Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bigger than ever.

There are two ways you can get rich really quick in this country and before you ask, one of them is not purchasing property for no money down. No, the road to easy money involves creating a new diet or concocting some exercise plan. In fact, you can make even more money by recycling some passe trend and giving it a new twist. Take stodgy old Yoga, mix in some hip hop beats and call it something catchy like Booty Busting Yoga and you can pad your bank accounts for years to come. Just make it easy and painless. Americans are infatuated with losing weight and getting fit. Ironically, in spite of this obsession America keeps getting fatter. When you factor in the alarming number of half-starved immigrants allegedly pouring over our borders everyday the average girth ratio is astounding. Think what the percentage of overweight Americans would be if we closed the borders.

The problem is that Americans don't want reality. Losing weight and getting fit involve hard work, sacrifice and a little pain. That's unacceptable. Everybody wants some magic pill or magic surgery that will provide instant results with no effort. We all want to look sexy, but not if it involves things like breaking a sweat for 2 hours out of every week or skipping the Whopper Value Meal for lunch. But I have a coupon!
That's why that Atkins diet was huge for a while. The gimmick was this magical metabolic process that your body actuates when you cut carbs out of your diet and subsist on protein and fat. Since Atkins dropped dead due to cardiovascular complications the Atkins people have backed off of the caveman diet and taken a more balanced approach, but before they could brand the new program somebody took the idea and called it the South Beach Diet.

The fact is there is only one way to lose weight: Eat less. Yes exercise is important, but most Americans need to do more than walk 10,000 steps a day to offset the caloric surplus they consume each day. You have to stop putting food in your mouth. People who lost weight on Atkins and other "eat-all-you-want" clones over estimate the calories they actually consumed. The fact is protein and fat take longer to digest, thus making one feel fuller longer. Unfortunately the body is designed to run on carbs and forcing it to manufacture fuel out of protein or fat results in physiological problems that could have long term consequences. Like heart attacks, strokes and colon cancer. But enjoy the bacon, please.

Eating less is hard. Food is like a drug that you get addicted to. Starting your day off with a handful of granola thrown into a small cup of yogurt is not going to make you forget about all those mornings you gobbled a sausage biscuit with egg. It doesn't taste as good as a doughnut. Acquiring a taste for water instead of sucking down a 24 ounce bottle of Pepsi every three hours is not going to happen overnight and munching on steamed broccoli won't be nearly as satisfying as eating half a pizza. Cutting out all those Jelly Bellies isn't going to be easy either. Crack addicts have a much easier time getting clean. At least they have consequences to pay, getting fatter isn't illegal.

But maybe that's an idea. We can't jail fat people, but why not make them pay more for things? In some places they already do. Target is infamous for selling extended sizes at a higher price. A large shirt might retail for 10.99 but the XXL is 12.99. I'm suspicious that Target actually mislables their shirts to force more people into the extended sizes. That's something that needs to be looked into, but it's still a good idea. Why should leaner customers pay the same amount of money for half the fabric?

Why not extend this to other areas. Like license plates. People who own trucks pay more because trucks are heavier and capable of carrying more payload, but isn't a 300 pound woman carrying quite a payload? Fork it over, Bertha. Checking weight upon license renewal seems reasonable, how many people out there have a license that lists their weight a solid 30 pounds under what they really weigh? Isn't there a Homeland Security issue in play here? Is that fraud?

Insurance companies and employers would love to be able to adjust premiums based on weight. Not all fat people are unhealthy, but most are medical time bombs. Diabetes, arthritis, stress fractures, heart attacks, strokes, back pain. There are a host of problems associated with weight and giving companies the ability to pass the cost on to the individual would help fit people save money on healthcare. Sure, Tom in accounting could easily suffer a stroke in spite of being a competitive runner who only eats beef once a year, but insurance companies have done the math and they are willing to take a gamble on Tom. Take 100 fit people and 100 fat people and a massive percentage of those fat people are going to wear that insurance card out. You can carry that over to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as well. No benefits if you're morbidly obese. We can't have fat people draining public funds to tend to weight-related maladies when there are people suffering from illnesses that are entirely beyond their control.

It's disturbing. Every major retailer has electric carts for people to use when they shop. They aren't for disabled people, most disabled people already have the means to ambulate. How would they get into the store to use the cart? And sometimes the carts are taken advantage of by wobbly old ladies who can barely walk because of osteo-arthritis, but typically those carts are purloined by the ponderously pudgy. Hopeless fat slobs who simply have too much lard to lug around a store. And where do you find those fat bastards? Hogging up the free samples. You'd think it was rush hour in L.A. when they heat up a tray of those bagel bites. Oink, beep, oink.

