Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy F*&@^#ing New Year!


I've said it before and I'll say it again. New Year's resolutions suck. Does anybody ever resolve to do anything that is genuinely worthwhile, and if so, do they ever actually do it? If not, what the hell is the point, other than to increase gym membership sales and/or to make people feel bad?

The worst part is the "experts" who come crawling out of the woodwork at this time every year to tell you why human beings are such weak and pathetic pieces of shit and to give you advice on sticking to your resolutions. Here's a great example. In this CNN article, Kelly Haws informs us that the reason people fail to keep their resolutions is that "people are resistant to things that are uncomfortable or have them feeling deprived." Wow, no shit? I thought people loved things that are uncomfortable and make them feel deprived. I guess that's why Kelly Haws is an assistant professor of marketing at Texas A&M and I'm not.

Also, why is this article so hung up on demonizing lattes? What's wrong with a daily latte? Caffeine, in moderation at least, is good for you. In the short term, it increases your endurance so you can exercise longer and harder, which is also good for you, at least up to a point. Dairy, by most people's reckoning, is also good for you, especially the fat-free kind. Lattes taste good and are aesthetically and even spiritually satisfying. They are a nice way to start your day. If you make them at home, they are inexpensive. So what exactly is the problem with lattes (other than that they are the beverage of choice of the elitist left-wing god-hating terrorist-loving Volvo-driving intelligentsia)? The beverage pictured in the article with the caption under it referring to a "latte" isn't even a latte. I don't know what the hell it is, but it's not a latte.

Happy New Year anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How about a jagoff tax instead?

Found this gem on CNN.com today. Apparently David Paterson thinks the state of New York needs an "obesity tax". (To be fair, that was what the headline said, not necessarily what Paterson called it, but his editorial is chock-full of anti-"obesity" rhetoric.) Actually the proposal is not to tax people for being fat, but rather to tax non-diet "sugared drinks". Because, you know, there is a direct correlation between consumption of non-diet soda and being fat. Well, except when there isn't.

Two things really get me about this editorial. The first is Paterson's assertion that "No one can deny the urgency of reducing the rate of obesity". That is certainly one way of forcing people to agree with you -- just say "No one can deny that...", and then how could anyone have the nerve to disagree? The second thing that irks me is the idea that diet soda is healthy for people. First of all, there is still the possibility that aspartame causes cancer -- there have been some conflicting reports, but it's not as if the connection is just some fringe idea. And then there is this bit of delicious irony: drinking diet soda may actually *increase* weight gain. Does anyone else find that totally hilarious or do I just have a sick sense of humor?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good article on AlterNet

Hi all, I wanted to draw your attention to this article on AlterNet (thanks to the Admiral for the heads-up). It's about a 2007 documentary that somehow I never heard about, called "Fat: What No One Is Telling You", which definitely sounds worthy of checking out on Netflix.

The article itself (don't know yet about the movie) is stuck on the old idea of "obesity" as a "disease" and suffers from a few other misconceptions, but it made me happy anyway (well, "happy"... I mean, it's not a happy article, but I'm glad it was written). It's not all that common for lefties to come to the defense of fat people these days (unfortunately you see this in some of the comments on the article, which I recommend avoiding), so it's nice to see this on AlterNet.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Buy Nothing Day!


I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. We sure did! Great food, great booze, great company. Our hosts handled most of the cooking, so we just contributed four items: a green bean casserole, mulled wine (the Admiral's concoction), a pumpkin pie (the tried and true Joy of Cooking recipe) with fresh whipped cream, and a fabulous persimmon cake. The latter is adapted from a recipe called "Fuyu Bundt Cake" that I dug up online last year when we kept getting persimmons in the box from our CSA. The source attributes the recipe to an old Sunset magazine. I wouldn't be surprised, since I've found all the Sunset recipes I've tried to be absolutely delicious. (Did you see the Cranberry Obsession Snow Cake on the cover of the last issue? It looks awesome. I am *so* making that for Christmas.) I'm going to go ahead and post my version of the persimmon cake recipe below.

But first, a word about Buy Nothing Day. I've soured on Adbusters magazine because of their insistence on holding up fat people as symbols of our society's insatiable appetite for energy and consumer goods. But I still acknowledge that they've had some good ideas over the years -- one of them being (in my opinion) Buy Nothing Day. The idea is that on the day after Thanksgiving, instead of running out to Wal-Mart and participating in the orgy of pre-Christmas spending (at the risk of getting trampled), we should commit to going 24 hours without spending a dime. This way, we basically drop out of the economy for a day and we don't contribute to this one big day of retail sales that adds to everybody's crushing credit card debt and basically keeps our unsustainable way of life going for another year. Adbusters suggests some protests that you can stage to celebrate Buy Nothing Day -- for example, you can go to a mall with a pair of scissors and offer to cut up people's credit cards. Another idea that wasn't necessarily suggested by Adbusters, but which they endorsed after the fact, was a mass vomit where people went to a mall and took ipecac and all barfed in unison. That seems a bit extreme to me and I'm not sure there was a direct connection to Buy Nothing Day. I think it had to do with eating as a metaphor for consumption in general, and therefore barfing as a rejection of consumption; but really I think the idea was to gross out the customers so they would leave and not buy as much (unfortunately, the only guaranteed consequence was that some mall employee had to clean up the barf, but I guess a hard-core Culture Jammer might argue that a mall employee is a cog in the wheel and therefore deserves to have to clean up barf, or something like that). So anyway, all this is to say that although I'm not participating in any protests, I'm also not buying anything today. Instead, I'll just stay home and get some reading done, and eat some leftover persimmon cake. And now, on to that recipe.

Persmimmon Bundt Cake

5 fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped (it's crucial to get fuyus b/c hachiyas can be tart if they aren't ripe)
2 t. baking soda
1 stick butter, softened
1 2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 t. lemon juice
2 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
powdered sugar

Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.

Preheat oven to 350.

Blend baking soda with chopped fuyus (this can be done in a blender). Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar. Add eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla, and beat until fluffy.

Stir in fuyu mix.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Stir flour mixture into fuyu mixture until just blended.

Spoon mixture into prepared bundt pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick tests clean.

Cool in pan 15 minutes. Turn onto serving plate (preferably a dark-colored one).

Put some powdered sugar into a small strainer and, holding it over the cake, tap the edge of it to create an even dusting of sugar over the top of the cake and the plate.

Eat!

Why, oh why, didn't I take a picture of the cake yesterday? It was so pretty. Oh well, anyway, here's a picture of a fuyu persimmon. This is the kind you want; hachiyas are longer and pointier at the bottom.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's time for another episode of...

Spot The Cliche!

How many can you count in this CNN article?

Sorry for the lack of posts lately -- I've just been busy. More soon.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yay! But... ack!

It's been almost a week since the election, and I still feel happy and glowy. About most of what happened, anyway. Not this so much. At least Ohio came through, as promised.

But here's a question: will President Obama be proactive about taking care of this little problem? This is some scary stuff, people...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cookies


It's no secret that I love cookies. You've all seen my mom's sugar cookie recipe (scroll to the bottom), and if you've had the pleasure of trying it, you must know that my family and I are not fucking around when it comes to cookies. Hell, I even had the nickname "Cookie" when I was in the marching band, back in the day.

But now I am here to tell you that cookies hold the key to our future. Just check out the results of the Busken presidential cookie poll. Busken is a bakery in Cincinnati that makes cookies with each candidate's face on them every election season (FYI, they do ship, though I don't know whether you can still order in time for election day), and according to this post, the Busken poll has correctly predicted the winner in Ohio in every election since 1984. Which is significant enough in its own right, but remember also that Ohio has gone for the winner of every presidential election since 1960. Yes, people, Ohio went for Bill Clinton both times, so quit acting like it will be such a miracle if Obama wins it too.

Returning to my earlier point about family pride, I just wanted to share the fact that my parents are both working for Obama in Ohio. On Monday my mom is going to go to the homes of people who've said they're for Obama to encourage them to vote and give them flyers with information about their polling locations and hours. And on Sunday my dad is going to go around to the local churches to see if anyone is putting nasty flyers on people's windshields during church (and, if so, to take them off). This is actually just his own idea (not organized by the Obama campaign) inspired by the fact that in 2004, the Bush campaign someone who I'm sure was acting alone and had nothing to do with the Bush campaign went to my mom's church the Sunday before the election and flyered everyone's windshields with a bunch of extremely nasty anti-Kerry flyers with gross lies and smears about how he's a baby-killer. That kind of crap worked last time, but it's not going to work this time.

