fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
This is my front page. If you want me to add you, drop me a line here. Or, add me. Either way, I'll check you out. You can also drop me a line here if, for instance, you don't have my email address. All comments here are screened.

This post also includes every tag I have -- this is because my current LJ style doesn't include a tag index. (At least half of my participation on LJ is on my phone. I chose this style because, as bare-bones as it is, it loads quickly and it's still readable on a small screen.)

I'd tell you more about myself, but that's what my profile -- and the rest of my LJ -- is for.
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
"An elderly person warms the palms of his hands over a brazier and stretches out the wrinkles. No young man would dream of behaving in such fashion; old people can really be quite shameless." -- Sei Shōnagon

One occasionally finds elderly men using the hot air machines to dry their crotches after taking a shower. No young man would do this, for those machines are for drying hands. Oh, how hateful!


"The sound of dogs when they bark for a long time in chorus is ominous and hateful."

One is at the gym, listening to one's own music while exercising, when one's fellow patrons scream, in the manner of a woman in labor without painkillers, as they lift a weight, each time they lift it. What charmless behavior! "Hateful" is an understatement.


"I cannot stand people who leave without closing the panel behind them."

One opens a locker without a lock on it, expecting it to be empty, only to find someone's belongings already there. Most hateful!


"One has gone to bed and is about to doze off when a mosquito appears, announcing himself in a reedy voice. One can actually feel the wind made by his wings, and, slight though it is, one finds it hateful in the extreme."

A popular style of headphones are audible from some considerable distance, and their faint buzzing announces the lack of musical taste of their owners. Hateful!
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Dear Bible-pounding jerkoffs hanging out outside train stations,

Just as your faith is clearly an important part of your life, fitness is an important part of mine. Lemme tell you a few things about it.

I live it every day. I practice it every day. It has improved my life in a dozen obvious and less-obvious ways. I am a happier and better person for having it. Lifting weights has taught me lessons about working toward goals with non-immediate results -- lessons I've applied elsewhere in my life. Because I'm now a little bigger and scarier, and because I also more closely match our culture's body standards, the world treats me better... and I've found that as a result, I am much nicer to the world now than I was when I was skinny. And hey, confidence is a good thing, right?

And yet, I do not judge non-believers. I certainly don't look for opportunities to tell non-believers about the horrible fates awaiting them if they don't start living as I do.

This isn't to say I never preach. Obviously, I talk about it in my journal online, but it's my journal, it's about my life, and fitness is an important part of it. (A few people I know talk about their relationship with God in their journals. Same thing. It's part of their lives.) Sometimes, I preach in the real world, too... but usually only when asked. Occasionally, people in my life ask me questions. I do my best to answer them. Sometimes, people take the first steps on the road I'm currently walking. I do my best to encourage them. While most of the people who've noticed that I'm a different person now don't feel like emulating my life choices, a few people -- just a few! -- have been inspired to make changes for themselves. Where you have only managed to alienate people, I've actually had a positive effect.

There's a lesson in this, if you look closely.

Sincerely,

[personal profile] fierynotes



Dear Judgmental asshole,

I apologize for my response to your missive. While hysterical laughter (preceded by choking noises) was certainly an appropriate response, it wasn't exactly as well-argued or well-thought-out as I would have liked. So, in the spirit of the staircase (that sounds much better in French), I'd like to say a few things I really wish I'd thought to say to you. It's not like I think I'll actually have a chance to say this to your face, but what the hell -- I'll have them ready for the next judgmental asshole.

One: thank you. I knew that one day, people would be making cracks about me going to the gym to compensate for certain... ahem, shortcomings, but I figured that I was still too skinny for anyone to think that, and a few more years of hard work stood between me and that day. Apparently, I'm not the best judge of my own progress. So... again, thank you.

Two: If you actually believe that male gymrats build themselves up to compensate for undersized penises... there's this thing called gay porn. You should look into it. You'll find plenty of counterexamples. I'd guess that doing a google image search for "muscular hung naked" or suchlike would also find you plenty of counterexamples, but I've typed enough interesting things into Google for one day (here on LJ, here on DW), so you'll have to look for yourself.

Three, and perhaps most importantly: making assumptions about a person's character flaws from their body shape makes you a judgmental asshole. In your case, it probably also makes you a hypocrite, since I'm sure at least one judgmental asshole has looked at your belly and made some unfair and unflattering assumptions about you. In my case, it also makes you wrong, but I don't expect you to believe that, and I wouldn't show it to you any more than I would show my pale-but-well-shaped ass to this asshole... for all the same reasons.

Sincerely,

[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Below are two pictures of the actor Jason Momoa. You might remember him from Stargate: Atlantis, Game of Thrones, or the remake of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that I've never seen, but I'm not entirely convinced it needed to be remade. While he's definitely not in bad shape in either picture, he's undeniably softer in the photo on the right.



