Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Foodiots

[Update: please be sure to read through the comments on this one!]

In Joe Pompeo's New York Observer piece entitled "The Foodiots", he writes that

"New Yorkers' water-cooler chitchat has changed. They used to talk about sex and politics and TV shows. Now they can't stop yapping about what they're shoving down their pie holes.

"We see it in the meticulous record-keeping of eating habits on personal blogs. The ubiquitous Facebook updates and tweets about subscribers' most recent meals. (Surely you also have those five or so friends whose feeds are 90 percent food-consumption-related?) The requisite iPhone pic before a certain kind of diner—let's call him a foodiot—ravages his plate."
Surprising though it sounds, I actually share his derision.

In 1997, I started an online diary (the word "Blog" wouldn't be coined for another two years) on Chowhound entitled "What Jim Had For Dinner", which I suppose was the first to launch this meme. I did so with three intentions:

1. I was eating extraordinary things, and wanted to share. By "extraordinary", I don't mean foodie porn. Not "the most perfectly juicy New Zealand lamb shipped via vacupack" or "to-die-for Ugandan cherries", and not hooky/grabby ideas like cooking all of Julia Child's recipes or eating only foods beginning with a "V". I was having wildly successful food adventures while treasure hunting in obscure nabes. Hyperdeliciousness was being produced by myriad unsung geniuses who poured talent, care, and love into their work, most of them utterly obscure and well outside mainstream radar. Something really exciting was happening out there.

2. I wanted to support these good guys by getting diners into their restaurants (it worked well, considering the present-day sanctification of places like Difara's Pizza, Sripraphai, Kabab Cafe, Charles Southern Kitchen, and other operations I championed), and by creating a viral movement where lots of others would join the mission of ferreting out - and evangelizing - unknown treasure.

3. As a journalist, I saw a Story in all this. These were interesting tales to tell, and while I'd previously written reviews and articles for publications like Newsday, early NY Press, and the defunct glossy Brooklyn Bridge, plus a couple of books, those gigs didn't lend themselves to telling the full free-ranging gritty story of chowhounding the big city as it all unfolded, on the fly.

In fact, that's one reason I rejected an offer of a
column at the Daily News and chose, instead, to launch Chowhound. It would be a platform to cover this story, and in so doing help inspire an online community to communally hunt on a massively larger scale. We could spotlight nearly all the myriad geniuses laboring in obscurity, and inspire people to refuse to settle for the usual mediocrity...or to scamper mindlessly after the same-old spotlit shiny Big Things.

Chowhound inevitably became, at least in part, yet another vehicle for spotlighting shiny Big Things - though, thank goodness, a critical mass of hardcore hounds remained. And the web quickly filled up with food kooks who felt called to describe the (often predictable, shiny) things they were eating last night. For many years, over-exuberant strangers have been coming up to me at parties and boring the crap out of me by reciting, in excruciating detail, everything they've ingested in the past 24 hours. What had I wrought??

I had donned the persona of a cuckoo-for-cocoa puffs food enthusiast in order to help launch the chowhounding meme. Much to my surprise, people actually took this literally, and assumed I was nothing but an eager digestive tract. Amazingly, some even admired and emulated this, not just as a wry pose, but as a way of being. In a larger sense, people seemed to be getting the wrong message about what this was all about.

All my life, I've thrown myself passionately into many areas of interest, food being only one minor one of them. It all stems, really, from darkness. Since childhood I've felt a grave, deep-seated resonance with
Sturgeon's Law: that 90% of everything is crud. I might easily have turned curmudgeonly, but realized early on that allowing myself to crust into sneering superiority and bitter cynicism would not lead to happiness, much less an improvement of the situation. So I chose to passionately hunt down and embrace treasure - the wonderful hold-out 10% - while summarily ignoring the pandemic crap. Eschewing condescension, I embraced a strategy of willful transcendence.

And, so, given that I had to eat several times per day, I sought to make the best of it; to transform a bodily function into something more beautiful and divine. Tantric ingestion, if you will. Food was never my main interest in life. Or even among the top five. It was just one of many scenes in which I applied myself to making out a little better.

The general public doesn't know from "tantra", so I gave them, instead, a model of giddy obsession. I'd do whatever it took to overcome their ennui and spur them to seek out treasure rather than consume in lockstep to marketing hypnosis (and the PR that insidiously serves as fundament for much food journalism and nearly all conventional wisdom). It seemed a worthy goal. If consumers could be awakened to the possibility of making smarter, more active choices, rather than passively eating what they're told, the result might spill over into other realms. Who knows, perhaps this could help stanch the wrecked consumer end of a
free market equilibrium unfairly tilted against them via the persuasions of modern marketing.

