Monday, August 15, 2016

V 6 N. 56 The Other Books by Jim Fixx and Comments from My Super Intelligent Friends

Jim Fixx was not a one dimensional man.   You hear his name and you think ,  author of  The Complete Book of  Running.    That book in  1977  made him a household name in the road racing world.  He put out a lot of good ideas that along with the successes of Frank Shorter, Kenny Moore, Bill Rodgers and then a raft of others as time progressed would grease the wheels of the running boom.  We all remember that Fixx died in a rather untimely manner of a heart attack while out running at age 52.  It was suggested that a predisposition (his father died at 43 of the same cause), an unhealthy lifestyle of smoking and a stressful job may also have been contributing factors.

A month ago while browsing through the book section of my favorite second hand store in Courtenay, BC, I came across a small book called Games for the Superintelligent.   I was   attracted not by the title, for obvious reasons  but by the author, one James F. Fixx.  

It was published by Doubleday in 1972 and portions of it appeared in Playboy, a magazine some of you may remember for its occasional literary interjections and  enhancements.     I personally recall nothing of what I may have accidentally read in Playboy.  Fixx would write two more books of a similar nature.

Mr. Fixx introduces us to some of his experiences hanging out at MENSA meetings and talking to a number of societal misfits about their hobbies.

Chapters include
I.  The pleasures of intelligence --and some incidental perils
II. Puzzles and games to start going quietly crazy by
III. Words to the wise (and from them too)
IV. Those wonderful laws of logic (and how they can fool you every time)

Here is a short example  being that you  probably  have an interest in running and fitness  and are somewhat above average on the IQ chart.

"Intelligence can cause trouble, too , by teasing the mind into supposing it can solve problems that in fact may defy solution.  One bright man, a person who on occasion enjoys a drink or two, addressed himself to the problem of losing weight while continuing to drink, with,  in his own words, the following results."

"Losing weight, of course, is a matter of burning up more calories than you take in.  A calorie, as everyone knows, is defined as 'the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree centigrade.'

"Let us take a good glass of Scotch and soda.  Since a gram of water is pretty close to 1cc (to make it simple) , put in plenty of ice and fill it up to about six or seven ounces, making it , say, 200cc.  Since it contains melting ice, its temperature must be 0 degrees Centigrade (neglecting the temperature lowering effect of the alcohol, Scotch, and gas). "

"Sooner or later the body must furnish 7400 calories (200x37 degrees C.) to bring it up to body temperature.  Since the calorie-counter books show Scotch as 100 calories per shot, and club soda as 0 calories, we should be able to sit around all day, drinking Scotch and soda, and losing weight like mad."
"P.S.  I tried this and it didn't work."   So much for pure reasoning.

Anyway, we plan to start dropping one of Fixx's problems at the end of each new posting, with the answer hoping this will in some way pay hommage to the man for his contributions to our sport.

Here is the first puzzle, a simple one so as not to discourage hurdlers  and pole vaulters.

Jarring Experience

There are two jars of equal capacity.  In the first jar there is one amoeba.  In the second jar there are two amoebas.  An amoeba can reproduce itself in three minutes.  I takes the two amoebas in the second jar three hours to fill the jar to capacity.  How long does it take the one amoeba in the first jar to fill that jar to capacity?

editor's note   Some bright soul may argue that without nutrient and water, the question is moot as there would not be enough material to fill either jar.   Put that assumption aside and just do the math.

Ans. at bottom of posting.

Most of you are probably watching the Olympics as I write this.  Here's a few comments coming in from some of my 'Super  Intelligent Friends' 

Haven't seen any of the field events yet, but what a stunning 400 followed by all the hype and drama of the 100.  Needless to say the Canadian television folks were ecstatic about De Grasse as well they should.   For once there was a very good back story on Wade Van Niekerk and his 74 years old lady coach Ans Botha and Van Niekerk's  family in Blomfontein, S.A.   If he's the only man ever to run sub 10, sub 20, and sub 44, I wonder what he could do in the 800.  I think Jim Kemp back in the 60s had this kind of versatility.  

Steve Price

to me

43.03......My God

Phil Scott

On Ionia lap top watched womens TJ Columbian girl just over 15m, ORJI usa girl 4th like 14.71 lost bronze by 1/2". Men's hj. Had good likev7ft5 go on Drouin made it.

