

“The spark from Heaven is given to few — It is not to be obtained by intreaty or by toil.”

“Those who work much do not work hard,” Henry David Thoreau observed in his prescient meditation on the myth of productivity and the measure of meaningful labor a century before the dawn of the cult of workaholism, which continues to bedevil us with ever-accelerating virulence to this day.

A generation earlier, John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767–February 23, 1848) — another man of introspective genius and uncommon wisdom — dug at the heart of modernity’s foundational disconnect between efficiency and effectiveness: our tendency to pour tremendous energy into doing things, with little reflection on whether those are the right things to do in the first place.

His journals, now published as John Quincy Adams: Diaries 1779–1821 (public library), offer an exceedingly insightful record of one extraordinary man’s reflections on his own nature, haloed with luminous wisdom on the universals of human nature. Throughout them, the sixth President of the United States examines the paradox of how even the most industrious self-exertion can fail to attain a worthwhile result and why unfocused ambition is a guarantee of frustration rather than fulfillment.

In the spring of 1819, six years before he won the Presidency, 52-year-old Adams anticipates Kierkegaard’s proclamation that “of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous [is] to be busy,” and laments the absurdity of ineffectual busyness that animates his days in office as Secretary of State:

Every day starts new game to me, upon the field of my duties; but the hurry of the hour leaves me no time for the pursuit of it, and at the close of my Career I shall merely have gone helter skelter through the current business of the Office, and leave no permanent trace of my ever having been in it behind.

Years earlier, in observing his own habits of mind in the course of his voracious self-education, Adams had become aware of the meager correlation between effort exerted and results obtained when a clarity of purpose is lacking — even the mightiest discipline, after all, is wasted without a clear direction. In a diary entry penned on the final day of 1804 — a year he considered distinguished by “its barrenness of Events” — the thirty-seven-year-old Adams laments his tendency to lose himself in rabbit holes of what may be interesting but is not relevant to his larger aims:

My studies were assiduous and seldom interrupted. I meant to give them such a direction, as should be useful in its tendency; yet on looking back, and comparing the time consumed with the knowledge acquired, I have no occasion to take pride in the result of my application — I have been a severe Student, all the days of my life — But an immense proportion of the time I have dedicated to the search of knowledge, has been wasted upon subjects which can never be profitable to myself or useful to others — Another source of useless toil, is the want of a method properly comprehensive and minute, in the pursuit of my enquiries — This method has been to me a desideratum for many years; I have found none in books; nor have I been able to contrive one for myself. From these two causes, I have derived so little use from my labours, that it has often brought me to the borders of discouragement, and I have been attempted to abandon my books altogether — This however is impossible — for the habit has so long been fixed in me, as to have become a passion, and when once severed from my books, I find little or nothing in life, to fill the vacancy of time — I must therefore continue to plod, and to lose my labour; contenting myself with the consolation, that even this drudgery of Science, contributes to Virtue, though it lead not to wealth or honour…

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https://www.brainpickings.org/

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RADICAL LEADERSHIP: TURNING THE TABLES ON SOFT SLAVERY

by Gary ‘Z’ McGee, Staff Writer Waking Times

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who will police the police themselves?” ~Juvenal

What do we do when power corrupts, as it tends to? What do we do in the face of tyrannical governments, uncontrollably oppressive dictatorships, and police or judicial corruption and overreach? What do we do with the rampant soft slavery that surrounds us? Do we just shrug our shoulders and trust in the chain of obedience, even though the chain of obedience is the source of the problem? Do we just indifferently bury our head in the sand and hope that the Powers That Be protect our asses while we’re and blinded by our faith in the system?

Governing the precept that humans are fallible, imperfect, and prone to make mistakes, especially when it comes to power, it stands to reason that confiding in a system made up of humans wielding power is absurd. It’s circular reasoning at its worst. As Edward Abbey wisely surmised, “Since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.” Indeed. So, it stands to reason that attempting to lead (rule) ourselves (despite our personal failures) is superior to allowing others to lead (rule) us (since power tends to corrupt).

Common sense, right? Not so fast. As Will Rogers famously quipped, “Common sense ain’t so common.” People are unlikely to question a system they’ve been indoctrinated into accepting, even if that system goes against common sense, the golden rule, and the non-aggression principle. People are more likely to stick to what they’ve been conditioned to believe. Whether that belief is political or religious or both.

Overcoming this takes a particular flavor of courage that doesn’t readily exist in the average person.It’s a kind of courage that must be birthed through great psychological pain and suffering, usually at the death of one’s innocence. It must be nursed and cultivated daily, lest it slip back into passivity or back into typical, ineffective, and outdated modes of courage. It must be guided by a unique and daring flavor of leadership: a radical leadership that audaciously checks and balances constructs of power and teaches others how to do the same.

