How Not to Stay Healthy With Wheaties

Wheaties Breakfast

While writing my previous article, I came upon this image. It must be from the late 1970s. And look at the breakfast that we are supposed to keep fit with:

  • Bowl of Wheaties (110)
  • Three strawberries (12)
  • Two pieces of Wonder Bread toast (158)
  • Glass (8 oz) of orange juice (112)
  • Milk (4 oz) for the Wheaties (73)
  • Glass (12 oz) of milk (219)
  • Cube of butter for toast (102)

Okay, I’ll admit: it isn’t a cube of butter. But it is enough butter for about half a loaf of bread. I really wonder if General Mills is heavily invested in the dairy industry. They have, regardless, a cozy relationship. And I think even at that time, we had a good idea that milk was not something we should be consuming a lot of.

Also of interest here is that this “keep fit” breakfast has a whole bunch of grain. And I say that as a grain guy myself. But really, is it necessary to have two grain products in this breakfast? We have bread, which is made out of wheat. And then we have a cereal that, if I had to guess, you know, based on its name — “Wheaties” — was made out of, I don’t know, wheat?

But this isn’t all wheat and dairy. We also have a hulking big glass of orange juice. I remember in the day, this was called “a serving of fruits and vegetables.” It doesn’t much fly. Once you distill fruit down to juice, you remove most of what is good for you. There really isn’t much more to say for the glass of orange juice in the picture up there than there is for a can of Pepsi. Except that your mom probably wouldn’t have complained.

The numbers above are the approximate number of calories. I used whole milk, of course; this is from the 1970s! But that adds up to a total of 786 calories. And I’m going easy on this. Those glasses look bigger than I’ve estimated. And despite what every breakfast cereal label in America says, people put more than a half cup of milk on their Wheaties. And I’m pretty sure there is more than a tablespoon of butter on the bread (that’s what I used, not my joke cube). That’s a whole lot of calories for what is an uninspiring meal.

As you may know, I don’t much think about nutrition. It is filled with pseudoscience. Every time I hear about the current nutrition fad, I ignore it. I just don’t care. In a few years, they’ll probably be saying something different. And I don’t care anyway. I just eat what I like. I try to mix it up. That’s about it. But I know that picture up there is not of a healthy breakfast. For one thing, who wants to drink that much milk?! It’s just propaganda.

With or without the strawberries.

Court Take Middle Ground on Marriage Equality?

Same Sex Marriage - Homer - SimpsonsHaving just written an article about my confusion regarding whether we should allow bakers to be bigots, I want to talk a little bit about the Supreme Court oral arguments concerning Obergefell v Hodges. The are two questions before the court. The first one is whether same sex marriage should be mandated nationwide. The second, should the court find against the plaintiffs in the first, is whether states that do not allow same sex marriage will be required to recognize same sex marriages in other states — this is called “reciprocity.” From the standpoint of the law, the second question is more important. From the standpoint of civil rights the first question is key.

The reason the second question is more important as a matter of law is because not doing so causes all kinds of legal issues. States must recognize the power of other states to run their affairs. If a same sex couple is married in California, that marriage is now accepted by the federal government. But it isn’t recognized by, for example, the state of Ohio. What happens if that couple has a child and then they move to Ohio? Suddenly the couple isn’t married and the child is the responsibility of… who? There are all kinds of less consequential issues that come up when states do not reciprocate in this matter.

The first question is a matter of civil rights because it involves equal protection. If the court finds for the defendants in the first question and for the plaintiffs in the second, they will be setting up a situation where rich members of the Ohio LGBT community can fly over to New York and get married. But lower income members can’t do that. So in effect, poor LGBT people will not have the same rights. Now one could argue — And I would! — that this kind of discrimination is everywhere in our society. But that’s hardly a justification for allowing it in this case. Same sex marriage in Ohio would be a kind of Animal Farm equality, “All LGBT people are equal, but some LGBT people are more equal than others.”

Having said all this, I tend to think that the Supreme Court is going to worm out of this — splitting the difference by just finding for the plaintiffs in the second question. But maybe not. At BuzzFeed News, Chris Geidner seems to think that Kennedy is going to go for full marriage equality, Supreme Court Appears Ready To Rule In Favor of Marriage Equality. The basis for this claim is something interesting that Kennedy did. The hearing was divided between the two questions. During the hearing for the first, Kennedy was dominant, asking many questions and making many comments. But during the hearing for the second question, all he did was ask if the court could rule differently on the two questions.

