Friday, July 27, 2007

On verbalizing nouns:

The English language probably has more words than any other language on earth.* So why is it that, lately, people feel the need to replace perfectly serviceable verbs with nouns masquerading as verbs?

A dictionary is perfect for gifting.

You can keep it on the mantle in your fireplaced living room.

Take it out when you liaise with friends.

Outreach to those who’ve developed the jargon habit.

I’m visioning a future in which we can still understand each other.

A language is a living thing and we can’t expect it to stay static. English needs to grow and develop if it is to maintain the capacity to articulate the changes in our culture and our world. I don’t object to the additions of a new meaning for “mouse” or eight million words with e as a prefix, but I have to object to replacing effective, widely used words like “giving” out of sheer laziness or mistaken self-importance.

If, after reading this post, you are looking back at the title and thinking: “that doesn’t mean what she seems to think it means,” well-- you’re right.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

On little things that mean a lot:

Little things you can do about global warming…

Walk when you can

Ride your bike when you can

Hypermile when you drive (see 6/23/2007 post)

Combine errands to cut down on car trips

Park once at shopping centers and walk between stores


Get a stainless steel water bottle (, www.klean and a filter; filter your own water and carry it in your bottle (stainless doesn’t wear out as fast as plastic and, as a bonus, won’t leach dioxin into your water—47 million gallons of oil are used and 1 billion pounds of CO2 emissions are produced each year to supply America with plastic water bottles!*)

Use tempered glass food storage containers (glass doesn’t wear out as fast as plastic and, as a bonus, won’t leach dioxin into your food)

Buy some cloth grocery bags or reuse plastic bags rather than using new plastic or paper bags every time

Buy post-consumer recycled products

Cloth diaper or use g diapers or eco-disposables with less plastic

Reuse plastic produce and grocery bags for wrapping diapers or as pooper scoopers rather than buying new bags on a roll

Wash zipper bags and reuse (dry them on large serving spoons stuck in the utensil rack of a dish drainer—this will also save you a fair amount of money)

Use non-petroleum based products for cleaning (Seventh Generation, Ecos, Ecover, BioKleen etc. or just baking soda and vinegar)

Save air conditioning for the hottest days or find other ways to keep cool; if you must use it, set your thermostat slightly higher

In winter, set your thermostat slightly lower and wear a sweater

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (these use up to 75% less energy than with standard incandescent bulbs*)

Shut off lights when you’re aren’t in a room

Shut off computers when not using them

Unplug appliances and chargers when not in use

Get Energy Star appliances

Run dishwasher and washing machine only when full

Install a low flow shower head (saves water and energy that would have been used to heat that water)

Buy local produce, fish and meat – eat only what’s in season here (lots more fuel is used to bring foods from far away)

Read the newspaper and catalog shop on line (ask companies you do business with to stop sending catalogs)

Get on the national Do Not Mail list:

Use the library

Plant a tree


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

On what’s patriotic this July 4th:

I’ve never been what most people think of as patriotic. I’m not much into waving flags or decorating my house red, white & blue for the 4th. But I love my country and what it used to represent. I love that when America is at its best, if there’s a reasonable doubt, the accused isn’t guilty. I love that in the age of technology that can make Big Brother a reality, I have a right to privacy under the law. I love that I get to participate in choosing my leaders and can critique their actions on my blog.

Election results always disappoint some of us. The losers galvanize, reorganize, work to elect their candidates in the next election, secure in the knowledge the system of democracy holds a place open for them if they have the votes.

I’m beginning to think maybe we feel a little too secure. We’ve got rogues in power. Dick Cheney and George Bush have stopped working within the system, playing by the rules. But it seems like we’re still waiting, sure that the next election will offer the opportunity to resolve everything that’s left us unsettled: the signing statements that circumvent the legislative process, the vengeful outing of a CIA agent, the illegal wiretaps, the unlawful holding of detainees, the rendering of detainees for torture, the firing of U.S. Attorneys, the commuting of the fall guy’s sentence. But if we allow them to set the precedent that the person in the position of Vice President is not subject to subpoena, we may never get our democracy back. If we allow the world to think we approve, we may never regain our place in it.

Of crimes against our democracy, they’re guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. This July 4th, the most patriotic thing we can do is impeach the criminals.

Monday, July 2, 2007

On Acquired Stupidity Syndrome (ASS):

Alli, the next big over the counter diet drug, works by preventing the body from absorbing 25% of the fat it takes in. It garnered an article in Newsweek (The Word is ‘Leakage’ by Raina Kelley, Newsweek, June 25, 2007) focused on what most people will consider its major side effect—“anal leakage.” I’m going to predict, like Newsweek, that this messy little problem will encourage a lot of comedians but won’t deter a lot of dieters. Clearly, hope springs eternal when it comes to the quest to eat whatever we want and to be as thin as Lara Flynn Boyle.

And clearly, for many people, something as obviously abnormal as anal leakage is not a red flag that this thing they’re putting in their bodies is bad news. It’s amazing to me that despite an abundance of evidence of the deterioration of our collective health—epidemics of infertility, Crone’s Disease, IBS, GERD, Cancer and heart disease-- how willing Americans are to put in their bodies substances that are, at best, questionable—“foods” that are essentially industrial waste products, poisons like mercury in minute yet real amounts, and drugs that are unnecessary-- simply because of good marketing, experts who are on somebody’s payroll (or just lack a reasonable degree of skepticism), or an abiding wish to be thin (which, let’s face it, is also a result of marketing). I call this Acquired Stupidity Syndrome because I think people choose to believe there’s no problem, despite common sense, because it’s easier to buy processed food than to cook, to take a drug than to eat better, to let “experts” think for them than to think for themselves.

Nutritionists say users of Alli must be sure to take vitamin supplements because the drug decreases the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble minerals and vitamins E, A, D and K. Did anybody hear that???? Fat is necessary! It’s good for you! It’s a whole lot more important for your body to get fat-soluble minerals and vitamins E, A, D and K than it is to weigh a certain amount (and it’s likely that when a person is getting the right balance of nutrients, obesity will be corrected).

Each of these nutrients does many important things in the body. I’ll hit the highlights:

Vitamin E is needed for tissue repair—it retards the aging process;
Vitamin A is an antioxidant—it protects against free radicals and cancer;
Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and therefore for strong bones, teeth and normal growth;
Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting, plays an important role in bone formation and prevents bone loss.

Some minerals (fat is needed for the body to absorb all of these):

Sulphur helps protect the body from infection, protects against radiation and pollution and slows the aging process;
Vanadium helps control cholesterol levels in the blood;
Magnesium deficiency can actually cause obesity!

The human body is an enormously complicated organism. It is unhealthy to be fat. It doesn’t necessarily follow that it is unhealthy to eat fat. Has anyone noticed that while the country has been busy decreasing its fat intake, the population has been getting fatter?! Maybe we need to rethink the “fat is bad” idea.

If you are someone with leakage from ASS (or any of its other symptoms) you may want to acquire some sense. Eat reasonable portions and a balanced diet made up of whole, real foods: naturally raised meat, eggs, butter, raw cheese, lacto-fermented foods like yogurt, properly prepared whole grains.* Exercise. Drink some water (that’s not laden with chlorine and fluoride and NOT stored in a plastic bottle) and enjoy the healthy body nature gave you, whatever its shape.

*Use links below to the Weston A. Price Foundation for more information on traditional nutrition.

Sources: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig