Friday, May 31, 2002

Christianity: Revealed Truth or Flight of Fancy?

J.P. Holding of Tektonics Apologetics Ministries has a brilliant article entitled "The Impossible Faith or How Not to Start an Ancient Religion." Holding makes the case that if Christianity was a sham cooked up by some 1st century jokers, it would have never survived.
Coming Soon

I'm planning on an analysis of the 4 congressional races in Mississippi sometime in the near future when my feet aren't aching from a long day at work. I know y'all are all tingling with anticipation.

Deroy Murdock has a short review on the Dave Matthews Band. In his piece, he mentions that DMB is releasing a new studio album this July. Presumably, the songs are from their aborted collaboration with producer Steve Lillywhite a few years ago.

Monday, May 27, 2002

That's my Bush!

El Presidente laid the smack down on reporter David Gregory at a press conference with Frog, er, French president Jacque Chirac.

Monday, May 20, 2002

I'm currently working on a little redesign on the site, mainly just changing the colors. I still have to change the colors for visited and unvisited links to make them more readable.

Also, I know that I've been posting quite a lot less lately. [Imagine a sad, lonely tune is played on a violin] This sad fact is due to that I have 1.) a job, 2.) a slow dial-up Internet connection. What's my job, you ask? Well, I work at a bagel shop.

"You, who makes much of the fact that you are a Proud Southerner, works at a BAGEL shop? Stop pulling my chain..." No, I'm not joking. The store is owned by 3 cardiologists (and their wives) who work or at one worked with my mother, a cardiovascular technologist, at the city's hospital. Plus, the manager used to be a X-ray tech there and is good friend with my female parental unit. Talk about having connections!

Speaking of connections, this brings us to reason numero dos: dial-up. It takes decades to even check my e-mail and centuries to load a new page in the browser, thus, the number of web sites that I visit in a couple of hours at night is very limited.

But you know what? If these are the worse problems that I have to face right now, I'm living a pretty blessed life.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Very interesting

Jonathan Last, of the Weekly Standard, has a column that defends the Empire in the Star Wars movies. He also has this to say:

In "Attack of the Clones," a mysterious figure, Count Dooku, leads a separatist movement of planets that want to secede from the Republic. Dooku promises these confederates smaller government, unlimited free trade, and an "absolute commitment to capitalism." Dooku's motives are suspect--it's not clear whether or not he believes in these causes. However, there's no reason to doubt the motives of the other separatists--they seem genuinely to want to make a fresh start with a government that isn't bloated and dysfunctional.

The Republic, of course, is eager to quash these separatists, but they never make a compelling case--or any case, for that matter--as to why, if they are such a freedom-loving regime, these planets should not be allowed to check out of the Republic and take control of their own destinies.

He supports secession and yet praises the Empire. This surely will thow the paleocons in a loop.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Taxing my patience

Politically speaking, things have been jumping in Tennessee. Since the summer of 2000, our governor, Don Sundquist along with state Sen. Bob Rochelle and Assembly leader Jim Naifeh have been trying to impose a state income tax. The legislators are predictably Democrats, always wanting more of citizens’ paycheck. However, Dandy Don is a Republican who on 8th February 1999, after his 1998 re-election, made this declaration:

"You will hear from those who say we ought to preserve special breaks for some businesses and
impose an income tax on working Tennesseans. That's not tax relief; it's not tax reform; it's not tax simplification; and it's not tax fairness. All an income tax does is raise the tax burden on Tennesseans and create a way to finance the easy and endless expansion of government. Tennessee does not need a state income tax."

Just what happened to him? Are some liberal partisans holding his family hostage somewhere? Come on, Don, tell us!

Fortunately, many Tennessee citizens have over the last two years said “Get your stinking paws off my money, you d*** dirty apes!” Especially crucial in this fight has been Nashville talk radio host Phil Valentine who has done brilliant work organizing people in analyzing the TN budget and marshalling the anti-tax protesters.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

It's peanut butter jelly time!
Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

The Drudge Report, um, reports today that Ann Coulter has written a new book named Slander to be released in late June. Miss Conservative Firecracker details in her unique style of the liberal bias in the media.

Monday, May 13, 2002

Over the last week, VH1 has been running its "100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders." The main thing that I noticed is how many of these people are, well, dead.

