Links 9/19/10

As a tiny island nation makes a big sacrifice, will the rest of the world follow suit? Mongabay

19 Turkeys in My Yard. Somebody Call Michael Pollan! Brad DeLong. Gee, I was really pleased when I saw five turkeys in Maine (big suckers, at very close range too).

Exercise Has Minor Effect On Weight Loss, According To Growing Body Of Research Guardian. Given that virtually no trainers, and therefore pretty much no consumers, know exercise physiology, this result isn’t surprising (the protocols discussed in the article aren’t very good for weight loss). And the comments by researchers indicate no awareness of hormonal response issues.

Members of U.S. platoon in Afghanistan accused of killing civilians for sport Washington Post

Bill Maher digs up O’Donnell ‘witchcraft’ clip Associated Press via Raw Story

Obama’s view of liberal criticisms Glenn Greenwald (hat tip reader Emilano Z)

Does the NYT Allow Its Reporters to Talk About Drug Patents? Dean Baker

More Class Hatred at the Washington Post Firedoglake

Missouri Tells Judges Cost of Sentences New York Times

Fibbing With Numbers New York Times

Shadow Banking and Financial Regulation Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

The Illusion of Pension Savings New York Times (hat tip reader Scott). A stunner.

Antidote du jour (hat tip reader Fred A, from Associated Press):

Picture 9

Cattle dog Clarence plays with an alpaca named Cindy in “Alpaca Land” in Goeming, Austria. The two have lived together on the farm since they were 3 months old. Eighty-seven alpacas, the largest flock in Austria, live on the farm.

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  1. Debra

    Thanks for the fuzzy photo of Clarence and Cindy. Nice to see two… ? who can get along these days, and are having fun, too.
    On the subject of scientific research into weight loss, I am continually astonished at how we seem unable to see the blinders we are wearing on these issues (which appear in the above article about committment to measures to offset climate change too).
    The weight loss article speaks of resorting EXCLUSIVELY to exercise to lose weight… It is… scientifically probable that losing weight involves a combination of factors SOME OF WHICH are under the conscious CONTROL of the individual’s WILL to lose weight, for example, and some of which… well, are OUTSIDE of such control. A rabid desire to impose the ego’s WILL on every aspect of our existence, well, that is BOUND to backfire wherever such WILL appears to exert itself EXCLUSIVELY. Translate.. there ARE aspects of our existence that will REMAIN outside our “control”. Thank God for that…
    President ?’s (sorry, it must be onset Alzheimer’s here for the names…) committment to do what HE can do in the face of the effects of climate change is INSPIRING, and thanks for this article which.. REGARDLESS OF THE “TRUTH” (??) of climate change.. gives me hope that we can bind together.
    And since I can never resist provocation..
    SOMEONE SAID… “the first will be last, and the last will be first”.
    Truth ? I wouldn’t presume to say it. But psychologically savvy.
    The MATERIALLY POOREST on this earth are often the ones with.. the BIGGEST HEARTS (not always, not always..). A Christian population ? I wonder if that is a coincidence.. Ah.. sometimes I regret the CIVILIZING effects of Christianity. Indeed. There were.. SOME advantages in it, alongside its disadvantages…
    The poor as they appear in THIS ARTICLE ? THE REAL ARISTOCRACY of this planet. In my book.

  2. attempter

    Re the CBA of sentencing:

    I notice that the examples they describe include none of the truly destructive criminals like banksters.

    But then, it seems no one’s tallying the externalities:

    Others, like Paul Cassell, a law professor at the University of Utah, argue that Missouri’s plan counts certain costs but fails to measure others — the societal price, for instance, if someone not incarcerated commits another crime.

    I was wondering if the piece would even give voice to that perspective on socializing costs.

    That’s especially pertinent where we consider how monumentally costly and destructive white collar crime is. There the costs of execution or life imprisonment would be negligible compared to the cost of their crimes, and there I think rigorous enforcement would have a definitive deterrent effect, especially since most of the worst crimes are currently legalized.

    But of course that article only wants us to consider street crime and petty property crime, most of which is also the knock-on effect of the white collar crime which dominates this kleptocratic society.

    Re turkeys:

    We see those all the time in NJ. I’ve seen gaggles larger than 5, though probably never as many as 19.

    Last Thanksgiving Day of all days as I was leaving the park there was a huge one strutting in the road. I said “Watch it, pal. The coast ain’t clear yet.”

    1. LeeAnne


      “… consider how monumentally costly and destructive white collar crime is. There the costs of execution or life imprisonment would be negligible compared to the cost of their crimes, and there I think rigorous enforcement would have a definitive deterrent effect, especially since most of the worst crimes are currently legalized.”

