Why this Blog is Pretty Much Defunct

October 5, 2011 by

A lot of effort went into creating this blog and trying to keep it supplied with decent content in order to give the SBL a dynamic public face beyond their static home page. That work went unappreciated.

Behind the scenes there was constant harassment and bullying from another SBL member about this blog and the way it was being run (you all noticed how awful it was, right?). This went on for over a year in the various internal management groups of the SBL, may have contributed to a number of other moderators quitting, and eventually the bullying behavior was adopted by others.

You might consider this video:

I do not take well to bullying. Never have (and in fact protected some kids from it back when I was in high school), and I tend to react like the kid in the video.

The SBL administrators were like so many school administrators when it came to that bullying: blame the bullied equally with the bully. And of course, the bully considers it a victory for his ego if he gets his victim into trouble. Smart administrators figure that out and control the bully. But not in the SBL. Oh, they made new rules that were supposed to deal with the bully, but when push came to shove, they not only reneged, they denied they had any responsibility. Pfft.

That is why I am also no longer in the SBL.

As I’ve mentioned before, you can now follow me on my own blog: Ahcuah. There is now more content there than when I was writing here, because here I was always conscientiously working to write as a representative of the SBL. On my own, I don’t have to worry about that.

[The bully has now been rewarded and made one of the SBL moderators. Talk about clueless administrators.]

[Updated: To those who wonder about the truth of the above, you need only look at the recent example in one of the internal management groups: The bully attacked me again, by name, and the administrators did nothing until somebody defended me. Then, the remonstrance was a reply, not to the bully, but to the defender.]

 

 

Lost Spirit of the Barefooter

May 28, 2011 by

A poem from SBL member Tim Mills.

(Tim now has his own blog at Nature’s Child.)


      Lost Spirit of the Barefooter

Close your eyes and think back to your childhood..
Do you remember the lazy barefoot days of summer?
A world of freedom and wonder. Nature was still a
magical world, as you caught frogs at the pond,
or chased fireflies in the night. Remember
the squishy feel of mud between your toes,
or the chilly blanket of dew on the grass in the morning?
Freedom!

Times of joy and laughter. Splashing your feet
in the puddles on rainy days. You could dig your feet
into the sand at the playground, and feel it
between your toes. The world was an innocent and warm,
welcoming place. You could climb any tree you could reach,
or just lie on your back watching clouds and finding
the funny shapes they had. The troubles of the world
seemed so far away.

Going barefoot was just plain fun. You didn’t imagine
a million things out to hurt you. If you lived near woods,
that was you private place to play. Just walking was a
magical experience, as your feet encountered things
like moss, fallen leaves, grass and whatever else was there.
A little dirt was no big deal, it would come off in the bath.
You didn’t need a fishing license, just a rod
and some worms you dug out of your back yard.
You sat at the water’s edge with your friends,
laughing and telling stories while you waited for a bite,
swishing your toes in the water. If it was hot,
you might even jump in and go for a swim.

Deep in the spirit of the barefooter, is the place
where these memories live. Barefoot living
isn’t about politics, or big ideas. It’s about
the simple things in life. When you are barefoot,
you experience life at its fullest. Freedom is a
longing of all people, and going barefoot embodies
freedom and innocences at their best. Yet today,
our children are seeing this slip away. Lost to money,
to fear, to the ideas of a dangerous world, waiting
to devour them. What are we leaving for them?
Will they ever know childhood as it was meant to be?
Are the images of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn
to be forever lost in the pages of history?

Maybe, just maybe, there is a way back! Let childhood be more
than just a group of years everyone lives through.
Rekindle the magic and the wonder that built
those special memories all those years ago.
Leave the shoes and sock home. Go barefoot!
Let your children or grandchildren run free again,
with the grass tickling their toes. Rediscover the magic
of the lost spirit of the barefooter. Be free again!
I think you will find your life with be richer
for the experience.

We in the SBL know; that’s why we are barefooters. That
is what this is really all about, a chance to be free
and live life to its fullest!

Around the Blogosphere

April 21, 2011 by

I’m blogging mainly on my new blog, Ahcuah.

Here’s a bit of a survey of what’s going on there and on other barefoot blogging sites.

On Daniel Howell’s The Barefoot Professor:

In The Privilege of Pavement, Daniel notes that manicured grasslands really are not the “natural terrain” that our ancestors spent much time walking or running on. And he notes just how nice things like concrete are to run on.

In Mean People Suck: 50 Great Reasons to Guard Your Tongue, Daniel highlights 50 absolutely moronic comments to the various articles he has appeared in (“moronic” is my term, not his—but it applies). This entry is a must read. It is as if the commenters like to spotlight their ignorance.

On Dr. Michael Nirenberg’s America’s Podiatrist:

In Stories Your Feet Can Tell, Dr. Nirenberg discusses how the state of your feet can be used to diagnos other health issues, including one of his cases in which elevated uric acid, which enters the joints of the foot causing pain, led to discovering a tumor on the man’s neck. He also talks about how toes can reveal our overall health, and that toenails can indicate vitamin and mineral deficiency.

