So. Much. Good. Stuff.
*** “Can We Play?,” by Dr. David Elkind and published on the SharpBrains blog, is a summary of the “research [that] confirms the value of play.” It makes for an interesting, science-rooted companion to a book that deserves a deep and thorough re-read every year, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, by Thomist philosopher and Christian theologian Josef Pieper, who makes a compelling case that purposeless activity is the most purposeful activity that we can and should engage in!
*** What is the best way to boost cognitive functioning? By exercising the body or by exercising the mind? What about the use of nutrition supplements and the practice of meditation? Jeremy at PsyBlog explores these questions in, Brain Health: Physical or Mental Exercise?, also republished on the SharpBrains blog. (If you regularly peruse only one or two sites about the brain sciences, SharpBrains is the best.)
*** Light reading: Boris Johnson, the recently-elected Mayor of London, analogizes bike riding with and without a helmet to the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” sharp elbow game of politics in Get a bike helmet to get ahead – or maybe not, an opinion piece in Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
*** To listen to: NPR’s Talk of the Nation has an audio archive of today’s discussion with Alan Schwartz of the NYT about his front-page profile of Kendall Bailey, a “6-foot-6-inch 19 year-old” diagnosed with cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and autism, but who also happens to be one the fastest disabled swimmers in the world. Kendall is so fast that he is favored to win gold, if not set a world record in the breastroke, at this summer’s 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. That is, if he is allowed to compete. Officials of the event have been slow to confirm whether Kendall, because of his intellectual and mental handicaps, would be allowed to compete alongside physically disabled athletes. The politics of sport and the heart of a champion. Read Schwartz’s article here.
*** Another provocative read: This story about how the government of Japan is responding to its own national obesity epidemic (it seems everyone, everywhere — not just those of us in the U.S. — is getting fatter) by imposing limits to the size of its citizens’ bellies. (!) If you are a male, it is against the law for your waist to exceed 33.5 inches; for women, the government says your waist can be no bigger than 35.4 inches. If you eat too much and are too plump around the mid-section, you can be fined and forced to attend health education courses. Too much government intervention, or a necessary public policy?
Entry filed under: etc, play, think. Tags: Beijing, Boris Johnson, brain, brain health, cognitive functioning, culture, David Elkind, exercise, goverment intervention, health, Japan, Josef Pieper, Kendall Bailey, leisure, mental exercise, neuroscience, Paralympics, play, politics, public policy, purposeless activity, sport.