Monday, January 31, 2005

Overweight? Maybe You Just Don't Fidget Enough

Overweight? Maybe You Just Don't Fidget Enough, Researchers Say
Pacing and wriggling during the day can determine whether one is lean,
study concludes.

By Rosie Mestel, Times Staff Writer

The difference between being obese or lean may be due to how much a person
is apt to stand, pace, wriggle and shift about over the course of a day, a
team of scientists reported in an intensive study of the consequences of

The researchers, who published their findings today in the journal
Science, also suggested the amount of these mundane daily movements may be
genetically ingrained — and that this would explain why some people could
get away with being slouches without gaining weight, whereas others,
ostensibly no more lazy, became plump.

Although this means some people are more likely to become overweight in
today's sedentary society, it does not mean they are fated to, said the
study's principal investigator, Dr. James Levine, a consultant
endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester,

The extra energy burned by the fidgety, lean group was about 350 calories
a day — well within the reach of most people. The extra calorie burn
amounts to at least 10 pounds a year.

In the study, 20 volunteers — 10 lean and 10 mildly obese — were monitored
for 10 days in their homes as they went about their normal daily routines.
All of the participants considered themselves to be "couch potatoes."

The study involved 150 scientists and other personnel to prepare
calorie-controlled meals, monitor subjects, analyze data and conduct other

Each participant wore a special, high-tech set of underwear, which were
rigged with sensors and data loggers originally designed to monitor jet
fighter motion. The underwear could track most body movements.

Fresh undergarments were supplied each day.

Data from the used underwear were downloaded each day to a computer.

"This enabled us to gain a window into lean and obese people's lives that
had hitherto been invisible," Levine said.

The scientists found that even though all members of the study considered
themselves to be lazy, the obese ones spent 164 more minutes sitting each
day than the lean subjects.

There was the possibility that the obese group fidgeted less simply
because they were overweight.

To test the idea, the scientists instructed the obese group to lose
weight. But even after doing so, they still moved around less. This
suggested that they were innately more sedentary than the lean group — a
tendency that might be the cause of their obesity.

The scientists overfed the lean group to see if they would slow down more
as they fattened up. They remained just as fidgety as before.

"I think it's really interesting — and it fits in well with the idea that
the difference between obesity and leanness is very small, just a little
bit of activity here and there," said James Hill, director of the
University of Colorado's Center for Human Nutrition in Denver.

Hill said that burning 350 calories was equivalent to taking about 7,000
extra steps a day.

"It's really not that hard," he said. "If you have this natural tendency
to fidget, that's an advantage to you, but if you don't, don't despair.
You can intentionally get some of that physical activity back into your
day by walking."

Levine recommended that people who were not constantly on the move as a
matter of habit make a few tiny changes to accomplish the same end.

"It wouldn't do any harm to do a little vacuuming before work," he said.
"Park in parking lot B and have an extra walk to the office."

Levine said that instead of a desk and chair, his office is outfitted with
a treadmill mounted with a computer.

The treadmill is set at a leisurely 0.7 mph, and he now types as he

"I used to sit … 10 hours a day," he said. "Now I'm walking 10 hours a

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times


Friday, January 28, 2005

The Lowdown on High Self Esteem


The Lowdown on High Self-Esteem
Thinking you're hot stuff isn't the promised cure-all.

By Roy F. Baumeister, Roy F. Baumeister, a professor in the department of
psychology at Florida State University, is the author of "The Cultural
Animal," just published by Oxford University Press.

Does low self-esteem lie at the root of all human suffering, failure and
evil? When I ran my first research study on self-esteem in 1973, that
certainly seemed to be the case. Psychologists everywhere were persuaded
that if only we could help people to accept and love themselves more,
their problems would gradually vanish and their lives would flourish. They
would even treat each other better.

