The new maximalist running shoe trend

The process of reading this article, which details many runners’ obsession with these new moon-man maximalist shoes, was one huge eye-roll for me, especially because it’s coming out of the New York Times and everyone will take it for the gospel. Years of research and two books in particular—Born to Run and Ready to Run—have me convinced otherwise: huge, cushioned shoes are mostly a marketing scheme, and should ultimately be viewed as a tool, not a solution. Indeed, perhaps the problem is not the shoe, but the runner?

My eye-roll was averted by the final paragraph of the story, a quote from Jay Dicharry, author of Anatomy for Runners:

“Of course what’s on your feet is important,” Dicharry said. “But there is a lot of evidence to show that people who spend more time improving their bodies as opposed to shopping for shoes are the ones who are going to run better.”

The problem with Apple’s price tag cheerleaders

If the iPhone 7 comes in a $40,000 18-karet Rose Gold option to match the Apple Watch 3, with a $10,000 alligator leather case option, then I’ll worry. Apple Watch is one product, it’s untested, and it’s unknown. It’s a big, expensive experiment to see if Apple can use fashion to put a (potentially) useful gizmo on people’s wrists, and we don’t know how it will turn out.

Debunking the Debunking of Bulletproof Coffee

I came across this post via Marco Arment, who cited it as a “very fair, well-researched piece.” More like ignorant and petulant.

Let me attempt to set a few things straight.

First off, I must agree that everyone’s criticism of Dave Asprey’s “Bulletproof Coffee” beans is mostly valid:

Asprey claims that his Upgraded beans undergo a secret, proprietary process that all but eliminates mycotoxins. He also claims that mycotoxins are the reason you coffee is bitter.

This is almost entirely bullshit.

For starters, while mycotoxins can grow on coffee beans, the coffee industry has known about this for decades. This is why wet-processing was developed; a technique employed by nearly every roaster in the world, wherein the beans are washed, and nearly all mycotoxins are eliminated.

This is all true, and I think it’s silly that Asprey is still trying to push this on his site. Most coffee is free of mycotoxins and is just fine. However, Brent Rose, the article’s author, was otherwise entirely ignorant in his analysis of Dave Asprey and the Bulletproof Coffee phenom.

He begins by claiming that “there are no peer-reviewed studies that corroborate the idea that eating nothing but fat (and caffeine) in the morning, sets you up for burning body fat.”

This is, to be blunt, completely wrong. Just absolutely, completely wrong. The concept of ketosis is well-known in the world of physiology, and there are numerous studies confirming its validity. The human body has proven time and time again that it can function fine, if not better, on ketones (read: fatty acids) than on glycolysis (read: “carbs are energy!”) To claim that there is no evidence to support the idea that eating low-carb and high-fat helps burn more fat is complete ignorance. To claim that there are no studies supporting this means that you are either not looking hard enough, or ignoring them.

Throughout the article, Rose cites the idea that there are no peer-reviewed studies to support an idea, and completely dismisses the n(1) experiment. Then, he goes on to provide his own n(1) experiment to confirm his own theory:

This may be true, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing or that it’s good for you. Hell, I lost six pounds in four days by eating nothing but ice cream. And then I gained literally all of that weight back that very weekend.

To call this article well-researched indicates to me that you, in fact, don’t know how to do the appropriate research. Rose insists on quoting the saturated fat RDA, a number which we all know doesn’t matter anymore. He insists on perpetuating the claim that the Paleo diet is controversial, something stated only by those who have not tried it and therefore not succeeded on it. He insists on citing decade-old vague statements like “a balanced diet” and quoting “nutritionists” who, these days, still recommend dietary practices that have been widely proven as incorrect (such as the falsehood that “eating five small meals a day, nicely spread out, because it allows for better nutrient absorption and better processing of the food you consume.”)

It’s not well-researched, and it’s part of the problem in health-related media these days. Somehow, the people “in the know” continue to make the claim that there “are no studies” to prove a claim. I have two responses to this:

First: usually, in fact, there are studies to prove this stuff. Are you even looking?