      Well said. You are always on target and succinct in your analysis and criticism; this is -really quotable, repeat: ” …especially since most of the worst [white collar] crimes are CURRENTLY legalized.”

  3. dearieme

    “They capture the future savings for use today by assuming, in essence, that 100 percent of today’s work force is already earning tomorrow’s skimpier benefits.” Some might say “assume” where others would say “lie”.

  4. Kevin de Bruxelles

    The article on weight loss is frustrating. Outside potentially some crazy hormone stuff, it is clear that weight gain or loss is regulated by two simple variables, caloric intake and energy expended. So of course if you increase exercise AND increase eating you will not lose weight. But why complicate matters? If someone wants to loss real weight then the best bet is to both increase exercise and decrease intake of calories over a sustained period of time. I came back from a trip to the US in mid-July and I weighed in at just under 200 pounds which was an all-time record high for me. Since then I have eaten less (lots of gazpacho!) , have drunk less (wine only on the weekends), and have exercised more (run 20-30 k’s a week) and I am already down to 180 pounds. I will keep going until I get to 170 and then gradually readjust the eating and exercise variables to keep a stable weight of 175.

    1. charcad

      Back in the 1970s my professor in organic chemistry kept repeating that the best weight loss exercise was the “push away” from table.

      1. LeeAnne

        Ah, the opportunity to post this in the right place. This is my experience:

        The only way to be healthy, happy, and not feel deprived while losing weight and keeping your weight down is to change your eating habits permanently. Anything else is not only difficult and no fun, but the weight is sure to go back on when you’ve lost some weight and drop the diet.

        Rule 1. When your hunger is satisfied, stop eating, regardless of how much is still on your plate. -iron rule, don’t give yourself a break on that one. Just put leftovers in the fridge or a doggy bag to take home.

        If you do nothing but that its just possible, depending on who you are, that is all you will ever have to do to lose weight and keep it off.

        Rule 2. Do not eat when you’re not hungry just because it tastes good and its fun (if so, only rarely on occasion -the feeling of deprivation is not a good thing); substitute green tea or something else non-calorie -no fat-free or diet drinks. You can have a modest portion of yogurt milk.

        Rule 3. Fresh vegetables, lots of greens and fruits (not too much).

        Rule 4. Protein, meat or fish every day -6 ounces is enough. Include canned sardines.
        Whole Foods has its own source of wild salmon $13 lb. for Coho. Bake slightly, cut into chunks and freeze. Take one chunk out at a time, defrost in the double boiler, and garnish. I use parsley, fresh lemon juice, fresh pepper, and a slice of tomato on arugula for breakfast.

        Rule 5. Find foods you with little or no calories, keep them on hand as your staples and develop a taste for them.

        Rule 6. Drink lots of water.

        Rule 7. Stay away from artificial sweeteners -I use honey for my coffee. Even powdered creamers are, as you can see on the label, loaded with corn syrup.

        And never fast to lose weight. I’ve read that a weekly fast is good for you (that it is a Mormon practice and healthy); but using fasting to lose weight, although it seems easier and you can get a high from it at the same time; it will backfire, leaving you ravenously hungry like you’ve never experienced it before.

        1. LeeAnne

          correction: Rule 5. Find foods you with little or no carbs (not calories), keep them on hand as your staples and develop a taste for them. i.e. I have a problem with carrots, potatoes, etc.

          Thank you for theh reminder John.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I thought I read some time ago about people trying the ‘hunter-gatherer’ diet.

            I would tend to think that and the hunter-gatherer life style will make you lose weight, unless you restrict your hunting and gathering to trash bins behind fast food restaurants.

    2. koshem Bos

      Simple arithmetic shows at the age of about 50 exercise an hour and you’ll spend about 500 Kcal while a slice of cake may add 300-500 calories. 100g of bread is 220 Kcal.

      It was always a mirage and it gets worse with age. To lose weight I always claimed, to a choir of opposition, eat less. Exercise will make you fitter and more energetic.

    3. John

      [quote]Outside potentially some crazy hormone stuff, it is clear that weight gain or loss is regulated by two simple variables, caloric intake and energy expended. [end quote]

      Not true. Low-carbers shed fat by limiting carb consumption, not by limiting calories. I can’t remember the exact mechanism, but only carbs (not protein or fat) trigger the body to store fat. If you barely eat any carbs (I think it is something like less than 25g per day), your body will go into a state called ketosis and you will actually pee fat out your body. You can measure this affect with keto sticks that you can buy at the pharmacy.

      Although low-carb can help you to lose fat, I’ve found that a high-alkaline, low acid diet is best for me long term. I try to get most of my calories from the left side (alkaline) side of this chart:

      High alkaline foods are just one half of an anti-inflammatory diet. The other half is balancing Omega 3 fat (anti-inflammatory fat) with Omega 6 fat (inflammatory fat). This is tough to do. There are only a few good sources of Omega 3 — some fish like salmon and sardines in water and some seeds like flaxseed (I usually eat ground flaxseed) are good sources of Omega 3. Most anything else that has fat in it is going to have more Omega 6 inflammatory fat than Omega 3 anti-inflammatory fat.

      For example, many people think olive oil is healthy, but it actually has 13 times as much inflammatory Omega 6 fat as Omega 3 anti-inflammatory fat.

      Science is just on the cusp of learning about all the myriad ways that food affects the body. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that doctors are taught anything about how food affects the body, so they remain mostly ignorant of the affects that a person’s diet can have on their body.

      It’s also not as profitable for the pharma-medical-industrial complex to recommend diet changes as opposed to expensive pills and surgery, so it may be quite some time before most doctors learn or are taught about the effects of food on the body.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Interesting stuff, Glenn.

        For about 2 months, I have not been able to exercise as usually but I was on the low-carb diet at the same time and I have since lost about 15 pounds, though I know nothing about the inflammatory fat and anti-inflammatory fat.

    4. Chicken Little

      “caloric intake and energy expended” If by caloric intake, you mean calories absorbed and utilized, not calories injested, then OK.

      In any event, the article is crap. No one has all the answers, but it has at least been fairly well tested that fitness, not weight, may be the more important health care concern.

      Second, exercise builds muscle and can counteract weight loss effects from calorie burning.

      And finally, just because exercise may not help all does not mean it does not help some. We have different genes and different digestive environments. I know people that consume thousands and thousands of calories a day and stay rail thin. I know people who work out just a little but have amazing physiques. I certainly know that if I don’t exercise, my muscle tone and my energy level at least *seem* substantially diminished.

      Whatever the answer is, it’s a lot more complicated than contemplated in that article.

    5. Glen

      I remember my thermodynamics Prof in college had figured out that he could eat whatever he wanted if he bathed in ice water for ten minutes each day.

      (He was an interesting guy. I also remember a story about making piss-icles when he worked for NASA. He designed the system used to dump the astronaut’s pee into space.)

      Then he noted that what we call calories for health and diet are actually kilo calories, so he was of by three orders of magnitude.


  5. Ina Deaver

    WaPo has really swung to the right. Given how the right howls about the “liberal media” – and I see horrible things in the online comments about all the columnists being pinkos (even the ones that I consider offensively right wing) – I sometimes wonder if I’m the only person quietly reading this paper since the early 90s. It used to reflect its community; it now reflects its owners. Enough said.

    In this country it is widely considered shameful to be poor, which belies any idea that we are a Christian nation. Seems to me that those who cry loudest about the need to return to Christian values are not comforting the sick and the needy, and those in prison. They are more concerned that the sin will rub off and get their perfect white robe dirty. Can you imagine the kind of rabid, hateful comments that Christ would get as a columnist in the WaPo? I needn’t be concerned, of course – they’d never hire him, even for free.

    1. eric anderson

      Of course Christ would get hateful comments if he wrote in the WaPo. Can you imagine the blowback when he told people to stop committing adultery?

      1. Chicken Little

        Well, Christ really just warned people that concupiscence was akin to the actual act of adultery rather than issuing an edict to stop committing adultery (which was, of course, one of the commandments that far preceded his corporeal form on earth), but I get your point.

        Funniest thing is, eric, in the same sermon on the mount, just a bit before (IIRC), he claims that anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Anyone in here feeling a little hot?

  6. LeeAnne

    The real Good News on a Sunday morning: Exercise Has Minor Effect On Weight Loss, According To Growing Body Of Research

    Thank you Yves. That’s one thing I can cross off my New Year’s list -run around the reservoir daily first thing before 8am.

  7. rd

    An update on the Onondaga Lake Parkway situation posted a week ago:

    Continuing coverage of government inaction. The snow is a real issue with sensors as this area averages over 100 inches per year. PErsonally, I think a low-tech solution of simply closing the road to traffic over three tons or so with a jersey barrier down the median is probably optimum. There are lots of alternatives to this road for larger vehicles.

  8. El Snarko

    The weight loss article is absolutely spot on. A few years, ok 8 years ago, I went on a binge and gained 50 pounds. I lost it by getting fired, relaxing and eating less. Took three years. During that and the succeeding 5 years I have plateaued at a weight that is still 15 pounds more than I want to be at, but I am absolutely stuck. It is ok though. Blood chemistry is actually great and bp with meds is fine. Family thing.So to loose weight it IS diet. However since working out by doing a walk jog program (Running for Mortals) and using kettelbells and occasionally a weight machine that has been in my basement for 15 years, largely unused,I can do things that were utterly impossible a few years before and more to the point daily activities are EASY!Yard work and home maintenance is a snap. Unloading bags of sand or Portland cement is no longer daunting.Anyway a few observations.
    1. To loose weight I find you MUST reduce simple carns. NO nagguettes (?) almost no bread. very little rice, nachos, chips and salsa, any form of potatos, breakfast cereal.
    2. Many many more vegetables, and in a few months you actually begin to like them, strange as it sounds. And you are talking to a former 20 oz steak guy here PLUS desert and butter and sour cream and four beers….
    3. While exercise may only be marginally effective at loosing weight it seems to be a sine qua non for KEEPING IT OFF ! There appears, in my case at least, a mandatory threshold of 4 sessions of 45 minutes each per week in the walk jog thing. Rowing machines are extremely unappreciated btw.
    4. Finally Kettelbells are highly advantageous because you can use them almost anytime, they are cheap and easy to do (mostly) and very effective in concentrated doses. I use video tapes often and find that 14 workout a month, each of about 25 minutes yeilds very very impressive results in both tone, strength, joint health and VO2 max.
    5. Next phase is to find a Tai Chi teacher, Never shoulda stopped 20 years ago. Also gonna start a specific stretching program during tv commercials. That is the next step for me.

  9. Francois T

    Exercise has a meaningful effect on weight loss…once you achieve that weight loss.

    It is one of the best ways to maintain a weight loss. But to shed the extra weight, there ought to be a calorie deficit, a.k.a. stop stuffing yo face!

    1. Deus-DJ

      Excellent post Francois…and stay off the corn syrup too. Satisfy your sugar craze by putting a little sugar in some iced tea…that’s what I do to satisfy mine. Ever since I’ve attended grad school I’ve been working out ever day(except for 2 weekends where i went back home) and in the last 2 weeks people have said I’ve lost even more weight. I already seemed to know that exercising without reducing calories or corn syrup wouldn’t do shit for me…and luckily for me I’ve been on a diet for the past 8 months(2 months i kinda went off it because we went overseas but stayed by it for the most part)

  10. eric anderson

    re Kiribati

    from the Kiribati government website: “On Kiribati sea-level have been measured on Tarawa only since 1974. Over this period, to the end of 2008, average sea-level rise has been at a rate of about 1.8 mm per year. Since 1993 the rate has been 3.5 mm per year but at lease some of this increase in rate is likely to be due to natural climate variability influences rather than wholly due to any long-term increase in the rate of sea-level rise.”

    I wanted to see the actual Kiribati measurements on-site. They are consistent with satellite measurements of sea level rise. The average over the period is 3.2mm/year. If this trend continues, that would mean a rise of 320mm, roughly 1/3 meter, in 100 years. Even that much (a 1 foot rise) could be a problem for very low elevation islands. But sea levels have been rising for 20,000 years, and even in the absence of man, would likely rise until the next ice age hits.

    Note on this wikipedia graph that several thousand years ago (difficult to date precisely on the scale of the graph), sea level was as much 10 meters higher than current level.

    Perhaps Kiribati is not a good spot for perpetual human settlement.

    While I disagree with President Tong about the impact of greenhouse gases, I applaud him for his attitudes on conservation, motivated by the Christian faith and Judeo-Christian principles of the Kiribati people. This is consistent with Old Testament principles of conservation. (Deuteronomy 22:6)

    If I believed that man was primarily responsible for global warming, I would agree with President Tong. As a Christian, I agree we must sacrifice to help those adversely impacted by our actions. I am not at all convinced that we understand the feedbacks, which are much stronger than the direct effects of CO2 itself. And connecting individual events, like Katrina, to global warming (as Tong does) is sophistry, not science. There has been no statistical increase in severe storm activity (including hurricanes) in the US in the past half-century.

  11. jest

    That weight loss study was taken *way* out of context. It’s another example of editors doing a piss-poor job of titling articles.

    This is what the study said:

    “no or modest weight loss with exercise alone

    It did not say:

    “exercise won’t make you thin”

    which is the title of the article.

    The key to weight loss has always been diet AND exercise, not just exercise.

