Archive for February, 2011

Don’t Speak Ill of the Dead

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.

Read Full Post »

Vampire spiders and "human" scent

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

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.

Read Full Post »

If Your Name is "Barefoot"

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.

Read Full Post »

Two Feet of Snow

Via Dan in a comment. The image comes from The Worley Gig:

Two Feet of Snow

Two Feet of Snow

Read Full Post »

A Little Snow Fun

OK, this is just a bit of fun, with no deep significance at all.

We had about half an inch of snow at my house today, and I walked in it on my driveway while fetching the mail, leaving a nice set of snowprints. Here is one of them:



The cool thing is what happens if you use photo processing software to invert the image (sending dark to light and vice versa). It then actually looks like a cast of your foot. See for yourself:

Inverted Snowprint

Inverted Snowprint


Read Full Post »

More weird podiatrist stuff

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.

Read Full Post »

Uncontacted Amazonians

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.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: