Three (Bad) Things That Are Good for You
BreakingModern — Every week it seems like the media is telling us about something we should or shouldn’t consume. One week, milk is good for us. The next week we’re being told we should limit the amount of dairy in our diets. In recent years, there are three indulgences that aren’t as bad for you as we once thought. In fact, when enjoyed in moderation, these three things can actually be good for you.
If you thought alcohol was bad in any form — surprise! Experts are now touting the heart-healthy benefits of wine. A natural plant compound called resveratrol, found in red wine, has been connected with a reduction in bad cholesterol, prevention of blood vessel damage and blood clot prevention. Antioxidants in red wine can also prevent heart disease by increasing levels of good cholesterol.
While many doctors would hesitate to recommend prescribing red wine for heart disease prevention, one drink of red wine each day could help those who have cholesterol issues. A study found that Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir wines have the highest concentration of the antioxidants that reduce heart disease risks.
If you have trouble getting started each day without your cup of coffee, this will be good news. In moderation, coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, liver cirrhosis and cardiovascular disease. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine isn’t the beneficial ingredient in coffee. The beverage is loaded with hundreds of different compounds, some of which are believed to have real health benefits.
Because too much coffee can lead to issues like insomnia, nervousness, irritability and an upset stomach, it’s important to limit your consumption to an amount you can reasonably handle. Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine each day is believed to be safe for the majority of healthy adults. This is the approximate amount you’ll find in four cups of coffee.
Chocolate can be deceptive. Beneath that tasty sweetness is actually a substance that comes from cacao, a bean that is packed with healthy antioxidants. However, the healthy version of chocolate is bitter in taste, which means the chocolate you savor as an indulgence is packed with sugar, butter and milk. For best results, stick with chocolate that is at least 70 percent cacao and indulge less than four dark chocolate bars each week.
“As long as whatever you’re indulging in is making you feel good emotionally, then it can’t be bad for you,” says Diane D’Andrea, president and CEO of gourmet kitchen product company 4 STIR. “If you love chocolate, take small nibbles, keep it in your mouth for as long as you can so you get the fullness of the flavor and feel the satisfaction it’s giving you. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Savor it and don’t beat yourself up over every morsel of food we put in your mouth.”
Whether your favorite indulgence is a glass of red wine, a good cup of coffee or a small piece of chocolate, you can find how to stay healthy while still enjoying the finer things in life. Be sure to speak to your doctor if you have health issues or you want more information on the health benefits of your favorite food or beverage.
For BMod, I’m Stephanie Faris.
MapMyWalk for Android: Daily App Pick
BreakingModern — Whether you already walk every day or you’ve just made a resolution to get in shape, the MapMyWalk app by MapMyFitness is a great tool to get fit. It’s free to download for Android on Google Play and Apple iOS.
This fitness-tracking app uses the GPS of your smartphone to monitor your activities. The beauty of this easy-to-use app is that it has an incredible amount of options. In fact, it has over 600 different activity types and can even be used as a calorie counter and a gentle motivational tool if you need that extra nudge.
Workout with Info
The main goal of MapMyWalk is to record your workout making it personal and something you can review later. You simply choose an activity such as walk, power walk, dog walk, run, treadmill, stairs, swim, and other choices. If you like, you can even select music for accompaniment. Simply press “Start Workout” at the beginning of your routine.
Press “Save Workout” when you finish and the path you took is shown on the map. At the bottom of the screen you can also see your time, speed and calories burned. If you’re curious, you can drill down for even more detailed information. Bookmark your route to use again or have the app suggest other routes. The suggestions are pretty fun and useful — you may discover alternative paths that you haven’t previously considered.
MapMyWalk has a nutrition section, too. You can log the food you consumed and compare that to the calories you burned. It will also let you track your weight, sleep and steps each day. You can keep your information private or you can share it with friends on social media and join challenges for virtual competition. In the Gear Tracker you can even add your gym shoes in order to get alerted when it’s time to purchase a new pair.
One of the best features of MapMyWalk is that you can connect to and import data from activity tracking devices like Jawbone, Misfit, Fitbit, Garmin, Withings and many more. Have other health and nutrition apps like MyFitnessPal? You can sync your data easily.
All things considered, this is an excellent app. However, there is one minor thing that bugs me. MapMyWalk is constantly nagging you to purchase an MVP membership for $5.99 a month or $29.99 a year. This membership is the only way to remove display ads. Most of the ads appear in an easy-to-overlook strip on the screen (as shown in the above screenshot), but sometimes they aggravatingly take over the entire screen. The MVP membership does have many benefits, such as live location tracking, audio coaching and heart rate analysis, but paying for a workout app can come close to paying for a gym.
