Exercise is good for you but has little impact on weight

For one fascinating study, published in the journal Obesity Research in 1994, researchers subjected seven pairs of sedentary young identical twins to a 93-day period of intense exercise. For two hours a day, nearly every day, they’d hit a stationary bike.

The twins were also housed as in-patients in a research lab under 24-hour supervision and fed by watchful nutritionists who measured their every calorie to make sure their energy intake remained constant.

Despite going from being mostly sedentary to spending a couple of hours exercising almost every day, the participants only lost about 11 pounds on average, ranging from as little as 2 pounds to just over 17 pounds, almost all due to fat loss. The participants also burned 22 percent fewer calories through exercise than the researchers calculated prior to the study starting. [link]

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Black actors, green and blue faces

Idris Elba is in four major studio films this year, but you won’t see his face in any of them. Three of those high-profile jobs are voice roles: In addition to playing Chief Bogo in Zootopia and Shere Khan in The Jungle Book, Elba has a supporting part in Pixar’s upcoming Finding Dory. His only live-action role in the lot is playing the villainous Krall in Star Trek Beyond, where he’s buried under so many facial prosthetics that he’s more than unrecognizable — he’s a different color entirely…

I wish I could call all these castings a fluke. I worry they’re not. Look at Lupita Nyong’o, whose most notable roles since winning the Oscar for 12 Years a Slave have been playing the orange alien Maz Kanata in Star Wars and the white wolf Raksha in The Jungle Book. In this summer’s video-game adaptation Warcraft, Paula Patton is slathered in green paint as the half-human, half-orc Garona, which makes me wonder if she consulted Zoe Saldana for advice before taking the role: After all, Saldana has already played green in Guardians of the Galaxy and blue in Avatar. [link]

Baby diapers are noxious, but babies are not terrorists

One of the plaintiffs is a 4-year-old baby from California, listed in the lawsuit as “Baby Doe.”

“He was 7 months old when his boarding pass was first stamped with the ‘SSSS’ designation, indicating that he had been designated as a ‘known or suspected terrorist,'” said the lawsuit. “While passing through airport security, he was subjected to extensive searches, pat-downs and chemical testing.”

“Every item in his mother’s baby bag was searched, including every one of his diapers.” [link]

Kieran Healy on philosophers acting badly

many of the standard forms of philosophical rudeness are less about content and more about asserting one’s social position or trying to enact a specific model of “being smart”. For example, aggressively asking “Why is this interesting?“, or querulously saying “I just don’t understand”, or simply pulling a face (oh god, the face-pullers) are all interventions that depend for their effectiveness on prior beliefs about who is clever and important. They would seem absurd or “simply” rude if someone with no standing tried them. It’s tempting to point to Ludwig Wittgenstein as the exemplar of this approach, and his huge success as the reason his methods have echoed down through the years. [link]

Many Black residents are excluded from Amazon’s same day delivery

From “Amazon Doesn’t Consider the Race of Its Customers. Should It?”by David Ingold and Spencer Soper writing for Bloomberg.

In six major same-day delivery cities, however, the service area excludes predominantly black ZIP codes to varying degrees, according to a Bloomberg analysis that compared Amazon same-day delivery areas with U.S. Census Bureau data.

In Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, cities still struggling to overcome generations of racial segregation and economic inequality, black citizens are about half as likely to live in neighborhoods with access to Amazon same-day delivery as white residents… The most striking gap in Amazon’s same-day service is in Boston, where three ZIP codes encompassing the primarily black neighborhood of Roxbury are excluded from same-day service, while the neighborhoods that surround it on all sides are eligible. [link]

Amazon city-comparisons

The most powerful writing I have read this month, on re-visioning America’s history

This was written as a response by the author to somebody who complained that Monticello and Montpelier devoted too much energy to mentioning the history of slavery in these places and not enough to the illustrious founders political thoughts. It was posted on the blog The Negro Subversive, with the title “An open letter to White people who tire of hearing about slavery when they visit slave plantations: especially Suzanne Sherman