99. "No Rain" by Blind Melon-- lead singer overdosed

82. "I Know What Boys Like" by The Waitresses-- lead singer died of illness

I would have listed more, but navigating through the website is time consuming on a slowwwwww connection which as mine.
Didn't get the memo

Flipping through the channels last night, I came across C-SPAN's coverage of Dick Gephardt's appearance at a Democratic fundraiser in New Hampshire. At the very end and after he answered a few short questions from a local network affliate reporter, he hopped into a huge SUV. A Ford Explorer, I believe it was. Apparently the House Minority Leader hasn't read the latest environmentalist wackos' pamphlets that quite clearly show that SUV's are responsible for every ill in the world. Got the sniffles? Caused by the toxic fumes of the Sport Utility Vehicle. Can't open a candy bar wrapper? Caused by a SUV crushing a fuel-efficient, albeit puny, car with the particles from the explosion partially blocking the sun, preventing vegetables from creating the most amount of vitamins necessary for human muscle strength.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

By special request of Ms. Lee Ann of the Spinsters, I offer this critique of a leftist adventure into foolishness.
[my responses in bold.]

For NW conservatives, why is Mideast so clear?
by Bruce Ramsey

American conservatives have joined the army of Israel. At least one might think so, judging from their flagship organs.

And Mr. Ramsey has joined the army of the nitwits.

National Review has been at war since Sept. 11; it recently had Yasser Arafat on its cover, looking like a vicious toad.

When would he have preferred NR to declare war, huh? How about when Saturn is rising in Sagittarius?
Ah, I can see it now. Jonah Goldberg driving a tank; William F. Buckley pitching grenades; Rich Lowry flying a B-1 bomber to nuke Mecca...
As for Mr. Arafat’s portrait, well, the artist can’t help it if he looks like a vicious toad in real life.

The Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal side with Israel. Here in Seattle, many at a recent pro-Israel demonstration at Westlake Center were recruited by Seattle's Republican radio, KVI.

Here at the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, we just want to say how proud we are with our minions’ quick and massive responses. They shall be rewarded with free Rush Limbaugh books and handsome checks from the Scaife Foundation.

I don't get it. What conservative value is achieved by underwriting Israel's war?

I have a feeling that there are many things that he doesn’t get. What value do we get? Let’s see, we are allowing the only country in the Mid-East with the constitutional rule of law and an appreciation for individual rights to survive in a region severely lacking in both.

"Democracy," said a Seattle protester on TV. Indeed, Israel is a democracy. It is also a Jewish state based on religious law. Anyone of the Jewish faith, but not any Christian or any Muslim, may emigrate to Israel and become a citizen.

Well, Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people. Get it? Jewish. If you wish to live in Israel, but are not Jewish, you can do so. This is very different from say Iran or even moderate (snort, snort; chuckle, chuckle) Saudi Arabia where you can’t at the same time live in those places and practice any other religion besides Islam, let alone be a citizen.

Well, the world has Islamic states and Christian states, and so it has a Jewish state. That is all right. But don't expect Israeli democracy to be of any use to a Palestinian. And Israel did not invade Palestinian territory in order to offer democracy to them. This is a fight over land.

Mr. Ramsey ought to proud to be able to cram so much idiocy into only 5 short sentences. “This is a fight over land.” No, this is a fight to allow Israelis to be able to live in peace. To live not having to worry that a bomb might explode in front on them while they’re sitting in a restaurant, dancing in a discothèque, or driving to the store to buy some milk ( in gallon containers that Mr. Engel has problems lifting).

The American right equates Israel's "war on terrorism" to the same article declared by President Bush. But "war on terror" is not what it is. Terror is spread by both sides; it is easily created by government employees in airplanes and tanks. At least the man with the dynamite belt gets to kill only once.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, cycle of violence, blah, blah, blah……

In any case, terrorism is a strategy. You don't make war on a strategy; you make war on an opponent. Ours is al-Qaida, a private enterprise. Israel's is Palestine, a nation.

Okay, let’s call it a “war on terrorists.” Happy now?

Some American conservatives are so bloodthirsty it is obscene. To the Vietnam generation, this may seem natural, but it is not. Before the Cold War, American conservatives were the small-government, mind-our-own-business party. They opposed foreign wars on the doctrine of President Washington.

