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I didn’t time how long it took me to write the following e-mail, but it could not have been more than four minutes. I only wish I could generate words and paragraphs that quickly in my other, for-profit and for-creativity writing endeavors. The only context you need is that I was trading messages with someone who was joining me in a pointless but fun tirade about a subset of the generally self-deluded American populace.
I will also take this opportunity to point out that, as grim as it is to admit, having a Facebook account has largely laid waste to my contributing to this blog. I find it all too easy to fling thoughts that used to be the seeds for blog posts into status updates instead, and I can’t really claim that I regret this because in the end I don’t waste as much time. And while blogging is a dear pastime to me, or has been, that’s all it is. I don’t even read them much anymore, much less contribute to my own.
And most of them are still fat, they’re just staying that way through inadequate workouts and a new form of extra calories instead of pure ass-sitting and traditional empty calories.
This is just classic American bullshitting of each other and ourselves. Remember when we were in college and fat became the devil? All of these fat-free foods hit the market, and it was supposed to mean epidemic weight loss and nirvana for people who embraced these new, magical snacks. Problem is, they still have a lot of calories (many non-fat desserts have even more calories than their fat-rich counterparts — ice cream sometimes does).
So the U.S. continued to bloat, and it was back to the bullshit drawing board, and WOW! Carbs are the problem, that’s it! Shoulda fuckin’ known it all along! So people went the way of your cottage-cheese-slathered co-worker, and they lost some water weight, but their moods blackened and in the end most of them were still big slimy tubs of goo. Whoops! Looks like that one didn’t work out either. NOW what the fuck? We’re out of macronutrients to pick on and target for isolated destruction!
So most of the people on [Web site redacted] seems like dumbasses, and while this is true, unfortunately they’re pretty representative of the American middle class — educated enough to ignore the stink of their own self-righteous shit, but only smart enough to be dangerous instead of visionary. Christ, how much insight does it take to realize that people stayed fit and lean well before all of this paleo and vegan trendiness arose? I even have evidence — photos of thin people from the 70s and 80s! Not photoshopped. And they did NOT do it by trying to fit a 60-minute cardio session into 5 minutes or taking the right combination of nutraceuticals and yoga classes.
Posted in Catablogic Blathering on January 30, 2013
Vincent Carroll of the Denver Post has written a badly misguided column, bordering not only on excessive and unabashedly biased cheerleading for someone Carroll once in some sense supervised, but also on irresponsibility from a public-health standpoint.
I’ve written about Paul Campos’ off-kilter “analyses” of fat science many times on this blog. That he has been energetically pursuing his scientifically vacuous crusade for over a decade now does not make him a “debunker.” He is an attorney by training, someone whose job is to argue, not seek truth. The former he does admirably well; in the latter he is a dismal failure.
His latest piece in the New York Times has been thoroughly and expertly fisked by medical professionals (who, the columnist might have noted by now, are conspicuously absent from his various irrational screeds about the “hysteria” surrounding the “exaggerated” claims about obesity). Please see this piece by David Katz, M.D.
The points that Carroll raises in a desultory attempt to lend Campos’ arguments credibility are tired canards by now. Just because the BMI is not a perfect tool at the individual level doesn’t mean that people carrying an excess of body fat aren’t at increased risk for certain health woes (and one of Campos’ favorite tricks is to use obvious outliers like hypermuscular NFL linemen to “prove” that the BMI is meaningless, when anyone with a pulse knows that the overwhelming majority of people with a BMI over 30 are not fit, they’re simply heavy).
Collins also observes that “Campos has never dismissed the danger of being seriously obese.” So how is it that thin folks and really obese ones have a higher health risk as a result of how they are built than people who just happen to represent the majority of people who read the anti-scientific rants that Campos — who also happens to be portly but not fat, or at least this was the case when I was trading barbs with him years ago on a now-defunct running forum — unflaggingly excretes?
But this is perhaps the worst: “When he began addressing the topic, he noted, alarmists were predicting declining longevity in the U.S., which hasn’t occurred.” This is a neon-sign-caliber straw man. No credible health professionals have ever asserted any such thing. Life expectancy has been rising steadily for decades. Does that mean that the health risks of HIV, cancer and playing with live hand grenades are overstated as well?