In Biomechanics of Sport Shoes: The Disturbing Truth About Running Shoes, Inserts and Foot Orthotics, Dr. Nirenberg discusses Dr. Benno Nigg’s new book, Biomechanics of Sport Shoes, which basically shows that the evidence that foot orthotics are effective at reducing injury is extremely weak.

On Primalfoot Alliance Blog:

In Spread the Word! ‘Your Day Without Shoes’ is Coming June 11!, Michael Buttgen proposes and promotes June 11 as “Your Day Without Shoes”.

On my own Ahcuah blog:

In A Feeling of Power, I talk about how libraries have enacted shoe rules just for me.

In On Freedomizer Radio Daniel Howell and I were interviewed, mostly about the legal aspects of barefooting.

In Creed Cred, I discuss whether “creed” as a belief that barefooting is good can come to our aid in forcing access to public accommodations. Short answer: no.

In More HuffPo HuffPoo: The Annual Flip-Flop Warning, I make comments about an article on the supposed dangers of flip-flops.

In More-on Libraries, I provide a link to some research I did on library shoe rules, and mention an update I did to that research.

In Wolfmaan, I highlight Wolfmaan’s (barefoot) exploration of Kettle Cave along the Niagara Escarpment.

In One Day Without Shoes, I present my (belated) take on the event a few weeks ago.

In More Thoughts – One Day Without Shoes, I mention a few more thoughts on the even, including the thought: There’s never “One Day Without Seatbelts”.

In Cute Picture in Yesterday’s Dispatch, I just show the picture. And add some snark!

Enjoy!

Barefooting novels

April 12, 2011 by

Have you ever read a novel where the hero is barefoot for a while but in the end is “saved” by some fortuitous footwear? As a daily rail commuter I do a lot of reading and in the late 90s became so frustrated by stories like these I decided to write my own!

 

Being a science fiction buff, it was only natural to put my barefoot characters into such an environment, in what started as a short story exploring some of my ponderings about the nature of space and time. Over the ensuing months and years I kept adding more, taking it forward through several generations of barefooters until it finally reached such a size that my thoughts turned to the possibility of having it published as a novel. After much perseverance that dream became reality, with Barefoot Times released in 2004 under the Zeus Publications imprint.

Of course the writing bug, having caught me, couldn’t be lightly turned aside, so in the following years came more barefoot adventures in Call of the Delphinidae and The Mind of the Dolphins. My latest work, Cry of the Bunyips, continues the series and is currently in the publisher’s production queue awaiting release later this year.

My aim in writing is to make the barefooting an integral part of the whole, an additional way for the characters to experience and interact with their environment. While the shod might see, hear, taste and smell the worlds around them, the barefooters feel them too through the soles of their feet, be it hot sand, gritty rock or the delightful coolness of dew-laden grass. Using their toes as an extra set of fingers provides additional traction when the going gets tough, and they even occasionally find themselves in situations where being barefoot is perhaps unwise but survive nonetheless.

A radio interviewer once asked me if all my hero characters were barefoot and all the villains shod, but real life is never that simple and neither are my books. Not only are there evil barefooters and good shoe-wearers, but the distinction between hero and villain can be just as nebulous. Expect the unexpected and you won’t be disappointed.

If I’ve whet your appetite, visit http://www.barefoottimes.net/ to find out more about the series and see some of the feedback I’ve received. The three published books are available as either physical trade paperbacks or PDF eBooks, with links on each book’s home page to the publisher’s on-line bookshop.

New Blog

March 27, 2011 by

I’m now blogging at Ahcuah. Feel free to follow me there.

The Origin of the Panyee Football Club

March 21, 2011 by

Here’s a nice little short film about the origin of the Panyee (Thailand) Football Club:

You probably will want to view it full-screen to be able to read the subtitles.

Good for Use

March 11, 2011 by

There is an interesting study I just read about today: A glove on your hand can change your mind. In language, “right” is good and “left” is often bad (just look at the French word for “left”, gauche, or the Spanish word for left hand, siniestra, a cognate of sinister). It turns out, that really is related to our handedness. Studies show that left-handers, “left” is good. From the article:

In experiments by psychologist Daniel Casasanto, when people were asked which of two products to buy, which of two job applicants to hire, or which of two alien creatures looks more intelligent, right-handers tended to choose the product, person, or creature they saw on their right, but most left-handers chose the one on their left.

Admittedly, it is a subtle effect, but it is there nonetheless.

But here is the cool part: right-handers’ reactions could be changed by temporarily changing them into lefties. They did so merely by having the right-handers put on a rather awkward ski glove on their right hand for about 12 minutes. At that point the subjects started showing a preference for “left is good.”