Take comfort, Mr. Ramsey, the Old Right banner is proudly carried by the likes of and They whine that they are the true Right and that the neoconservatives are a bunch of evil warmongering Socialists. Of course, this doesn’t stop them from favorably mentioning articles from far Leftist and Socialist websites that denounce the war on terror.
Historically, the war party was on the left. It was the progressives like Theodore Roosevelt who in 1915 were hot for fighting the kaiser, and the New Dealers who in 1940 itched to pick a fight with Hitler. Conservatives were wary. Their first reaction was: Is this our war?

Sometimes it is — but often not.

Now this brings us to an interesting point: many currently on the Left (Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal) have nothing but scorn for America’s military effort in pursuing the terrorist responsible for the 9-11 attacks.

In 1999, the House Republicans voted against Clinton's war on Serbia. In the Senate, Slade Gorton said it served no American interest. Here were conservatives acting like conservatives.

The last time I checked, American soldiers weren’t stationed or fighting in Israel along side with the Israeli Defense Forces. Clinton’s Merry Expedition Into the Balkans involved actual U.S. military forces putting themselves into harm’s way. We sell armament to help Israel defense herself.

But not with Israel. Our policy regarding Israel is not driven by interests but by sentimentalities, and by a fear that whoever speaks against Israel's political aims will be labeled anti-Semitic.

Yeah, we do have a ridiculous attachment to nations that closely share our own Western values.

Logically, criticism of Israel's political aims no more makes one anti-Jewish than criticism of Burma's political aims makes one anti-Buddhist. But we deal here with a taboo.

You’re right, Ramsey, criticizing Israel doesn’t automatically make you an anti-Semite. However, many Israeli-criticizers, like Joseph Sobran, titter awfully close to it. [BTW, The Midwest Conservative Journal has an excellent critique of a column be Mr. Sobran.]

The left now breaks it by speaking up for Palestine. Good for them! I look to the right, and ask: Where are you?

We’re on the side that has an appreciation of democratic and constitutional rule, not one run by a thugocracy. Of course, the left just loves thugocracies like Cuba, so I guess loving genocide bombers isn’t too far of a stretch for them.

Is this our war?

Is this war really about Israel's right to exist? Which side has pushed its opponents closest to non-existence? Which side has laid claim to its opponent's land with fortified settlements? Where are the battles taking place?

Oh, Oh! I know! I know! Please call on me for I am ever so smart!
Which side cheered in the streets when cold blooded killers crashed planes into World Trade Centers and the Pentagon? Which side educates its children in school into hating the other side? Which side sends those children to strap on explosives and destroy themselves, taking along some children of the opposing side with them? I’ll give you a hint, it’s the side that doesn’t speak Hebrew as a first language.
My advice to Mr. Ramsey is to read the Derb’s latest and greatest piece on NRO. (scroll down for the link)

My sympathies should be clear. But I am not arguing that America should switch sides. I question whether we should take sides at all.
What is our interest?

Such a selfish question. But every other country asks it. And everywhere it is the conservative party that asks it first. It is their job.

It’s also our job to point out and mock unceasingly lefty nonsense, like what I’m doing right now.

American conservatives should be asking whether our government's sponsorship of Israel makes America more secure.

We have and it does. Ending our support for Israel would indicate to the world that we will abandon key allies when it suits us. Wouldn’t U.S. friends like Great Britain be less inclined to aid us in the future when our interests are at stake (as Mr. Ramsey defines it)? Also, let’s say we abandon Israel. Afterwards Iran and Iraq might launch an attack and demolish Israel. What would we do then? Write an angry letter to the UN? Or would we have to response militarily to prevent them from targeting us next?

They may take Sept. 11 as an answer. Or the Ressam case. Or take the statement this week by insurance billionaire Warren Buffett, who said, "We're going to have something in the way of a major nuclear event in this country." Buffett (son of one of those old antiwar conservatives, Rep. Howard Buffett, R-Neb.) listed the two obvious targets as Washington, D.C., and New York.

And what would be No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5? What number might be assigned to the hometown of Boeing and Microsoft?

And don’t forget Starbucks.

I don't want my city to run risks of that kind. If it must for defense of the United States, then it must. But if the cause is somebody else's, someone — some conservative — should ask whether this country would be safer, and morally cleaner, to think of America first.

