I’m a big fan of Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” and his Lovecast. It’s so refreshing to listen to someone who gives practical advice in such a sex-positive (about as sex-positive as you can get really) fashion. I’m currently listening to his new book, “American Savage”, and it’s great (mostly because he narrates it.) At any rate, with so much “advice” out there, the overarching message that has filtered its way through the morass has been “Find what works for you.”
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I wrote an article for Fitocracy a few months ago titled, “Every little bit doesn’t really count.” When I write for my own blog, I don’t pay attention (much) to length. But when writing for someone else’s audience, I tend to think that most people won’t tolerate my typical length. Most of my blog posts are quite long in comparison to a lot of fitness bloggers, or even science bloggers. However, a lot of comments I got back from the Fitocracy piece suggested to me that 1) Readers will tolerate longer posts and 2) In my attempt to keep things short, I missed the boat in adequately delivering my message. Here’s the longer version. I’m not entirely convinced it’s much better than a short version or that it will piss less people off, but pushing the “Publish” button is, in the balance, probably better than sitting on the article.
My thoughts on the “every little bit counts” mindset remain basically unchanged. There were lots of comments about busy lives and raising children, as well as taking stairs and parking farther. I’ve written about goal-setting before, but this issue is slightly different. Winning your personal war involves multiple steps, and you can lose the war in any of these places by allowing yourself to believe that every little bit counts.
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There was a really interesting letter in the journal Nature on Thursday, “Australia’s grant system wastes time,” which was about how much time goes into preparing a grant for funding with Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (in Canada, this would be the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, and in the US, the National Institutes of Health). The authors of the letter did a survey of Australian researchers and found that it took, on average, 38 working days to prepare a new proposal. They extrapolated their survey data to estimate how much cumulative time was spent by Australian researchers who applied to the NHMRC preparing grants, and estimated thatn 550 working years of research time was spent on this endeavour. As with all federal funding agencies, only a small percentage of grant proposals get funding. In 2012, that was 20.5% in Australia. So, basically, about four centuries of cumulative research time was wasted, with no return on the time spent. The point of the letter was to encourage the NHMRC to simplify the application process to decrease the time wasted.
But there’s another insidious drain on research that goes unrecognized and I think really has manifested itself only in the past 10-ish years with the explosion of self-help publishing as well as the widespread adoption of social media that permits easy viral sharing of ideas; and that is the constant distraction of sensationalism.
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So there’s been ANOTHER study on some food and mortality. Last time, it was red meat. This time, it’s eggs. To be honest, I’m not even going to read it. (Ok, I lied. I read it. Who are we kidding?) It’s not the first study on eggs. It won’t be the last. And it definitely won’t be the last study of its kind in terms of trying to link what is really a very small part of life to mortality.
Being in medicine (yes, even in plastic surgery) has taught me a lot of thing, but one sure-fire experience is death, and dying. Most people in our society get very limited exposure to death, and fewer to dying. Most of us will only experience death when family members or friends die, which hopefully isn’t that frequent. Very few people have experienced dying–not many people sit with the dying anymore (in my experience). Some of us will personally face death prematurely, but recover, which may or may not change our view on life.
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