Police departments around the country have taken to putting up these radar trailers that are supposed to shame speeders into slowing down. What they do is encourage people to speed up. Apparently everybody wants to know what their car's 30-60 time is. My mini van can do it in 6.2 seconds. The fact is those trailers don't work, but putting up scales in public places might. Set up a digital scale outside of McDonald's and watch the humiliation on people's faces as they waddle out. 244! Hey lady, that's beefy. 376! Yo, bro. I hope that's a salad in that bag. 72! Look! It's Lindsey Lohan. And she's got a ketchup packet!

Being fat isn't that bad if you can pull your weight. Lot's of people are heavy and many of us are genetically predispositioned to be big. But too many people hide behind that excuse. 400 pounds isn't big, it's disgusting. You don't have a glandular problem, you're a lazy slob. There's no excuse for it. You aren't disabled and you don't have mental problems. That's what's so infuriating about this issue. People don't want to shoulder the blame and there are countless quacks who are more than happy to tell them what they want to hear. So they keep getting fatter and fatter until they finally con some shrink in to prescribing bariatric surgery, which comes with a host of long term complications, such as a lifetime risk of gastric ruptures. If you think heart burn is bad...

It's impossible to make being fat illegal. Constitutionally it would never stand, but that doesn't mean that the general public should cater to this pity party for the portly. There was a time when fat people got teased and ridiculed. Hey, hey, hey! It might not have been nice, but is it only a coincidence that fewer people were obese? The humiliation inspired a lot of people to get into shape. There might have been a few suicides, but isn't that part of natural selection? Now we live in this touchy feely era of tolerance and while there is no place for racial or sexual discrimination, when did fat people qualify for PC courtesy? I guess it's hard to have thick skin when you stretch it to its limits.

Nobody should be judged or criticized for things beyond their control. There is simply no place for intolerance in these matters, but obesity, unlike homosexuality, really is a choice. Fat people choose to be fat because they choose to overeat. They indulge cravings every day and fail to account for those indulgences with a little exercise. So why should society go out of its way to accommodate them? Why should people who choose to put themselves into that position not be held accountable? We see nothing wrong with looking down on those freaks who pierce every square inch of their faces, so why not pass judgment on the slops who eat two Big Macs for lunch everyday? I didn't know cows ate meat.

The problem isn't fast food or marketing or video games. The reason so many Americans are fat is because we went too far in prohibiting meanness. Bring back the bullies and make fat uncool again. Then people will stop making excuses and start taking personal responsibility. America needs to end its love affair with pseudo-psychology and get back to being tough.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


In spite of the fact that I am a self-described pinko liberal I strongly support the second amendment. Not only do I believe Americans have a right to bear arms, I think they have a duty to arm themselves. And not with single shot muskets or antique dueling pistols either. I have no qualms about people owning fully automatic weapons with anti-armor tipped ammunition. I believe that I should be able to mount a fully functional .50 caliber machine gun nest on my roof. And I should be able to purchase that with food stamps. After all I am a liberal.

That's a pretty scary thought, isn't it? A 250 pound tree hugger packing heat. Puts those PETA freaks into perspective doesn't it? Instead of throwing red paint on your fur coat I just might shoot your fat ass and make a nice jacket out of you. Imagine the candor with which I would reply to Joan Rivers asking me: Who are you wearing? J-Lo

Ok, I'm not that extreme. But I'm not being sarcastic. In fact, quite a few liberals don't have an issue with the second amendment. Those of us who admire Thomas Jefferson know full well that he intended the people to retain power through detent. By arming the general public you provide them with the means by which to overthrow a corrupt government and start from scratch. The tree of liberty must be refreshed, from time to time, with the blood of patriots, and tyrants.

No sir, it's not about hunting or providing for a militia in times of national defense. Jefferson believed in open rebellion and keeping a cache of formidable weapons is every American's duty. I firmly believe that. Had Jefferson envisioned the scope of our military might in this day and age, he would undoubtedly endorse the public availability of fully armed battle tanks. So when the NRA called me asking for support you'd think that I'd be more than happy to cut them a check, right?

The National Rifle Association champions the second amendment. They lobby for gun owners rights, fight anti-gun legislation and even seek to educate gun owners on proper weapons handling. But they'll never see a nickel from me.

The problem is that they, like most conservative groups, wrap themselves in the flags of all the wrong causes. Literally. Typical NRA rallies feature wild-eyed militia members, Confederate flag waving white supremacist and ultra-conservative religious zealots. Instead of sticking to the simple facts of the second amendment, the NRA gets involved with too many people that have a so-called values agenda. Too often those values are so far outside of the spirit of the Constitution that the platforms are actually quasi-fascist. Interesting that history's greatest liberal (Jesus) was a Jew, while the world's most horrific fascist (Hitler) was a Christian. Ironic really.

