Friday, March 30, 2007

Lessons from a Tragedy

Joshua Peterson of Putnam, Connecticut died on March 19 from compression asphyxiation while working out at a local gym. I extend condolences to his family and friends.

It is likely that Mr. Peterson was doing one of the following exercises:
The decline press is especially hazardous, and the guillotine press speaks for itself.

There are inherent dangers in having a weighted bar near one's neck. This makes a training partner or spotter that much more important on heavy sets. Training partners are good enough for elite powerlifters, and they're good enough for you. (I realize finding a good training partner can be very difficult. The point is just find someone to cover you when the weight gets up there.)

Doing dumbbell bench presses avoids the risk of asphyxiation since the bar element is removed. Other risks remain, though. In a state of fatigue, a person could drop a dumbbell or otherwise lose control, with severe consequences.

Strength training is a wonderful endeavor. Learn from this tragedy to pursue it safely.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Deep Sleep of Ariel Sharon

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon turned 79 last month in a coma. He has been in a coma for over a year.

In August 2005, Sharon dispossessed 8,000 Israelis in the Gaza Strip. This was after Sharon played a key role in establishing Israeli settlement in Gaza and said that withdrawal "will only encourage terror and increase the pressure on us." (See notes 10 and 11 of this article.)

With reference to the dispossession, former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel Ovadia Yosef said in 2005:

The Holy One wants us all to return to the Torah, and then he will strike him [Sharon] with one blow and he will die. He will sleep and never wake up.

The question of prophetic veracity aside, I ask: Is it smart to upset one of the world's preeminent Judaic scholars who convincingly sports eyewear like this?