Finally, life expectancy per se is hardly a stand-alone measure of a society’s health. Consider this:
“[N]ew research from Eileen Crimmins, AARP Chair in Gerontology at the University of Southern California, and Hiram Beltr??n-S??nchez, a postdoctoral fellow at the Andrus Gerontology Center at USC, shows that average ‘morbidity,’ or, the period of life spend with serious disease or loss of functional mobility, has actually increased in the last few decades.”
Thus the fact that we can ably keep people with diabetes, CAD, severe hypertension and other chronic diseases alive without relieving much of their debility does not spell a lack of a negative impact of obesity on America’s health profile.
I should add in conclusion that arguments concerning how overweight people are portrayed in the media, personally maligned both consciously and subconsciously, etc. are completely independent of medical facts and should not be conflated with same, tempting as it may be. I abhor the idea of mocking anyone who might already feel intense shame simply because of how they look and always have, as I am very far from perfect in myriad ways myself.
Posted in Health and Society on January 29, 2013
The other day, I got an unsolicited e-mail that read, in part:
Our site’s production team recently released a short video uncovering the local and global impact that milk has on our lives.
After spending some time on your posts, I noticed you talked about milk and dairy products so I thought I’d email you.
Let me know if you’re interested in checking out the video.
The site in question is InsuranceQuotes.org, which didn’t strike me as the sort of advocacy outfit inclined to agitate against milk consumption (and the above text in the e-mail alone informed me of this group’s stance on milk without me having to even load the video). Even more strangely, the only post I believe I’ve ever made to this blog about milk appeared here last July and was plainly something no anti-milk type would want to use as ammunition for her cause.
So, I reckoned I had been fed a promising opportunity to rip something apart by an unsuspecting pseudo-spammer who clearly doesn’t take the time to read the output of bloggers she assumes from keywords alone might be her allies. So I watched the video, just over a minute long and embedded below. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Health and Society on November 16, 2012
I recently hinted at the fact that surveys are not scientific studies, and should not be treated as sources of useful data when it comes to certain areas of research. I now have a “study” that exemplifies this perfectly.
It’s one thing to ask people yes-or-no questions that are hard to fuck up without conscious effort, e.g., “Who do you plan to vote for for president next week?” It’s a far sketchier matter to rely on self-reporting and self-recall when it comes to something not nearly so black-and-white, such as food consumption.
…to try to make the entire GOP look like a bunch of howling, ignorant screwballs.
In the course of looking for a detailed county-by-county election-results map, I happened across a blog called “Give Us Liberty 1776,” which is apparently a reference to the year in which a present-day country the blog creators know little about declared its independence from the British Empire.
The first post that caught my eye was titled “Obama did not win a single state that requires photo IDs to vote.” I didn’t have to read a single word of the post itself to formulate a response, but I did, and the level of dishonesty and ignorance in this surreal waste of time and effort is extreme even by the standards of a Wingnut Daily contributor.
I left a comment that most likely will not be approved by the mods. Here it is: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Political Pungency on November 8, 2012
I bring this up because I’m greedy. I’m not intellectually satisfied by Romney’s narrowly losing the election. 48 percent of Americans who voted this cycle chose Romney, and given what a moral-ethical cripple he proved himself to be — not only during his wreck of a campaign but well before it even started — I find this appalling. One may plausibly argue that President Obama didn’t do a bang-up job, even allowing for the unusual level of adversity and contempt he faced when he took office in 2009, but no one can sensibly argue that he is in the same solar system as the Romney-Ryan thermonuclear bullshit plant.
I understand and accept that a lot of people will simply pull the lever for the candidate representing their political party of choice without looking any deeper, but even allowing for such a crass and superficial approach to civic proceedings, it is undeniable that anyone who voted for Mitt Romney, especially given his ramshackle choice of a running mate, simply does not care how freely and unabashedly Romney prevaricates. That, or they don’t notice or don’t believe it, which from the standpoint of fitness for voting is just as bad.
