Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Central Artery

Our society used to be one of patience. Of waiting until we have all the information before attempting to force social change upon the masses. Just look how long it took us to get involved in World War II.

No more. Now everyone overreacts to every piece of information and half assed opinion that crosses the airwaves, gets posted on the internet or gets printed in a newspaper. We ban dodgeball because it creates insecurity in children (something they have in spades, anyway). We ban tag on the playground because...well...not sure why they did that, but I'm sure there's stupid reason for it.

We limit stem cell research because it's immoral to a small, yet screechingly vocal percentage of our population while millions die from diseases that could be cured from researching those stem cells that are simply being destroyed. We rant and rave about gay marriage becoming the downfall of our society, yet ignore that my home state of Massachusetts hasn't been swallowed by the ocean in God's fury for allowing it. Not yet, anyway.

Idiotic and uninformed talking heads like Bill O'Reilly, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh take in millions for spouting forth offensive and borderline racist comments on a daily basis. Purple Heart recipients like John Kerry are portrayed as negligent, possibly criminal, for the sole purpose of winning the Presidency when his lack of personality and sporadic Senate record would have been more than enough.

The war in Iraq is continually referred to as being 'effective' by the current administration when anyone with one eye, one ear and half a brain can plainly see it's past the point of 'complete cluster fuck' and veering perilously close to 'national disaster'. The so called 'experts' keep talking about the American economy as being close to recession when anyone in the real world with real mortgages and real jobs knows it entered that phase before Christmas of 2007.

I could go on, but I'm tired and starting to depress myself.

My point is that we are currently in an age of 'manufactured truth'. By this I mean that any organization with enough resources can make something true - whether it is or not - by simply getting it out into the mainstream media and repeating it often enough (Stephen Colbert came up with the hilarious term 'Truthiness' to describe this). The current administration keeps pushing the Iraq - 9/11 connection to defend the initial invasion when there is no proof there was ever a connection. But it doesn't matter, because they've been saying it for so long it isn't even questioned any more.

I'm not saying that everything we read is patently untrue. I just think it's time we all take a step back, do further research and decide once and for all if the course we are taking is the correct one. Barack Obama is currently running on the platform of hope and change; of 'Yes we can'. But if Obama somehow becomes the next President, how much change can he really initiate? Just the fact he comes from the Senate makes him part of the same system he's now railing against. How can he promise us change when he has benefited from the status quo? I'm not saying he can't initiate change, but shouldn't we be asking the question rather than taking it at face value?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm cynical and damaged and you're right. I have developed a distrust of anyone that wants to run for public office. I think politicians in general have an inbred personality disorder that they share with actors and other celebrities. They crave attention and feed off the adoration bestowed upon them and they will do anything, say anything, act in any manner in order to get it and keep it. They like the feeling that they are better than everyone else; that they deserve more and should be living a better life because they are IMPORTANT!

Sooner or later this over reactionist behavior will bite us in the ass somewhere. What's that? It might have already happened? Get out!!!

Why, yes, I say as I have a completely unwarranted conversation with myself. It seems my home city of Boston may have jumped the gun. See, they heard from a bunch of people in the know that trans fats are really, really bad for you. In fact, they are convinced that there may be an army of trans fat mercenaries out there just waiting to clog your arteries. So, since the city of Boston is doing everything it can to keep us safe (except dealing with traffic, pollution, insane bike messengers, proper city evacuation routes and panties flying at Tom Brady), they recently passed legislation banning the use of trans fats in all Boston restaurants.

While I have no idea how they're planning on enforcing this new law (will officials be taking random samples of cooking oil, will they order a burger and rush it off to the lab?) or even tracking it, they seem serious about it. I'm hoping the first trans fat regulator for Boston weighs 400 pounds for comedy sake.

While I have many questions (What if you cook the food outside the Boston limits and bring it in to the city? Will this instigate a trans fat black market in the back alleys of Chinatown?), I'll just focus on this little study that claims trans fats may not be that bad for you after all. In fact, they may be good for you. According to Flora Wang, from the University of Alberta, a diet enriched with trans vaccenic acid (VA - a natural trans fat found in dairy and beef products) is shown to 'reduce production of chylomicrons, particles of fat and cholesterol that form in the small intestine following a meal and are rapidly processed throughout the body '.

In other words, these VA trans fats can actually help you properly rid your body of artery clogging cholesterol and fats that can build up in your bloodstream and cause heart problems. Think Boston may want to back track on that brand spanking new law? I picture Mayor Menino (or more likely one of his lackies) impersonating Gilda Radner: 'Oh. Nevermind'.

In Boston's defense, I understand the motivation. Heart disease is the top killer in our country and we spend billions treating it, but this trans fat research is still fairly new. There is a lot we don't know about it. I had my doubts about how harmful it could really be when Frito Lay started putting 'No Trans Fat' labels on everything from Doritos to Fritos to Cheese Curls. I'm no dietitian, but trans fats or not, those things are not good for you.

So now Boston and many other cities may have put themselves in a rather awkward position. Do they repeal the law? Do they wait for further proof before changing their minds? Will they ignore on study and go with what the FDA is recommending? Will they just put everything on hold until they get more information? You know, like they should have done in the first place?

My guess is they'll ignore things for now and only act if more information becomes available. Why look like idiots because one study is contradicting dozens of others? They'll wait until everyone looks like idiots, then quietly scrap the new ordinance. Maybe this new study will be a bunch of bullshit. Then again, Wang could be a trailblazer; speaking out against mass marketed beliefs against trans fats.

I can hope this might be a wake up call for all the panicking, high strung politicians searching for the next scandal or health scare to regulate in order to get their names in the news, but we know better.

Don't we?

Today's distraction: 25 crazy laws from around the world. I'm particularly confused about Washington's law about never having sex with a virgin under any circumstances. Even the wedding night. Does this explain the large population of lumberjacks in that state?


thepowerof10 said...

In Florida, it is illegal to fart in a public place after 6 P.M. on Thursdays.

--I have broken this law on numerous occasions.

Good write up my friend. This country is getting so far up its own ass that I am getting ready to pack it up and move to Cuba. Shit, Castro died, how bad can it be?

BeachBum said...

And they have the best cigars in the world for about 5 cents. Tropical location, public drinking...

Sounds like we've got our next vacation planned.