If you're a woman (or a man who bends that way), you might be drooling at one or both of these pictures. If you're a tabloid writer, you might be looking at the photo of the right and typing up a dramatic story about how he's going to die of teh dethfats¹. If you're Perez Hilton, you might be writing about his dethfats, and in addition doodling a penis or two aimed at his face in MSPaint².

I'm a mostly-straight gymrat, so I see something different here.

That picture on the left is what our culture currently pushes as the male ideal. For most men, it's really fucking hard to achieve. In addition to a few lucky rolls of the genetic dice, it takes a considerable time investment (one that's out of the reach of most of us) and dedication to a certain kind of eating habits (again, out of most people's reach). And even if you do achieve it, it takes effort to maintain it. And even if you're always working on it, the cycle of bulking and cutting means that it won't always look that way.

Currently, I look like a skinnier version of the picture on the right. I'd like to look like the picture on the left (though obviously much paler), and I'll work toward that end. But I'll keep both pictures in mind, and I won't beat myself up if I don't make it there. And honestly, I get enough out of my exercise routine, both physically and emotionally, that my time and effort won't have been wasted just because I fail at looking like a statue.

And obviously, as always, I won't be judging people who don't achieve this ideal (or the female one), or people who feel that their time could be better spent on other things.



    1. Historically, female actors are much easier pickings for this kind of hack job. Still, there are a few tabloid writers who consider talking about male actors getting a bit soft to be a daring innovation. I could have made this post with two pictures -- one hard, one soft -- of Channing Tatum instead of Jason Momoa, and I have seen that kind of tongue-clicking about him getting pudgy.

    2. I'm not saying Perez Hilton has done this, but honestly, who would be surprised if he did? I'd go look, but that would involve me actually visiting Perez Hilton's website, and honestly, I'd want to soak my computer in bleach afterward. Besides, I don't want to give that shitheap hits.

fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
So, I hear Angelina Jolie has had some surgery.

I would love to get all unrighteously indignant and shit, but... I can't be arsed. Y'see I have this shocking and controversial belief that each person's body belongs to them, and to them alone. It's why I'm pro-choice with respect to abortion. It's why I object to laws against drugs like marijuana. It's why I feel people shouldn't feel pressured to get things like botox or face lifts, and it's also why I support anyone who actually does. It's why I feel I shouldn't have to justify my gym habits to anyone, and paradoxically, it's also why I don't think fat people should have to justify their lack of gym habits to anyone. Aaaand, it's why I'm not getting all upset over Angelina Jolie's surgery.

Getting truly upset about it is really only possible if you're a douchebro who thinks that Angelina Jolie had an obligation to keep her breast tissue to you, the red-blooded male cinema going public, and that this obligation trumps any health risks she may have faced if she kept it. Don't be that douchebro.
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Among gymrats, there are these two words: bulking and cutting. The reason is that while some guys at the gym are aiming for big muscles and a six-pack, this is a single goal that is best treated as two separate goals. Most of the time, any serious gains in muscle will be accompanied by some gains in fat; likewise, any serious loss of fat will be accompanied by losing some muscle. So, people who are trying to achieve both often alternate between the two, because aiming for both at once takes much effort for relatively little payoff.

I mention this because I've started cutting, and if I speak of cutting in future posts, I want it to be clear just what I mean by that... especially since I've spoken of depression occasionally.

Now, as for why I'm doing it? Last I checked, I'm 208 pounds. Most of that extra weight, I'm proud of. The rest? I'm not going to say I've gotten fat, because any fat person would be fully justified in decking me if I said that... but I have gotten soft. Well, soft for me, at least. Hence, the change in emphasis in my routine. I'll probably write about this here and there, just as I've written about weights, and I'll do it under my "health" tag, just as I always have.

That said, because my list includes people with mental issues on this subject, I'll probably hide some of these thoughts on this subject under clearly-marked LJ-cuts. Anyone who cares to offer opinions on that is welcome to do so.

One last thing: this is just a change in how I'm treating my body, and a temporary one at that. (Eventually, I'll end up with a six-pack but want to be bigger, and I'll switch back to bulking. That's how the cycle goes.) My attitude towards fat people is still one of acceptance. This is not a new stance: my first comments on the subject in this forum date back to early 2006 (here on LJ, here on DW), and those of you who know me in meatspace know I've been accepting longer than that. If you are a fat person, rest assured that your fat does not lessen my opinion of you, and I respect whatever agreements exist between you and your body. If you have no such agreements, I'll support you as best I can in making those agreements. None of this will change just because I'm trying to burn off a little fat on my own body.

