So, wait... its not because of fat people?

A stunning development out of Canada over the weekend with regards to diabetes research. Now, I have to caution that while this is encouragine news, it is also still very early in the research process. That said, a team of Canadian scientists have been able to cure Diabetes in mice. Not manage, cure.

Their research looked at the nervous system instead of the body's immune system as most have assumed was the key factor. By counteracting damaged pain neurons in the Pancreas, they essentually jump start the body's insulin production and reduced insulin resistance. While its not a perminant cure, it was sustain for as long as four months. While treatment for Diabetes would still be ongoing, it would be vastly more effective and far less burdensome. They still have to show that the treatments on mice can work on humans, and that is a major jump. But this is an enormous amount of promise coming out of nowhere. It also sharply challenges the "weight control" means of "treating" diabetes. That may not even remotely be linked to the actual causes. At the very least, by challenging conventional wisdom, this research could lead to major improvement in treating a disease which does impact the lives of many fat people. I'm cautious, but hopeful all the same.


How stupid do you think we are?

The answer out of the UK, apparently, being very stupid. Yet again, the anti-fat crusaders have demonstrated their complete inability to understand reality. Again, we are told that the problem is that fat people just don't know that they aren't supposed to be fat. The remedy for this non-existant problem? Warning labels. No, not on food, though that'd be pretty stupid. No, its been suggested that we need warning labels on our CLOTHES. It reminds me of the suggestion (I think by infamous hate-mongerer Mikey Fumento) that plus-size clothing stores were the moral equivilant of crack houses.

This goes beyond the foolishness of the anti-fat people movement positioning themselves as the new anti-smoking (and demonstrating their lack of understanding of the differences between the correlations in both circumstances). Labeling clothing is a mean-spirited suggestion with no chance of success. Its only being made to generate press attention, but I don't think its fair to dismiss it out of hand. What it shows is that for all of their constant screaming in the media, for all the billions of dollars spent promoting weight loss products, for all of the petty insults fat people endure in their lives, the message from the anti-fat camp is that they think we just don't know any better. It is patronizing and insulting, and betrays the motivation for their scorn for fat people.

To them, its all very easy. Just don't be fat. They really seem to think its that easy. To them, anyone who hasn't just stopped being fat, they must be a fool or absurdly lazy. They think we're either too stupid to lose weight or too stupid to know we should. Either way, the depth of this contempt is alarming.

Fat people know we aren't "supposed" to be fat. We know we're supposed to lose weight. We know how we're supposed to do it. The problem is, none of that works. The problem is, all of those "Supposed to's" aren't nearly as factually based as their promoters would have us believe. Fat people have incredible will power. To resist the call takes a great deal of committment and effort. And for those who haven't come to acceptances, they are still demonstrating towering will power by repeatedly waging a losing fight in the hopes of meeting the expectations that have been drawn for them. Yet we are constantly called failures and demeaned as idiots.

This is what the anti-fat establishment thinks of us. They think we're so stupid that just repeating themselves is an intelligent response to their make-believe epidemic. We are dealing with people who hold us in such low regard as to respond to us like we are drooling fools. This is the opposition to fatness and this is what they think of us.


Go Here

I've been bogged down at work so I haven't had much opportunity to write. So, I thought it might be a good idea to spotlight a few people who are writing things worth reading.

Do I HAVE to hate Old Navy? is a MySpace blog by a woman who recently discovered that Old Navy carries Plus Size clothing but slightly more recently discovered that her local Old Navy was discontinuing Plus Size clothing. While I was encouraged that Old Navy tentatively expanded to includ Plus Sizes, they've supported the move with no promotion and it seems that when no one came to something no one knew existed, they've decided to call the effort a failure. Old Navy needs to be called out for this and called on to promote their plus-size wares. Fat clothing should stop being marginalized. This can make Old Navy money. I'd like to know why they seem to think fat women's money isn't worth as much as every else's. If you're on MySpace, I'd suggesting adding her as a Friend.

Junk Food Science is something you already know about, but its worth mentioning all the same. Writer (and Red No. 3 reader) Sandy Szwarc recently started the blog and has already done some must-read writing. I don't agree with Sandy about everything, but I'm nothing but happy to have her as an ally on fat acceptance. She brings a much needed perspective and expertise to the discussion. She does a great job debunking the plethora of nonsense stories and studies about fat and food that the media dutifully reports all the time. Bookmark her site and read it regularly. Its well worth your time.