Tom Trumpler sends this:

Have you guys noticed the little green remote controlled trucks that dutifully return the thrown discus back to the throwing ring. Once at the ring, an official reaches over, retrieves the discus, and then the little green truck does a u-turn and heads back out to the landing area!

Great amusement is listening to the three track announcers.
Did you guys notice in heat #9 of the women's 200 prelims that 7-time Olympic medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown, running in Lane 6, crosses over to Lane 7 at the final straight and finishes in Lane 7. Meantime, the three announcers, who spent the entire last 15 seconds of the race talking only about Campbell-Brown's career, failed to either notice or comment on this experienced runner's blunder!

 (Sorry can't load the pictures but I think we all get the point.) ed.
- Coming in to the final straight, VCB in Lane 6.
- At 13.3 seconds, VCB is straddling Lanes 6 & 7.
- At 17.3 seconds VCB is fully in Lane 7.
- At 22.6 seconds, VCB is crossing the finish line in Lane 7 !?

George notes that  the Canadian track announcers include David Moorcroft the great British runner sandwiched between two lesser names who are struggling with their knowledge of what is going on during the races. Moorcroft must be gritting his teeth and counting the money.

Steve Price

My new hero, or is that heroine, now is Simone Biles. (Along with Ashton Eaton) there are damn few around......with the demise of a certain cyclist and a certain decathlete.

Phil Scott

Aug 14

800m mens final  
   Prediction                   Actual
1.Rudishsa   1:42       1. Rudisha   1:42.15
2.Bosse                      2. Mkhloufi   1:42.61
3.Makhlwfi                  3. Murphy    1:42.93
4.Murphy.                   4. Bosse       1:43.41                                                        
5. Kipketer.                 5 Rotich     1:43.55                                                        
6.Berian                    6. Lewandowski 1:44
                                   7. Kipketer   1:46.02
                                   8. Berian 1:46.15

Steve Price

Hell is having to watch more than 
twenty (20) minutes of beach 
volleyball. It reminds me of when my 
girls were playing HS volleyball. The 
first game was trying as I was so 
skinny my butt was mostly bone and 
not much protection against the
 bleachers unforgiving hardness.....
later I brought a small pillow. Nonethe
less I have, to this day, hated any volleyball related activity.....even if 
the girls played in the buff, I wouldn't watch more than three (3) or four (4) 
ho urs at the most.

Steve Price

david rapp

to PhilmeSteveBillRichoyTimSylvia


Way to stick your neck out with the predictions.

I think Clayton will finish a little farther back than 4th.  Nonetheless, what an accomplishment to get to the finals.

Congrats to Bolt and van Niekerk.  So 
much fun to watch.


Phil Scott

Martinez out 1500m, too bad knocked out of 800m
 in trials her real event.

Bruce Kritzler

Another day, another WR - Womens' Hammer "Wolardychek", Poland 282'
Emma Coburn, Bronze in Steeple (and ESPN Naked) AR?
3 men steeplers through to final

Bruce Kritzler

Correction Wlordarsyk 269-11 (82m+)WR


to Bruce
Is this the best US has been in distances for awhile?  Maybe ever?
At least being a presence in the finals?   I don't have the time or
 energy to do that kind of research.

From Steve Price:
The 10k shows how far women have 
come.....and how much more we can
expect from them when world class
10k women get together!  Come on 
NCAA, move XC to 10K for women.
Several years ago at an NCAA DI 
coaches meeting, there was a hand 
count for approval of moving up the 
XC distance.  There was one (1) 
hand raised...mine. Eventually
the race went to 6k which is a 
meaningless distance.  I hope  this
changes soon... probably will not as a
lot of coahces want their 800-1500 
people to run XC and the 10k 
distance could scare them off.
Women have shown their ability to 
compete at the same distances as 
men.  In fact at the annual 'swim
round' Manhattan Island, there is
no separation of genders and 
sometimes the overall winner is there.

Phil Scott

Algerian 400IH looked smooth, Clement too sluggish but should medal.   Tinsley.  uggh..