Not surprisingly, California led the way, establishing a task force for
exploring ways to boost healthy self-esteem to solve personal and social
problems. The task force members — like many of us — were undeterred by
the weakness and ambiguity of the evidence suggesting a benefit in
boosting self-esteem; we all believed the data would come along in good

Then-Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (and many other experts) predicted that
self- esteem could solve, or at least help solve, such problems as crime,
teen pregnancy, pollution, school failure and underachievement, drug abuse
and domestic violence. (Vasconcellos even expressed the hope that higher
self-esteem would one day help balance the state budget — a prospect
predicated on the observation that people with high self-regard earn more
than others and therefore pay more in taxes.)

A generation — and many millions of dollars — later, it turns out we may
have been mistaken. Five years ago, the American Psychological Society
commissioned me and several other experts to wade with an open mind
through the enormous amount of published research on the subject and to
assess the benefits of high self-esteem.

Here are some of our disappointing findings. High self- esteem in
schoolchildren does not produce better grades. (Actually, kids with high
self-esteem do have slightly better grades in most studies, but that's
because getting good grades leads to higher self-esteem, not the other way
around.) In fact, according to a study by Donald Forsyth at Virginia
Commonwealth University, college students with mediocre grades who got
regular self-esteem strokes from their professors ended up doing worse on
final exams than students who were told to suck it up and try harder.

Self-esteem doesn't make adults perform better at their jobs either. Sure,
people with high self-esteem rate their own performance better — even
declaring themselves smarter and more attractive than their low
self-esteem peers — but neither objective tests nor impartial raters can
detect any difference in the quality of work.

Likewise, people with high self-esteem think they make better impressions,
have stronger friendships and have better romantic lives than other
people, but the data don't support their self-flattering views. If
anything, people who love themselves too much sometimes annoy other people
by their defensive or know-it-all attitudes. Self-esteem doesn't predict
who will make a good leader, and some work (including that of psychologist
Robert Hogan writing in the Harvard Business Review) has found humility
rather than self-esteem to be a key trait of successful leaders.

It was widely believed that low self-esteem could be a cause of violence,
but in reality violent individuals, groups and nations think very well of
themselves. They turn violent toward others who fail to give them the
inflated respect they think they deserve. Nor does high self-esteem deter
people from becoming bullies, according to most of the studies that have
been done; it is simply untrue that beneath the surface of every obnoxious
bully is an unhappy, self-hating child in need of sympathy and praise.

High self-esteem doesn't prevent youngsters from cheating or stealing or
experimenting with drugs and sex. (If anything, kids with high self-esteem
may be more willing to try these things at a young age.)

There were a few areas where higher self-esteem seemed to bring some
benefits. For instance, people with high self- esteem are generally
happier and less depressed than others, though we can't quite prove that
high self-esteem prevents depression or causes happiness. Young women with
high self- esteem seem less susceptible to eating disorders. In some
studies (though not all), people with high self-esteem bounce back from
misfortune and trauma faster than others.

High self-esteem also promotes initiative. People who have it are more
likely to speak up in a group, persist in the face of failure, resist
other people's advice or pressure and strike up conversations with
strangers. Of course, initiative can cut both ways: One study on bullying
found that self-esteem was high among the bullies and among the people who
intervened to resist them. Low self-esteem marked the victims of bullying.

In short, despite the enthusiastic embrace of self-esteem, we found that
it conferred only two benefits. It feels good and it supports initiative.
Those are nice, but they are far less than we had once hoped for, and it
is very questionable whether they justify the effort and expense that
schools, parents and therapists have put into raising self-esteem.

After all these years, I'm sorry to say, my recommendation is this: Forget
about self-esteem and concentrate more on self-control and

Recent work suggests this would be good for the individual and good for
society — and might even be able to fill some of those promises that
self-esteem once made but could not keep.

Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Tragedy on the Tracks

Friends, it is very sad what happened yesterday...that suicidal man who parked on the Metro Link Tracks in Glendale and hopped out of his car before the train came...