Finally, I'd like to suggest a visit to Big Moves. Both the website, and one of their shows. I've been fortunate enough to see two Big Moves performances and they were really great shows. Their "Heavy Metal Holidays" is coming up on December 10, and I'm looking forward to it.


Preventative Organ Amputation?!?

Some insane fat stories this month, as we learned that fat people are to blame for global warming or high gas prices (depending on your political persuasion), but perhaps the most frightening story was from the organ amputation industry. It starts off predictably enough. The industry is touting new procedures that will WAY more safer than what they've been doing. Anyone who follows the bariatric surgery industry knows that they make this claim every few years. The come out with some change, insist is revolutionary that all of the frightening fatalities from weight loss surgery must be ignored because they aren't doing that kind of surgery anymore. Couple years go by and the cycle begins anew.

The frightening thing was the intention to expand the use of organ amputation as a "preventative" opperation. This is nothing short of insane and deeply disturbing. Weight loss surgery is exceptionally risky and is being promoted as a final solution with abandon. People are dying because of this, and they want to EXPAND its use in the guise of prevention? Its scary enough that our medical establishment can justify destroying a healthy and properly working body system. That they would advocate such an extreme measure in the name of "prevention" is offensive. These are the stakes fat people are facing. This is why there needs to be a voice against fat hatred. I'm deeply afraid for Size Acceptance. The movement has been overrun with surgery promoters who want to silence Size Acceptance. We all need to resist these efforts. The stakes are too grave to allow such manipulation to go unchallenged.


Eddie Murphy sure likes that fat suit

So, while watching TV the other day, a trailer comes on for a new Eddie Murphy movie. Its one of those ones where Eddie Murphy plays all of the leads himself. You know, like the Nutty Professor. Remember how fun that was for fat people? Well, the fat suit's back. But now its switched genders and apparently gotten a LOT more negative. From the trailer, it looks like it'll make his Nutty Professory character look like a fat acceptance approved role model. While there, his fat character was still the hero, when the fat drag makes him a fat woman, its all bad.

In the movie, Murphy plays a nerdish man who is involved with a quite fat woman who is portrayed as extremely self-important and extremely domineering. Aside from the standard mocking of the notion that a fat woman could think she was beautiful, its mines all of the stupid fat jokes and stereotypes that Martin Lawrence had been busily dishing out with the "Big Momma" movies. I guess Murphy wanted a piece of that action, so here we are.

The fat suit is, of course, absurdly unrealistic. This is made especially obvious in some scenes as its clear the more body focused bits used a body double with Murphy's head attached. I've always felt that a major contributing factor to heightened discrimination against fat women was the fact that you simply never see a fat woman in any state of undress in popular media. Fat guys, you do see. Oh, it isn't positive, but their bodies are allowed a reality which is withheld from fat women. Their bodies aren't even accepted enough to poke fun at. They must be completely hidden away. But, I'll admit, this wasn't what I was thinking of when I thought it'd be nice to see more fat women treated like, well, that they exist. When I was hoping to see more diversity in the portrayal of fat women's bodies, I wasn't expecting those fat women to be Eddie Murphy and Gwyneth Paltrow. Sure, those films both featured actual fat women's bodies instead of poorly made suits. But, they are still denied a pressence by using them as cheap stand-ins for actors in fat drag. And, of course, the object of cheap jokes. In the trailer, we see Murphy's character flattening her boyfriend during sex, flying like a cannonball off a waterslide, and there is an especially easy gag about her belly apron in a bikini.

I'm certainly not looking forward to having to endure the likely success of this film and the period of omnipresent fat gags that will ensue. No punches are going to get pulled here. Unlike Nutty Professor or Shallow Hall, the fat suit here is for the bad guy of the picture and one can expect the "humor" to be quite severe, very cheap, and an annoying reminder of the degree with which fat women are denied the opportunity to exist in the world of TV and movies. No, no. We'll have to get Eddie Murphy to play the fat woman.


