You can sense a sort of fatigue beginning to set in with respect to the oil spill in the Gulf. Like the war in Afghanistan, we’re tired of hearing about it, even though we may feel vaguely ashamed for feeling that way. As a nation, we have many admirable qualities, but a long attention span is not one of them. We’d like our wars and natural disasters to be resolved in the time it takes to Twitter about them.
The Gulf oil spill has actually had a longer shelf-life than I would have expected. I think that’s because it’s closer to home than Afghanistan. Let’s face it…unless you have a friend or family member in the military, either serving in the war or with the potential to have to do so, Afghanistan is out-of-sight, out-of-mind. When the…I refuse to call it a war…invasion of Iraq was at its height, I remember one day I was standing in the grocery store and it just hit me how we were all going about our business as usual. There is no rationing, no “war effort”. World War II, this ain’t.
The Gulf oil spill, however, is like a sound wave. Very loud at the source, and gradually lessening in volume as it spreads. For the people who live on the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Florida, it’s still screaming like an air raid siren. But it’s still resonating in the rest of the country. I’d be interested to know the percentage of the U.S. population that has visited Florida at least once in their lives. The damage to the seafood industry is a huge factor, but not as much as damage to the beaches. I can guarantee you that most people in Nebraska don’t ask themselves where that shrimp came from. As they say, perception is everything.
But disaster fatigue is not really what this post is about. I’ve got some of it. I’m like Tony Hayward…I’d like my life back. Which brings me to my first Enough Already! comment, which are in no particular order of importance. Enough about that statement from Hayward. Of course he’d like his life back, and so would you. That doesn’t make him Satan. On the news last night, they showed a party in Louisiana, on Grand Isle I think, where people were laughing and drinking and dancing to Cajun music, in other words, partying as only people from Louisiana can do. They interviewed one woman who said, “Sure, we’re in a mess, but sometimes…you just gotta have a break”. On that note, enough about Hayward attending and possibly participating in a regatta this weekend. Would we have more respect for him if he just went ahead and committed public harakiri?
Enough already! about the Swedish chairman of the board of BP saying they care about the “small people”. When I heard him say it, I groaned out loud, because I knew what was coming. The endless outrage, the snarky cartoons. Hello, he’s Swedish. It isn’t a big stretch to imagine that what he meant was “the average person”. Even if you can speak another language well, idioms and slang are hard to master.
Finally, a big, giant, capitalized Enough Already! with comparisons to Hurricane Katrina. Katrina was a natural disaster; the Gulf oil spill is a manmade one. The only possible response to Katrina was government intervention. After all, you can’t ask God for $2o million in escrow.
Having said that, the President is failing no less than the last one did. The failures occurred both before and after the disaster. FEMA in the last case, the MMS in this one. And not throwing everything you have at it, in both. The mistake in this case is compounded by allowing BP to manage the response. They should have been confined to paying for it. From what I read, “Unified Command” is anything but. Last week, Paul Flemming, my favorite Florida political writer, wrote “Give us Craig Fugate”. Fugate is the current head of FEMA and the former director of Emergency Management for the state of Florida, who has a proven record.
As for the President’s response, as usual, Frank Rich of the New York Times illuminates the broader picture in today’s op-ed. The President’s response must be bolder, since as Rich says, the Tea Party is at the barricades. On the other hand, Joe Barton made it clear that if they were in charge, the less-government crowd would hand over everything to the likes of BP. The best quote: after Barton’s apology to BP, “the G.O.P. establishment had to shut him down because he was revealing the party’s true loyalties, not because it disagreed with him”.
I’m hoping that Barton’s apology dealt a fatal blow to the no-government crowd, but it won’t work unless government actually Does Something. Enough waiting, already!
How Much Do You Weigh?
Now that we’ve addressed the all-important question of what sex you are, we turn our attention to your weight. The occasion for this is a column in the New York Times by Clark Hoyt, the public editor. The public editor is basically an ombudsman for readers. Yesterday’s column is entitled The Insult Was Extra Large.
