August 1st, 2015
Moira Weigel for The New Inquiry on fitness tracking:
In the Middle Ages, theologians debated about what bodies would be like in the Resurrection. If you had lost a limb, would it grow back? Would people copulate? Would they poop? Imagine a heaven, St. Thomas Aquinas exclaimed, that full of shit!
He was being sarcastic, because he thought our immortal souls would not poop. But the question was dead serious. It meant: How should a person be? Which human activities are essential and which superfluous? What are the eternally significant data about ourselves?
The Catholic Church says the essential data point is the age 33. We will be resurrected as we were, or would have been, at 33 because that's how old Jesus was. Activity trackers say that our true selves lie in a broader range of biodata.
This does not mean that they hold out more, or more flexible, ways to salvation. Only different ones. Fans of FitBit believe that we are essentially productive. The good life divides cleanly. We should strive to leave no remainder untracked. […]
[Via Extenuating Circumstances]
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January 24th, 2013
As her father grew old and frail, Olivia Judson found a very practical way to keep track of how he was doing:
By the time he was 76, my father was frail. His balance was poor and he had trouble walking. He lived alone in Baltimore in a big house full of stairs, and watching him come tottering down those stairs was terrifying. […] When my brother and his wife invited my father to move in, the invitation was vigorously declined. And we lived in three different cities, far apart.
To try to cope better with this situation, my brother and I created a shared Google calendar – an online calendar in which we could both make entries from wherever we happened to be. Each time either of us spoke to our father, we marked it in the calendar – what time of day it was, how he sounded, what we spoke about. (If one of us called and he did not answer, we marked that, too. Yes, we both have an obsessive streak.)
The focus of the article isn't really about the technology, so much as it is the comfort Judson and her brother could draw from being able to effortlessly share what they knew about how their father was doing. 'Cause in the end it's not about technology, it's about what technology can do for you.
[Via The Browser]
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November 27th, 2010
Is this the most inhospitable smokers' lounge ever built?
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September 14th, 2009
Alexa Chung helps President Obama explain his health insurance reform proposals with a little help from Auto-Tune.
[Via James Fallows]
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August 31st, 2009
The event: a Town Hall Meeting on Health Care Reform. The place: Berlin. The year: 1939…
Protester #4: Hey, what about the fact that Hitler combs his hair over to hide his democratic sympathies?
Nazi Rep: Well, I have to admit that that would be an extremely odd way for the FÃ¼hrer to hide something like that. But you can rest assured that he has no such predilections. He believes in totalitarianism and the power and judgment of the state. It's a wonder I'm even here right now, soliciting opinions and questions from you all. You can rest assured that nothing you say will make it back to the FÃ¼hrer.
Protester #4: What about the secret holes he has in his nose where he hides his boogers?
Nazi Rep: Those, sir, are what I believe are referred to as nostrils. Everyone has them.
Protester #4: And if someone doesn't – are they entitled to free health care under Hitler's crazy plans for reform?
Nazi Rep: No, it's my understanding that people without exactly two nostrils will likely be shot.
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July 1st, 2008
On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service, the BBC have put together a look at the service's early years.
On 5 July 1948, the National Health Service was launched with the proud expectation that it would make the UK the 'envy of the world'.
Here you can follow the early years of the NHS from radical plan through to triumphant birth and on to fully fledged but sometimes problematic service.
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