Ire towards muffintops

I was on the train the other day and noticed a young woman sporting what has come to be derisively known as a muffin-top. That is, the small roll of fat spilling out over the top of a tight pair of jeans. Indeed, "muffin-top" is an apt visual analogy and in the world of derisive nicknames, that's a pretty tame one which is quite ripe for reclamation.

Anyway, it occured to me then that when a lot of people complain about how many about how many fat people there are, this is what they are talking about. Oh, I'm sure they hold a lot of disgust for very fat people, but how often do you see very fat people? In my regular life, I'll see a 350+ person maybe only once a week and often a lot less then that. And for those of us who are not that conspiciously fat, well, I kind of think we just blend in. A lot of moderately fat people take great efforts to be invisible because there certainly can be a lot of resentment directed towards. Just, in a regular day, we're nothing special. Nothing to inspire any great anger or disgust. Maybe its a background noise that justifies the hatred, but its nothing to really instigate it.

But, the muffintops, well that's different. Here is fat that you see and many people are very disgusted by. That's why they came up with a derisive nickname, after all. There is no shortage of disgust or outrage towards these women. Check out Craigslist some time. The fat hatred there is almost exclusively aimed at women who really aren't fat. They just aren't very thin and they aren't trying to be dutifully invisible. And yet, they still maintain the connection with the medicalized fat hatred and their obviously superficial dissatisfaction with these women. Just look at advise columnist Dan Savage who raged against "girl love handles". He was vigorously offended at having to see this small quantity of fat. Its clear that what is being talked about here are women are very thin by any reasonable standard who are wearing the tight jeans and short shirts that are in style. Yet, who called out for his insulting response, Savage fell back on whining about the "obesity epidemic". Health concerns are a fall-back justification for a cultural aesthetic. Those who are deeply offended by muffin-tops know they can't really get away with that as a reason, so they dress it up as an epidemic. But make no mistake, its not just the super-sized who are inspiring this offense. A lot of it is driven by women are very thin, indeed. Just not thin enough for cultural standards.


The Shape of a Mother

Not quite fat specific, but related to body image issues in our society, the new site, The Shape of a Mother is a very promissing site. The site sets out to diffuse post-partum body hatred by showing what the bodies of mothers actually look like. Readers submit their photos and essays, and the whole projects is very inspiring and well worth a look. While the body hatred in some submissions is discouraging, its a step in a process. Popular culture just does not show us this side of motherhood, because it deems it bad and negative. This lack of inclusion just fuels that feeling, though. A site like this works to desensitize to us to this. It makes it real. That serves a very useful purpose, and its no surprise that a lot of fat activism does this as well. If there are any fat mothers out there, I'd strongly urge you to take part in the project yourselves. Its a simple but extremely powerful form of activism.


Where does fat discrimination come from?

(Obviously a topic too large to deal with in one post, so consider these some initial musings on the issue)

There is a difference between the origin of fat discrimination and the current basis for fat discrimination. The former would be impossibly difficult to quantify. A lot of theories can be offered, but none will ever be completely sufficient. How our culture morphed from one that was relatively open minded about body image with a noted preference towards relatively fat bodies, into one which prised thinness above all else is just not an easy question to answer. The advent of corporate consumerism and popular culture certainly have sped the change, but why did it change in the first place? It could well have just been the whim of a handful of cultural decision makers 100+ years ago.

What is easier (though not easy) to consider is what fuels fat bigotry today. Again, though, the answer will be complex. Inevitably, nearly all fat bigotry falls back on an arguement that fat people are unhealthy and therefore it is okay to hate them. Indeed, the bigotry and discrimination is "for their own good". I don't doubt that many who harbor fat bigotry internally consider this a sufficent explanation. Yet, factual evidence does not support the consequences. Even if the most flawed studies were completely true (and they aren't) the health impact of fatness is shockingly little given the extreme lengths to which fat bigotry and discrimination exists. There simply is no useful comparison to draw where another group is so severely disenfranchised due to health concerns. Indeed, there are much graver health concerns which elicit little more than a collective shrug from our society.

