Posts Tagged New York Times

Freerunners In Gaza

Gaza freerunner jumps over a Hamas road block

Here is another article about parkour, or freerunning, but this time it is about 30 kids doing it in the ruins of Gaza. They learn techniques from the internet and dream of going to an upcoming international competition in Miami next year.

I love some of the comments and observations. Pretty unique. Shows their intense living conditions and determination:

Calling themselves the Gaza Parkour Team and practicing with a rotating crew of like-minded edgy acrobats, they spend their days rehearsing routines and teaching the sport to schoolchildren. The local graveyard serves as their practice arena. As Enshasy puts it, “The dead people don’t mind.”

Among the headstones of local dignitaries and graffiti commemorating militants are bullet holes from battles between Palestinian factions and Israeli troops, who were once based in the former Jewish settlement that adjoins the cemetery. “I have witnessed war, invasion and killing,” Enshasy says. “When I was a kid and I saw these things, blood and injuries, I didn’t know what it all meant.”

Ahmad al-Jakhbeer and Enshasy perform gravity-defying acrobatics in the ruins of the Gaza International Airport about eight miles from their home in a refugee camp.

He and Jakhbeer, 22, are wary of straying too near the Hamas training zone, just as they are wary of leaving their homes when Israeli drones appear in the sky over their cinder-block refugee camp. They prefer the comparative safety of their daring leaps and bone-shattering landings. They believe that, one day, their ticket out of Gaza will be written by parkour.

According to Jakhbeer, parkour helps untangle the “anger and depression” that comes with living where they do. Indeed, nowhere could a philosophy of escape and freedom have a greater resonance than in the narrow, politically and militarily confined Gaza Strip, home to a boxed-in population of 1.7 million Palestinians.

Though the only Israelis Jakhbeer and Enshasy have ever met are settlers and soldiers, at whom they threw stones as children, they say they can separate their feelings about Israel’s politics from its people, to whom they bear no ill will. They see themselves as athletes first and not political figures of any sort.

One obstacle to their ambition to be professional athletes is pressure to get a job, not easy in an area of high unemployment. Jakhbeer, in particular, says his family is nagging him to start bringing money in. For the moment he has managed to resist and to continue devoting himself to parkour.

Parkour originated in the suburbs of Paris and is a corruption of the French word “parcours,” meaning route or journey. In a very literal sense, the sport is about overcoming barriers, living beyond the restraints of physics. It inspires a philosophical outlook on life that mirrors the actions of its athletes.

freerunning in the war-torn ruins of Gaza with Palestinian flags for capes

If you want to learn more about this sport, check out some earlier-posted videos here.

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Some Benefits Of Exercise You Hadn’t Thought About

Here is another NYTimes article that promises the fountain of youth if you just drink some exercise. It’s based on research of mice that is supposedly and hopefully extrapolatory to humans.

Even before I began this site, I was certain that exercise is good for your health. Seems so obvious, even if I couldn’t make myself do regular exercise in past decades. Lots of good excuses. So now I am going to give you incredible excerpts from this article that should make even the youngest person motivated to do something active many times a week. And I am not making fun of the evidence in the article, nor its author, Gretchen Reynolds. I just can’t help finding the humor in some of these conclusions.

“…While Dr. Tarnopolsky, a lifelong athlete, noted with satisfaction that active, aged mice kept their hair, his younger graduate students were far more interested in the animals’ robust gonads. Their testicles and ovaries hadn’t shrunk, unlike those of sedentary elderly mice.

Dr. Tarnopolsky’s students were impressed. “I think they all exercise now,” he said…

By the time they reached 8 months, or their early 60s in human terms, the animals were extremely frail and decrepit, with spindly muscles, shrunken brains, enlarged hearts, shriveled gonads and patchy, graying fur. Listless, they barely moved around their cages. All were dead before reaching a year of age.

Except the mice that exercised.

Half of the mice were allowed to run on a wheel for 45 minutes three times a week, beginning at 3 months. These rodent runners were required to maintain a fairly brisk pace, Dr. Tarnopolsky said: “It was about like a person running a 50- or 55-minute 10K.” (A 10K race is 6.2 miles.) The mice continued this regimen for five months.

At 8 months, when their sedentary lab mates were bald, frail and dying, the running rats remained youthful. They had full pelts of dark fur, no salt-and-pepper shadings. They also had maintained almost all of their muscle mass and brain volume. Their gonads were normal, as were their hearts. They could balance on narrow rods, the showoffs…

Other studies, including a number from Dr. Tarnopolsky’s own lab, have also found that exercise affects the course of aging, but none has shown such a comprehensive effect. And precisely how exercise alters the aging process remains unknown…

Although there is probably a threshold amount of exercise that is necessary to affect physiological aging, Dr. Tarnopolsky said, “anything is better than nothing.” If you haven’t been active in the past, he continued, start walking five minutes a day, then begin to increase your activity level.”

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The Dangers Of Posing Shirtless In Public Media

Representative Chris Lee, 46, of New York, caught in the midst of a scandal involving a shirtless photo he reportedly e-mailed to a woman, has resigned from Congress.

Congressman Chris Lee should have sent his photo to this site instead

Mr. Lee’s decision to step down came after a photo of him without a shirt appeared on Gawker along with e-mail exchanges that reportedly took place between him and a woman who had placed a personal notice in the “women seeking men” section of Craigslist.

In one of the e-mails, Mr. Lee describes himself as a lobbyist who is a “fit fun, classy guy.”

Mr. Lee also tells the woman that he is divorced, although he is “happily” married. What was he thinking? Was he thinking? How did he get elected?

When the woman asks him if he routinely sends shirtless photos of himself, Mr. Lee responds, “Sorry, it’s all I had.” Couldn’t he take a mobile photo of himself in a suit with a tie? I don’t get it…definitely destructive…some part of me feels sorry for the guy. Do you?

Maybe we should be on the lookout for more guys who post shirtless photos of themselves. Be wary…

By the way, this was a Raymond Hernandez story on the front page of the New York Times online edition!

In fact if you really want a laugh, read the comments. Here are some I selected:

Well, you gotta give it to him, he does have pretty decent abs for a guy his age…

Why did he step down? His body looks pretty good in that picture.

What’s the problem? He looks perfectly nice with his shirt off.

thats crazy, i need to read more on this. did she not want the
picture? If it was only with his shirt off. Redicullous

He should get hired by an NFL team where pictures above the waistline are perfectly fine.
— Shirtless in Seattle.

He would have gotten into a lot less trouble if he had worn a blue shirt.

Well at least he still looks good.

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An Antidote For Tennis Elbow

After injuring my arm and shoulder, I wondered if part of my problem might be a tennis elbow. So I did a bit of online searching and found a very useful August 25th story in The New York Times written by Gretchen Reynolds (

Therma-Band still life with oranges

Therma-Band still life with oranges

The article recommends a product called a Therma-Band, which is a cylinder of rubber with ridges or indentations up and down the long side, so you can twist the thing and stretch out your wrist, forearm and elbow tendons and muscles. It feels great to me. No cure yet, but it loosens my stiffness and reduces the discomfort I feel after playing tennis and squash. Neither the orthopedist nor physical therapist had heard of it, but I bought one and recommend it totally. It’s even easy to fuss with while watching TV.

Here is what it looks like and how you use it. Hope it helps ease your aches if you have any.

how to use the therma-band

how to use the therma-band

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