Archive for the ‘Pointer’ Category

Around the Blogosphere

April 21, 2011

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!



More weird podiatrist stuff

February 6, 2011

Over at Jason Robillard’s Barefoot Running University blog, he takes podiatrist Catherine “Cat” McCarthy to task for more of the usual crap about how only elite, Olympic-class athlete’s should even consider running barefoot. You’ll want to go read that. He debunks her points:

  • that only world-class athletes can be barefoot runners;
  • that our present environment is not barefoot-friendly, yet out ancestor’s environment was; and
  • that the foot needs support.

But he did not link to her blog entry, so I went looking for it to read it myself. The entry is here, or I should say, it was there, because if you click on that link, you find that link does not exist.

However, you can can find the entry in the Google cache, here.

I wonder why it was removed? I know, if I had written it, I would have been ashamed enough to remove it.

Let’s see what she says. Here’s how she starts out:

If you are a world class athlete under the supervision of a team of professional trainers – please disregard my diatribe. Barefoot running shoes may be appropriate for you as you train for your future Olympiad event – best wishes and I sincerely hope you win!

If you are like me and the other 99.999999% of the world’s population – this review is for you.

She later goes on to say:

I cannot help but have an emotional reaction to people arguing for barefoot running and perhaps that is my own personal downfall but I have spent my career trying to heal people’s foot and ankle injuries caused by one false move in a bad shoe that did not protect their foot and led to injury and pain.

Well, there’s your problem: “one false move in a bad shoe”. Ya think it might be the shoe?

In her defense (slightly), she is mainly gigging on “barefoot shoes”, which are not barefoot, and because the soles of those things prevent proper feedback they might
cause more problems. However, there is still no evidence that shoes are better than bare feet when it comes to running injuries (though, of course, all too many podiatrists say that backwards — no evidence that bare feet are better than shoes). But, for non-running situations, we know that bare feet do not cause bunions, corns, or even fallen arches the way shoes (oh, yeah, those are “bad shoes”) do.

Uncontacted Amazonians

February 2, 2011

There have been a couple of stories in the news about some recent pictures of uncontacted Amazonian tribes. Here’s the story on Yahoo, and here’s the original press release.

There is a lot I could say about the issue, but since this is a barefooting blog, I will restrict myself to just commenting on their feet.

Here is the primary photo, taken from the air:

Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe

Uncontacted Amazonian Tribe

One thing I noticed, more visible in this cropped version,

Better view of their feet

Better view of their feet

is the shape of their feet. Even from the air we can easily see the natural separation of the big toe, and even pretty good separation between all the toes.

This is what natural human feet look like. This is what feet that do their natural job look like. Compare that to what feet look like after a lifetime of being stuffed into high heels, for fashion’s sake (the condition you see below is called hallux valgus):

Hallux Valgus

Hallux Valgus

Enough said.

Shakira on Letterman

January 28, 2011

Sorry for the long hiatus. To return, here’s Shakira’s appearance on the David Letterman show last September:

Shakira does a lot of her performances barefoot.

James J. Kilpatrick has died

August 17, 2010

Here is a UPI story about the death of conservative columnist James J. Kilpatrick. Mr. Kilpatrick was probably best known to many people for his role on the Point/Counterpoint segment on 60 minutes, which then led to a Saturday Night Live skit featuring Jane Curtin and Dan Ackroyd (“Jane, you ignorant slut!”).

But as a columnist, he was well-known as a lover of words (and I quite enjoyed his column on that). He also had a weekly column in which he discussed Supreme Court issues. And that is how I ended up being interviewed by him.

You see, back in 2001 I sued the Columbus Metropolitan Library over their shoe rule. By 2004, that case had made its way to the Supreme Court. I had filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, which is how one requests that the Supreme Court takes your case and decides it. As part of his Supreme Court work, and with a dedicated thoroughness, Mr. Kilpatrick must have looked at every petition filed with the Supreme Court, since he managed to see my petition and was intrigued.

Here is how he started his column about my case:

One of the happy aspects of covering the Supreme Court is that a reporter never knows what will turn up in the daily crop of petitions for review. Most of the petitions range in dullness from the merely soporific to the truly stupefying, but now and then a case comes along that brightens the jaded eye. For example, Case No. 03-1263, Neinast v. Board of Trustees.

He was quite even-handed in his treatment:

The petitioner makes a persuasive case. A public library is surely at least a limited public forum. Accordingly, limitations on access to its resources must have a rational basis. Such limitations may properly seek to prevent future harms, but these potential harms “must be real, not merely conjectural.” There must be some plausible evidence that a proposed limitation will alleviate these harms in a direct and material way.

