Parkour, BlackBerry For Sale, and Dogs Who Need Humans
Ever want to defy gravity like a cat? To scale a wall, jump through a railing, or tumble off a two-story building? Looks like you might have your chance. According to a recent New York Times article and video essay, parkour, the art of moving fluidly and efficiently through obstacles in an outdoor—usually urban—area, is moving inside to a gym near you. Many bemoan these parkour gyms as a sign that parkour is becoming mainstream. According to Wikipedia, parkour started on the streets of France. David Belle, one of its founders, was influenced by his father, who trained in the French military on parcours (obstacle courses) developed by French naval officer Georges Hébert. For his part, Hébert was influenced by the athletic prowess of indigenous tribes in Africa; he wrote, “their bodies were splendid, flexible, nimble, skillful, enduring, and resistant but yet they had no other tutor in gymnastics but their lives in nature.” David Belle and his cousins and friends’ genius lay in applying this training based on “lives in nature” to the urban environment. For more videos on parkour, here are links to The World’s Best Parkour and Freerunning 2012 event and the parkour chase scene in Casino Royale.
—Nicola Fucigna, Fiction Editor
You Could Buy BlackBerry
For someone like me, who, not needing a smartphone for work, prefers to use his mobile device to merely talk and text, BlackBerry’s immense six-year plummet (the company’s stock is now worth about $10 per share) invokes little sentimentality. Some years back, while visiting my younger sister at college, I quickly became fed up with borrowing her BlackBerry to check emails at a bar; aesthetically and functionally, the Internet browser was miserable. But there’s also no Schadenfreude here. I’m not any sort of technophile or technosnob, and my tech brand loyalty is contingent upon how perfectly a device fits my current needs (and how cheaply it is priced). In fact, I actually feel kind of bad for BlackBerry, in that its two most recent high-profile smartphones, the Q10 and Z10, which represented the company’s attempt to reenter the market, are apparently excellent devices that few people bought and even fewer people know about. (Obviously I don’t actually feel bad for a company that haughtily dismissed its competition, the iPhone, as an unserious toy and henceforth proceeded to make only wrong development decisions.) Maybe those people could band together and buy the company, for which they would receive, among other things, “a pile of cash,” according to a New Yorker blog post.
By the way, the blog comments are fantastic. My favorite is the one from John30, who writes in an elliptical style reminiscent of my dad’s email compositions (minus the acronym slang):
[quote]Apple is just as vulnerable…these iphone 5’s or 6’s or 10’s mean nothing…the luster has worn off for Apple as well…my Blackberry functions as a modem…I have GSM capability….I have dropped it numerous times…….I like the keyboard…….it is already a museum piece…I bought in on 34th street at a Verizon store……but, performs wonderfully…now that Icahn has his fingers in Apple….LOL….see what happens……I am not a MAC or Apple fan….because of my disdain for anything ‘california’….a loser state.[/quote]
—Nathan Schiller, Editor
The Dog-Human Link
Growing up an only child, I begged and begged for a brother or sister. But when that approach proved futile, I redirected my plea and asked for a dog. So, finally, when I was eleven, my parents got me a little German Shepherd puppy that quickly grew-up to be a big, unruly, and very protective dog. Despite his size and aggression, to me he was more than a “man’s best friend”; Archy was like a little brother. We did everything together, and even had silly fights, a la siblings (I would get very upset with him when he refused to snuggle in my bed or pitched a fit about having to run around the house in one of my oversized T-shirts). At times, I would even get envious of the attention he was getting from my dad (because he was of course always doing something wrong, like eating all of the raw meat off the cutting board before a BBQ), and as a result I would act out in my own way to receive my fair share of reprimanding.
Now, mostly a grown-up myself, I have a dog to whom I am even more attached than my childhood companion. Instead of filling the void of a sibling, my adopted Black Lab-Weimaraner mix, fills the void of having kids of my own. My husband and I often argue over whom she loves more, although it’s no real contest—Nia Gray is a mama’s girl. I run with her past all the mothers running with strollers, worry about her every cut or scrape, and find her off-beat personality quirks (like her fear of umbrellas) endearing. Given my experience growing-up with and then raising a dog, I was not all too surprised to find about Lisa Horn’s recent study: “Dog-human link is similar to that of parent-child.”
Some may argue that the dog-human relationship is mostly one-sided and we silly dog people just become obsessed with our pets while the animal only needs us for food. However, biologist and director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol’s School of Clinical Veterinary Science in England, John Bradshaw claims, “In many instances dogs actually benefit (from the relationship) more so (than humans do) . . . Their number one priority (after basic needs are met) is to form an attachment to people.” For a dog-lover like me, this is reassuring to hear. I can’t help being crazy about my dog: it’s scientifically proven that I have to love her, and plus, it’s all for her own wellbeing.
And, if you are a fellow dog-enthusiast, this is a heartwarming must watch video about a tiny, disabled puppy who learns how to walk with the help of others who believe in and support the “dog-human link.”
—Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Poetry Editor