Author Archives: Jill

A Few Short Thoughts On Diet Nuts

You might as well call me an anti-utopianist because that’s what I am philosophically. It also seems to be the theme of my recent posts. In this one, I’m going to focus on diet vloggers. Most diet vloggers are utopianists, either by actual disposition or because they are attention seekers (which is, admittedly, a disposition).

I got my start in the diet vlogging world when I was doing keto last summer/fall. There were and still are a number of helpful keto vloggers who have made names for themselves by doling out shopping and cooking advice — in the case of the health professionals like Dr. Berg, by doling out health advice. Not all of these vloggers are attention seekers. Marketers, maybe. Are marketers attention seekers? I guess they are, when it comes right down to it. But marketers aren’t narcissists as so many of the food vloggers tend to be.

Watching keto diet videos naturally compelled YouTube to recommend that I watch vegan and carnivore diet videos, too. Heh. That’s the crew that’s got narcissism practically tattooed on their foreheads. If female food narcissists walk the path of the mango, male food narcissists walk the path of meat. Preferably raw, or at least bloody.

I watch these videos for entertainment because they’re so compellingly odd. I don’t understand the compulsion to film oneself eating and exercising all day, half-dressed. Freelee the Banana Girl is probably the most iconic female version of this. She got her start years ago by bicycling all over Australia and eating tons — and I mean tons — of bananas. She hasn’t changed her diet much over the years, but now she lives in the jungle, harvesting jungle fruits with her Adamesque boyfriend, and filming herself scantily clad digging into mountains of fructose. She’s skinny — from malnourishment, most likely — and it’s not simply a rumor that she’s had breast implants to fix the problem of losing womanly curves on a diet not fit for longevity or fertility. She’s made videos defending her choice. Which is fine. I’m not picking on her per se. She just happens to have set the standard for vegan vloggers to undress themselves and show the world that they blend up mountains of figs, strawberries, and bananas for themselves all day long so they can have the energy to do their yoga. Which they demonstrate. Of course. High saturation is also very common, in order to give their complexions a rosy glow that they lack due to anemia. Also, fruit looks lovely in high saturation.

I don’t honestly know who the most iconic male version of this is. There is a guy from Sweden who calls himself Sv3rige, but his schtick is mockery of vegans more than it is showing off his musculature that he undoubtedly has obtained from eating mountains of raw meat. He’s a neo-pagan, let’s get back to our barbarian hunter roots sort of guy. Perhaps Frank Tufano qualifies as an iconic carnivore narcissist. He wears the muscle shirts and puts on the makeup to assist in his thick-eyebrowed manly beauty paradigm. Or DeLauer, who is a keto enthusiast who likes to be shirtless, or at least wear shirts tight enough to demonstrate his bulging biceps. The problem with male diet vloggers is they are male. They will show off themselves weight-lifting, but they aren’t nearly as iconic with the saturated colors and nakedness. I mean, don’t get me wrong, women like to look at men, but not to the same extent that men like to look at Freelee’s fake implants, despite their finding her lifestyle and behavior obnoxious.

The undercurrent to it all, though, is the selling of perfection. You can have perfection if you eat only raw fruit. You can have perfection if you only eat raw meat. If only, if only. And these vloggers go to great lengths to bring others into their neurotic playing with perfection. I guess if they can’t fully convince themselves, preaching to others will do the trick. There are shysters out there, and then there are utopianists. And there is a special place where the two meet as one, and the shysters begin to believe their lies because they’ve preached them so many times, and the utopianists begin to use deceit when their house of cards shows signs of collapse.

If you want to know what I believe about diet, you can read this old post of mine: Are Humans Vegetarians?

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Conservative Crack

My birthday is on Fathers’ Day this year. I’m happy to share it with them. I dearly love the fathers in my life: my own, my in-law, my children’s — aka my husband. There’s an episode of Blue Bloods, in which it becomes clear the Reagan dad is uncomfortable celebrating his birthday. This causes general angst to those who want to be kind to him on his birthday. Eventually, he decides to give his family a surprise party, in which he takes them to the ballgame. Perhaps I should give the father(s) who are near me a surprise party for my birthday.

Yes, I just used an anecdote from a TV show targeted at an audience just like me! Blue Bloods is what I like to call conservative crack. It has all the right elements to seduce conservatives who are tired of cynicism yet don’t want to watch the Hallmark channel. Its focus is on family, faith, justice, and the necessity of upholding law and order. The characters are Catholics who pray at their weekly extended-family dinners. And they don’t just pray generically, but specifically to Christ, which normally doesn’t happen on network TV.