It wasn't entirely a failure. For one thing, I'm pleased that a certain type of snobbery, rife until 1997 or so, has been shot dead. No longer is it considered daft to respect equally a stupendous street cart taco and a stupendous morsel of foie gras off an expensive plate. In fact, I'm amazed at how few people even remember when the notion of such culinary egalitarianism seemed pure lunacy. And lots of those good guy genius holdouts have thrived, thanks to the attention showered upon them by chowhounds and others.

But I also see untold thousands of giddily obsessive food crazies who've made chewing the very center of their existences, and who endlessly scamper after the usual spotlit shiny big things. And who need everyone to hear about it ad nauseum. I was hoping to galvanize intrepid, iconoclastic
chowhounds, but what I mostly see out there are more and more materialistic, hype-following foodies.

As William Shatner famously
told the world of Trekkies, these people need to get a life.

Note: don't miss my follow-up posting on this topic.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

In a recent posting I noted that we all have a little Nazi in us, and that "the callous monster arises whenever we begin to dehumanize 'the other side'".

I just caught Quentin Tarantino’s "Inglourious Basterds", which brilliant illustrates this very mechanism - not on screen but, almost magically, in the psyche of the audience itself.

[Mild, non-egregious spoiler alert below....really, the film's ending is deliberately telegraphed from miles away]

In a film within the film, a young Nazi war hero single-handedly slaughters three hundred Allies. Hitler, Goering, and the rest of the audience of Nazis laugh and cheer at the sight. While they only see a dehumanized enemy, the actual soldier (who's playing himself in the film-within-film, and watching in the audience) grows sickened as he suddenly becomes aware of the humanity of his victims. The film disgusts him, and he can't bear to watch.

Dehumanization of the bad guys has always been a foundational device in both cinema and warfare. But, conversely, film can also sensitize us (as the German soldier discovered), and Tarantino is shrewdly playing it both ways. The theater's set on fire, and a heroic Jewish soldier sprays Hitler with machine gun fire - a fresh sight never before seen on screen, offering a nearly orgasmic pang of satisfaction. Meanwhile, the panicked, fleeing, burning audience - Nazis all - is fired upon, and we, the audience, heartily applaud their demise. A happy ending!

While we laugh and cheer at the murder of the Fuhrer plus three hundred or so other inhuman Nazis, with nary a cringe in the house, perhaps a few audience members catch the joke that's been played on us.

The film critics, who've deemed the film a simple revenge fantasy, don't seem to have caught on.

Friday, September 25, 2009

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 6: At the Gym

In part 1, I described how lots of (perpetually) overweight people approach (perpetual) dieting. We've been going down the list and finding the mistakes (read all previous entries in reverse order). Now we're up to this:
At the Gym: Hammering Away
Few fat people keep up consistent gym regimens, but those who do tend to hammer away at some part of themselves. They do 30 minute grueling death marches on the stair master or relentlessly work their abs on those great big plastic balls. You'll find few fat weight lifters at the gym, and few on the treadmills for more than a visit or two. Pilates classes, however, are full of fat folks - none of whom ever seem to slim down. They flock to pilates because they feel that by Crunching! Away! Again! And Again! at the muscles beneath their swelling tummies, they'll melt away The Problem.
Lots of problems here:

Failure to keep up consistent gym regimens
Establishing a regular gym habit requires taking steps to ensure that exercise feels like a good, pleasant thing to do. The trick is to carefully pace your first few workouts (or the first few workouts after a long break). I had some suggestions in Exercise Workouts: The "Wuss" Strategy

Hammering away at yourself
Fat people starve themselves by skipping breakfast and/or lunch. They abuse their bodies with cycles of gorging and fasting. They eat foods that leave them feeling lousy, and their perennial diets feel like suffering. And those who go to the gym tend to punish their bodies with unpleasant, highly repetitive workouts. Can you spot the pattern?

You got into this problem via blithe insensitivity to your body's natural balances. Your body has many ways of maintaining health and harmony, but you've been overriding them from the get go. Your weight issues are not the result of lazy capitulation to an evil, sinning body with which you're at odds. They are the result of your having stubbornly overrided, again and again, your body's efforts to right itself. So the solution isn't to punish your body further by forcing it into yet more relentless extremes.

