Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why we're fat: An exhausting analysis: Part 1

Have you heard of obesity? It's a real problem here in America. Everyone has a solution to the problem it turns out. That solution, per the internet, is to hate corn syrup with as passion as one can muster, eat cayenne pepper, lemons and legumes, and spend lot's of money on school lunch programs.

Alternately, we could have a sincere discussion about how and why people are obese. That won't generate votes, justify food subsidies, or land Chartwells any sweetheart government deals, but it might yield solutions.

The truth is, the sheer volume of reasons why we are fat require a treatise. So that's what I'm gonna write.

Reason 1: We hate our children, or behave as though we do

Consider a typical child's day of eating.

Breakfast: Cereal that tastes like donuts, juice.
AM Snack 1: Milk, cookie.
AM Snack 2: Fruit, juice.
Lunch: Sandwich that tastes like a donut, chocolate milk, chips.
Lunch dessert: Chips, juice.
PM Snack 1: Yogurt that tastes like ice cream.
Dinner: Mac and cheese that tastes like salty donuts, milk.
Dessert: Ice cream that tastes like yogurt. Sprinkles.
For no reason at all: Candy
Bedtime snack: Crackers, cheese, milk.

So, basically, eight desserts, an absurd amount of dairy, and some junk food. Why do parents do this? How did we get here?

The FDA

Remember the food pyramid, which posited a diet built on a bedrock of grains and dairy? It was on the wall of every science classroom in the country, giving it an air of objective authority. There was no science behind it, of course... It was negotiated between the various farm lobbies and the FDA. Of course, the good people of General Mills were more than happy to disseminate this "information", though they failed to sell parents on the idea of purple horseshoes as a fruit.

And milk? Milk has calcium, which does a body good, builds strong bones, and keeps your teeth from falling out. After all, bones are made of calcium, right? Good enough for the dairy industry to sell the FDA, as though there was epidemic of children shattering their hips during recess.

Thing is, though, studies conclude that children are fine consuming 300-400 mg of calcium per day. Even in America, where the dairy industry still more or less sets dietary guidelines, children only need 800 mg. Calcium is toxic for children in doses above 2000 mg. 1 cup (not glass) of milk has 300 mg. So the diet above, in addition to being a nutritional disaster otherwise, also delivers a toxic dose of calcium.

Picky Eaters

Of course, kids would do just fine getting their calcium from vegetables. For some reason, though, kids don't like them, and will notoriously reject foods if they are told they contain vegetables. The appropriate parental response to this predicament, of course, is "tough shit, kiddo. Eat it or starve," but that fell out of vogue...

...Right about when my parents started raising children. As such, we have now a generation of new parents who cannot, themselves, tolerate vegetables (more on that later). One can scarcely compel his children to eat that which he will not eat himself, and the whole task of compelled consumption is so unseemly, not to mention arduous.

Of course, it's hard to expect kids to eat broccoli when they know you will give them salty donuts in a box. Kids are stupid at most things, but prove to be tactical geniuses when it comes to the procurement of food they enjoy.

Yogurt and Juice

Do parents ever wonder why it is their kids like these items so much? It's not the vitamin A.

Snacks before bed

Child does not want to go to bed. Child pretends she is hungry. Parents oblige with crackers. Child then pretends to be thirsty. Parents oblige with milk. Parents wonder why child wets the bet and where she learned to lie to her parents.

Let's end this madness, eh?


Dining out

Most parents can't cook worth a lick (more on that later), and so their children learn that the only good food comes from restaurants, either in the form of fast food or kiddie menus. Of course, all of this food is salty, chemical laden trash, served in ridiculous quantities, and so this becomes the standard against which all meals should be measured.

Peer Pressure

The slim minority of parents who work diligently to feed their kids healthy food are met with a veritable tidal wave of tut-tutting from parents who think the mere fact of being pre-pubescent entitles kids to eat pre-fab glop at all hours of the day. I've seen people literally go out of their way to provide junk food to these kids when their parents aren't around.

See, one way or another, people internalize their relationship with food. For most Americans, food is one of the few things that makes them happy. Most people grew up eating junk, and junk is what made them happy. Any parents opting for a different paradigm are seen as judgmental. Imagine if someone said "I want to raise my kids so they don't turn out like YOU."

Others, grandparents in particular, simply feel it is their responsibility to spoil children. Candy is an affordable way to do so.

Grocery store tantrums

Because they are run by opportunistic pricks, most major grocery stores do their able best to put expensive junk food items in easy reach of children (unless state law forbids them to do so). This gives kids the ultimate trump card in their quest to eat delicious food, the in-store tantrum. Embarrassed parents make absurd purchases in order to quiet their little scream-bags, who consequently learn that screaming = gratification.

By my lights, a child screaming sounds better than the strained silence of acquiescence.