I do know, that if you had visited any of these stately homes in their heyday, you would have seen far more slaves than free people. A uniformed Black man would have taken your coat and cordially led you deeper into the recesses of the place. You would have seen men and women of all ages, impeccably uniformed, hurrying to and fro, forced by the existential threat of violence, to attend to your comfort. If you had just stood still, you might have gone minutes, even hours, without seeing another White face. Madison had a wife and one son, which means that when the Madison family was home “alone,” if you exclude the one White overseer he employed and the overseer’s family who also lived on the estate, as many as 98% of the people living at Montpelier at any time were enslaved Africans. Which means, that while the story of Madison’s presidency and his intellectual contributions to the nation’s founding are his; the story of Montpelier is the story of its slaves.
…The stealing of a single one of their lives, much less hundreds, is a crime of striking magnitude, which therefore makes up the most important story these buildings can tell. But on this, we disagree. I imagine you would be very disappointed by a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where the 1.5 million Jews and Gentiles killed there are distracting from the all-important discussion of Mein Kampf and Hitler’s lackluster painting career. You probably think the Gallic war is the story of Julius Caesar’s trip to France, not thousands of Romans subjugating thousands of Gauls. You probably think the history of America’s Gilded Age is the the story of how Rockefeller, Carnegie, Vanderbilt and Morgan made and spent their wealth, and not the story of men, women and children who had lived their lives in fiery iron dungeons, sweating to make the gilding. You would probably call the stories I suggest: revisionist history, no, it is history given vision, history which shows us the world as it really was, so we can see it as it really is. [link]

Hillary Clinton and liberal disregard for black and brown lives in other countries

My comments are in italics below, the plain text are all quotes

Normally my posts here are largely quotes, with at most a line or two of commentary, but the quote below, from “I’m With Her… I guess” by Elie Mystal has me so irritated that I’ve been compelled to write a bit more. Here’s the key quote:

“Hillary’s foreign policy is terrifying. If elected, she will kill people. Many of them will be terrorists and some of them will be criminals, but all of them will be people and she will not let other, non-terrorist people, stand in the way of killing the people she thinks we need to kill. And when she’s not killing people, she will be spying on people in case she needs to kill those people later.

So… that’s bad.

But I don’t understand liberals who hate Hillary Clinton. ”  [link]

There are three things that really bother me about this. The first is the idea that a “terrifying” foreign policy, one that will lead to the deaths of many people overseas, should be ignored by liberals. Shouldn’t a terrifying foreign policy be enough for at least some liberals to hate the candidate whose advocates such things? Why does the author, who is himself a black man, set this up and then dismiss it in the next breath? 

Second, and equally as bothersome, this statement minimizes the absolute bloodiness of what he is describing, and makes the pursuit of people considered enemies of the state an antiseptic one. Consider Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. There was nothing antiseptic about any of these. Over 10,000 rounds of depleted uranium were fired in Iraq, raising concerns about long term radioactive poisoning. Heck, they’re still clearing mines from Laos, a conflict from 40 years ago. And Libya is currently a bad situation, both for the Libyans and for neighboring countries. Any military action the US engages in has the potential to hurt a lot of civilians both now and into the future. And you know what? Those brown and black lives matter too.

Last, this statement misconstrues Clinton’s broader approach to foreign policy, missing what makes her distinctive as a candidate. Clinton was one of the most hawkish members of the Obama administration. 

“For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has.” [link]

Evan Osnos of the New Yorker said that she is closer to the Republican foreign policy establishment than any other candidate. And remember, Hillary’s mentor is Henry Kissinger, a man she vacations with. Her foreign policy will be Kissinger-esque, and Kissinger was chilling in his disregard for the lives of people in the Global South.

None of this is to deny that there are good reasons to support Hillary Clinton. There are. But what bothers me is when liberals make statements that either minimize her foreign policy, trying to treat it like it doesn’t matter or worse, like the lives of people living in poor countries doesn’t matter. I just wish we would see more intellectual honesty and open discussion about this aspect of the candidate.