Sunday, November 23, 2014

Allow Myself to Interview... Myself

This month, KineSophy has agreed to act as a blog tour stop for author Greg Hickey. His debut novel, Our Dried Voices, was released on November 4 and is available for purchase on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He stopped by to answer some questions about his book, and we ended up finding some interesting similarities between our work. Here is the interview:

KineSophy: Hi Greg. Thanks for coming on the blog.
Greg: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.
K: No problem. So your first novel, which was released earlier this month, is called Our Dried Voices. I assume that’s a reference to the way you sound when you’re out of breath from having just finished a really hard workout.
G: Umm… no. Our Dried Voices is about the last human colony on another planet—
K: Wait what!? Another planet? Is this some kind of sci-fi crap?
G: The story has elements of science fiction, but I think dystopian fiction would be a more accurate descriptor.
K: Dystopian… you’re kidding. I’m interviewing Katniss Everdeen? Where is my manager? Jonah! Jonah!... (sighs) He’s never here. How did you get in here anyway?
G: You invited me to do this interview.
K: Right. Well obviously there’s been a mistake. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re a sci-fi nerd and I’m a jock. A smart jock, thank you very much, but nevertheless, our circles just don’t get along. This is a serious fitness blog. I’m not here to talk about teenage vampires or lightsabers.
G: I’ve read your blog, and I think we might have more in common than you seem to believe.
K: Yeah I’m sure. What would a dork like you know about the finer points of a deadlift? Proper squat mechanics? Running a marathon?
G: But KineSophy is not just about fitness. It’s not a site where people go to learn how to do a certain exercise or structure a training program. You’re heavily concerned with ethics, right?
K: True. KineSophy’s overall goal is to connect fitness and ethics, to make people understand why they should be fit, beyond the common reasons like wanting to lose a few pounds, live longer and healthier lives or train for an event like a 10K, half-marathon or marathon.
G: Right. So why should people be fit?
K: In a nutshell, any time you talk about ethical action, you’re necessarily talking about action. So there’s a physical component to ethics right there. A person actually has to perform the right actions in order to be ethical. And there are certain physical actions that human beings should be capable of performing, simply by virtue of being relatively healthy human beings. You should be able to lift your own body weight off the ground. You should be able to rest in a full squat position. You should be able to cover three miles on foot in just over half an hour.
G: So it seems like there’s a certain sense of responsibility. By virtue of being human and having a physical body designed to move in certain ways, you should be able to perform certain physical tasks.
K: That’s right.
G: And Our Dried Voices is about the responsibility humans have to use their minds, to think critically and productively about the world around them.
K: I see. So no spaceships and aliens?
G: There are a few spaceships. But it’s not Star Wars.
K: Hmm… I guess that’s okay. So what happens in the novel?
G: The story is set in the future. Humans cure all their diseases and start to find solutions for global warming, but eventually overpopulation and years of environmental destruction catch up with them and they’re forced to migrate to another habitable planet. They establish a colony on this planet, Pearl, and set everything up to make the colony automated. So machines make and deliver their food and the buildings clean themselves, and the human colonists just run around and play in the colony all day without having to think about anything or solve any problems. But then the machines in the colony begin to break down, and humans have to relearn how to think critically and fend for themselves.
K: And then the stuffy androgynous leader of the colony decides each first born child must fight in a tournament of laser pistol duels that serve to cull and subdue the population while offering a grotesque Coliseum-like form of entertainment?
G: No. No lasers, no children killing each other, and once humans arrive at Pearl, no more spaceships.
K: Really? Then what happens?
G: Every time a new malfunction occurs, one colonist figures out a way to fix it. But then these more intelligent colonists begin to disappear. Eventually, the protagonist Samuel emerges as the new problem-solver. As he and his friend Penny work to keep the colony from collapsing, they begin to find clues that point to the cause of all these malfunctions.
K: So basically the book is about how human beings neglect vital critical thinking skills for the sake of greater comfort, even though that apparent bliss comes at the price of ignorance?
G: Yes. Just as KineSophy is about the ways human beings neglect their physical abilities for the sake of modern conveniences. If you think about pre-historic humans, their survival depended on their ability to hunt and grow or find food, to build their own shelters, to constantly invent new ways to solve their problems. Modern technology, for all its benefits, makes it so much easier to neglect those once-vital capabilities.
K: That’s true. But technology is not necessarily a bad thing. You gave the example of being able to cure diseases. Technology and innovation have obviously done a lot of good.
G: I agree. Technology is a wonderful thing. But we can’t forget how much thought and effort went into producing those new inventions and technologies. They are supposed to make our lives easier, so that every single moment of existence doesn’t have to be a struggle for survival. But if we really think about it, we don’t want them to do everything for us. A vital part of the human experience consists in thinking and solving problems. Or as you point out, overcoming physical challenges.
K: Definitely. You’ve said a lot about how humans often neglect their physical and mental capabilities. Multiple articles on this blog have tried to demonstrate the connection between the physical and mental. Do you see that connection in the world as well? Does it show up in Our Dried Voices?
G: There’s absolutely a connection between the physical and mental. We’ve both read the research—from children to the elderly, increased physical activity allows for improved cognitive performance. And while Our Dried Voices focuses primarily on intellectual stimulation, there are definitely moments when physical activity is required. Samuel has to think to solve the problems he faces, but he has to actually perform physical activities to fix them. He has to climb walls and build structures and so forth.
K: So you see a need for physical abilities even in a future society like Our Dried Voices?
G: Yes. I think thought and movement are critical to being human. I don’t think we’ll ever lose the need for those capabilities.
K: I agree. Well that’s all I have. So the novel is currently available, right? Where can readers find it?
G: It’s available in paperback through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and e-book on Amazon Kindle.
K: Great. Thank you for stopping by. This has been surprisingly enlightening.
G: Thank you.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What's Your Fitness Age?

In the previous two months, I have presented arguments for why adherents of egoistic hedonism and altruism have reason to value physical fitness. In September's article on hedonism, I argued that since fitness can help increase life expectancy, hedonists have reason to achieve some measure of fitness in order to maximize pleasure over the course of their lives. A similar argument applies to altruism. Altruists who live healthier, longer lives will have a greater number of opportunities to aid others. To that end, here's an interesting article from the New York Times on finding your fitness age, a better predictor of longevity than actual age. I've also included a link to a quick calculation for fitness age (also provided in the Times article).

What's Your Fitness Age?
Calculate Your Fitness Age