I've already explained that you should never feel hungry.....that hunger and cravings are the result of failure to give your body what it needs (regular and modest meals of "clean" and well-balanced nutrients). Dieting is not a stoic enterprise; it's a return to normalcy. And the same is true of exercise. You don't correct extremism via the converse extremism (starvation diets, obsessive workout schedules). The opposite of imbalance is balance!

Exercise the way I've suggested dieting: gently, smartly, and consistently. This works. Slowly...and sustainably.

Pilates classes are full of fat people who never get thin. If you're a pilates addict, it's time to wean. I understand the scorn you feel for your protruding belly, but you can't rage away that fat via furious stomach crunching. There's no such thing as spot reducing; "working" the abs doesn't make your body prioritize the burning of abdominal fat. Fat comes off in a predetermined order - inevitably with your most worrisome parts slimming LAST (just remember you're in it for the long haul ). Eat smart and exercise smart and the fat will slowly take care of itself.

Pilates is great in moderation, but don't practice it as a means of expressing disappointment with your abdomen's appearance. Your body has, all along, only been trying to accommodate you. Don't punish it; work with it!

Weight Training
You need to lift weights. Here's yet another thing body builders know but the rest of us do not: the more muscle mass you carry, the higher your resting metabolism (i.e. calories burned while you simply sit around). Think of it this way: muscles burn calories!

Try for a well-rounded workout (resting each muscle group at least one day between workouts), but put extra emphasis into larger muscles, which account for more of your overall muscle mass. These are muscles like glutes, quads, and lats - the ones that require more bricks on the weight machines. Do an extra set or two of these. Fat people inexplicably do the opposite, men concentrating on biceps/triceps and women on inner thighs (speaking of women, many worry about putting on too much muscle mass and looking freakish, but it's simply not that easy to pack on muscle; it's so gradual that you'll have ample time to notice if you're growing overbuilt). And always work to failure - i.e. don't stop after a predetermined number of repetitions, but only when you absolutely cannot do one more.

If you regularly lift weights, be sure to increase your protein (see this entry for suggested amounts). And always drink a protein shake (I like Nitrean) immediately afterwards.

When it comes to cardio, if you're getting stabbing pains and gasping for breath, you're working out too hard. It's vastly better to walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes four times per week for months than to kill yourself trying to jog, creating an aversion that makes the gym an evil place to avoid (see that entry linked to above: Exercise Workouts: The "Wuss" Strategy for more suggestions on easing into a workout regimen).

Weight loss shouldn't hurt. Dieting shouldn't feel like sacrifice. Exercising shouldn't feel like punishment. Your body doesn't require penance for bad behavior; the bad behavior was its own penance! Establish good patterns over time, ease in, and understand that the body's habits and patterns aren't obstacles to fight, but, rather, a system of hooks and ladders available for your use in getting healthy.

Continue to Part 7

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 5: Night Snacking

In part 1, I described how lots of (perpetually) overweight people approach (perpetual) dieting. In part 2, part 2a, part 3, and part 4, we've been going down the list and finding the mistakes. Now we're up to this:
Night Snacking
Strangely unsatisfied by their virtuous huge carby dinner, they snack all night. They generally don't binge on especially unhealthy snacks (though sometimes they do, when cravings get the best of them). On good nights, they merely ingest lots and lots of relatively low-calorie carby stuff. But even if they scarf a bag of chips or a slice of frozen pizza, they figure they can get away with it, given their low overall daily calorie count. After a day of fasting, and a fatless, meatless dinner, a bit of pleasure seems justified!
Night snacking stems from bad day eating. A huge carb-heavy dinner is usually a high glycemic dinner, and highly glycemic foods are akin to sweets. Given that mounds of rice (even brown rice) or potatoes are akin to mounds of sugar, it's understandable that you'd feel crash-ish cravings afterwards.

But even if you're eating a reasonably well-balanced dinner, if you've been skipping meals - i.e. starving - all day, your body will be at wit's end trying to make sense of it all. It goes bonkers and has you bingeing into the wee hours, chasing after contentment that never arrives!

This is key: what you eat at any one meal has repercussions which play many hours forward. It's true because of blood sugar issues, and because, yet again, your system constantly readjusts to try to accommodate whatever dietary pattern you present it with. Snack three nights in a row, and your body will eagerly request snacking the fourth. Your huge dinner and night snacks are throwing off your morning and afternoon eating, and perpetuating a cycle.

