Wednesday, December 31, 2008

20 more days, thank Maude!!!

Lovely email, and so appropriate. Yeah, I know, I don't usually post political shit, but this is just too funny (and true, unfortunately).
Dear Fellow Constituent,

The George W Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations. The Library will include:

* The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.
* The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won’t be able to remember anything.
* The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don’t even have to show up.
* The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don’t let you in.
* The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don’t let you out.
* The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.
* The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.
* The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.
* The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.
* The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you to go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)
* The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.
* The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.
* The Supreme Court Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.
* The Airport Men’s Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.
* The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.

The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President’s accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W. Bush:

* ‘The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.’
* ‘If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.’
* ‘Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.’
* ‘No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.’
* ‘I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.’
* ‘One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is ‘to be prepared’.’
* ‘Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.’
* ‘I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.’
* ‘The future will be better tomorrow.’
* ‘We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world.’
* ‘One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.’ (during an education photo-op)
* ‘Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.’
* ‘We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.’
* ‘It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.’
* ‘I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.’…George W. Bush to Sam Donaldson


Jack Abramoff, Co-Chair G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's over, finally

Well, we finally had our Christmas gathering yesterday. All the kids liked their gifts, which was great (parents call us with what the kids like, what they need, what sizes they wear, so we can get them gifts they'll like/use/wear). But I can tell you, I was glad when everyone left (9 kids and 4 more adults in this small house is crowded, let me tell you). The parents all liked their gifts too, so that was all good.
My son and his wife and their kids didn't make it up here (this economy is not being kind to electricians, that's for sure), so DH and I will be making a trip down there in a couple of weeks to deliver their Christmas, if the weather is decent.
I think next year, we're going to buy gifts and mail them to everyone and not have a gathering here. The kids went upstairs to play and ended up tearing up all the boxes we store the Christmas ornaments in (they were playing hide and seek in the closets upstairs, not a good thing to do when we have so much shit stored in them). They also broke most of the ornaments we hadn't put on the tree this year, and broke some of the boxes I had my sewing stuff and records stored in. We found this out today when we went to get the boxes so we could take down the tree and put everything away. These kids all range in age from 5 to 14 (one is 5, one is 6, the others are all between 10 and 14), so the older ones should have known better. I think I'm just getting too old and cantankerous to deal with rowdy kids (or maybe I'm just a bitch and need to become a DH was more pissed off than I was, and I was upset enough. He's talking about putting a lock on the door to the spare bedroom (there's nothing in there for the kids) and then putting a lock on the closet in the sewing room (all the toys are in that room). That way, they can play with the toys, but can't get into anything they shouldn't (well, they can get into the chests of drawers where I have my sewing supplies, but I'll figure out a way to keep them out of those too). The upstairs probably won't be as much fun with nothing to get into except toys, but it will be a lot easier on our stuff (I still think I shouldn't have to do that, I never had to do that with my son when he was small, and I sure as hell didn't have to do that with my grandson when he was little either). What the hell is wrong with kids that they don't respect what belongs to other people? If it's not theirs, they can break it or tear it up or make a mess? Are parents not teaching their kids to respect other people and their belongings anymore?
So, anyway, the holidays are over for us (we don't celebrate New Year's since neither of us drink). DH has New Year's Eve and New Year's Day off, we're going to stay home and work on our challenges for badges on Pogo (I'll have my second book of weekly badges completed, that will give me the books for 2007 and 2008). Eventually, I'll get the other books done, from 2003 through 2006. Gives me something to do when I'm not riding the recumbent exercise bike or doing what little housework needs to be done.
Hope everyone else had a happy holiday season, no matter what ones you celebrate.

Monday, December 15, 2008

6 new gene mutations linked to fatness

No Shit? I refuse to use "obesity", it's fat, researchers, fat, nothing wrong with using that word.
So, how many genes are there now that are linked to being fat? They just added 6 more, and what do they want to do with that information? It sure isn't going to be used to give us fat people a break for being fat. They want to use it to come up with drugs to control our appetites (because of course, you know it's your unfettered appetite that is making you fat because those darn genes just won't let you exist on a starvation diet).
"Today's findings are a major step forward in understanding how the human body regulates weight," Dr. Alan Guttmacher, Acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, said in a statement.
"This study essentially doubles in one fell swoop the number of known and replicated genetic factors contributing to obesity as a public health problem," added Dr. Kari Stefansson, Chief Executive Officer of DeCODE Genetics of Iceland, who led a team that made similar findings in a separate study.

