Archive for March, 2013

Soda, Jerked
March 16, 2013

NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s ban of large sodas was in the news a lot this week, and discussed on lots of TV shows, etc. after a judge struck it down.  Bloomberg promised to appeal the decision, and I think he should, because there is solid ground for this law.

I’ve heard lots of pundits criticize it as a “Nanny State” law, and the crazier Facebook posts of course proclaiming it a threat to their soda drinking liberties, yadda yadda, but let’s look past the rhetoric and hype to reexamine this issue, because I think most people are coming at it from the wrong direction.

Most people seem to be comparing it to smoking ordinances, which prohibit smoking in certain areas, mostly indoor public spaces, although some towns go much further, prohibiting smoking just about everywhere except your home.  But I think this is a bad comparison, because that law exists not to stop you from smoking, but to keep you from exposing to cigarette smoke those people who do not choose to smoke (including children).  The soda ban isn’t using the same basis.  No one is exposed to your overconsumption of sugar except you.

And, in fact, the ban doesn’t keep you from drinking sodas, anywhere.  You can still drink your 16oz cup of soda and refill it until your kidneys explode if you so desire.

This is, in fact, not a law to prevent consumers from doing anything at ALL.  It’s a law that targets the salesperson, and enforces them to sell responsibly.

Think of a bartender.  If a bartender sees that you are inebriated, the law says she cannot continue to serve you alcohol.  It’s irresponsible on her part to do so.  The law does not exist to prevent you from drinking; it exists to prevent a business from taking advantage of your condition to line their pockets, while putting you at risk.  It stops a predatory practice from taking place, and as such, it is there to protect your rights, NOT curtail them.  In the same sense, the business owner selling sodas can sell a reasonable size drink all day, but selling a giant bucket of soda even though she knows it is a dangerously large amount of sugar to drink in one sitting is irresponsible.  She would be taking advantage of your inability to control yourself by doing so.  Now, with the ban in place, your rights are protected, and in fact, the onus of responsibility for yourself is placed back in your hands.  You can go back and refill that 16oz soda all you want.  When the doctor bill comes, you will have only yourself to blame.  Freedom.

Some might argue that the alcohol law exists to protect those you might harm in your inebriated condition, driving, etc.  But I would argue that the soda law does the same, just in a longer-term viewpoint.  If you end up hospitalized your family could be endangered, if you die your family could be endangered.  And heart attacks on the road home do happen too, that’s not out of the realm of possibility.  So even this is not a solid argument to strike down the soda ban.

I am hopeful that on appeal, the court will consider that business should sell their products responsibly, and not endanger their customers by selling a portion of product that is blatantly harmful to them.  Allowing companies to do whatever they want to get rich while putting all of our health at risk is one reason why our health costs are so high and our country is in so much economic trouble.  Uphold the soda ban, and maybe NYC will be a little healthier, then maybe other areas will follow your example. That’s worth fighting for, Mr. Mayor.

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Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio chosen as Pope
March 13, 2013

Today, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, a Jesuit from Argentina, was selected as the new Pope, taking the name Francis I.  He succeeds retired pontif Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger.

We all know about the constant scandal the Church has been mired in with Benedict, who organized the cover-up of child rape worldwide, and we can only assume this will continue with Francis.  At least until the Catholic Church starts turning priests involved with child rape over to authorities.  In addition to this, the end of the cover up of child rape, I think there are several things people with any sense would like to see from the new Pope of the Catholic Church:

1. End Priests’ Vow of Celibacy.  Let’s face it: this was always a bad idea, and is a huge part of the problem.  Let Priests marry, let them have relationships, let them have sex with men, women, ANYONE except the children in their care.

Prospects: Pope Francis is a JESUIT.  Their order takes a vow of celibacy of their own, and he is unlikely to suddenly feel it is a bad idea at age 76.  Nope, this one is not going to happen under this Pope, so Catholic kids remain at heightened risk.

2. Integrate Women into the Priesthood.  The Church seriously needs to join us in the 21st century and take this step to end their millennia of discrimination against and repression of women and start letting women join the men in leadership.  I know the book of Timothy expressly forbids it, but come on, they’ve found their way to reinterpret and work around other Biblical goofs and they can do it again.

Prospects: Ah, no. Not happening.  Jesuits are a very traditional order, and no way in hell Francis is letting this happen on his watch.  Sorry, ladies!  Of course, if you’re a woman still in the Church, you’re blind to the way they’re treating you anyway, so…no harm done.

3. Stop Condemning the Use of Birth Control.  Not only is this just a backward way of thinking, it’s done incredible harm worldwide, keeping masses of people in poverty and dying of hunger, as well as propagating the deadly AIDS virus.  In Africa alone, this aspect of the Church is, in my mind, tantamount to acts of genocide.

Prospects: Dismal and dismaller. Francis has campaigned against the use of birth control himself.  He is, ironically,  lauded as a champion of the poor, while this key stance is a deadly attack against them. And keep reading, it only gets worse from here…

4. Stop the Church’s Anti-Gay Stance.  Again, join us in the 21st century, where LGBTs are people and deserve to be treated with the same respect and love as the rest of us.

Prospects: No fucking chance.  Francis has campaigned against gay marriage, saying it will “injure the family”, against adoption of children by gay parents (the irony of which, a Catholic protecting children from supposed immorality, is so ironic it smacks you right in the face with irony), on the basis that it would “deprive them of the human growth that God wanted them given by a mother and a father”.  Right, because they’re getting so much human growth in the orphanage with no parents at all.  Genius.  Basically, this guy is a one man anti-gay army.

Sorry, folks, but it doesn’t look like the new Pope is any better for the woes of the Vatican than the old Pope.  It’s the old Popemobile Shell Game, where you keep the audience distracted while you shuffle things around and hope they never notice the bait and switch you pulled, resulting in no change at all.

Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.