America first, huh? I believe Dr. Seuss during his career as a leftist political cartoonist made endless fun of those who held that tenet right before WWII.

Friday, May 10, 2002

Well, today I pack up and head back home up to Clarksville, TN. But fret not all 6 readers, I shall still blog over the summer, mainly during the late evening. The bad thing about going back home is that I will be using a 56K modem, though on our ISP, it runs closer toward 26.4K. But on the plus side, I get to eat my mama's cooking.
Christopher Hitchens masterfully blasts David Brock's "Blinded by the Right." And keep in mind that Mr. Hitchens plays on the Left side of the political playground.

I'm linking to "The Nation"; definitely one of the signs of the end times.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

John Derbyshire in NRO writes a classic essay about how he views the Palestinians:

"I spent some of my formative years in Hong Kong, a barren piece of rock with zero natural resources, under foreign occupation, chock-full of refugees from the Mao tyranny. The people there weren't lounging in UNRWA camps or making suicide runs at the governor's mansion. They were trading, building, speculating, manufacturing, working — with the result that Hong Kong is now a glittering modern city filled with well-dressed, well-educated, well-fed people, proud of what they have accomplished together, and with a higher standard of living than Britain herself. If, following the Oslo accords — or for that matter, in the 20 years of Jordanian occupation — the Palestinians had taken that route, had set aside their fantasies of revenge and massacre, and concentrated on building up something worth having, I might have respect for them. As it is, I don't."

That's some potent stuff.
Fun with anagrams

Find anagrams with this web site. I tried "James Patrick Carver" and some of the results are:

Ms. Lee Ann sent me this column from the Seattle Times, to which I will respond to shortly

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Wit and Wisdom

Two income tax collectors died and arrived at the pearly gates. Just ahead of them were two clergy, but St. Peter motioned them aside and took the internal revenuers into heaven at once.
"Why them ahead of us?" the surprised religious leaders asked. "Haven't we done everything possible to spread the good word?"
"Yes," said St. Peter, "but those two internal revenue agents scared hell out of more people than you ever did."
One academic molestation, er, I mean exam, over with; just one more to go.

Monday, May 06, 2002

A hearty "howdy" to those on who've came on in via Instapundit's link. Sit down, keep up your feet and enjoy!
I'm not the only one.

Check to Ms. Lee Ann's own response to Mr. Engel's piece of snit.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Trans-Atlantic Condescension, Part II

And now the rest of my defense of Mississippi against Matthew Engel's piece, click here to view Part I. [my responses in bold]

Obesity is now said to be responsible for 300,000 American deaths every year - that's 100 times the number killed on September 11 - and it eats up 12% of all the US's healthcare costs: $100bn a year. Mortality increases by up to a quarter for the overweight, and can double for the obese, never mind those described as "supermorbidly obese".

Yeah, we could live to be a 120 if we only eat tofu and drink wheat grass, but what would be the fun in that?

Last month, the US tax authority formally recognised obesity as a disease, allowing patients to claim for the cost of prescribed weight-loss treatments. This disease causes heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. As a health problem, it now far outstrips drinking and smoking.
Manhattan and San Francisco may be full of joggers and rich young things rushing to see their personal trainers before dawn. But any European who penetrates the very different Bible-bullets-and-Big Mac America that exists outside these sophisticated cities will spot the symptoms at once. Many of the people there no longer walk; they waddle. Most of the time they prefer to sit. In Mississippi, 33% of adults take no exercise at all.

And many of those rich young things pay $5.99 for 12 oz. of bottle water. And we Southerners are the stupid ones? I guess we must be since we read the Bible, shoot guns and eat fast food. I can imagine Mr. Engel’s reaction when he first entered Dixie, “Silly Americans, you are supposed to just look and admire churches’ architecture, not actually use them to worship God. And guns, they are plain icky and loud.”

The other half of the equation can be seen in any restaurant. The word "sandwich" conveys something more like a large loaf: Americans believe they are being swindled if they are not served portions that would disgust most Europeans.

If I lived in Europe and served that stuff they called “food” in large portions, I would probably be disgusted too. But here in the South, we take the time to make our food worth eating, so we love to eat a lot of it.

A middle-aged Englishman, mildly concerned about his paunch, can look around the room and feel like Gulliver in Brobdingnag: a midget amid a race of giants.

