Monday, August 28, 2006

Supersize Me

Last night I watched Morgan Spurlock's film, "Supersize Me." Spurlock's the guy who did the experiment of eating nothing but McDonald's for 30 days to see what the effect might be on his body and spirit. Well, even the three doctors he consulted prior to and throughout the experiment did not anticipate how quickly his numbers (the level of his cholesterol and many other constituents of his blood) would go to hell. And he gained 25 pounds.

I was amazed that, after about three weeks, when all three doctors warned him to abandon the experiment, he persevered and finished, and only then went on an eight-week regimen to try to get his numbers back to their original excellent levels. I couldn't have done it.

Hard movie to watch. Made me feel really thankful that I've never been hooked on "fast food" and have eaten Big Macs, Chicken McNuggets and Whoppers only rarely. "Hooked" isn't just a metaphor. Spurlock's investigative reporting documented that the American food industry's tactics for attracting children are as disturbing as those of the cigaret industry have been. McDonalds especially, with its playground, its toys, its clown....

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Bush Mercenaries

Did you realize (I didn't) that Bush is using mercenaries to collect federal income taxes? I found it out by reading Paul Krugman's August 21 op-ed column¹ in the New York Times, "Tax Farmers, Mercenaries and Viceroys," which concludes: "This administration has thrown away centuries of lessons about how to make government work. No wonder it has failed at everything except fearmongering."

My friend Keith S. comments:
With all of these mercenaries that the US government is hiring, what will happen with them if the next administration shows a bit more sense and fires the lot of them? Will they meekly return to being shop clerks, factory workers, middle-level managers? I doubt it. This issue has been of some concern to me for over a year. It is frightening what they could do, and more than a few of them are capable of doing just about anything that would involve toting a gun and making a buck. The future has many problems. Many of which were created by our current administration's lack of intelligence (and by that I mean their stupidity, not their lack of information).
________________
1. Available on the web only to Times Select subscribers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

“...clarify the different points of view”

“‘What matters is that in this campaign that we clarify the different points of view,’ Mr. Bush said [yesterday]...,” according to Jim Rutenberg in today's (New York Times (“In Election Push, Bush Faults Talk of Iraq Pullout”).

Uh, oh. Watch out, Bush is about to try to remember what Karl Rove told him to say to try to put a cement suit on all opposition....

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Haiku

Three naked poplars,
. . .silent above russet-leafed
slope of steaming lake.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Caution about Oliver Stone's new film

Oliver Stone's new movie, "World Trade Center" (which I haven't seen yet), is supposedly "apolitical."

But yesterday on TomPaine.Com[mon Sense] Ruth Rosen, in her article, "Oliver Stone And The Big Lie," wrote:
The Big Lie, first coined by Adolf Hitler in his 1925 autobiography Mein Kampf, was made famous by Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister for the Third Reich. The idea was simple enough: Tell a whopper (the larger the better) often enough and most people will come to accept it as the truth.
Ms. Rosen thinks that Stone, by failing to clarify the facts about who attacked us on September 11, 2001, undercuts the historical value of his film
and reinforces the Biggest Lie of the last five years—still believed by far too many Americans—that in Iraq, we are fighting those who attacked our country.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hey, Bush finally did something good!

I was in Columbia, Pennsylvania the last three days, for training. To the east of Columbia is Lancaster, in Pennsylvania Dutch country. To the west is York, home of a huge Harley-Davidson plant. You may have heard that Bush visited Lancaster and toured Harley-Davidson yesterday afternoon. Well, everyone in the class, including the instructor, wanted to avoid the "presidential" traffic congestion, so instead of going to 3 or 3:30, class ended about noon.

As a result, my wife and I were able to drive out of Columbia and reach home almost before dark, rather than sometime after midnight as we had been expecting. Thank you, "President" Bush.

