For the health of it

June 14, 2007

(Yep. That’s original.)

My previous posting mentioned a couple of health-related matters, including my father-in-law’s hospitalization and my latest commitment to getting in shape.

Fortunately, my father-in-law is out of the hospital after his series of fainting spells. However, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s remains. According to the doctor who took care of him, vertigo is another symptom that can indicate Alzheimer’s, even if other symptoms do not manifest themselves. Given the choice between home health care and putting him in a nursing home, the former seemed like the better solution for a number of reasons. Granted, he hasn’t reached the advanced stages yet, but my mother-in-law will need some help since she has quite a few health concerns herself. (Oddly enough, my father-in-law started yardwork as soon as he got home.) Since I have to work on Sunday, we hope to see them either Saturday or next Tuesday to celebrate Father’s Day.

In the meantime, Diane and I commenced our visits to 24 Hour Fitness on Tuesday night. Diane and I got on treadmills for the first 30 minutes, with iPods to get us going. On mine, I played a bootleg recording of Karita Mattila performing the title role of Richard Strauss’ Salome at the Opéra Bastille in 2003. Not the greatest sound quality, but the performance has the intensity necessary to get one moving, whether physically or emotionally. (Peter Conrad and Tim Ashley, both of whom saw Mattila as Salome in Paris, both attest to that.) I started getting into the workout as the “Dance of the Seven Veils” progressed, and I hit running speed at the beginning of the final scene. Just over 200 calories burnt in 30 minutes, before Diane and I progressed to the “horseshoe” layout of various weightlifting machines designed to build muscles throughout the body. I’m starting at close to the lowest levels, trying to build muscle gradually. No way do I want to conduct myself like the grunters, groaners, and gaspers who want to bulk up. I’d rather improve my health and cultivate something like a Classical physique over time. I’ll leave it to others to try looking like The Governator or Cartman on Weight Gain 4000, if they so desire. Up-to-date equipment makes the exercise experience at 24 Hour Fitness more pleasant than other gyms or exercise rooms I have visited, though I suppose some purists would find it too “busy.”

As regular readers may have noticed, my postings have pretty much engaged in personal navel gazing. With the impending move, I haven’t had time to really read and comment properly on various trends in academia and librarianship. However, I hope to write something professional soon, most likely in relation to the latest hullabaloo surrounding two blog postings from Michael Gorman entitled Web 2.0: The Sleep of Reason (Parts 1 and 2). As those in Libraryland may already know, Gorman excoriated blogging a few years ago, and I suspect that some bloggers don’t seem ready to forgive and forget.

From my own reading of Part 1, Gorman begins by expressing some legitimate concerns about people turning away from authority. He focuses mainly on the realm of science and medicine, though he also mentions the bugbear of bloggers as “citizen journalists.” However, when he later lays out a Manichean view of “scholarly and educational publishing” vs. “the often-anarchic world of the Internet,” Gorman loses ground and concludes with some final paragraphs that do not make sense to me. I haven’t decided if they’re self-contradictory, or if I believe that Web 2.0 actually can facilitate a more decentralized form of intellectual rigor (albeit without the same overall consistency of scholarly and educational publishing).

Although it hasn’t overthrown dominant power paradigms, Web 2.0 has altered the definition of authority by giving more people (such as myself) the chance to share facts and opinions through less “official” channels. As in the past, we still have folks like Gorman writing from a position of authority. However, unlike belated editorials with commentary from just a few people, practically everyone has a chance to write a response immediately. Some may be trolls seeking attention by writing something “shocking,” while others may have thoughtful responses that equal (or even exceed) the length of the original posting. Now seems the best time to mention the marketplace of ideas, an ideal realm in which the troll shrivels away, while the thoughtful but “officially” disenfranchised person grows in stature among others in various realms of the blogosphere. This notion may seem idealistic, but Web 2.0 at least offers broader opportunities for more people to participate in discourse on any topic, and to develop a deeper worldview that accomodates a broader definition of what constitutes authority.

Connected to Gorman’s apparent faith in medical authority, please see my wife’s posting on anti-depressants and weight gain. The story may seem “anecdotal” (whatever that means), but it shows how the most authoritative and educated people can make lazy assumptions that actually ignore the scientific method. After reading this story, that tinfoil-hatted UFO conspiracy nut who spends all day on the liberry innanet might start making sense.

(More detailed commentary on the Gorman postings when I have the chance… probably when the whole thing becomes passé.)


One Response to “For the health of it”

  1. […] For the Health of It (latter portion of posting) […]

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