Most parents, even those who exhibit a variety of non-nurturing behaviors (excessive drinking or drugging, physical or other abuse, neglect), instill the idea in their kids that lying is wrong. Even parents who consciously tell lies don’t typically want their kids to lie, at least not to them and presumably in general. So Americans can be said to value honesty at some level. Even fundamentalist Christians who spout arrant bullshit about the afterlife and the universe in general aren’t lying; they’re merely wrong.
So why do we put up with it from our own leaders and potential leaders? Do we simply overlook it, or is there some kind of compromise at work? I see two basic reasons: Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Hootworthy on November 7, 2012
…had you told me these things about the present day 20 years ago:
* a black guy who smokes cigarettes will win the presidency — twice — while running against a wealthy, handsome white guy the second time.
* gay people will be legally allowed to get married in numerous states, with the support of a growing majority of Americans.
* something called the Internet will reveal that a horrifying fraction of Americans are functionally illiterate racist misogynist swine. (Well, this one might not have shocked me.)
That is all.
Posted in We're Doomed on October 30, 2012
This is the greeting on the Strafford County home page:
Dear Web Reader,
It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the new Strafford County Website.
If you have any questions reguarding our Site or what is not recorded,
feel free to send us an email to:
SCmailbox@co.strafford.nh.us. We look forward to “seeing” on the Web!
Very Truly yours,
Strafford County Commisioners
It’s not clear what it is these county employees hope to see (or “see”) online, but here’s hoping that they lay their eyes on a grammar and spelling tutorial.
Posted in Health and Society on October 29, 2012
“Eggs are Nearly as Bad for Your Arteries as Cigarettes!”
I guess the exclamation point in the title of this post on a militant (hate to recycle that word from the “militant atheists” idiots, but it sometimes fits) vegan blog is supposed to add veracity, or intrigue, or something. But a survey of several of my friends proves that this is bullshit, and that exclamation points intended to lend support to an idea instead imply that the idea is flimsy at best, laughable at worst. And a survey is as good as a formal study, at least in some people’s view.
Yes, egg yolks contain a lot of cholesterol, and cholesterol has indeed been associated with atherosclerosis and attendant health problems and risks. Smoking’s effects on the cardiovascular system are well established. Good. But the finer points of the “One Green Planet” post are off the mark and signal bias, laziness or both.
Here’s the breakdown. Read the rest of this entry »
“Pro-life” Arkansas Congress candidate thinks death penalty for “rebellious” children is appropriate
Posted in We're Doomed on October 11, 2012
As they say, you cannot make this shit up.
Charlie Fuqua, who has previously served in the Arkansas House of Representatives and wants all Muslims unconditionally deported and also advocates the sterilization of people who have been shown, by some standard, to be unsupportive parents, is now on record of advocating the death penalty for disobedient children.
One would find this a curious stance coming from someone who lists among his top ten agenda issues as “protect the sanctity of life,” but all bets are off with these mindless assholes. In some sub-worlds it makes perfect sense to be a rabid anti-abortionist while seriously advancing the idea that society might be better off if kids who merely sass their parents too much be hanged, shot or given lethal injections.
Every time I intend to mitigate my opinions about certain U.S. states, something like this rolls around and seems to legitimize every harsh prejudice I am apt to cling to.
Posted in Catablogic Blathering on October 8, 2012
I’m both honored and excited to have the opportunity to formally review Lize Brittin‘s recently published book Training on Empty (Smashwords, $5.99) which details the former elite young runner’s years-long and nearly fatal confrontation with anorexia nervosa. Honored, because Lize could have asked any number of qualified readers to undertake the tasks of critiquing the book along is journey from manuscript to published work and spreading the word of its availability. Excited, because Lize is a very close friend of mine and has invested a wealth of time, emotion, and perseverance into this project, and as both a fellow writer and someone who has dealt with some of the issues discussed in the book, I’ve long been convinced that Training on Empty is a work in desperate need of a wide audience. The chances of this happening just increased fantastically.
Books by athletes who have survived serious eating disorders, as well as books about EDs presented from a clinician’s point of view, are not in short supply; I’ve read a number of them, and among them have been several well-written, informative, and deeply engaging pieces of literature.