Next up - Reason 2: Cooking anxiety

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tim Pawlenty is Boring

So yeah, this is pretty funny. T-Paw is a bit boring, and Barack Obama is exciting...

Let's use the analogy of a party. Tim Pawlenty is the guy who sticks to the kitchen, and maybe helps mix drinks. He might pop out to check on the dip, and he'll open up once things settle down. Maybe he joins in a bit of late-night poker.

Obama's the "friend of a friend" (hereinafter: FOAF) who everyone saw leave at about 9p after chugging two PBRs, but who re-emerges at 1a, completely bombed. He isn't really loud, but he has this manic look in his eye, and makes a couple really weird comments to the women that are probably intended sexually.

Then he knocks back three shots and everyone's kinda like "I don't think you should be having anymore, dude", and people kind of would like to leave, because FOAF has ruined the mood, but nobody wants to leave T-Paw alone to deal with the guy.

Then FOAF's like "!@#$ it, I'm inviting Pickle and Rocco", and someone makes a "hey we're kinda winding down here, so... you know..." type of statement, completely ignored by FOAF, who texts them a message. Then there's dead silence, and he reaches for the rum, and T-Paw's like "okay, you've had enough man," and FOAF mocks him like "bleh, bleh, you've had enough man!!!" and pulls a flask out of his pocket and everyone's like "seriously, dude?"

Then FOAF starts trying to disconnect the DVD player for some reason, and everyone wonders what he's doing, and he gets offended, like it's an affront that a guy shouldn't be able to walk into a house and disconnect a DVD player. Then, Pickle shows up (Rocco stays in the car, which is ominous) and screams out "dude, nice TV... Remember when FDR got on the TV after the stock market crash and talked to the moon??? ROCK THE !@#$ OUT DELAWARE!!! I'M A GIANT ANT FARM"...

Suddenly, people are muttering aloud about calling the cops, when FOAF apologies, and works to settle everyone down, and the two huddle in the corner of the room. T-Paw starts cleaning while a few people sip some water, sober up, and strike up a philosophical conversation.

Suddenly, Pickle is like "!@#$ this Harvard crap, let's get janged!", and nobody knows what "janged" even means, but he whips out a baggie of coke, to which, it's not like nobody there has ever done cocaine, but that was in college, and now everyone's at least 30 and has jobs, and one guy is like "I'm an Elementary School principal... I'm pretty sure I'm required to report this."

Then, suddenly, FOAF pulls a knife, and Pickle has to hold him back, which is exactly the opposite of how anyone thought that scenario would play out, and Pickle starts whispering "come on man, this is a big !@#$in' deal... Stand down man... Let it him be a little !@#$%".

And so they leave and everyone is weirded out, and T-Paw's kind of shaking, but his friends tell him its cool, and they still had a great time, and really respected how he stood up to that guy, cause Arne Carlson never would have had the balls.

The next day, a bunch of CDs and a purse are missing from the porch, and everyone pretty much knows who took it, but the police can't do anything because there isn't really any evidence, and so T-Paw helps the lady cancel her credit cards, wondering aloud how it was possible for someone that drunk to hit not one, but three strip clubs before bar close.

How exciting.

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On a not-unrelated note, I hereby endorse Tim Pawlenty to be the next President of the United States.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Tuesday Musings: Slowcarb Edition

I'm on a diet. As you might expect, I am irritable therefore. Let's muse.

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Apple was recently recognized as the most valuable brand in the world. That stands to reason. Outside of the clothing and automobile world, what other company so deftly compels it's loyalists to spend a premium to enjoy an inferior product? That company is only brand. Slap a "Compaq" sticker on the stuff, and it is essentially worthless.

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Reaping what you sow alert... Sojourners, which recently refused to run a pro-gay ad in its pages, is in hot water with its followers. This barely coherent explanation from Jim Wallis is as priceless as it is tacky. A highlight:

Given the time Sojourners is now spending on critical issues like the imperative of a moral budget, the urgent need to end the war in Afghanistan, and the leadership we are offering on commitments like immigration reform, we chose not to become involved in the controversy that such a major ad campaign could entail, and the time it could require of us.
You see, Sojourners is not opposed to gay biblical equality, it just doesn't have the time for it. Unsurprisingly, this mealy mouth explanation did not appease Sojo's gay supporters. Kimberly Knight writes:

The powerful not wanting to lose their power by standing up for what is right and maybe offending those who foot the bill.
Pretty much. What have you learned, Kimberly?

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So R.T. Rybak has jumped in to offer Minneapolis money to pay for the Vikings Stadium AND eight-figures to renovate Target Center.

Here's an idea. If you want something. YOU buy it. Want the Vikings to stay in town, write a check. I could not possibly care less, and so there is no reason why my tax dollars ought to be used to fund a stadium I neither need nor want.