By the same token, I ask you to respect the fact that I'm speaking of my body here. It belongs to me, and it is mine to beat into shape as I see fit.
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Dear little wanna-be Usher,

Congratulations on your definition. But seriously, this ain't the locker room, and this ain't a dance club, so put on a fuckin' shirt. Right on the great big sign on the wall, there's bunch of rules, and one of them is "put on a fuckin' shirt." And while I'm complaining... the ladies here at the gym are, well... at a gym. While a certain amount of socializing happens at gyms, they are here, first and foremost, to work out. They are probably not looking for dick just now. In fact, at a guess, they're looking for staff, because you're annoying them... oh, look, I was right!

Bye bye!

Sincerely,
[personal profile] fierynotes



Dear giant tank,

Congratulations on your bulk, and thank you for observing the aforementioned "put on a fuckin' shirt" rule. In theory, at least. You've kinda hacked the shit out of your shirt. Seriously, what did the poor thing ever do to you? There's almost nothing left of it!

Also, I frequently have stuff like Septic Flesh, Strapping Young Lad, and Deicide blasting in my ears when I work out. I should not be able to hear you grunting... and yet, I do. Not grunting, so much, but yelling with each rep. Are you giving birth or something?

Sincerely,
[personal profile] fierynotes



Dear idiot,

Congratulations on the amazing numbers you're racking up. Pressing 990 pounds up a sled is a truly amazing feat... or it would be, if you were actually moving the damned thing. Three inches up and down, with your knees straight, isn't really doing much for you beyond stressing your joints. Did no one teach you about range of motion?

I wouldn't mind so much, since it's your body, and if you want to mess up your knees, who am I to stop you... but there are only so many 45-pound plates in the gym, and you're hogging twenty-two of them. And to top things off, you're leaving them all on the sled when you're done.

Asshole.

Sincerely,
[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
There is something perverse about watching the show "The Biggest Loser" while at the gym. It's more perverse considering that at that late hour, nearly all of us there were already lean and either burning off a little winter fluff, or maintaining their current lack of winter fluff. It's even more perverse when you consider that the ads on this show were pushing a place called Planet Fitness, a competitor of my current gym. The product placement was probably appropriate -- the audience in this case was not. (As skinny as I am by gymrat standards, I'm pretty sure that my current bench would make me unwelcome at Planet Fitness -- if not, my goals certainly would. And at least half of the people on treadmills at the gym that night were bigger than me.)¹

This was my first exposure to "The Biggest Loser," and I hate it beyond all reason. Not that I believe that encouraging exercise and other healthy habits has no place on TV -- I just don't believe The Biggest Loser does anything to accomplish that. I had great respect for Jack LaLanne. I have great respect for Richard Simmons (the fact that I personally find him grating is irrelevant here). My complaint is that neither Jack LaLanne nor Richard Simmons displayed the level of cruelty you'll see in "The Biggest Loser." The Reality TV format seems to be inherently cruel, and it should never have crossed the streams with a show about weight loss.

Also? I've never tried to lose more than that couple of extra pounds we all gain around the holidays, so I could be wrong here, but... losing twelve pounds in a week strikes me as cause for alarm, not celebration. I feel safe in guessing that at least half of that loss is in water, which is bad for one's health. You know, health? That thing they're supposedly encouraging their contestants to pursue by losing weight? Meanwhile, losing a mere (mere?!) four pounds in a week -- which also strikes me as dangerous, but again, I'm not a dietician -- is cause to be sent home.

I hate this show, and I hate everyone responsible for making it.



    1. Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad places like Planet Fitness exist. I may have pointed out the fear of being judged that many people who aren't already gymrats face at certain gyms, and from what little I've heard, Planet Fitness seems to be a safer space in that regard. The fact remains, however, that from what I've heard, I don't belong there. And neither did most of the other people in the gym with me that night, seeing the ad for it.

fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
For those of you new here, I'm a gymrat. Also, and perhaps a little surprisingly given my own body shape, I think giving people shit for being fat is Not Cool, makes you an asshole, and doesn't accomplish anything of value. (If you're one of those people that does this... what do you think, that this fat person was somehow unaware that they were fat and needed you to remind them? Are you going to tell me that said fat person will be magically motivated by your cruelty to put down those imaginary donuts and eat lettuce and get slim? Cut that shit out.) This isn't exactly a new stance on my part, though having spent most of my life being effortlessly skinny, followed by a few years moving from skinny to kinda ripped, leaves me at times blind to certain details. It also means that I don't know how to say certain things.

With that in mind, I'd like to comment on all the obstacles between a fat person who genuinely wants to pick up healthier habits, and those habits. I'd like to, but I won't... because this post does a much better job than I ever could.
fierynotes: Picture of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, from Girl Genius.  He looks tired. (tired)
“The last straw for God before He brought the flood was when they started writing wedding songs to homosexual marriage and Jesus said that you’ll know the end times because it will be like the days of Noah. There’s never been a time in the history of the world since before the flood when homosexual marriage has been open and celebrated, and that’s another sign that I believe that we’re close to the end."

