Friday, December 30, 2011

600 LB Woman Stops Pay-Per-View Eating

For years a 44 year old mother of two from Ohio named Donna Simpson, who  is 5' 4" and weighs 600 lbs., apparently charged men $19 a month to watch her eat via the internet.

The news today HERE on MSNBC is that she has halted this endeavor and is trying to lose weight for health reasons. But the fact that this went on for years, and that men around the world paid a monthly fee to watch her eat, genuinely shocked me. Here are a few selections from this article:
  • "The underground community is involved in a rare form of masochism known as feederism, said Stephen Levine, the co-director of the Center for Marital and Sexual Health in Beachwood and a professor of clinical psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. People gain satisfaction by watching others eat and become overweight. The Internet helped it take off, he said."
  •  "Simpson said she earned at one point $1,000 a month from the pay-per-view eating."
  •  "I realized that I was their fantasy," she said. "Here I was getting bigger and bigger, and they had their thin wives, with 2 1/2 kids and a picket fence."
  • "There are plenty of men who will buy you four pizzas and enjoy watching you eat all of them," she wrote on her website. "But what it comes down to is that you become a slave to the food and to your feeder." 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Drunken Online Shopping

 THIS article today from The New York Times analyzes in some detail the degree to which online shopping is driven by alcohol consumption, and reveals that retailers are well aware of this phenomenon.

"Still, the nighttime spike requires delicacy among retailers: for reasons of propriety, they do not want to be seen as encouraging drunken shopping, and many people who inadvertently buy products in that state would most likely return them at high rates."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

FCC To Ban Loud Commercials

Are you among the 86% of Americans who believe that TV commercials are jarringly louder than the TV shows themselves? I wrote previously HERE about this phenomenon.  According to this segment from the NBC Nightly News, the FCC has now announced plans to curb that practice.  Finally.  Though the ban won't take effect for a year, apparently.

Worst Chain Restaurants For Health

Men's Health magazine has ranked the best and worst chain restaurants for your health. You can see the rankings HERE.

The 'usual suspects' are ranked right where you would expect them to be, pretty much.  But I was shocked to see that Red Lobster was ranked 2nd best (best!) restaurant for health!  Higher than Jamba Juice!  I had no idea that fried shrimp were so healthful.  Or maybe Jamba Juice is now putting lard in their smoothies?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

10 Worst Sugar Cereals For Kids

A public health watchdog group has released a list of the 10 'worst' sugar cereals for kids.  You can view a slideshow HERE.

Round up the usual suspects for this rogue's gallery.  Various versions of Cap'n Crunch appear no fewer than four times, and Froot Loops account for two more. Another two are cereals that originally had 'Sugar' in their names (Honey Smacks and Golden Crisp).  And then there's good old Apple Jacks. The list is rounded out by a newer cereal called, descriptively, Smorz.

In fairness to their respective manufacturers, could any parent reasonably claim to be surprised that cereals with these names are on a list like this?

The Economics of Convenience Stores

THIS news story details how more people are electing to buy meals at convenience stores, especially those anchored by gas stations, than ever before. The change is apparently being driven by an upgrade in the food offered there, and by the fact that it's apparently cheaper there than at fast food restaurants like McDonald's or Taco Bell.

That trend was sort of interesting to me, especially since I'd long ago written off the food at these places (except in cases of extreme emergency). But the following two sentences, about the economics of the convenience store business, really caught my eye. “'About 70 percent of their overall revenue dollars come from fuel. But only about 26 percent of profit dollars come from fuel,' said Jeff Lenard, vice president of communications for the National Association of Convenience Stores. 'You can make much more money as a restaurant than you can a gas station,' he added."

Does Being President Take Years Off Your Life?

A new study of all past US Presidents has sought to determine whether being President really took years off their lives.  The fact that, in the TV age, we've been able to see Presidents age before our eyes during their terms, presumably due to the stress of the job, probably makes many of us think we already know the answer.  The results may be surprising, however, even if the explanation is simple and predictable.

The CBS Evening News discussed the results briefly last night HERE in a 2 minute segment. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The "Pumpkin Papers" Were Neither, It Turns Out

Richard Nixon, then an ambitious young Congressman from California, revealed to the public on this date back in 1948 the existence of the so-called 'Pumpkin Papers,' secret State Department documents that had been stolen by employees there who were also communist sympathizers spying for Russia.  These documents (mostly photos of documents on microfilm, actually) came to be called the 'Pumpkin Papers' because the reformed former communist who led authorities to them, Whitaker Chambers, had once hidden them in a pumpkin on his family farm.Contrary to popular belief at the time, however, the papers were not still hidden in that pumpkin when they were handed over in 1948.

The Pumpkin Papers played a central role in the later conviction of Alger Hiss on perjury charges in 1950, charges related to his alleged spying.  An urbane, well educated man, Hiss personified the East Coast Establishment that Nixon was reputed to have so loathed. Hiss denied having been a spy, and in later years became somewhat of a martyr figure to left leaning intellectuals during the Cold War, who thought Hiss had been railroaded by grasping neanderthals on the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).

In 1985, a very high level KGB defector named Oleg Gordievsky confirmed that Hiss had indeed been a spy.  And after the end of the Cold War, when KGB files were opened, further documentary evidence was found confirming that Hiss had been a well-established Soviet spy.

That being said, Wikipedia has a great epilogue to this story.  It reads, "The five rolls of 35 mm film known as the 'pumpkin papers' were thought until late 1974 to be locked in HUAC files... On July 31, 1975, as a result of ... follow-on suits filed by Peter Irons and by Alger Hiss and William Reuben, the Justice Department released copies of the 'pumpkin papers' that had been used to implicate Hiss. One roll of film turned out to be totally blank due to overexposure, two others are faintly legible copies of nonclassified Navy Department documents relating to such subjects as life rafts and fire extinguishers, and the remaining two are photographs of the State Department documents introduced by the prosecution at the two Hiss trials, relating to U.S./German relations in the late 1930s."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Death of Evel Knievel

Legendary motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel died on this date back in 2007.  You can read an excellent obituary published at the time in The Economist HERE.

Given his reputation for debauched and rude behavior, on hindsight it's perhaps most surprising how financially important the line of Evel Knievel toys was to him (and to the Ideal toy company) in the 1970s, and how central they remain to his legacy today.