Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Okay - The People Who Make And Sell It Say So!

Lately I've been pretty tweaked at some of the anti-intellectual advertising and marketing that we are inundated with. The ones I notice the most come from two fast food mega-corporations trying to convince you that because you enjoy coffee ordered by an Italian name at a place where you can sit down and enjoy a book or surf the internet you must be some kind of elitist snob. Actually, it means I'd rather give my money to a local business than them. But yes, I do frown on stupid people.

Still, that's not my true beef here.

What really grinds my gears is this new "Jedi Mind Trick" by the Corn Refiners Association to convince us that HFCS is not the droid we're looking for. And they are going about their business.

Actually, to invoke another Hollywood metaphor, they're pulling the "Roy Munson cigarette mind-trick" from Kingpin. Listen here and see if you can spot similarities.

Okay, that may be a little harsh. Fine, the stuff is made from corn. Feed corn to be exact. Fine, there are no artificial ingredients. But producing the stuff is hardly a study in the ways of nature. I'll buy that HFCS is nutritionally similar to sucrose, and doesn't contribute to obesity any more than sucrose. But here's the problem...

Nutritionally, sucrose is teh suxx0rz. Hollow calories that easily enable fat storage in excess.

In other words, there's no reason to worry about HFCS - it's just as shitty for you as sugar.

Which is where we get to the last point: it's fine in moderation. But what is moderation for HFCS? The modern, industrial food chain makes it extremely difficult to moderate HFCS intake. In fact, I loves me some of the yummy stuff it goes into, and I have been consuming too much of it lately. But truly "moderating" your intake of HFCS to the point that a regularly active, healthy person should would definitely hit the Corn Refiners Association where it hurts. Their profits. Which is what they are trying to protect with this (and other) ads. Do you really think they want America's 40lbs per capita annual HFCS consumption to go down? Oh, and remember to add about another 15 lbs per annum of straight corn syrup.

I could go on further about why you should moderate it, like how every calorie of HFCS you take in accounts for an additional 10 calories of petroleum energy expended to create it and get it to your mouth, as well as other "hidden costs" of industrial farming in resources and the environment. But you can't pin those costs solely on HFCS.

So no, I won't single HFCS out. I'll say it deserves equal treatment with all caloric sweeteners - STRICT MODERATION. Again, which is not what they really want.

Corn Refiners' Association, I fart in your general direction, and call your high fructose corn syrup advertisement buying request a silly thing!!! You don't frighten me you empty-headed, animal food trough wiper!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bob Woodward, Horatio Nelson, 9-11 and Scary People

I was in Washington DC on business for a couple of days this week, as I am a few times a year. A pretty productive trip, with some interesting high (and one low) lights this time.

The first came in the form of a book. I always take one with me on the plane; I get little enough time to read for pleasure, so when I fly I want to take advantage of the time. I'm in the middle of Halsey's Typhoon and had planned on taking it, but in my rush to get out the door I left it on the table. So I picked up The War Within by Bob Woodward. I'm damn glad I did. It's been a fast, well-researched read and I'll be sure to post a review somewhere once I'm first book report in years.

The next evening I attended a reception at the under-construction Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Navy in the Washington Navy Yard. While the Cold War Gallery won't be open for a while, the museum itself is a real treasure. If you're ever in DC, go. Period. It's on a base, but you can still arrange to get there. However, the highlight was not the reception itself. Talking to a member of the Naval Historical Foundation, I learned that they had found two original letters - one from 1789 and one from 1804 - written (more than likely dictated) by Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. I asked if I could see them, and I was taken to the office where they were, and shown them. I can't begin to describe how I felt as I started picking through the handwriting. To look upon a piece of original history like this is a once in a lifetime experience. Following the reception, I met up with a childhood and lifetime friend of mine, Mike, now a Navy Doc at Bethesda, and we went and had some seafood on the waterfront and talked about old times. That was the end of the highlights.

The next day, bright and early, I headed to the Pentagon for a quick meeting before having to get on a plane back to Boston. It was 9-11, and the place was gearing up for the opening of the Pentagon 9-11 Memorial shortly after my arrival. My sked didn't allow me to attend the dedication. It was sure to be a slow morning INSIDE the building, but what I saw outside is what made me shake my head in disbelief. While heading in, I noticed a small group of protesters holding signs and talking in loud voices. That's always been fine by me, and I take comfort in the fact that the military makes an effort to set space aside for such activity, if someone chooses to do it. Those feelings left me when I got closer and realized that these people were affiliated with (or had at least bought their signs from) the Westboro Baptist Church. They displayed the telltale colors and slogans, like "Thank God for 9-11" and "God Hates the USA", "9-11 was God" and all the usual crap. If you want to get really angry, watch this 2006 piece from Hannity and Colmes...or as much of it as you can stomach. These idiots are almost enough to make me hate the First Amendment.

Fortunately, they were gone when I came out of my meeting - probably because I got lost finding my way back, it's an easy thing to do - and I was on my way to the airport, anxious to get through my post-9/11 TSA screening so I could curl back up with my book for the flight back.