Cookies, people. Cookies!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A cure for Depression?


Nifty article here by Steve Almond (author of Candyfreak, which I highly recommend) on "recession gardens" (soon to be upgraded to "depression gardens" if Sarah Palin is to be believed -- though I'd argue she isn't to be believed about much of anything).

The Admiral and I were just talking yesterday about whether people could (or *would*) grow enough food in their gardens to make a dent in their monthly grocery expenditures. I was thinking no, because I've been discouraged this year by the ratio of effort to yield in our own garden (we got some great stuff out of it, but not in large quantities, and lots of stuff either never sprouted or got eaten by birds and/or grasshoppers). It was so hot this summer that we had to water the garden every day, and even then some things clearly did not get enough water, and if we ever forgot or watered too late, things died. All things considered, though, we were pretty on top of things, so I was thinking that others who weren't willing to be as diligent about the garden or didn't know as much about growing stuff as we did (which admittedly isn't a ton, though I do pretty well with houseplants when I apply myself) would fare even worse.

But Almond's story is encouraging. He didn't know anything about gardening, but he was motivated by the high cost of groceries to research it and to get help and advice from others who do know about gardening to get his garden going. In the end, the garden was highly successful and yielded a whole lot of good stuff. He did admit that his house is on land that used to be farmland. But still, with enough compost and whatnot, anybody's yard ought to be able to produce *something*. So now I'm inspired. I'm thinking that next time we just need to (a) rent a rototiller, (b) install a drip system (we never got around to setting up our soaker hose, but people tell me they don't work that great anyway), (c) put up some nets around our tomatoes and maybe over the seeds to keep the birds out, and (d) think of some non-poisonous way to get rid of those damn grasshoppers.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In ironic twist, animal advocacy organization beats dead horse

You guys are going to love this Newsweek article by Karen Springen about "flexitarians". Are we still seriously having a debate about whether it would be good if everyone reduced their meat consumption? Well, no, actually, *we* aren't having that debate -- *we* concluded a long time ago that of course it would be a good thing. *PETA*, on the other hand (as well as VegNews, I might add, but I'm not gonna go there today), isn't so sure. Their spokesperson thinks that being a flexitarian is like "pouring a pint of gasoline down a drain." Um... how's that?

Fortunately in the end Springen seems to come down on the side of common sense, despite giving a disturbing amount of space (and the subtitle of the article) to the PETA side. But on the topic of that subtitle ("Advocates call it flexitarianism, but critics say being a little bit vegetarian is like being a little bit pregnant"), a commenter on the original Newsweek post rightly points out that the analogy to pregnancy completely misses the whole point of the "little bit pregnant" concept -- namely, that it is *literally* impossible to be a little bit pregnant -- it's not just impossible if you're some asshole from PETA and you assert that pregnancy has to be an all-or-nothing thing. Of course, we don't know if the PETA asshole is the one who brought up the pregnancy idea or if it was Springen or just some moron headline writer.

But we do know that Springen is an unthinking zombie in at least one respect, namely, FAT = BAD... WEIGHT LOSS = GOOD... ARTICLE ABOUT FOOD MUST FIND WAY TO WORK IN REFERENCES TO WEIGHT LOSS AND "OBESITY"... Not just any reference to "obesity", mind you, but even better: "globesity"! For those who haven't heard of "globesity" before, this is the idea of "obesity" as a worldwide epidemic. You know, like that super-scary "obesity epidemic" we've all heard about, but even scarier! Because it's global! Get it? Global + obesity = globesity! This charming concept is mentioned in the article as a topic in a forthcoming book by Mark Bittman, which apparently discusses "how our diet affects global warming and 'globesity'." Is Bittman (and/or Springen) actually putting "globesity" on a par with global warming as a problem facing the world? Wow. I mean, wow.

Before a troll lumbers over here to inform me that "obesity" is in fact a serious health problem and I am responsible for it because I am spreading all these lies about how it's OK to be fat, let me just say that I don't deny we have a serious worldwide problem with food production and distribution, such that a lot of people in developing countries who aren't starving still can't eat a healthy diet, and that no doubt leads to a whole ton of serious health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. that are often what people have in mind when they refer to "obesity". But can we please, please just take fat out of it? Plenty of thin people have health problems caused or exacerbated by diet, and plenty of fat people don't have health problems at all and have a good diet. Guess what? There are even fat vegetarians. I know that's a shocker, so I'll just let that sink in for a second.

Got it? OK, good. Back to the PETA thing. I just want to say one last thing, which is that no good ever came out of a "purity" movement. I don't know if these PETA fucks truly believe that reducing meat consumption isn't something to work for or feel good about, but they sure sound convincing when they say it. I guess to them, the protection of animals from human exploitation is the very most important thing -- even more important than saving the planet from global warming (which, btw, is killing a lot of animals...). These are the same people who wring their hands over whether it is OK to eat honey since it exploits bees. They shouldn't be taken seriously. If you're a meat eater and you're thinking about reducing your meat intake, do it. If it helps to give yourself a label like "flexitarian" or even "vegetarian", do it. There are a lot more important things than taking what PETA considers to be the high road.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Even people who get it don't get it

Saw this article in the LA Times today and got encouraged, then read the article and got unencouraged.

In a nutshell: Mary McNamara has just noticed that TV actresses are, like, really thin (no, like *really* thin!) (no, seriously, you guys!), and it's bothering her because it's interfering with her viewing pleasure.

I do think it's good to point out the very extreme average thinness of TV actresses as sort of a reality check, to guard against young women thinking that size 2 is the norm. Too bad they seem to get that idea anyway. But that's OK, according to Mary McNamara, because the thinness of TV actresses doesn't contribute to eating disorders. Her evidence? "We are in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic." Oh. But, I mean, isn't it possible that there's still a real issue here and that we could start to alleviate some of the societal pressures leading young women to develop a poor body image if we had some size diversity on TV (and not just via fat villains, but maybe some real, complex, sympathetic characters in a range of different shapes and sizes)? Apparently not, according to Mary McNamara; after all, "even the Gap carries size 16 nowadays". Thanks a lot for your insightful analysis, Mary.

A lot of people don't seem to understand that insulting thin people isn't really helpful, in much the same way that insulting fat people is also unhelpful. In this article you get insults a-plenty. You get adjectives like "horrifyingly thin" and "frightening," lame cliches, and nuggets like this: "The ladies of 'Desperate Housewives' are so far gone in terms of resembling humans that it's almost laughable to mention them." Yes, the women mentioned in the article are extremely thin. But there's no need for insults. And furthermore, some LA Times reporter has no idea (and no business speculating) on whether a person has an eating disorder. Yes, you might say, but so many actresses are thin that it can't be a coincidence, so they must have eating disorders! Well, some of them undoubtedly do. But let's not forget that very thin women are more likely to get TV roles than larger women. That doesn't mean the thin women all have eating disorders -- there's an element of biased selection going on as well. Correlation does not equal causation. You've heard it here before, folks.

But getting to the main premise of the Times article (I think), the big problem with super-thin actresses is that Mary McNamara isn't enjoying 90210 as much as she would like to, because she is too distracted by the thinness. I'm just going to put an idea out here, as an avid watcher of an awesome show with an awesome lead actress who happens to be really thin (season finale tonight on USA; be there or be square): Maybe Mary McNamara finds it difficult to "concentrate on the drama of the story" on 90210 because 90210 sucks.

Friday, September 05, 2008

You know how sometimes you just don't like a person, and then only later do you figure out why?

I haven't really commented much on the presidential race here, mostly because I haven't been all that excited about it. My candidate from the beginning was Dennis Kucinich, and since he dropped out of the race before the California Democratic primary, I didn't even bother voting. I leaned towards Obama because Hillary voted for the war, but didn't really care which of them ended up with the nomination. After Obama voted for the FISA bill in July, I was pissed off but figured I'd probably vote for him in November anyway, given the alternatives. I did enjoy the Democratic convention -- especially Bill Clinton's speech, but also Obama's, which I thought was really good though somewhat lacking in specifics. But the thing that is finally starting to get me fired up about Obama (and the reason I'm posting about it) is the Republicans, and in particular, Sarah Palin.