Furthermore, it’s about the “Reagan” family, which is simultaneously a good Irish name and that of a Republican icon. Through Tom Selleck’s Dad Reagan character and his quietly stoic fight for justice, adjacent values such as loyalty and honesty are extolled. His character epitomizes the Theodore Roosevelt saying, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” In fact, he’s always quoting from Roosevelt.

So, yeah, it’s crack. But it’s ultimately subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) neocon propaganda preaching the mores of the day. When Erin Reagan has the opportunity to guide her daughter into Christian chastity, she instead tells the teenage girl to wait to have sex until she’s “in love”. When the dad goes against the church on homosexuality, he’s asked to recant his position, but he won’t. Not really. Because the church is clearly wrong. And on it goes, extolling every neocon value like a checklist: the police state, the virtues of mass immigration, etc.

So seductive! And I love cop shows, too, always have. Also, the Tom Selleck look is the best look; my husband has it, from his mustache and Euro-British features to his taste in clothes. Another also: Danny Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block. What a babe! Actually, he looks a little like Homer Simpson…. Now I’m being silly. But it is a good thing to recognize how I can be manipulated. I just pray that I can maintain my ability to recognize it.

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Yesterday’s Teaser

I left yesterday after mentioning the unmentionable: immunizations. Great. This is a subject that causes normally rational people to become rabid. I assume this is due to fear, and I don’t blame them, really, even if their memes are giant piles of nastiness.

Before you go rabid on me, let me make it clear that I’m not an anti-vaxxer. Rather, immunizations fit into the realm of “there is no utopia here; move on.” They are imperfect. They are old medicine, but the government poured their money into funding immunization development in the mid half of the 20th C; therefore, that’s what we have. And they actually work. That’s good in the same way antibiotics are good. They save lives and create unintended consequences.

And they really are old medicine, having been used in parts of the world for hundreds of years before ever being tested in the western world. Famously, the English writer Lady Mary Wortley Montagu discovered in the early 18th C that the Turks had been inoculating against smallpox for some time and consequently had much lower death rates of the disease than the English had. Her husband was the British ambassador in the Ottoman Empire, and being a curious person, she investigated their variolation process, i.e. their inoculation against the variola virus. It was a simple process of scratching the skin and infecting the open wound with a small amount of the virus. She brought this info back with her to England, but it took quite a few decades before Dr. Jenner (credited with inventing vaccination) developed a version using cowpox instead of smallpox (hence, the name). At the time, it was ingenious to use the body’s own immune system, especially since medicine at the time still relied on bloodletting and the use of mercury to combat disease.

Today, we know that basic hygiene can help prevent the spread of disease; we’re still aware of quarantine — we also have a much greater knowledge of nutrition (as well as the sun, i.e vit D) and its role in immune function. But we don’t know everything. The immune system is incredibly complex. And as we implement immunization schedules with multiple doses against more and more diseases, we also see the dignoses of autoimmune disorders increading at about 7% every year. Obviously, correlation doesn’t equal causation, but let’s consider for a moment what modern-day immunizations are meant to do: they are specifically designed to cause a strong immune reaction. Many do this through adjuvants, which are substances that enhance immune reactions…or, as I’ve often said in my non-sciencey language, bludgeon the immune system. This is a feature of immunizations; this is what we’re attempting when we give dose after dose to young children, beginning in the first 24 hours after birth.

But I’m still not an anti-vaxxer because it’s the only system we have right now. At the same time, I’m not now and never will be a utopianist. Nor could I ever become a rabidly cruel human being to others online. What few want to admit, or dare to admit, really, is that most anti-vaxxers are not fools. They are usually college educated with above-average IQs. Many have also taken on their own irrational anti stances because they have a child who was permanently damaged by an immunization. They feel pain and guilt and on top of that are bullied by people online who don’t understand that the cost when counting it might be somebody else’s child.

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Short Thoughts: Utopianism Undoing the Curse

The dystopia of utopia is a common theme in sci fi. It’s a common theme in the history of humanity. It has driven us to a society built on the premise that we should avoid pain and sickness and tilling the earth by the sweat of our brow. In short, we want to push death away and find ever-more ingenious ways to avoid hard work.

Obviously, striving to make life better is not a bad aim. It’s laudable. What isn’t laudable is falling for the lie that we can attain perfection — appearance-wise, at least. I’ll never forget the day I took my daily walk in the park earlier than usual. The dog will fall into a sullen bout of pouting if she doesn’t get her daily walk. Therefore, on that day, when I knew I was going to be busy in the evening, I took her for an earlier walk — much to my chagrin, as the city workers were busy spraying the park with herbicide.