So sayeth Scott Lively, whose other claims to fame include meeting with Uganda over "the Gay Agenda," and then trying to act surprised when laws come out of it that include the death penalty for being gay.

But yeah. Gay marriage caused The Great Flood.

I was born in the wrong decade to properly appreciate them, but I thnk I'll blast The Who anyway. It's the most appropriate music I can think of, as I doubt any Gay Men's Chorus anywhere has done a version of "Goin' to the Chapel" or anything like that. (Googles, grins evilly.) Oh, wait...! And while I'm at it, another song about rain, this one from my own decade...



In more cheerful news, Chris Kluwe, the football player who is confident in his heterosexuality and equally confident that gay marriage won't turn straight preacher-men into lustful cockmonsters, was on Colbert. And the phrase "lustful cockmonster" goes into even wider circulation. I approve.



Over the past few months, I've send this (and other singing devil puppet videos like it) to friends on their birthdays (when I remembered, and to be frank, I'm kinda bad at that and I'm sorry if I missed you). So, lately, I caught a cold, and one of them remembered!

fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Dear District Manager,

You rotten son of a bitch. It was very nice of you to bring that very large tin of chocolate-covered cookies. They were excellent cookies, too, that's the worst part.

Sincerely,
[personal profile] fierynotes



Dear Senior colleague,

You rotten, evil son of a bitch. It was very nice of you to bring that very large pack of brownie bites, that pack of madeleines, and enough dim sum to feed a small army. It was all excellent, too, that's the worst part.

Sincerely,
[personal profile] fierynotes



Dear surplus body-fat residing in other people,

Please know that I do not judge you, nor anyone in whom you reside. I know that our current culture is kinda assholish about you, but rest assured that you will never make me respect anyone any less for your presence. Granted, there are people in whom you reside for whom I have so shortage of hostility (Rush Limbaugh comes to mind), but realize that you are not a factor in that hostility.

Sincerely,
[personal profile] fierynotes



Dear bit of surplus body-fat residing in me,

Treasure every moment you have. When the holidays are over... I WILL FUCKING END YOU.

Hugs and kisses!
[personal profile] fierynotes
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
A while back (here on LJ, here on DW), under the heading "Change is possible if you have the resources," I tried to point out how easy it is to "just live a healthy lifestyle" for some... and more to the point, how hard it is for others. Every paragraph under that heading lists privileges that some of us have and others do not, and my intention was to point out that no, some people do not have resources to "just live a healthy lifestyle."

If you read that post, keep in mind that for all my good intentions, I've still been an effortlessly skinny person for most of my life (until I started hitting the weight room regularly), and I have pretty much every privilege on that list... along with several others I didn't name. (I didn't think to mention food deserts, for instance, but they exist.) There are things that need to be said on that subject, and despite my best efforts, I am not qualified to say them.

On that note, I'd like to link to someone who is qualified to say them... and who says them very colorfully.

(As I said over in her post, I myself have spoken a lot of shit about certain corporate purveyors of crap food. I haven't called McShithole's by their legal name for years, for instance. That said, there's a line between attacking the corporations for putting out crap, and attacking the people who eat it. For all my privilege on this point, I'd like to hope that it's clear that I know which side of that line to stand on.)
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (Default)
Agents of Obesity. Like a portly 007, or a zaftig Emma Peel.

The post in that link starts off as a sorta serious post about laws regarding the limits on soft drink sizes being considered in some cities, but once the words "agent of obesity" show up, the post takes a hard left at Albuquerque, for the hilarious. I was snickering through most of it, I almost lost it when I got to Operatives Built with Exceptional Size Imperiling Thinness' Yoke... and completely lost it when I got to "Emma Frosting."

Being a lifelong skinny person who's lately leaning toward sorta ripped, I can't contribute to that discussion. But I can certainly appreciate the kind of humor involved.

And as long as I am spreading love for blogs of size... this one is a thing of beauty, and a joy and giggling fit forever. The person playing Thor has good timing and a very expressive face. Also, his costars are a hoot! And this image begs to be used over and over again:

fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Still nervous about the election. I thought I'd burn off some steam, not to mention some calories from the dessert I plan to make for family tonight.

Guess what's on all the televisions?
fierynotes: Picture of Destruction, from the Sandman series, reading a book and slinging a guitar. (creative)


This is the result of about $200 worth of split rings from Michael's, and several hours of work. (I'm sure there are SCAdians and Rennies on my list, who will (hopefully) forgive me for cheating by using split rings.) I just found it again today.