In a nutshell: she sucks. She's super anti-choice, doesn't believe in evolution, and is pro-drilling. Worse, she is nasty, sarcastic, and smug. I can't even bring myself to watch her convention speech because the clips I've been have been so deeply offensive -- of particular note would be the crack against community organizers, and her blatant lie about saying "thanks but no thanks" to the "bridge to nowhere" (in fact, she supported it very publicly). There's nothing in her record to suggest she has any business being vice president, and yet she actually has the gall to question Obama's qualifications. When I first heard that she was McCain's running mate, I was reminded of Harriet Miers -- here's some random woman who's super right-wing, totally unqualified for the job, and pretty obviously chosen because she's a woman. But now that I've seen how people are reacting to her speech, I'm thinking she's more like Dick Cheney to McCain's Bush. It's like a wink and a nod from McCain -- don't worry, I have to keep saying this "maverick" bullshit to attract independent voters, but now that I've chosen my VP you can be reassured as to what kind of president I'll be. And unfortunately it looks like it may be working.

But something else was bugging me about Sarah Palin and her fans, apart from her obnoxious speech, and it had to do with her kids. For one thing, she is having her cake and eating it too -- in order to deflect attention from her pregnant teenage daughter, she says people's kids shouldn't be made into a political issue, but then she flat-out *used* the announcement of her daughter's pregnancy to quiet a rumor that threatened to undermine her image of integrity (to the extent she had an image at all). And I don't know how much she's said this explicitly herself, but she is certainly benefitting from all the talk about how great it is that she chose to bear her fifth child to term after finding out he had Down syndrome (here is one nauseating example), and nobody can deny that she's used him as a prop. The Daily Show had an awesome bit last night with Samantha Bee with commentary on how hypocritical it is to praise Palin for making this particular choice when she wants the government to prevent women from having any "choice" at all. But there's another troubling issue here, and Sweet Machine has an awesome piece that puts into words what I was feeling, over at Shakesville. A summary: all this rhetoric about Palin's "choice" is blatantly ableist because it assumes that a child with Down syndrome is inferior and a terrible burden for a parent to bear, so any woman who chooses not to have an abortion "even" if she knows the child has Down syndrome is obviously some kind of saint. I won't go into any more detail, because you should just go over and read Sweet Machine's post.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quiz time

That's right, it's time for another awesome quiz, just in time for BACK 2 SCHOOL! Today's quiz is another gem from CNN.com. The link from the CNN.com homepage calls it "Fit or fat?" (hmm, how about "both"?), so you already know it's going to be a doozy. It's actually worth going to CNN.com right now (until they take it down) just so you can look at the link. The title is "Lose Weight with Knowledge" (ha!), the subtitle informs you that "What you don't know could be making you fat," and it comes complete with a picture of some dude's back, which is supposed to gross you out or something because he has love handles. But he has a shirt on and he's not really all that fat, so I don't totally get the image.

Anyhoo, the quiz. The first page promises that the quiz is going to show you just how easy it is to "Commit to Get Fit". I'm thinking they wrote this intro having no idea what the content of the quiz would be, because the quiz doesn't really have that much to do with committing to get fit, or showing how easy it is, or anything like that. There are only 6 questions, and they're mostly just trivia. For example, Question 1, "How many calories make up one pound of fat?" All you biology teachers out there are probably giving your head a good thump on the desk after that one. Who knew that fat is "made up of" calories? And I'm not even going to comment on the photo that goes with Question 1; it speaks for itself.

Overall, I got 5 out of 6 right. So I guess it must be the one I got wrong (#6) that's making me fat.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Once you go black, you'll never go back


I just came across this article, and for some reason I found it really hilarious even though I'm sure it's true (or, anyway, I have no reason to believe that it's not). Basically it says that black food (i.e., food that is black in color) is good for you because it contains a lot of antioxidants. I guess the reason I thought it was funny was that (a) I started imagining a whole meal of black food and how disgusting that would look on a plate, despite being probably very healthy; and (b) it reminded me of the time a few years ago when I made a dark chocolate bowling ball cake for our Big Lebowski party (pictured above with bowling pin and starburst cookies -- you can't really tell from the blurry picture, but I actually cut out finger holes and carefully frosted inside each of them) with black food coloring in both the cake batter and the frosting to make the whole ball uniformly black, and it made everyone's crap turn black (and in some cases, their barf too -- it was one hell of a party). Good times!

(Note to those who eat my baked goods: don't worry, I don't use food coloring anymore.)

On the subject of cakes, I found this blog via a link from Meg, and it is cracking me up. This post made me laugh so hard I cried.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

No shit

This article came out today. And it's about time.

Question: if it turns out that all that bad stuff "associated with obesity" isn't really caused by being fat at all, but rather by some mixture of unlucky genetics, poor diet, and lack of exercise, do you suppose we could just do away with the term "obesity" altogether?

Nah, probably too much to hope for.

More on the AP article here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I heart Paul Campos

I just became aware of an awesome blog called Lawyers, Guns and Money that is definitely worth checking out. One of the bloggers is Paul Campos (I've mentioned him before), who's posted a couple of truly excellent pieces on fat in the last week or so. This one addresses the role of pharmaceutical companies in creating the "obesity epidemic", and this one takes apart the claim that the entire population is going to be "overweight" or "obese" by the year 2048. I always appreciate what Campos has to say because he has done a lot of research and he is a very clear writer. Sadly, he describes himself in his Blogger profile as a fan of University of Michigan football (to which I have already gone on record as saying this), but I'm willing to look past it.

On a different topic, one thing I am *not* willing to look past is Anthony Bourdain's remarks about "obesity". If you are prepared for some serious hate-spewage, check out this video where Bourdain chats with Ted Nugent about how gross fat people are. I found the link via Rachel's post on the F-Word Blog. Mega dittos, Rachel. Can there be a bigger hypocrite on the planet than Anthony Bourdain? I used to like him. Now, not so much. Never did like Ted Nugent. I love the part where he talks about how disgusting it is to look at fat people. You know, because Nugent himself is such a hottie.

So as not to end on such a negative note, allow me to point you to this article about how kids' meals at fast-food restaurants have come under scrutiny for being unhealthy. I'm not up on my kids' meals and don't have a strong opinion about their content, but the refreshing thing about this article is that it never once mentions "the childhood obesity epidemic". Instead, it focuses on the healthiness (or lack thereof) of the food and on real medical conditions that result from eating what's in those kids' meals, rather than made-up ones meant to scare people. It would be nice to see a bit more of this in what passes for health and science reporting these days.

Monday, July 28, 2008

News from the trans fatosphere


Sorry for the hiatus.

I guess the big news since last time is that California is banning trans fats from restaurants.

It sounds like good news to me, but already the whining has begun. The owner of Bertha's Soul Food in Los Angeles is quoted in the LA Times as saying that "The government is infringing too much on the rights of people to even eat what they want." OK everyone, raise your hand if you "want" to eat trans fats... I didn't think so.

This is the problem with America. (OK, one of a few problems with America.) Here we have restaurants selling us all sorts of nasty-ass chemicals and calling it "food" and not being legally required to even tell us what kind of terrible shit is in there. Finally the state government has decided to step in to protect its citizens from one particularly insidious type of "food" ingredient that should never have been invented, and now restaurant owners are calling this an infringement on consumers' rights. Give me a fucking break.

Now, I will admit that the trans fat ban may be based partly on some wrong, crappy attitudes held by some of our fine leaders in Sacramento. According to this New York Times piece, the author of the trans fats bill, (Democrat) Tony Mendoza, was motivated by "obese children": "They are heavy. They eat out a lot, and you realize there are trans fats out there." Umm, connection? Not really seeing it. But at least the Governator's statement about the bill (the parts I've seen in the news reports, anyway) refrained from veering into scary-fat-kids-OMG-panic-obesity-epidemic territory. Of course we know he's not the world's most enlightened guy when it comes to things fat, but at least in his statement he focuses on the link between trans fats and heart disease rather than "obesity". And in any case, whatever the real motivation for the trans fat ban, I consider it a win.

Now, how long before VegNews gets in on the whining?

The image is from ABC News. Do you love it as much as I do?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Continental sux redux

A quick follow-up from last week's post: I encountered the same problem on my return trip. This time, my "meal" was a little packet of about 8 baby carrots, and the old familiar Fun Pack of M&Ms. And a mustard packet. At least this time when I asked whether there was a Vegetarian Option, the flight attendant had the decency to say no.

So I get off the plane in Houston, starving, and make my way to the food court where I order a veggie burrito at this little Mexican place called Pappasito's. The cashier asks if I'm vegetarian. I say yes, thinking she's just making small talk. Then she's like, "Well, the sour cream has chicken broth in it." I'm only half paying attention, so I'm like, "That's okay," thinking she's just asked if it's okay to cook my veggies on the same grill as the meat. Then it actually registers what she said. And I'm like, "Excuse me, did you just say the sour cream has chicken broth in it?" And she's like, "Yeah." And I'm like "???"