For the slower among us (The Nation readers, Nader voters, people who buy books by Alan Dershowitz, etc.) this middle-aged Englishman is, of course, Engel. The English always eat nothing but healthful food like: [courtesy of “Best of British”]

Banger - The good old British banger is bigger and fatter than the American breakfast link sausage. It is served for dinner with fried onions and gravy, in batter as toad in the hole or for breakfast with eggs, back bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, fried potatoes, grilled tomatoes, toast and marmalade. There are also many regional sausages that combine different meats, herbs and spices. And don't forget good old Bangers and Mash.

Black pudding - Missed by Brits in America, thin or thick black pudding is one of the staples of a cooked breakfast. Looking like a black sausage it is made from pigs blood and fat.

Butty - A butty is a sandwich. The most famous butty is the chip butty. The perfect chip butty (invented in Liverpool) consists of two fairly large slices from a large white loaf, liberally buttered, layered with chips (salt and vinegar optional) and smothered in tomato sauce.

Doner - Short for a doner kebab. The closest thing in the US is a gyro. Kebabs in England, whether shish (meat on a skewer) or a doner (lamb on vertical spit), are served in split pitta bread with salad. There is a whole culture difference between the clean living shopping mall gyro and the greasy doner. Whilst the gyro is available all day and all evening and enjoyed by everyone, the doner is generally sold after 11pm in England to young males, after the pubs close and after 8 or so pints of lager. Usually served with extra hot fresh chilli sauce and on greaseproof paper so the oil is funnelled back onto your trousers, it is usually enjoyed standing up.

It would be fitting if Chunky were the true Fat City: Ground Zero of this catastrophe. But there are plenty of other contenders in Mississippi alone. The problem is known to be acute in the river delta, where mechanisation took away the harsh old jobs in the cotton fields.

That’s it! If we could just force blacks back into picking cotton by hand, we’d have this obesity whipped (for the blacks, at least…)

The Overeaters Anonymous class in Tupelo has a valid claim for the title of America's corpulence capital, as does the office handing out food stamps to welfare claimants in Meridian (next to Sam's Fashion, which sells 58-inch waist trousers).

And just how much of total sales do the 58-inch pants make up? The clothing stores that I shop carry mostly trousers in the 30 to 45 inch ranch. And what’s Mr. Engel hanging around a welfare office for? Hoping to have a safety net after he is exiled from the UK for his idiocy? Sorry, that was an ad hominem attack, but then that’s precisely the kind of attack he’s leveling against Mississippi.

The clientele on the slot machines in the Starlight Lounge of the casino on the Choctaw reservation in Neshoba County are fairly substantial, though they are outweighed by the customers of the Piggly Wiggly supermarket next door, where the Choctaw shop. There may be nowhere at all to match aisle 10 in Piggly Wiggly's, between the Brown Cow ice-cream ("swirled with thick, rich chocolate syrup") and the giant-sized packs of bacon-and- cheddar fries.

Mmmmmmmmmmm….. thick, rich chocolate syrup and bacon-cheddar fries. I would love to go out and buy some, but according to our expert author here, I’m too fat to fit through the door.

The worst of this will not be in the rich white suburbs. Mississippi is used to coming first - or last - in national league tables. Usually, it is ranked number one among the states for poverty, and 50th for education. Both are relevant. But Mississippi is not unique. Its obesity figures are only slightly worse than several other states: not only in the south (Colorado, with its mountain air and bike paths, is at the other extreme, at about 13%). The worst-affected community of all is said to be the Pima Indian tribe of Arizona. The US is not even the most obese nation on earth: in parts of the South Pacific, such as Western Samoa and Nauru, the slender have been driven almost to extinction.

I’m sure it eases Engel’s purty little leftist head that obesity is an equal opportunity afflicter.

Dr Alan Penman, an epidemiologist with the Mississippi department of health, prefers not to use the word epidemic. "That implies something that comes and goes," he says. "What we have here are normal adaptations to the kind of environment we now live in. It's Darwinian. Everyone is at risk, if not actually affected, because we have created what some people have called an obesogenic environment. The Americans have done it very well, better than anyone. And it's not going to go away for generations."

“I know what I am talking about since I use words like ‘obesogenic.’”

Chief among the probable causes of the crisis is prosperity. The old correlation between poverty and starvation is no longer relevant in the US, a country where it is exceptionally cheap and easy to eat large quantities of bad food.