The library’s response to this line of argument is remarkably flimsy. There was some testimony that “feces, semen, blood and broken glass” occasionally had been observed on library floors. In its effort to document incidents of hazard “to barefoot patrons,” the library specifically cited an incident in which a patron hurt himself on a staple in a carpet. As Neinast observes, the patron was a child lying on a carpeted floor during a story-reading session. The awful gash was not on his foot. It was a scratch on his arm, quickly covered by a Band-Aid. Quelle horreur!

You can read the whole column here. [By the way, the Supreme Court did not take my case, so the current state of the law, at least in the 6th Circuit, is that it is not a violation of the First Amendment right of access to free speech for libraries to exclude barefooted patrons.]

I shall remember him fondly.

UPDATE: You can see my petition here (PDF).

A Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic?

May 29, 2010

Here is a new article talking about The Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic. The author notes

Darwin Fogt, PT, owner of Evolution Physical Therapy in Culver City, CA, is alarmed by a stark new trend at his facility: runners with injuries caused by barefoot (or virtually barefoot) running. Fogt says he has four or five current patients with heel injuries clearly resulting from a switch to barefoot running and has recently treated another 12 to 15 others.

These injuries are happening both for real and fake barefoot runners. (Yeah, I’m using “fake” to gently tweak those who call running in shoes such as Vibrams “barefoot”.) The article does wonder whether the increase is due solely to the increase in barefoot running, due to books such as Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run. If all runners are getting injured at the same rate, but there are more barefoot runners now, one would expect there to be more injured barefoot runners.

But I suspect that there is more going on. Others, such as Ken Bob Saxton, note that if you try to start minimalist running in things like Vibrams, you will not be getting good feedback from your soles, which can tell you when you are overdoing it. How the heck are the runners being discussed getting specifically heel injuries? About the only way to do that is to run barefoot as if you are still wearing shoes.

There is something else, too. If you just go right out and try to run barefoot after having encased your feet in shoes for 20-50 years, you should expect the internal muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones to look just as pasty as the outsides of your feet. It is well known that you have to use your body to strengthen it. Shoes are crutches; shoes are support. When you take your feet out of shoes, they will be weak. Incredibly weak.

It’s like taking your leg out of a cast. You wouldn’t expect to be able to do weightlifting or sprinting, yet people take their feet out of shoes and expect to immediately be able to run just like they did with their support. Instead, you really do have to work up to it. Just as when you get a cast off, you have to undergo rehabilitation in order to regain strength and the underlying supportive tissue, so too do your feet need similar rehab.

You also need to retrain your brain. If you run in shoes, you’ve learned a specific way to run in them. That won’t necessarily work when you run barefoot. If you had started as a kid, you would have slowly and methodically worked out the right technique, but if you take your adult technique and try to retrofit it to barefoot running, it’s no wonder things don’t necessarily work right.

More: What is it about librarians?

May 22, 2010

Oelibrarian made a comment about the last entry, What is it about librarians? I’m going to answer it, and try to explain better, here.

First, many thanks to oelibrarian for providing further perspective.

What got me started was this comment in your original entry:

I am virtually militant about the no bare feet in the library issue and don’t hesitate to tell students they need to wear shoes while in the library.

Of all the various rules in a library, why pick this one out? Surely, if one was going to be militant about library rules, one would pick something like “no drugs or alcohol,” or “beverages must be in covered, spill-proof containers,” or “audible conversations conducted via cell phone or computer.” These are taken from the SUNY-New Paltz Code of Conduct. When I searched for libraries with their policies online, this was about all I could find. (I don’t know if oelibrarian is at New Paltz.)

Those latter rules actually serve a useful purpose, protecting the library’s assets or allowing the other library users to use the library for its intended purpose. A ban on bare feet does nothing but try to enforce one person’s sense of decorum on somebody else. We don’t see that with tattoos, green hair, nose piercings, beards, or any other choice of dress. Not only that, but walking barefoot exposes no more of the foot than other footwear like flip-flops. So, why does oelibrarian make such a big deal about bare feet? Why must this rule be militantly enforced?

In fact, why do libraries in general (and I must say I did not intend to particularly pick on oelibrarian here, but I was mainly using that entry as a jumping off point) ban bare feet? If anything, bare feet are much quieter and much less likely to bother other users. When it comes to going barefooted, it is hard to think of any environment that could possibly be safer than a library. Besides, bare feet are perfectly safe in a whole host of environments; most people’s fears about them are misplaced, and often based on their ignorance (because, not having tried it themselves, they project unwarranted fears).