The good news is that it's in as good condition now as it was nearly ten years ago, when I stopped working on it. At the time, I considered it nearly complete. I just needed to buy another batch of rings. But that would take a while, since when I first assembled this, I had to place an order for a shitload of rings (paying way too much for them), and well, I had other forms of recreation that also cost money (snort). But once I got those rings, all I had to do was extend the bottom on both front and back, attach them under the arms, and voilà! Chain mail vest!

The bad news is that at the time, I was considerably skinnier. I'm not as close to finishing it now as I was back then. On the other hand, money isn't disappearing up my nose, so I should have an easier time affording the rings to finish it.
fierynotes: Picture of Arsenal, from DC comics, looking very pissed off. (angry)
There are currently at least two personal trainers who decided to go from sculpted to fat, back to sculpted. Apparently, they were having little luck in getting those fatty fat fatsters to lose weight, so each one decided to go on his own personal odyssey through the seas of fatness, so that he understand the people on the islands of fatsville, before coming back to their lives in skinnytopolis, emotionally changed, but physically no worse than when they started -- after all, each one can still string his own bow, and can still shoot it. Or something. I've tortured a few metaphors there.

Now, before I tear into these idiots, I should point out that their experience isn't entirely without value. The fact that they started out lean and ripped and enthusiastic about exercise, but lost their enthusiasm for fitness when they gained weight and found they didn't have the energy for things they used to? I'm willing to give a little credit for that. Their experience in being judged? I'd be willing to listen. If someone who had any form of privilege ended up losing that privilege, and they could discuss it insightfully, there could be value in that. For the same reason, if a transwoman wrote a paper on male privilege, it would probably have some value -- she'd understand both having it, and not having it, better for having had it and then given it up.

But here's the problem: this experience is not typical. These guys don't have a life's worth of social contempt, lack of energy, lack of confidence, and/or failed diets behind them. These guys haven't had the prior experience of being promised that weight loss is easy, followed by failure and the line "you obviously weren't trying hard enough." These guys gained weight by eating a ridiculous amount of food, most of it junk, which is absolutely not a typical fat person's experience. More importantly, because they were all no-fat and ripped before they scarfed all that junk food and suspended their gym memberships, they knew that once they returned to their old habits -- and let's remember that these habits were once old and familiar to them, and one day they would be again -- they would once again be all no-fat and ripped, which is something that no fat person has.

I can't fault people for trying to understand, and normally I place a high value on learning from experience... but seriously, was this the only tool these guys had? A little deduction, empathy, and/or observation would have gone a long way here. Lemme illustrate:

"Our culture treats fat people like shit, and encourages them to hate themselves. Our culture also claims that all it takes is willpower to not be fat. If I were fat, and all it took was a little willpower to make the world around me stop treating me like shit and telling me to hate myself, I'm sure I could find the willpower to make it happen. And yet, there are people out there who can't do it. In fact, there are enough such people out there that our culture is making noises about an 'obesity epidemic.' Willpower can't possibly be in such short supply. Perhaps there's more going on than our culture is willing to talk about. Maybe it's not the fat person's fault. Maybe I should give them more credit."

Or, failing that, if fat people talk about their experiences, you could actually, you know, listen. Whatever these guys learned from their little experiment, any fat person could have told them.


On the subject of idiot tourists...

Every now and then, some well-to-do idiot decides to try to give homelessness a try, to try to put himself in their shoes. It always gets media attention, and sometimes it even accomplishes some greater good for real homeless people... but as an awareness-building exercise, it always fails for the same reason: this well-to-do idiot knows that at the end of his experiment, he still has a home waiting for him. He may know what it's like to beg for change, eat food that someone else has thrown away, be ignored by people who'd rather pretend he didn't exist, or sleep on a sidewalk because every park bench has those armrests are completely useless as armrests and only serve to make the bench impossible to sleep on. For all their failures, Drew Manning and PJ James gained knowledge about how difficult it is to lose weight, even if their knowledge is not necessarily applicable to fat people in real life -- the homelessness tourists can't even claim that.

Try to find a job when the only clothes you have are clothes you carry with you. Consider the difficulties in keeping your clothes and yourself clean for job-hunting. Now try to imagine doing this while begging for not only enough spare change to eat, but enough to keep your cellphone fed, because getting a job without a phone number is kinda impossible, and don't let anyone you're begging from ever see that you have a cellphone, because if you do, you're clearly not that broke. (By the way, if you're one of those people whose typical response to the homeless is "get a job, you bum," can I invite you to stop being such a fucking shit-rooster?) Now, consider that getting a job is the only chance you have at not being homeless any more... and have you ever noticed that the people who try out being homeless never go through all that?

