Thursday, June 23, 2005

A letter I just wrote to my elected representatives:

I'm shocked and outraged by the lack of foresight that you, our elected leaders, have collectively exercised. Global warming isn't just a political football, an instrument to throw around and blame the other party when nothing is done.

It's the very real threat that my grandchildren will know New Orleans as a gulf, not a city. It's the danger of rising tide refugees flooding the world's richest country, desperate for their lives. It's the possibility that malaria and other "tropical" diseases will spread unchecked into current temperate weather zones, like the United States. Ironically, it's also the possibility that Western Europe becomes colder, at the expense of agriculture and livability.

We're not at the time to act, we're well past that time. So we need to take substantial measures. The McCain-Lieberman bill you defeated would have been just the first of many necessary measures.

Long lifespan, health, and beauteous surroundings aren't an obstacle to a thriving United States, they really are an essential element. While conventional methods and models may not value these things, we recognize their importance.

Protecting against the potential ravages of global warming is essential to the continuation of the American dream. You were elected to take the difficult actions that safeguard our heritage.

Please start before it's too late.

If you agree, please go here and register for the virtual march on Washington:


stop global warming/Jonathan Laden
I spent a few minutes at work today strumming a tune on the spring that sits inside my stapler. (I bet you didn't know there was a spring inside your stapler. I didn't either, but how else would the top snap closed with enough force to puncture skin? No, I didn't manage to do that too, though it was touch and go for a few minutes.)

I'm not saying this is the most productive thing I did today, but I'm not saying it isn't. The sound did have an almost lyrical quality.

-Noncommital in the files

Monday, June 06, 2005

Wait, before you strive to add weight 

It turns out being overweight isn’t good for you after all.

As cnn.com reports, the CDC had some flaws in the methodology of their latest study which came to the surprising conclusion that being somewhat overweight is healthier than being light or at “ideal” weight. The flaw: they studied a random population, not a random healthy population. They counted those who had lost weight due to chemotherapy, heart conditions, etc. as part of the ideal weight cohorts. Knowing that, it’s no longer so surprising that the underweight and ideal weight cohorts did not outlive the pleasantly plumps.

A couple of thoughts:

One. How do the experts make a mistake like this? This is akin to forgetting to convert between metric and british units of measurement, thereby landing your probe inside the crust of Mars. I guess we all have bad days (or months and years in the case of this study!)

Two. What advantage does it gain the restaurant industry – anyone in the restaurant industry – to have the idiots at the Center for Consumer Freedom flapping their lips and emitting stupidity? Do they expect anyone to believe that the CDC is knowingly raising false alarms about the rising tide of obesity in America? Do they really believe that having two-thirds of Americans overweight, and a rising tide of “adult-onset” diabetes in children is healthy? More importantly, how does it help if anyone does believe it? Am I going to pat my tummy, say to myself, “Those darn blue-state CDC conspirists. I’ll show them – I’m going to eat at two restaurants for dinner tonight!” (Yes, I know the CDC is based in Georgia, a pink state, if not bright scarlet red.)

I can’t imagine.

Three. The nature of news coverage is that only the sensational, controversial, and unexpected gets reported. Far too often, that means that the news reports, and the information that’s reported, is that which is wrong. I’m pretty sure this correction will get much less play than the new, and incorrect, common knowledge that being overweight is good for you.

I'm not saying to go on a crash diet. I’ll be the first to admit there are trade-offs. It may well be more worthwhile to carry extra weight than to stress about losing it, yoyo diet, or twist life into a pretzel in pursuit of the “ideal.” However, our best current knowledge remains that being “ideal” weight is healthier and more life-extending than being overweight. In fact, many studies (conducted with better methodologies than the CDC’s latest) have shown that being “underweight” is healthier yet.

A bunch of yoyos at the CCF aren’t going to change that reality no matter how much they propagandize. The restaurant industry folks who fund them may want to start thinking about how to make money keeping their customers alive, instead of the current strategy of misinformation and bombast.

Just a thought. I never actually used my MBA in the world of big business, so I may not know what I’m talking about.

Disclaimer: Jonathan Laden is a frequent consumer of restaurant food. His weight and/or BMI were not publicly available as of press time.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The war for mindshare isn’t between Apple and Microsoft any more, it’s between Apple and Verizon.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to notice this, but as I emerged from the subway at Dupont Circle this morning it struck me that something was missing. Where, a year ago, there would have been five or six people jabbering away on their cellphones – yes, even at nine in the morning – there were none.


And do you know what was attached to the ears of many passersby instead of a cellphone? Of course you do, either because you read the lead-in to this revelation or you observed it long before I, your intrepid and possibly dense reporter, did.

White earbuds. Many cellphone calls are of a discretionary nature. Caller A is bored, or on the way somewhere with nothing better to do, so calls Person B. I haven’t seen statistics, but I’m betting there’s been a measurable drop in cellphone usage since the ipod phenomenon took off.

This does not necessarily harm Verizon and other service providers. Now, when they offer everlarger buckets of minutes at fixed price rates, they may be able to count on more of that airtime going unused. Longterm, they may lose contracts to people who realize they don’t actually need to be connected by a seven-digit umbilical to everyone else on the planet 24 hours a day.

Yet, I’ll leave that to their boards and investors to worry over. I think we’re all better off if a large portion of us are grooving to the music of our choice, rather than talking too loud about our breakfast on the subway. I know ipod’s made my commute more pleasant, and I don’t even have one.

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