Monday, July 26, 2010

"Body" -> Get In The Swing Of Things

This is myself at Saddleback golf driving range.  You can see that I have just finished my swing, having driven the golf ball off of the golf tee.

If you look closely at the picture, you will see something a bit strange about my golf driver.  The fact that it is radically bent, should be giving you some pause.  When you find out that the golf club is called the "Whippy," you might be able to figure what exactly is happening.  My golf club is bending like crazy.

The reason of "why" I am swinging a golf club that for all intensive purposed has the consistency of a wet noodle is something that can only be understood if you are interested in golf.

Golf seems like an extremely simply game.  You pick up a club.  You have a ball on the ground.  You hit the ball with the club that you have in your hand.  You count up the number of strokes to put a ball in the hole.  You do this 18 times, and you are done.  Yet, to the outsider, there is a mythos to golf that they simply do not get.  I know that I didn't get it when I was young.

"Golf," I would sneer.  "That's a game for old men that are too fat to run."

Now that I am too fat (and too injured) to run, I find out that golf is something more than just an old man's sport.

In some sense, there are two tricks to golf.  One of the tricks is deceiving, and the other is frustrating.

The first trick behind golf is the sheer misunderstanding of what is going on in the golf swing.  Really, I have never seen more people more confused about something that is happening right in front of their eyes.  If you have ever been with somebody that took you golfing, you will hear the following said with great assurity.

"You need to keep your head down," is something that is always said by one individual to another.  The common reason that anybody has missed any golf shot is because they some how couldn't keep their head down during a golf shot.

Often you will here people offer "Awww, I missed that because I picked up my head."

I have video taped hundreds and thousands of golf shots.  Mainly my own, but a fair amount of others.  I have never seen anybody not keep their head down while observing the video in slow motion.  Instead, everybody that I take a picture of has their head glued to the golf ball.  So, while everybody thinks they need to keep their head down, this is never a concern.  I have, however, had plenty of people tell me "oh, you picked up your head."

This bugs me so much that I simply tell them, "I've watched hundreds of my golf swings on slow-mo video, and I've never picked up my head.  I doubt it is happening now."  This normally makes them quiet, but I can tell that they don't quite believe me.  After all, they convinced themselves that they saw my head pick up.

On the flip side of things, I have never had anybody point out what my real problems are:  I don't open my hips.  I over swing.  I don't have a solid left wrist.  I don't clear my hips.  The list goes on and on.  All of these faults are obvious in slow-mo on video.

Most of all, I don't have a lag.

The main problem with a golf swing is that it happen very, very fast.  From the top of the golf swing to the bottom of the golf swing, there is one half of 1 second from the top of the golf swing to when somebody is hitting the ball.  This is fast.  Very fast.  There is little time for people to actually understand what is going on in such a short period.  There is a blur, and the swing is done.

What happens during that 1/2 of a second?

Forgetting for a moment that you need to aim the ball, most men just want to crush the ball.  I often see men at the driving range putting their all into their swing.  Letting out an enormous grunt, and while the ball does fly away, it doesn't go quite as far as what you think it should.  Every once in a while, you'll have a little guy come up and smash a ball with what looks like a lot less effort, which just goes as far as the big grunts.

So how can big guys and little guys be hitting the ball the same distance? What is happening?

The secret for hitting a golf ball far is first timing and then quickness.  

The secret of power is lagging the golf club.  Above on the right, you can see one of the world's best ball strikers, Ben Hogan, in 1955 killing the ball.  The color picture above is myself, in the process of not making a big hit.

Even though our arms are roughly in the same spot, you can see that Hogan has held his golf club at a big cock compared to myself.  His golf club to arm angle is very small and in a "V" shape.  In my golf swing, I my arm to golf club makes a square.  While Hogan has kept his arm cocked into his swing, I have already release my cock and the club is already at 90 degrees.

This is the first secret of crushing the golf ball.  Alastair Cochran and John Stobbs published the original, mechanical, scientific book on the golf swing in the mid-60s.  It was called "The Search For The Perfect Swing," and it had some elementary models in it.  It is still a good book that can be found at Amazon.  If you look at the pictures above, you will see that when you swing the golf club, you will have two points of rotation.  The inner point is the shoulder.  The second point is the hand that holds the golf club.

Let's say that I am swinging my arm so that my hand is going 30 MPH.  If I can also then swing my hand, so the club goes another 40 MPH, the end of the club will be going 70 MPH.  This is called the flail effect of the golf swing.  However, you'll notice that while the arm can swing about 360 degrees, the wrist can only 90 degrees.  So, you need to save that 45 degrees of the swing to just before you hit the golf ball.

Hogan, in the picture above, is storing up the wrist action until he get later into his golf swing.  I, on the other hand, have pretty much already uncocked my wrist.  This means that I am just about ready to lose all the speed from uncocking my wrist, and the speed of my club is going to drop, in the example above, from 70 MPH down to just 30 MPH.

In golf, I am "casting."  This simply means that because I am releasing the club lag, I am giving up speed when the club gets to the ball.

Now, I am not the only one to do this.  Here is a picture of my friend "Mr Chung," who I played golf with last weekend.  I want you to take a good look at his swing just before he is ready to hit the ball.  Look carefully at his shaft on his club, which I have traced with my golf tracing tool.  If you look, you will see that his club is bent in a reverse C position.  What is going on?  How did his club get like this?  Did he bend it before hand.

The answer is no.  If you understand my description above, you'll understand that he was trying to work the flail action, but he failed just like me.  Somewhere, just before the picture was taken, he ran out of wrist uncocking.  So, the head of the golf club, which was going maybe 120 MPH, suddenly is getting no more push from the wrist.  However, since the club head was going at 120 MPH, it doesn't stop immediately.  Instead, the club head is still going 120 MPH for a second, and it races ahead of the shaft and bends it in the wrong direction.  In some sense, Mr Chung is lucky.  He has losing his club speed way before he gets to the ball.

Let's say that you are getting closer to the Hogan swing above.  You are actually in a worse position.  Why?  If your club is deforming right before hitting the ball, you actually will change the angle of the club face!  This will then send the ball sky high, as you've taken a club with a little loft, and turned it into a club with a lot of loft. 

Here is my friend Mr. B.  He has the "oops, I'm getting closer, which means farther" in his golf swing.  You can see the golf club has radically deformed.  His club face is now pointing upward just as he hits the ball.

His shots, of course, were going sky high.

Now Mr. B is a very smart engineer.  Do you think that he had any idea of what was happening?  Do you think that he could see the radically deformation of his club?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  Not until I showed him the video stills.  And I could tell that he was amazed.

Which brings me back to the Whippy and my other device that I use.  I've shown you all these picture that show what looks like very solid golf clubs bending like crazy.  So what happens when you take a very flexible golf club and swing it?

It bends even more.