All bias aside, however, Training on Empty breaks the mold in important ways, and thus presents itself as a genuinely fresh addition to the genre. As I noted, there are personal accounts and there are didactic tomes by medical professionals and other therapeutic types. Lize, on the other hand, has seamlessly confined a frank and often terrifying personal memoir with a text that explores the psychological, medical, sociological and even spiritual aspects of a range of related illnesses that affect over ten million young people and adults in the United States alone. And critically, she writes as someone who has truly “been there”: She is an unusually accomplished distance runner who at age sixteen set the record at the Pike’s Peak Ascent, one of the preeminent mountain races in the world. She was a two-time finalist at the Kinney (now Foot Locker) National High-School Cross-Country Championships, placing seventh as a senior, and as a college freshman was the runner-up at the TAC (now USATF) Junior National Cross-Country Championships.
In terms of style, Lize is a straight shooter without being melodramatic, a wordsmith who can turn a phrase without overreaching. “Training on Empty” includes mention of youthful pharmacological and sexual interludes, and descriptions of a tumultuous and sometimes tortured upbringing, but these are presented only to the extent that they help explain their contribution to Lize’s progression down a diseased path that very nearly ended in her death. By far the most gripping angle, for want of a better term, of the book is Lize’s in-depth description of what it was like to be her own relentless and brutal tormentor for so many years. The fear, the resolve, the pathological ideas and plans and actions that few people could ever conceive of, the relentless hours spent both training and maliciously wounding herself — the way she presents these, particularly in the later chapters when she describes her post-collegiate life in hell, is literally enough to bring a grown man to tears. Yet that’s not the important thing. What is amazing, what sells Lize’s story – the horrific details of which are far from unique – is that she got well. In reading her account, there are various points at which one expects the book to conclude with the admission that she wrote and submitted the entire thing from within the confines of a psychiatric hospital or medical ward. That she is not only alive but functioning on a better-than-even keel is why people need to read Training On Empty.
Lize, notably and humbly, promises nothing in terms of results. While she has spoken at local high schools and made other overtures aimed at reducing the incidence of her own type of suffering, she matter-of-factly acknowledges that a sea change in attitude is about the only thing that can lead to recovery. At the same time, she describes just how to set up the right conditions. It’s truly titillating as well as exciting.
Yes. Yes, you can get better, and this book proves it. And the author unabashedly reveals what’s needed in order to ensure this.
Posted in Catablogic Blathering on September 13, 2012
Sorry I have been away a bit. I have been keeping my eye to the ground anyway, knowing the political climate in which we eat. It has been Painful, I started this morning, showed up at my mom and Dads with the best of intentios about running with their Dog (golden retrever) only to find it was already blind drunk at 10 in the morning. Drinking High Gravity beers, and lots of em. We already talkd about this, and I was pist. Mit Romney has offerd to kill all dogs not inducted to the Morman fathe and I dont happen to agree. But let that go for now. Let us pray for sobriety; of all dogs.
So we saw the national Political conventions of both sides & it was clear Clint Eastwood Dominated….THE SENILE DIVISION!! Wtf, why they never veted his output, I dont know, the GOP seems intennt on self destructioning and if Estwood was paid to flail by the Dems I would of not been surprised.
Still, the Redsox collpase of 2012 is a mystrery to many. They had a Decent roster, and then they are in last place with no David Ortize or Roger Celemts to halp them thanks to disabled list. We can pray.
Ram Amanuel oversaw a teachers strike in the city of Chiacaco, obne of the major urban areas of Ilionios. So he could not control them all. That sucked. They are still a mess as of the last analyses.
I am tired and have coverd the Issues so I quit, laters
Since sectarian religion by definition plays fast and loose with the truth (I’ve always wondered where the “fast” part of that saying comes from, but for now I’ll just roll with the cliche’), it should be no surprise that Christian news outlets are even more deep into the spin game than most media outlets, virtually none of which are free of at least some degree of obvious bias.