Morality clearly plays a major issue. Fatness is seen as immoral. A fat body is considered sufficent proof of immorality and this fuels the considerable hate and venom directed towards fat people. Here, though, I don't think morality and religion can be seen as the same thing. Fat bigotry clearly transends religion. These deeply held moral condemnations are seen in Christians, Jews, Athiests, and so many others. Part of this sentiment results from the idea that fat people, by definition, engage in immoral activities. Again, this is without proof, yet it has been diefied as "common sense" in our culture. However, I think these ideas simply open the door to a the notion that our bodies are immoral due to their being aesthetically displeasing. Clearly, our culture responds to beauty as a moral virture, so the backlash against what is culturally unattractive is related to that. But unlike negative feelings towards those who lack conventional attractiveness, there is much social justification to actually act on those feelings when directed towards fat people. It is okay to hate someone for not looking attractive, but there are cultural inducements that say it is okay to hate people. Whether through open prejudice or demeaning pity. There are several factors working together to provide the fuel for fat discrimination. No one factor would be entirely sufficient on its own, but together they have dire consequences for fat people. It is a bigotry which adapts to many different backgrounds and ideologies. Conservatives condemn fat people as a matter of personal responsibility. Liberals blast us for our presumed overconsumpsion. Christians denounce us as gluttons while socialists offer self-righteous pity for our being victimized by corporations. The specific internal logic of individual examples of fat bigotry is remarkably fluid which makes it exceptionally hard to combat.


Lessons from Feminism?

One difficulty facing size acceptance is the large number of people who try to twist the meaning of "size acceptance" to represent a fundamentally opposing view point. That is, instead of representing acceptance for whatever size a person is, they claim it is advocating for acceptance of whatever size a person thinks they should be. They are eager to insist that this is a minor adjustment, but in truth it is a sea change. Now, the diet industry and feederism both fall under the umbrella of "size acceptance". Indeed, the only thing which doesn't is what had always been Size Acceptance. Its a false inclusion. By adjusting the message to be more "inclusive", the true intent is to exclude those who believed in the message to begin with. It neuters Size Acceptance into a diet acceptance movement, something profoundly unnecessary in our society. The people engaged in these distortions are usually nominally against size discrimination, but it is telling that they don't really do anything about it. Indeed, when faced with real instances of size discrimination, this crew usually lies down, such as I've seen with the discriminatory policies of Southwest Airlines. Only the most heinous of discrimination is worth concern, and you rarely come across easily identifiable examples of such. The truth is, though, that they wouldn't do anything anyway. Their energy is exclusively directed towards Size Acceptance advocates. Its illuminating that while they think Size Acceptance advocates should not argue for alternatives to weight loss culture, they've never shown any indication that they feel weight loss advocates should similiarly give up their advocacy. Its only the views they don't like that need to shut up.

When pondering this circumstance, I've often thought it was a unique disadvantage to Size Acceptance. After all, you never see anti-gay rights advocates claiming their position is "Gay Rights". While sometimes anti-civil rights crusaders will claim they represent civil rights, it is always with the provision that it is "civil rights for white people." It did finally occur to me, however, that there is an instance of an oppositional viewpoint attempting to usurp a "radical" movement's vocabulary. The example is feminism.

There are significant examples of anti-feminists who label themselves as feminists while representing none of the views or goals of those who originated and championed the ideology of feminism. Rather than reject the philosophy openly, they seek to subvert it and make it mean the opposite of what it means. While there is genuinely a wider ground of ideas that fall under feminism, there are still bounds with which to reasonably identify the movement. Yet some maintain the title for the purpose of advocating against gender equality and for male patriarchy. The key difference between this and Size Acceptance is the willingness on the part of feminists to reject such redefinitions of feminism. They don't relent to the message shift, they confront it. This is something Size Acceptance will need to do. The world doesn't need a movement that will support "dieters rights" and never questions the wisdom of the weight loss culture. That is the status quo. It doesn't require a movement.

I will confess that I don't know much about the issues that come from anti-feminism wrapped in feminist titles. Perhaps some readers can offer some insight into how feminism really does deal with the usurping of the identity that goes on. Am I romanticising it as a easy refutal when actually there is a lot of hemming and hawing from feminists about being inclusive towards anti-feminism in feminist clothing? Or if I am correct in my assessment, why is it that feminism is so willing to stand up to this tactic? I suspect there is much to learn from feminism on this issue. Quite proper since Size Acceptance was an outgrowth of feminism to begin with.


