Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First, they came for the smokers...

I *so* saw this coming. I told people who supported smoking bans, "Wait, they'll be coming for your french fries soon!"

Taxing food to eliminate fat people

So I sit here, 350 pounds, and roll my eyes. Next to me on my desk is my lunch. A cup and a half of curry quinoa salad. (quinoa, shredded carrot and zucchini, curry vinaigrette, and dried cranberries - yum!)

Anybody who has seen a teenage boy or young man in his early twenties eat knows this is bull. My ex-husband invited a couple of co-workers over for dinner once when we were first married. Between them they ate a week's worth of groceries. I was in awe. I, on the other hand avoid "all you can eat" specials because I feel like I don't get my money's worth.

There is good evidence that fat people eat no differently than thin people. Sandy Szwarc is my all-time favorite blogger because she analyzes all the studies and press releases that come out, with a view toward understanding what is really true and what is hype. She blogs at Junkfood Science .

Here are some highlights regarding food and fat

Starvation does not make you thinner in the long run

also here

Why junk food taxes are pointless and "healthy eating" is overrated.

Life is hard enough for fat people. Chairs are too small. Bathroom stalls are too. Clothes are expensive, when you can find them at all. For some reason, it's relatively easy to find 5x t-shirts, but extremely hard to find something to wear to work. Fat people don't work? And airlines are charging us double.

Funny thing is, all the "junk food" taxes would hardly affect me at all. I buy potato chips about once every three months or so. I just generally prefer healthy food, and it's cheaper anyway. (hence the quinoa) I worry more about this tax idea as it relates to personal liberty and stigmatization of fat people than that it will cost me money.

If they start taxing vegetables, fruit, and pasta, though, I'm in trouble!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On "voice"

I was going to post a comment on the hatchet job Vanity Fair did on the transcript of Sarah Palin's speech, but it got longer and longer and finally I decided I'd better move it here, so as not to be obnoxious.

Clearly, the article was meant to appeal to their (shrinking) liberal reader base so their readers could feel superior to her. That's annoying enough. What really got to me, though, is how they proudly removed all individualism and "voice" from her speech, making it plain vanilla, and then acted like that was an improvement.

For one thing, a speech is not an article, and I have a suspicion magazine editors should be kept far away from speechwriting. The goal in writing is to "write tight" -- eliminating extraneous words and phrases that don't add to the meaning. Read an article out loud. Sounds a little dry, right? Humans use LOTS of extraneous words when speaking. Most are just to fill space while our brain catches up to our mouth. Regardless, that is what we are used to hearing. A speech without a certain amount of verbal white space sounds sparse and robotic. It sounds like a speech.

I have edited for friends (not professionally) and when I did, I confronted the issue of voice. "Voice" is what you hear when you read. It is the individual word, phrase, and pacing choices that make my writing "sound" very different from yours. Good "voice" often includes bad grammar. (In my fiction, I tend to use fragments to create a choppy effect) Editing is an art. How do you tighten and strengthen a passage, while leaving the voice of the writer intact? Should you correct a grammatical error, or does it add to the mood of the scene?

The editors at Vanity Fair, beyond their partisan attempt to smear a talented politician, simply did a VERY BAD EDITING JOB. They stripped out word choices and phrases that reflected her "voice". They altered the meaning of at least one sentence. They crossed out introductory remarks for no reason (this is a speech, after all). They stripped out all individuality until their edited version was as dry as your average encyclopedia entry. And then they congratulated each other.