I must admit that even without the audio coaching, this app can help to motivate you. If you’ve been a little lax in your workouts just looking at a list of your previous workouts and their dates will encourage you to exercise more often. And this is a very good thing.
MapMyFitness was recently purchased by Under Armour and has other sister apps like MapMyRun, MapMyRide and MapMyHike, which are all similar to MapMyWalk.
For BMod, I’m Sandy Berger.
All screenshots: Sandy Berger
Featured image credit: © Monkey Business / Dollar Photo Club
How Textie Are You? [infographic]
BreakingModern - So you’re textie. I get that. But how addicted to that smartphone are you?
Balance in all things. When in doubt, power it down.
For Bmod, I’m Gina Smith.
Read This if You Want to Speak to Dead People
BreakingModern — When Martha’s boyfriend died, she was devastated. But a friend signed her up for a service that analyzed all of her lover’s online activities and created a virtual version of him. Soon, she was instant messaging with him as though he were still alive.
That description may be from the plot of an episode of the British anthology series Black Mirror, but the technology described in the episode is all too realistic. In the episode, Martha is first able to text her late boyfriend, then speak to him on the phone and finally order a synthetic clone of him. This sci-fi fantasy is eerie, primarily because the same results could logically be created using technology we already have. Do you want to speak to the dead?
Perhaps the closest science that has come to the clone displayed in Black Mirror is Bina48. Described as the most-advanced humanoid robot in the world, Bina48 was originally unveiled in 2010 as part of the LifeNaut Project. That Vermont-based project stores the information necessary to give Bina48 its human-like qualities, including audio and video recordings, photos and documents. The LifeNaut Project’s intention is to store all of this information with the prospect of being able to recreate a person … once the technology is available.
By pairing up with LifeNaut, Bina48 exhibited astonishingly humanistic qualities, giving her the ability to participate in an interview with The New York Times. Millionaire Martine Rothblatt paid $125,000 to have Bina48 developed, having her made in the likeness of her wife, Bina Rothblatt, who is still alive. Bina48 is an early version, yet this demonstration of the social robot shows how astoundingly realistic it is.
Video: Bina48 Robot
The Terasem Hypothesis
On a more-scientific track, the Terasem Hypothesis proposes that an android version of a human can be created using a combination of data about that person. Bina48 was built to test this hypothesis, compiling more than 100 hours of memories, feelings and beliefs. The result is a sophisticated android being that can have conversations in a manner that is similar to the human it was modeled after.
Because Bina48 connects to the Internet, it can communicate on a wide variety of topics. Right now Bina48 is only a head-and-shoulders model, yet it’s possible the robot could someday be expanded to include a body with realistic movements, similar to the android depicted in the Black Mirrors episode.
The concept of gathering a person’s thoughts, personality traits and physical appearance to create a simulated version of that person has met with some controversy over the years. Due to its cost, it would likely be a luxury affordable only to the rich, which gives them an advantage over people in a lower-income bracket, who can’t afford to create clones of their loved ones. But the technology that lets a person instant message their loved ones is something a wider audience could enjoy.
However, the technology brings to mind an interesting question. By creating an immortal version of our loved ones, we actually may inhibit the healing process, leaving us forever communicating with a robot, rather than living humans. Bina48 may be realistic, but it’s no substitute for a person.
For BMod, I’m Stephanie Faris.
First/Featured image: © Dmytro Tolokonov / Dollar Photo Club
Second/Header image: © Kirill Kedrinski / Dollar Photo Club
The Government’s Drive to Criminalize Driving While Talking
BreakingModern — Welcome to the dawning of the age of DWT — the criminalization of “driving while talking.”
For the first time, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a formal recommendation calling for states to prohibit the use of cellular phones while driving.
Yes, that’s right. The board even wants to ban mobile phone use while using hands-free devices like earbuds and those fancy cars that let you pick up the phone through the dash using Bluetooth, which are currently viewed as less likely to distract drivers.
The NTSB doesn’t have legal authority to enforce its proposed phone-use ban, but its recommendations are taken seriously by state regulators and legislators.
“There is a large body of evidence showing that talking on a phone, whether hand-held or hands-free, impairs driving and increases your risk of having a crash,” Anne McCartt, SVP for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told The Huffington Post.
Automobile safety experts agree that distracted driving is behind a growing portion of the accident rate, which in general is falling.
Marcel Just of Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging, co-authored a test of “the performance of drivers not engaged in conversation and drivers who could hear someone talking to them through headphones. Drivers took the simulator tests inside an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine that recorded images of changes in their brains while driving, including which areas of the brain were used for driving. The amount of the brain devoted to driving was 37 percent less in drivers who could hear someone talking to them than for drivers not using cellphones.”
“The human mind can multitask, but each task is performed with less brain power and lower proficiency,” Just explained.
The NTSB says 18 percent of automobile fatalities are caused by distracted driving (including causes other than phones).