The train struck the car, derailed and hit another train going in the opposite direction. Eleven people were killed and many other injured. The muderer not only didn't kill himself, but he killed eleven innocent people who were doing their best to enjoy the train.

I hate to say this, but that car was a weapon.

For more on the tragedy:


Accidents happen. And this is a very sad thing for hundreds, thousands of people affected by this terrible incident.

For these people, stick to No Car Thursdays. Though the timing is terrible, we'll all feel better if we get right back on the horse, I mean train, bus, bicycle. Not to be callous, but to accept this accident as just that and continue on with our plan to clean the air.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005




Friends of mine have read about NO CAR THURSDAYS.

I am happy to report that my good friend Dan, the intrepid LA wanderer, is getting on the bus on Thursday.
Bart, the happy pedestrian, is walking to work on Friday instead of Thursday...a great substitute action.
Jeff, the long distance traveler, is going to carpool on Thursday. This is a beautiful thing.

Countless others? Finding other ways to go.

They're all looking forward to Thursday...the day the sky gets a little clearer.
Call me a cornball, but please don't do it from your car.

Wishing you a Clear and Happy Thursday.

Thursday, January 20, 2005





NO NEED TO JOIN A GYM, just join


When you’re driving home tonight, take notice of the traffic. Do you enjoy it? Is it something that brings you happiness?

Or would you rather walk to a train station METRO RAIL SYSTEM MAP
burn some calories and catch up on your reading?

Greasy Corporations love a good snarl. And get this: 25% of all petroleum in the tank of every car is burned while sitting in traffic. Just think, you can sit there, do nothing but wait for the car ahead of you to move, and you can continue to pollute while idling. Companies don’t care how the gasoline is burned, as long as you buy it. They love it when you sit there. Just think, more money for them.


And, did you know, that 1% of the energy used to move your car actually moves you? The other 99% of the energy burned is to move the car. Our habits have us burning millions of barrels of oil every single day. 25% of what is burned is pure waste, doing nothing but polluting, like a huge garbage fire. The remaining 75% of what is burned is only 1% efficient at moving you, while the other 99% is moving your dirty car.

Detroit loves you for it. Mobil loves you for it. Hell, Talk Radio loves you for it, too.

However, some of you have children. Some of you want to have children. Is this the lifestyle you would like to pass on to them?

Some of you have environment sensitivities. I sure do. Maybe this bad air has something to do with it?

Some of you want to read. You bemoan not having the time. Look at what you could be reading...millions of titles.


And some of you, including all of us, could use some good old fashioned getting in shape.

Why not forget about finding that extra time for the gym...and just walk to your local train stop or bus stop, which burns all sorts of calories, the natural way, with a destination in mind. You'll feel better. You'll look better. The city will be better off. Your lungs will thank you. It's an improvement. You can easily plan your trip to work, school, the plex, by typing in your destination below. I use it all the time and it really works. The MTA of LA is a great public work on the rise. Great Clean Trains, Far Reaching Buses and maybe one day magnetic pods. Just remember, bring singles. They don't break bills.


Or, if you are so inclined, you can bike to work:


And conveniently, if your needs compel it, The LA Metro System also lets you bring on your bike...but some restrictions apply to rush hour traffic. Check out:


Let’s all say, HAPPY INAUGARATION MR. BUSH! And pull far away from his oil-happy agenda. And let’s GET ON THE BUS. Or GET ON THE TRAIN. Or GET ON YOUR WALKING SHOES. Or GET ON YOUR BIKE. Or a combination of any of these things. Leave the ol' spewer at home.

We are challenged here in smoggy Los Angeles. The distances to travel are far. The streetscape is often dismal and baking. You have to travel through residential neighborhoods for shade from trees. Why the main boulevards in Los Angeles are not lined with trees can only be explained by the city’s fears of litigation due to people tripping over cracked sidewalks from tree roots. Well, why not plant drought tolerant trees that don’t lift the sidewalks? Many trees fit that bill. But I digress.

