My newsletters and my autobiography, Life and Soul belong in the mind-body-spirit category. This one’s firmly in mind and body.
Three sports suggestions:
# To remove an element of chance from Test cricket we must end having a toss before each Test match. Instead there should be just one toss before the first match with the choice of batting or bowling alternating for the remainder. (I’ve sent this suggestion to The Cricketer magazine but, as I don’t take it, I don’t know whether they published it or not.)
# Another idea I’ll send to The Cricketer is a way of comparing batting performances throughout cricket history. Geoff Boycott is fond of comparing today’s fast bowlers to the mighty West Indies fast bowlers he faced without a helmet … Holding, Marshall, Garner, Roberts, Croft etc. A stat now readily available via the computer is how often a batsman top-scored. This would take into account the quality of the bowlers, whether pitches were covered, and whether helmets were worn.
# I’ve sent this to the Football Association. We must come up with a way of preventing shirt-pulling and the cynical scything down of a player who has dribbled past a defender whereupon the defender fouls the player knowing he’ll merely be given a yellow card. The great Ulsterman, George Best (up there with Pele and Maradona) could dance and feint his way past three defenders. Today the first defender would pull his shirt or hack him down. As well as a match being repeatedly stopped, football is being robbed of its Bests and is diminished as a spectacle.
To eliminate both from football the referee must give a red card for the first offence. It could be argued that football will suffer as a spectacle because there would be too many 11 v 10 matches. To get round this, the manager of the penalised side would be able to bring on a substitute.
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I’ve been thinking about blinking. I watched a woman presenting news on TV and she blinked a good deal. So did her interviewee. It made me wonder what the function of blinking is and why we do it so frequently. First, I tried staring at a mark on the table in front of me without blinking. I managed a comfortable 1 minute 34 seconds without being struck blind or reaching for the Optrex.
Next I consulted Wikipedia: Blinking is a semi-autonomic rapid closing of the eyelid. A single blink is determined by the forceful closing of the eyelid or inactivation of the levator palpebrae superoris and the activation of the palpebral portion of the orbicularis oculi. Ah! There we are then.
But what I really need to know is why we do it so often when we can survive one and a half minutes not doing it with no noticeable effects.
This time the Smithsonian Magazine helped: New research indicates that the brain enters a momentary state of wakeful rest when we blink, perhaps allowing us to focus better afterwards. We all blink a lot. The average person blinks some 15-20 times a minute – so frequently that our eyes are closed for roughly 10% of our waking hours overall.
I’m afraid I haven’t the space to look at the suggestion that women blink twice as many times as men, at the suggestion that women on oral contraceptives blink 32% more than other women, at how excessive blinking is linked to Tourette’s syndrome, stroke, or disorders of the nervous system, or at how a reduced rate of blinking is associated with Parkinson’s disease.
I don’t know about you but, personally, I’m glad to be free of the whole blinkin’ business.