In 2009, a lawsuit was filed that aimed to block President Obama’s expansion of the availability of embryos for embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR) via federal funding. (Ironically, the suit was brought not by pro-life opponents but by a pair of scientists concerned that the change in policy from the Bush Administration, which allowed ESCR but not its taxpayer funding, would ultimate backfire and hurt progress in ESCR.) The suit was tossed by a lower court, which determined that there was no basis for the suit since it was predicated on the erroneous idea that embryos in the federally funded projects were “harmed” in the process, which, if true, would violate a 1996 piece of legislation. (The quote marks are mine; feel free to argue with their inclusion if you want.) This decision was appealed, and on Friday, and appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision. Read the rest of this entry »
Unless you’ve been chained in a basement somewhere or in the throes of a drunken blackout, by now you’re aware that Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner and the most decorated cyclist in history, has been banned for life from the sport by the U.S. Anti-Doping Association (USADA) as a consequence of the case the agency has been building against him for months, if not years. Armstrong is charged not only with cheating via chemical enhancement, but also with trafficking, possessing, and administering banned substances. USADA also stripped him of all of his TdF titles, though the body lacks the ultimate authority to do so — that will fall to the International Cycling Federation (UCI). For any one of a thousand similar breakings of the story on Thursday afternoon, try this one in the NY Times. Read the rest of this entry »
Near the Empire State Building yesterday, NYPD officers shot and killed a recently fired man who had just executed his ex-boss by putting five rounds in his head. In the process, they wounded nine bystanders on the crowded Midtown sidewalk.
For whatever reason (I can think of better examples), this has catalyzed a lot of Internet discussion concerning the claim in the title of this post. I want to use what I believe is a credible, almost assured scenario to explain why this idea is as ridiculous as any other cast forth by the rabid faction of the pro-gun crowd. (I am not against private gun ownership, within limits.) Read the rest of this entry »
A guy I hang around with is convinced that milk is about the worst thing a person can ingest, save for red meat, which he sees as a virtual guarantee of colon cancer (there is probably an association, but he takes the issue to an extreme). Of course, this same fellow is a “truther” (thinks the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 terror attacks) and has paranoid tendencies across the board. And when he says milk is bad, he’s not referring to the hormones people are concerned about; he means milk per se, at least cow’s milk and other milk derived from animals. Read the rest of this entry »
The Johnson twins, who run Letsrun.com — long the pre-eminent distance-running site on the Web thanks to sheer game energy predominating over questionable self-importance and various flagrant abuses of Web design and language — have often been maligned for their conservative political stance, which has crept into their message-board climate. This, it seems, is largely the result of a basic stats principle, tendency-toward-the mean: In this case, the more people involved, the more likely it is that those people will reflect the general intellectual proclivities, tenor, and abuses of the population at large. That is, if this were a place with only 100 or so regulars, one would not be surprised to find, for example, a preponderance of Obama supporters or agnostics; but with thousands of daily denizens, the weight of FOX-vs-MSNBC, Dems-vs-Repubs, realists-vs-creationists on Letsrun is highly representative of the populace at large.
That’s fine; if the reportage of relevant content is on-the-money, which it usually is, it shouldn’t matter what the proprietors think or adhere to (think liking a Tom Cruise flick in spite of knowing the guy is a flake, or respecting Madonna’s music even though she may seem a moron). Still, I’m surprised at the extremes the Johnsons have gone to lately — and that’s my mistake, given the message-board-moderation direction over the years and the fact that this is an election year in which the GOP is looking hapless-to-pathetic.
From today’s “The Week that Was,” presumably in running:
That ad on the left is just fucked-up, and this would be the case without the ghastly and unabashedly ruthless fiscal realities engendered by the Bush administration. (That’s all I will opine on the specific politics of the matter.) The site deserves a source of revenue, and if I were in the Johnsons’ shoes I might whore myself out in the same way for a left-wing cause…but I doubt it. For whatever reason this just smacks of self-parody. What Could Happen To The White House if Aliens Representing a Hybrid of George Will and Ted Nugent Took Over Washington? I don’t know, but the WorldNet Daily might.
You won’t believe me, but I would find such lowbrow pandering on behalf of the left equally bizarre-cum-pathetic. I already do. I guess in part I’m just tired of listening to well-meaning Wal-Mart clerks express contempt for the current administration because their personal circumstances suck (and this is not a metaphorical assesment) and wish they would at least give weight to the fullness of the “debate,” but more than anything else I suppose I am just in my usual mode of not tolerating intellectually devoid messages of any sort.