I'm sorry, Dr. Stefansson, being fat is not a public health problem. Having a communicable disease is a public health problem, and no one is going to catch "teh fatness" from me, no matter how close to me they get, or how many bodily fluids we swap.
"One of the most notable aspects of these discoveries is that most of these new risk factors are near genes that regulate processes in the brain," added Stefansson, whose company hopes to sell genetic tests based on such discoveries.

Yeah, I thought so. This isn't about anyone's health, it's a money-making venture (why am I not surprised?). You're going to sell a test to see if people have the genes that make them fat, but you don't have a fucking clue as to how you can possibly make them permanently, safely thin. Not to mention that getting thin may not make fat people any healthier than they were when they were fat, and you can't guarantee that they will be healthier.
"This suggests that as we work to develop better means of combating obesity, including using these discoveries as the first step in developing new drugs, we need to focus on the regulation of appetite at least as much as on the metabolic factors of how the body uses and stores energy," Stefansson said.
"These new variants may point to valuable new drug targets," he added.

Ok, appetite is only part of the equation, and a small part at that. How one's body uses and stores energy seems to be a bigger part of that equation, and just altering the appetite isn't going to do a whole hell of a lot of good. Because one's body is pretty damned good at getting around any appetite suppression method you all have come up with so far. Each body needs the amount of energy it needs, and if you try to short it on that amount of energy, you're fucking up the whole system.
But it gives you an excuse to come up with more drugs to push on people who are desperate to fit into an unattainable ideal, which will make you millions/billions of dollars, and probably do a lot of damage to the health of the people on whom you are pushing those drugs (can we say phen-fen, just as one example?).
"We know that environmental factors, such as diet, play a role in obesity, but this research further provides evidence that genetic variation plays a significant role in an individual's predisposition to obesity," said the genome institute's Dr. Eric Green.

No shit, Sherlock! Genetics plays a significant role in whether people are fat or not, but all you can come up with are drugs to regulate appetite. FAIL, assholes, MASSIVE FAIL!!!!!!

ETA - At least they aren't quoting that old statistic of 320,000 deaths a year caused by OMGTEHFATZ! They've got it down to 100,000 deaths a year now (which is still more than actually are caused by fat).

I hate computerized vehicles

I knew there was a damned good reason I didn't become a mechanic back in the '80s when I went to college for it. I quit because auto makers were putting computers in cars, and I didn't want to be responsible for telling a customer that they needed a $400 computer replaced, only to find out it was something else (and that happens, even to the best mechanics).
So, I have this different minivan now, and hadn't driven it at night until Friday night. We drove out to look at the Christmas lights, and used the heater and headlights. So the next day, we were out doing some shopping, and I drove by the dealership to see if they had the missing part for the liftgate. My wipers were off according to the control, but they kept wiping intermittently, the left turn signal wouldn't shut off after I turned (and the lever was where it should have been for it to shut off), and the brake light on the dashboard was on. Oh yeah, and the damned bell for "fasten your seatbelt" was dinging, even though seatbelts were fastened and the driver's side window wouldn't roll down (electric windows). The dealer said it was probably some multifunction switch gone bad, he'd see if the guys in the shop could get it in to look at it. While we were waiting, I shut the van off (big mistake). When he came back to tell us to bring it back, it wouldn't start. Just clicked and flashed the headlights when I turned the key. Battery was dead. So we got a jump start, were told to take it home and put the battery charger on it (good thing DH has one of those). Who would have thought that the battery being low would have caused all of that shit to happen? Because when we got it started, everything was fine (evidently the alternator was charging the battery).
So, when we got home, I looked at the battery, and evidently it's the original battery that came from the factory when the minivan was new (it's a Ford Motorcraft battery and has no place on it to punch out a purchase date). The label on the top of the battery says it's replaced free in the first 18 months, 19 to 84 months and customer pays pro-rated cost of replacement. So it's a 7-year battery, van is almost 8 years old, I'm betting the battery is a POS and needs to be replaced. But the dealer's first thought was a part that costs anywhere from $50 to $200 to replace, plus $70 an hour for labor. I don't think I'll be taking the van back to them any time soon for any diagnostic work. I'll stick with the mechanic I know and trust (not to mention, his shop is just 2 blocks from our house). This is the kind of shit that makes me long for the days of carburetors and no computers (I can rebuild a carburetor, have done it several times). Fuel injectors - I don't want to have to replace those, you practically have to tear the engine apart to get to them, and don't even get me started on replacing valve cover gaskets on a front wheel drive vehicle, all the shit you have to remove just to get to the valve, what a hassle. I've replaced timing belts (Pinto and Horizon), replaced front and rear brake pads/shoes, replaced/patched exhaust systems, hell, I even replaced the head on my Pinto (in the winter, in a carport). I've replaced radiators and thermostats, replaced and rebuilt starters. Of course, this was all on older cars, the ones built before 1980 (I've owned cars built between 1961 and 2001, the Windstar is my 26th vehicle in 37 years of owning cars). A lot of those cars were ones I paid less than $500 for, drove for a 6 months or a year (till they died beyond resurrection) and then bought another one (was a lot cheaper than payments and upkeep on a new vehicle, not to mention license plates and insurance was a LOT cheaper).
But, we can afford to pay a mechanic to do the work on our rides now, so I guess I'll just have to learn to deal with strange shit happening on computerized vehicles.