Hopefully a recession will come along and end all of this fatting prosperity. Any way, I would prefer to live in country where food is cheap and bad (the U.S.A., though the food is quite good, especially in the South) than a country in which food is expensive and bad (the UK).

Indeed, it can be difficult to do anything else: supermarkets have a far less sophisticated selection than in the UK, especially in poor areas, and a huge proportion of space devoted solely to snacks. American consumers are bombarded with far less of even the spurious health information found on British packets ("85% fat-free" - ie 15% fat). The price of a double whopper with cheese is coming down, though its calorific value (1,060) is not.

If you mean “less sophisticated” in the sense that our stores don’t offer 65 flavors of chutney, then yes they are. And I think that we don’t need condescending commercials by the Department of Agriculture or Dept. of Health and Human Services to tell us that eating a lot of snack food will make us fat.

Black women aged 45-54 (56% of whom are obese in Mississippi) are the worst affected of all. But the epidemic, or Darwinian adaptation, affects all sections of society: black and white, male and female, rich and poor, old and - most worryingly - young. Obesity rates among American children are rocketing, and both the US and the UK have recently observed the first childhood cases of type two diabetes, a disease formerly confined to the rotund middle-aged.

Penman comes from Ayr, and recognises in Mississippians some of the characteristics that have given the Scots similar, if milder problems: a taste for fried food, and a distaste for exercise. Many of the causes are endemic to all western societies: sedentary jobs, irregular mealtimes, couch-potato children. But he is confident that things will never get as bad in Britain as they are in the US.

Don’t be so sure, one more McDonald’s we open over on Albion is one more step closer we are in turning you in human blimps. Bwahahahaha!!!!!

For a start, in some parts of the country, Americans have eliminated not merely the need to walk, but even the possibility of it. "I'd love to be able to walk to the store, pick up some milk and come home again, but our towns don't really allow that," laments Mary Gilmore, a dietician in Meridian. The distances are too great, the pavements non-existent. In the sprawling suburbs and small towns, public transport is often as rare as in an English village.

People generally prefer to be able to drive anywhere whenever instead of having to wait on a bus to come by. If Mrs. Gilmore wants to live where she can walk to the local store there are plenty of places in America where she can do that (e.g. downtown Oxford, MS). Nobody’s forcing her to live in the suburban jungle that is Meridian, MS.

In any case, it is almost impossible to carry the milk: it usually comes in gallon containers (a US gallon is four-fifths of a UK gallon). In a country where the cost of packaging exceeds the cost of the food, buying any other way is far more expensive.

The horror! People drinking lots of nutritious milk.

This does not apply only to milk. Gilmore runs classes to encourage people not to diet - which rarely works in the long term - but to change their lifestyles. Her students, many of them now disarmingly svelte, were reminiscing for me about how they became fat. "One of those bars is a dollar and six cents, but a six-pack is only two-fifty," one of them, Judy, was saying. "I like a lot for my money." Unfortunately, I had missed the start of the sentence. "Frozen Snickers," she repeated. "Go try."

I prefer Frozen Milky Ways myself. They’re prefect on a hot, sweltering Delta day.

Frozen Snickers are not particularly Mississippian, but other items are: fried catfish, crawfish, shrimp and oysters; even fried green tomatoes and fried dill pickles (rather tasty, actually). Plus lashings of sweet iced tea ("the house wine of the south").

Curse us for having such delicious food! No bubble and squeak for us. Also, it’s the law in many Southern states, including Mississippi, that you have to drink at least 2 gallons of iced tea during a meal. So, we aren’t gluttonous, just law-abiding.

Even the local attachment to religion is unhelpful. "Church puts a lot of weight on folks," according to Candace, another class member. "There are regular social occasions, and food is always there, and you don't want to offend people by refusing what they've brought. We have a lot of family reunions, too. We even overeat at funerals. There are casseroles, and people put in cream of chicken soup, tons of Velveeta cheese, bacon and ..."

Again, it’s against the law if a group of churchgoers, ESPECIALLY Southern Baptists, meet together on occasions other than Sunday service and not eat any food.

"Hush, Candace," said Bill, across the room. "You're making me hungry."

Me too.