Of course, by leaving early we were also able to avoid the psychic toxins that flooded into that otherwise beautiful countryside with the arrival of our sham president and some of his sychophants.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"...leadership that has nothing to hope for but fear itself"

As I rode through the middle of our nation's capital yesterday, I was struck by the bad vibes. A toxicity has settled over the Capitol Mall in the few short but interminable-seeming years of our pissant "president" and his money party, who at least now seem to realize that the only card they have to play is fear-mongering (see Paul Krugman's op-ed piece in today's New York Times, available only through subscription to Times Select).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Yet another thought about eating

This afternoon my wife and I had another third of our respective Cadbury candy bars (the ones I purchased last Sunday and mentioned in a blog afterwards). Eating such a small portion is new to me—small, but it's the amount defined as a serving on the wrapper. I ate it slowly, in very small bites. Wondrously, I couldn't remember ever enjoying chocolate more, or remembering many times enjoying it as much.

I think that such slow, appreciative eating must be what is meant by savoring. And it seems to me that savoring might be an effective technique for adjusting to eating less. And not only is savored food more enjoyable, but eating slowly gives your stomach a chance to catch up and tell you it's satisfied before you've overly filled it.

An old friend who admits to being ten or twenty pounds heavier than he'd like to be, but who also seems to regard it as virtually impossible to do anything about it (such as eating less), pronounced that I have "amazing will power" to have lost twenty pounds recently.

Will power? I really don't think so. The benefits of losing unwanted weight are so obvious, it seems that all a person has to do to incorporate a regime of eating less into his or her "life style" is to remember and celebrate those benefits. Moving more nimbly, bending more comfortably. Buttoning pants without having to suck in and pinch the abdomen. Looking better (especially in the mirror). Receiving nice compliments. Feeling better, not only physically but also mentally—and even morally, through having a more flattering self estimation.

And actually enjoying food more, through savoring rather than devouring it. Now that's a surprising benefit, don't you think?

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Bush administration on trial?

"A few months from now, after midterm elections, if Democrats regain a majority in Congress—or if Democrats regain the Executive office in three years—almost the entire Bush administration could be standing trial."

That's the lead to a must-read piece in today's TomPaine.com ("Criminal Administration," by Jennifer Van Bergen).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Why Bush's party deserves to be despised

Bob Herbert writes today in The New York Times:
The war in Iraq will be remembered as one of the greatest exercises in systematic governmental deceit in U.S. history. But the Iraq fiasco is just the most stunning and tragic example of a style of governing and politicking that has become second nature to the Bush administration and much of the national Republican establishment...

In a move that was typically and patently deceitful, Republicans in Congress tried to pass a minimum wage measure last week in which the biggest winners would have been some of the wealthiest people in America...

In exchange for this estate tax bonanza for the fabulously wealthy, the G.O.P. was willing to approve a $2.10-an-hour increase, stretched over three years, in the miserly $5.15-an-hour minimum wage. It was made clear [emphasis mine] that any Democrats who dared oppose this raid on the Treasury would be targeted by Republicans as obstructionists blocking a sorely needed wage hike for the lowest-paid workers in the nation...

The National Republican Senatorial Committee declared that Maria Cantwell, a Democratic senator from Washington who voted against the bogus bill, “decided that giving in to pressure from her party’s leadership was more important than voting to raise the federal minimum wage.”

Senator Cantwell, who is up for re-election this year, favors an increase in the minimum wage, as does her party’s leadership. It has been the Democratic Party that has been pushing for years for an increase in the minimum wage, but there is no room for that reality in the G.O.P.’s corrosive culture of deceit.
Mr. Herbert's article appears on the web, but by"Times Select" subscription only.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

More Reflections on Eating

I seem to be blessed with an easier ability than many other people to replace an eating habit with a "not-eating" habit. But I suspect it isn't just a matter of replacing one habit with another, but also a matter of mindfulness.

For example, last night before I went to bed I toasted three very thin slices of Pepperridge Farm white bread, buttered the toast lightly, and ate it with Smuckers strawberry preserves. Delicious, of course. However, I noticed this morning that I felt less well than I would have felt if I had not had a snack. In the past, I would have shrugged this off as "the cost of pleasure" (or some such rationalization), but now, under my new "eat as little as possible" discipline, I file this away to consider when deciding whether to have such a snack on a future occasion.

