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Weekly Wrap Up

March 7, 2011

Okay, I need a better name than weekly wrap up for this collection of odds and ends.  Any suggestions, put them in the comments and if I pick yours, I will send you a copy of my book, ‘You Are Not A Fit Person”.

First off, I would like to apologize for how few posts I have done in the recent past (and the fact that the weekly wrap up is on a Monday).  On top of focusing on family and work lately, I have been busy trying to raise my fitness level as well.  Although I am normally quite happy being about 15 pounds over my optimal weight and not sporting a cut physique, every once in a while I make the push to a more athletic self.  This year I have started early.  I have added snowshoe running to my regular activities, which is an incredible workout, as well as rediscovering downhill skiing, getting out for some cross country skiing and learning snowboarding with my kids this year.

All of this is happening in a time of year that is relatively and typically inactive for me.  To top it off, as many of you who read my last post know, I am having to find time to practice the piano and that is in direct competition with writing on the computer.  So, I will try to get back up to speed with my posting.  I have several very exciting things that I am working on (at least exciting to me), including transcribing an interview I did with Dr. Barry Sears that was eye opening, a proof of the futility of dieting and an all out assault on the questionable business practices of cereal companies.

In the meantime I give you:

Seriously, what is your point?!?!

The ongoing assault against the First Lady is bizarre. What is the point of this?  The claim is that the first lady is a hypocrite because she eats like hell but tells the country to eat well and exercise.  The earlier claim was that she couldn’t keep her husband from eating burgers in public, but she is trying to keep the country from eating burgers…  Both of these claims are bat shit crazy.  First and foremost, eating better has never been about not eating burgers from time to time, or not eating ribs ever again, it is about choosing the healthy choices more often.  It is about providing balance in your eating and reducing your daily calories.  To suggest that to be healthy you can never eat burgers or fries again is absurd.

Further any claims that the government shouldn’t get involved in our eating habits is equally laughable, as government subsidies and agricultural police has been key in the obesity crisis that we are in.  Certainly there are no shortage of critics of the political cartoon.

In the defense to this cartoon, the creators say:

As a classical liberal (aka Libertarian) I’m opposed to the nanny state. The first lady has every right to express her opinions about obesity or try to bring awareness to the issue, but when an unelected official starts dictating what industries should do, it deserves our scorn. She’s decided to tell schools what foods and drinks they can sell to kids. And now she started telling the National Restaurant Association (NRA) what they should be doing regarding portion sizes and options. When you combine her actions with recent attempts by other politicians like NYC mayor Bloomberg to legislate salt and transfats, it’s starting to come off like creeping fascism.

I find this argument even less persuasive than the rest.  First, the first Lady did not pass anything into law, that isn’t her role, nor within her abilities.  In what sense is she dictating to industry?  Is this not another case of  hyperbole?!?  Here is the evidence that they cite as her dictating to restaurants what they can and can’t do:

Speaking at the National Restaurant Association Monday, Mrs. Obama pleaded with restaurants small and large to take a little butter or cream out of their dishes, use low fat milk and provide apple slices or carrots as a default side dish on the kids’ menu.

Mrs. Obama said that Americans are spending half of their food dollars outside the home and eating a third of meals in restaurants. She asked the restaurants to rethink the food they offer and reformulate their menus to help combat childhood obesity.

I hate the politicizing of what is simply an attempt to help a nation that has lost its sense of what is healthy to eat and how much activity we should be getting.  My biggest problem for years was not knowing how to eat or how much to exercise.  The former is shockingly small and the latter is shockingly large.  I hate the amount of crazy going on, but more importantly, I hate the ugliness that is behind this message.  The attacks are so bitter and angry I find it disturbing to see this.

I was never a fan of the ‘Just Say No’ campaign of Nancy Reagan, but I did appreciate that she was bringing to light a serious public health issue and using her power as a first lady to bring about change.  I didn’t think it would work, and I felt it was wrongheaded, and I still do, but I support her trying to help with a serious issue.  We all learned a lot from that, as we hopefully will all learn a lot from Michelle Obama’s attempts at finding ways for a country to get healthy if they choose to do so.

The pressure on McDonalds continues:

On a slightly different note, as everyone knows, there are a couple of issues that I have problems with about one of the largest food chains in the world, McDonalds.  The happy meal and Ronald McDonald bug me.  I think they are wrong.  I think they are clearly targeting children at a young age, too young to figure out that they are being marketed to, and getting us all hooked on unhealthy food selections.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the unhealthy food selections that McDonalds offers, and I don’t want to see those go away, just the marketing of those choices.  Hell, I have no idea how many hangovers the Quarter Pounder with Cheese has gotten me through, but that number is far from insignificant.  I am not the only one who has this problem with Happy Meals as late last year, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest began a lawsuit against the McDonalds happy meal.

Although the most interesting thing about this suit is the fact that McDonalds is not going down easy, but instead opening itself up to ridicule to fight for what clearly appears to be infant bribery (there is a great article about McDonalds gamble here), there were some other interesting facts in the lawsuit:

In a CSPI study of 44 McDonald’s outlets, French fries were automatically included in Happy Meals 93 percent of the time. Soft drinks were the first choice offered to customers 78 percent of the time.

According to CSPI, a reasonable lunch for a typical sedentary four- to eight-year-old should not exceed a third of a day’s worth, or about 430 calories. Of the Happy Meal combinations that are possible, only a handful fall under that threshold—and even those have more than one-third of day’s worth of sodium. But none of the Happy Meals that are served with fries or a soda are healthy for children aged four to eight, according to CSPI. A meal of a cheeseburger, fries, and a Sprite has 640 calories, 7 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat, and 35 grams—or 9 teaspoons—of sugar.

