Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Taxing Fat People

There is a growing push in this country to excise taxes against 'bad' foods as means to quell the so-called 'obesity epidemic'. Supporters like to point to the drop in tobacco use after the application of heavy taxes as proof that taxing unhealthy foods could help bring our spiraling health care costs under control. While this is all fine and dandy in theory, the reality is that this is an overly simplistic view of an extremely complex problem.

Why do we consume unhealthy foods such as partially hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, and refined sugar, even in the face of overwhelming data indicating how we are slowly killing ourselves? There are a couple of reasons. First, our access to abundant food resources (re:high fat) have only recently come about; so recent that we have not been able to adapt our pre-programmed needs to consume what we can while it's in front of us. While those needs can be curtailed by flexing some will power, not everyone has that level of self control. Second, unhealthy foods are by and large cheaper than their healthy counterparts. This is the point that most proponents of additional taxes on food seem to overlook. Someone living in Harlem on food stamps will probably have a tough time justifying organically grown chicken when they can get a double cheeseburger at McDonald's for a dollar. And lastly, there is the issue of taste. Sugar make things taste better. So does fat. And so does salt. Most people will make that argument all day long, no matter how much you try to dissuade them.

This whole argument really only comes down to one thing: money. People who are able to stay in good health do not want to pay for those who for whatever reason cannot. Taxing unhealthy food (and using that money to subsidize health care) could help shift the financial burden of treating obesity related diseases to those who are more likely to develop them over time. However, those people more than likely are not in a position to lead a healthier lifestyle in the first place. And just to play devil's advocate for a moment: what happens if someone who is perfectly healthy develops coronary heart disease? Or Type-II diabetes? The bottom line is that each individual is different. Adding a tax to the cheeseburger someone grabs in a hurry is not going to solve our national health care issues; rather, it will only place a bandaid on a system that is fundamentally flawed.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Summer Already, But...

...it's not 100 degrees yet here in the desert. What gives? Sure, I enjoy highs in the low 70's just as much as the next guy, but the lack of heat this late in the year has me worried. Not because my electricity bill has appreciated the air conditioner sitting idle. Rather, because after growing up in the Midwest, a cool start to the summer usually means only one thing: the rest of the summer is absolutely miserable. And when you are in the desert, that means 115+ degrees. At least there is no humidity, and it cools down at night. But still; 115 degrees is 115 degrees no matter how you slice it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Obligatory Classic Rock

If you do not like Bob Seger, then I don't trust you. Period. Even though 'Against The Wind' was released in 1980, it could technically be considered classic rock now (especially since Red Hot Chili Peppers have been getting play on classic rock stations). Every time I hear this song I think of some guy heading off into some great unknown, pickup truck half-filled with the remnants of unfulfilled dreams, trying to pick up the pieces of his life and make sense of it all. Sometimes the pickup even has a gun rack. Why? Because that is what I grew up with. Note: all the live versions were of horrible audio quality, so this is the best I could do. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tiananmen Square

Today marks the 20th anniversary of student protests against government repression at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. For many people this event can be summed up in one statement: tank man. Even though I was in elementary school at the time and did not completely understand what all the fuss was about, the image of someone willfully being run over by a tank was enough to realize that something was wrong. Of course, the Chinese government denies that anyone was hurt during the protests.The enusing two decades have seen some interesting changes. While China has embraced captilism, they continue to maintain strict Communist rule over their citizens aided by technology. Case in point: a quick search on Google for ‘tiananmen square’ turns up several photos of tank man and other protest-related images. However, using the same search on google.cn (Google China), one cannot find any references to the “June 4th inicident”, rather an almost blank screen due to ‘site maintenance’. And when questioned about the events of June 4th, Chinese students who are roughly my age had no idea what they were being asked about. Somewhere George Orwell is turning over in his grave.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Obligatory Classic Rock

In the interest of having at least a weekly update (and to prey upon my laziness), I am going to start posting embedded clips of classic rock. So this week will feature arguably the greatest guitar player ever, Jimi Hendrix, performing one of my favorite songs ever, All Along The Watchtower. This is actually a cover of a Bob Dylan song. Interestingly enough, Dylan credits Hendrix with improving the song, even going so far as to perform the song more like Hendrix as time went on. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Gym

Once upon a time, I used to love to exercise. That was during high school and college, though, when I had hours of free time to pick and choose when to work out. Now that I am in the real world my time has been severely constrained and working out in an empty gym is not an option anymore. And while public gyms do have their benefits (nice equipment, lots of eye candy), they harbor several of my exercise pet peeves.

