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Mercredi, 26 Octobre 2011 12:00

Mr. Know-It-All: Bike Safety, Human Growth Hormone, Blog Bungles

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Illustration: Christoph Niemann

My daughter just got a job in a big city, and she’s thinking about commuting by bicycle. Am I right to fear for her safety?

Even the staunchest proponents of two-wheeled transport can’t deny that bicyclists endure more injuries than their fuel-guzzling counterparts. A recent one-year study of nearly 1,000 regular bike commuters in Portland, Oregon, for instance, found that 18 percent suffered at least one injury, and about 30 percent of those wounded required medical attention. But that’s no reason to repossess your daughter’s Schwinn. Her odds of perishing in a crash may be higher than if she were driving, but they’re still pretty low: According to a 2006 study by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were just 0.07 fatalities per every million miles traveled by the state’s bicyclists, versus 0.02 fatalities for every million miles logged by cars. Also, the fitness-boosting benefits of cycling may outweigh the risks: A 2010 Dutch study concluded that people who switch from driving to cycling for short trips actually increase their average life expectancy by up to 14 months.

Instead of breaking into a cold sweat every time you imagine your daughter pedaling to work, assuage your anxiety by buying her some solid headgear: The Portland researchers found helmets reduced serious injuries by 70 percent. And encourage her to wear reflective clothing and to avoid roads in poor condition — ordinary potholes are the cause of many a cycling injury.

Still freaked? At least be thankful that your girl wants to rely on human power; the fatality rate for motorcyclists is roughly 35 times higher than for car drivers.

When you Google my name, a bitter blog post by an ex-girlfriend pops up. Should I preemptively mention and explain this to potential employers?

Professional spinmeisters call this getting in front of the problem. And their first rule for determining when such a move is prudent is to assess whether uncloseting a skeleton can cause lasting harm. In other words, how big of an ass were you? Does your ex’s criticism focus on the noisiness of your eating or your kitchen’s foul stench? Then let it lie — reasonable folks will dismiss her post as simple sour grapes.

But if she accuses you of more dastardly deeds, it’s wise to take the initiative and seize the narrative. Opening up about your romantic failings may feel awkward, but brutal honesty has its rewards. According to a forthcoming study in the Academy of Management Journal, those workers who are the most upfront about their foibles during their job interviews are happier in their jobs and receive more positive performance evaluations.

But be smooth about how you bring up the offending harangue. Virginia Kay of the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, one of the study’s coauthors, suggests waiting until the very end of a job interview, after you’ve made a solid impression. “That’s a good time to say, ‘I’m a bit concerned about my Internet profile, and I’m happy to answer any questions about it.’”

You could avoid this whole situation, of course, if your ex-girlfriend took down her post. Ever thought about rebuilding that incinerated bridge? Time heals many wounds, so maybe she’s ready to abandon her wrath. But please be cautious if she wants to discuss the matter in a darkened alley — and insists that you come unarmed.

My friend recently offered me some human growth hormone, which he swears has made him look years younger. Should I try the stuff?

Contrary to what you’ve heard from celebrities and spambots, there is little evidence that HGH can help healthy adults repel Father Time. HGH research cited in the media focuses on undersized kids or elite athletes, populations who use the drug for specific purposes. But when Stanford researchers reviewed the scant literature on HGH’s use by healthy (but old) folks, they concluded that the drug “cannot be recommended as an antiaging therapy.”

Consider the reported adverse effects. Those range from soft-tissue swelling to joint pain, with an outside chance of acromegaly — abnormal growth of the hands, feet, and face. Are you willing to hazard those hazards on the off chance you might shed a few wrinkles?

Your pal’s HGH may also be fake; some such black-market drugs are counterfeit. And you’re aware that possessing HGH without a prescription is illegal, right?

Instead of looking for a pharmaceutical shortcut, how about trying to look younger by putting in a little effort? Start running. Practice yoga. Get the Bieber haircut.

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