But more importantly: we shouldn’t have to wait for peer-reviewed studies to decide what works for us—what we should and shouldn’t do. We have blood testing, genetic testing. Self-experimentation is absolutely acceptable, and if it works for someone and they can prove it, then it works. Screw the research.

When health stories are politicised, mistaken views are given far too much credibility

An investigation into the decline of vaccinations in Britain found that the problem, in part, was the way the media covered the matter. In an effort to offer balance—and to entertain viewers with a lively verbal jousting match—news outlets lined up people with opposing views. In one corner were health experts who supported the vaccine. In the other were charismatic quacks or parents who were utterly convinced that the vaccine had made their children autistic (and whose genuine grief swayed many viewers).

Slow runners (don't) come out ahead

Read this article by Gretchen Reynolds at the NYT, then read this one called “Slow Runners Don’t Come Out Ahead”, written by a doctor who actually knows what he’s talking about. Run fast, people, and don’t let journalists interpret correlational studies.

A head coach botched the end of the Super Bowl, and it wasn’t Pete Carroll

It’s a long read full of statistics and hypotheses regarding the questionable second-and-1 play call towards the end of Sunday’s Super Bowl. The I-have-way-too-much-time-on-my-hands analysis basically concludes that the Seahawks’ pass play was probably the right call.

(My thoughts? I don’t care for either team or either head coach, but since the Seahawks embarrassed my beloved Peyton last year, I’m happy the Patriots pulled through. Petty, I know.)

Wearables are totally failing the people who need them most

But if you follow the money, and you really understand the population with the most to gain from improvements health and wellness, that assumption falls apart. It turns out the wave of wearables adoption isn’t rolling out the same way as the web or smartphones. More than half of US consumers who have owned an activity tracker no longer use it. A third of them took less than six months from unboxing the device to shoving it in a drawer or fobbing it off on a relative.

So who’s made a long-term commitment to measuring and tracking their health?

(At least they didn’t call them fitness trackers.)

Our sleep problem and what to do about it

If you’re feeling cranky, confused or too tired even for sex, blame it on Thomas Alva Edison. We’re all bushed, and it’s all his fault.

Humans have been screwing with their body clocks—and getting less sleep—ever since the Wizard of Menlo Park had his very bright idea. Indeed, our classic eight-hour-night only dates back to the invention of the light bulb in the late 1800s.

A wonderfully comprehensive article that covers everything related to sleep-loss: blue light, health risks, productivity loss, drugs, and capitalism.

BPA and hand sanitizer: a toxic mix

If BPA can be transferred from receipts to human skin, and hand sanitizer and other personal care products dramatically increase the absorption of BPA, then might using these products prior to handling receipts lead to potentially toxic levels of BPA exposure?

Yikes. Good to know.

Low-fat folklore

“The idea that fat kills got so ingrained, it became folklore. Your mother told you, your grandmother told you. It’s going to take years to get people to believe that was wrong. We’re in a transition, and on the cutting edge. It may take a while, but you’ll see new guidelines.”

Using Keyboard Maestro to create new Jekyll posts

A while back, Justin Blanton came up with a wonderfully simple and efficient way to use Keyboard Maestro to automate the process of creating new Jekyll posts. His version also includes a way to quote part of the linked article automatically (via the clipboard), which is a pleasant addition.

It took me all of 60 seconds to modify his macro to create regular “article” posts as well (for those interested, my hotkey trigger for that is SHIFT+CMD+..) With the two macros, the process of creating new posts has become twice as simple. I love it.

Sugar: the evolution of a forbidden fruit

Our modern moralizing about sugar’s destructive nutritional emptiness takes on meaning only in a culture where appetite has been disconnected from physical labour, most consumption is surplus to our needs, and sweetness is segregated into a separate world of danger, indulgence and anxiety.

Today, when we denounce sugar, we are defying our nature. Sex was once the classic example of the good thing gone wrong – a gift of the gods ruined by religion and psychiatry. Now the road to excess leads to the supermarket shelf and the fast-food drive-through: Sugar has become the forbidden fruit, the momentary pleasure infused with a lifetime of guilt.