Mean, thoughtless, and tasteless: PETA crosses the line reports on what may well be the single biggest lapse in good judgment ever to come out of the infamous “animal rights” organization PETA: a billboard with an obviously overweight woman in a swimsuit (depicted from behind, neck to small of back) and the tagline “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian. PETA.”

I can’t believe even PETA would stoop this low. This is flagrantly sexist; I don’t know how CBS Outdoor (formerly Viacom) allowed this to go up, or who PETA bribed to get this out there in this medium. That alone costs PETA much of the credibility they might have otherwise had.

PETA assumes plenty of facts about the majority of cases of obesity that have simply not been proven. There are many cases of obesity out there that changes in diet alone will not solve. I, personally, believe exercise plays a far greater role in losing weight than diet. I dismissed the Atkins diet as the fad that it is (was?).

As some evidence of this, people may think it ludicrous that professional sports franchises gave such high allowances for meals on road games–the NFL’s allowances from 2007 were $17, $25, and $43 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner respectively, probably a bit higher in 2009 due to inflation. Few consider the possibility that the activity levels of many professional athletes actually justify $17 for breakfast, etc. Yet that is probably the reason for the meal allowances being as high as they are! (In the particular case of the NFL, weight is actually an advantage for some positions and so players would need to maintain their weight, specifically eating enough to lose as little as possible. I wouldn’t exactly expect baseball, basketball, soccer, or hockey players to eat like birds, however.)

Until there is hard evidence that a vegetarian or vegan diet alone will result in weight loss with no other changes in lifestyle, the responsible thing to do is for PETA to remove their billboard. Of course, this is the same PETA that has no problem with splashing red paint on fur coats just to advance their ridiculous extremist view. So I’m not sure PETA will ever do the responsible thing. I retain my optimism, however.

Permit first, food later

The Hartford Courant reports on a conflict between the local government and a charitable organization known as Food Not Bombs. For those not familiar with the organization, Food Not Bombs was founded in 1989 by anti-nuclear activists, and aims to serve fresh vegetarian meals to anyone, in public spaces, without restriction.

The squabble centers around a permit requirement from the city of Middletown (among others) stating that the kitchens used by the group need to be properly licensed for compliance with the cities’ health codes.

I understand the concerns of the cities in question. It is a great show of goodwill by Middletown’s chief public health sanitarian Salvatore Nesci to recognize the work of the group as “admirable.”

I believe in the overall goodwill of humanity, and that some kind of arrangement can be worked out to solve this conflict.

The disturbing part, however, is according to this article on, it’s not just the small towns in New England; the war on Food Not Bombs and organizations like it is actually a national trend.

Is this what we have really come to as a society? That simple, grassroots efforts of charity are shut down because of government red tape?

I’d like to think we, the human race, are better than that as a whole.

Twitter and Facebook banned at some college sporting events

I can’t believe I’m reading this, much less blogging about it.

The St. Petersburg Times recently reported on the Southeast Conference (SEC) issuing an edict to its twelve member schools, further limiting the amount of audio, video, and real-time blogging allowed at practices, games, and news conferences.

The truly disturbing part, is that according to this same edict, fans are now barred from updating social networking sites from the stands. This includes updating Twitter or Facebook, posting pictures to Flickr, or uploading videos to YouTube, and (I would assume) live blogging during a game.

This policy is not just galactically stupid, it’s an enforcement nightmare and has untold masses of sports fans in an uproar.

This quote is about as direct and to-the-point as one can get:

“I would guess,” said Mike Masnick, the editor of the respected blog techdirt, “that they’re realizing that anyone can be a reporter or a broadcaster these days.

A.J. Liebling’s famous quote, which I’ve used here before, “Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one,” is about to become about as quaint as the printing presses of his era.

Information wants to be free. Technology has advanced to the point where video cameras can be combined with a device that’s nominally a telephone. This policy, even if nominally a success, will still reflect very badly on the SEC as an inept attempt at censorship, doomed to failure in the long term.

(Note: I now also see the quote attributed to H.L. Mencken. I’m not sure which attribution is actually correct. If anyone knows for sure drop me a line using the comment form.)

Alice Cooper: Too hot for Tampere

Paul Cashmere writing for reports on a rather icy welcome received by Alice Cooper. Apparently, the act is not welcomed in Tampere, Finland, as he is barred from performing at Tampere Areena Oy per a statement issued by the managing director, Harri Wiherkoski, which states in part “Artists who express suspicious values from Christianity’s point of view cannot be allowed to perform at the venue.”

Not to be outdone, Alice Cooper management has invited fans of the act to come to Helsinki which, it would seem, is outside of Finland’s version of the Bible Belt. Quoting from the article:

In response, Alice Cooper management said “We hope fans from Tampere denied access to these ‘suspicious values’ can come to Helsinki and make their own judgment. What’s really ‘suspicious’ to us is the act of judging something that one has never seen, heard or, otherwise, experienced. There’s nothing like an open mind and, clearly, Mr. Wiherkoski has nothing like one.”

Some rather harsh words for Mr. Wiherkoski. But it is my firm belief that he deserves them. If Alice Cooper was booked at a church, I could see the logic behind the restrictions on “suspicious values.” Culturally literate people know what Alice Cooper is about, and can see far above and beyond attempts to unjustly paint the concert as a thinly-veiled demon worship session. Unfortunately, it seems cultural literacy is lacking in Tampere. Based on what I’ve read, I think when I go to Finland, that’s a city I’d rather avoid.