Correction Wlordarsyk 269-11 (82m+)WR


I do not know whether to stand in awe of the performance, we just witnessed in the 
10,000M Final-Women's by Almaz Ayana of
 Ethiopia in a world record of 29:17

or, should I question if this is in part a result of HGH/HMG? or other drug use?

Your thoughts!

Congratulations to Molly Huddle, finishing in 
7th. in 30:22 for an American Record.

I agree whole heartedly with the announcer
that they need to begin requiring lapped 
runners to run wide in the 2nd or even the 
3rd lane.
The crew did a pretty good job of keeping it 
straight for us.


She was truly phenomenal.  So was everybody else. There were
 tons of NRs, PBs, second place also under WR.   Maybe they 
should remeasure the track.  If PEDs give you a 5%
improvement what would her unaided time be?
I calculate 30:44.  Still not too shabby.  As a race between
 individuals, it was pretty boring.   I'm sure a lot of people are 
asking the same questions as you are John.  What happened to
 Nigel Amos in the 800?

John Bork , Jr.

Dear George:

Ngel Amos was off my radar. I am ashamed! He is now running
 in heat 4 - Boy did he tank! 1:50.46

Murphy and Jock were anything but, inspired.

Maybe with luck Murphy, who was bumped a couple of times, 
Whoo! Murphy advanced on time! Great!
will make the semi's on time. My fingers are crossed. I thought 
he was our most
likey 800M man to be able to make the big jump in time in the 
finals to medal.

I almost missed the 800M heats by switching between the NBS coverage that switched to
water polo after the Women's 10K  and the women's Soccer NBCSN. 
(I'm have not been able to "get into" water polo: too static for me!)

Thomas Coyne

Aug 12 (3 days ago)
to meJohnRichJerrySteveWayneDonNicktomKenDarrylosatkins

I only saw the middle part of the race where Ayana broke away 
from the field with the Kenyan lady vainly trying to chase her.  I
 thought she was a beautiful runner, smooth, fast and head and
shoulders above most of the rest of the field.  Considering how 
much she won by I'm surprised (and pleased) that so many 
other runners were able to maintain and run personal bests.

It is a sad commentary on our sport that the first reaction to a 
marvelous athletic performance is "was it artificially aided".  
This is not the first race Ayana has ever won.  She has already
 beaten the former world record holder once.

Until somebody has hard evidence of wrong doing I'm just 
going to be happy that I saw, at least, part of a historic race.

Take care,


John Bork , Jr.


For the past 10 years, I have maintained an optimistic attitude 
about PEDS:  giving the advantage of the doubt to the athletes.

But, more recently, as I see that the Russians have been back 
at it;
and that many questions have begun to arise about the laxness 
ofthe North African Countries drug testing programs, I have 
begun to reserve judgement.

The Brazilian Anti Doping Lab did not reach qualification for the
 testing at the Rio Games.
So, they are air mailing samples and results back and forth from
 another country,..... Mexico? I believe?

10 years ago or so, when the Chinese runner set the 10K WR, 
She and her teammates disappeared off the face of the map 
when drug charges were made.

PS: I'm getting a little crazy switching  back and forth from NBC 
      I almost missed the first heat in the mens 800M

Ken Gerry


Hi John,
That's the whole trouble with this drug deal. If someone does 
well, I wonder, and perhaps we all wonder if it's "better 
performance through chemistry."

Sent from my iPhone

Richard Mach

Aug 12 (3 days ago)
to mejohnborksales
Geo -

In 1979, as the main article w/in the first issue of The Racer's 
Edge, (TRE), I examined the biomechanical advantage of a
 track surface conceived of, then put into place, by a Harvard 
bio-mechanist and a Harvard engineer.   They found the 
average "hysteresis" or memory of elastic human muscle and
 then incorporated that into a running surface that would 'give 
back' more or most of the energy to the runner after the foot 
striking, compression of the surface underneath, rolling over the
 top, and then rebounding as the foot begins releasing contact 
w. that same surface.   Now this was an indoor oval.    I am 
wondering on the strength of their findings then, if some of their
innovations have been -- somehow -- embedded into this latter
 day state-of-the-art blue outdoor 400 m track?

This was 37 years ago, so I may be a it off on this, but the
 amount of improvement I calculated remained rather small, but,
 nonetheless, it was a great start!