And this is the beauty of the Whippy club.  It bends so much that you get zero distance if you are casting the club dramatically.  The problem, as I alluded to before, is that in the golf swing you often can't even figure out what is going on when you swing the club.  It just moves too fast.  Since the club shaft is pretty stiff, you can still hit the ball.  You may only go 150 yards instead of 250, but you hit the ball.

With the Whippy, you go zero yards.  You can't hit anything.  And somehow, it is this lack of results that forces you to find someway of swinging the club so that you get some distance.  It is subconscious but it works.  The Whippy forces you to do less errors.  I still cast, but not as bad.

You can see this with an add of another device in my bag of tricks:  The Swing Radar.

You can set this by your golf ball, and it'll measure your swing speed.  In this picture you can see it is an impressive 89 MPH.

Now, I've done this a lot of times.  I set up the swing radar.  I get my fastest and longest club, the driver.  I set up my fee solidly, and spread apart nicely.  I tee up the golf ball.  I rotate my body back as far and I can go, and I exploded into a swing just about as hard as I can and still keep control.

"85 MPH" the display flashes to me.

Considering the average tour player swings 115 MPH, I'm not all that good.  However, many golfers don't swing quite even 85 MPH.

However, I can go to the golf course with my Whippy driver.  I will stand with my feet together (so I get no benefit of the body turn), and I will swing my Whippy driver so that I know I can hit the golf ball.

"75 MPH" the display punches out.

In other words, even with the worst position in the world, a properly swung Whippy driver has 7/8th of the speed of my big "kill it" position.  This is because the "kill it" position loses all the club head lag.

Now, you can tell that I understand all of the theory.  I have all of the video.  I know what to do.

Now remember I said that there were two tricks to golf?  One was deceiving.  The other is frustrating.  The frustrating second trick to golf is no matter WHAT you mentally know, your body may not follow.  What is interesting about golf, is no matter that I know what I should do, I just can seem to do it during that 1/2 second of the downswing.

Believe me.  I've tried.  I'll slow down my golf swing so I can mentally train myself to change my golf swing.  I'll practice without a golf ball, and the video looks good.  However, when I actually trying to hit a golf ball, all of my rehearsal goes out a window, and I have the same old faults.  I could cry because of golf some days.

Oh well, back to the driving range with the Whippy.  There is always tomorrow.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

"Mind & Spirit" -> Is Harry The AntiChrist?

My son and my daughter recently came to me to ask me about what I thought about the use of magic in fictional novels where there are Christians involved.  They had been debating this for a number of days.  After all, the Bible expressly forbids any dabbling in the dark arts.

Now the Bible is straightforward on this. Witness Exodus 22:18, and I'll include the following verse for context.

18 "Do not allow a sorceress to live.

19 "Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.

So, if you want to find the section on sorcery in the Bible, just go to the verse on bestiality, then back up one. Obviously, not a good neighborhood to be hanging out in.  Some in Christian circles will draw a line that says Harry Potter does sorcery.  Sorcery is of the devil.  Harry Potter is of the Devil and the antiChrist.

Therefore, Christians should not read Harry Potter.

Wikipedia, which never ceases to amaze me with the breath of insight that it can provide, has a whole section on religion and Harry Potter. (Which can be seen here.)

As they point out in their article, some in Christian circles advocate book burnings. Jacqui Komschlies, in an opinion piece, wrote in Chrisitanity Today that Harry Potter in the house is essentially the same as having a drink for children that is a mixture of orange soda and rat poison. To her, the Harry Potter books look good on the outside, but once they are taken into our children, they corrupt them.

My daughter has been thinking about this in some great extent, and she is becoming more like here father every day.  If you wish to see her thoughts, please visit her rather extraordinarily named blog. While I won't spoil her viewpoints in my own blog, I would like to think that her Dad has brought some sanity to her world.

The one thing that I have tried to write in my blog over and over again is that the Bible is designed to make you think. It is not designed to become a rule book.

To understand my viewpoint on Harry Potter, you need to read Mark 9:38-41

38 "Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us."

39 "Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

Now, think on this verse for a second. Do you see the principle at work here? Or do you think, "Now, what is the guy off about? What does this verse have to do with Harry Potter?"

There is a very simple principle at work in the Bible, which is "what is of God and what is not of God?"  The disciples came to Jesus, and they thought they saw something that was out of the ordinary.  Somebody wasn't "doing Jesus" correctly.  To do the Jesus thing, they thought that you needed to follow Jesus in a particular way with a particular daily habit.  Now, the disciples hung out with Jesus.  They thought they always knew what Jesus would say.  In this case, they were so sure that they did the right thing, they told the guy to stop, and then they went back to Jesus to brag about their good deeds.  They were telling Jesus that they were keeping the faith pure.

In this context, Jesus told them that they needed to understand that the lines are not firm in the sand.  At the end of the day, if somebody does anything good in Jesus's name, then they will not lose their reward.  "Well, this is not as if JK Rowling says she is a Christian," you might think.  "I know that JK did her novels to undercut the whole of Christianity and place seeds of destruction in our youth."

The shocking thing, JK Rowling said the following, when asked if she was a Christian by the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

"Yes, I am," she says. "Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books."

Now, some will simply say that this cannot be possible. After all, she has witchcraft in her books. She even said that one of the main characters was homosexual in a lecture. Some will simply state that she is taking on the mantle of Christianity, which she does not deserve.

Now, I love Chick publications.  I don't mean that I love everything that he says, and unfortunately I do think that Jack Chick has done some extreme disservice to the church by coming up with angles on things that simply aren't true.  I don't agree with everything that he says, but I truly believe that Jack Chick has saved many a lives.  However, the wonderful thing about his publications is that it often nicely summarizes what fundamentalist Christians believe, and Chick is not shy about his view point on Harry Potter.  The following is the classic scene from one of his tracts.  

This tract summarizes perfectly the viewpoint of some in the Christian church.  Unfortunately, it is very, very wrong.

I will be first to admit that JK has issues, and some day when we all stand before the throne, she may not make it to the other side.  I would much prefer a woman that had all the flaws, but all of the strength of CS Lewis, who would argue for mainstream Christianity.  JK is a bit too quiet for my tastes.  However, I can also see the good in what she does.  She argues for the downtrodden in her own life.  She contributes to charities to feed the poor.  She cares.  Her desire to help her neighbor shows the gospel message.  And those people that say her novels are corrupting are reacting and not thinking.

The fundamental missing link is understanding that the magic in Harry Potter is not sorcery as defined in the Bible. There is only one story in the Bible of sorcery.  This is when Saul goes and finds a sorceress to pull up the departed spirit of Samuel.  If you read the story, you will see the root sin of Samuel is going to a sorceress to get direction.  The magic inside of Harry Potter does not have the kids sitting around trying to call up dead people to get guidance (although there are situations from people talk from beyond the grave).  The magic of Harry Potter has to do with an alternative way of getting stuff done.

