Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pledge to America: Still Empty

The Huffington Post has an interesting article on the Republican's recently unveiled "Pledge to America", which includes the lofty provision of spending control. However, it seems the "Pledge" excludes references to Social Security and Medicare, which together take the heftiest chunks from the federal budget (behind defense spending, of course) and benefit the main supporters of the GOP (the elderly and white working-class). If Democrats and liberals are so despised because of their "elitism" and "intellectualism", can someone find down-home way to explain that "spending control" can have negative effects?

Oh, also a way to explain that cutting back on Federal spending doesn't include cutting back on the defense budget or financing a ridiculous and unwinnable land war in (southwest) Asia (over one trillion dollars since 2001. Trillion with a "T"!) $100 billion dollars a year. Could we try to reign that in first?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When Did Brawny Go Hairless?

And why? I happened to notice the Brawny Man is no longer mustachioed , fitting in with the current idea of hairless masculinity - I suppose? Apparently this change happened back in 2004. So many years I have been buying paper towels in ignorance of their sexual appeal! Is Brawny trying to appeal to women in their twenties now? Expanding their base? True, the old brawny man looks like a 70s porn star, but do people really choose their paper towels on whether or not the icon is "doable"?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Catching Up

Well, not really, but just letting you know that I am still around, just have not been feeling too motivated to right on current events. It happens. Plus, I realized that it has been several weeks wince I've posted a Saturday Special. Bah! However, I have been keeping busy with my other blog. That's right! I have begun posting on Cooking the Globe! Only four so far, but it's barely over a week old so give it time. Plus, don't go clicking on anything other than the post archives because it is still a work in progress. Yes, one I should easily get finished since I don't have a job to tie me down, but Seth is off until Friday, so I am otherwise engaged. The next few recipes planned are all Indian, but fear not: there will be plenty of good ol' Middle Eastern cookin' coming your way.  I'll even give you a hint: camel. Yes, camel. I am so fucking excited about that one. I think I will tell our dinner guests that's it's lamb and see if they can tell the difference.  Ahahahahaha! Camel.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fat Chance

 I try to get my news from reliable sources such as Al Jazeera, New York Times and Slate, but as my husband has a yahoo email account, I find myself drawn to the headlines on Yahoo's homepage.  Today there was this gem: "Many Americans Don't Even Know They're Fat."  According to the article, over 2,400 responded to a survey online in which they provided their height and weight, from which their BMI was calculated.  The respondents were then asked where they fit on the scale and 30% who thought they were normal were actually overweight, while 70% who thought they were overweight were actually obese!

The article then provides several more percentages on how Americans grossly underestimate their weight, but what it fails to provide is additional information on the people surveyed or even provide information on the inaccuracy of BMI readings.  If a woman were 5'4" and 145lbs, then her BMI be 24.9, right on the edge of being "overweight", yet still safely "normal".  If that same woman were to gain just a pound more, up to 146lbs, than her BMI would be 25.1 and she would be overweight. Isn't is possible that she would still consider herself "normal"?  How many of the respondents straddled this fine line?  While I am sure there people who are comfortable enough with their body that they would describe themselves as "normal" even if they were five or ten pounds "overweight", or others who are thirty pounds overweight and technically obese, but don't see themselves in that way, that's a long cry from claiming Americans "don't know they're fat."  I somehow doubt the majority of people surveyed were 5'3", 230lbs and yet shocked they couldn't fit into a pair of size 6 jeans (as so many of the comments seem to suggest.)

I am shouldn't be shocked that Yahoo is using BMI calculations to push a sensationalist article, but I am surprised that people could read this without skepticism. BMI calculations don't measure "fatness" or health!  For instance, Jay Cutler, 2009 Mr. Olympia winner, is 5'10" and has a contest weight of 260lbs, with less than 4% body fat, yet his BMI is 37.3 - obese.  Kai Greene (pictured above), 2009 Arnold Classic winner, is 5'8" with a contest weight of 250lbs, less than 4% body fat, yet a BMI of 38 - again, obese.  Conversely, you can find "skinny" people who have body fat percentages of over 30% simply because they don't work out: skinny fat.  One of the comments is from a "European" who advises that as long you watch your intake, you don't even have to exercise!  That's right: as long as you don't eat much, you don't have to get all sweaty and gross, yet can still remain thin and . . . healthy?  Of course, Cutler and Greene are far from fat but that is the main contention with BMI calculations: they don't take into account muscle mass or an actual level of fitness. Just like Yahoo's article didn't take into account valid statistics or reporting.

Image courtesy

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Decision Made

I have decided: I will have two blogs, this one and the new Cooking the Globe (a theme!)  I know last year I wrote that there was no reason for me to do a cooking blog, despite toying with the idea ("Who gives a fuck what I eat?"  Apparently, I expect you to.), but this year it seems plausible for a couple of reasons: one, I am doing a ton of cooking, much of it from my Indian and Middle Eastern cookbooks and I find the internet is less than helpful with those topics - especially Middle Eastern cuisine. Yes, it is fairly easy to find recipes for hummus, couscous, lamb tangine and falafel, but almost impossible to find help with samak mishwi or sanouma (though both are delicious!  Yes, they will be among my first entries.)  So why not take people with me on my journey through the food of this hemisphere?

The other reason is that I want to have a niche for this blog.  Is it a personal journal?  A spot to visit for an opinion on current world events?  A news filter?  I want it to be the latter two.  I need to practice my writing - my serious writing - as much as I need to practice writing in general so that when I look for relevant work I won't be a floundering fool.  Plus, the more serious commentary I have in my arsenal, the more I have to show when trying to find a gig as a freelance writer.  I can use the cooking blog as my personal journal and this one for my personal opinion.  Ha!  How self-indulging.  Of course, this also means I am giving myself twice the work, but I determined to do this.  When you don't work you have to find ways to make yourself organized; I give myself a schedule and deadlines so at least I have a reason to procrastinate.

I also plan on giving this site a facelift, but no promises on when that will happen.  Hopefully soon, but that's all I'm sayin'.