The long trail of night snacking means hours and hours of eating. But your body needs meals, not snacks. And digestion doesn't work best late at night and during sleep. And the goal is to establish healthy metabolic patterns around the hearty ingestion of healthful food and resultant feeling of energization (rather than a "drip" digestion, resulting in perpetually denied satisfaction). So the night snacking has got to go.

The first step is to follow the suggestions in the previous entries. This will drastically curtail your night snacking urge. Establish patterns of good, balanced, healthy meals, make sure you get enough calories, enough fat, and enough protein. Give your body the three days it needs to get the message (and don't confuse the signals during that time!). And try shifting two things:

1. As you get used to eating balanced lunches (even if you're sure you're not "a lunch eater"), you'll find yourself starting to get hungry at midday. Encourage that. Gently increase portion size of your midday meal. The mantra should be "bigger lunch, smaller supper". If your calorie count requires it (and it probably will, if you're eating the right stuff), you can add a small meal in the late afternoon.

2. No food after 8pm. Try your best. You'll find that your ability to easily follow that rule has everything to do with how balanced your lunch and dinners were. Put care into those meals, and your nights will be more sane if you can establish a pattern for just a few days. If you must meet friends for an 8pm dinner once in a while, so be it. Just make such nights the exception rather than the rule!

Continue to Part 6

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Nazi Article Updated

I've completely reworked the last paragraph of my A Case For More, Not Less, Calling of 'Nazi!'" entry. It hadn't really expressed what I was trying to say. I hope you'll reread.

As an old media writer (columns for Newsday and NY Press, frequent contributions to Newsweek, Wine & Spirits, Toronto Star and many others; authored or coauthored nine books), I'm still adjusting to a medium where writings are produced more freely and easily. It doesn't make sense to invest the time and effort to polish as agonizingly here as I would for a published article, but the downside is occasionally noticing that something has slipped out under-baked. So please forgive my occasional backtrack requests.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

How (Perennially) Fat People Diet: Part 4: About Protein

In part 1, I described how lots of (perpetually) overweight people approach (perpetual) dieting. In part 2, part 2a, and part 3, we've been going down the list and finding the mistakes. Now we're up to this:
Low Calorie, Low Fat, Low Protein Dinner
Dieting fat people know to watch their ingestion of calories, fat, and sugar. But they also avoid protein. Why? Because their usual protein sources are caloric bombs. Hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, tacos....all that stuff is, obviously, unfit for dieters. So they sidestep the protein and ingest great big bowls of things like brown rice, vegetable chili, and other virtuous-seeming carbs. Plus, something sweet for dessert - fruit-based, because the sugar in fruits is much healthier and less fattening than other forms of sugar.
I explained last time why great big portions of virtuous food will keep you fat. And how focusing on carbs - even healthy whole grain ones - will do likewise. Now we come to an essential piece of know-how (not just for weight loss; it's the key to feeling great after a meal): you must include protein, as well as carbs, in all meals. And you must balance them (a good rule of thumb is to divide daily calorie intake roughly into 40% carbs, 25% protein and 35% - mostly unsaturated - fat*).
This is not how restaurants cook, and home chefs increasingly imitate restaurant chefs (and obesity is on the rise!). I find myself eating out less and less, though few on God's green Earth have enjoyed restaurants as much as I have. But there's a certain sort of deliciousness experienced not during ingestion, but afterward. After a meal of healthy home-cooked food in good nutritional balance, the result is a sensation of buoyant lightness and well-being. This keeps me on my diet...and keeps me from even thinking of it as a diet. I wouldn't want to eat any other way!

