Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rip your children's teeth out!

Rather than use stem cells from an embryo that has no consciousness, tear the teeth out of your child's head with pliers to obtain them. It's morally better!

As one who had many teeth extracted during my youth, I can't recommend it as a real good time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Man. The Pants. The Legend.

This morning we got the call from the editor of the local paper: she wanted a reporter to cover a presentation by Jared Fogle, a.k.a. "The Subway Guy," at the local elementary school. It wasn't on the schedule, but Laurie has really taken to these occasional reporting gigs, and I hear I will actually get paid for photographs this time. Scoop and I are on our way.

He looks just like he does on TV. And he seems like the down-to-earth nice guy he appears to be. You can't learn everything in an hour or so, but you get a sense.

His message is well documented. He went from 425 pounds to 195 using diet and exercise. His creative use of Subway sandwiches for the nutritional component earned him national recognition and launched him on this long journey to public appearances great and small. He doesn't do a Subway infomercial. He talks about moderate eating and sensible activity. He explains how he settled into a sedentary lifestyle and what made him pull himself out of it.

Celebrity status complicates things in ways Jared did not address. He was morbidly obese, in danger of death, but, because he pulled himself back from the brink in such a catchy way he created a marketable success story when "being the Subway Guy wasn't on my goal sheet," as he put it. He just wanted to get fit and healthy again. So the message that never gets stated is that one can make a spectacular mess of oneself and then make a livelihood out of the story of recovery. On the other hand, there's already been a Subway Guy. There isn't a vacancy for another one.

In Jared's case it does not appear to be at all cynical. And I don't view it that way. I simply can't ignore the way the solution to an essentially self-created problem leads to great inspiration for others trying to defeat the same self-created problem.

Jared had the basis for his own recovery in him all the time. Others might not be so fortunate. Whatever causes them to eat may have deeper psychological roots. Physiologically, the mechanism of recovery will work on the basis of impersonal metabolism. Burn more calories than you eat and you will lose weight. So for the average lazy sod, and I include myself in that category, it really is just a matter of making better food choices and inserting more exertion into the average day.

Humans have made great advancements in labor-saving devices. We are too good at it. When exertion was unavoidable, it was nice to be able to choose to save energy on some tasks. But now we have to remember to exert. It isn't always easy to take a walk or a bike ride, so then we have to choose various human forms of the gerbil wheel.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hillary Romney, Mitt Clinton

Hillary Clinton has embraced a mandatory insurance plan reminiscent of Republican rival Mitt Romney's, as she tacitly admits that she can't beat the insurance companies or pry their talons off of health care financing in this country.

In that regard, at least, the next two presidential terms will be business as usual. Neither party apparently has the stones or the integrity to try to provide equal access to treatment across the financial spectrum.

Remember: your value is measured in dollars. Get lots of dollars and you will be all right. The market is wise and will reward the best people and products that humanity can produce.

Really? Then why do opium, tobacco, alcohol and gambling do so well? People are willing to pay for them well beyond the point at which they provide any improvement to the quality of life. Drugs are so popular we have to have laws against them and devote kilos of money and time to try to eradicate them. That's the free market in action. The drug dealers don't even get to hire the best ad agencies and flood the airwaves with carefully calculated messages to promote their product. Demand rides high on word of mouth alone.

John Stossel presented an infomercial for laissez-faire economics the other night, lambasting socialized medicine and lauding the market-based approach. The leaps of logic and begged questions went by too fast for me to catalog and consider them all. It masqueraded as an in-depth news analysis, but its slant was clear from the outset. Socialized medicine bad. Free-market health care for profit good.

Okay, okay, I get the picture. Maybe it's time to quit voting and let the country run itself. I feel sorry for my friends' children, and for my nephew and children-in-law. But hey. The only thing you're guaranteed in this life is a death.

About all human beings do is fuck and argue anyway. In the freewheeling past, our sex drive slightly offset the destructive forces of famine, pestilence and our crappy personalities. No one had to think too hard about anything. In fact, it was probably better if you didn't. Unfortunately, a few people thought a little more and a little more clearly, enhancing our survival ability and our capacity to kill each other at the same time. Even so, people got more and more hooked on the idea of long, prosperous, somewhat peaceful lives. That pursuit of peace and prosperity has led to more complex arguments degenerating into larger and bloodier wars as time has gone by.

Money and advanced technology obscure the animal nature of human activity and the philosophies used to try to exalt it to some higher status. There isn't even anyone to tell, because the few who can see it for what it is have no power to change it. I mention it merely to go on record as one who noticed. I will now shut up and let it run its course unchecked. I will probably continue my local activities, futile as they may be, just for something to do while I wait for my exit cue. I have some friends here, and I hate to let them down.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Surgin' General's Report

Sorry, anti-war protesters. We can't just turn it off and walk away from it.

Think of Iraq as a pile of dog shit. Think of the United States as a pair of lugged-sole shoes worn by an irresponsible child named George W. Bush. Think of America's situation as a white carpet. If we do not take all the time necessary to clean all the dog shit out of those shoe soles, we will track it all over the white carpet. True, we have every reason to be infuriated with little Georgie for wearing boots that weren't even really his and running through the pile of dog shit, but that does not change the reality of the present situation. Even if we yank little George up by the scruff of the neck so he quits dancing on the steaming pile of turd, the boots are still dirty.

Okay, now the metaphor breaks down, because you don't clean shit off your shoes while still standing in it, whereas the human chaos in Iraq does demand the direct involvement of responsible, mature, committed individuals to bring all receptive parties to a reasonable solution. It was just really fun to portray our unfortunate chief executive as a naughty boy in misappropriated shoes, stomping in shit.

George said one true thing when he told us the war would be long and difficult. He might have been referring to his Grand War on Terror, but it certainly applies to the Iraq conflict. Quagmires by definition slow your rate of travel. That does not mean you will be in them forever. But expect to pick up a few leeches and fight off a few crocodiles as you slog along in search of that elusive higher ground.

While the Iraq war evolves, terrorist attacks in other parts of the world are investigated after the fact or foiled in advance by diligent police work. Terrorist operatives theoretically have access to a number of sources of useful tools to create devastation. We can't be everywhere at once. We have to hope we manage to be in the right place at the right time. Iraq wasn't it, but it's a mess we now have to clean up properly if we can.