I guess I used the “authoritarian” label because it seemed to me that a “militant” enforcement of a useless policy warranted it.

Regarding a fear of injury, in the comment, oelibrarian says:

Really, by mentioning the policy I am more compelled by making sure these kids don’t incur some kind of painful foot injury.

Really? Are you also concerned about any of the kids wearing high-heels? Because there are a whole host of injuries that occur when the heels get caught on stair risers or on the edges of rugs. High-heels also set their wearers up for osteoarthritis as they get older due to the upto 60% greater stress on the knees, and create bunions and hallux valgus. Also, research shows that shoes weaken the arches and help lead to fallen arches.

I’m still wondering about the supposed campus-wide policy of no bare feet in any of the buildings. How do you know this? Are their signs on all the buildings? (I’d appreciate it if you would check if you are not sure.) By the way, the student handbook for SUNY-New Paltz has no such rule in it (maybe the handbook for your campus does—maybe you could point that out for me).

In a comment by oelibrarian at the original entry, oelibrarian says

And I have already said earlier, my concern is more for happy and healthy feet, not imposing institutional policies, although one exists regarding shirts and shoes in campus buildings (except dorms of course and I’m sure some gym areas). We actually have lots of construction on campus, including on the front steps of the library and there are places where broken glass has not been cleaned up for weeks. It would make me unhappy if one of those kids had a painful foot injury walking past those areas.

You know what? Inside campus buildings is assuredly safer that outside, yet the (supposed) policy lets people walk barefoot outside and bans it inside. Does that really make any sense if safety is really the issue. Oh, and the studies show that it is the barefooted populations that have happy and healthy feet, not shod populations.

But, I do have to admit that I have a chip on my shoulder. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and to have libraries, libraries that not only should know better but actually have the proper information at hand in their collection to check these things out, be the foremost governmental bodies that ban bare feet hits me right where it hurts. And I have had librarians flat out lie.

When I tried to challenge the policy of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, their Director wrote a letter to their legal counsel, asking for

the legal reasons that CML can give for requiring its customers to dress appropriately for a public place?

After that, they suddenly started using the reason that the policy had been created, years ago, to

safeguard the health and safety of Library patrons and maintain the fiscal integrity of the Library.

Gee, you’d think that he would have thought of that when he implemented the policy, and would not have had to ask his lawyer for a good reason.

And then, when I tried to challenge the policy at the Fairfield County District Library, the Board there

upheld its current Code of Conduct based on what they Board feels is the proper decorum for our organization.

Of course, when I challenged that further, they changed their reason. It then became

for the stated reason that it is the fiscal responsibility of the Board to reduce and eliminate any risks which may potentially produce costly liability.

Of course, they felt no need to reduce any risks associated with high-heels (and ignored the fact that they have insurance for these sorts of things, and are also statutorily immune from tort liability).

As I’ve looked around trying to get library services, I’ve had 3 different libraries that did not have any footwear policy implement one shortly after they saw me in their libraries. I didn’t bother anybody; I caused no problems. They just saw me and decided that they needed to keep me out while dressed in my preferred, non-disruptive state.

Now, maybe “authoritarian” does not apply to oelibrarian. But it surely applies to these other librarians who are more interested in ignoring true health and safety issues and are more interested in imposing their own particular sense of decorum on their visitors, rather than accepting differences that have nothing to do with running a library.

And that is why I ask “What is it about librarians?”

What is it about librarians?

May 21, 2010

Bumping this up from a comment.

From the Oelibrarian blog, an entry entitled Just desserts on bare feet.

The author is “a fairly new, tenure-track faculty librarian.” The author also hates bare feet, saying

If you are a follower of this blog, you know I am virtually militant about the no bare feet in the library issue and don’t hesitate to tell students they need to wear shoes while in the library.

Whatever for? Who cares? Why should you care? What problem does such a ban solve? None. None at all.

It seems like librarians are among the worst authoritarians for telling other people what to do for no other reason than that they like to order them around. Libraries, more than any other governmental entity, seem to like to ban bare feet. I did an internet survey a while back (using Google and other search engines to find libraries’ codes of conduct). Approximately 2/3 of public libraries have a shoe rule, and approximately 1/5 of college libraries do.

In the comments, the author adds that no bare feet is a campus-wide policy. I really have doubts about this—I have never heard of a college or university with a campus-wide barefoot ban. What do they do in the dorms, for instance? By the way, the author’s part of the state university system of New York, which makes me doubt it even more.

PS. My daughter is a librarian, so this is no knee-jerk antipathy to librarians, just those who are more impressed with their own self of self-importance and who succumb to their authoritarian impulses.

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