ETA (on 12/19/08) - Well, got the van checked out, and it's not the alternator, it's the battery. Arnie called the dealership where we bought the van to see how old the battery is, it's 7 months old, which means it qualifies for a no-cost-to-us replacement (well, it would if we had bought the battery). Because the battery was purchased by the previous owners of the van, the parts guy at the dealership isn't sure they'll replace it free for us (and the one who can make that determination is out sick today and won't be back till the 22nd). Now I don't think it should matter who bought the damned battery, the dealership will get another battery (at no cost to them) from Motorcraft parts if they replace the battery, no matter who bought it, simply because the battery is bad and went bad within the warranty period. So Arnie is going to check back with them on Monday and let me know what he finds out. In the meantime, he put a new battery in the van for me (no charge until we find out what the dealer is going to do, see why I like him so much?). Personally, I would have foregone the bullshit with the dealer and just paid Arnie for a new battery, but Arnie's way may save us $75 (another reason I like him, he does things the most economical and safest way they can be done). He's a gem, for sure.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What are you willing to reveal in a text message?

This is something I don't have to worry about. Being a cheap bitch has its advantages. DH and I have a family plan for our cell phones, but we had them block text messaging because adding texting to our plan was more money than either of us wanted to spend. Before we had texting blocked, we were getting spam texts, and every one of those fuckers cost us 15 cents (now I know 15 cents is not a lot of money, but get 10 of them in a month and that's $1.50, get 100 of them and that's $15.00, not an amount of money I want to spend on spam). It's bad enough that we get all this spam in our email, I'm not going to deal with it on my cell phone too.
So -
Receiving a text message asking for your credit card information may be a no brainer for some who wouldn’t think of replying, but what if you receive a text message asking about your lifestyle habits, if you smoke, drink or what you weigh? Would it be as clear how revealing that information might be used in ways that might negatively affect you?

IF I had text messaging, and got one of those, my response would be either MYOB or no response at all (or maybe a nunyabizness).
The health information technology industry has been creating ways to use text messaging to reach patients with health promotions, appointment reminders, and to monitor their compliance with health prescriptions. The mobile healthcare business is a growing field and increasingly also being used to monitor lifestyles and adherence to performance measures. Contracting with government and insurance companies, they’re providing patient messaging services to manage care (“patient care messaging”) and encourage patients to follow healthy lifestyles.

You want to text me with that kind of shit? Then you're going to pay for the texting on my cell phone plan and even then, I may or may not reply to your texting (yeah, I'm contrary like that).
A company in the UK has developed a clever scheme to use text messaging for health phishing — to learn if people smoke, drink and their weight. It simply sends people a text message and asks! The answers are automatically recorded in their medical records and government database to be used to determine healthcare coverage or deny benefits, set premiums, and identify people for disease management intervention.

The company, iPlato, is marketing wireless technology to help providers and third-party payers communicate health messages to patients and monitor their healthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking cessation, weight loss, diet, exercise, immunizations, screenings and other initiatives.

Um, yeah, I don't think so. If my doctor wants to know any of that information, I'll tell her when I see her. The government can piss off, they don't need to know any of that, it's another of those nunyabizness things. And WTF is this disease management intervention? If the government thinks you aren't healthy enough to suit them, are they going to force you into whatever treatment they think you need? Our judgment on whether we're healthy or not isn't going to matter? Fuck That!!!!!! It's no one's business if I smoke, or drink, or how much I weigh. It's also none of their business if I exercised today or ate all my veggies. And if I had to pay for those pills the doctor prescribed(even if it's just a co-pay), damned skippy I'm going to be taking them, I'm not into wasting money just because I don't like taking pills (and if I'm sick enough that it requires some kind of medication, I'm going to take all of that medication so I'm not sick anymore, I'm not a masochist, I don't like being sick).
Granted this is only happening in the UK right now, but how long is it going to be before insurance companies in the US think this is a good idea and want to implement it? Makes me damned glad I don't have texting on my phone, mainly because I figure if anyone wants to talk to me, they can call me. If I wanted to type to someone, I'd talk to them on the computer with a full-size keyboard, not on a cell phone with tiny buttons. My cell phone is for making and receiving calls, it's not for taking pictures or typing messages (that's why I have a digital camera and a computer). Yeah, yeah, I know I'm a fossil (I'm so old, God owes me money, according to a friend of mine), but the more I see of technology, the more I think it's getting too damned invasive in our lives, and the potential for misuse/abuse is staggering. I'm going to fight that every step of the way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Random bits

