Thursday, January 21, 2010


There is a famous quote about how humans are mainly a vessel to stuff food into. I’d like to think that there are more important reasons, like possibly art or something like that, but I can see what they are getting at when they talk like that. It is a short list for the things that the entirety of the human race needs to do and eating is really up there on it. You don’t tend to stay alive for very long when you don’t eat.

Couple the amazing variety and styles of food stuff with the need and you have a pretty good combination ready and willing to help the world. And that isn’t even taking into account the whole psychological need that some of us have for food. It is well documented that many people use food and eating as a way to help for all manner of psychological upsets. There is overeating or starving or eating only certain foods or in a specific order and there are still so many more.

It might be some version of this or just a way to relive boredom but I will always find myself switching over to the Food Network or the Travel Channel’s food programs when there is nothing else on the tube. You get some serious amount of entertainment and tasty looking food to go along with it. It would be even better if it was possible to just stick your hand into the television and pull out the food for personal consumption but I’ll just have to wait for the next round of mechanical upgrades for that. First high definition and then food delivery.

The Travel Channel has a special series on right now called The Chowdown Countdown where they travel the country picking out what they believe are the 101 top places to eat in the country. These are all local establishments with no chain restaurants of any kind on the list. All of the places that they have shown so far have looked amazing and the food can’t look any more delectable as they do on the screen. It’s like a food fetishists dream come true.

While I’ve been enjoying watching the show and would love to visit a lot of the places on it, there is something that I’ve actually found a little troubling in the watching. The restaurants have a wide variety of different kinds of things to eat but there is a part of their menus that I feel the need to call into question. That part of it is the use of the enormous meal that looks like it would be too much for even all 19 of the Duggars could finish. Some places have mega sandwiches that have everything on the normal menu placed between two slices or bread. Still others go with the huge ice cream sundays and there was even a place with a mammoth vanilla milkshake that is served in a glass that looks like it was originally built for a piston engine casing. It’s all about the big amounts of food and every one of these places have a kind of promotion about rewarding people that can eat or drink the whole thing.

My mind started to wander while watching to what the thought of people from other countries must be to the apparent gluttony that these shows give the rest of the world. At first you’d like to hope that there are other countries that have the same kinds of things at their places of nourishment but I really can’t see the people in the Netherlands or Japan or Estonia having quite the need or desire to have something like these dishes on their menus. It all looks like something inherent to the people of the United States of America. We’ve gotten so used to having an overabundance of food in this country that we don’t have a problem with eating a cheeseburger that weighs as much as the cow that they got the meat originally from.

These single place establishments are part of their local environments and each of them fits into their region of the country but you kind of have to wonder when you factor these places into the same world as the one with all of the chain restaurants. They might not have the kind of huge meals that the smaller places do but that doesn’t help when you have the need to fulfill the menus of places across an area or the country. The amount of food that flows out of places like McDonalds, Taco Bell, or even like Subway can total up to a huge amount of stuff. It can blow a person’s mind to think about how much hamburger meat needs to be raised and processed for these places.

I am not someone who is innocent in cases like this because I still eat at all manner of places like these. I might have tried to curtail the amounts of time I spend at fast food places but I still love going to the local In & Out Burgers when I’m jonesing for a “Double Double”. There haven’t been my past trips to eating a couple double quarter pounders a week but I do still eat my fair share of it. It all just kind of leaves me worried about how much food we’re all eating.

There is another famous quote about how the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach but it’s starting to seem like we have way too much food available for us to choose from. It just leaves me worried about all of the meat in the diet and how it’s possible to raise all of the meat that you need to make the food. You don’t want to worry about the need to feed all of the people of the world and the space needed for farms to raise all of it for our needs. It could make you go insane just worrying about it.

It all leaves my mind feeling a bit mixed up when I think about all of the possibilities about the food that we eat. With the country’s population growing exponentially, you have to fulfill the need to eat that all of those people might have. It’s not like I’m looking for the appearance of soylent green in the next month but we do need to figure out what we’re going to do before it gets to the point that all of those huge sanwhiches are taken apart just to feed all of the people that will need the food.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It came as a major surprise to most people on Monday when a press release and short interview by one Mister Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids during his time as a major league baseball player. For most of the free world the fact that he had used them wasn’t much of a surprise since he seemed to constantly look like he shopped at the “Strangely Big And Misshapen Muscles” store but it did seem like a stretch that he would ever admit to it. Chalk it up to his miniscule vote totals for the Hall of Fame or the lack of respect his home run record has gotten since he did it but something brought out the need to come clean about the whole thing.

All was going okay and even those that were feeling jaded about all of his accomplishments were starting to feel a little bit of compassion for the man but then came a live interview shown later on in the day. McGwire showed up on the MLB Network being interviewed by Bob Costas and it seemed to be a no hold bared kind of thing at first. Costas was asking many of the questions that many of us wondered about and it was all going okay up to a point. Once it reached that point, all the wheels seemed to come off and all the benefits the interview might have had were lost in the backwash of self salvation on the part of Mr. McGwire.

And what was this point that throttled the life out of the interview? For me it was when McGwire stated that the steroids that he was taking did not help his performance in any way and they did not help home runs that he hit after he started taking the drugs. It took me a moment to think about this and then I just had to call him on how stupid this made him sound. I’d like to believe him that he might just be confused but then you just need to remember the whole speech about not wanting to talk about the past when he was in front of the Congressional committee and that benefit was used up a long time ago.

This is an argument that has been floated a couple times in the past but it never held any kind of water for me. They try to say that there was no benefit from the steroids when it came to their actual on the field time. They will constantly say that all of their records and playing history should count the same even after the admission because the talent was, in lack of a better way to put it, God given or genetics or whatever. Andy Petite said the same thing when he was caught taking them too and it sounded just as wrong then as it does now.

This attempted explanation fails on so many counts that it’s hard to choose which one to start off with. You can say that it didn’t give you a competitive advantage but it is also very easy to understand the simple fact that the player wouldn’t even be able to compete without taking those steroids. The players of the past never had substances like this to help them recover from injuries or just from the rigors of keeping themselves in shape over the course of their careers. You can say that the steroids didn’t give you the original ability that might have gotten you into the major leagues all you want but those steroids that you took definitely helped you to stay there for a lot longer than you might have if you had done it naturally.

When it comes down to the whole steroid debate, much of the pro steroids side of the argument make me feel like when I hear about another kind of similar discussion, namely the anti gun control viewpoint. The main thing that people that are against strong gun control laws will always pull out the phrase, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people” but they don’t seem to understand how wrong that is to say. It might be true that a gun doesn’t kill someone outright but it definitely does make it a lot easier for someone to actually kill as many people as they can. The people that use the phrase think it makes it some kind of circular idea that trumps everything else but it in fact negates itself since the event that comes from the two subjects wouldn’t be possible without each other.

The very same idea can be placed right across the steroid argument without any real difficulty. You can talk all you want about how your natural abilities trumps anything else but that still leaves us wondering why you would need to take them if they didn’t help you in the first place. If it all comes down to it, any try to make the statement that personal ability trumps any benefits from steroids just won’t hold water because those steroids can help the person to use those abilities. It is just that simple.

We all want to believe our sports heroes are the most amazing people as we think they are. You find someone to be a fan of and it can be so hard to understand that they can be just as human as all of us. They have the same worries and faults of all of us but that doesn’t excuse fact that they still used them when they were against both the rules of the sport and the laws of the country itself. You can try to talk all you want about the fact that you had to do it since you played in the Steroid Era but the time didn’t force you to take that substance into your body.