Friday, October 28, 2011


I'm not a communist, I don't think that everything should be predetermined and rationed out. However, I'm starting to wonder if having absolute control over every minute detail of our lives is serving our best interests in the long run.

In another post I spoke of my strict grandmother who refused to let my brother and I leave the kitchen table until all of our vegetables and foul tasting fish were consumed. I'm certain that my father had it even worse with her when he was a kid. When he was young there wasn't a grocery store for miles so if he was hungry he was compelled to eat whatever gruel my grandma had made in bulk earlier that week. In his world growing up, in my early childhood the only alternative to starvation was eating that which could arguably called food AND eating all of it. 

With the commercialization of food, convenience was born but with the advantage of convenience there came a price. The hidden consequence of food sold for profit is that it is generally bad for you. Fast food is bad for us because it prey's on our susceptibility to getting hooked on things that are high in salts, fats and sugars. Further,  things that are low in nutritional value are generally easier/cheaper to produce The end result is that we become a nation of junk food junkies circling a late night Taco Bell parking lot like a bunch of overweight buzzards.

But, you know all of that already.  My problem is that I intellectually know that eating fast food is bad for me and for my life in the long run. Yet, if you put a bubbling hot pepperoni pizza and some lawn clippings drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette in front of me and ask me to pick one to eat, I will always pick the pizza. In addition, if you asked me to pick between a thin crust whole wheat pizza with feta cheese and arugula or the bubbling hot pepperoni with stuffed crust, I would pick the pepperoni. 

Perhaps you dear reader are superior to me. Perhaps your body is a temple and you have made the "connection." For you, I will extend the field of my argument in order to make my point.

If you ask people how many hours of television they watch per week they will typically downplay the number. Further, most people will also besmirch television programming as a cancer on their lives. Yet, in North America there is on average more than one television per household. For a nation of people who don't watch television and who hate the programming, we sure do buy some really expensive night lights. 

But I've already argued the hypocrisy of television watchers, today I want to talk about the programs themselves. About 15-20 years ago now a whole slew of new cable networks were introduced. The new wave of programming was intended to cater to more specified groups of television watchers. The idea was that not everyone wanted to watch the same type of programming at the same time. This model worked for a short while until everyone realized that you can make more money appealing to a general audience rather than a specific one. 

I'm not certain where the change began but we can certainly start from the present and work our way backward. MTV, a network created to show music videos and music related programming no longer shows music. The Discovery Channel a network dedicated to science, geography and understanding how things work has become the unofficial chopper and custom motorcycle building channel. The History Channel no longer talks about World War II and ancient Rome. Now the closest thing the Channel gets to telling tales of the past is when Chumlee tells Rick on Pawn Stars that he used to have a Teddy Ruxpin doll back in the 80's.

Whenever I lazily scroll through the channels I often come across a PBS special about intelligent underwater creatures or an incredibly interesting NOVA episode about the cosmos. As I get drawn in I think to myself "I sure am glad that these stations still exist because these programs are engrossing."  But then another thought permeates my mind and that thought is: "What was I watching? oh right, TMZ" I quickly change the show as it  murmurs something about the cuddle fishs' camouflaging technique and focus in on Harvey Levin murmuring something about Steven Bochco leaving STK. TMZ is an empty calories program but it doesn't expect anything of me intellectually. It entertains me with it's pop and zing. It tells me what opinion I should have and it over explains details that should be obvious by virtue of watching the clip. 

The very same thing would happen when I would go into a book store. I would think "Geez, this looks like it would be a nice place to sit down, read a book and be among my pseudo intellectual peers.  Yet, the only thing I can recall buying in a book store over the past five years is a coffee. I want so badly for these fixtures of my youth and these symbols of intelligent life to remain pure but I don't want to do any of the heavy lifting to support them.If given the choice between 2 intellectually stimulating channels or 200 channels of instant gratification, I will pick crap over content every time.


  1. ‘With the commercialization of food, convenience was born’ but also a thing called choice. When we grew up without choice and find ourselves as adults with this new thing called choice it’s easy to grab the fatty things the sweet things the things that were denied… But again we have a choice. Now I love a good bowl of mac and cheese; but recognizing treats for what they are and treating them like treats and fueling your body regularly with healthy things that cost more but are quality is a form of self love and yet another choice… Just my two cents.

  2. The key is will power. All things in moderation, my friend.
    Except beer. It's OK to overindulge on that.
    and crack. and hookers. and McDonalds. and shoplifting. and reality TV. and clown murdering.
    Well, you get the picture. Will power isn't one of my strong suits.

  3. @bridgitte: As flip noted, the post isn't about me complaining that I do not have will power it is a remark on how we as a species end up making terrible choices out of convenience over time that eventually end up in the ruin of a nation. I tend to martyr myself in my posts so as not to appear "above" the problem. the real problem is the denial that everything is okay because you/I think we have have individually found the answer.

    In the post I went on to further detail other "choices" that we have and then I reflected on where we as a continent ended up because of that freedom of choice.

  4. I hate to think what most people would do if they had no choice. Your photo "eat your weedies" says it all.

    If in a survival situation most people would die. Because they can't get delivery service.

    Great post!

  5. We need an iphone app that zaps a bluetooth brain implant that gives the experience of eating pizza without the health consequences of actually doing it. Fat people could then just zap themselves all day long until they get bored with it.