Stephen D. Greydanus, a Christian writer, calls out that he believes that there are two types of magic portrayed in literature:

Invocational Magic: Where you call to a higher power
Incantational Magic: Where you you simple know how to say some words to get a unique effect

I don't particularly like his definitions. However, I will credit him with the thought of a separation. I would rather like to say that Harry Potter novel portray Arthur C. Clarke's third law.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Let us do a gedanken experiment. JK Rowling decides one day that she really is promoting magic in her novels, and having a background in Christianity, she is struck by guilt.  In her desire to solve the situation, she does a google and comes to my website.  Impressed with my insight, she calls me up on the phone to ask my advice.

"Hello, is this Theologic?" she asks in a quavering voice.

"Yes, it is," I answer

"Well, I've already written you, and I feel that I'm in a big pickle.  I've decide to spend my money recalling ever Harry Potter book and burning them, unless you find a solution to my glorification of witchcraft," she sobs on the phone.

"Don't worry," I answer.  "We are going to use Arthur C Clark's third law.

We then sit down together, and we write the eighth novel in the series.  In this novel, we describe an early race of Christian beings that have created a technology that looks like magic.  This technology is later passed down to the people of the Harry Potter books.  The magic in the books is not real magic.  It is technology that looks like magic.  When the children cast a spell, what they don't realize is that their wands all have incredibly advanced microcomputers with fusion reactors that produces effects that look like magic.  The scene where they apparate (appear and disappear over great distances) is actually just a transporter like on Star Trek.

The animals and the dragons, as portrayed in the book, are real.  However, they were made via genetic engineering.  Things that are invisible were done by projection or space-time distortion.

If would be very possible to rewrite the whole book, and make all of the items science fiction elements, and not change a thing.

The reason that this works so well, is because JK Rowling has a very distinctly Christian worldview in her books.  She never has the children praying to gods.  She has no talk of "mother earth."  She doesn't encourage anybody to worship false gods.  To the opposite, she is remarkable clean of any religion.  Only religious thing mentioned is Christmas, and this is mentioned to just talk about the gifts that are given.  If you read the books, and if you substitute science devices for the spell devices, nothing in the story changes.

Now, JK does mention souls and the afterlife.  If you read the books, I believe that you will find out that the little indication that she gives about these things are remarkable similar to what most evangelical Christians would claim about the soul.  One of the central points of the story has to do with the anchoring of the soul to the body.  I find nothing offensive about her literarly device.

"So, you are overlooking a few things, and maybe I can understand that.  But why would you want to deal with her books at all?" you might asked.

This is where you must read the books to find out.  However, I find an incredible resource in her writings.  I have four children, and I want each one of them to read the stories.  I would not call JK a great literary figure.  She does not caste clever literary allusions to other pieces of literature.  She is not a great writer.  Her sentence structure has nothing of outstanding merit.  She does not invent new devices and languages in her writing.

She is, however, a masterful story teller.  She may be the giant of our decade.  The new Charles Dicken for our age.

Now, I ask friends at work if they have read the Harry Potter books.  They tell me "No, but I've seen the movies."

Let me tell you friend, the movie is the last thing that you want to see.

Read the books and have your children read the books.  Then use this as another common basis to have discussion with your children.  If you don't get hung up on the use of magic as a literary device, you will have a common framework to discuss life with your children.  You can discuss heroes that do what is right.  You can discuss children who study hard.  You will be able to discuss a story where there is no premartial sex, and couples that mate for life.  You will be able to distill thoughts of sacrifice.

And when you get to the last book, you will see why JK said "If you are a Christian, you are going to understand how the series ends."

There are so many things in the novels that flesh out what it is to be a Christian, I would be hard pressed to tell you them all of the things.  I certainly don't want to spoil the books for you.  So, I will simply offer you this, read the books.  You will be built up and not torn down.

Harry Potter is not the antiChrist, but gift from God to allow us to reach out and use this story to save others.

As a Christian, I can say that JK Rowling is not against us. And if she is not against us, she is for us.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

"Body and Spirit" -> The M Word And Sex In Marriage

Warning:  You may find this offensive, and you may disagree with me.  However, I believe that the Christian church must take this on with the all the other issues that we face.  However, I suggest that if you are not of age, or don't want to deal with one man's views on masturbation and sex in marriage, I suggest that you simply don't read the rest.  You will be offended.

I recently sat in a conversation with some very nice, Christian women.  They started to talk about another women.  Now, this may be close to gossip, but it really wasn't.  They were simply recounting this woman's life and some of the misery that she saw.  Then suddenly one spoke out, "Well, her husband had a porn problem."

Pornography is wrong.  As a Christian, we should not use it.  However, these women were clueless.  I really like both of these women, but I could tell that they were trapped in their bodies.  They simply could not understand how men are wired.  Pornography is not right, and as Christian, we need to fight against it.  However, unless you understand the framework, you'll never figure out the root. 

My children are of age where we need to talk about subjects of growing bodies.  Probably the most under talked subject in Christianity is masturbation.  For something that happens so often, you would think that the church would face it straight on.  It doesn't.  It puts the subject on the back burner, and it allows the holy hypocrites to dominate the conversation.

Thank goodness for James Dobson.

If you are not in the Church, you probably think that Dobson is the most repressive fundamentalist Christian that lives.  He does not support homosexuality.  He does not support sexual freedom.  He is anti-abortion.  However, he has some interesting words on masturbation:

"Between 95 and 98 percent of all boys engage in this practice — and the rest have been known to lie."-- "Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide"

I think Dobson has thought this out remarkably well, and he lists four areas of concern with masturbation.

1.  Some people go crazy with guilt over this.  I had a mother that was raised in such a fundamentalist church that they taught that reading any comic strip was sin.  So, until she died, she wouldn't read the funny papers.  This, to me is crazy, but it shows how a religion can make anything filled with guilt.

2.  Over masturbation.  I read a few secular websites where people throw stuff out.  Every once in a while, a rabid atheist will ask "how do I stop masturbating so much?  Its become an obsession."  In these cases, most people answer him.  You don't have to be a Christian to realize that you can masturbate too much.

3.  Pornographic material.  Without going into the details, there is no doubt that pornography does nobody any good, and hurts people.  Again, any secular person will tell you that porn will stop your love making with your wife.  We'll write more on this later in this post, but porn is the great bane of our time.

4.  Masturbation in marriage is wrong, except in extreme cases.  There, I've said it.  I've found an area where we can support it being wrong.  I wish that I could do a perfect exegesis to explain why this is true, but I can't.  However, the evidence is so clearly common sense, I believe you will understand this later on.

To leave Dobson alone, let us talk a bit about masturbation and the scripture.