Posted in Sheer Procrastination on April 30, 2012
OK, I “earned” my degree a while ago, but 20 years isn’t that long. I guess the real message here is that language, like the world it describes, is changing a lot more rapidly than it used to; I doubt that the typical 1992 resident of Earth could have come up with 10 common action words that were unheard of in 1972.
My list (and you’re invited to produce your own before scanning mine to see how much overlap there is, as most of these are obvious):
Read the rest of this entry »
So yesterday afternoon I decided to incorporate a visit to my parents’ house into my run. It was in the single digits, and they have an energetic 1 1/2-year-old Golden retriever named Izzy who needs exercise every day regardless of the weather, no aspects of which she finds daunting regardless of the opinions of her humans. My parents are always happy to let me run her around for a while and I’m always happy to oblige. I figured that I’d hang out there for a while afterward and get some work done using their reliable Wi-Fi connection, so I packed my laptop and cell phone into a backpack, dressed as best I could for the weather, and made the two-mile trek from my place to theirs.
Once there, I farted around for a few minutes to warm up, then took Izzy out for three miles or so. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing training schedules, putting the finishing touches on an article about the Olympic Marathon Trials that had taken place the day before, and harassing putative running fans on the Internet, and along the way prepared and consumed some pasta and broccoli, putting the leftovers in a tupperware container. I had the equivalent of a social engagement at 8:30 and then, calling Ohio from my parents’ place, took part in a radio show on WXUT at about 11 p.m. I then took Izzy out into the now-2-degree-Fahrenheit evening for one last excretory salvo before packing all of my stuff up again and heading back toward home.
It was about 12:30 a.m. I’d had a productive day as a freelancer on multiple fronts and the radio show had been fun, so I was on a high even if the mercury in local thermometers wasn’t.
Benign enough, right? Well, it was all a set-up for a brief and annoying comic interlude. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m writing this from a Starbucks in West Roxbury, a neighborhood in the western fringes of Boston close to the more upscale suburb of Brookline but also not far from the worst of the city’s ‘hoods. (That’s the charm of this compact place: Back when the Combat Zone still existed in its full fury 25 years ago, if someone had put a blindfold on you and asked you to walk for 15 minutes from downtown in any direction, you wouldn’t have known if you would wind up in the midst of crackwhores or on the lawns of Beacon Hill mansions.) And I mention Starbucks only because she’s a bitch I can’t get away from even though I don’t respect her, a place I go to for a couple of assets I could get most anyplace else and in higher quality–in this place, wi-if and coffee–only because of habit and a craven unwillingness to explore neighborhoods.
I move around a bunch. I’m not talking just about my day-to-day hyperkinetic ways — running, overcaffeinated tours of neighborhoods with equally rambunctious working-class dogs, tapping out blissfully agitated e-mails at a Mach 19 despite using only three fingers — since 2002, I’ve been comparatively sessile in the past few trips around the sun, managing 18-month-long stints in Dover, N.H. and Boulder, Colorado between December 2008 and today. The Great Front Range Experiment is now history, and since a lot of what a place like Boulder has to offer fits seamlessly into my wants and needs, it stands to reason that moving away — even if back to the state where I’ve spent most of my life — would be a jolt.
The title of this post includes a couple of neologisms of the pithy type I despise, with syllables based on place names, e.g., SoHo. But I couldn’t resist “DoDo” (for “downtown Dover”) because it’s just do frigging witty and mimics the name of a friendly but impossibly stupid Madagascarian birds from centuries ago that asshole colonists recreationally blasted into extinction. But really, with “Dover” I’m referring to all of suburban and exurban Boston, as right now I’m actually in the city and will be settling soon enough back in N.H.
Anyway, regarding the Boulder-Greater Boston comparison, it’s impossible to state a firm conclusion without some thought, as it’s a multifaceted trade-off. SO I thought about it for five minutes and decided that these areas represent the most glaring vis-a-vis aspects: Read the rest of this entry »