And to round out my post on idiot tourists, some straight Christian dude who'd treated gay people with contempt and that stupid "love the sinner, hate the sin" bullshit decided to pretend to come out as gay, and masquerade as gay for a year, to see how people would treat him. Again, note what's missing -- to start with, a childhood filled with fear that his parents might not take it very well. (Some parents are cool. Some have been known to make noises about tossing their kids out or killing them if they turn out to be gay. Some of them live down to these noises.) Still, I look forward, with sour amusement, to the next time a white male conservative anti-gay politician gets caught with a rent-boy -- it'll be interesting to see if he claims that he was just trying it out so he could understand gay people better.

I am all for trying to walk a mile in someone else's shoes... but one: it's a metaphor, and two: a mile isn't a very long walk.
fierynotes: Picture of Hotstreak, from the cartoon Static Shock.  He looks annoyed. (annoyed)
Do you ever get the impression that a lot of people who have opinions on a given subject are totally talking out their asses?

I ask because I've been reading up on nutrition, and the results are a little depressing. It seems that a lot of people out there -- people with influence -- think that there's this horrible horrible obesity epidemic, and that it exists because those poor pitiable fat people lack either the willpower to eat "correctly," or the knowledge of what eating "correctly" is. Therefore, all you have to do is teach those people that fat is bad, that knowledge of proper nutrition is good, and we'll all be lean and svelte and pretty and live to be two hundred.

It's a nice idea. Warm and comforting, like a hot bath with lots of bubbles. Imagine, if you will, me standing over that bathtub unbuttoning my pants after having had a dozen beers. (I don't normally drink beer, except for metaphors like this. I don't like the flavor, and if I want to get drunk, there are much more efficient ways to achieve that.)

There's a lot wrong with this idea, in that it ignores the role of genetics, the fact that "willpower" is not exactly a useful concept when it comes to avoiding food that's explicitly designed to appeal to millions of years of instincts, the greater expense of healthy food as we currently know it, the greater time and energy investment of preparing healthy food, the presence of large areas where there's no shortage of convenience stores and McShitholes but no grocery stores, and many other things that would make this run-on sentence even more ridiculous than it already is if I tried to name them all. Seriously, I want to stop and catch my breath just reading that.

But let's ignore all that. Let's pretend that this is purely a problem of education, and that by teaching people how to eat, we can solve this problem.


Let's start small. White bread or whole wheat? Easy one, ain't it? Well... not really. The powers that be have flip-flopped on this one a bit, and notice how whichever kind of bread is worse, it's always those other people who are making it or eating it. You should eat white whole wheat bread. You don't want to be like them, do you?

High Fructose Corn Syrup? Awful, awful stuff. But it's no worse than table sugar, is it? Just as the corn lobby... or any political figure who owes the corn lobby favors.

Fast food will kill you, right? Of course it will -- you've seen Super Size Me, haven't you? Well, you might want to watch Fat Head, too -- there are problems with Spurlock's little experiment. There are problems with both movies, actually. Super Size Me is clearly a hatchet job against the fast food industry, and its motivations are probably social issues, some of them having little to do with health. (Not that social issues aren't worthy in and of themselves -- they are -- but not all social issues are health-related.) Fat Head is clearly resentful of people claiming to know what's best for us, and insists that "free will" is a useful concept when we're all surrounded by billions of dollars in marketing. (Seriously, do you think McShitholes would spend so much money on advertising if it didn't work?)

Is it more important to cut calories altogether, cut carbs, or cut fats? You'll find "experts" who make each of these claims. Butter or margarine? Saturated or unsaturated? We've flip-flopped on that, too. The four food groups, then the food pyramid, and now the current model? There were certainly good reasons to ditch the pyramid (the proportions on it were remarkably like the proportions used by farmers to fatten livestock), but for those of us who remember the way things were, this is easy to mistake for yet more flip-flopping. And let's keep in mind that all of these guides for healthy eating come from the government, which means that there are political factors influencing them. (The dairy lobby would have fought against the exclusion of milk in that new model. Meanwhile, vegetarians objected to its inclusion. Again, social issues as distinct from health issues.)

The BMI? Sure, it's useless (I've been "overweight" for a few years now, and I had to get my doctor to tell my insurance company I don't need to lose twenty pounds), but there are lots of people in medicine who take it seriously, and some who swear it need to be adjusted downward. I like that idea -- it'll mean that I'm four points overweight instead of just two.

Some of these changes are due to the fact that our knowledge of nutrition was never really complete, and as our body of knowledge grows, we need to update our education materials. Still, the fact that it changes allows doubt to creep in, and the fact that it's still not complete and will therefore continue to be changed every now and then doesn't help.