The attraction of Gilmore's class is that she does not rule out casseroles or even Frozen Snickers. She advises regular sit-down meals - which happen less and less in societies where mothers have full-time jobs - and regular exercise, however light. She calls her programme "10,000 Steps", the number she thinks people should take a day, and hands out pedometers to help them keep count. Some of her clients have dropped as low as 1,200: sub-sedentary, she calls them. Most people must use 300 just going to the toilet and back.
In Mississippi, there is also the climate, which for half the year is too enervating to make any activity attractive. Before air conditioning, it was as easy for kids to play outside as in; now it is easier to justify their inactivity.

The state is only just starting to wake up to the problem: a bill to reintroduce compulsory PE in schools failed in the legislature this year, when schools complained that they did not have the time or resources to implement it.

Stupid schools. Concerned with primarily teaching the children reading, math, science and the like.

The popularity of American football means many parents are happy to see their boys gain weight, even if it is fat, not muscle.

When you have several people running at you determined to knock you on your posterior, having some extra cushioning helps a great deal.

And the grandmothers are pushing in the same direction: many of them remember when poverty in Mississippi really did mean starvation.

He’s actually correct here. Both my grandmothers (and grandfathers for that matter) become irate if I don’t have at least 4 helpings. But the food is so good that I don’t mind.

Dr Ed Thompson, the state health officer, feels a sense of frustration at dealing with a disease that cannot be cured by normal medical means. "We've protected society from many communicable diseases. But we're now dealing with lifestyle decisions," he said. "We can immunise you, we can keep malarial mosquitoes away from you, we can give you clean water. But we can't exercise for you. In the end, the individual has to make the choices. We want to make it the norm to have a healthy body weight. How do we achieve that? As soon as I figure out how to achieve world peace, I'll tell you."

Dr. Thompson has written a letter to the writer insisting that he said “immunize” not “immunise.”

"You can't just put out messages saying, 'Eat Less. Exercise More,' " says Penman. "That only works for the worried well. You have to create an environment where people make those choices without thinking."
But as things stand, everything in American society is heading in the opposite direction. Britain is to some extent protected by its lack of space and stern planning laws. American developers, meanwhile, can put up houses however and wherever they want, and communities are becoming ever more car-oriented.

Excuse us for living on a continent instead of an island and for having less government intrusion in the housing market.

What's more, the fast-food industry is going through what USA Today calls "drive-thru mania", with 80% of the growth going in sales to customers who have cut out, of their alleged 10,000 a day, the 50-odd steps to get from the car park to the counter and back. This applies even to such unlikely companies as Starbucks and 7-Eleven. "I don't like getting out of my car," a Californian single mother told the newspaper. "Who does?"

The health professionals are doing little to buck the trend. Gilmore's class takes place in a hospital building with a drive-through pharmacy. The Mississippi health department, where Thompson and Penman work, has just moved into a new four-storey office block. Except in emergencies, it is effectively impossible to use the stairs.

And so concludes Sir Whines-A-Lot pedantic report on the state of flabbiness in Mississippi. Perhaps, as revenge, a Southern newspaper should send a reporter to Merry Old England and tell of the horrendous state of dental hygiene amongst the Brits.
Ted Rall's column from last Monday is a perfect distillation of idiotarian thinking. Oh wait, "idiotarian thinking" is an oxymoron.

Saturday, May 04, 2002

Matt Drudge gave Paul "The Forehead" Begala a whupping on Crossfire last night.

BEGALA: Well, let me ask you though about more traditional media, where you have tried and frankly not done as well. You had a radio show that got canceled. You had Fox television how that I wanted to ask you about. That you and Fox parted company, a very bitter acrimonious way. And in November of '99, you told 'The Washington Post" that the Fox executives were weak-kneed suits, who allowed you free rein to attack Clinton, but then crack down on you when you wanted to show a photo of a 21-year of fetus that had been shown apparently on "Oprah Winfrey" and other shows.

DRUDGE: You're taking -- no, that's not an exact quote.

BEGALA: Pretty close.

DRUDGE: Who's your -- did you prepare the fact sheet?

BEGALA: Sure I did, absolutely.

DRUDGE: My radio show was canceled? On Sunday night, I'm on 200 stations, including...

BEGALA: Well, forgive my...

DRUDGE: ...including WMAL and WABC and KFI in Los Angeles. Paul Begala, you have to do better. If you're hitting the major leagues here.

BEGALA: I'm curious about...

And now the quip du jour:

DRUDGE: This is not a Clinton White House where you spin lies. This is big time. This is satellite television.

New meaning for non-partisan

The following article is from the section on who has died in 2002:

John W. Gardner
Age: 89

American public official who, as secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Johnson, created Medicare. He's best known for establishing Common Cause, the nonpartisan grassroots organization that now has more than 200,000 members. The group has opposed the Vietnam War, advocated civil rights, and championed campaign-finance reform

Friday, May 03, 2002

Trans-Atlantic Condescension

[This is Part One of my take down of Mr. Engel's piece.]

Matthew Engel of the Guardian, a left-wing UK newspaper, reports that Americans, Mississippians in particular, are nothing but a bunch of sacks of lard. Well, if he’s gone through the trouble of writing this article, the least I could do is to call him out for tea-sipping, cricket-watching, know-nothing know-it-all that he is.

Land of the fat

Obesity kills 300,000 people a year in America and is the nation's number-one health hazard. Nowhere is this more true than in Mississippi, where food is cheap and exercise unheard of. Matthew Engel visits the heaviest state of a country that is in danger of busting the scales.

Of all the world events going on in the world, like the war on terror or the Israel-Palestine conflict, you think Engel would have better things to do than to travel to Mississippi and report how fat the people are. I guess articles that deplore the sloven Americans are needed for the British to salve the anguish they feel of no longer being a first rate power.

It is one of those silent, brooding mornings in a small Dixie town: already hot and humid just after breakfast-time. There is hardly anything here: just a shop, a filling station and a building with a sign saying Total Fitness, though judging by the rusty chain holding the padlock, that has been closed for a long time. There is hardly anyone about either, and they all move slowly: partly because of the heat, partly because they cannot do otherwise. The average weight of the population appears to be around 20 stone. The name of the place, without a word of a lie, is Chunky, Mississippi.

I believe our limey chap doesn’t know that we Southerners are a laid back people; hence we generally aren’t in a hurry to get somewhere. Jogging to the local chemist’s to pick up a jar of Marmite might make sense in a land where the sun manages to peek through the clouds only for 5 minutes a year, but where 112 degree heat and 99.99999% humidity reign supreme, it does not. I personally apologize to our Man Matthew if our desire to not have heat strokes annoys him.

By the way, a “stone” is a quaint British measure equaling around 14 lbs, so the average weight of the good people of Chunky is 280 lbs in Mr. Engel’s expert analysis. Isn’t there a fine given by some socialist-weenie EU bureaucracy to Europeans who don’t use the metric system?

The US has what has widely been described as an obesity epidemic. And Mississippi is the sickest state in the country. More than 62% of its population meet the accepted definition of being overweight, and 24% are officially obese. These figures are certain to be understated because the information comes mainly from phone surveys, and people tend to lie about their weight. But they always did lie; and still the rates have almost doubled in a decade.

I see too many trim and tanned sorority girls power-walking here on campus to believe that 62% of the people in MS meet “the accepted definition of being overweight.” IF it were true, however, that would explain why the ground shakes so much. All these lying grits-eating water buffalos cause tremors on the rare occasions when they walk to the nearest Sizzler. Plate tectonics be darned!

Thursday, May 02, 2002


Thanks to Lee Ann and Susanna Cornett for the recent links to my American Prospect put-down and libertarian parody, respectively
Coming Tomorrow

The ever dilligent Terry Oglesby sent me this snotty little article from the Guardian that disparages how fat and ill of health Mississippians are. It is my duty as a defender of my Noble State to avenge this travesty.....tomorrow. First, there is an MIS 495 project to vanquish.......
Why libertarians should not be sent to prevent someone from committing suicide

Man: Don't stop me! I'm gonna to jump!

Libertarian: Okay, fine.

Man: I mean it! I'm gonna to take a giant leap off this building!

Libertarian: Go ahead, then

Man: Go ahead? Aren't you, like, supposed to stop me from killing myself?

Libertarian: No, not at all. You see, I believe that people should have the freedom to do as they please as long as they do not harm anybody. You wish to kill yourself and I respect your right to live your life, or end it, as you want. Just don't fall on anybody.

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Political Tidbit

Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary for President Bush, said on the Tonight Show last night that his parents are actually strident Democrats.