Herbicide makes life easier. It also gives me almost instant migraines and mild anaphylaxis. The ironic part is it’s not benefiting those city workers, either, as they were young fat men sitting at their leisure on the back of a truck, spraying the herbicide from big tanks when they could have been using their bodies instead.

The park in Roswell is huge. The maintained areas of green spaces go on for a number of blocks. Of course, it makes sense for the city to save on labor this way. Isn’t it amazing that Monsanto created a way to avoid hard work? However, hundreds of years ago, cultivated green spaces were maintained through the hard physical labor of workers who were assuredly not fat. Also, the most common herbicide on the market has been linked to cancer. Lymphoma, specifically. There are currently numerous lawsuits going through the court system, people suing Monsanto because they’ve linked their lymphoma to heavy Roundup exposure.

I guess it’s good for the labor of lawyers, though, who no doubt have giant sweat stains from stressing over going against a corporate giant. Or conversely, drool stains from salivating for the money they anticipate getting. Maybe they think they’ll retire early and avoid further sweat…until the doctor tells them to go to the gym, lest they die young from heart attacks.

The scourge of herbicide touches on the simultaneous curse of death and hard physical labor: men sue because they’re afraid of death; they use herbicide because they’re afraid of hard, painful work. This is what utopia means.

Also: immunizations. That’s the teaser I’m going to leave you with. (Short thoughts, remember? I almost rambled on for another 500 or so words.)

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Short Thoughts: To Be or Not To Be Scripture

I don’t spend a lot of time on my blog. I’m more inclined to spend three hours on a post instead of whipping one out — that’s why. I’m a very slow thinker. I’m going to make an attempt to write short posts every day and see how many days I can manage. No focus. No deep thought. Whatever I’m thinking about.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating Christian Scripture. I own many Bibles, including a 1611 King James with the “Apocrypha” and two types of Catholic translations with the Deuterocanon. I’ve also read the works the Catholic church considers to be apocryphal, such as The Book of Watchers. By the way, even that book is considered Scripture in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo churches. It’s fascinating to me how we arrived at what’s considered to be divinely ordained Scripture; as somebody who grew up Protestant, I trusted that what was in my Bible was the definitive word of God. At that time, most churches were using the New American Standard. Some still used the King James Bible, but it was fashionable in my childhood to read the NAS instead.

It didn’t take me long to realize that Catholic Bibles contained extra books and even that some Protestant Bibles did, if you could get your hands on a 1611 King James. I’m both an information gatherer and a curious person. Naturally, I began to wonder how the books of the Bible came to be collected and fashioned together in one volume. The history is anything but easy, to say the least. For example, the Jewish interpretation of what is and what isn’t Scripture had some bearing on why Esther is Scripture and Maccabees is not. Esther fit into the time frame the Jewish people held as being prophetic; Maccabees did not. However, if you read them side by side, it’s clear they fit into a similar epoch of history re writing style. Neither lean very heavily on a tone of humility before God as the previous prophetic and historic works did. Rather, they both sprang from a time of captivity in which the Jewish people were trying to find their bearings again. For that reason (I believe), the tone in both is self-congratulatory. They are books of history — I don’t dispute that in the least — but they also strike me as patriotic works meant to bolster a society attempting to find its way again as God’s distinct people.

Ultimately, for Protestants, doctrine is more relevant than the Jewish opinion on prophesy. Maccabees is also rejected due to doctrine, namely the Catholic and Orthodox belief in praying for the dead. As far as I know, there is only one passage in Maccabees that discusses prayers for the dead:

2 Maccabees 12:43-45 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
43 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. 44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, so that they might be delivered from their sin.

Esther contains nothing like this; in fact, Esther has little to no doctrine at all. It doesn’t even discuss God. It’s strictly a story about a famous Jewish queen and her uncle, who protected their people from mass slaughter while they were in living in exile amongst the people in Persia. Therefore, it passes muster as an appropriate historical addition to the Bible because it can’t teach bad doctrine if it doesn’t contain it.

Maccabees doesn’t purport to teach doctrine, either. It does give a glimpse into at least one Jewish person’s thought on the resurrection of the dead — it’s a glimpse into one mind in a particular epoch of history. To be fair, Maccabees is only one reason Catholics believe prayers for the dead are valid. They also look at tradition, church history, and a line in 2 Timothy (May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day!). Are they stretching a little? Perhaps. But they earnestly believe in eternal life and the communion of the saints both living and having passed beyond the veil.

I’m running against the clock now. I would have liked to discuss The Books of Watchers, but it will have to be another time. Also, I need to reread it because it’s been at least ten years.

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