Changing the subject for a bit... when I was in school, I learned that drugs were bad. If you so much as smoked one joint, you'd end up on a rollercoaster to Hell that would end with you homeless in a gutter sucking tar heroin off a dead man's unmentionables, with ten horribly deformed children you can't afford to feed, and they'll all suffer, and you'll suffer, and it'll be all your fault because you smoked a joint. Don't smoke joints. When I discovered that this was all bullshit, I tried pot. Then PCP. Then, years later, meth. It's possible that I would have tried drugs anyway if I'd been surrounded by actual education instead of propaganda, but the propaganda didn't help -- I was in fact emboldened by the knowledge that the propaganda was bullshit. And let's not forget that alcohol and tobacco are both in on the War on (Some) Drugs.

Surrounded by a bunch of information, some of it bullshit, and nearly all of it produced with motives that go beyond simple nutrition, we're all in that same position. We're all surrounded by noise. And if you're fat, you hear more noise than if you're not. And even if you try to get good information out there, it's still going to contribute to the overall impression of being surrounded by noise.

My solution is a simple one in theory -- get all the people who don't know what they're talking about, or who do know and are still spouting bullshit, to shut the fuck up. In related news, who wants to put the bell on that cat?
fierynotes: Picture of Bill Weasley, from Harry Potter, looking serious. (staring)
I'm nervous as hell at the moment, because my regular doctor thinks I have plantar fasciitis. (Keep in mind, when you read that, that I don't have a car and I walk and ride trains everywhere.) In about three hours, I'll be going to a podiatrist that she recommended and hoping that all I need is special footware or exercises... as opposed to shots into my foot, or worse, surgery to grind down a bony thorn that may have developed in my heelbone.

So, to try to calm my nerves, I've been watching funny (but not necessarily safe for work) videos on YouTube. For instance...

This is the song "Friday," by Rebecca Black... in the style of death metal, and thus greatly improved.

A while back, Pinky-Pie made epic cupcakes. Now, she's back, with epic apple pie. (Some familiarity with both MLP and EMT is helpful for both of these.)

Some guy who doesn't like Sandra Lee decided to make parody videos of her Kwanzaa Cake and her Hannukah Cake. I should warn that there's a shitload of cultural insensitivity here, but that's unavoidable given the source material.

Craig Ferguson's intros are an unlikely mix of cheesecake, beef, cheese, puppets, geekery, and candied awesome.

This video makes a lot more sense, and is a lot funnier, if you've seen this synthol-pumped twit that he's very clearly mocking. If not, it's still worth checking out if you're into muscley guys without shirts.

You know those rap videos with endless bouncing women's asses? Well, check out this video from the other side of the mirror!
fierynotes: Picture of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, from Girl Genius.  He looks tired. (tired)
So, I've been watching a lot of Paula Deen's video's lately... and you have a good idea where this is going already, don't you? Well, maybe.

Before I proceed, I want to make it absolutely clear that I am discussing food, not body shape. If Paula Deen's food is bad for you, it's bad for you -- period. It does not suddenly become healthy if the person eating it has a six-pack instead of a keg, and the decision to eat it is not any healthier if the person making the decision to eat it has a six-pack instead of a keg. I haven't used this journal to attack anyone for being fat up to this point, and I'm not going to start now. (Unless Chris Shugart (here on LJ, here on DW) suddenly gets fat, in which case I will mock him mercilessly... but since Shugart is an orthorexic asshole who treats fat people with contempt on his website so that they'll feel pressured to buy high-priced supplements, I'll hope that my motives for ragging on him clearly go beyond just him being fat.)


We, as humans, all have these three little lights in our brains that go off when we eat certain foods, labeled "fat," "salt," and "carbs." Way back in human history, these lights kept us alive. Now, we have to use "willpower" to keep them from slowly killing us. I put "willpower" in quotes because those three lights represent instincts that have driven us for millions of years, and the idea that we now need to resist those lights is a fairly new one by evolutionary standards. "Willpower" is not necessarily a useful concept here, any more than it's necessarily useful to expect teenagers to resist trying to trigger that other big light in our brains labeled "orgasms." Sure, you can "expect" it. You can "expect" the sun to glow bright green on Saint Patrick's Day, too. In either case, the real world doesn't give a shit about your expectations.

The amount of power these lights have over us vary by person. For instance, the friend who explained these lights to me in pretty sure that my fat light is defective, or at least miswired -- I'm mostly immune to the charms of bacon and butter. (When I made Crepe Suzette a while back, I used more butter in that one dish than I normally consume in a month.) It's possible my "salt" light is miswired as well. In other words, I'm a mutant.

A million years ago, my indifference (and frequent revulsion) to fats would have meant I'd likely starve to death. These days, my particular mutations are not only not a death sentence, but confer social advantages... but this represents a sea change in our culture and our society, not in our brains. Our brains haven't really changed much. (Just don't tell the Evo-Psych crowd I'm agreeing with their initial premise. I don't want those assholes thinking I agree with the rest of their bullshit.)