I've seen some horrible exegesis of scripture on this.  A matter of fact, most exegesis of scripture and masturbation is so bad that those that talk against it may be condemned as Pharisees in Matthew 23:

"Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them."

I am going to make the exegesis very simple.  The Bible is a big book.  It talks at length on every subject.  You want to know about eating shellfish?  It has a verse on this.  You want to know about miscarriages from a woman being hit?  There is a verse on this.  Do you want to know about how to treat your neighbor?  There is a verse on this.  You want to know what happens if a person has sex outside of marriage?  There are many verses on this.  You even want to know what happens if somebody has a perverse act with an animal?  There are verses on this.

The Bible never calls out that masturbation is wrong as a pleasurable action.

There is one brief story in the Old Testament about Onan that was told to take his dead brother wife and to give her children.  He used withdrawl as a birth control so she wouldn't get pregnant (basically removing any ability for her to have children, and condemning her to an old age without support).  Because Onan wouldn't give his dead brother wife a child, the Lord killed him.  Now, the Bible doesn't say he masturbated, but some have twisted the scriptures and will say that he did.  Regardless, this so clearly is not anything about masturbation that it is an open and shut case.  The Bible says nothing about masturbation.

I've read some Christian forums where people tried an "apply" scripture to say "have no unclean thought" as a basis.  However, this is just silly.  It is beyond silly.  They are off applying scripture when nothing is needed.  Let me be clear.  The Scriptures are very complete.  You don't need to apply anything.  It masturbation was wrong, the Bible would say so.  In clear letters.  In flashing letters.  It does call out everything clearly, but this one activity.

Don't twist the scriptures.

As a married man of over 20 years, let me explain a couple of things.  Sex is made for two purposes:

1.  Procreation
2.  Pleasure to bond

The first one is easy for the Christian to understand.  The second is self evident once you get married.  Generally, the role of male and female is very clear.  Men have a strong sex drive.  Woman don't have a strong sex drive.  Now both male and female have distribution curves of desire, but evidence is overwhelming in both observation and studies.  There is no doubt about it.

I personally believe that if man never fell in the Garden of Eden (commonly called the "Fall of Man"), there would have still been this separation in sexual desire.  Some women recognize this, but remarkably a lot of women don't.  Women can drive extremely strong behavior by virtue of this sexual offset.

The root of sexual desire seems to be testosterone.  I read many reports that when women start injecting testosterone, their sexual desires start to echo those of males.  In the same regard, when boys get to a certain age, the testosterone changes levels, and they start to notice girls and start to worry about sex.  This is where it really gets tough for males.  Once we get this hormone flowing, we have a really difficult time with our behavior.  However, sex is a bit like an appetite.  You may get sexually hungry, but it you act on it, the desire goes down for a while.  Paul recognizes this as he writes in I Cor 7:

"But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

Once you are through the sexual act, the desire goes down.  This is scriptural and clearly written by Paul.

This is one of those points that is so incredibly important that I am going to repeat it, "If you do not have sex, Satan will tempt you."  The Word of God states that sex reduces temptation.

The Catholic Church, which states priest must be celibate, has a big problem.  This is what happens when you don't read your Bible.  I can understand a bit of their confusion, however.

The only challenge with Paul's writings is that Paul could be celibate. So, Paul threw out some comments about being celibate. Many people beyond the Catholic Church have said, "Hey let's be like Paul. Be celibate." Although the scripture says be "fruitful and multiply," we throw that section away.

However, being celibate is not the norm.  Peter, one of the most influential apostles, had a wife that came with him on his travels. No doubt Peter had sex. I find it beyond belief that the Roman Catholic church says "our Popes come from Peter" and yet they do not follow Peter's example of marriage.

Once we get into a Christian marriage, things should change.  If I could drive the best of all behaviors in married Christian couples, it would be the following:

1. Husbands, you can no longer masturbate yourself.
2. Wives, you need to address your husband's need every single day or whatever interval he needs it

The psychology is very clear, and is familiar as Pavlov's dogs. Human beings have broad associations. Let me give you a non-sexual example. It is well know that people are perceived much more positively over a meal that is very pleasurable. The reason why is that human beings cannot distinguish the pleasure from the meal versus the pleasure from the person. If you want to make friends with somebody, just feed them something that they like.

The goal of sex should be to have the husband only associate the pleasurable act of sex as being associated with his wife. Once you have kids and a busy job, you will not have time for passionate love making every night. Face it. To be happy, the wife will simply need to take care of her husband's need. Many nights this will be a sexual act to is fast and not wearing on the woman. Most couples will not want to have certain types of sex during certain parts of the month. However, I would always suggest that it is the wife that addresses her husband's needs.

So now we get toward the end of this post.  Once a man is married, we start to forget what it was like to be young.  I see some older married men or women saying masturbation is wrong for our children.  If you are a woman, I will ask you not to butt in.  Most of you have no idea of what a man's sexual appetite is like, and you can't judge here.  If you are a man, just remember the days of your youth.

The worst thing that we do to our children is to force them to be sexually capable and yet have no outlet. 
I am not some liberal-joe that says "teach your kids to have sex safely because they will have it anyway."  I don't believe in teaching my children to put on condoms.  I don't think they will have sex.  I do believe that Paul had the right idea.  If you have no outlet for sexual tension, you will have no self control.  For girls, you may never need to teach them to masturbate.  For our boys?

We need to understand how they work.

The only thing left that you will struggle with as a Christian with sexuality is the problem of unpure thoughts.  Certainly in masturbation and even in marriage, it is easy to have wrong thoughts.  And many will print "if you think about a woman wrong, then you are committing a sin."  Since masturbation can lead to bad thoughts, we potentially set up ourselves for sexual temptation.

However, I believe that both the Bible, research and commonsense points out the danger of no outlet.  It is necessary for us to provide an outlet for sexual drive.  Although it has risks, masturbation is the only reasonable way for the non-married to have this necessary outlet.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

"Body" -> What Do You Have Brewing?

One of life's simple pleasures is tea. There I've wrote it, and I'll write it again: Tea.

Now, tea by itself might be an acquired tasted. You might say it has a bit of funny taste at first, but once your body starts to like just a little bit of caffeine, your body will start to look forward to tea every morning.

I think that one of the best things about tea is the wonderful look of the leaves when you compare it to coffee.

Here is a picture that I stole from another website showing a nice little pile of tea.

Doesn't think look appealing?

Coffee is burnt and black. Coffee is left over crust. Coffee is death.

Tea is green. Tea is wonderful. Tea is life.

Now, you might say to me, "What about black tea?  Is this a little bit of death?  Is it different?"