If you're unsure of what it even means to feel great after eating, I propose the following experiment. Here's your shopping list:
  • A jar of organic raw almond butter (budget around $17; this stuff's expensive). Note: I'm not an organic extremist, but concentrated foods (e.g. nut butters, juices, oils, etc.) concentrate pesticides as well as nutrients, so it's worth it to shell out for organic versions.
  • A loaf of high-fiber, high-protein, whole grain bread (look for at least 4g of fiber and 4g of protein; 5g of each is even better - e.g. Milton's 100% Whole Wheat Bread, available at Trader Joe's).
  • Some natural, unsweetened no-fat yogurt.
Ok, here's what you do:
  1. Eat a good healthy breakfast, including some "clean" healthy protein (lo-fat milk, egg white/spinach omelette, etc).
  2. A couple hours later, before hunger turns ferocious, toast a slice of the bread and slather it with a tablespoon and a half of the almond butter (mix in the oil if it's separated).
  3. Eat the toast and the yogurt (if you must, mix in a teaspoon of honey).
  4. Set an alarm to go off in 45 minutes.
  5. Go do something productive. When your alarm rings, observe how you feel.
See what I mean? The satisfaction you feel isn't the coarse satiation of a stomach filled to the brim. It's the result of giving your body what it needs - at a level deeper than mere craving. When meals leave you dissatisfied, with energy crashes and unbearable cravings, it's likely because of lack of protein. You must have protein with every meal. Repeat: you must have protein with every meal!

There are, of course, healthier protein alternatives than fatty lamb chops or wiener schnitzel. Examples of what body builders call "clean" proteins include turkey (breast only!), skinless chicken, any non-fried fish (especially wild alaskan salmon), tofu, egg whites, soybeans, and, in a pinch, protein powder (I go through a lot of this stuff - the vanilla even tastes pretty good). Cook these things simply (don't worry; there are ways to make simple things taste good without degrading their healthfulness. Stay tuned!).

Just as it's important to get enough protein - and the right kind of protein - at each meal and overall in one's day, it's also essential to get enough fat. Unsaturated ones, like canola, olive, or grapeseed oil. And I don't mean frying or sauteeing; either cook it in, or, even better, drizzle it on (e.g. over grains or vegetables).

You'll learn a lot about balancing protein/carbs/fat by tracking your food. It will also help you manage to get enough calories. Yes, you read right: 'enough' calories! Assuming you're exercising regularly, you should eat ten times your body weight in calories each day - and no less, as starving is counterproductive! If you're eating "clean" calories (protein per above; low-glycemic carbs like sweet potato, kasha, al dente whole wheat pasta; and healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, or canola oil; no fast food, convenience food, highly-processed food, sugary food), you'll actually find it difficult to meet your caloric minimum.

One trick is to eat four meals per day - four modestly-portioned, well-balanced, home-cooked meals (e.g. the "snack" above would count as a meal, especially if you add a small salad). You will not perceive yourself to be starving, your energy and moods will even out, and your body, which is only trying to accommodate you, will demand more of the same treatment after just two or three days (if you're consistent!).

Until now, everything I've suggested has been easy. Most of the news has been good (you needn't feel hungry, you're going to feel better, not worse, etc.). The most dramatic single change you'll need to make is to eat "clean" healthy protein at each meal. This is key, and there's no way around it. So: stock up on chicken and turkey breasts, salmon, tofu, and egg whites. A small portion of lean beef or pork won't kill you once per week. But stick with grilling, broiling, and steaming, and minimize the sautéing (no deep frying at all). Track your diet to get your calories and balances right. And cook from simple ingredients, not processed convenience foods. This is the only real sacrifice I'm asking of you, and I promise you'll get used to it very quickly. It's amazingly viable!

* - If you're lifting weights (and, as we'll see later on, you ought to be), you'll need more protein still; I aim for 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat

Continue to Part 5

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Case For More, Not Less, Calling of "Nazi!"

Tonight I was watching a program on the Spanish Civil War. I know something about that history, having played more than twenty tours around Spain back in my jazz musician days, starting a mere decade after the death of Franco.

But it's been a while since I'd delved into the subject, and much has changed in our world, so I sat transfixed as I was reminded of the dynamics leading up to that murderous, catastrophic conflict. Spain had polarized into two elements; one conservative, religious, and highly dogmatic; and the other liberal, iconoclastic, and equally dogmatic. The two sides were more than political antagonists; their conflict had hardened into something more existential. Each side believed itself to be the "real" Spain - which, of course, made their counterparts the enemies of the nation (and, therefore, of everything right and good).

One side foamed over hated Socialists, the other frothed at hated Fascists. Viewed from the vantage point of a subsequent century, neither had the clear moral high ground, but, anyway, trying to determine which was "right" is a futile exercise. After all, the moral clarity of each side's utter rightness was, itself, the very problem. In light of such absolute and uncompromising certainty, Spain might have wound up Stalinist or it might have wound up Nazi, but reprehensible violence was inevitable either way.