The NRA stands for all the wrong things. They embrace all the wrong people. How can I send my money to an organization that financial supports politicians who happily rape the environment, denigrate the poor and ignore pressing social issues in favor of greedy corporate interests. How can I support the NRA when the clowns who sit on its board fail to hold those politicians who only pander to gun owners? How can anybody support an organization that refuses to distances itself from hatemongers and hypocrites?

Like abortion, the second amendment is a fine talking point during the election season, but once the votes are tallied the issue is shoved to the back burner and left to simmer until the next election. Nothing ever gets done. Politics as usual.

And that's how the NRA likes it. The NRA makes billions of dollars playing patty cake with the second amendment. If they are ever successful in securing the rights of gun owners, they won't need to raise all of that lobby money and Wayne LaPierre will have to log his fat ass onto Monster so he can find a real job. The NRA is a scam.

That's why they cater to the NASCAR demographic. White trash. A typical NRA rally looks and sounds like a KKK rally, except most of the participants aren't wearing white sheets nor are they burning crosses. Usually. NRA rallies are actually great recruiting events for the KKK since they attract so many like minded people. Stupid, angry white people.

The NRA loves this crowd because they are so-blinded by their own prejudices that they can't see through the NRA's nonsense. Nobody takes the NRA to task over where its money is spent. Nobody calls the NRA out on endorsing politicians who fail to sponsor gun-friendly legislation. People just keep forking over membership dues and buying bumperstickers with witty catch phrases like: This Car is protected by Smith and Wesson. Hardy Har.

So I fight my fight individually. If the NRA ever decides to stake a stand and let its members know that the NRA is about one issue and the rest of the garbage needs to be checked at the door, I'll fill out a membership card and pay my dues, but until they kick out the trash I'll go it alone. It's hard enough to protect my money from crooks. I don't need to hand it over willingly.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Oil Companies Raping land for Spite.

Two oil companies have suddenly decided to pick on Ohioans by exercising obscure mineral rights clauses that allegedly allow them to clear public forests that may or may not be encroaching on their rights of way. It started when Marathon/Ashland acquired an easement from Columbia Gas Transmission that allowed Marathon/Ashland to clear a 100 foot wide swath of land through some of Ohio's most interesting forest lands in the Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio. Not only were trees cleared, but pristine creeks and rivers were fouled when the pipeline was buried beneath the beds.

Obviously leaks and ruptures are a pressing concern, but more disturbing is the insistence that a considerable amount of land must be kept clear for dubious security matters. However, Marathon didn't stop there. They cleared municipal park land in Columbus to widen the pipeline easement and have even marked large trees in established Columbus neighborhoods for removal, leading people to question the motives as it is unlikely that any terrorist would be able to gain access to a pipeline buried deep beneath urban yards or metro parks. Somebody would see them and police would be called. Perhaps the portion of the pipeline that cuts through rural forest land would be at limited risk, but in the city? Not likely.

Columbia added insult to injury when they notified state officials that they intended to lay waste to hundreds of acres of forest in the Mohican State Park and Forest near Mansfield, Ohio. Park officials are skeptical that Columbia needs to clear a 300 foot radius around every well and question the need for clearing a 50 foot easement along its pipeline that serpentines throughout the park. The energy brokers aren't apologizing. They claim they have a right to protect their wells and pipelines and insist that the citizens are lucky because they have a legal right to clear more. Shouldn't it be these companies that feel lucky that they are permitted such intimate access to public land in the first place? Consider the record profits.

It's a real tragedy. Ohio has limited forest land available for recreational use and the most attractive areas are those that these two oil mongers have attacked so heartlessly. Columbia gave Marathon an outmoded easement in Hocking Hills to provide Marathon a free pathway on which to increase its profits and Columbia is setting its sites on one of the most intriguing hemlock forests Ohio has to offer in Mohican. Why?

If security is really a concern, it would be easy to partner with state and local officials to closely monitor the pipelines and wells. It's not as though simply clearing easements will make the areas more secure, time and money will still have to be invested in observation and that's on top of the money being spent on clearing the trees. So why not skip the tree cutting and ask the state to lend the help of it's rangers? See if local Sheriffs can be asked to drive an ATV through the rural stretches of the pipelines. If it really is a security issue, there would be no shortage of help.

It just doesn't make sense. There's no logic to it. Unless you factor in spite. Who loves the forests? Liberal tree huggers. By exercising perceived right of way variances during a political era of business friendly legislation, these companies can take a huge cheap shot at the liberals where it will hurt them the most: protected public land. Take that, pinko.

It's bad enough we have to put up with their comprehensive pollution that spoils our water, air and view when they erect their oil transport operations on private property. Now they can walk right on to public land and chop down grand old trees leaving tick infested weed beds in their wake. It's not about security, it's a vendetta. Plain and simple.