All tea come from the same plant: camellia sinensis.  The key to the color is that tea is processed in many different ways. If you ferment the leaves, you get black tea.  I would argue that black tea is misnamed as it is more of lovely tan color. If the leaves are steamed and dried, you get green tea.  If you add some incredibly bad tasting bergamot to it, you get Earl Grey tea.  (There has been an explosion of Earl Grey fanatics because Captain Picard on the new Star Trek always made this particular blend his order.  I believe that this explains why Picard was bald, and could never get any women.  Captian Kirk, I am convinced, was a green tea man, with a bit of coffee thrown in when he needed a manly jolt.)

In my life, I choose green, and I drink a lot of this stuff. Around 16-20 cups per day. While this may sound like a lot, in reality, there are a lot of people that will drink the same amount of liquid per day as soda. There is a bunch of research showing that tea is very good for you and lowers both body weight and reduces cancer. Just substitute tea for your soda.

However, if you think about it, at this level of tea, you cannot use tea bags. This would be 10-12 tea bags per day. Even buying the tea bags at bulk, you would be spending a lot on green tea. At $.50 per bag, we would be spending $6 per day. However, we have options. You can buy tea in bulk. If you have Ranch 99 market near you, your in luck. If not, get the phone book open and find a local Chinese, Japanese, or Indian food store. Generally, these places will have a green tea, and it you are drinking a lot, they will have some very serviceable teas for dirt cheap.

The one that is the leader of the value pack is "Hime Ban Cha." Bancha is the just the Japanese name for a common green tea. This brand is sold by Japan Food Company out of the Bay Area, and I've been drinking it for at least ten years. The thing about this tea is that it brews a decent cup of tea, and it is dirt cheap. Generally, you can buy this for around $4 for 227g (8 oz) at most local stores. If you can't find it locally, even Amazon has it.

While you can buy Hime Ban Cha at Amazon, if you take a stop on the internet tea tour, I would suggest an immediate look at the Upton Tea Shop.  On the home page look for the sampler section.  The teas are pricey, when compared to the $4 Hime special, but they have a lot of information about the various types of tea.  Their quality is normally very, very good, and the samplers are always a good pick.  They have been around forever.

While the Upton site cane give a lot of information, you might want to know that green teas are divide into several categories, and the two dominate descriptions that you will find in the USA will use either the Chinese names or the Japanese names.  This post isn't about the teas per se, and I won't get into this much.  However, generally for the Chinese teas, you'll want a "green" tea and not a Oolong or a Jasmine tea.  Just look for "Chinese Green," but make sure that you don't accidentally get a Chinese Gunpowder tea, which is often labeled as Green Tea.  Gunpowered tea is great once you get used to it, but it does taste like smoke, which turns some people off.

When you determine that you want to brew some tea, the first question is "how" and this has been an ongoing quest of mine.  I started as most neophytes do by putting the bulk tea into one pot (in my case this is a glass coffee pot re-purposed for tea)  and pour the tea into a cup or another pot through a strainer.  If you do this, you'll probably start with a normal strainer, and then you might find another fine tea specific strainer.  For many people this will be their preferred method for the rest of their life.  Yet this has drawbacks, starting with the fact that these strainers never get clean  On top of the cleaning problem, I find that I really like a very fine strain of the tea for the final product, and this is where I steal from the coffee world.

This is a picture of my default brewing set at home. It is nothing more than a box of coffee filters from Costco, which cost all of .005 a piece and a drip coffee cone. The key on this is to find the Melita #4 manual manual coffee cone. I've had mine for 10 years, and while the edges chip off, I've used them thousands of times. While they don't label them as Melita, you can find these red #4 here. Just search on "cone" and pick the #4 one. At $3-4, there is no better bargain.

Now, you'll need to remember that you are making tea and you are not making coffee.  In coffee, you pour a ton of coffee into the cone and then you fill up the cone with hot water.  You are not going to do that for the tea.  All you want the filter for is to filter.  So, you need to find a separate container for brewing the green tea in.  A number of years ago, an American company called "Gemco" use to make a perfect pot for the brewing section.  This was call "The Whistler" and the pot looked like the pot that you see for commercial coffee brewers, but without the plastic top that just look unclean.  It had a handle attached by a stainless steel band.  They stopped making these, but you can search on eBay and find them for $25-30, which is very expensive compared to the original selling price.  If I remember right, they stop making them after a few of them broke, and they were getting sued.  I've used mine for year, and while they break, they are no worse than a broken glass.

However, Medelco jumped into the business with Gemco out, and they produced a dead ringer for my old favorite.  I found some at a local store for $8 a piece and I bought 8 of them.  My wife, who generously ends up cleaning up the tea brewing after I am done, breaks one of these around once every 2-3 years.  So, I am set for 25 or 30 years.  These can be bought here online.  The reason why I like this design goes just beyond the clear functionality of the pot, but also how you brew with the pot.  Because the opening is small and the water pot is wide, you can quickly learn how to flick your wrist so that you get the water and tea leaves swirling in a great circle.  This allow a lovely blend of the tea and water and shortens the brew time.  So can see a close up picture of this pot at the end of this post.

Now, I have a pot of tea in the morning, but I also have one after lunch.  I am often in a meeting, and I will bring my tea pot into the meeting and drink and converse.  My workmates think that I'm odd, but many are intrigued at the same time.  Yet, I do not the hands to bring in two tea pots and filters to make my tea.  What I need to do was have an easier system.  In this case, the "standard" Japanese solution came to bear.

If you go to your local market Japanese market, you will be able to find a bag of these. They can also be ordered online. Generally, they come in two sizes, and this is actually the smaller size. They run somewhere around $.03-.04 if you buy carefully online. They are less at the markets it you find a good size Japanese food store. This is nothing more than a thing polester bag that you can put your tea inside of. The bag is constructed so that it has a little top that you can flop over and seal the top of the bag.

The operation is pretty obvious, but to describe it: you take your bag of Bancha (as described above) and you put in a couple of heaping teaspoons of tea into the bag. You flip the top of the tea bag over, and you throw the bag into the pot. I started to drink green tea in earnest after spending a 4 week trip in Asia Pacific many years ago while I was working for IBM. This was before web browsers and the internet, if you can believe that. I remember seeing the Japanese throw these bags into their tea pots.  (The world was a lot bigger back then, and things like anime came on video tape, and people simply did not have the same cultural cross over.  This went both ways.  I quickly learned, during this trip of the mid 1990s that you needed to learn to eat well with chopsticks because you would find places that simply did not have knives and forks.  I got to be pretty good because I had no other choice.  Expect for the Korean chopsticks, which are more like thin metal rods rather than chopsticks.  But this is another story.)

Now the biggest problem with these tea bags is that the top that is designed to hold in the tea doesn't do a great job as the tea gets smaller and small. If you are using whole tea leaves, it would work well. However, to get the maximum out of the minimum amount of tea, you'll want to actually crush the tea leaves. So, you'll get leakage out of the tea bag and into your tea. Some people simply don't mind, but I like a little better filter. So, I ended up buying this little hand sewing machine from Dealextreme (see here).