As a sidebar on the joys -- albeit, yet another cautionary tale -- of
 the inherent dangers of publishing :   The engineer threatened 
me with a lawsuit if I continued referring to his joint baby as The 
Fastrac.  Apparently, he was pouting as he hadn't thought of it 
first.  It was an entirely deadpan, hostile communique as I
 remember it and not so coincidentally came soon after 
publication of the 2nd TRE issue, wherein I 'corrected' some of
 my earlier calculations that then put the comparative 
performances in less strong a salutary light.  Simple math errors
 due to Inattention.  

The first -- and only -- communique from the other member of 
this dynamic duo, the bio mechanist prof, was glowing after I'd 
sent him a draft copy of the signal article asking for comments, 
additions, and corrections before publishing   He'd returned it 
along w a video tape featuring the track I was unable to ever 
play I was in such financially extenuating circumstances at that 
time; as well as a letter that was w/out any changes, but 
included his stated impression that I understood the track better
 than anyone else in the world.  

Given how very down on my luck I was and at the beginning of
what proved to be a very extenuating, long transition from 
scientist/researcher to clinician via the checkered route of 
university adjunct prof @ Michigan's Flint campus, honchoing 
an international attended 8 wk seminar entitled "Science and 
Sportin 1980, doing consultant research for the Federal govt., 
publishing TRE -- the magazine -- and a television series -- 
Inside Sports -- as well, I couldn't imagine anything that would
 have been more certain to lift my spirits.   And, alone, propelled
 me into a 2.5 yr period of intense multi variate professional 
activity.   Just putting this together for myself this moment.  

By placing into simple, everyday language the conceptual
 science I'd read about in Scientific American I apparently had 
served to apparently further clarify somehow for them what they
 were in the midst of creating and bringing into being.  An 
outsider third wheel in bringing this to an interested,
scientifically inclined public as well.  Perhaps the engineer was
 afraid I was going to, somehow, 'steal' their idea as his hostile,
 downright nasty letter came out of the blue.  Ah, Harvard, 
spawning sewer of the Master Class.

Re-reading this sounds like just so much self congratulatory 
clap-trap.  Yet it did happen, now half a lifetime ago. The most challenging and exciting portion of my life.   I am certainly guilty 
of re-engaging -- in unsolicited print -- with distant memories, 
possibly at your expense.  If so, consider my apologies as 

I suspect this is the first flush of returning to the land of the
living after nearly two months of illness, fevers, infections, an 
infestation, three serious simultaneous maladies, a serious 
untoward reaction to a hormonally based anti-Inflammatory, as 
well as an absent "Treat and Street" medical specialist.  

That profession hardly has in front of it a bright future.



George Brose 

to JohnRichJerrySteveWayneThomasDonNicktomKenDarrylosatkins
The good side of PEDs.   I've become acquainted this summer
with the kid in this article  Robby Thompson, here on Vancouver
 Island while teaching a class of improv comedy.  I realized he
 had some 'mild' health issues, but he never mentioned what he 
had been through.  I'm sure he has had to consume a lot of
 drugs to be where he is right now , but I can only admire him 
for the fortitude and courage he has displayed all of his young 
life.  He is also a very intelligent young man with a quick wit and
 great sense of humour.  I only learned of his story today in our
local newspaper.

Also on the opposite side of the coin  referring to Lance 
Armstrong, I once made a disparaging remark about Armstrong 
to a friend who had been through a lot of crap dealing with 
melanoma.  Her reply to me, was " If it weren't for Armstrong's
 foundation, I wouldn't be here today".  She was able to get the 
benefits of an experimental drug with the help of the foundation
 and has been alive and active for 7 or 8 years with ongoing 
treatment.  She has one bad week each month but has managed
 to recreate herself from an industrial engineer to a glass artist 
in that time.  Wonderful lady and someone Armstrong should
 meet someday.    
I know this is a little off track from the subject matter we've been 
talking about but I think it is worth sharing.   

The Answer to the Jim Fixx question for the Super Intelligent

A Jarring Experience
Three hours and three minutes.  Once the amoeba in the first
jar has reproduced itself (a process that takes three miutes),
that jar is at the same point at which the second jar started.  
The only difference is that it is three miuntes behind.

That wasn't too hard was it?  Just wait.

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