“McDonald’s congratulates itself for meals that are hypothetically possible, though it knows very well that it’s mostly selling burgers or chicken nuggets, fries, and sodas to very young children,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “In other words, McDonald’s offerings consist mostly of fatty meat, fatty cheese, French fries, white flour, and sugar—a narrow combination of foods that promotes weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease—and may lead to a lifetime of poor diets.”

So that is the current status of the happy meal, but what about Ronald.  Well, what is going on with him is actually more interesting.  Ronald is feeling the pressure too, just not legislative pressure.  Ronald is being squeezed out by better markets

As McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCDNews) morphs into a more upscale chain, there’s one person you won’t see munching salads, sipping a cappuccino and surfing the Web: Ronald McDonald, age 48.

While Ronald still plays an ambassador role, he isn’t tied to the menu, says spokeswoman Danya Proud. Even as mascots like Burger King’s King shill on TV and the Web, Ronald has ceded the limelight to budding singers and dancers who sell mochas and frappes — not Happy Meals.

“We haven’t been seeing a lot of Ronald McDonald,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “They’re beginning to appeal to much more sophisticated individuals.”

Really, it is all about coffee:

McDonald’s has credited McCafe coffee for revenue growth in six of the past seven quarters — the new adults-only ambiance leaves little room for Ronald.

“He kind of represents the old McDonald’s, with the high- fat content foods that are kind of falling out of favor,” said Bob Dorfman, the executive creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. “It’s clear that McDonald’s is advertising coffee, they’re not advertising burgers.”

Still, I am afraid that Ronald isn’t gone for good, just on a temporary hiatus:

“They haven’t given up on Ronald at all, they haven’t given up on kids,” said Malcolm Knapp, a New-York based restaurant consultant. “They just changed the marketing mix.”

I still hate Pop Culture Magazines:

I have been biting my tongue lately, keeping in my anger and frustration with what is clearly an industry of lazy soulless hacks selling complete and utter crap in the form of unrealistic expectations and childishly written falsifications, but then I saw this:

THIS IS THE COVER OF A NATIONAL MAGAZINE!!!  So far as I can tell, Kendra is a not exceedingly attractive person with no discernible talent who had sex with a very old magazine tycoon with the sole intent of becoming famous, who then later marketed her sex tape behind closed doors while publicly claiming that she was upset about it, all the while publicly gelding her husband.  If even half of this is true, this is not the person to put on the cover of a magazine.  Who cares about her?  I can’t imagine a person alive giving the slightest care about this woman who is, at the most generous, mediocre in her best quality ( looks) and otherwise appears barren of any redeemable traits.  What could anyone find interesting in this marginally attractive fame whore?

So, my diatribe about Kendra aside, OK magazine is offering you Kenrda’s easy diet and exercise plan that helped her to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks…  They claim it could work for you too…  I have ranted enough about the sheer stupidity of short diet claims by magazines, and probably too much about celebrity diets, but seriously…. 10 pounds in 2 weeks?!?!  10 pounds in 2 weeks isn’t real weight loss.  It is mostly water weight.  We can all lose 5 pounds in several days without even much effort, just by reducing sodium and timing our weigh-in well.  Some athletes can lose 10 or more pounds in 24 hours.  This isn’t the weight loss you want, nor is it going to last.  Please, please, please stop giving these people your money.  I don’t want to become a recluse.  I don’t want to have to shun society and go live in a cave, but if Kendra, Paris and Kim continue to dominate the public stage I don’t know what other choice I have…  I don’t know what choice any of us have.

Of course, I had just shaken off that assault on my intelligence, the massive blunt assault on all our intelligences, when I got hit with this one:

Seriously?!!?  Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know that Life & Style Magazine is one of the worst offenders when it comes to touching up photographs?!?  Now they are coming clean.  They are outing Holly (another of the magazine tycoons ‘girlfriends’) and Kim as having to admit that they have body issues, including cellulite.  Complete with exclusive unretouched photos.

These are two more talentless pretty faces who have no apparent qualities, literally no skills in life, so why wouldn’t we put them on the cover of a magazine.  Don’t we all need a little more exposure to vacuous girls.

As I was waiting for my groceries to scan through I perused the magazine for these ‘supposed’ photos, and instead found a couple of pretty plain jane celebrity shots of the 2 girls and another beach body expose of other celebrities with cellulite problems.  Life & Style, do  you not understand how offensive this is?!?!  You show models in touched up glamour shots on the cover of magazine after magazine and then act like you understand the plight of women in society.  What next, the Life & Style expose on how to avoid learning bad body image messages, aimed at teen girls?!?!   Unfortunately before I could put the magazine back, I was confronted with this back cover:

Sketchers, you are officially on my watch list!!!  For starters can we give the totally untalented Kim Kardashian any more money?!! More to the point though, she doesn’t wear these shoes, these shoes weren’t even invented when we were first introduced to Kim’s large and glorious backside, and these shoes do nothing to create a body like Kim’s.  There is scant evidence that rocker style shoes do anything for fitness and if they do, it is a marginal and minimal, incremental improvement when used during fitness activities.  The statement, ‘The newest move in fitness…is tying your shoelaces!’ is offensive on so many levels.  Getting fit and staying fit is hard work, especially as you get older.  It takes a hell of a lot more than just tying shoes or even wearing shoes.  Kim Kardashian knows that it takes  a lot more, but she is happy to take the paycheck.  Why would she care if she is being used to mislead the public into thinking that buying sketchers will instantly give them great bodies.  Why would anyone care.

Wow… I am still angry days after seeing the magazines… Way to go.  By the way, what skills do you need to be an editor of one of these magazines?  How do you defend your work?  How do you look in a mirror or talk to people about your job?

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