Only in fat acceptance

Only in fat acceptance can the boundries for "civil" debate have been set to forbid those in favor of even expressing that opinion in the face of opposition, while permitting those against fat acceptance to make accusations of murder, insanity, brainwashing, and even engage in violent fantasies, all without challenge. They say that the person who frames the debate, wins the debate. I'm afraid institutional fat acceptance has taken it upon itself to give up the debate by allowing such a fundamentally hostile situation to flourish. It makes me sick to my stomach to see people treat my disagreement as a personal attack and cry foul if I stand firm in my beliefs. It makes me sick to my stomach to see these same people accuse fat activists of being criminals for believing as they do, calling us sadists or killers. The worst is how so many people are so eager to watch this happen and not say a word. This silent consent has crippled the fat acceptance movement and turned into a cause of perpetual capitulation. I should really spend more time posting at progressive blogs. I can't begin to tell you how encouraging it is to see people who have to guts to believe in something and say so. People who know that disagreement isn't a personal attack, but that those who say it is ARE engaging in a personal attack. People who can recognize that some who want to be "inclusive" of many viewpoints really just want to exclude the viewpoints they refuse to respect. It may not seem like much courage, but its far more than institutional fat acceptance is willing to provide. I respect and admire it, even if it only provides me with more discouragement for the future of fat acceptance.

Still, while size acceptance has failed to provide communities online, I'm becoming aware that there are people out there on the grassroots level who are doing good work and honest work for the cause. People who aren't just carrying water for those who disagree with size acceptance. It may seem dire looking at the complete failure of fat acceptance online, but there is a real world out there where people still believe in things that go against the status quo.


Unstructured Fat Bashing

There is a story out about how some schools are eliminating recess due to the demands of recent legislation. (Click here to read the story) I certainly think its a shame that "unstructured play time" is starting to become a thing of the past. Its not hard to see its value in developing social skills and friendships as well as encouraging creativity and imagination. A lot of kids just don't get that after school and need the time to play with children their age during the school day. You'd think all that would be a reason to bemoan the loss of recess.

Nope. What's the final point made in the story? And on a radio mention of the story I heard this morning? "What about the fat children?" Thankfully, I see that others are understanding the more important issues, but can it be any surprise that some see this as an opening to bemoan the existance of chubby kids and condemn schools for contributing to their fatness?

"What about the fat children?" is an increasing cry from fat bashers and its one I fear many in fat acceptance don't care to confront. Due to failures to educate people about the key points of fat acceptance, I've seen a number of people who claim to believe in fat acceptance, but who don't think that acceptance should extend to children. The continue to hold onto the notion that fat is bad, and while its okay for them to ignore that, they can hardly suggest that children should be subjected to it. It is a double shame because increasingly, children are the primary target for public fat bashing. As if they didn't get enough of that at recess?

Of course, its a wonderful self-fufilling prophecy for the anti-fat crusaders. Start going after children. Frame every issue in terms of its effects on childhood "obesity". Encourage intervention for "at risk" kids. As in, kids who ARE NOT FAT but who apparently need to diet and have issues about their bodies and eating anyway. Even if there wasn't anything remotely resembling a crisis to begin with, they create it by forcing weight loss diets on younger and younger kids. After all, not only do most diets fail, the overwhelming majority of diets result in more weight being gained than was lost in the first place. If there were increasing rates of fat children, there will be thanks to the intervention of the fat bashers.

Everyone should grow up free to let their body be what it will be without hysterical fits over the fact that some kid has a belly. They are children. They should be able to have fun and enjoy themselves. That's why we should preserve recess and its why we should oppose this latest front in the "war" on fatness.


Fat and Health: A Rant

In the comments to my last post, Patsy complains about the healthism seen in institutional fat acceptance and I at least partly agree with her. While, I don't have a problem with encouraging a fat person to be healthy, we cannot do so with a language so infested with fat bigotry. The reality is "eating right", "staying active", "being healthy", are all terminology that has been used as thinly veiled fat hatred and we cannot hope to create a world where fat people are free to be healthy without confronting the ways these terms have been warped and corrupted to fit an anti-fat agenda.