Becoming Free

“We are all born free and spend a lifetime becoming slaves to our own false truths.” ~Atticus

Radical leadership begins by overcoming false truths. A false truth is any belief that is deemed invalid according to cosmic law. It’s our responsibility alone to figure this out. Nobody else can do it for us. We may get lucky and have a teacher/leader who guides us toward a truth that is deemed valid according to cosmic law, but we should not count on getting so lucky. It’s our responsibility alone to question what we’ve been taught, no matter how wise or enlightened our teachers/leaders seem to be. Because, at the end of the day, even our teachers/leaders are fallible human beings. And even the wisest and most enlightened among them are still susceptible to the seductive lure of power. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

It is for that reason that Nature itself is usually a better teacher/leader than almost any human. Even better: teachers who are in touch with Nature. Of course, as children, we have no choice but to go along with whatever agenda our parents/teachers/leaders have set out for us. But there will come a time later, usually after we’ve left home, when that agenda/belief must be questioned. It may turn out that, upon questioning these agendas/beliefs to the nth degree, they come out the other side of the “cocoon” as worthy and valid of cosmic truth. But this will usually not be the case. And that’s okay. Because then we’ll have more reason than ever to become free.

What’s crucial to understand is that freedom is almost entirely psychological in nature. In today’s day and age, it is less about breaking free physically (from hard overt slavery), and more about breaking free psychologically (from soft covert slavery). Breaking free psychologically is astronomically more difficult than breaking away physically, because it is all done inside us. Deep inside us, where our demons, repressed shadows and cognitive dissonance are all tangled up in a knot that seems impossible to untie. That’s where radical leadership comes in…

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About the Author
Gary ‘Z’ McGeea former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
This article (Radical Leadership: Turning the Tables on Soft Slavery) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary ‘Z’ McGee and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/08/16/radical-leadership-turning-tables-soft-slavery/

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SEX ROBOTS – THE EVOLUTION OF THE OBJECTIFICATION OF WOMEN

by Christina SarichStaff Writer Waking Times

With pedophilia rings being busted almost weekly now, and the gender-bending meme playing out all over Hollywood, never mind its being insinuated into our biology chemically, without our choice — there seems to be a new-fangled perversion which we are supposed to accept as “normal.” Never-mind its psychological and social implications. The introduction of robots as sex toys – that you can rape, masturbate to, or simply voice your most outlandish fantasy to – is being inserted into our psyche via a slow drip, but make no mistake, the intention is to open a deluge so that non-human sexual “play” is commonplace.

On a recent trip to the near-Silicon-Valley-area of California, I was awe-struck at the promotion of the technocratic singularity – a time in which AI intelligence would surpass our own and we would all bow down as AI slaves to a “greater” intelligence.  As unwitting, dumbed down humans we are meant to absorb this advanced technology into our lives without questioning its motivations.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Children were encouraged to play with robots as “pals” at a science museum in San Diego, and robots were at the airport in Santa Ana, within a toddler-safe den of toy blocks. The robot was accompanied by a woman with sparkly glitter on her cheekbones who handed out robot stickers and encouraged children to play with the robot instead of each other. This de-humanization of our species takes an even more sinister twist, however, when you consider the sterilization attempts of the larger powers in play, and the concerted effort to bring AI into our lives at every turn – including into our sexuality.

In a society that has already objectified the human being to such a degree that women are told they “deserved it” when they are raped, for dressing provocatively, or even wearing red lipstick, and “sexting” among teens now includes describing forceful and violent acts of fisting, while young boys are silenced in Vatican torture chambers and used as sexual mannequins by the elite, we now have the bizarre creation of Samantha. She’s an AI robot who “really likes to be kissed” at least according to her maker, Sergi Santos.

 

The Samantha Sex Doll

She also sits passively to be “used” whenever her owner feels sexually aroused, with no need for said person to learn social graces, or the emotional maturity and sensitivity that would allow a sexual interaction with a real woman. Surely, he won’t have to stimulate her clitoris to bring her to climax, as his only goal is his own sexual fulfillment. And certainly he won’t have to take her to dinner or act attentive when she expresses real emotion.

You can also buy a sex-robot on sale in Britain’s Covent Gardens. There are “try-before-you-buy” models being paraded like used cars ready for a test drive.

Or how about this creepy sex-bot that can talk dirty to you in bed? If that level of odd perversion isn’t enough, the most recent model is called the Real Doll. She’s being promoted as “better than a woman.” As Engadget describes how the Real Doll works with other AI technologies,

“Harmony AI is part Android app, part sexualized personal assistant available for download directly from RealBotix. Imagine something between a horny Her and Siri for phone sex. For $20 a year, users can create a limited number of personalized avatars with customizable voices, moods and personality traits. Like Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha in Her, McMullen sees Harmony as a sort of girlfriend in your smartphone; a companion to keep you company throughout the day.”

Put succinctly, if you don’t like your girlfriend’s personality – you can just change it with your smartphone app. That’s not setting a dangerous precedent at all.

But Samantha, and the Real Doll aren’t one of a kind novelties. Robot doll brothels already operate in South Korea, Japan and Spain, while the first robotic oral sex coffee shop opened in Paddington, west London, just last year.

Cyborg sex is an emotionless, guilt-free, abuse-promoting pathway to completely submissive sex on demand. Even Noel Sharkey, Professor Emeritus of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sheffield , and the co-founder of the FRR said that the government needs to regulate the use of cyborgs (pleasure-bots) for sex…

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About the Author

Christina Sarich is a staff writer for Waking Times. She is a writer, musician, yogi, and humanitarian with an expansive repertoire. Her thousands of articles can be found all over the Internet,..

This article (Sex Robots – The Evolution of the Objectification of Women) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Christina Sarich and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio.

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2017/08/15/sex-robots-evolution-objectification-women/

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