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Houston, we have a problem

Not a major problem, mind you, but I just wanted to say "Houston, we have a problem." I told Seamus I was going to find some excuse to say that today since I have a layover in Houston (which is where I'm blogging from now). I was thinking I'd go to Starbucks and order a drink, and then tell them they got my order wrong and go, "Houston, we have a problem." (This is where you laugh.) (You probably had to be there.) (Which would technically be impossible since I didn't actually do it, I was just talking about doing it.)

Anyhoo, moving on, here's my problem: the "Vegetarian" option. On Continental Airlines, they might as well rename it the "Don't Bother" option. What happens is that when you buy your ticket, you click a box that says you want the "Vegetarian" option (if it's a long enough flight that they're serving a meal). Then, they ignore your request. Then, when you get on the plane, you have to tell them that you want the "Vegetarian" option. Which is what I did. I said, "Do you have a vegetarian version?" and the flight attendant said "Yes," then handed me my little plastic box that contained: a flaccid iceberg lettuce "salad" (with no other veggies in it), a packet of dressing, a "fun pack" of M&Ms with about 25 M&Ms in it, and a ketchup packet. She also gave one to my seat-mate, and then she handed him a hot sandwich. I sat there munching on my nasty salad, waiting for my cheese sandwich or whatever it was while the flight attendant chatted with someone about the total awesomeness of Veggie Tales (irony!) and how much her kid looooooves it, but it turned out there was no cheese sandwich. The "Vegetarian" option is just the regular old ketchup and M&Ms salad, sans sandwich. So I'm pretty sure I didn't derive any nutritional benefit from my "lunch", except for maybe 200 calories (I guess it would have been 225 if I'd eaten the ketchup) and some minimal amount of fiber from the lettuce. They serve better lunches in Gitmo. They also serve (marginally) better lunches at faculty meetings at the fine institution where I teach. At least in the vegetarian lunch at faculty meetings, you get some little cabbage pieces and maybe some carrots mixed into your iceberg lettuce. And if you get there early enough, there are even cut up pieces of hard-boiled egg that you can use to add that extra special something to your meal. Yum-o!

Will this be the year that I work up the courage to round up some fellow vegetarian faculty members and demand that the administration offer us a vegetarian option that's equivalent to the turkey wraps that come with the non-veg option? I mean, everyone knows that when it comes to the airline industry, you just have to bend over and take what they give you. And of course people have been complaining about airline food and will do so until the end of time (or until the end of air travel as we know it, which could come sooner than we think, but that's a topic for a different post). But higher education is supposed to be different, dammit! So who's with me??

Monday, July 07, 2008

Just when you thought you'd heard it all...


...CNN reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending low-fat milk for 1-year-olds and CHOLESTEROL DRUGS FOR 8-YEAR-OLDS.

8-year-olds, Dude.

Could I just remind everyone that the rate of "childhood obesity" in the U.S. leveled off in 1999, meaning this "epidemic" we keep hearing about is a complete load of horse shit? And could I also remind you that the BMI standards defining "overweight" and "obese" were lowered (from 27 and 32, respectively, to 25 and 30) after an NIH report that came out in 1998, based on research funded (natch) by the weight loss industry and pharmaceutical companies? No wonder "childhood obesity" rates leveled off in 1999 -- they were level before, then millions of people (both adults and children) became "overweight" or "obese" overnight when the BMI standards were lowered in 1998, yielding a big jump in the percentages, and then they were level again. Could all this obesity hysteria really be based on a statistical trick designed to make more money for the diet industry, you ask? Yes. Yes, it could.

Before I blow a gasket and become one of those obesity-related casualties we keep hearing about, I'm going to just go back to the specifics of this CNN article. Here are some things that are causing my left eyebrow to arch so high that it may just migrate right off my face:

(1) The AAP spokesdoctor quoted in the article, Stephen Daniels, "has worked as a consultant to Abbott Laboratories and Merck & Co." -- "but not on matters involving their cholesterol drugs". OHHHHH, thank god he wasn't working on matters involving their cholesterol drugs. Because you might think he had some impure motives in recommending his former employer's cholesterol drugs to 8 year-olds if he had worked on matters involving their cholesterol drugs, but since he didn't work on matters involving their cholesterol drugs, I can't see any possible conflict of interest, can you?

(2) Cholesterol screening is now "recommended sometime after age 2 but no later than age 10". Yes, you read that right. They want you to have your 2-year-old's cholesterol screened.

(3) "The academy has long recommended against reduced-fat milk for children up to age 2 because saturated fats are needed for brain development. 'But now we have the obesity epidemic and people are thinking maybe this isn't such a good idea,' said Dr. Frank Greer..." Yeah, who gives a shit about brain development, people??? WE'VE GOT AN OBESITY EPIDEMIC HERE!!!!1!11

(4) "...the academy recommendations say low-fat milk is appropriate for 1-year-olds 'for whom overweight or obesity is a concern'. Daniels, a pediatrician in the Denver, Colorado, area, agreed that could include virtually all children" (italics mine). Two thoughts. First: ARRRGH!!! Second: do you think they literally mean '1-year-olds for whom overweight or obesity is a concern'? Because I don't know a lot of 1-year-olds, but I'm guessing most of them aren't concerned about overweight or obesity (yet) (although in Australia they're putting 3-year-olds into compulsory diet and exercise programs, and 5-year-olds are being diagnosed with anorexia, so I guess weight-conscious 1-year-olds wouldn't surprise me much at this point).

(5) "With one-third of U.S. children overweight and about 17 percent obese, the new recommendations are important, said Dr. Jennifer Li, a Duke University children's heart specialist. 'We need to do something to stem the tide of childhood obesity,' Li said." Yeah, you know, that tide that came crashing onto the shore about, oh, NINE YEARS AGO WHEN THEY LOWERED THE BMI CUTOFFS, THEREBY ARTIFICIALLY CREATING AN OBESITY EPIDEMIC.

Um, excuse me, have we managed to colonize Mars yet, or is there some other planet I can relocate to? Because this one is really starting to freak me out.

As if all this weren't enough, Cookie Monster is cutting back on cookies to set a good example for all those little fatties out there, letting them know that "A Cookie is a Sometimes Food". This happened a while back, but I only heard about it from Cookie Monster's recent appearance on the Colbert Report. I thought it was a joke, but it's true -- Cookie Monster is on a diet changing his lifestyle.

Is nothing sacred?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Kids say the darndest things

For my birthday, the Admiral got me a box set of all five seasons of Kids in the Hall on DVD. I had almost forgotten what a great show that was. I'd also forgotten (or didn't realize before, since I was pretty young when the show originally aired) how progressive it was. As I watch it now, it doesn't seem scandalous, but I think that in the late 80s there weren't that many places on TV where you would regularly find cross-dressing and openly gay characters. At the time I just thought it was funny, but now I realize that they were really pushing the envelope.

Another really cool thing (and the reason I'm telling you about it) is that we ran across a sketch with a fat-positive (or at least an anti-anti-fat) message. The transcript is here and there's a video here. The setup is that Kevin is hitchhiking, and Dave picks him up and proceeds to hurl all sorts of nasty anti-fat insults at him. Part of the absurdity of the sketch comes from the fact that Kevin isn't even remotely fat (though part of the background is that apparently in real life he really was fat and lost a bunch of weight). The insults are also hilariously over the top, like when Dave says, "Boy, am I hungry. You know, I guess I haven't had anything to eat in about, uh, an hour. You ever done that? You ever gone a whole hour without eating?" But the best part is at the end when Dave gets fed up and orders Kevin to "drag your cavernous stretch marks outta my car," so Kevin gets out and then Dave says, "God, I hate fat people. I hate what it says about their personality." It's such a great send-up of anti-fat rhetoric, and I think it's really interesting that these guys were in touch with this stuff 20 years ago, before things got quite as nasty as they are today.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Musings On Our Third Blogiversary

It was three years ago today that this blog was born. I guess the main thing that's changed since then is the coining of the term "fatosphere" referring collectively to Fat Acceptance blogs. What that means for this blog is a lot more traffic, since this is the first page that comes up when you Google "fatosphere" (which a lot of people do).