And, finally, I have invested in the sense of well-being that I derive from knowing that I am "eating wisely." Sort of a self-image thing, I guess. I like myself better as someone who can button his pants easily, bend over comfortably to tie his shoes, move lithely (or as lithely as an aging, virtually one-eyed guy can expect), than as...well, what I had been for several years leading up to that fateful day I tipped the doctor's scale at 180.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Procrastination Update

About 10 a.m. I've moved the files out onto the floor and am about to retrieve the boxes for sending the files to university archives....

4:20 p.m. Practically done. Three boxes for archive and about a box worth of paper trashed.

I do understand better now, though, why I was procrastinating. Everything else I've found to do instead for four years was a lot more fun...but it does feel good to have it done at last. Plus I've got some floor space and shelf space free now.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Procrastination

There's a simple clerical task that I've successfully put off doing for several years. This morning, like an unexpected gift, I noticed that I am now ready to do the thing. In fact, in the time that's elapsed since my noticing my readiness I could almost have done it already—already have boxed up most of those four or five feet of old files for university archives....

But I haven't. I've been glorying in the heady lightness of a sense of freedom or power...or something, anyway, that is the obverse of the oppressive feeling that had always accompanied my resistance to doing the job. I've been enjoying the remarkable contrast between the two states.

Tony Robbins developed a procedure for overcoming procrastination (essentially by becoming aware of the rewards to be realized by doing so and/or the punishments for continuing not to). But I didn't follow any procedure. I didn't do anything. I just realized in a moment that I was now free to act. And it felt so good, I think that I'm still...procrastinating just a little...in order to draw out the feeling.

I promise to report tomorrow whether I finally actually did pack up those files....

Diets

I've never paid attention to diets, of which there must be hundreds. They always struck me as fads, missing the point that healthy eating is a matter of eating a balance of foods in moderation.

Nevertheless, as I've aged and the pleasure to be had from eating has taken on more relative significance, I put on a few pounds over my supposed ideal weight (163, for my height and frame). While I was already noticing some difficulty buttoning my pants and bending over to tie my shoes, this seemed a small price to pay for that contented feeling of a stuffed stomach. (And, ah, the delight, immediately after a large dinner, of consuming a whole bag of freshly popped Orville Redenbacher's natural light popcorn, one plump white kernal at a time!)

But recently something happened to get my attention. I tipped the scale in a doctor's office at 180, my highest ever recorded weight. That same day I decided to change my approach. A story my wife told me pointed the way. When she was a child, she said, the fat lady who lived down the street was told by her doctor that she simply had to lose weight. He told her it wouldn't be easy, but it would be simple: Eat only half as much. My wife didn't know what happened next for the fat lady, but the story told me exaclty what was going to happen next for me.

I knew that the "rule" I'd been following when it came to eating was "eat as much as possible [without making myself sick]." For example, I loved Mr. Goodbars. If they were on sale for three for a dollar, I'd buy three...and eat them all as soon as I got out of the store. Now, applying the advice to the fat lady, I decided to "eat as little as possible." I'd not take seconds. I'd turn down offers of cookies or donuts at work. I'd eat only about half as much peanut butter for lunch, and on half an apple rather than eight or ten Ritz crackers.

Yesterday we purchased a bathroom scale. I stepped on the floor model of the one I liked. The digital readout made me like this one even more: 154.2.

On the way home I stopped at a Kroger to see if any chocolate bars were on sale. Ah, Cadbury 5.5 ounces for one dollar. I bought a dark chocolate for myself and a caramel center for my wife.

But we still haven't opened them. Go figure.

"Slick Hilly"?

Bob Herbert in today's New York Times:
Mrs. Clinton is just one of the many supporters of the war who should have known better from the beginning, and who are now (with the wheels falling off the Iraqi cart and public support for the war plummeting) engaged in the tricky ritual of rationalization.

...Despite the rationalizations now suddenly on the lips of so many, the problem with the current war in Iraq is not the way it was conducted, but the fact of the war itself. It was launched amid blinding, billowing clouds of deceit. There was never any legitimate reason for the war. Iraq had not attacked the U.S. and there was no imminent threat of attack.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Is point of view an illness?