It is almost comical in that this little hand held sewing machine would be absolutely useless for any real usage. The problem is that it does a simple slipknot type of sewing, since there is only one bobbin for the the little hand held machine. If you miss just one stitch in sewing, and if you don't sew to the end of the fabric, the whole stitch can pull apart with just a little tugging. So, it is useless for clothes.

However, for the tea bag is absolutely perfect. While it is fickle to learn how to use, once you understand how to work it, you run a line down the top of the tea bag and seal it. Once you have it sealed, you can throw the whole tea bag into the pot and just let it brew. Even if you miss a stitch with the little sewing machine, generally it will hold it well enough to hold in all the tea. It is like a tea bag on steroids. It is the perfect solution for work.

Now, final method for brewing is used in Germany all the time by commercial tea makers, but we don't see it in the states at all. However, the Germans are very concerned about health, and tea is widely available because of the health benefits. As you might expect, the Germans engineered a better solution.  The reason why one would like a tea bag is that it is very clean and fast.  You simply throw the bag in, and you have a string to pull it out.  The clean up is very fast.  The problem with the previous methods is they require multiple pots or sewing machines.  You could use tea bags, but they are very expensive, and there are too many of them if you drink a big pot of tea.  "Ach du lieber," the Germans cried.  "Vee must fix this!"

This particular tea bag can be bought directly from Adagio (see here).  They are made in Germany, as you might expect from my description, and if you buy directly from Adagio they are $.03 a piece.  They are simplicity in itself.  Want they do is create a very long tube with one end opened.  The other end is closed and you can pour the tea into the bottom of the tube.  You then throw the sealed end into your pot, and the other end you clip to the top of your pot.  Now, the tea will wick itself up the bag, but I've never had drips out of it.  In the picture above, you can see my glass brewing pot and the tea for my morning pot of tea.  The white thing on the top of the tube is a "Chip Clip" that I picked up from Walmart.  You could grab the top of the tube with a clothespin or any other clip.  The tea hangs in the water, and the clean up is just a snap.  These will spoil you quick.  The only draw back is that they aren't available everywhere, and the brewing can take a little longer than the loose leaf method with two tea pots.  However, leave it to the Germans to come up with the best method.

Regardless of the method of brewing, as started in the first part of this post, green tea looks to have a variety of good effects on your health.  Most of the health studies in this area were started by the Japanese, and since green tea is the variety used in Japan, most of the medical studies are on the green variety.

However, the most interesting thing to me of late in green tea is the presence of Theanine (pronounced pretty much like "tea lin"), which is an amino acid found only in tea.  It appears that this amino acid crosses the blook brain barrier and helps mood, mental cognition and could offer neurological protection to the brain.  The stereotypical scene in Japanese and Chinese literature and cinema is the hero thinking about his actions over a cup of green tea.  Maybe this is more than a stereotype.  Maybe it is a chemical reaction.

Maybe there is truth in the image.

"Mind" -> Rubbing Out The Keyboard Mess

What happens when you spill green tea laced with pomegranate juice  into your laptop keyboard?

It will stick.  And in this post, I'm going to describe how to get it unstuck.

I recently bought a CULV laptop, which stands for Consumer Ultra Low Voltage, laptop.  In reality, I didn't buy one, I bought three:  one for my sister, one for whomever is working for us (Hillary), and one for myself.  If you aren't familiar with the CULV concept, it is a "thin and light" notebook much like a netbook, only on steroids.  It is much faster than a netbook could be.  However, it still features the lightweight of a netbook.  For instance, the weight of the one that I bought, which were the Acer 1410 model--the hot one on the market, was a little over 3 pounds.  Amazing how my industry continues to change.

The fact that I was able to buy these at around $390 per pop was all the more amazing.  

Now there are some things that are given up for such a light weight at such a low cost.  DVD onboard is one.  So add to the $390 another $50 for an external DVD, but still a good deal.  The other thing that you give up on these is a anything of a real keyboard.  These things have a "chicklet" keyboard.  Now if you look at the picture up above, you will see my hand.  What you might not recognize from this angle is that that wafer thin line that I'm holding is actually the keyboard on its side.  The keyboard is just a little thicker than 10 or 20 sheets of paper.

So, the other weekend, I decided that I was going to add a bluetooth module into the 1410.  (Although it has a switch for bluetooth, the module is not populated.)  So, after pulling the whole computer apart, and putting it back together again, which could be a post in itself, I sat at my desk happy that I was done.  As I booted up the machine, I grabbed my big glass of juice and tea morning mixture, and I accidentally slopped a little bit into the keyboard.  Now, I thought that I could take a paper towel and wick out most of it and I would be okay.  What I didn't understand at the time is how the wafer thin keyboard would impact the issue.  The gaps are so small in this keyboard that anything in it causes problems.  As the keyboard dried out, I had a bunch of keys that stuck.

I ended up order another keyboard off of eBay just in case I destroyed the current keyboard, then after I received and installed the new keyboard, I went down and I bought a big bottle of rubbing alcohol to try and fix the issue.  The issue is that you need something to dissolve the stuck stuff.  You could use water, but the obvious problem is that water encourages oxidation, or rust.  The other issue with water is that the vapor pressure is quite low.  Once you get water into something, it takes a while to get out.  As we all know, rubbing alcohol vapor pressure is higher, and it dissolves quickly.  Now, most rubbing alcohol is a mixture of water and alcohol, so you you want to get a blend of 90% alcohol so the residue evaporates quickly.

Once you have your alcohol, you need to removed the keyboard from the computer.  Can't help you for your laptop, but for mine the keyboard is only held in by a series of clips around the edges of the keyboard.  Once you have the clips undone, I could slip the keyboard cable out of the connector and disconnect it.  (I really like this design, as the guys at Quanta--the Acer ODM--are pretty clever.)

The next step is as simple as pouring.  You open up the bottle and you start pouring it into the keyboard.  Allow it to soak into the keys, then start to manipulate and press the keys.  The key, no pun intended, is to make sure that you have dissolved all of the gunk inside of the keyboard.  In my case, I need to dissolve the old tea and pomegranate juice that had caused the keys to start to stick.  However, once you've pour in the rubbing alcohol, you need to remember that the old gunk that makes the stuff stick has only been moved from making your keys stick to now being suspended in the rubbing alcohol in the keyboard.  So, you need to make sure to drain the rubbing alcohol out of the keyboard and down the sink. Now that you've rinsed your keyboard, you need to still allow it to dry out.  If you had 100% alcohol, this would happen immediately, but you have a mixture of alcohol and water, so allow the keyboard to sit in a warm space.  In my case, I had the laptop up and running with a different keyboard, so I let it sit for 3 days until the weekend.