There is also now a popular RSS feed called "Notes from the Fatosphere". At first I put off trying to register this blog on the feed for no particular reason, and then kind of gradually decided I didn't want to. I'm still torn about it and there are lots of great blogs featured there, but I feel like adding my blog to the feed would give me a responsibility that I don't want (not to mention probably bringing a lot more trolls my way). Once a blog is on the Fatosphere feed, it gets traffic not only from Fat Acceptance blogs but also from forums devoted to eating disorders. So when a blog on the Fatosphere feed features, for example, a pro-dieting post, people go apeshit. I can't say I blame them -- we hear enough pro-dieting rhetoric already, and none of us need to hear more of it, especially those for whom diet talk may serve as a trigger for disordered eating. You are never going to find pro-diet talk on this blog, but I still don't want to have to worry about people having any particular expectations based on the blog being on the Fatosphere feed. Those of you who don't really read other FA blogs might not think this is such a big deal, but you can check out this post (and the comments) to see just how ugly things get when a putative FA blog posts unexpected stuff and readers dare to complain about being blindsided by it. I guess the silver lining here is that people are really passionate about FA and about trying to define it and defend it. This kind of conversation wasn't even happening a few years ago, so I think it's a good development. The discussion just gets uncomfortable at times.

Elsewhere, unfortunately I have to say I think things have gotten worse for fat people everywhere in the last three years. Maybe I just think this because I'm paying more attention, but I think fatphobia has reached a new level. In Japan, for example, companies and local governments are now forced to measure their citizens' and employees' waistlines, and they will be fined for not reaching the state-mandated "targets". Any person (regardless of height or build) whose waistline measures more than 33.5 inches (male) or 35.4 inches (female) will be made to lose weight, and if they don't, they will be "re-educated". How long before fat (or, really, non-thin) people are fired or kicked out so that their employers and local governments don't have to pay the fines? How long before we get similar policies in the US? Oh, wait, looks like we've already started. This and all the other anti-fat policy and rhetoric out there seems to be exacerbated by the failing economy and degraded environment -- after all, back before everyone "believed in" global warming and before they started rationing rice at CostCo, nobody would have thought to blame all the world's problems on the fatties.

I guess in general, I feel pretty cynical about the whole state of affairs, but I also have some reasons to hope that things will improve. Regardless, I'm just going to keep on blogging.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Reach Your Fitness Goals, the Severed Panda Head Way


Some friends of ours got Wii Fit, so we had a chance to try it out yesterday. In a nutshell, most of the horrible things you've heard about it are true, but it's more fun than you might think.

Wii Fit got some negative press when it was first released because it told some guy's 10 year old daughter that she was fat. Nintendo apologized and said BMI isn't necessarily accurate for "younger age groups". Or for anyone else, I might add.

I figured maybe the Wii Fit had some other fun stuff in it, if you just didn't do the BMI measurement part. That turned out to be partly true, but the system won't *let* you not do the BMI part. At the beginning, you select your Mii and then it asks you your height and date of birth, and then you step on and it weighs you and calculates your BMI. You can't get past that part to get straight to the game.

The BMI thing is interesting. They obviously thought parts of it through pretty carefully, even though the entire premise is ridiculous. You step on and it asks you how much your clothing weighs (!), and then it tells you your BMI. And then in an awful but hilarious twist, your Mii expands to reflect how fat it thinks you are. It never displays your weight on the screen; in fact, you have the option of using a password to protect your weight so that nobody else can ever look at it (of course, if they know your height and the BMI formula then they can calculate your weight). It does tell you if you are "Underweight", "Normal", "Overweight", or "Obese". It doesn't use the word "Fat", so the news stories about Wii Fit telling that girl she was "Fat" must not have been quite right. Anyway, for some reason I found it kind of funny standing there waiting for it to tell me how fat I am. I was thinking that 5 years ago I would have been really bothered by a game calling me "Obese" in front of my friends, but now not so much. In fact, I was probably the least bothered out of all of us, since I knew there wouldn't be any surprises. Some others got called "Overweight", which was pretty surprising. Everyone took it well, though, and I don't think anyone plans to go on a crash diet or start purging as a result of the label. But one extremely messed up thing is that not only does the game tell you that it is best to be "Normal", but it also says that within the "Normal" range, people with a BMI of 22 are the "least likely to get sick". One of us had a BMI of a little over 23, which is in the "Normal" range, but the game told that person that they should really aim for 22. Of all the BMI nonsense, that was the one thing that made me blow a gasket. I guess you can never be Normal enough!

After the BMI test comes the balance test. This I found extremely strange. Does anyone out there who knows Japanese culture care to generalize as to whether the Japanese are obsessed with posture and balance? Because I definitely got that feeling, but it could just be this game. You get a lecture about how putting more weight on one leg when you stand causes you to have bad posture, which in turn will somehow cause you to be less healthy -- and to get fat! (Don't ask me what the connection is.) You have to stand on the pad for several seconds and then it shows you where your "center of balance" was during that time and how much it moved. The goal is to have it right in the middle and perfectly still. Then you get this test where you have to lean a certain amount to the left or right and hold it exactly there for three seconds, and if you move out of the correct range then it starts the three seconds over. There are five tasks like this and they're all timed. It's a pretty hard task (especially when you've had a cocktail or two). I did well, but one person did so hilariously badly that a couple of us broke out into uncontrollable laughter verging on tears. At the end of the balance test, the game gives you a score, and if you do poorly it tells you that you have bad balance and asks, "Do you find yourself tripping a lot when you walk?"

Once you've finished the balance test, you get your Wii Fit Age. Somehow it takes your real age and then it figures out how old you really seem. Your Mii stands there looking nervous and drumming its fingers together while the Wii calculates your Age, and then you get a big number on the screen. I figured it would tell me I was really old because of my BMI, but surprisingly I was the youngest in the group by far. We're all in our late 20s/early 30s, but our Wii Fit Ages were 31, 39, 41, and 51. I was the 31, which was described as "+1" meaning that my Wii Fit Age is one year more than my actual age. Er, OK, my 31st birthday is less than a week away -- which Wii Fit knows perfectly well since it asked for my birthday -- but whatever. Anyway, I'm not sure exactly how the Wii Fit Age is calculated, but it is obvious that the balance test is the most important thing. The 51 year old in our group tried the balance test again and instantly took off 20 years with a performance that was much less hilarious than the first time (and surprisingly, this was *after* a shot of tequila).

After you get your Age, you get to set a goal. The goal is very narrowly defined to mean a *weight* goal. I find this terribly lame, but on the positive side, the goal can be anything you want including no change at all. The game doesn't judge your goal. The "Normal" person in our group decided to gain 22 lbs. in two weeks, thereby moving into the "Overweight" category. I thought the game might try to discourage this or issue a reminder about how great it is to be "Normal", but it didn't say anything. In fact, later when the Personal Trainer came on the scene, he actually used the goal as motivation during a workout: "Come on! You need to gain 22 lbs.!" We didn't play around too much with the weight goals, but there don't seem to be any limits. Although I appreciate the lack of prescriptivism in some respects, I think this could be dangerous in the hands of a child or a stupid person, or especially a stupid child. (Or, on a more serious note, a person with an eating disorder.)

Finally after you go through all that body testing stuff, you get to the game. There's a lot of yoga and aerobics stuff we didn't try. We basically focused on the balance games. Which are hilarious. There is a slalom ski course and a ski jump, both fun. Then there's a table with a hole in it where you have to tilt the table to roll a ball (which, weirdly, has your Mii's face on it) into the hole. That one is hard. And then there is a tightrope, where you kind of pick your feet up a little bit to simulate walking, but you try not to lean too much or your Mii plunges to his/her death. The best part about the tightrope game is the Jaws of Death. After you make it 19 yards on the tightrope, the Jaws of Death come at you (because, you know, walking on a tightrope isn't enough of a challenge). You have to squat and then quickly stand up, at the exactly the right moment, to simulate jumping over the Jaws of Death. None of us was able to time the jump correctly, so the record stands at 19 yards. But the best balance game (so far) is definitely soccer. You stand there while a bunch of kids line up and kick soccer balls at you in rapid succession, and you have to shift your weight to position your Mii's head in the right place to head the balls away, and you get points for every ball you head. But the trick is that it's not just soccer balls coming at you. For every four or five soccer balls, instead of a ball some kid will throw a foreign object at you (see, this is why I'm not having kids), which subtracts points if it hits you in the head. One such object is a soccer shoe (with cleats, as I recall). The other is THE SEVERED HEAD OF A PANDA. And no, I am totally not making this up. The problem with the panda head is that from a distance it looks like a soccer ball, but just as it approaches you realize there's some red on it (THIS WOULD BE THE PANDA'S BLOODY NECK STUMP) so you have to shift your weight away from it quickly or lose 3 points. What can I say, it's fun, until you think about it.