Our city never misses an opportunity to piss away money, so I'm guessing this is a done deal, but it is bloody ridiculous to be spending billions of dollars on stadiums for rich people in this economy. Ridiculous.

If Arden Hills wants a stadium, let Arden Hills buy a stadium.

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As for the threat to move the Vikings to Los Angeles, I can think of no better argument as to why we shouldn't be in the business of bailing out bankrupt states. If CA has the cash to be buying stadiums for rich people, I am left to simply assume that it is independently wealthy.

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I will support the Target Center renovation if Glen Taylor takes David Kahn out back and shoots him. Until then, that organization is pretty much making its own bed. Why renovate a stadium for a team that is at least 60% likely to be contracted in the next decade?

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Brief today... No time... Everyone rant!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Okay, one more thing...

This, from Scot McKnight:

Having said that, I can’t rejoice that he was shot to death or that he or anyone else is dead; I can’t rejoice because violence does not bring peace. It unleashes cycles of more violence. We may never know, but it sure looks to me that he could have been captured alive. Of course, bin Laden alive and captured could be one of the biggest nightmares our government could imagine, but that won’t change my view that if he could have been captured alive that would have been more Christian.
Is the stupidest thing I have read in response to the Osama Bin Laden killing.

I'll set aside the "violence begets violence" bit. That's boilerplate half-assed Christian pacifism. Pragmatic-sounding and non-falsifiable.

It sure looks to McKnight that Osama could have been captured alive? I'm glad that Scot's intensive special-ops training has given him keen insight into what constitutes self-defense. What? He went to some podunk bible college in Michigan? Oh... Maybe he's not so much equipped to accuse the Navy SEALS of war crimes.

I am confused by the assertion that capturing him would have been "more Christian". For those unfamiliar with the Bible, you are either a Christian or you are not. It's like being pregnant. There is right and there is wrong.

That aside, why is it more Christian to capture someone (after lighting up his compound and shooting his wife) then to kill them? What biblical principle is at play here? Saul, for the record, was vilified, VILIFIED for capturing his enemies instead of killing them.

Ugh...

I'm tired of the gospel being watered down to a spate of treacly bullshit. It seems to me that some Christians believe it is their mission to share the good news that Christ is a colossal pussy who wouldn't harm a fly (for the reason that he is incapable). Who wants that? Who wants to believe a God that forbids us to rejoice in the death of a murderous madman?

I don't, and I don't have to. That God is the figment of a very depressing imagination.

My God is tap-dancing on Osama's grave. He can walk on water after all.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The proper Christian response: w00t!

If there is one thing Christians are great at, it's acting holier-than-thou. Jim Wallis has made self-holiness an art form. He admonishes us not to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden. Why? It isn't Jesusy, or something.

Pumping our fists in victory or celebrating in the streets is probably not the best Christian response to anyone’s death, even the death of a dangerous and violent enemy.
True. The best Christian response is to do shots. However, some people are trying to carry over some momentum from lent related abstention, so pumping our fists is fine, if not ideal.

The world can be relieved that a leader as evil as Bin Laden can no longer plot the death of innocents.

So we can be relieved, but not celebrate? On what principle?

We can be grateful that his cynical manipulation and distortion of Islam into a message of division and hate is finally ended.
Nobody cares what he did with the message of Islam. We care that he killed people, and that he's dead.

Even if we sharply dissented from the moral logic or wisdom of the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan of the last decade,
Failed war? Did you hear the news about Osama? Mission accomplished, bitch.

we can be glad that a mass murderer has been stopped and brought to justice.

To be clear, Christians may be grateful, relieved and glad, but may not celebrate. Wallis sounds like the coach of a Big Ten school admonishing his team not to gloat over beating Alcorn St.

(Osama Bin Laden - The Alcorn St. of madmen. Moving on...)


And we can be hopeful that the face of the Arab world might now become the young nonviolent activists for democracy rather than a self-righteous smirk of a self-promoting video character who tells us he is going to kill our children if we don’t submit to his hateful agenda.

To which, according to news reports, when we shot him in the face, his eye popped out and pieces of his brain flew through the air. #hownavysealswipethesmirkoffyourface

But the book of Proverbs clearly warns us to “not rejoice when your enemies fall.”
Here's the rest of that Proverb (17:28, if you're interested):

when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,

To which:

a) The Proverb is talking about the wicked as our enemy, who fall when "calamity strikes". In other words, just because someone rejects God, that is no reason to be happy when things do not go well for them.

b) FMI, read Psalms. Plenty of rejoicing over the death of enemies there.

c) What the hell is the difference gladness and rejoicing?