Cell phones: If you can't put down your cell phone for an hour or so, you don't need to be at the gym. Go home and quite hogging the equipment I have been waiting 20 minutes to use.

Huge bottles of water: Unless you're running a marathon, you don't need to drink a gallon of water in less than an hour. There are water fountains everywhere, so you won't die of dehydration.

Beach muscles: If your arms are bigger than your thighs, you're not well-muscled; you're a douche. There are these things called squats. You might try them sometime.

Groups: I understand that most people like to exercise with a partner (I don't). But this is a gym, not a social club. It doesn't take 15 minutes to do two sets of curls, so shut up and actually work out.

Maybe one of these days I will have the space available for a home gym. Until then, I will just have to deal with the idiots at the gym who claim to work out.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Clash = Genius

One of the finest examples of song writing...ever. (The original video can be found here.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

GFC Winter '09 Update

Man, am I way behind on keeping everyone up to date with what's going with kickball. After making an appearance in the March issue of Southwest Airlines in-flight magazine, the GFC finished with their second consecutive regular season without a loss (a tie is not a loss). For those who are keeping track at home, that brings the streak up to 19 straight regular season games (17 wins and 2 ties). Even though another team went 8-0 to capture the regular season championship, we have already punched our ticket to Vegas and can play spoiler to other teams that have yet to secure a bid. Also, after two weeks of smack-talk and covert decorating of people's houses (re: getting Fawed), we managed to beat our incestuous arch rivals the Valley Girls in what was probably one of the most well-played games I have been involved in.

Monday brought the start of the playoffs for this season. Since we were first in our conference, we were matched against the last-place team in the other conference, Cobra Kai. Even though they had not won a game all season, rumor had it that they are a much tougher team than their record reflected. This time, the rumors were true. While we did not play bad, we did not play good either. In the end we did just enough to secure a 5-0 victory, moving on to face O! in the second round next Monday and what should be a double-header for us.


Yes, it has been well over a month since my last post. Have I been too busy? Kind of, but not that busy. Have I been too lazy? Probably more so than I will ever admit. That being said, stay tuned for some much needed fresh posts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

GFC Winter '09: Week 4

This week we drew yet another new team that has not won a game this season. Should be another easy win, right? The full moon should have been a sign of things to come. They started off the 1st inning with a couple of runs by capitalizing on a couple defensive errors. Then the popups started. We did manage to push through a run in the 3rd, but entered the 5th inning down a run with our 14-game regular season winning streak on the line. Thanks to some timely kicking (and a sweet bunt by myself) we tied the game, but could not take the lead. With the specter of having the field lights turned off at any moment, we got three quick outs to eek out a tie, keeping our streak alive. Next week we play one of our arch rivals, Uno Mas.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

GFC Winter '09: Week 3

We played a brand new team this week. The results were not surprising. Even though we won 5-0, it could have (and probably should have) been much worse, considering we left about 800 people on base. They dropped a lot of fly balls and we did not take advantage. I think they may have advanced a runner to third in one inning, but to quite honest I don't remember; I don't think they had multiple runners on more than once. Next week we play yet another brand new team. There is a good chance we will win. Not like we've won 14 straight regular season games or anything.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GFC Winter '09: Week 2

After two weeks worth of delays thanks to President's Day and some untimely rain, it was time to get back to playing some kickball. Week 2 brought a rematch of our Summer '08 quarterfinal playoff game against Feets Of Fury. The first inning saw us fall behind 2-0, but the fireworks were just starting. As the second inning began and we started to acquire baserunners, the Feets pitcher and catcher collided in one of the most violent collisions I have seen in quite some time. After taking a few minutes to let them get straightened out (the catcher was fine, the pitcher needed stitches), play resumed and we busted open the proverbial flood gates for ten runs over the remainder of the game. With the final score of 10-4, we seem to have found a way to generate offense unlike before. And with our next opponent being a brand new team, it would stand to reason that the runs will continue to pile up for us.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

New Soccer Jersey

Over the last year or so I have been on a soccer jersey kick for some strange reason. Given that I am a fairly large individual, and that most jerseys follow European sizing standards (which means they are at least a size smaller than they say), tracking one down that fits has been a bit of a hassle. More to the point, trying to find a Germany home jersey has been a nightmare. Why Germany, you ask? Because 1) that is where my family originally immigrated from (I don't care if was over 200 years ago, Joe; that's still my heritage) and 2) their home kits look pretty awesome. After searching for a good eight months, I managed to track down a home jersey that not only fit, but also has a number kit for Bastian Schweinsteiger already imprinted.