In fact, I'd say Wii Fit is like one big severed panda head. Yes, it is furry and fun to play games with, but ultimately it's a dead panda.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shiny, happy fat people


I just picked up these little fat figures at a gallery down the street and they really made my day. I especially love the fat thinker.

These are just resin reproductions (the dancers are about 6" tall), and I am trying to find out some information about the original artist since the web address that I got doesn't work. I'll post an update in case anyone is interested.

Friday, June 06, 2008

National Donut Day


Today is National Donut Day. I shit you not!

There is even a fun quiz for you to take on the LaMar's website (warning: the interface isn't great because when you mouse over the question it shows you the answer). I scored 5 out of 10 -- d'oh!

Unfortunately I don't know of a good donut place around here (in fact I don't know of *any* in the immediate area; my primary criterion for a 'good donut place' is that they use white pastry cream, like at Krispy Kreme, rather than custard, in their cream-filled donuts). So I'm going to have a bagel for breakfast... at least it's got a hole.

Thanks to Admiral Seamus for the tip!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pie recipe

By popular demand (i.e., one person asked me), I'm posting the strawberry pie recipe that I use. This is not the same pie as in last week's photo, but I'll bet it tastes even better.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 pie crust, baked and cooled (I recommend Trader Joe's because it tastes homemade and doesn't have any trans fats or other nasty ingredients)
2 lbs. fresh strawberries, divided
1/4 c. cornstarch
3/4 c. sugar
pinch of salt
2 T. fresh lemon juice
homemade whipped cream

Rinse and drain strawberries and cut off the tops. Slice half of the strawberries into 1/4" thick slices.

Put the remaining whole strawberries into a molcajete or large mortar and crush them to a pulp. Add cornstarch, sugar, and salt, and stir until the cornstarch dissolves. Scoop into a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Cool for 30 minutes, stirring a few times, until the mixture cools to room temperature.

Stir in the sliced strawberries. Pour into pie shell, then refrigerate until chilled. Top with whipped cream.

Yum!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happiness pie


I haven't posted for several days because nothing pissed me off enough. Today there were plenty of things that pissed me off that I was considering blogging about, namely:

1. This children's book.

2. 'Roided-out pervy weightlifters with butt-fucking ugly faces' coming on FA blogs to tell us we're too fat to snag hotties like them.

3. The daily, incessant objectification of women and vilification of fat.

4. Lies about fat in the media.

5. Stereotypes, fear-mongering, and general bullshit, even in articles reporting the fact that childhood "obesity" rates leveled off almost ten fucking years ago (so where's this big scary epidemic we keep hearing about?).

But then I decided, fuck it. Other people did a pretty good job handling most of those issues anyway (except for #5 -- I haven't seen any responses on FA blogs yet, but I'm sure they'll be out there by tomorrow). And I've realized that I have a little bit of a formula going on here: read a news article about fat that pisses me off, blog about it.

I'm going to try a new approach in the future, which involves being more proactive and less reactive. For those who enjoy bitter rants, don't worry, I have plenty in me, and god knows there are plenty of dumbshit "journalists" out there with their heads way up their asses (Shirley Skeel, anyone?) who are eager to keep spewing hate and ignorance and provide me with fodder. But for every pissed-off rant, I'm going to try and balance things out with a positive post that isn't directly prompted by some fatphobic asshole.

For today, since I'm busy getting ready to go out of town, I'll keep things short and simple. Here are five things that are cool and/or make me happy:

1. This guy's mixes.

2. Slugs.

3. Coffee porn.

4. TypeRacer.

5. This cat.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Finally a voice of reason

I've been holding off from posting since all that's come out lately has been a bunch of negative stuff. On Friday, the BBC ran this piece of shit (see sweetmachine's funny response). Then in the Sunday Times Online, this nasty bit of totally illogical fat hatred and misogyny came spurting out of a person called Rod Liddle (maybe his name is code for "little rod" and that's why he's so angry). There is a terrible series this week in the Washington Post that's basically a bunch of fear-mongering about "childhood obesity" (I won't even link to it... but I'll link to this wonderful deconstruction of it). And if you've been reading the comments section of my blog, you know that we've had some "visitors" stopping by -- one person who came on rude but actually seemed to respond to my engaging him/her in discussion in the comments, and another person calling him/herself "anonymous no. 2" who was too condescending and sarcastic for me to bother with (what's with the name, anyway? -- it's bad enough calling yourself "anonymous", but being "anonymous no. 2" takes a special kind of coward).

So I was really happy when I saw this awesome article about the scapegoating of fat people for our addiction to oil. In reading it I felt like it could have been written by my own Admiral Seamus, but I guess this dude Raj Patel beat him to the punch. The article also made it onto Common Dreams, which makes me doubly happy since, as I've pointed out before, some of the worst fatphobia comes from liberals. So far the comments on the Common Dreams post have mostly been positive, but even in the positive comments there are still some people making dim remarks like, "Well, we know fat is bad, but..." Oh well, baby steps, right? At least the comments are better than the ones made (presumably) by the Brits on the Guardian's version of the article. Clearly we still have a long way to go.

A comment on comments: I've been thinking about turning on comment moderation again, but decided against it for now because I'd like my thoughtful readers to be able to comment without hassle. So instead, I've decided that I'm just going to delete any and all obnoxious comments. It's my damn blog, after all, and I don't want to subject my readers to any more of the fatphobia that they witness elsewhere on a regular basis. So a note to would-be commenters: if you call me a name, wish death on me, direct mean sarcasm at me, or otherwise rub me the wrong way (and yes I have gotten all of these -- the one with the death wish was several months ago, and I deleted it), you will have wasted your time because your comment won't see the light of day.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mini-rant of the day

I just read something annoying on CNN.com and got peeved and felt like venting.

This article tells the story of one Barbara Aldrich, who was 5'11" and 255 lbs. (OMG FAT!!!) and borderline diabetic. When she turned 50, she decided enough was enough, so she "traded in high-calorie, carbohydrate-laden meals and junk food for a diet of lean meats, vegetables, fruits and healthier snacks" and started walking every day. After 4 months, she lost 75 pounds and feels like a new woman, and now she does things like go on trips and get manicures. Of course the whole concept behind the story, along with what they say about Aldrich pre-weight loss and the notion that her improved health from eating healthy and exercising could only be measured by her 75 pound weight loss, is irksome and obnoxious. Same with the idea that it was her fat that prevented her from going on trips and getting manicures before, rather than society making her feel like shit about herself (and that what needed to change was her weight, rather than her attitude or anyone else's). But that's pretty much par for the course in this whole "Fit Nation" series, which is basically a bunch of "this person was fat and unhealthy like you, but s/he lost a ton of weight and now his/her life is totally perfect, and yours can be too if you just get off your ass" features.

One thing really stood out about this article in particular, though. First, they say that Aldrich lost 4 or 5 pounds per week and talk about how great that is. Then in one line that's not contextualized or integrated into the story at all, they point out that the Mayo Clinic website says that a weight loss of only 1-2 pounds per week is recommended. So on the one hand, they devote an entire article to making you feel like you should get out there and lose weight like Barbara Aldrich did, because it was so easy for her and now she's so much healthier blah blah blah. But then they point out that actually if you really did lose 4-5 pounds per week it wouldn't necessarily be a healthy thing. It's kind of like the "*Results not typical" that you get at the bottom of a Jenny Craig ad, but even worse because this one is more like "*Don't try this at home." I guess I ought to be glad they mentioned it at all, but somehow I'm not.

I also feel the need to point out Aldrich's quote at the end of the article: "I love myself, I love how I look now. I feel better, younger ... just a complete 360." OK, obviously she meant to say "180" (or maybe she even did say that and the reporter misquoted her). But I'm thinking this is a kind of interesting slip, because basically in terms of the way she thinks about herself, she really did do a 360. Before she lost weight, her attitude towards herself was tied up with her body size and she felt ashamed go out and do things she wanted to do. After she lost weight, her attitude towards herself is still tied up with her body size, so much so that only now after losing 75 pounds does she love herself. I think that is pretty sad.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Happy International No Diet Day!


It is, in fact, International No Diet Day. I think you all know what to do.

I, for one, am making an Ohio Lemon Pie (a.k.a. Shaker Lemon Pie) in celebration of this fine holiday. The recipe is below (the image is from Sushiesque, where there's a slightly different recipe). I'll let you know how it turns out.

