The United States walks the least of any industrialized nation. Studies employing pedometers have found that where the average Australian takes 9,695 steps per day (just a few shy of the supposedly ideal “10,000 steps” plateau, itself the product, ironically, of a Japanese pedometer company’s campaign in the 1960s), the average Japanese 7,168, and the average Swiss 9,650, the average American manages only 5,117 steps. Where a child in Britain, according to one study, takes 12,000 to 16,000 steps per day, a similar U.S. study found a range between 11,000 and 13,000.

America's walking crisis. The problem, of course, is that much of the United States was laid out with the expectation that we'd all be driving. It would be interesting to see some of the companies selling pedometers, like Fitbit, Jawbone, or Nike, to release some data on average steps walked by region. Among the reasons I miss New York City, one of the main ones is how much that city rewarded pedestrians in every way.


A good overview of the debate over whether the economic growth from technological innovation is plateauing or just in a temporary adjustment lull.


Also related to The Great Stagnation, here's a post speculating what would happen if we all just popped Modafinil all the time so we only needed to sleep about a quarter as much each day without losing mental acuity.

That might be good for economic output, but it also might just accrue to increased time on the sofa. If Netflix starts mailing you Modafinil pills, consider it creative marketing for House of Cards 5.


Is soccer irreparably corrupted by match fixing? Even if it is, does it matter if people are still paying and watching in high numbers?

It's a crisis less felt in the United States because we don't really follow the sport the same way we do other sports, but if this were one of the three majors (football, basketball, baseball), the outrage would be much higher. We enjoy the concept of sports as games with somewhat probabilistic outcomes.

Perhaps the illusion that outcomes are not predetermined is sufficient? The most profitable enterprises are those which are, on the whole, deterministic, even as they offer probabilistic outcomes in any single trial. The monument to that is Las Vegas.


Isn't it strange that some of our best reviews of TV shows come in book review journals? As evidence: Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, and Homeland. Yes, for those keeping score, two of those are by the talented Lorrie Moore, so that explains a lot of it.


ESPN the Magazine is consistently disappointing in its content, but a recent issue on perfection included a great article on Tiger Woods constant quest to reinvent his golf swing, with this gorgeous graphic (PDF) illustrating the differences among the four major incarnations of his swing .

A superior way to putt

A small but distinguished group of golfers and instructors argue that the best way to putt in golf is sidesaddle.

"It will probably take a Tour pro adopting it to make sidesaddle popular, but I have always said that it's absolutely the best way of putting," said Dan Pasquariello, a Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy in California.
Dave Pelz, the research-driven putting guru, agrees. The best putter he has ever measured, including Tour pros, was a 10- to 12- handicap amateur who putted from the side. "He never, ever started a ball off line, and he was very good at distance control, too," Pelz said. The two primary advantages are the simple mechanics of the straight-back, straight-through pendulum stroke, and the use of binocular vision.

Seems convincing to me. Putting from the side has always reminded me of trying to play billiards standing to the side of the ball. It makes it artificially difficult to get the ball started on the right line, though opponents would argue that's precisely the point. Sam Snead putted croquet style at one point, but the USGA outlawed that method as they felt it made it too easy to putt.