Skip The Coffee and Take A Nap

September 23, 2021

Regular readers will know that I like my sleep, especially in the form of naps.  I don’t really need “experts” to tell me how useful naps can be, but it is pleasant, I guess, to have one’s self-knowledge confirmed.  Sleep scientists have confirmed that naps beat coffee hands down for restoration and memory retention:

In this study, we find that a moderate dose of caffeine impaired motor sequence learning and declarative verbal memory compared to placebo and daytime sleep. These decreases were found despite the fact that caffeine increased subjective alertness, suggesting that the caffeine dose was sufficiently high to have some psychoactive effect. An afternoon nap, on the other hand, improved free recall memory relative to the caffeine group after both a 20min and a 7hr retention interval and produced greater learning on a motor sequence task than caffeine … Overall, a daytime nap generally improved performance across three different learning paradigms, while caffeine impaired (or at least did not benefit) performance.

The nappers win — hooray!

On a similar note, this graph shows the daily routines of a variety of creative people. I was surprised to see so few naps but Balzac, Darwin, Mann and Kafka obviously knew what was good for them!

The Unkindest Cut

September 23, 2021

I am, apparently, what is known as an “intactivist”. That is, I am totally opposed to the medically-unnecessary genital mutilation of infant boys in the procedure known as circumcision. I have been writing about this on and off since at least 2004.

At the beginning, let me be clear that I am not opposed to circumcision for, say, religious or cosmetic reasons; but this should be a conscious choice made by the man when he is an adult, not something forced on an unwitting child by others simply to satisfy a prehistoric tribal rite or to make the child look like his father.

This distasteful business was brought to mind by my reading of a new study that links infant circumcision to autism. The researchers studied the life histories of 340,000 boys before reaching their conclusions.

“Possible mechanisms linking early life pain and stress to an increased risk of neurodevelopmental, behavioural or psychological problems in later life remain incompletely conceptualised,” said Professor Frisch. “Given the widespread practice of non-therapeutic circumcision in infancy and childhood around the world, our findings should prompt other researchers to examine the possibility that circumcision trauma in infancy or early childhood might carry an increased risk of serious neurodevelopmental and psychological consequences.”

In no way would I equate the cruel barbarism of female genital mutilation to the removal of the male foreskin, but child mutilation of all kinds is still child mutilation and all such practices should be banned immediately.

Twenty Years of Blogging

September 23, 2021

On this day in 2001, I wrote my first blog post.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, I had been running a few BBS systems, both for myself and for a couple of organizations I was involved with. Looking back on it, they sure were primitive compared to what we have today.

Later in the 1990s, I was heavily involved in some early online communities — Utne CafĂ© and Howard Rheingold’s Brainstorms in particular. They were great fun and of immense value in opening up channels of intelligent communication. I also met people there (including the Everloving) with whom I am still in touch.

Finally, in 2001, I discovered Blogger and jaksview v.1 was born. A couple of years later I switched to Typepad for v.2 in which my entries were heavily weighted toward international politics. Unfortunately, I ran into some heavy-duty far right SOBs who started threatening me and my family and in February 2008 I felt it was the better part of discretion to scrap version 2. I started again with WordPress for version 3 — and here we are today.

I have been a writer in one way or another for most of my life and having a blog has allowed me to inflict my views, my poems, my art on a much wider audience than I might have had in any other way. Thank you for reading and for continuing to visit jaksview.

Image: Wall of Water

September 23, 2021