Ohio Lemon Pie

3 organic lemons (organic is important because pesticides are absorbed in the rind, and you'll be using the rind)
2 cups sugar
2 pie crusts (I like Trader Joe's)
4 eggs, beaten

Wash the lemons. Zest the lemons and put the zest into a medium-sized bowl. Cut the ends off the lemons, then cut 2 and a half of the lemons into extremely thin slices and put them into the bowl. Squeeze the juice of the remaining half lemon into the bowl. Put the sugar in the bowl and stir to coat all the lemon pieces. Set aside at room temperature for 5 hours.

Preheat oven to 450. Put the bottom crust in a pie pan and prick it all over with a fork. Add the eggs to the lemons and stir until evenly mixed. Pour into the crust, then put on the top crust. Pinch the crusts together, then cut slits into the top crust to vent.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn heat down to 375 and bake for 30 minutes or until crust is brown and a knife inserted into the pie comes out (relatively) clean. Cool before serving.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

And now back to that other horse race


The title got me excited, but this thing turned out to be an insipid piece of garbage.

I wonder, though, who *would* get the fat vote? Most fat acceptance people whose politics I have any knowledge of are left-leaning, so if we're talking about the self-identified fat vote, then I'd say McCain is out. (Apparently he thinks "obesity", even *childhood* obesity, is a question of Personal Responsibility, so fuck that guy. Of course, he also thinks it would be cool if we were in Iraq for another 100 years, so fuck him anyway.)

I've already discussed Obama's naive views on how getting rid of all the fatties will save Medicare, and Hillary Clinton says the exact same stupid thing.

So, what's a fat girl to do? Vote Nader? Hardly. Stay home on election day, eating baby donuts? Mmm, donuts...

Friday, April 25, 2008

What if Shirley Skeel had a brain?

Today I found this wretched piece of dreck by Shirley Skeel entitled "What if no one were fat?" via a link from Cthulhu's Cafeteria, where Teppy gives it a proper (and hilarious) skewering. I won't even bother, myself.

There are some other good responses to the article here and here.

I was looking for info on this Shirley Skeel person, but didn't find much. She has a page on Biznik, which describes itself as "business networking that doesn't suck" -- of course Biznik never claims that "people who use our business networking don't suck".

That is all for now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Things that make you go hmm...

My buddy K sent this link yesterday, which he found via a nifty site that our other buddy works on called Allvoices. The article is about how France is going to ban pro-anorexia (a.k.a. "pro-ana") websites and blogs.

Pro-anorexia websites, you ask? Oh, yes. They have been around for a long time. I'd link to an example of one, but then again, I think I won't. You can find them yourself through the miracle of Google if you really want to. In a nutshell, these websites give you instructions on how to eat as little as possible without dying, how to negotiate your everyday life without people finding out you're anorexic, etc. And they also give you pictures of super-thin people (and, I suppose, fat people) to be your "thinspiration" (no I am not making up that term, but how long before some diet company starts using it?).

Some people may be a bit concerned that banning pro-ana websites sets a bad precedent for restricting free speech on the Internet. People who maintain these sites seem to claim that they just want an online community and that they're not trying to recruit new anorexics. Here's a sample of the sort of rhetoric you find: 'when i was younger, i was always told of how anorexia was a "mental illness" and that it was a hideous one at that! Now that i have it, i dont see it as a mental illness, even though deep down i know it is, i would not encourage anybody to attempt to find ana, however, for those of us who ana has already found, this website is for you! This website is not encouraging any kind of eating didorders and i will not be blamed for anybodys! [sic]' So yeah.

My first reaction when I read the article was two-fold. First I thought "Yay," because encouraging people to starve themselves amounts to incitement to (self-inflicted) violence and (self-) hatred, and therefore shouldn't be protected as free speech. That's basically what the French official quoted in the article has to say about it. And I also thought hmm, this is sort of a slippery slope, because if you examine regular old diets, a lot of them use language and suggest dieting techniques that are quite similar to what you get on pro-ana sites. For example, you get tips about colon cleansing, drinking lots of water to feel full, cutting your food up into tiny little pieces -- all stuff that gets promoted on various mainstream diet sites. Of course I figured that mainstream dieting sites would never be banned, but I thought it would be swell if there was a big argument about it that caused people to realize that dieting and disordered eating have more overlap between them than one might think. Fillyjonk over at Shapely Prose makes this point.

But on further reflection, my feelings about this thing are a bit more mixed. The French government has decided, based on published scientific reports and a widespread general consensus, that anorexia is unhealthy and often deadly. So they are going to prohibit people from having websites that tell people it's OK to be anorexic, that being ultra-thin is attractive, and give tips on how you can keep up your anorexia, including how to handle other people (like family members and doctors) when they accuse you of being anorexic and tell you it's unhealthy. But suppose that a government (say, the US government) decided that "obesity" is unhealthy and often deadly (check). Suppose then that they decided to prohibit people from having websites that tell people it's OK to be fat, that being fat is attractive, and give tips on how to recover from disordered eating ("dieting") and eat what you want when you're hungry even if that means you're going to stay fat, and tips on how to handle other people when they tell you how unhealthy and disgusting you are for being fat. That would mean that virtually every blog in the fatosphere would get banned.

So, I dunno, I'm feeling kind of torn about the ban... I feel like there's a big difference between pro-anorexia and fat acceptance, but when I try to come up with the specific differences, they break down. For example, contrary to popular belief, fat acceptance blogs generally aren't "pro-fat" per se. But then again, the pro-ana sites claim not to really be "pro-anorexia" either. They say they're just for people who are already anorexic and just looking for support from other people like them. Sounds like acceptance. And then there's the science -- I can say all I want (and I do truly believe this) that being fat has not been shown (in any credible studies not funded by the diet industry) to cause diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc. But in fact there is a close association between these disorders and some lifestyle choices that can also lead to weight gain, e.g., a high-calorie, high-fat diet and not enough exercise, so people are going to keep on believing that fat "causes" those diseases. I could imagine (though I haven't seen this) someone who's pro-anorexia trying to make similar arguments, like that it's not being super-thin that causes death, but rather fasting for too many days in a row, not getting enough vitamins, etc. I would be inclined not to buy such arguments, but then most of our society is inclined not to buy my arguments about fat. I could point to the fact that anorexia has a vastly higher death rate than "obesity", even if were to use the CDC's original wildly overstated numbers for "deaths caused by obesity" that they later had to retract because they were (at least) 14 times the actual number. But then I'd be reducing the whole thing to a matter of degrees, and I don't think that's quite the right thing either.

So I guess I'm kind of stumped at the moment. I haven't had a chance to read the comments on Shapely Prose or other places where people have blogged about this story, but maybe that will give me some ideas. In the mean time: your thoughts?

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'd say they could lose 150 or so right off the bat by getting rid of Michele Martinez


The city of Santa Ana has decided that its citizens need to lose a million pounds in one year. Councilwoman Michele Martinez sure seems like a lovely person and all, but her quotes in the article are obnoxious. For starters, in support of this initiative Martinez says, "We want to really change the culture here in this city." Umm, from what to what exactly? When I think Orange County I don't exactly think "too open-minded; need to scrutinize people's bodies more." I don't suppose that's what she meant exactly, but then who knows. But even worse is when Martinez says, "We want to say, 'You know what, you need to get moving.'" Argh, that pisses me off for so many reasons. It's smug, it presupposes that fat people don't "move", and worst of all it starts out with "You know what..." which is about as patronizing as you can get. You know what, Michele, it's counterproductive (not to mention poor form) to talk down to people as if they're idiots and you have the simple solution to all their problems.

As part of the initiative, the city plans to organize some 5K races. That is really swell, and I'm always looking for good 5K's in the area. But after reading the stupid xenophopic comments on the article made by some of Orange County's finest mouth-breathing morons (e.g., someone called "ocgrandma" who helpfully suggests that "if they got rid of all the illegals they would shed 3 million pounds and exceed their goal!"), I really think I'll just stay home, thanks.

And yeah, the picture doesn't really have anything to do with the article, but I thought it was too awesome for me not to use it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A small revelation

I was folding some pants and came to a realization about how stupid "fat pants" pictures are. You know, like the famous photo of Subway tool Jared Fogle, or like this lady? Yeah.

Anyway, I realized that if you just hold up your own pants in front of yourself, they look a lot wider than you are, even if they are pants that fit you perfectly well at your current size. This is because -- wait for it -- a person is three-dimensional!!