We found a neat toy for the cats the other day. It's a furry little mouse that squeaks when it's batted about. For all the toys the cats have, ever since they've gotten this one, it's the one they play with the most often. And they play with it several times a day (before, they might play with a toy once a day unless one of us actually plays with them with a toy). Even Fat Cat will play it 3 or 4 times a day, and he's 9 years old and likes to sleep most of his life
Yesterday was our anniversary. DH and I have been married 2 years now (where in the hell does the time go?).
And we traded my Dodge Grand Caravan (I've had it for 4 years, and all this time I thought it was a 1998, and here it was a 1997) for a 2001 Ford Windstar. The Windstar is nice, has front and rear heating and A/C, middle captain's seats, back bench seat, a trailer hitch and towing package, and a CD/cassette/AM/FM stereo. The seat belt/shoulder harness fits without an extender, and I fit behind the steering wheel just fine (although I think I should have the driver side airbag de-activated, since there sure as hell isn't 10" between my chest and the airbag, and that's with the seat as far back as it will go). They say the color of the Windstar is green, but it looks like dark gray to me, so it's a really odd shade of green, if that's what it is. The body is in great shape, and it runs really good. I won't have to fill the gas tank quite as often as I did on the Dodge, since the Ford has a 26 gallon tank (the Dodge had a 20 gallon tank). I don't know what kind of mileage it gets, haven't driven it much yet. It needs tires; they aren't bald or anything, but with the little bit of snow we have here, I'm spinning the tires when I take off from a stop sign (I'm stopping just fine, years of driving old cars with shitty tires and worse brakes has given me a lot of experience with stopping in bad conditions). So next week we're making an appointment to get tires put on it.
I see they arrested the governor of Illinois and he's out on his own recognizance and back governing. Business as usual in Illinois, what a surprise (NOT).
I also see that Oprah is beating herself up over gaining back the weight she lost (how many times has this happened?). She's been losing and gaining and losing and gaining for at least 20 years, you'd think she'd have learned by now that it doesn't matter what diet you use, NONE of them work for permanent weight loss. I used to watch her show, back when she was first on, and thought it was great that this fat woman could be successful on TV. Then when she went on that liquid diet and came out in the size 10 jeans with that wagon of fat, representing the weight she had lost, I quit watching her show as much. And every time a diet failed, and she beat herself up for failing (dammit, she didn't fail, the fucking diet failed, like they always do), I watched a little less, until I totally quit watching her at all. I just wish she could figure out how to love herself as she is. No person's worth should ever be dependent on their appearance. She says she's not worried about being thin anymore, she just wants to be stronger, more fit, and healthier. That's good, but if she's still equating health with thin, I don't think it's gonna happen. Oprah has been successful at whatever weight she's been, you'd think that would tell her something about herself. She has drive and ambition and intelligence, otherwise she wouldn't be as successful as she is, and being thin didn't get her there, and being fat didn't keep her from getting there. Oh, and Gayle, with a friend like you telling her that being 200 lbs isn't healthy, she sure as hell doesn't need any enemies. You aren't her doctor, you aren't Oprah, you don't know for sure what her health is or how long she's going to live, so take a big dose of STFU about her weight.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Woo Hoo! I found some pants today

