Hot box

It was hot this weekend in the Valley of Heart’s Delight. I know, it was probably hot everywhere in North America. Inuit were probably laying around in Tuktoyaktuk, fanning themselves, drinking ice tea, and asking “Hot enough for you today?”.

But it was still hot in Silicon Valley. I did my usual run on the Los Gatos Creek trail on Sunday and came back dripping. It didn’t help that I got a late start and was running during the heat of the day. I took a cold shower and lay down in front of the fan, and I was still sweating.

All of which made me wonder why some people insist on exercising in the heat. A friend was telling me about going to a local Bikram Yoga studio. It’s known as “Hot Yoga” because they recommend a temperature of at “least 105F degrees and about 40% humidity”. And lately the temperature in the studio has been around 120 degrees.

Right. Personally, I don’t want to get in a 120 degree room unless it’s a Swedish sauna, and I can hop out every few minutes and roll around in the snow. (Preferrably with the Swedish Bikini Team). Otherwise, that just sounds like so much torture. So why does Bikram Yoga require such high temperatures?

“Because sweat helps move the toxins out of your body,” explains Radha Garcia, owner of Bikram’s Yoga College of India in Boulder, Colorado. “Your body is like a sponge. To cleanse it, you need to wring it out to allow fresh blood and oxygen to circulate and keep your immune system running smoothly.”

Hmm… I must have missed that one in biology class. Maybe it was a warm day and I fell asleep. So how does this form of Yoga work?

By the tourniquet effect: stretching, balancing (using gravity), and creating pressure all at the same time. The blood supply in arteries and veins is being cut off, creating pressure. When released, a lock gate effect is created, causing blood to rush through veins and arteries, flushing them out.

See – there’s another thing I must have missed. I always heard that tourniquets were bad. And I never heard of the “lock gate effect” for flushing out arteries.

In fact, the Yogi says the high temperature helps “keep the body from overheating (contrary to popular misconception)”. What? And yet the Red Cross is still perpetuating that misconception today. They kept telling me about heat stroke in a first-aid class I took, and not once did they recommend putting someone in a tourniquet in a 105 degree room.

This is the kind of ancient wisdom that can only come from India. (Actually Bikram brought that ancient wisdom to the USA in 1971). This is the same culture that advocates the health benefits of drinking urine. And of bathing in and drinking the water of the “Sacred” Ganges river, which is so polluted that cremated corpses, livestock carcasses, and raw sewage float past the holy sites. (I suppose by that measure, drinking urine is just a way of cutting out the middleman).

So I think I’ll stop complaining about running in the heat. That doesn’t seem seem so bad anymore. I only hope for the sake of those detainees in Gitmo that Rumsfeld hasn’t heard of Bikram.

Yogi Bikram

Our throw-away culture

According to today’s New York Times, people are finally dealing with malware and viruses on their PCs – by throwing away the computer! Corrupted PC’s Find New Home in the Dumpster: “Many PC owners are simply replacing embattled machines rather than fixing them.”

“I was spending time every week trying to keep the machine free of viruses and worms,” said Mr. Tucker, a vice president of, a Web services firm based here. “I was losing the battle. It was cheaper and faster to go to the store and buy a low-end PC.”

This from an executive at an internet company? Somehow that doesn’t give me a good feeling about their technology. So Mr. Tucker, how long do you think your $399 Wall-Mart special will stay virus-free? Lemme guess – you’re running Windows and Internet Explorer without a firewall, right?

So is it really easier to buy a new PC and copy all your files than to just erase the disc and re-installing Windows? Um… Sorry. Stupid question. Of course it is. Especially with all that icky CD swapping and everything.

On the other hand, I wonder how many people are just using this an excuse to buy a new toy. “Honey, there’s a scratch on the TV set. So I had to buy a new plasma screen.”

In sanctum Santorum

What is the root cause for the abuse of young boys by pedophile Catholic priests? According to Republican Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the answer is simple: Harvard and MIT.

An article in the Boston Globe lays out the whole sordid tale: In sanctum Santorum.

Here’s what Santorum wrote about the church pedophile scandal on a religious website called Catholic Online. ”When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political, and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.”

Asked to clarify those comments, a Santorum aide told the Globe:

‘It’s an open secret that you have Harvard University and MIT that tend to tilt to the left in terms of academic biases,” said Robert Traynham, the Santorum aide. ”I think that’s what the senator was speaking to.”

Of course. The whole thing is MIT’s fault. Why didn’t we realize this sooner? Maybe the Globe should give its Pulitzer Prize back because it failed to get to the root cause of the scandal: Cambridge-based rocket science professors.

I feel so ashamed.

The Wages of Intolerance

The Wages of Intolerance

This country was not founded on a single religious viewpoint, as the far right would have it, but rather on a wide diversity of religious beliefs. The current far right believers are reminiscent of the Puritans who settled what would become Massachusetts and who established their religion as the religion of the colony (and then the state). The Puritans believed in the right to believe whatever one wanted, so long as dissenters left their cities and communities. They believed in a religious culture controlled by the majority. Rhode Island was founded because of the Puritans’ rank intolerance.

Few care about mobile video

According to a recent study by research firm In-Stat: “Few mobile subscribers have any interest in receiving video on their phones”.

Boy, that’s a surprise. Who wants to pay lots of money to download jerky videos and watch them on a 1.5 inch screen? I mean, it’s not like anyone’s going to watch them on the train or anything.