Find yourself a nice route...and think, every single Thursday, you can enjoy some exercise, some reading, and a little comfort, knowing that you did not spew particulate matter into the air, that you have personally agreed with the Kyoto Treaty. Another kid can breathe easier, you can breathe easier and everyone is better off for it. You get some exercise. Your mood is elevated. You perform better at work. You release stress on your walk back to public transit home.

We can feel so powerless in this big corporate run world...but remember, it really is your earth. You were born to it and you have a say in what happens to it. California is known to be one of the most progressive states in the union...and the United States does, eventually, follow California’s example in almost all things.

The economy of any society can be based on anything. It really is random, though inertia tends to take over. We can become more conscious of our actions. We have a choice. Let profits build in other ways. Why put our energy into polluting energy? Most of us cannot change what the hogs of desire do at Shell, Walmart, Altria or Merck but we can reduce our reliance on the once-convenient but sadly inefficient automobile. I love my little beater...but let’s face it, she’s beat.

A time is gonna come.

Let’s put population pressure on the public transit system of Southern California. The more pressure we put, the more building of public transportation will result. The city of Los Angeles really does pass measures based on the number of riders. Be counted and help build the rails.

We do have it harder than our friends in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, London and Paris. And so many people long to live in cities with great public works...let Los Angeles know that you are one of those people. Be a part of


(and maybe one day, soon, we can add No Car Tuesdays...using benchmarks for when we can add that second day--perhaps right after they finish the extended Gold Line? The Red line to Culver City?)

Happy exercising, reading, and clearing up the skies.

Next Thursday, when you get to work, maybe a little sweaty (bring face soap) or looking a bit wild eyed from your new experience and someone turns to you and asks, “What the hell is up with you?” Just answer, “It’s No Car Thursdays, Dude, haven’t you heard?”

People, like you and I, got recycling out of the fringes and into the mainstream. We can also control how we burn the oil. Don’t wait for the national government to get onboard. Act locally and let the city of Los Angeles count you and build for you. And you can finally read that great Tolstoy novel, look out the window through the clear skies to the swelling mountains and then walk home. Who knows, the love of your life, your new best friend, the funny idea may all be on that bus or train that you love to take, or, you could miss it if you choose, instead, to sit all alone, polluting in your car.

Plan your next Thursday. And the Thursday after that. And the one after that.
Monday is rough, Tuesday is busy, Wednesday is Hump Day, Friday is Get Out O' Town day. The one day left then is naturally NO CAR THURSDAY.

Have a happy, beautiful day in one of the world’s greatest cities.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Blog Format Test

Let's try a link, see below.

Click Here

By trial and error I realize that I have to put an /a enclosed within HTML brackets <> to stop an HTML link going on and on.

Let's try another link


And now, let's insert a picture without using the flush left feature and also, uploading to the picture server for blogger.

Maybe we could try this:

It seems to be working. HTML: It's not just for breakfast anymore.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

What Producers Are Looking For

Dear Steve,

Every day is another day of sleeping with someone else in order to get any of my work produced.

It’s exhausting. This one likes a sling, that one is into dominating... It’s hard to keep them all straight, so I have a little book where I record preferences... However, I’m thinking of getting out of the business and getting into something more prostitution.

But I think I’ll do it in Holland where the government will give me free pills if and when I contract Chlamydia. Nasty, disease, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Chlam sauce.”

We all do what we must...during this time of decreasing interest in art.

Yours in pragmatism,


Thursday, January 13, 2005


I knew a woman who I thought was kind of foxy
Until I found out she had Munchhausen by proxy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Are You Willing to Die for Your Country?