I don’t find this particularly heartening. This is because during the first question’s discussion, he asked about the history of marriage being between “one man and one woman.” As Huffington Post summarized it, Supreme Court Mulls How Marriage Equality Will Come About. So there doesn’t seem to be any question that Kennedy thinks that same sex marriage should be made legal nationally. I took his question in the second half of the hearing to mean that he thought that the plaintiffs had the better of the argument, but for the sake of social conservatives, we should go slow and just mandate reciprocity.

I still think this is a good outcome. But it will indicate just how political the Supreme Court really is. On the other hand, if the court decides to not ruffle the feathers of the social conservatives and then finds for the plaintiffs in King v Burwell (the current Obamacare case), it will mean that they are just a bunch of hacks. Let’s hope not.

Christians and Wedding Cakes Still Confuse Me

Sweet Cakes by Melissa Pimping at the 2014 Values Voters SummitI’ve been trying to get my head around the issue of wedding cakes and same sex weddings. And part of my problem is that it is all so silly. On the Christian side, it doesn’t make any sense at all. The Bible — the old testament anyway — is kind of down on same sex relations. But it doesn’t actually say anything about marriage. This is just the same old modern Christian nonsense, “This is the literal word of God and I know that because my pastor told me it was!” It is so insulting to religion itself. What incredibly weak theology.

Just the same, why would same sex couples want to do business with such vile people? I understand if there is only one bakery in town. But this most recent case was in Gresham, OR. That’s right next to Portland. There are a lot of bakeries in that area. The only reason I can see a problem here — and it does apply — is because the couple didn’t know that this was a bakery that reserves the right to discriminate against same sex couples. Overall, it is hard for me to get too upset about this. There are total jerks in the world, and a lot of them have always called themselves Christians.

The case in Oregon is very clear as a matter of law. The state has a non-discrimination law. Sweet Cakes by Melissa very clearly broke the law. A same sex couple sued them. The owners lost. Boo hoo. This is what happens when you decide your business should be used for moral grandstanding instead of making money. You lose. Check the law the next time you decide to do something like this. Above all, stop whining. See that picture of Melissa crying to all the true believers at the 2014 Values Voters Summit? This is what happens when you let your husband be a bigot behind the counter.

Of course, the bakery owners — like the Indiana pizza store owners — have seen donations following in from like minded Christians from across the country. But these things are only going to last so long. These are not customers chipping in to keep a well loved store afloat, like we saw with Borderlands Books. The donations will last only as long as Fox News is pimping the story. This is a thing, but it is not going to keep the bigot bakery industry afloat past next Thanksgiving. A better solution needs to be found.

The End Is NighThis is where the push for all these “religious liberty” laws are coming from. But even they have a short self life. In a place like Portland, I suspect the problem could be solved simply by letting people like Melissa discriminate but require that she put up a sign that says, “We don’t serve same sex weddings.” I think that would put a pretty quick end of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. But that’s just it. I suspect Melissa and her husband would be upset at having to post such a sign. They would see it as persecution — like the Nazis making the Jews wear arm bands. It wouldn’t be. It would just be truth in advertising. They should be grateful that the sign didn’t read, “Warning: we are bigots.”

So the sign wouldn’t solve the problems in Oregon, much less rural Mississippi. But given that this isn’t a question of basic needs — food and lodging — I would like to find a free market solution to it. Maybe I’m just being naive, but I really don’t think this kind of prejudice is going to survive the cold light of day. I want to watch as places like Sweet Cakes by Melissa get wiped out as only the most hardcore bigots are willing to do business with them. But like I said, I’m still struggling with the issue. But one thing should be clear, “Christians: the end is nigh!”

Morning Music: Suzanne Vega

Tom's Diner - Suzanne VegaWill sent me a text, “What’s the Suzanne Vega song that goes dun dun dunna?” I knew immediately what song he was talking about. It was off her second album. He added, “I think it’s a cappella.” Yep, that was the one. So I entered “song a cappella Suzanne Vega” into Google and it spit out, “Tom’s Diner,” which is indeed the first song on Solitude Standing.

There was just one problem. When I clicked on the first video for it — Official music video! — it wasn’t the song. Well, it kind of is. It is a DNA remix of the song with understandably mellow drums and synth work below it. It’s not a bad song that way. The story behind it is more interesting because it shows some actual sense coming from a corporation.

The producers of this remix did not get legal authority to do it. They just did it and released it kind of on the sly to various dance clubs. When the song seemed like it might be a winner, A&M bought the track rather than suing. And the song became a big hit. This is yet another example of how copyright normally does just the opposite of what it is supposed to do. In this case, a pretty a cappella song was turned into dance hit. This wouldn’t have happened if the copyright system worked the way it is “supposed” to.

But I still like the original better. It has nuance that it filtered out in the remix.