Granted, we all know that Jared lost a lot of weight. But who knows about that other lady or anyone else who poses for those stupid photos. And anyway, I feel like the whole thing is just a little sick. I know part of it is just to illustrate one person's change in size, but surely another part of it is to make fun of how huge the pants look. Golly, fat people's pants sure are hilarious!

There is the other type of fat pants photo like the one on this page, where the person is actually *in* the pants, so at least there's not the same exaggeration of the size difference. But there's still the ridicule factor, I think.

That is all.

Friday, March 28, 2008

They'd still never make it as supermodels


Saw this disturbing piece at Shapely Prose yesterday. In a nutshell: the Sweet Valley High twins have had their size changed to a 4 in the latest version of the books, down from a size 6. And this is a big deal in the SVH series, because *every fucking book* has the same stupid description of the twins and their blonde hair, aqua-colored eyes, and perfect size X. So they really hammer it in. I could even swear that it used to be a size 8 back when I was reading, but Feministing's original post says that the 1983 versions had them as a size 6, so maybe I'm misremembering.

Now that I'm thinking more about it, I remember that there were a couple of poor pathetic chubby girls in the books. I'd love to go back and reread them with a more critical approach to the treatment of the chubby girls... but then again, fuck it.

And before anyone says the change is probably just due to size inflation (which is a comment I've seen on a couple of other sites), let me ask you this: why the fuck do the books have to mention the girls' size in the first place?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tell us something we didn't already know

I guess I shouldn't be so cynical, but it's Oprah, so I can't help it. I was just tipped off to this short article that appeared in the February issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. It reports on the CDC study that showed that "overweight" people have the longest lifespan of all BMI groups (including, notably, people of "normal" [sic] weight). The thing is, we already heard about this study three years ago. So, like, why did it take so long for Oprah to find out about it?

I guess I should be glad that this study is getting some attention, but it's just kind of annoying when, three years after the fact, it gets reported on as if it's the News of the Weird. The first sentence of the article begins, "As if America's weight problem weren't already complicated enough..." and already I'm thinking, "Is it, really?" Argh. But I do have to admit that the rest of the article does a better job. Now, if we could just get Oprah to pass this along to her pal Barack Obama, who claimed that "if we could go back to the obesity rates of 1980, we could save the Medicare system a trillion dollars." Gee, Barack, where'd you get that nice, round trillion dollar figure? Maybe straight out of your (skinny) ass? (See a good reaction to Obama's remarks here.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Check this out

Hi everyone, I'm sorry I have been so negligent lately... blah blah blah, insert excuses here...

Anyhoo, until I have time to post something longer, check this out. It's funny.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Lose 60 lbs. instantly!!!


I don't think this is my original idea, but I can't remember where I got it (don't you hate that?). Anyway, at some point I started thinking about all these glib promises you see in advertising and magazine fluff pieces that a particular product will allow you to "lose 10 lbs. instantly!" etc. So I decided to see just how much weight one could hope to lose instantly by using all of these products simultaneously. A search of the internets reveals that you can lose a full 60 lbs. instantly -- and this only counts claims that gave a specific amount of weight (i.e., I didn't count ones that just said "lose weight instantly"). So I give you: Mary's Guaranteed Instant 60-Pound Weight Loss Strategy! (Note: do not try this if losing 60 lbs. will cause you to be unhealthily thin. I don't want to be responsible for any delayed aftereffects.)

Mary's Guaranteed Instant 60-Pound Weight Loss Strategy

Improve your posture (lose 10 lbs.)

Wear Spanx (lose 10 lbs.)

Wear a Jeunique bra (lose 10 lbs.)

Wear a top made out of Slinky fabric (lose 10 lbs.)

Get highlights in your hair (lose 5 lbs.)

Get a smaller purse (lose 5 lbs.)

Wear a Body Shaper (lose 5 lbs.)

Wear Bend Over slacks (lose 5 lbs.)

Do all of these things at once (what a fucking awesome outfit that would be) and LOSE 60 LBS. INSTANTLY!!!

I also want to point out that this does not count claims that you can "look 10 lbs. thinner," etc. If you add those in, you can probably look hundreds of pounds thinner (maybe at some point I'll investigate that and let you know).

Update on last week's post: Seamus sent me this relevant article. Scary stuff.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Kate Harding at Shapely Prose reminds us that it is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

It is a good time to think about eating disorders, how much they suck, and how many more of them people have thanks to our society's disordered *thinking* (or non-thinking). This year's theme for NEDAW is 'Be comfortable in your genes,' which I think is a great message. They have a nice list of things you can do for NEDAW. A couple of my favorite items:

-Celebrate Fearless Friday - A Day Without Dieting - and feel how empowering a diet-free day of self-acceptance can be!

-Donate your jeans and other old clothes that no longer fit your body comfortably to charity. Someone else will appreciate them, and you won’t have to worry about the way they fit anymore.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wow, they did it


They actually found a way to inject more obnoxiousness into the wedding industry. Check this out. Yeah, there is now a show called Bulging Brides, where you can get inspired by dumb chicks who bought their wedding dresses too small.

Well, I would just say that these brides are dumb for buying into the bullshit and thinking they had to get super-thin before the Big Day. But actually the dress companies provide a nifty added incentive for ordering your dress too small and trying to shrink into it: namely, that you have to pay more for "larger sizes". And naturally, the sizes run smaller than department store sizes, so you pay lots extra and feel really crappy about yourself for ordering the size you really need. One time I was in a wedding and had to buy a size 22 dress (at the time I normally wore an 18), and so I had to pay $80 extra for the dress -- a $40 charge for a "large size" (which applied to sizes 14-16-18), and another $40 charge for a "really fucking large size" (i.e. 20-22-24). I wrote an angry letter to the company and got a reply that claimed the $80 was for "extra fabric". OK, it is true that larger dresses require more fabric, but $80 worth? And if that's really the reason for the extra charge, why not have a sliding scale and charge more for a size 10 than a size 0? Hmm... maybe because it's not really a charge for extra fabric, but rather it's a fat tax. And they figure women will be willing to pay it (as I did), since most women probably feel ashamed when they realize they wear a "large size". The alternative, which I didn't think of (but which is apparently pretty popular) is to just buy a dress that's too small. Brilliant!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Live long and prosper, Leonard Nimoy

OK, Leonard Nimoy is awesome.

Did you all see his interview on the Colbert Report last night? If not, you can view the clip here (go to New Videos and scroll down to the bottom). Nimoy was on the show to talk about The Full Body Project, a new book containing his nude photographs of fat women. You can see some images from the book on Nimoy's website. I think these photographs are so cool. They will be shocking to some, but they're not sensationalized. The selection of the models (some of whom are really fat) shows that Nimoy didn't want to 'play it safe', and yet the photos don't put any undue emphasis on the more unusual aspects of the women's anatomy; they have a genuine sensitive and loving feel to them. They are playful but not mocking. I can't help feeling that someday people will look at these nice photos with their children and have to explain that "back then, photos of women this fat were considered shocking," and the kids will only halfway believe that people could have been that ignorant.

The Colbert interview is interesting for a variety of reasons. For one thing, Nimoy gets in some great points that people from the Fat Acceptance movement have been saying, which is nice because usually the only people quoted as saying those things are fat activists -- so it feels like some of the arguments may be gaining more widespread traction. I'm not sure his closing argument about young girls choosing oral sex over the "other kind" because of their poor body image is the very most compelling argument (especially since it's also true that teens with poor body image have higher suicide rates), but overall he does an exceptionally good job. And of course it's an accomplishment just to get a word in edgewise on that show in the first place!

One interesting moment in the interview comes when they show the first image from the book. It's a side view of a very fat, older woman lying in a Sphinxlike pose, and when the image comes up, a few people in the audience laugh. I can't really tell if it's male or female voices laughing. At first I thought it was because Colbert says something like, "I like this photo in particular because she looks relaxed, rested, and ready," and I thought maybe people were interpreting "ready" as referring to sex. But on a second viewing, it's clear that the laughter starts as soon as the image comes up, before Colbert says anything. Of course it's hard to interpret laughter -- maybe people were uncomfortable with the image, or maybe they thought the woman looked ridiculous, or maybe it's just that being part of a live audience for a comedy show predisposes people to laugh. Regardless, what happens next is really cool -- in response to Colbert asking something about the photo like "What do you call this?", Nimoy says "I call this a beautiful person," and a significant portion of the crowd (mostly with high-pitched voices) erupts in cheering.

Maybe there is hope yet.