Friday, 28 February 2014

Hvar, Croatia

Sarina Bratton's insider tips on Hvar, Croatia in The Australian made me want to visit:
  • Arrive by yacht at the bustling waterfront
  • Eat at Chef Ivan Buzolic’s Slow Food Zlatna Koljka (Golden Shell) restaurant
  • Buy stone and shell necklaces at Noche Azul near the cathedral on Petar Hektorovic Street
  • Watch the sun go down at Carpe Diem
  • Have breakfast at Cafe Pjaca
  • Visit The Arsenal
  • Cruise around the nearby Pakleni islands

Monday, 17 February 2014

Mindfulness Meditation

A number of my cycling buddies work for IBM Australia. So many, in fact, that I think IBM could actually be a front for an illegal cycling organisation. So I was amused to see a recent column in The Australian entitled App stress buster:
Technology giant IBM has found that a web-based not-for-profit app is reducing stress among its employees, after 200 staff undertook a trial late let year. At a time when many staff were most stressed, the company worked with Mindfulness Meditation, encouraging workers to undertake 10 minutes of "mindfulness" three times a week for six weeks.
One reason that many staff were stressed could be that, like many companies, last year IBM rationalised some areas of its Australian workforce, reducing staff numbers and reviewing its operations, increasing the stress levels of those remaining.

The article goes on to say that
The Melbourne-designed app was created by psychologists to tailor the program to corporate life. An IBM spokeswomen said preliminary results showed a reduction in participants' perceived stress levels by helping people clear the mind and improve focus and performance by mastering thoughts.
Does indeed sound very "zen". Also very useful for cycling.
The program was designed to increase levels of attention, focus and subsequent productivity, to improve awareness of cognition and emotions, to enable people to make better decisions under pressure, to increase resilience, general health, and to increase wellbeing and self-care.
Not sure about the emotions, and no explicit mention of cycling there—but all of these skills sound like they've been designed with cycling in mind.

According to the article, more details are are available here. See also the post by Leith Mitchell, IBM’s Growth Markets Diversity Recruitment Leader.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Follow the money

Further to my blog post Some sceptics make it a habit to be wrong, I was interested to read When Skepticism Becomes Denial: The Unholy Alliance Between Science Denial Movements. Two quotes:
Many have observed that these various science denial and pseudoscience movements appear to have a common strategy and frequently have common funders. As Prothero notes, alluding to the famous line from the movie All the President's Men, "Follow the money," since these different types of denialism are "heavily funded by wealthy entities with vested interests that further their causes.” 
What is not as well appreciated, however, is the extent to which several of the science denial movements mentioned above were promoted by the same cast of characters, a fact that Naomi Oreskes makes clear in her book Merchants of Doubt. Fred Seitz, a retired physicist who is one of the leading questioners of the consensus regarding global warming, once campaigned against the consensus on tobacco smoke. Fred Singer, a retired rocket scientist, has opposed the scientific consensus on tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole and, yes, global warming.
What I found most interesting about Seitz et al (sometimes it is embarrassing to be a physicist) is that their opposition has little to do with money, but is actually due to their opposition to communism (due to their Eastern European background, WWII and the Iron Curtain) and their fundamentalist libertarian viewpoint.