A Bushitist of my acquaintance tells me that it's only because of my point of view that I see Bush in such a bad light. If I could only change my point of view I might be cured and see what a really grand and glorious guy he is and what a great president.

Of course, to me, if point of view is a malady, then this Bushitist is the one with an illness, and we only have to wait to see which one of us dies of "point-of-view-itis" first in order to know which view of Bush was the fatal one.

But a critical mass of us need to get clear on Bush pronto. I don't see that people with one point of view or the other are going to drop dead en masse anytime soon. And anyway, if point of view is an illness, maybe it's more like eczema—something that doesn't go away but we don't die from either....

But point of view, literally, has to do with the position from which one is looking. From where I stand the light on Bush reveals...what I see. Maybe the Bushitist can't see it because he's in a close embrace with the convivial fratboy and has been flattered with a cute nickname, like "Shitty" or "Turd Blossom."

Saturday, August 5, 2006

My Body Tells Me So

We made love a week ago,
        Afterward I said done.
            I felt relieved, free of you.
                But now you're standing in my door,
My body lets me know
        I cannot live with none,
          I know I have to be with you.
                Let's make love...some more...

Friday, August 4, 2006

"My goodness!"

Yesterday New York Senator Hillary Clinton stood up to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and he tried to stand back....

In an e-mail from Senator Clinton today, she tells me that:
Yesterday, when Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he couldn't answer my questions about the Bush administration's enormous policy failures in Iraq.

I asked him about the administration's gross underestimation of the nature and strength of the Iraqi insurgency as well as the sectarian violence. And I asked him why, when 2006 is supposed to be a year of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, we are moving in the opposite direction, increasing instead of decreasing the forces in Iraq.

Not only were his answers inadequate, but Secretary Rumsfeld denied making overly optimistic assurances to the Committee in the past, claims that were easily refuted with a simple look at the record.

Our military deserves new leadership that can give us a fighting chance to turn the situation in Iraq around—starting now. It's time for President Bush to accept Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation.

As I told Rumsfeld yesterday, the collective common sense of Americans neither understands nor approves of the way the Bush administration is handling the war in Iraq. It is time for a change in policy in Iraq—and a change in leadership in Washington.

Thank you, Democrats!

Congratulations to the Democrats and a couple of moderate Republicans who stood up to Bill Frist's juggernaut in the Senate to kill the devious bill that linked passage of a minimum-wage increase to a major reduction in the estate tax. (The bill would also have significantly lowered the pay of minimum wage workers who get tips in some states.)

Seems we still do have some checks and balances in our federal government!

Folk definition of "Stalinist big lie"

In commenting on an article in Raleigh's News & Observer on July 30, I pointed out that Karl Rove (and George W. Bush) have "long been experts in the Stalinist art of the big lie." In today's N&O, two other readers make the same point, oberving, "Isn't [Rove's saying that journalists play a 'corrosive role' in politics] the pot calling the kettle black?"

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Bush and the Pope

The Pope is visting Washington, D.C., and President Bush takes him out for an afternoon on the Potomac, cruising on the Presidential yacht, the Sequoia. They're admiring the sights when, all of a sudden, the Pope's hat (zucchetto) blows off his head and out into the water. Secret Service guys start to launch a boat, but President Bush waves them off, saying, "Wait, wait. I'll take care of this. Don't worry." Bush then steps off the yacht onto the surface of the water and walks out to the Holy Father's zucchetto, bends over picks it up, and then walks back to the yacht and climbs aboard. He hands the Pope's zucchetto back to him amid stunned silence.

The next morning, the headlines in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Atlanta Constitution, the Washington Post, the Boston Herald, the Buffalo News, the Houston Chronicle, the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal, the Minneapolis Tribune, the Denver Post, the Albuquerque Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle all proclaim:
Bush Can't Swim!
Are we liberals really that myopic? If so, it's probably because Bush has poked his finger in our eye a few times too many.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Day 1,231 of Bush's Iraq War

That reminder may be necessary, because, according to Frank Rich in Sunday's New York Times, "On the Big Three networks' evening newcasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60 percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report."

But isn't Bush's war bigger news than ever, really, the fact that We the People allow it to continue...?