I sat aghast as the tale was told of how a society remarkably like our own quickly devolved into the grisliest neighbor-against-neighbor warfare and near genocidal apocalypse. Franco said he was willing to kill half the population to save the nation from Marxism, and Hitler was all too eager to help, supplying, along with Mussolini, much of the military muscle behind the Falangist victory. And I reflected on the fact that there's nothing uniquely dark about the Spanish or German or Italian soul (or for that matter, Japanese, English, French, Mongol, Iranian, Serbian, Ugandan, Rwandan, or Sudanese). The ugly place where the Nazis went and where the Spanish went is a place we might all go.

Isn't that the supreme lesson to be drawn from the horrors of the twentieth century? That humanity is capable of heinous evil, and it may recur in any era with a führer du jour? That we need to remember how low we can go, and try to stanch situations before they devolve to the ghastly point? That the specter of the Nazis - an archetypal expression of humanity's shadow side - must be kept close as a perpetually relevant cautionary tale, rather than packed away as a distant historical nightmare?

We hear the term "Nazi" thrown around more and more these days, though some insist the word should never be diluted, and that it must maintain its full potency. But there is a hardened, hateful, desensitized and uncompromising portion to the human psyche -
every human's psyche - waiting to erupt when circumstances are right. And glimpses appear even in everyday human activity. It's not an entirely buried crayon; it darkens the hue of countless ordinary actions, assertions, and conflicts. The callous monster arises whenever we begin to dehumanize "the other side".

We've lately grown surprisingly comfortable with dehumanization and ever deepening divides and hatreds. It snuck up on us. So I'm gratified to see the term "Nazi" falling easily off of tongues. It's not to be stowed away for use solely at the verge of apocalypse. There's Nazi in all of us, and it must be called out and shouted down whenever it appears. We don't spot it easily enough!

There's often one group considering itself categorically compassionate and high-minded as it dehumanizes and despises its counterparts. Turning a blind eye toward this dynamic within themselves (though maintaining a sensitive awareness of it in the other side), they can dramatically escalate the degeneration. Current "progressives" - cloaking themselves in a self-image of evolved compassion, and utterly oblivious to their role in the symmetry - deem themselves thoroughly beyond any such inclinations. Very dangerous.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Great CNN Parodies

I'm not a big fan of The Onion, but some of their recent video news "reports" are extremely well-produced and hysterically funny. Here are two:

Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village

Conservatives Warn Quick Sex Change Only Barrier Between Gays, Marriage

Chowhound.com Milestone

Chowhound got its 5,000,000th posting today.

I can't believe the thing's still up and running. Nearly all our 1997 cohorts have vanished or been co-opted.

Flu Remedy to Have on Hand

We're teetering on the edge of flu season, which this year promises to be extra nasty.

Understand this: I consider homeopathy to be the worst sort of quacky pseudo-science. I don't buy its theories in the least. But there's a homeopathic flu remedy called Oscillococcinum, found in most pharmacies, which always happens to work for me (if I take it right at the beginning of my flu). And it's worked for everyone I've ever told about it. And I even know some pharmacists who, abashedly, take it and swear by it. Though I'll note that there've been no studies clearly confirming its efficacy (on the other hand, there've been no clear studies, period).

If the flu really hits heavily, this stuff could sell out. So you may want to buy some now. Here's a $2 off coupon.

Here's instructions: as soon as you spot symptoms, on an empty stomach, dissolve the contents of one tube under your tongue. Don't eat for an hour. And don't brush with mint toothpaste for a couple of days...use baking soda or just a dry brush (mint is supposed to interfere with homeopathy). You shouldn't need to take more, but if symptoms do appear, take a half a tube once or twice per day. And avoid mint anything.

Since homeopathic medicines contain essentially nothing, you shouldn't have any side effects. You may feel mildly tired for the length of time you'd otherwise have been sick, but that's about it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wider Perspective on the Healthcare Reform Furor

Here's a good Slate article explaining, in a cool-headed way, the gist of the healthcare reform impasse.

And here's some political advice to Obama on the issue from from Bob Dole, who's been spending his retirement working at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

"Normal" is the New "Emaciated"

Apropos of the weight loss series, I've dropped another few pounds and am now wearing 31/34 pants. And while I'm certainly not freakishly thin - in fact, I'm not even on the skinny side of "normal" - I can no longer buy pants at my usual source, J Crew, which doesn't carry that size.

Is the country so paunchy at this point that non-obese customers can no longer find clothes to fit?

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