The Price of the Purchase?

When I sent the information to your writer, Ms. Eileen Loh Harrist, I was under the impression that Gambit Weekly was doing an article on programs related to the Louisiana Purchase.(EDITOR'S NOTE: Charles Siler's comments were included in our Feb. 4 Commentary "A Pivotal Moment.")

As I noted in our conversation, there is a dearth of programs and little institutional support on behalf of the African-American audience. Programs promoting Jefferson and Napoleonic aspects of the Purchase are plentiful and supported. The March and May programs at the museum are our contributions to the commemoration of African-American contributions to the event. Dr. Munford, our May 8 speaker, is an authority on French enslavement in the Caribbean and tells a clear story of the situation that is interesting and not full of the denial that marks traditional history.

Jefferson and Napoleon are not heroes in my opinion, and I feel that the millions of people who were extirpated from their homelands and became the victims of genocide might not be so inclined to agree that the Purchase was such a great thing. It is "winners' history" and, simultaneously, a continuation of the lies and denial that continue, to this day.

I hoped that my answers to your question would indicate my position on the subject. I am concerned that this celebration tends to overlook the causes and the role of people of African descent in this historic event. Again, I must reiterate that the economic damage done to the French treasury, the loss of key troops and the ultimate victory of the rebels in Haiti forced Napoleon to sell the territory. Of course, this implies what Trouillot spoke of in Silencing The Past (Power and the Production of History).

I am sorry that there seems to have been a misunderstanding over the intent of the article. Though I am willing to be of help with information, I do not want my assistance to be mistaken for agreement.

--Charles E. Siler

Programs Curator, Louisiana State Museum


Questioning "SuperSlow"

I am writing in response to the "Health Talk" section of your Jan. 7 issue. It was a Q&A with Ryan Hall discussing the "SuperSlow" exercise protocol. With all the hype and false promises of "quick fix" diet plans and new books out on the market, I believe the media has an obligation to provide the education necessary to create a healthy lifestyle.

Let me begin by stating that this is not a "SuperSlow" or Ryan Hall bashing session. It is an attempt to dispel the incomplete information about exercise programs our society has ingested. With that said, I found a few of Mr. Hall's answers to be extremely misleading, especially regarding the weight loss benefits of the system. Mr. Hall does make attempts to explain that this system is geared more toward a strength-building exercise protocol. It is his response to the question, "Can you really build muscle and lose weight with a 30-minute workout a week?" where we begin to be misled. He answers, "Absolutely you can. It's all about progress." Well, let's break this down.

I have a difficult time buying into the notion that only one half hour each week, out of 168, will create long-term "lifestyle" changes. As a certified fitness professional, it is my understanding that it takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound of body weight. This deficit is obtained by simply expending more calories (energy) than taken in (food = fuel = energy). Determining your basal metabolic rate, daily activity and nutrition modification requirements are key elements in creating a program to elicit this deficit.

Now, let's be generous and calculate that a 30-minute workout burns 300 calories each session. At one session per week, the individual should lose one pound every three months. At two sessions per week, they will lose one pound every month and a half. Will this person be stronger than before they began the program? Of course, they will! The chances are likely they will be stronger with any program involving resistance training and constant supervision.

The Cooper Institute in Dallas has stated that adherence to regular activity is the primary factor for successful results. I believe that 30 minutes per week is realistic for most people to adhere to -- although individuals must ask themselves what determines "successful results."

With approximately 64 percent of Americans being overweight or obese (an increase of three percent during the past six years), I hope that our media will concentrate more on community education and less on creating advertising opportunities.

--Davis Murphy

Great Guns

Regarding your article concerning "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" (Jan. 21), I predict the book authored by Brown and Abel will have dismal sales. The authors might even have to pay people to read it. Guns function exactly as they were designed. There is no flaw in the gun manufacturing process, and there is no way to make a gun safer. People who suggest that a gun can be made inherently safer through a change in design are living in a fantasy world. Can you imagine that a gun might have some sort of fingerprint reader before it's able to fire? What a joke. Excuse me, but how do you propose to power that device? Batteries? What happens when you need that weapon in a moment's notice and the batteries are dead? The owner ends up dead, as well. Also, what happens if the gun is programmed to read a husband's fingerprints and the wife needs it in an emergency?

There are thousands of murders every year in this country with knives, baseball bats, hatchets, etc. Are we going to ban them or sue their manufacturers? The article was wrong on one count also: Smith and Wesson is once again a thriving company. When it entered that agreement with the Clintonista Justice Department, it was owned by a British conglomerate. It wasn't even an American company at the time. It is now once again in the hands of American owners and has rescinded the agreement that almost cost it its very existence. Britain has banned all guns and its violent crime rates are up more than 500 percent in the past two years. Anyway, I'm going to buy some more guns this week.

--Patrick Wood