And, in the hardest words of the gospel, Jesus tells us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

He wasn't persecuting us. He killed thousands of innocent people, then fled. When confronted, he refused to repent, keeping his promise to go down fighting. It is not unloving to celebrate justice. Did the Israelites remain quietly grateful after David downed Goliath? No. They literally held a parade.

Neither of those texts have been very popular pulpit texts during the years since 9/11.

There is no evidence that this is true.

The chants of “USA, USA, USA” are also not the best mantra for believers who should know that they are meant to be Christians first and Americans second.
Why not? I'm still American. I chant DEEEETROIT BAAAAAAASKETBALL, when my favorite team forces a turnover*, but I can't cheer on my country when it offs one of the most notorious murderers in the world?

We Christians have too often valued the innocent lives of Americans who have been lost to war more than the innocents who were in the way of our wars in response to the attacks against us.

But nobody was chanting USA! then. Rather, we are chanting in response to the death of a murderous mad man who killed thousands of our people. You may have heard of him.

The violence of terrorism, the violence of war, and even the violent reprisal against Osama bin Laden on Sunday should all push us to deeper reflection, and even repentance, for how we have allowed the seeds of such destruction to take root and grow in our hearts and in our world.
Note. When Wallis says "we", he means "you". Even money he has sent out a press release calling on Americans to repent.

If anything Sunday’s success showed the effectiveness of good intelligence and “policing activities” more than the endless wars of occupation, as some have pointed out.

*cough* Gitmo *cough*

But perhaps with Bin Laden now gone and rendered irrelevant, we can turn the page on the 10-year trauma of 9/11 and find better ways to settle our conflicts, defend ourselves, and undermine the threats against peace.

Good luck with that one, bucko. You're homeboy has gotten a taste of the public accolades that come with dispensing with the mumbo-jumbo and delivering bullets to the face of our enemies. Think he's going to turn back now, in election season?

I believe one of our most hopeful ways forward is to now unite across religious lines and learn again together “the things that make for peace.”

Fine, but let me just add:

Kill our peeps?
Here's the deal
Blown to hell
By a Navy Seal

USA! USA! USA!

* - The present tense is a bit disingenuous here. My favorite team no longer forces turnovers, but you get my point.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Osama Bin Musings

Ding-dong the witch is dead. Guns really do solve problems. Let's muse.

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RIP: Anti-war Left 1962-2011. We're all Neocons now.

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A week ago, I predicted that releasing his birth certificate would be remembered as Obama's greatest achievement. I was wrong. Not closing Gitmo was his greatest achievement.

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Obama now has an almost unprecedented clean slate for executing a pro-active policy in the Middle East. He has earned achieved an important symbolic scalp, but also has a peace prize (snicker) under his belt. Already, he could proceed unencumbered by angry left, the left-wing tsk-tskers and cavalcades of extremist lawyers who tend to make life difficult for our intelligence community. Nobody is going to be asking WWFD "what would France do"? He has also silenced (temporarily) his critics who do not think he has the competence to accomplish long-term goals abroad.

He's in a perfect spot to make real change in the Middle East.

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Those who have Christian friends on Facebook were likely tut-tutted with admonishments to remember that Christ calls us to love our enemies.

This is impossible. Bin Laden is dead. You can't love the dead (Jesus said that too). Break out the champagne.

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It's also bad theology, in case you were wondering. The bible is rather full of examples of people celebrating the death of their enemies (David v. Goliath for example). Christ never speaks out against this, or calls on us to reject this paradigm in any way.

He calls on us not to let our cultural differences dissuade us from treating each other with love. But our differences with Osama Bin Laden extend beyond the cultural, to put it mildly. The question is whether Osama Bin Laden's death was just. You'd have to be something of a fanatic to argue that it was not.

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In terms of the politics, this couldn't have come at a better time for Obama. The political obituaries (some overblown) were starting to roll in. He was seen as weak at home and abroad. Gas prices. All that.

On the other hand, in the grand scheme of Obama's agenda, this is more of a distraction. A positive distraction, grant you, and who can blame the prez for taking a victory lap? Those who don't support his policies or ideas will just have to grit our teeth. What, am I going to get mad at him for taking out Bin Laden?

But if he misinterprets good will for a mandate, he'll hit the political quicksand pretty quickly. He has an opening to rebuild his credibility w/r/t foreign policy, and he should take that opportunity.

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Of course, what his party would like him to do is use this as an excuse to bail out and focus on "green jobs".

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Regardless of what you feel about torture (I'm not sure waterboarding counts, but I think we can locate effective alternatives), doesn't this series of event put to bed the whole "torture doesn't work because people will just lie" meme?

I'm not sure what the origin of that idea was (I strongly suspect Reservoir Dogs had something to do with it), but its pretty much put to rest now.

Not that I ever expect to have a reasonable, intellectually honest conversation about torture.

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Screw all of this...

USA! USA! USA!