An Alternate Fix to the Social Security Problem

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Congress passed the controversial Inuit Bill into law today that allows aged Americans to choose between a strong economy and their own life. Also referred to as the Liebesraum Bill by its detractors, it will affect every American family who possesses a Granny, Gramps, Nona, Pappi or Nanna. At age 70, every non-working American can now hand their Social Security benefit back to the government, with fifty percent of the claim returning to the federal coffers and the other fifty to be given to the familial survivors of the new Pro-Choice-for-the-Elderly. This bill was designed to release the burden on healthy, young, hard-working patriots and to normalize the conditions erroneously put in place by President Roosevelt. American citizens have grown sick and tired of having to pay for these lazy coots and the groundswell of support to rush this bill into law has had every tongue that ever tasted an apple pie eagerly licking its chops for the soon-to-be released cakes of cash.

What do the senior citizens of America get in return for their submitting? A nice floating iceberg. Whereas many Democrats, school teachers and left leaning psychiatrists have banded together in an effort to stop this bill in its nascent “evil intent,” the numbers did not compare with those of the captains of industry and their allies, the Republican Party and overworked nurses. Extreme right-wing Christians are behind the crusade to end the lives of the aged, especially for non-Christians, old queens, smokers and anti-war activists.
State senators from Texas were asked today if they thought this violated human rights policies so hard won during the last century. No comment was given. One young Republican spotted at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, however, proudly donned a T-shirt that spoke volumes from the heartland of the republic, “If the Democrats can kill the unborn, we, the real people, can kill the almost dead.”

Besides the government expecting a large gain in capital from the Pro-Choice-for-the-Elderly, there is the obvious added bonus to related businesses to meet the call of the burgeoning iceberg industry. In anticipation of this law, Bechtburton positioned itself to be awarded a ten billion dollar contract for the use of a fleet of new machines that can drill into glaciers for the maximum release of icebergs. The machine, affectionately named “Bore to Death” by the president of the company, has also been rumored to have spying capabilities, to be able to test ground densities for crude oil and can level land for golf courses. In a testy economy, it is essential for Bechtburton to multi-purpose all equipment.

Everyone wants in on this new industry. The lower forty-eight states can at best manage snow drifts. These are being considered as suitable substitutes for icebergs for the Pro-Choice-for-the-Elderly who do not want to leave their home states at the time of earthly departure. But to be pushed off on an iceberg is regarded as a much more humane form of Pro-Choice and is also considered romantic. Alaska is expecting an enormous surge in its economy. Canadians and Russians are aching to get their hands on old Americans and will surely try to compete against Alaska for iceberg business. The American government and Bechtburton, the de-facto owners of the American government, will not offer any contracts to foreign lands, no matter how many thousands of years these Nordic countries have been cheaply and efficiently cleaving icebergs. Greenland, a depressed economic wasteland in its best days, has seen a great surge in the black market arrival of American dollars to their shores as they receive payments for the swift cleaving of bergs from their plethora of glaciers. Due to its Danish territory status, The United States is positioning itself to declare war on Denmark, a state always considered by the accountants of Bechtburton to be a rogue nation.

In addition to Bechtburton, dynamite companies are very much behind this new law as are other explosives giants, though competition could be quashed if Bechtburton receives exclusive rights. The denial of such rights is highly unlikely given Bechtburton’s history of exclusivity in most sectors of world business and further protected by their private army, the United States military.

To encourage citizens with aged parents to do their patriotic duty, the oil industry, always innovative and forward thinking, has promised two thousand dollars worth of gasoline vouchers to the surviving heirs of any American who talks their aged family member into a Pro-Choice-for-the-Elderly death within one year of their seventieth birthday. Limited: One coupon book per family, per death. When pushed for comment with regard to the ethics of such a coupon plan, the CEO of Exxon just gave a plain, folksy shrug as if he did not understand the question, about faced and tripped over some not-yet-buried wire for his alarm system on his sixteen-thousand square foot home. The president, who obviously does not like to think of his fellow citizens heaving themselves into the Atlantic like so many lemmings, felt that there was nothing he could do since both the House and the Senate really really wanted it. Grandchildren across this great nation of ours seem unfazed by this new government development as they look forward to loose cash for hamburgers, new cars, movie admissions and trips abroad to safer, cleaner countries.