To be quite honest, I do not know a whole lot about this fellow. However, he had some bad ass goals in Euro 2008, he has a ridiculously hot girlfriend, and he looks like Dangle's character in Balls Of Fury. Based on those facts, he's cool in my book.

Monday, February 9, 2009

GFC Winter '09: Week 2: Technical Difficulties

Thanks to more weather over the weekend than SoCal usually sees in a couple of years, all games for this evening were canceled/postponed. And since next Monday is President's Day, the park will be closed no matter what. That means we will have two consecutive weeks without games, on top of the interruption later in the season thanks to Caesar Chavez Day (only in California). In that same two weeks, I will have played kickball in another state (Arizona) and another division (Pasadena). Hopefully we don't have a repeat of 2006 when we had four consecutive Mondays of rain and postponed games.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

GFC Winter '09: Week 1

Thanks to the beautiful weather afforded to us here in Southern California, a new kickball season kicked off last night (a terrible pun, I know). With everyone returning from a team that went undefeated during the previous regular season (and thereby securing a bid to Vegas), things are looking pretty good at the start of this new season. In our first game we drew Kickin' It Old Skool, one of the myriad of brand-new and mashed-up teams that have brought some much needed change to what had become a stagnant lineup of teams. In fact, KIOS is so new that they did not become a team until this past Thursday. This was painfully obvious when the umpires had to take a few minutes before the game to give them a quick explanation of the rules and the major differences from baseball/softball. Needless to say, them being paired against arguably the best defensive team in the league had all the makings of a potential blowout. While we did manage to crank out some extra base kicks (even a two-run homerun), the 7-0 win could have been much worse. Despite all the rules changes, the rust of not playing for a couple months, and probably looking past our opponent a little bit, we played pretty well. Our defense was in mid-season form, and the seven runs scored was a veritable offensive explosion for us. Next week we have Feets Of Fury, whom we defeated in the quarterfinals of the playoffs last season.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Random Internet Search

Since I have nothing better to do on this lovely Friday night, I have been looking through Google images under "random funny" when I happened upon this gem:

Transformers were my jam growing up, so finding something like this at random is both insanely hilarious and quite disturbing. Here is a link to completely drink it in. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cable Company

Anyone who has not lived in the sticks within the last couple of decades has at one time or another dealt with the source of much consternation for the average American: the cable company. Pricing that outpaces inflation, inflexibility for end-user hardware, and the dreaded service calls (a four hour window to show up?) have contributed to the ever rising stress levels of many Americans. Now that I am on my own and dealing with my third cable company, I thought I, like millions of other people, had my balls in the proverbial vice. But a funny thing happened. Out of the blue, my lineup of HD channels almost tripled. Then, after finally accepting the fact that my almost ten-year old broadband modem needed to go, I called about changing modems. The young lady who helped me was courteous and patient as I ran around making sure all my various devices had in fact connected with the new modem. Dealing with any kind of tech support folks is usually akin to pulling teeth for me, but this particular experience was actually pleasant. Come to think of it, the few times I have had to deal with Time Warner's customer support, they have been nothing but helpful, always patient and personable. So maybe the cable company isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 In Review

Now that 2008 has passed into the annals of history, I thought now would be a good time to reflect back on the year that was in all of it's glory. Among the highlights of the year were:

~ Seeing my first Garth Brooks concert ever; in LA, nonetheless. I was about fourty or fifty feet away from the stage, which made the concert that much more awesome.

~ Attending my first game at Angel Stadium (which the Royals won). Even though it's somewhat antiseptic and very much a reflection of it's Orange County environment ($11 for a Guinness!?), it's still a good place to catch a ballgame.

~ Seeing David Beckham play in person for the first time. While he is not a goal scorer or a classic number ten, it was pretty cool to see one of the best players in the world do his thing.

~ My high school 10-year reunion was this summer. I did not attend (the planned festivities did not come to fruition), but the fact that I have now been out of high school for ten years was a bit of a shock.

~ Thanks to a marketing ploy, I played in a kickball game with John Salley, Amanda Beard, and Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air (amongst other celebrities) on Fox Sports channel. Obviously, the rules were skewed in favor of the FSC team (probably why they won). It was still a lot of fun, though.

~ My kickball team played in the national tournament in Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend. We did not play our best, but we still had a good time, making new friends and drinking mass quantities of alcohol. We also qualified for next year's tournament by going undefeated during the summer regular season.

Overall, it was a good year. Hopefully 2009 will live up to it's potential hype.