So, the question you may have is "how did it work?"  The good news is that I'm typing this post on the keyboard that you see in the post, the one that is running over with rubbing alcohol.  I might feel just a tinge of stick in the keys, but it may also just be my imagination.  However, the keys are much, much better than before, and so far everything seems to work well.

I now have two keyboards for my laptop.  However, seeing how I have 3 laptops that I could use it on, I think I'll keep it.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Mind" -> Hacking SPD On Memory

This the laptop that I was wrestling with yesterday.  It is an old NC4010 that I decided that I would buy refurb about 2 year ago, so that my wife could have her own PC to do email.  The PC is very small, and while it sold for $2000 when new, it was selling for $200 as a refurb.

The PC never ran as fast as I thought that it should and the battery was not very good, but it was good enough for logging into Google mail for my wife.  After using it a lot for the last two years, I bought a big 17" Acer Portable for her desk downstairs, which she uses all the time.  The nice thing about her new portable is that from time to time, the kids use to watch videos on.  The new portable is more like an entertainment system.

But there were a couple of nice things about the old portable.  With a new battery, it should still get around 2.5 hours of battery life, which is a lot longer than the entertainment system.  It also comes in at about 3.5lbs, which is a very light portable considering that the screen is very tall (albeit with a resolution of 1024 x 768), which is pretty much a winner.

I like that it also had a track stick and a speaker that could be cranked up quite high to listen to web casts.

If the portable was a bit more responsive, I would actually like to keep the thing around, as it had some unique features.  No doubt, the original $2000 price tag allowed the designers to put in a few of the extras that I just described.  So how to fix the performance? 

I suspected that the real issue on the PC is that it had a fairly large, for the age, shared memory space with the video, and I needed a bit more RAM in the thing.  I also needed a new battery, so I looked on ebay, and I found a Hong Kong seller of batteries that would replace the battery for less than $40.  The battery cost wasn't bad.  What about memory?

So, I looked up the memory on the HP site.  It was166Mhz memory (also called PC2700), and the memory was DDR1 (or just DDR).  So, I got online and found I could buy a gigabyte of RAM, doubling the RAM space, for around $40 dollars.  My guess is that this would lower the hard drive swapping by a lot, thus speeding it up.

I had read on the HP forum that some had problems getting new memory to work, so I was very careful to order PC2700/166Mhz chips to make this work just fine. 

Putting in memory is not that hard.  The picture above shows this class of memory, and I'm holding the old memory chips that came out of the HP. 

Laptop memory normally comes in 200 pin DIMMs, which is just another way of describing the packaging.  The important thing to note is that there are 4 or more types of memory in use over the last 5-6 years.  Each memory package look a little like each other, but the notches are set up so that you can't plug a DDR1 into a DDR2. 

The other thing is that the older memory technologies, like SDRAM and DDR1 aren't made much any more if at all.  If you are buying chips, it probably means that you might have a repackaged chip.

When I  got the new chips, I plugged them into my HP, and the screen just went black.  I went to the HP forums, and this is what happens when the memory is not being accepted.  The people on the forum had no idea what was happening, and the were speculating all types of things.  The good thing is that you don't have to speculate, because you can use tools.

Now you may be asking why I am posting this here, but the posts on the HP forum were a couple of years old.  I had a suspicion about why the memory didn't work, and I had enough knowledge to figure out how to check on it.  Unfortunately, the forum posts were for people that had given up a couple of years ago.

The key for me was having another older laptop in my house that I could use to see the chips.  So while the new memory would not boot on the HP, it would boot on my old Dell laptop.

The first thing that you can use to see the memory is something call CPU-Z, which will tell you what is inside of your PC.   Now, I didn't take snapshot at the time of my new memory, this is actually a picture from my Dell portable with its own memory, but you can see that CPU-Z will show you a bunch of stuff including the memory type that is in your machine.  In this case, you can see that the utility is looking at slot #1, which is the onboard memory in my old Dell, and that the type of memory that I have is DDR in that slot is just DDR or DDR1. 

Now what is PC2700?  The memory manufacturers came up with an idea of labeling the memory in terms of bandwidth because this is what the hard drive guys do.  However, it just confuses everyone as the key thing is matching the memory for Mhz not bandwidth.  Regardless, the term PC2700 means that the data transfers at 2.7 Gigabytes of information per second.

Again, most people just want to know the megahertz (MHz).  You can see that the MHz is both 133 and 166.  This is interesting.  Is it 133 or 166?  The answer is "it is both," which we'll cover in just one second.

So, I put my new memory, which was labeled as 166Mhz into my Dell portable to double check the speed, and although it said "166Mhz," there was a third line with 200Mhz on it also!  The memory maker that sent me the chips had repackaged some newer chips, and said that it would work with my older system.

In most cases it is true.  Remember I said that the memory could operate at 166 or 133?   If you have faster memory, it will often work with the older machines.  This is why there are two memory speeds above.  If the system cannot connect at the fast speed, it falls back to the slower speed.  The problem is that my HP was choking and not trying to negotiate the speed.  I did not want to go through the problems of doing an RMA, so I decided to program the chips.  The mechanism for detecting speed is called "Speed presence detect" or SPD, and to program this SPD you need a PC with an open memory slot and a SPD programmer.

The best program is something called Thaiphoon burner.  If you are only going to use the program once, it is $20, but they have a 15 day trial.  So, you can use it for a single shot issue.  There is also SPDtool, but it is harder to use.  The screen shot above shows you a picture from my old Dell portable, looking at the memory that was is in the machine.  What you need to do is "read SPD at 51" which reads the SPD timing of the memory in the second slot.  Beware that you can read the wrong slot and write the wrong data.  Luckily, if you really hose your memory, you can boot with certain pins covered with tape, and reprogram the memory, but it is a real pain.  Better to be careful and not screw up.

If you go onto the memory page, you can pull up the timing memory table.  I stuck the memory from the HP into my Dell to pull up the information, and I got the memory table above.

You can see that it has "table 0" and the other tables.  Table #2 is grayed out, so it doesn't exist.  This only has two memory settings:  166 MHz and 133 MHz.  I also popped in the new memory and sure enough, it had 3 tables.  The third table was at 200 Mhz, just like I saw in CPU-Z.

To get the timing speed, you adjust tRCD, tRP, tRAS, tRC, tRFC, and the tRRD.  I won't go through what they mean because they are Wikipedia.  However, I guessed that I needed to set all tables so that they would coincide with the memory that worked.  What was interesting is that the 166Mhz timing was also different on my new memory.  So, I adjusted my new memory table 0 to the above timings, and I adjust table 1 to the above timings.  If I didn't wipe out the 200MHz setting, the memory would still try and negotiate to a higher speed, so I had to totally remove the 200MHz setting.