    Also, the study appeared to be about “short-term” weight loss, not long term weight loss which is really what matters.

    I feel like economists, journalists, and sports nutritionists have been in the same boat, staring at their navels for quite some time. You’d think the movie ‘300’ would be enough to cause the “exercise does not cause fat loss” meme to die off, but it keeps pulling a Lazarus on us.

  12. sherparick

    I love “Madmen,” it is kind of a present at the creation show. First in America, and then in the rest of the world, clever remarkable advertising campaigns are constructed for food products, the eating of which will make you happy (meanwhile, technological change and human laziness means we all engage in less physical labor, utilize machines instead of our muscles, and spend 40 minutes cruising mall parking lots looking for the closest park place). We become fat and fat makes us unhappy. So Madison avenue then makes more billions spinning stories for new wet loss products and services. It is almost as good as the Defense Industry.

  13. frosty zoom

    turkeys, turkeys, turkeys…..

    i’ve seen flocks of up to 30 at point pelee national park in southern ontario.

    there were none 8 years ago.

    the park staff are hoping the recently arrived coyotes will eat them but we’ve yet to find coyote feces with feathers — lots of rabbit fur, though..

    speaking of thanksgiving: i was driving up trumbull avenue in detroit right next to the ruins of tiger stadium. the light had just turned green when, FLAP! FLAP! a giant pheasant (the largest i’ve ever seen) flew right in front of my car.

    as it was u.s. thanksgiving, i said a little prayer for the the fella…

  14. Anon

    Back in the 90’s I actually had the pleasure of spending three days of ‘shock jail time’ in a county jail in Missouri. All of the guys I met in the joint were poor. Almost all of them were in for dui, drug possession, or for something dumb they did while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some of them had been in before. I believe a few were in because they couldn’t afford to pay some fine or other.

    None of the other inmates could afford the justice my parents bought me which is why I got three days of shock jail time plus probation as opposed to six months in jail.

    Of course, the NY Times leads it article with scary tales of murderers and armed robbers getting probation instead of jail time due to cost considerations while stuffing the most important quote in the whole article near the end:

    “Perhaps the biggest waste of resources in all of state government is the over-incarceration of nonviolent offenders and our mishandling of drug and alcohol offenders,” [said the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court]

    Very true in my first-hand experience. Society would probably be better served putting all the ‘shock’ pseudo-journalists in jail as opposed to all the non-violent drug offenders.

    1. anon

      Robert P. McCulloch’s (the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County) reply to your quote from the CJ of the MO Sup. Ct. seems in line with your experience:

      “You show me the college kid with a perfect record and a dime bag of weed who has been sent to prison, and I’ll get him out,” he said.

      Notice that he’s only concerned about college kids, not those with less opportunity. That he would say that to a newspaper reporter suggests how oblivious he is to his elitism.

    2. LeeAnne

      and the mentally ill. I have seen no investigative work done on this; but it is a heartbreak to think of.

      There were during the Dinken years in New York City, thousands of mentally ill living on the streets, in subways, under bridges and tunnels. They cleaned up the streets; where did they take the mentally indigent and homeless? Where were they taken? I really don’t know.

      I know that prisons are in no way qualified to humanely manage mentally ill patients, and that I did see a TV documentary a long time ago that touched on the subject.

  15. emca

    The dog in the photo appears to be a Pyrenean Mountain Dog (a.k.a. Great Pyrenees). A dog originally bred to defend the flock, its size, strength and demeanor are especially well suited to repelling wolves, bear and other such low-lifes from the herd.

    The dog is somewhat regarded as poor candidate for accelerated canine intelligence, in part because of its slow, laggard motions, in part because of their independent streak and seemly inability to follow orders. The first is explained by their innate ability to not disturb the herd with quick motions, the latter by the necessity of having a gaurdian capable of making decisions based on independent circumstances in unsupervised settings i.e. determining what’s best for the flock without being directed full time by a shepherd.

    Probably not a good pet for a typical, sedentary suburban lifestyle the dog’s markedly territorial, barks copiously at strangers, needs plenty of vigorous exercise and as one who has experienced the joys of a similar breed, shed continuously with the only relapse being periods of heavy-duty hair loss from their two ample coats of fur.

    Nevertheless, their fierceness when confront by adversaries, their loyalty to the flock, their gentle temperament with a family and above all, their heart, make the Pyrenean make them good choice, particularly if you have a herd of Alpacas to ‘guard’.

    Another thought, one can learn from dogs, not because dogs are like people, but because dogs and people are ground in a common organic substrate displayed most commonly in their social interaction with those whose association they share, humans.

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