Taco Bell Fitness Franchises and Neuralink Monkey Scratches

Taco Bell Fitness Franchises and Neuralink Monkey Scratches
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I screwed up on Monday, sending all subscribers not just paid subscribers, an Extra Mile newsletter (which is supposed to be "bonus content" for the latter). I'm quite proud of how that Monday missive is shaping up, so I'm not mad that everyone got a chance to read it. I guess it can serve as a little reminder that, if you do want to support my work here, you can chip in with a monthly or annual subscription.

But do note: if you become a paid subscriber and then change your mind at any point – you get sick of my shit or whatever – do be sure to cancel your subscription not just hit the unsubscribe link. Because it's sort of a jerk move if your credit card gets charged again and you then flag it as fraud, as several folks did this week.

Oh sure, I realize that e-commerce sort of encourages this behavior. Money-back guarantees. Free shipping on returns – indeed, sometimes the return label is packed up with the invoice. No need to even talk to an actual person. Bloomberg reported this week that "Online Shopping Has Become a Giant Fake Product Machine," and I imagine that there's a future in which we become even more alienated from and through and by our online consumption. But here, inside the Second Breakfast factory, there is a very real person cranking on the product machine, and you can actually email me with questions/comments/complaints and I will actually respond. (I will even refund your money. Good grief.)

Elsewhere, in the business of health and wellness this week...

Xponential Fitness (owner of the Club Pilates, StretchLab, and Pure Barre brands) has hired former Taco Bell CEO Mark King has its new leader – an announcement that pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the fitness industry and franchising. JP Morgan Private Capital has raised over $500 million for a venture fund targeting life science startups in the "weight loss drug" space. "Arya Raises $7.5M for AI-Powered Sexual Wellness Platform." What could possibly go wrong? "A Neuralink employee says she was scratched by a herpes-infected monkey." That seems... bad.

Fitness technology – updates are not upgrades: "Your Watch Doesn't Know How Much Recovery You Need" by Alex Hutchinson in Outside. But it's going to make you feel guilty, nonetheless. The New York Times on "The Disturbing Truth About Hair Relaxers." Andrew Leland on how Apple Vision Pro "is already changing disabled users' lives." The Information reports, however, that Apple has suspended work on the next version of Vision Pro, opting instead to focus on building a cheaper model.

"Survey says...": The CDC has released a report on Americans who practice yoga. Spoiler alert: a lot of affluent women. Interestingly, "the percentage of adults who practiced yoga to treat or manage pain decreased with increasing family income." Elsewhere in not-actually-building-out-a-robust-public-healthcare-infrastructure, "Leaked documents reveal patient safety issues at Amazon’s One Medical."

"Why is Everyone a Protein Girlie Now?" asks Virginia Sole-Smith in her Burnt Toast newsletter, charging that a high protein diet, particularly as peddled by online influencers, is part of "diet culture." (Everything is "diet culture" to Sole-Smith, it seems, including her divorce. I'm working on an essay adjacent to this, on whether or not these sorts of frameworks – "diet culture," "optimization culture" – are actually that useful or insightful. Nifty catchphrases don't always translate into the best cultural analysis. See also: "The Brat Pack.")

Thanks for being a Second Breakfast subscriber. I'll be back next week with an essay on "the core" – stories (and practices and fitness technologies for and) about a part of the body that we seem to be currently obsessed with. Have a good weekend.