After resetting the SPD, I put in the memory chips in the old HP and I let out a whoop of delight as the PC purred to life without a problem.  I also found a new driver for the old Ali Chipset, which was dog to begin with as the company went bankrupt.  Luckily, a university type had spent a bunch of time research the Ali 7101 driver and had it posted on his University page.  Thank goodness to academia.

My wife used the portable last night and remarked how much faster it was with new memory.  I felt a little bit guilty for not fixing it earlier, but for $80, we were going to have a very servicable extra portable around the house.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

"Mind & Spirit" -> Why The Little Guy Wins

The most problematic issue that I've face at my work over the last 20 years of being in corporate America is the propensity for social loafing. Now social loafing is one of those things that simply don't need to be described once you figure out what it is saying.

If you want to get a good sense of the connection to Christianity, all that you need to look at is Paul's writings in 2 Thessalonians 3:

"In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat."

Social loafing is simply the normal human reaction for people to back off working hard when they are part of a group. The person to first document this behavior was Maximilien Ringelmann in the early 20th century. To this day, some social loading is considered an important part of the Ringlemann effect.

To understand the entirety of the Ringlemann effect, we need to understand what Ringlemann did, and why it is so applicable to group dynamics. It explains why major corporations are not the preferred method of employment.

Very simply he ran and experiment where he had his subjects pull on a rope. He then measureed the pull of that individual. Once he was done with measuring the individuals, he would place all of the individuals into teams and have them pull on the rope.

Now the only numbers that Ringlemann test was 1, 2, 3, and 8, but I think the chart is probably pretty close.  If we are in a group of 2 or 3 people, a lot of work is done.  It is as soon as we get to more than 3 people, we see the group effort really start to fall off.

Ringlemann, himself, had some idea of what was happening, but he thought perhaps the groups were losing effort due to lack of coordination.  As the researchers have done more and more work (Ingham, Levinger, Graves, & Peckham, 1974), they discover that in things like pulling rope, the biggest issue is that people simply stop working as hard because there are more people around to do the work.

Eric Weiser, at Curry College,did a nice chart that shows the individual drop in effort from several studies.

The problem with most of these types of studies is that they cannot perfectly predict what will happen in real life.  However, good fundamental thought as gone into this.  Now that you understand the idea of social loafing, we can look at the roles that the various people can play.

1a.  The free rider:  This is the person that decides to back off on the hard work.  Fredrick Taylor, the father of scientific management, called this soldiering.  Taylor, in his day, recognized and categorized many reasons for this behavior in the common work force.

1b.  The infected free rider.  Free riders are a habit, and not something that is done every once in a while.  These are the individuals that may have run into individuals in the past that have pushed them to achieve, and this was a bad event for them.  If this was a confrontation, the individual may turn into an infected free rider.  This is an individual that is trying to get back at a corporation or a manager.  I call them an infected free rider because they tend to spread their mindset throughout the group and get other people sick.  If the free rider backs off a bit, the infect free rider can actually lower the output of a group by being in it and being counterproductive.

2.  The sucker effect:  These are the formally hard working people in the group that look at the free rider, and they say to themselves, "why am I working so hard?  This guy isn't working, and he is getting paid the same as me.  I'm a sucker, so I'll back off."

3.  The starter and pusher.  These are individuals who just are wired differently.  Generally, they are highly motivated and want to achieve something, therefore, they are willing to engage in conflict to get something done.  The point is that they are extremely rare, and can cause either great harm or good.

4.  The credit taker.  Often, inside of these groups, not only do people not do equal work, but they start to realize that the group as a whole may be judged.  In this case, what starts to happen is that individuals will start to position themselves so that they can receive credit for whatever goodness does happen out of the group.  The other people in the group, knowing that they will not receive the credit, then back out of providing their full effort.

The last role is especially important, the researchers say that there is one way to ensure that all members of the group work more toward the value of their individual contributions is to have each member recognized for the effort that they put in.  As an example, the swimmer relay is often used to prove that groups can have as good if not better performance.  It is not uncommon for individuals to perform their best effort while on a team.  However, in this case, each member's input is carefully monitored, and know that their team mates are depending on them only increases their effort.  The key is that although they are on a team, they are seen individually.

Ask we understand these groups, we start to understand why business can be so turbulent, and why groups can under perform so dramatically.  If you get 8 people together, the output of the group is going to drop closer to the output of 6 individuals.  Then you have some people that are going hard, and others that are showing a variability in their effort.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a starter and a pusher, the group will either turn into a high performance group, or it will self destruct.  The problem is that starter/pushers push themselves, and if they are an extrovert, they will start to push other people.  The starter/pusher present a unique issue for us.  You would think that a starter/pusher would be considered as a positive.  However, to understand why he can be self destructive is understand why people freeload.

The reason that people back off in effort is that it is uncomfortable to put out a lot of effort.  So, to go back to the beginning of this post, the question should not be "why do people loaf in groups?"  This should be very obvious.  They loaf because this is the most comfortable thing for them to do.

The real question is "why do individuals excel when they are alone?"

The obvious answer is "because the effort that somebody puts out shows their self image."  The person works hardest by themselves because they know that other people will judge them.  This explains why effort falls off in groups.  If the individual believes that they cannot be measured, then they have no motivation to do better.

This is why the credit taker is so discouraging to a group.  Since they suck up the available credit, they will heavily demotivate the other individuals.  So, to go back to the pusher, he can be perceived by the rest of the group as a credit taker.  So, he will instantly get some push back that he/she is simply giving orders because they want to get credit for whatever the group does.  The other instant thing that will happen is that the pusher is going to try to get the individual to perform in a zone that they do not want to perform.  So, they are afraid that they are not going to get the credit, and they are working harder than they want.

This often sets up an extreme amount of conflict.  The good news is that there will be change in performance in the group.  The bad news is that a free rider, which was performing at 75% of their effort, may suddenly tank to 30% or 40% effort.  In today's knowledge work, you cannot force somebody to work hard.  You can hope to change their mind set, but if you fail, you run the risk of turning a free rider into an infected free rider.

So, here is my advice as we get to the end of my post.  If you are a high performance individual, generally you are far better off working in organizations that are small.  At the very least, you need to work for somebody who is a starter and a pusher.  A couple of starter/pushers can be an awesome team inside of a company.  Generally, because their are two of them, they can watch each others back.

If you are a free rider, I guess that you'll never have gotten to this part of my post, because you felt uncomfortable.  In the last couple of years, I've spotted a couple of people that are clearly loafing.  They are very nice individuals.  However, this will upset me.  I feel that I've been suckered by these individuals.  In both of these cases, as I've had a heated discussion with them, I basically called them lazy.

Now this is something that I should not have done.  And it certainly wasn't very Christian of me.

However, in both case the individuals went speechless and hung up on me.  In both cases, it was extremely obvious, they knew that I hit it square on the head, and it hurt them.

But in both cases, they didn't face reality, and I don't think I bought myself anything.