Losing weight is harder for modern adults…

From The Atlantic:

A study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that it’s harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise.

Related – even wild animals and lab animals, even when given the same diet as animals decades ago, are gaining weight:

Obviously, if animals are getting heavier along with us, it can’t just be that they’re eating more Snickers bars and driving to work most days. On the contrary, the trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species.

Guevedoces – boys who only grow external male genitalia when they hit puberty

Fascinating – an enzyme deficiency causes some boys in a community in the Dominican Republic to “look like” girls for the first 12 or so years of their lives and only grow male sex organs at puberty:

“The condition is the result of an enzyme deficiency. Guevedoces are genetically male, and have Y chromosomes in all of their cells. Their earliest sexual development is also normal: a gene on the Y chromosome turns the undeveloped gonads of the 7 week old embryo into testes, which soon start pumping out male hormones… But their bodies can’t turn it into DHT, and without DHT the genitals develop along female lines–as a clitoris and labia–instead of a penis and scrotum. DHT also sends the signal that tells testes to descend into the scrotum: without it, they stay tucked inside the abdomen.”

More info at the BBC.

Reminding yourself of the past (however banal that past may be) seems to increase happiness

From the Greater Good Science Center:

These are some of the questions researchers asked in a recent set of studies exploring our tendency to underestimate how much pleasure we get out of rediscovering mundane experiences. Participants in these studies consistently expected that they would not be very interested in rereading a log of an ordinary event in their everyday lives. But a couple of months down the road when the time came to reread that log, they found themselves much more interested and experienced more pleasure than they had expected.

I’ve been trying to keep a hand-written journal lately, but not worrying about legibility, under the theory that it’s really an exercise in collating and clarifying my thoughts in the moment, not something to go back and read later. I may need to start doing it electronically, or at the least, writing with the idea that I’ll be rereading eventually…

Black Lives Matter, Campaign Zero, and Bernie Sanders

A group called “We the Protestors,” led by prominent Black Lives Matter activists Deray McKesson and Johnetta “Netta” Elzie, just released its most comprehensive set of demands and policy prescriptions meant to address police brutality.

The policy prescriptions are here. As of late August, Bernie Sanders’ policy agenda matches the BLM agenda the most, with support for 8 of their 10 demands/proposals.

(A note about Bernie – he’s just one year older than Joe Biden, but Biden’s possible run isn’t getting the “isn’t he too old?” coverage Bernie’s run is. I guess it’s about how old they look not how old they are…)

Internet Bot may have made millions on options market

There’s no proof given that the story went down quite as reported, but according to this Slate article, there’s probably an automated bot out there that scans newswires and other online sources for financial news and can make bets that pay off 20-to-1 on the options market faster than any human can react to avoid their money being taken.

Somewhat related: not having a physical (human) body wouldn’t stand in the way of an artificial superintelligence achieving a great deal of power in the “real” world.

Strange interview with Sean Young from Bladerunner

Apparently Sean Young went through a lot of drama with various Hollywood folks since making some great movies in the 1980s.

I saw Bladerunner (the Final Cut) again on the big screen a few weeks ago. Sometimes when I see a movie (or show or even listen to a song) for the first time in a while random new things will pop out at me. This time it was understanding that Pris (Daryl Hannah) was rolling her eyes to suppress laughter when she was hiding from Deckard.

(Another great old Sean Young movie: No Way Out.)

Light and myopia

The Myopia Boom – numerous studies, and controlled experiments, point to modern kids’ lack of exposure to sunlight as causing high rates of myopia in recent generations. The mechanism?

The leading hypothesis is that light stimulates the release of dopamine in the retina, and this neurotransmitter in turn blocks the elongation of the eye during development. The best evidence for the ‘light–dopamine’ hypothesis comes — again — from chicks. In 2010, Ashby and Schaeffel showed that injecting a dopamine-inhibiting drug called spiperone into chicks’ eyes could abolish the protective effect of bright light11.

At your local Berkeley cafe: black comedian profiled and told to leave, non-hilarity ensues

A comedian walks away from a cafe…

Back in January, (black) W. Kamau Bell was talking to his (white) wife and her (white) friends who were seated outside at Elmwood Cafe in Berkeley (a place I’ve enjoyed going to before). One of the cafe workers thinks he’s harassing the customers, raps on the cafe window from the inside and indicates, through the glass, that he should stop “selling”. Online mini-tempest ensues; worker fired for neither (1) engaging with, and solving problem for, now unhappy group of customers or (2) reporting the incident to management (the owners found out about it due to Bell’s blog posting).

In the end, the cafe owner (a self-described social justice activist), the Bells, and a bunch of people from the community come together to talk about and work against implicit bias and micro-agressions.

I guess I can go back to Elmwood for those nice hot sandwiches now?