Fact is, I think most fat people are a lot healthier than they give themselves credit for and what problems may exist have FAR less to do with our lifestyles than with a fat-negative culture which stigmatizes our very existance. You can promote an authenticly healthy lifestyle within fat acceptance, but the reality out there is that most who are pushing for that are active opponents of fat acceptance who are preying on some fat activists fears of being labeled as anti-health so as to promote their own anti-fat agenda. They've gnawing around the edges of fat acceptance, destroying it bit by bit rather than the broad strokes their allies seek. Persuit of weight loss has been an intensely destructive force on the health of fat people for decades. It must end. We cannot protect the health and well-being of fat people, of all people, without confronting a system which is frighteningly unproven and dangerously harmful. Health at any size should mean something. ANY being the word that so many are eager to diminish and ignore, but it is the most important word. No one should be abandoned because they are "too fat". Outreach to a broader fat community should never come at the expense of people deemed unfashionably fat.

Unfortunetly, its even worse than this. Not only does institutional fat acceptance not put up much of fight against this war of inches, they've actively sought to appease far more agressive fat bigots. The eagerness exhibited by NAAFA and Big Fat Blog to reach out to a violent fat hate group founded on a bitter and personal hatred of fat acceptance and fat activists was outrageous. Naturally, the hate group faded into nothingness very rapidly, making the stain left on fat acceptance from its embrace of a group which harbored murderous fantasies towards fat activists all the more pronounced. I have trouble fighting for a movement that is so intrinsicly linked to such so-called crusaders who'd happily acceptance violent death threats from people who want the movement destroyed but who will bully and censor people who believe in the movement just to curry favor with those hate mongers. I have no trust in institutional fat acceptance. Its proven itself completely undeserving of any faith.


Back to the Future

So, yeah. I know I haven't been posting. You haven't been reading, though, so it evens out.

I've been mulling what to do with my blog for a while. I probably should make it more specific since I imagine this being a more productive blog rather than a glimpse into my subconscious. That's what MySpace is for, after all.

But specific about what? Politics? While it was my major, there are SO many brilliant people already writing about politics in general. I'm not sure I'd have enough to offer or at least the time to to offer it right. Television? I'm tempted. I've always loved TV and writing about it. But, my taste has gotten so specific that I'm still not sure what I'd hope to accomplish. Fat acceptance? I've got the passion for the subject, that's for sure. But my ambilivence towards the structures of the movement (specifically, the eagerness institutional fat acceptance has for abandoning fat acceptance at the request of bigots) makes it a tough thing to commit energy to as a single issue blog. But maybe.

So, I'm still floundering. But work is a little easier for a little while, so maybe I'll have more time to plan things our and have an idea about where I'm going. Maybe, anyway.


Much the funny

As an early April's Fool gag, NBC has put together some comical "The More You Know" public service announcements starring the cast of the fantastic sitcom, The Office. Even better, they are all in character which I think is a great meta joke about how the series is premised as a documentary. They are beautifully faux serious and range from self-important to completely casual to very ernest about the mundane. Its a great send-up of the "The More You Know" spots and well worth a viewing.

So, go watch them.

Yeah, that's all I've got.


For all the numismatists in the house

Since I accidentally knocked over the used film container holding them, I had an opportunity to take account of my 50-State Quarters collection.  Something I do with feverish anticipation about once every 18 months or so.

See, the program was supposed to inspire a new era of coin collecting, and it kind of did.  But only kind of.  Mostly, it just inspired a lot of people like me who kinda wanted a full collection, but we're really that invested into doing much for it.  So after a couple years of being on the look-out for new quarters, I know think of it every once and a while and scramble to locate quarters I know I once had but don't seem to have right now.  Usually, this coincides with whenever I decide to roll my extra quarters because frankly I don't really care that much.

I appear to be missing Arkansas, Minnesota, and Kansas.  I know I had Arkansas and Minnesota at some point, but I apparently never bothered to set one aside.  I'm actually also missing Florida, but I'm pretty sure I have that at work after doing this about a year ago and going through a friends coins at work.  Never bothered to bring it home, though.

