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Category Archives: television
Discussions of obesity and overweight should always begin with the old aphorism “everything in moderation.”
There is nothing inherently wrong or evil about eating fast food; the trouble is in quantity. Too many hamburgers are unhealthy, and we need health to fulfil our other wants and needs in life. On the other hand, one could argue that someone who refuses to eat an occasional Big Mac is missing out on the good life, much like a teetotaler.
But we do have a quantity problem in many countries. We worry especially about children because they are innocents, not yet capable of making decisions and therefore not responsible for their actions. That responsibility falls with adults, primarily but not exclusively parents.
A study in this month’s Journal of Law & Economics (abstract only) concludes that childhood obesity in the US could be reduced by about 15% if companies like McDonalds could not advertise on television. Unfortunately, the study is only accessible for a fee and I can’t even get it through my university library yet. So there’s no way to know, until somebody knowledgeable passes judgement in the media or on a blog, if the study’s conclusions are valid.
I wouldn’t be surprised, if the study holds up to scrutiny, to see Ontario finally impose a ban on fast food advertising at least targeting children, if not adolescents and adults. It’s the kind of move the opens the government up to accusations of nany-statism, but I don’t think Premier McGuinty has a problem being our Nany Statist.
I love the combination of analysis and humour (The Daily Show Formula), and stayed up late waiting for the review of tonight’s Mad Men episode.
Sample from the comments:
My very favourite grumpy misanthrope is back for season five. I am delighted that my class schedule allows me to spend 8-9 pm on Tuesdays in front of the television.
Should the mood strike, I’ll be sharing my experience with you via the medium of blog. You have my permission to not follow along (much as you’d like) and watch the TV instead.
8:01 – You know why there aren’t any women executives? They all have imiaginary cooties.
8:03 – “Metaphorically raped her by having a penis.” This is what I’ve been missing all summer.
8:05 – That Huntington’s talk is a low blow. I like Thirteen.
8:07 – Wilson is leaving? This would be shocking if it hadn’t been on all the TV spots. More importantly: I don’t like when House and Wilson don’t get along. It’s like Mom and Dad are fighting. I might cry.
8:07:30 – The people upstairs are hammering something above my head. This is not a good time for renovations.
8:13 – Oh Kutner. It is far too early in the hour to have an explanation already. The pregnancy is a diversion! Ha, I knew it. No fetus.
8:16 – OK, it is a fetus. But it’s a morally ambiguous fetus that probably isn’t viable. So in time, it will probably cease to be a fetus.
8:22 – I like visits with the old team. They have chemistry with House.
8:24 – House is going to have to grow as a person if he wants to keep Wilson. And he has to solve a complicated and dramatic medical mystery at the same time!
8:26 – This is how House demonstrates his love: I will let a patient die for you. How romantic is that? I bet this will be on Valentines cards come February.
8:29 – Commercial break. I hate to judge too harshly before the end, but this episode feels a bit lacklustre.
8:31 – Cuddy’s all riled up. She doesn’t want Wilson to leave either.
8:33 – Celebrity bowling… does that actually exist?
8:36 – Now there is a commercial for a movie about talking chihuahuas. This sickens me, but the rest of the episode should be improved by comparison.
8:42 – I’m getting bored and events are appearing less and less bloggable.
8:45 – I think I’ve decided I only miss Cameron. Not Chase or Foreman. Also: Did we make it from commercial break to commercial break without seeing House? Because that is not cool.
8:52 – Did house solve a case by being absent for half the episode? Leprosy. Never heard of that kind of Leprosy. How did he do that? Was there an epiphany?
8:57 – Oh this is unpleasant. Wilson is telling off House. He’s leaving because House is a miserable person and they aren’t friends anymore and maybe they never were. I don’t like this one bit.
I think this episode fell short of its potential, especially given the rich material the writers had to work with.
It’s hard to put into words, but the last hour was deeply unsatisfying. I’m used to disappointing episodes, but the season premier? That’s rough.
UPDATE 11:46 PM
Saddam Hussein strikes again!
Another addition to the long list of reasons why you shouldn’t let TV babysit your children.
A new study has found a strong correlation between autism and hours spent watching television by young children.
For all the theoretical mechanisms that (falsely) implicated thimerosal-containing vaccines, it turns out the culprit may be something even more familiar and seemingly benign than the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Ninety-eight percent of American households had at least one television in 2001.
The study, as summarized by Gregg Easterbrook at Slate:
“[…] the study has two separate findings: that having cable television in the home increased autism rates in California and Pennsylvania somewhat, and that more hours of actually watching television increased autism in California, Oregon, and Washington by a lot.”
Of course, even strong correlation is not a causal link. More investigation needs to be done by independent researchers. But in the meantime, I think it would be wise to heed the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and keep children under two away from the TV. They’re pretty sure it increases attention disorders, why risk autism too?