First, however, let us begin with a comment made to me not long ago by friend and fellow blogger Nick Hardy. And by the way, Nick, I’ve mentioned you so often lately that I expect a raise and a reserved parking space. What he said was, “White women are obsessed with weight”. I was like, “We are, I mean I am, I mean we are (splutter, splutter) not!!! Maybe.”
And now a personal story. In January of 2005, I weighed 138 pounds. I know this because that month, my sister and I and a friend undertook a year-long campaign to lose weight in such a way as not to kill ourselves, but to sort of methodically plod (waddle?) toward the goal. Therefore, by January of 2006 I had lost…five pounds! Those who have met me today would have a hard time picturing me at 138, or even my hard-earned, svelte 133. But I can prove it by this photo, taken in August 2004. Kindly refrain from suggesting that the beverage Fakename is holding in some way contributed to her size.
So then, in 2006, I lost 20 more pounds due to back-to-back illnesses (from which I am fully recovered, thanks). And I never gained the weight back. Which is just pefectly fine with me! I couldn’t be happier! Apparently my eating habits changed while I was ill, so now I’m able to maintain at 113 without it being a big struggle. There are no recent photos of me to prove the difference, but there are witnesses who can attest to the truth of my statement.
And now we return to the public editor. Recently, a writer for the Times covered the opening of a J.C. Penney store in Midtown Manhattan. Oh, the horror! Here’s a quote:
“Why would this dowdy Middle American entity waddle into Midtown in its big old shorts and flip-flops” without even a makeover of its logo, asked the columnist, Cintra Wilson, a virtual sneer seeming to drip from her keyboard. She said Penney’s “has always trafficked in knockoffs that aren’t quite up to Canal Street’s illegal standards”; “a good 96 percent” of the clothing is polyester; the racks are full of sizes 10, 12 and 16, but not Wilson’s 2; the petites department has plenty of clothing “for women nearly as wide as they are tall”; and the store “has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on.” Which led some readers to ask the question, Is the New York Times arrogant? Would this not be a question akin to whether or not the proverbial bear defecates in the proverbial woods? Of course it is. That’s why we like it. But this article was probably taking a good thing too far.
According to J.C. Penney’s vice president for communications, the average woman wears a size 12 and weighs 150. And I can tell you that if they’re white, not a damn one of them is happy about it.
So last week, I had a meeting with a man who kindly inquired after my health, then threw in, gratis, that he thought I needed to gain some weight. What!!???!!! I wonder if the two words “sexual” and “harassment”, when used side by side in a sentence, ring any bells for him? The reason comments such as this make me uncomfortable is that it means you are paying entirely too much attention to my body to suit me, based on the type of relationship we have. If I want you to comment on my body, you’ll know it. Or maybe not. That’s the thing about sexual harassment by men. Those who do it have often deluded themselves into believing they were given a “signal” that it was welcomed. Sexual harassment by women is a whole ‘nother animal.
You know, in those “sensitivity” training sessions they tell men they are treading on dangerous ground even to comment on a woman’s clothing. That’s too purist and PC for me. In the above cited incident, I responded with the time-honored Southern phrase, “Shut your mouth!” Translated: “Perish the thought!” I said I was perfectly happy. Not knowing he had been gifted with a way out, he persisted. “Still”, he said, “You could use a few more pounds.” Well thank God I know that now. In order to be more attractive to you, let me rush out and have two Big Macs and a super-size chocolate shake for lunch.
As long as we are talking about thinness, let me say that I’ve always been attracted to thin men. I want to be able to feel your hip bones. Which is as far as Fakename will drive along the road to pornography.
However highly annoyed I was by the “you need to gain weight” comments, I could not escape the nagging questions. Am I too thin? Do I look sickly? Frail? Would you add a giant serving of French Fries to that Big Mac order? But we are, I mean, I am, I mean we are, Not. Obsessed. Maybe.
Posted in Health, Humor, Sex, Social Commentary
Tagged NY Times, sexual harassment, weight