Part of the problem is that, well, the designs kinda suck.  They are either horribly boring nature scenes (Like Oregon and West Virginia) or insanely busy as they cram far too much into the quarter. (Like Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina)

I know the purpose of the program is to offer local color to the quarters, so I'll excuse Vermont's need to enshrine maple syrup production or but some of them are still kinda weird.  Like Alabama honoring Helen Keller.  Hey, I don't have a problem with her, but is she really all Alabama has?  Well, maybe.  Ditto Delaware championing of and Iowa putting a freakin' school house on a quarter seem pretty weak.

Also entertaining are the similiarities in the various states.  Kansas for instance went with a buffalo for their design.  A dumb idea given the buffalo's association with the nickel, but there you are.  It really sucked for the good state of North Dakota though, as their design also incorporates the buffalo.  One assumes out of spite for Kansas getting there first, though, ND slipped in 2 buffalo.  Ohio is also a total design whore as they swiped elements from TWO other states that had a better claim on them.  Rather than celebrate anything from Ohio, they opted to celebrate people born in Ohio who did important things elsewhere.  Namely, the Wright Brothers first flight in North Carolina and Florida's part in the space program.

Some of the best designs were early designs. Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania all had nice, simple designs that did their job.  And kudos to New Jersey for honoring a genuinely important historical event with the crossing of the Delaware.

Two designs, though, stand out as the best to date.  Texas is my favorite by far.  It takes the elements of MA, NY, and PA (state outline with little added) and refines it.  Where the other states all included a human form on their design, which while understandable isn't very strong visually in the small size, Texas went with a simple Texas lone-star.  Its a very strong visual, augmented well with a lariat design around the sides.  This is easily my favorite design to date.  The runner-up for me is my home state of Connecticut.  While the Charter Oak ran the risk of being too local for anyone to care, it was very well suited for the Quarter.  It makes for a nice, clean visual that still has tons of detail and interest.  It only loses points because the story of the Charter Oak is a bit too distant (predating the Revolution by almost 100 years) even though the whole story is pretty fun.  The lights going out and something turning up missing is such a cliche, its actually quite gratifying to know it did once happen with something quite important.

The worst design, though, goes to the darn fools of New Hampshire who saw fit to honor a natural landmark, the Old Man in the Mountain.  Fair enough.  Even if a rock formation that sorta looked like a person in profile didn't seem really important, plenty of others followed suit with nature scenes with less dynamic results.  The real problem, though, is that rock formation was known at the time to be unstable.  Indeed, they'd known this for about 100 years.  Over that 100 years, they repeatedly tried to prevent its impending demise, patching cracks and adding support.  Yet, they saw fit to use such a precarious visual as their lasting State Quarter symbol.  In less than 3 years after the quarter was released, the rock formation completely collpased.  Not quite the symbol of a state's permianance that I'd see fit for a Quarter, but there you are.


She was all crazy fat

So, feminists blogs are rightfully all abuzz about this stunningly awful article in the The Prospect. I saw it at Pandagon myself. Here's the abridged story...

There once was a pretty pretty girl. Said girl develops paranoid schizophrenia complete with audio hallucinations. Girl is eventually hospitalized where the staff marvels at her pretty prettiness. They put her on a drug which cures her schizophrenia and also increases her appetite and she gains 42lbs. Staff is alarmed that her pretty prettiness is gone and take her OFF the medication that cured her schizophrenia and put her on something else. The weight comes off, the voices come back, and the docs grudgingly put her back on the first meds. She gets better again. She gets fat again. She's okay with this. Her family is okay with this. Doctors and journalists can't get over the fact that her pretty prettiness is now lumpen (seriously, they said lumpen) lumpiness. They are even more shocked that she's okay with not being crippled with schizophrenia if it means being kinda fat. She's sane, but at what cost? *gasp*

Reading the story, its genuinely alarming how the medical professionals (and their journalistic storytelling partners) are so fixated on her appearance when we're dealing with a young woman with an extraordinarily debilitating mental illness that was destroying her life. Granted, weight gain from medication is different than being born (or dieting oneself) fat. In so far as the medication may have induced an extremely increased appetite and changes in her metabolism, those things should be considered if they can be controlled. If they can't be, then it should be quickly recognized that the benefits outweight the complications. But its clear they weren't concerned about the health implications of the drug's side effects. No, here we get a glimpse into the honest motivations of at least some in the health care business as with regards to fat people. It really isn't about health. Its about the pretty prettiness.