Other distractions, such as children and other passengers in the vehicle, are viewed to be relatively neutral from a traffic safety standpoint. You might be distracted by your screaming kids, but one of them might also point out the potential danger that you might otherwise have missed.
Forty percent of Americans told the National Highway Administration they don’t think that hands-free driving is dangerous. But if you’re like me, and you’re honest with yourself, you have to know that you have more close calls when you text or talk on the phone as you drive.
Still, it’s hard to know where to come down on this question of freedom versus safety. Horror novelist Stephen King was nearly killed by a guy distracted by his dog, but it sure would be sad to mandate that dogs be locked in their cages throughout a drive.
What’s certain is that, if a ban on driving while talking becomes law, it will have significant cultural and economic implications.
A Return to Disconnection
In their early days, cellular phones were more of a way for you to call someone else than for you to be reachable. There were many places where they simply didn’t work: inside buildings, out in the sticks, even in the middle of some cities.
Starting in the 1990s for most Americans, the digital revolution has seen connectivity increased to the point that it is easy to foresee a time when everyone would become available to everyone all the time. Cellular signals have spread into remote rural areas, including national parks, and even into subways. The FAA is currently considering a proposal to allow the use of cellular phones on airplanes.
One place where cellular phones have been popular has been behind the wheel of an automobile. Getting stuck in traffic isn’t as bad if you know you can make a few important calls while you’re sitting there sucking up the exhaust fumes. (Since everyone else is doing the same thing, of course, their reaction times aren’t as great, which means that traffic jams are bigger and longer, but whatever.)
There’s just no denying the appeal of using time that used to be close to a total waste — transportation from point A to point B — to make a call. Not to mention the ability to check Google Maps for a quicker route around that jam, and to text your friend to tell him that you’re running late.
If the NTSB gets its way, all that will be over. Cops will have devices that allow them to track the use of cell phones from moving cars, and though some people will break the law, for most the only interaction you’ll have is with your radio or fellow passengers — if, of course, it’s enforced.
It’s obviously impossible to quantify the cost to business, but I have to think it would be high.
On the other hand, the glory days of unavailability would return. Don’t feel like picking up a call? You can always tell your boss you were stuck in traffic. It would have been illegal for you to talk to them.
Mothers Against Talk Driving?
Talkers won’t be demonized as badly as drinkers, but the media and politicians will declare those who break laws against using cell phones while driving to be irresponsible buttholes, who don’t care if they kill your kid so they can pick up a pizza without waiting for it to be made. There will be ad campaigns, sad-eyed dead children and of course high fines, prison sentences and asset forfeiture.
Trains and Planes Instead?
Some people may decide to switch to alternative forms of transportation where they are still allowed to use their phones in transit. For many people, especially those conducting business during daytime hours, the desire for conductivity will trump all other considerations.
Which might be good — that means less traffic on the roads.
Experts say that we should expect fewer accidents as a result of a cell ban, which would obviously be great, but what about culling the herd? What if we end up with more, stupider people?
Featured/Image Credit: © mario beaureggard / Dollar Photo Club
Ted Rall: How To Get Laid Off [toon]
BreakingModern — Why don’t you spend as much as other generations? So called Millennial culture has nothing to do with it. Odds are, you’re just broke. And here’s how to get laid off if you aren’t. Cartoon: Ted Rall exclusive to BreakingModern
Film 101 with Cole Smithey: American Independent Cinema
BreakingModern — This time on Film 101 with Cole Smithey, I’m presenting the best of the American independent cinema genre. Check out the recommendations in my short form video below. You’ll find clips from such films as Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider (1969), Kent Mackenzie’s The Exiles (1961), Ray Ashley and Morris Engel’s Little Fugitive (1953), John Sayles’ Matewan (1987) and John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence (1974). Now you know what to watch on your next big movie night.
Film 101 with Cole Smithey: Exclusive to BreakingModern
For BMod, I’m Cole Smithey.
Check out all my film genre recommendations here.
Cover image: Shot from Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider,” via Film 101 with Cole Smithey
Sony Yanks Movie The Interview: How Hollywood Crossed the Line
BreakingModern commentary — The as yet unidentified hackers who broke into Sony Entertainment’s incompetently protected servers have provoked a lawsuit filed by former employees angered by the company’s lack of security. Sony’s people are also angered by a cluster of gossipy news stories about the quality of the next James Bond film and Angelina Jolie’s professional relationships. And now there’s an ensuing media ethics debate over whether publishing emails, salary information, movie scripts and other leaked material is in effect aiding and abetting the cyber thieves.
Sony is cancelling the Dec. 25, 2014 release of its movie, The Interview, citing theater chain fears of harm to staffers and patrons due to alleged North Korean Sony hacks and threats. Scroll below to see the official Sony Pictures trailer for The Interview.
