Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Popcorn workers lung

So apparently popcorn is bad for your health. I realize this is old news, but I didn't post it until now because I didn't have enough material to provide a sufficient rant.

Until this entry in the NY Times Editorial Notebook. It's a poorly written article and it's also a general trend in laziness that is pervasive on the part of consumers.

The author describes in detail how for a brief minute, he was scared about all the horrid chemicals in his refrigerator. But instead of doing anything about it, he chose to ignore it.

Which is like an obese person reading an article about how being fat is bad for your health and then thinking,

"Gosh. I am Really Fat. I should do something about it before I die of some awful, obesity related disease such as diabetes. I should really stop eating all this crap and take some exercise."

And then thinking,

"You know, everything in my refrigerator at the moment is made of sugar or animal lard. I'm not going to bother after all."

I realize that it would be stressful and difficult, possibly even time wasting to absolutely make sure you controlled all the ingredients in your food - HOWEVER discovering that all the food in your refrigerator contains sodium poisonate is not a reason not to make lifestyle changes. It isn't hard to cook and eat fresh food and being too busy shouldn't be an excuse, because it isn't actually as time consuming as you would think. It's no less time consuming to make a pot of soup with fresh vegetables and spice than it is to cook a frozen pizza.

Here is an example of the authors thinking:

"Sodium benzoate is ubiquitous. It’s in the lime juice we use for cooking, the tonic water, the oriental chicken marinade, even the hummus...For a moment the anxiety floored me. Then I decided to deal with the burst of consumer angst in much the same way I have addressed other such choices: I looked the other way."

The ubiquitous nature of potentially unhealthy ingredients is not a reason to shrug your shoulders and then bury your head in the sand. Fresh limes don't make sodium benzoate naturally and it takes about 5 minutes to make your own, homemade marinade or hummus and they will taste much better for it. And for god's sake, why not just drink your liquor straight, you wimp.

His argument against trying to eat vegetarian or organic?

"But say I went organic or vegan or something. Might not the peanut butter or the wheat gluten assault me? Addressing these fears head-on would probably require devoting my life to the study of organic chemistry."

I don't need to point out the asinine suggestion that veganism requires a degree in organic chemistry. I do, however, need to point out that "because it's hard" shouldn't be something that so readily stops people from things that are better for their body, their families health and for the rest of the community, especially when it isn't actually that hard.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I don't like doughnuts.

Today I declared my dislike for doughnuts and was summarily told to get off my high horse. It wasn’t directed at me in order to make me feel bad or uncomfortable; indeed the person who made the comment stopped himself about halfway through the word “horse” seemingly realizing that it was coming off a bit callous. It still bothered me.

It bothered me the same way that being called a “movie snob” by photographer Jared Raskind, when I was living in Santa Barbara. He was a friend of mine that at one point refused to rent a movie with me on the grounds that I hated every movie we watched together and it wasn’t fun.

He claimed Steven Spielberg to be one of the greatest directors of all time because he’s made “like, a ton of movies that everybody likes”, a point I disputed by explaining that he was probably one of the highest grossing directors of all times due to his skill at making films that appeal to the lowest common denominator, but not one of the “greatest” directors. He also argued that there was no way I could know whether or not a movie was going to be good before I’d seen it – even if I’d seen the previews, read the book or knew who the director, actors, writers and/or directors of photography were and whether or not I’d hated all of there previous work.

I gave in and subjected myself to Black Hawk Down, biting my tongue and then summarily lying through my teeth at the end when he asked me what I thought, he responded with a satisfied priggish response: “See? You enjoyed it.”

I didn’t but I was still a little hurt and confused by his remarks regarding my taste in movies, much in the same way that I was a little put out by the comment this morning. I wasn’t trying to alienate myself in either case but the feeling that I had gotten was that I had given that impression. That the other person may have been lashing out at me with the same sentiment that I have towards people who only like bands you’ve never heard of or tell you that you wouldn’t “understand” Burning Man unless you’ve been. The sort of people who drive Prius’s powered by their own sense of self satisfaction and are so distracted by their own smugness that they cut you off and drive 5 miles below the speed limit in the fast lane.

A similar experience would be with restaurants. Ryan made a commitment to himself that he was no longer going to go to bad restaurants. This was after a coworker had called him a food snob for not wanting to eat at Chili’s or Chatchke’s or Chevy’s or somewhere like that. After making that commitment and then turning down another offer from a different coworker to go to a place of equally bad value for too much money, she told him he was being “ridiculous."

On the one hand I can see how this sort of behaviour comes off as affected, artificial and pretentious, but it’s really not. I honestly do not like doughnuts and never have. I do ­have guilty pleasures, such as watching only the beginnings of “How Clean is Your House” to be appalled at filthy people’s houses or staying up passed my bedtime eating cheese and watching Fry & Laurie sketches on Youtube.

This reflection has really brought nothing to light for me. I'm still uncomfortable at the thought of people sensing that I am purposely alienating myself but I'm even more uncomfortable at the idea of doing things I don't like, that cost money and make me feel physically unhappy just to make someone else not feel bad about their own choices.

I suspect that compromises are in order and I don't like those either.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Making fun of religious people. Again.

Found this article while doing research for a presentation at work. It's an excerpt from a book called Dressing with Dignity by Colleen Hammond, published by TAN Books. . Most of it is a review of women's fashions, starting with Adam and Eve and ending with the effect on trousers in marketing.

It seems that when women wear trousers, men's eyes immediately follow the line up their legs to the inevitable "woman's most private and intimate area. Not her face! Not her chest!". Apparently "Men's eyes will follow the lines right up her legs and finish the picture in their imagination. Women's eyes may do the same thing, but since women don't have the same type of temptations, their imaginations don't complete the picture in the same way as men's do."

This is my absolute favourite quote out of the article:

"When a woman is wearing pants, a man's eyes will (much to his embarrassment) fall to a woman's crotch. These men also pointed out that it is something that happens without their wanting to do it, or without their realizing it. It's the nature of men "to look" ... and they do!"


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Transhumanists and American Princesses

An article about cyborgs, body modification and self-mutilation in Slate Magazine, mentions George Dvorsky, President of the Toronto Transhumanist Association. He "wants to use cyber- and biotechnology to elevate all animals to human status" [From Slate].

I think this is silly, selfish, a waste of time and plays to an idea, pervasive among uneducated and self absorbed individuals who don't understand that evolution does not have an ultimate goal or direction and therefore, one species is not "better" than another. All your genes want to do is reproduce and they don't care why or how. These same individuals also haven't stop to think that not everyone wants to be just like them and despite lacking the right design to speak, compute complex equations or make pancakes, they might not need to in order to be happy.

How about using common decency to elevate all animals to human status? Or even, dare I say it, elevate all
humans to human status?

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Actually, upon reading this article about participants int the WE TV show American Princess, I might need to take that last statement back. I want these people out of my species, particularly the one that said,

"Getting a British title would make things a lot easier, I could put it on my card or my résumé."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Won't someone please think of the cupcakes!

According to todays New York Times, schools in this country are finally getting on Jamie Oliver's bandwagon and improving the food served in cafeterias. Unfortunately, this means that some schools are no longer allowing cupcakes to be served during birthday celebrations. Texas has taken measures to make sure this possibly psychologically damaging atrocity won't happen to their children and enacted the Safe Cupcake Amendment, adding it to the states nutrition policy.

Really. The states nutrition policy.

Don't Texas parents have something better to do than lobby to save cupcakes? For example, instilling the value of good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for their children?