The flip way the article talks about her is very close to sickening and absolutely crosses over at points. Such as the "charming" tale of her apparent rape by a fellow patient at her psych ward. Its related as an anecdote of just how pretty she was. The lad just couldn't keep himself from breaking into her room, you see. She was THAT pretty. The article doesn't even flinch as it proceeds to say how she got worse at this point without every pausing to consider the break-in by a male patient who entered her bed and one dearly hopes but honestly doubts went no further.

It lingers on the details of her weight gain. No glancing consideration of health concerns, which I'd grant would be at least a valid concern in this limited scope, even if nothing could be done about it. The story laments at how her face filled out (first with human emotion, then sinisterly followed by FAT!) and her belly grew out of her jeans. Honestly, its like I'm reading some humiliation based Feeder eroitca. So, the pull her off the drug, let it run out of her system, and start her on something new. Her mental problems resurface. Do they put her back on the first drug, which she had only been on the normal dose of? Nope. They up her to the max of the new drug, unwilling to give up on her pretty prettiness. Meanwhile, this young woman is going through hell as her disease completely consumes her.

And yet, even in such an obvious case, the doc apparently had to struggle to do the obvious thing. Sure, she didn't hear voices anymore, but she becomes so doughy! Thankfully, they do the right thing and cure the girl to the great pleasure of her family. But it doesn't end there. You see, it turns out the the young woman is very happy that she has been able to recover from her illness. She didn't seem to care much about gaining some weight. Presumably, to her the opportunity to live a normal life was far more desirably than looking pretty. And thus was unfathomable to her doctors who were still consumed with guilt for what they had done to her.

Seriously, he cures this woman and is just beside himselve over turning her pretty prettiness into fatty fatness. He looked at it as Faustian pact. Once beautiful and insane, now fat and sane. This is genuinely regarded as an equal trade off. As in fat was just as bad as paranoid schizophrenia. Indeed, he ponders whether he lack of concern is a side-effect of the drugs or a product of her illness to begin with. Because clearly she must be crazy to be happy about recovering from a severe mental illness at the cost of a few pounds of fat. Honestly, the whole story is just shocking and distressing and sad. Sad that doctors would treat a patient like this.

Its not like weight gain is an unknown side effect of this drug. They knew it would happen and they knew they couldn't control the side-effects. I don't get all the shock and distress over it. Even assuming the damage to her metabolism does make her vulnerable to health problems from being fat, those risks are still relatively minor. Especially in the stark contrast from having your life controlled by severe mental illness. I'm stunned that all the doctors care about is how she looks, not her mental health or physical health. And I'm also just as shocked that the writer really thought there was some kind of tragic dilemia here. Woman was sick. Woman got better. Hooray! What's the problem? It is pathetic that being a little fat and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia could be seen as equal.


Seriously, 7 people

I'm realized amazed by how many people I'm seeing with "A Million Little Pieces" on the train. Just in the last day I've seen 7 people with the book. Seven! Isn't that a bit much for a book that was just widely discredited and whose author was exposed as a shameless liar who is passing off his fanciful and self-abosrbed re-scripting of his life as an actual memoir. I mean, I'm definetly a writer who shamefully writes about myself, but I always come up with fictional dopplegangers even when its blatently my life. I guess the author, James Frey, tried that but no one waned to buy it, so he changed it to be his life story.

But this all came tumbling down when The Smoking Gun ran a story showing him to be a fraud. They went out doing what they always do and tried to dig up a mug shot of Frey, who's "memoir" is chock full of arrests and trouble with the law. They found one, but came up suspiciously empty at many of his supposed arrest sites. A little digging later, and they realize every major event in the book was badly rearranged from what actually. Most disturbing was taking a tragic car accident that occured while he was in high school and casting himself in a starring role as the misunderstood victim. To appropriate someone's very real tragedy for such a craven purpose really strikes me as disgusting.

So why on EARTH are people still reading him? Honestly. He's a liar. He's basically been forced to admit that now that the truth is all out. I do not get it.