What nobody’s talking about seems like the biggest story of all: the possible motivation of the self-styled, Sony-hacking “Guardians of Peace.”
Suspicion immediately fell upon North Korea due to the hackers’ complaints about an upcoming film, The Interview, which stars James Franco and Seth Rogan. “How bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” one communiqué declared, referring to the movie’s plot, about assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
For what it’s worth, the government of North Korea has officially denied involvement. Seth Rogan believes them. “There’s no way it’s them’ because it seems too savvy of Hollywood politics.” The U.S. believes North Koreans were in fact behind the Sony hack.
Regardless of the identity of the hackers, one question worth exploring is: Did Hollywood cross the line?
Political assassination plots are nothing new for American films. Based on the Frederick Forsyth spy novel, the 1973 thriller, The Day of the Jackal, showcased the scheming of a man who tried to kill French President Charles de Gaulle during the 1960s. But the movie came out after de Gaulle had already died of old age.
The Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasy, Inglorious Basterds, depicts something that plainly didn’t happen, the arson and machine-gun killing of Adolf Hitler in a French movie theater. And anyway, that was Hitler, only the worst guy ever.
“The gory killing of a sitting foreign leader is new territory for a big studio movie,” Jeanine Basinger, professor of film studies at Wesleyan University, told the New York Times.
It’s kind of fascinating that the American press hasn’t been able to put itself in the shoes of North Koreans, enough of whom obviously support their leader to the extent that he continues to enjoy the tacit consent of the governed.
Imagine, if you can, how Americans would respond – even conservative Republicans – if, say, Iran, Russia, or some other political rival of the United States were to produce a motion picture depicting the violent assassination of President Obama. Many Americans would view such a film as something just short of an act of war, even if it was marketed as a comedy as The Interview is.
Here in the United States, threatening the life of the president is a serious felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison. Why wouldn’t we expect other countries to take the threat against their leaders seriously, too?
Americans don’t get that the citizens of other countries are just as patriotic as we are. Just like us, people in other nations don’t like it when we disrespect their leaders.
Not long ago, everyone, including the United States government, understood that treating heads of state disrespectfully exposed everyone’s leaders to the same treatment. Under international law and tradition, heads of state have been considered immune from prosecution. Even when the U.S. deposes an unfriendly leader in a coup d’état, such as when Jean-Claude Duvalier fled Haiti in 1986, they facilitated his comfortable exile into places like the French Riviera.
It was the United States that broke this understanding between nations.
It began in 1989, with George Herbert Walker Bush’s overthrow of Panamanian President Manuel Noriega. The first Bush administration treated Noriega like a common criminal, trumping up dubious drug possession charges (a “110-pound” stash of cocaine found in his compound turned out to be tamales wrapped in banana leaves), kidnapping him to face charges in the United States on barely discernible legal grounds, and then sentencing him to two decades in a federal prison.
More recently, Bush the second boxed in former U.S. client dictator Saddam Hussein, refusing to fly him out of Iraq, signed off on a ridiculous show trial conducted by Saddam’s political enemies and then delivered him from U.S. custody to be unceremoniously hanged to death in 2006 – while cell phone video cameras rolled. Saddam went out looking classy. “Down with the invaders!” he shouted repeatedly before his death.
Then there was the 2011 killing of Colonel Moammar Qaddafi. Again, the United States didn’t leave the Libyan dictator a way out. Instead, NATO fighter jets and an American drone bombed his convoy, causing him to fall into the hands of opposition forces, who killed him.
Given this recent history, it isn’t surprising that Americans don’t see the big deal about a silly comedy movie fantasizing about killing a man they see as a silly neo-Stalinist dictator. But isn’t this just another case of American exceptionalism?
We see the world one way.
No one else agrees with us.
Here’s the official Sony Pictures trailer for The Interview, below.
Video credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment YouTube Channel
Art credit: “Inglourious Basterds poster” found at the following website: http://www.impawards.com/2009/inglourious_basterds_ver9.html. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Inglourious_Basterds_poster.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Inglourious_Basterds_poster.jpg
Cover art from the 1973 film The Day of the Jackal: “JackFox”. Via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:JackFox.jpg#mediaviewer/File:JackFox.jpg
Ted Rall: The Young and the Google Glass [toon]
BreakingModern — A quarter of people 18 to 35 years of age tell pollsters they would wear devices like Google Glass during sex …
Film 101 with Cole Smithey: Westerns
BreakingModern — It’s time again for Film 101 with Cole Smithey. This week, I’m rounding up the best in Westerns, including Stagecoach, Red River, Rio Bravo, The Wild Bunch and Unforgiven.
Video: Cole Smithey for BreakingModern
For BMod, I’m Cole Smithey.