How is this related to barefooting? There is no study extending this work to feet, but somehow I just want to think that maybe putting shoes on feet (much more awkward then even a ski glove) can also influence how one perceives good and bad in the world. Maybe that can account for the totally unreasonable reaction that bare feet often seem to elicit.

I guess we ought to call it shoddy thinking.

Don’t Speak Ill of the Dead

February 25, 2011 by

Larry Black died this week of cancer. He was the director of the Columbus Metropolitan Library when I sued them. You can see the story about his death here in The Columbus Dispatch. He retired shortly after I lost my lawsuit.

What I find frustrating are statements like these in the article:

But it was his passion for customer service that might be his bigger legacy, say those who knew him.

“I think he always wanted people to feel welcomed,” she said. “The library was always about accessibility and how everyone should have access to it. He was known nationally for that.”

“He was one of the first library directors in the country to refer to library users as customers instead of patrons,” Losinski recalled. “It might not seem like a big thing, but it was huge in terms of developing the service philosophy of this library and the culture of commitment to customer service.”

I will not speak ill of the dead. However, I will let him speak for himself. From a letter he sent me on March 12, 2001:

You have been made aware that we require our customers to wear shoes while using the Columbus Metropolitan Library facilities. Also, you have been provided a legal opinion from the County Prosecutor’s Office stating that the Library has the legal authority to make and enforce such a rule. We hope, in the future, you will be able to conform to this requirement.

We will not respond to further correspondence on this matter.

(Emphasis added.)

It is unfortunate that he was not able to realize that allowing barefoot patrons would enhance customer service and accessibility. I hope that in retirement he was able to rise above societal expectations and get joy from doing things that other folks might consider peculiar even if all they did was merely satisfy him. For that is what life is about.

Vampire spiders and “human” scent

February 17, 2011 by

There is a recent study out about how vampire spiders are attracted to human scent. These spiders eat mosquitoes, and in Africa where they live, those mosquitoes often have recently feasted on human blood.

Jumping or Vampire Spider

As noted in this article, “Jumping spiders that love smelly socks could help fight malaria“, the spiders are often found in tall grass adjacent to human dwellings. What the study found was that the spiders spend more time (i.e., are more attracted to) smelly socks, and the conclusion is that they are thereby more attracted to a human odor. You can also see more in this blog post, Vampire spider drawn to the smell of human feet.

So, what is wrong with this picture?????

Who says that smelly socks smell like humans? Smelly socks have their odor because of all the bacteria that live inside shoes, where they thrive on the warm, dark, moist environment there. Real bare feet are not “smelly.” Yes, they probably have a (faint) odor, but it is a real stretch to say that the smell of the bacteria have anything to do with bare feet, or the odor of humans. If anything, the feet of those who regularly go barefoot probably smell more of what they are walking in.

And this study was in Kenya, where many people there really do go barefoot (or at least sandaled) all the time. The whole study is biased by a shod viewpoint. How would these spiders become familiar with the odor of shod feet in Kenya?

Yet, we are assured, in this comment, that “Real sweaty socks (as opposed to synthetic, which just don’t work as well) are a commonly-used attractant for human-feeding mosquitoes, so it works well enough as a “human” smell for some of our ectoparasites.” It may be that really sweaty socks are used as an attractant, but, really, how do they know that those arthropods are not somehow attracted to some other aspect of the bacteria growing on those socks, and not some human odor? (I also note that synthetic materials are not as conducive to bacterial growth!). How do we know that these mosquitoes and spiders are not tagging on the bacteria themselves? I somehow doubt that such a test had been done, and that these shoddy researchers have just assumed that this is a valid indicator.

It is always valuable to look beneath the unexamined assumptions of various studies.

If Your Name is “Barefoot”

February 13, 2011 by

If your name is “Barefoot,” according to the Name Meaning and History page on Ancestry.com:

1. English: nickname for someone who was in the habit of going about his business unshod, from Old English bæra ‘bare’, ‘naked’ + fot ‘foot’. It may have referred to a peasant unable to afford even the simplest type of footwear, or to someone who went barefoot as a religious penance.

2. In some instances, probably a translation of German Barfuss, the northern form Barfoth, or the Danish cognate Barfo(e)d.

There is also another possibility. In “The East Anglian,” by Charles Harold and Evelyn White (1904), in a section on wills, the will of one Francis Barfoote was probated in 1598. In a footnote, the author adds the following:

This plebian name of Barefoot is identical with that of the aristocratic Warwickshire family of Hereford or Beresford, who held a manor in the neighbouring parish of Clopton in the fourteenth century. I have noted the following different spellings, which mark its degradation:—Bereford, Berford, Barford, Barforth, Barfoot, Barefoot.

“Beresford” means “beaver-ford”. So, just because your last name is “Barefoot” does not mean that you had an ancestor who was named that for going barefoot.

However, I can guarantee that if you go back far enough, you will find an ancestor (actually, many ancestors) who went barefoot all the time.


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