I know not everyone likes Wal-Mart, but I found some awesome (for me, anyway) pants there today. They look like the denim stretch leggings, but with a wider leg opening at the hem. Elastic waist, pockets, and the legs are actually long enough. WM is carrying them in sizes up to a 4X (26/28), which is what I wear. They actually have colors other than navy and black, too. I got a purple pair and a charcoal gray pair, but they also had dark aqua, sage green, tan, white, a very small check in black & white, and black, as well as a couple of shades of denim blue. Best of all, they were only $17 (White Stag was the brand). WM is also carrying tops up to a 5X (30/32) and they are actually cute! I got a scoop neck, short-sleeve, gathered top in a charcoal gray & white print, and a purple & white baby-doll top with purple lace at the neck with rhinestone flowers in the lace (kind of a crinkly, stretchy fabric). Both tops were only $14 each, from Faded Glory.
Actually, DH bought them all for me for Christmas, so I had to box them up and wrap them when we got home........LOL If I can remember, after Christmas, I'll put them on and take pics to post here of how they look. There were a lot of other cute tops there that I liked, so I'll probably be going back to get more when I have money to spend on clothes.
DH also knows what he's getting for Christmas from me, since he told me which cars to order from Motormint (he collects die-cast cars). I don't think the cars are going to get here in time for Christmas and his birthday, so I printed out pictures of them to put in cards for him, so he has something to open when family is here. Neither of us mind knowing in advance what our gifts to each other are, so it's cool :) And at least this way, I know he's going to like what I got him, and he knows I'm going to like what he got me (and that what he got me fits me).
So if y'all are looking for cute casual pants and tops, Wal-Mart's plus size section just might be the solution.

Monday, December 1, 2008

People wasting billions of dollars on quack health food and diet products

This should be another one of those "No shit, Sherlock" moments for these idiots who think "obesity" is a disease. And why are people wasting those billions of dollars? Because you morons keep telling fat people that being fat is a disease that is going to shorten their life and ruin their health. Because the media keeps touting how being "thin" is the only way to be healthy, happy, rich, smart, beautiful, popular, successful, and live forever.
Professor Lean from the University of Glasgow, is hopeful that a new European Union (EU) Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices, adopted this year in UK, will finally protect vulnerable consumers who are tricked into to buying useless food products or supplements in attempts to combat their disease.

"Obesity" is NOT a disease, asshats. It's never been a disease, and just because you label it a disease doesn't make it one. From Webster's Dictionary: disease 1-obsolete-trouble 2-a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs the performance of a vital function : sickness : malady 3-a harmful development (as in a social institution - the various diseases of civilization). Fat is not trouble, fat does not generally impair performance of vital functions (witness all the fat people who are still alive even after being told their fat is going to kill them), and despite what the diet industry/big pharma/the medical community would have you believe, fat is not a harmful development in civilization, since it's been around since civilization has existed.
Unlike medicines, food products that are marketed for health reasons are not subject to the same stringent research trials and control, and consumers are often misled.

Often misled? How about misled every fucking day of their lives! Misled by the media, misled by doctors, misled by pharmaceutical companies, and most of all, misled by all those companies pushing their diets that they know don't work, they know have never worked, and they know will never work (other than to put billions of dollars in their pockets) for safe and permanent weight loss.
It is already illegal for unsubstantiated claims to be made about the composition or nutritional function of food products, eg. that they are low in fat, high in fibre or help lower cholesterol, and it is also illegal to claim that a food can treat or prevent any disease—including obesity. However, many unsubstantiated health claims are still made, or implied. Misleading marketing can be found within brand names and images on packaging, in shelf or shop names, or on websites which suggest that products help weight control, are slimming, or are "Health Foods", when there is no evidence.

No shit, Sherlock, and WTF are you doing to stop those claims from being made? Namby-pamby little rules, like making them put teeny tiny print at the end of ads saying "Results not typical". Results not typical, my aching ass. "Results not happening at all, ever, for the majority of people, so you're wasting your money on this" should be more like it.
He points out that, of all the hundreds of products currently on sale to help people lose weight, only energy-restricted diets and exercise, the drugs orlistat and sibutramine, and in some cases bariatric surgery, are safe, effective and cost-effective. The remainder, he says, are either not effective or not safe.

Well, let's see now. If you go by evidence-based statistics, those energy-restricted diets and exercise don't work for safe, permanent weight loss. If you go by evidence-based statistics, orlistat and sibutramine aren't all that helpful unless you only have small amounts of weight to lose (like less than 20 lbs) and they give you the added benefit of possibly shitting yourself in public (orlistat) or losing maybe 24 pounds in 6 months and staying on the drug for life in order to keep those 24 pounds from ever coming back (sibutramine, not to mention that you have to stay on the reduced-calorie diet and exercise like mad for the rest of your life). And I'm not even going to address the success of WLS, we all know how successful and safe that is..........NOT.
So yeah, Professor Lean, it's idiots like you that created this panic and pushed people into spending billions of dollars on quack remedies that don't work, have never worked, and will never work, and you think you have a solution? I don't think so, since it's people just like you who came up with all the solutions you say are "quackery". And the solutions that you think work? Well, guess what, dickweed, they don't work any better than the quackery you're railing about. So go join the medical community, big pharma, and the diet industry in their little cesspool and leave fat people the fuck alone. With friends like you, we certainly don't need any enemies.

ETA: H/T to petulant at Shakesville for the link