Which brings me to why I'm watching Paula Deen make things like Macaroni in a Lake of Cheese, Deep-Fried Cheesecake, and Donut Egg and Bacon Burgers, and why I'm reading her Deep-Fried Butter Balls recipe. I suspect Paula Deen is, like me, a mutant... but in the other direction. Where most people have light bulbs in their brains, and I have one light bulb and a couple of tiny LEDs, Paula Deen has enough neon tubing in her brain to light a street in Las Vegas.

This only explains her cooking -- not the fact that she has a show. It's easy to make fun of Paula Deen's cooking for how it hammers the fuck out of all three of those lights -- it's not so much shooting fish in a barrel as dropping a nuke on a goldfish bowl. Hell, the only show I can think of that's worse is Epic Meal Time, and their whole point of that show is excess for its own sake. But she's far from alone. Most fast food places consider salt, fat, and carbs to be the Three Food Groups. In many restaurants, you could make a drinking game of how many times the words "bacon" or "cheese" can be found on the menu, but you'd have to have a death wish to actually play it. In the frozen and convenient food sections of any grocery store, you'll see the same thing. This food sells, because we humans have those little lights in our heads. Companies make this food because it sells, and if they can make food sell better by hammering those lights harder, they will. If we become unhealthy, and some of us die, as a result of all this? As far as they're concerned, that's our problem, and their problem is only that the handful of people making these decisions, despite being stinking rich, aren't rich enough.

We, as human beings, really need to learn how our brains work. Right now, that knowledge is in the hands of a small percentage of us, who usually use it to exploit the rest of us. If we all understood how these strings pulled at us, we might have a faint hope of resisting them. Not that we'll ever be truly free of these strings, since every good cook alive pulls on them as well, but we can try. (And if you hadn't guessed, I'm no longer talking just about food marketing.)

Unfortunately, it's not really in the interests of anyone with the resources to educate us all about these strings to actually do so. So, we have to do it ourselves... despite the fact that most of us lack the tools.

Ugh. That's depressing. I'm going to watch Powerpuff Girls or My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic for a bit to try to cheer up.
fierynotes: Picture of Daimon, from Marvel comics, without a shirt.  'Look at me, I have muscles!' (flirty)
Picture two guys on a beach in shorts, without shirts: one of them with a bit of a gut, and one of them an obviously devoted gymrat. Paunchy is holding a sugary soft drink, and Muscles is holding a diet soft drink. Paunchy is is giving Muscles shit over his choice of drinks: "I'm revoking your man card, you're so obsessive about your girlish figure, what are you queer, and hey, only women drink diet soda!" In response to that line that only women drink diet soda, Muscles says "not anymore," and grins wolfishly as a couple of conventionally attractive women look him over, clearly like what they see, and drag him offscreen. In his eagerness to be dragged offscreen, Muscles drops his diet soft drink. As he departs, the camera first closes in on Paunchy's no-doubt-comical facial expression, then on the diet soft drink, which has conveniently landed right-side-up in the sand, with the label facing the camera. Add voiceovers, then fade to black. Or alternatively, Muscles can respond to Paunchy's insults with equal rudeness -- "look at the shape I'm in, and look at the shape you're in" with a pointed glance at Paunchy's belly -- and then hold the bottle with the label facing the camera, where the camera can get the bottle and his abs all in one shot.

Yes, this hypothetical advert is almost as panderingly douche-tastic as the existing diet drink marketing. It's marketing. Douchebaggery kinda comes with the territory. Dr. Pepper is marketing its diet soft drink as suitable for male action stars (and therefore not for women), and some beer company whose name I forget is marketing its insipid piss-water as suitable for men who've done something unmanly and need to redeem themselves in the eyes of their asshole friends. This one I just came up with also uses some ugly marketing tropes: for instance the implication that you're totally unfuckable, but hey, you should buy our product and it will make you fuckable!

In my defense, though, women are told every day that they could be fuckable if they just do this one thing. And this one other thing. And this one other other thing. And these couple dozen things, and dear gods, woman, you're so hideous, how do you summon the courage to even leave the house looking like that? For the most part, men ignore it because for it's not generally aimed at men, and women have to at least try to ignore it, but it's everywhere. It's background radiation -- most women can't really just ignore it, at least not with much degree of success.

My ad would hopefully be a comment on this sort of advertising, and a way to make it clear to men what women put up with all the time -- possibly with a hint of "just think, guys, what if this sort of shit were directed at you all the time?" Unfortunately, I'm sure that any ad agency that used my idea would end up turning it into just another Axe Body Spray ad, and all the subtle commentary I'd intended to include would end up being filtered out.

And on this note, I have a confession to make. )

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