Across the food courts of America, middle-aged children of the eligible aged Pro-Choice-for-the-Elderly showed visible signs of relief as they already feel quite burdened by their children, their spouses, their bosses and their maids and look to this development in the government as a sure sign of even greater things to come.
Negative fervor has spread across most of Europe and Canada against the United States for this new euthanasia law, though The Netherlands, ever the most liberal leaning nation, thinks this the first step in the legalization of marijuana in what they still refer to as New Amsterdam. Very Catholic Poland is horrified, however, it has been noted over the past decade that not a few Italians have been busily taking their incontinent mommas to Norway to “see the fjords” upon which the mommas have been said to be “lost during travel.” France has extracted itself from N.A.T.O. again, but no one in Washington has taken care to notice. As one French insider commented last Thursday at the snack-bar in the lower level of the Charles De Gaul Airport in perfect English, “We don’t need a law such as your crass American cash grab. We have cigarettes to kill our old people.” The very aged pontiff, usually against all things humanly deadly, shrugged his shoulders and threw up his hands when being interviewed by Italy’s leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, with a look of holy resignation as to imply, “The Americans control everything these days. The Vatican is facing their own cuts in Catholic believers and revenue. We can barely afford South America any longer. An iceberg sounds so relaxing right now. ”

In China this came as no surprise and a similar law is being considered, though to ameliorate their even graver financial problems, the law will include anyone over fifty years of age. With relations strained in Russia, China is looking to set up contracts with nations of south Asia where they plan to set up large staging areas along the coasts for aged denizens to await tsunamis. Brazil, with a nod to France, is looking to solve their financial problems due to the aged masses with increased tobacco consumption and has started clearing more acres of pesky rain forest for plantations. The ambassador of India, a devout Hindu, was quoted in front of The United Nations last week, stating, “In India, we do not want people to die so very quickly, they’ll just come back again.”

Mums the word in most Muslim countries as it is a sin for any of the faithful to die on purpose unless Holy Jihad is involved. However, there has been a long tradition of dressing up Grandma like an MTV pop star and placing her in the town square in her halter with visible nipple ring lines. Usually one of the young children of the family also lays down a pile of stones within throwing distance. The rest, as they say, is up to Allah.

A bill to legalize post birth abortions within a ten year time limit for the deformed, mentally handicapped, sexually deviant, the socially inept or ugly, has also been brought to the House’s attention by the Rep-R Dogoody of the great forward thinking large square state of Wyoming. This bill, if passed, will be named after Todd Solondz in an homage to his film Welcome to the Dollhouse. If passed, grandma may not have to float alone on her cruise to the next world. And as most grandchildren traditionally love to travel with grandma, the unwanted grandchildren can be easily coaxed into the journey.

Many remember Nancy Floatilla from Biddeford, Maine who was the first senior citizen who made a public showing of her decision to return her social security check to the government in favor of a nice cool trip across the Atlantic to a peaceful, non-costly death. This inspired the Inuit law and for those who are great supporters, Nancy Floatilla is held in such high esteem as the likes of Rosa Parks and Lizzy Borden. Mrs. Floatilla, a very religious woman with severe New England parsimony, took to the high seas on her frozen boat leaving behind three children and seven grandchildren. A suicide note, sent to her oldest best friend, Gertie Layabout, then living in a nursing home in Bar Harbor stated, “Dying is not so bad. I will get to see my good Lord. And you know how these old bodies get. Whatever hasn’t dried up, is leaking.” The government has decided to retroactively award the family of Nancy Floatilla their share of Mrs. Floatilla’s generosity in honor of her great ingenuity and sacrifice.

Bechtburton could not be reached for comment.

Friday, January 07, 2005


This is my very first blog:

Blahg, blahg, blahg.