aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, December 22, 2007
NRA: high paid hot shots
Richard Feldman, a lawyer and the author of “Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist,” once worked for the NRA. Today he’s a critic of the organization.
In the WaPo he claims the main target of the lobbying group these days is its members’ checkbooks:
Harlon B. Carter, who created the modern NRA in the 1970s, earned about $70,000 a year (about $200,000 in today’s dollars) as executive vice president and was driven to meetings in the company Chevrolet. Wayne LaPierre, who currently sits upon the executive vice president throne, pocketed about $950,000 in 2005. The parking lot at the association’s twin-glass-towered headquarters off Interstate 66 in Virginia is filled with shiny new BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes.
What’s unseemly about the stratospheric six-figure salaries flowing into NRA leadership wallets is that the cash comes from hundreds of thousands of members who are hard pressed to write $35 annual membership renewal checks or send an extra $10 or $20 to the NRA Political Victory Fund to protect their guns. [...]
The media and anti-gun politicians make a mistake by engaging with the NRA, penning inflammatory headlines, threatening to crush the organization and salt the earth beneath its headquarters. They are just reminding the NRA faithful that they’re surrounded by enemies who threaten to batter down their doors and snatch their firearms. And all it results in is the constant “ka-ching” of cash rolling into NRA coffers.
If the threat to honest citizens’ right to own firearms ever dipped below the radar, so too would the association’s political might. That’s why the NRA leadership will never tolerate the give-and-take that makes up real problem-solving. It would be bad for business.
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
The book follows up on last year’s New York Times Magazine piece, Unhappy Meals. In it he discussed how we’ve moved from a “food culture” to a “food science.” Once we received our guidance on what to eat from national, ethnic or regional cultures ("culture is really just a fancy word for Mom"). Today…
The sheer novelty and glamour of the Western diet, with its 17,000 new food products introduced every year, and the marketing muscle used to sell these products, has overwhelmed the force of tradition and left us where we now find ourselves: relying on science and journalism and marketing to help us decide questions about what to eat. Nutritionism, which arose to help us better deal with the problems of the Western diet, has largely been co-opted by it, used by the industry to sell more food and to undermine the authority of traditional ways of eating. You would not have read this far into this article if your food culture were intact and healthy; you would simply eat the way your parents and grandparents and great-grandparents taught you to eat. The question is, Are we better off with these new authorities than we were with the traditional authorities they supplanted? The answer by now should be clear.
It might be argued that, at this point in history, we should simply accept that fast food is our food culture. Over time, people will get used to eating this way and our health will improve. But for natural selection to help populations adapt to the Western diet, we’d have to be prepared to let those whom it sickens die. That’s not what we’re doing. Rather, we’re turning to the health-care industry to help us “adapt.” Medicine is learning how to keep alive the people whom the Western diet is making sick. It’s gotten good at extending the lives of people with heart disease, and now it’s working on obesity and diabetes. Capitalism is itself marvelously adaptive, able to turn the problems it creates into lucrative business opportunities: diet pills, heart-bypass operations, insulin pumps, bariatric surgery. But while fast food may be good business for the health-care industry, surely the cost to society - estimated at more than $200 billion a year in diet-related health-care costs - is unsustainable.
What to do? He opened his essay with a simple rule, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He closes with an elaboration:
...Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food… Avoid even those food products that come bearing health claims… (The American Heart Association charges food makers for their endorsement.)… Especially avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable c) more than five in number… Get out of the supermarket whenever possible… Pay more, eat less… Americans spend, on average, less than 10 percent of their income on food, down from 24 percent in 1947, and less than the citizens of any other nation… Eat mostly plants, especially leaves… eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture… Cook. And if you can, plant a garden… Eat like an omnivore. Try to add new species, not just new foods, to your diet.
The book is high up on my Christmas list…
No glutton for punishment
Matt Hill Comer, 21, is an LGBT journalist, activist and youth advocate currently living and working in Charlotte, NC. He recently went back to his childhood church, Grapevine Baptist in Lewisville, N.C., - “where the stench of hatred, bigotry and oppression was, and still is, thick in the air” - to talk with the preacher there.
Matt was home for his 14-year-old brother’s birthday. He was motivated to go back and talk to the preacher by that brother’s telling of a Saturday night church youth rally. He took another brother along with him when he went.
Matt’s tale of that awkward homecoming was found on his blog by the Grapevine choir director. From his comment to Matt’s post we learn that he knew Matt as a child. And that he had been present for Matt’s conversation with the preacher.
The choir director’s love-the-sinner justification of the church’s rejection of Matt is one familiar to and experienced by most all gay people. Strong and vulnerable, thoughtful and sensitive, and brave and honest throughout, in Matt’s response to the choir director we see he can give as good as he gets:
Bro. Tarron, you are overweight correct? You are overweight to so much of an extent that you are, without a doubt, obese, correct? I’d dare say that your obesity is bordering on morbid obesity. There are also many other members of Grapevine guilty of the same sin of gluttony, far many more than those who are “guilty” of the “sin” of loving another person.
Gluttony causes more deaths than any the religious right attempts to pin on homosexuality. The entirety of American culture focuses on more, more, moreÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ eat, eat, eatÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ drink, drink, drinkÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ buy, buy, buyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s.
If Grapevine is so concerned about the total teaching of Scripture and denying “sin,” why isn’t there a bigger focus on gluttony - a sin discussed more in Scripture than any perceived passages of homosexuality, a plague affecting more Americans - and Grapevine members - than homosexuality and a death sentence facing more Americans - and Grapevine members - than homosexuality.
WaitÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ Those words hurt you didn’t it? Welcome to my lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ every day of it.
For a deeper understanding of the kind of thinking Matt is up against in that church, see Russell Shorto’s important NYTimes piece from summer 2005, What’s Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? It’s the Gay Part.
Not much has changed since Shorto wrote his article. What has changed is that people like Matt are standing up to it, and in the process being important role models for family, neighbors and the kids to come. Thanks Matt!
Internet Memes 2007
Rocketboom‘s got ‘em. A couple favorites…
Rocketbom 2007 Meme of the Year award winner: