Why I Don’t Read The News

I don’t want to get into the rest of this Washington Post article by Howard Kurtz (it’s five pages long and I’ve got other things I’m supposed to be doing), but this bugs me:

I’m not an economist, but when Tim Geithner unveils his long-awaited bailout plan and the Dow plunges nearly 400 points, that’s probably not a good sign.

Can I just say that I’m sick and tired of the stock market’s ups and downs being pointed to as some sort of objective criteria for what’s good and bad, or, worse yet, as some sort of all-knowing, clairvoyant prediction of the future?

Leaving aside the human foibles of the stock market in the best of times, does anyone actually think, anymore, that investors know what’s good for the economy? I sure as fuck don’t.

Next on the list:

Michigan lawmaker sets record with 53 years on the job – CNN

This should not be allowed. Someone who has been a legislator for 53 years as their sole job simply cannot, any longer, be an accurate representative for anyone. Except other legislators. I’ll just let the article illustrate my concern:

He’d probably be the first to tell you that a lot can change over the span of 19,420 days.

When Dingell entered the “people’s house” on December 13, 1955, the White House was home to a retired World War II general named Dwight D. Eisenhower. Barack Obama hadn’t been born yet.


Over the long decades, however, John Dingell’s core convictions have remained largely the same.


Looking ahead, Dingell shows no signs of slowing down. “I creak a little more each year,” he told National Journal magazine recently, “but I keep going.”

That’s probably a good thing, because although he’s the longest-serving House member in history, he will have to go a lot longer before he can claim the title of longest-serving member of Congress.

That honor is held by West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, who has a combined 20,493 days of service in the House and Senate.

And the 91-year-old Byrd, who entered the House in 1953 before moving to the Senate in 1959, has not expressed desire to retire anytime soon.

If I could keep getting reelected without ever really doing much of anything useful (which is my sarcastic-but-nearly-serious opinion of the majority of govern-y types here in these United States), I wouldn’t want to retire either.

Last, but not least:

Obese mothers ‘risk spina bifida’ – BBC

Oh yes, that’s right. OMG OBESITY plus TEH BAYBIES!!! Add a dash of failed science reporting and we have ourselves a trifecta of facepalm-worthy pain.

I really can’t even get into all the details of pain, here. The article says:

It is well known that women who are obese are more likely to have difficulty conceiving and once they are pregnant, overweight and obese women and their babies are at a greater risk of a range of health problems.

Yet, if you click through to the BBC’s BMI calculators (and yes, BMI is the definition of “obese” and “overweight” that the article is using), we find this little gem (emphases mine):

Medical research suggests that this range is associated with the best health and least risk of heart disease, some cancers, osteoporosis and a range of other health problems. There are no health benefits to changing your weight, but your health will benefit from being active and eating a healthy diet.


A BMI measurement is not as accurate if you’re an athlete or very muscular (muscle weighs more than fat) as this can push you into a higher BMI category even if you have a healthy level of body fat. It’s also not accurate for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or people who are frail.

Oh yeah. I know. To begin with, the article never actually clarifies whether the women were in the “obese” and “overweight” categories before their pregnancies, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, I guess. Of course, they don’t link to any of the studies, so fact-checking becomes prohibitively time-consuming.

At any rate, is anyone noticing a discrepancy, here? In the obesity article, obesity puts you at risk for health issues. In the BMI calculator descriptions, changing your weight won’t improve your health. What gives, BBC? Stop messing with my head!

Look, I’m no analyst. I’m writing for an audience that already agrees with me, just pointing out new instances of awfulness. Still, I am hard-pressed to come up with a point of view in which these two ideas aren’t dissonant.


P.S. I did the calculation and at 5′ 9″, 125 lbs, I am precisely on the border of normal/underweight. No one seems to be fearing for my health though. Gee, I wonder why that is…

P.P.S. I just want to clarify, because a re-reading makes me think it’s not clear, that my trailing sentence in the P.S. is meant to imply that the reason no one is worrying about my health is that because maybe weight really isn’t such a great indicator of fitness, but as long as I fit the beauty standards (or look like I’m trying) I get to escape the hammer of judgement.

Cross-posted at The Reformed Patriarchy-Whore.


7 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Read The News

  1. What really pissed me off was the lazy lying journalist scum headline.

    The article itself eventually admitted that the risk of spina bifida is incredibly low, and while it’s apparently slightly higher in obese pregnancies it’s STILL so incredibly low that it’s barely worth talking about. The headline? Acts like being fat means you’re taking a TERRIBLE RISK.

  2. A while back, Sandy at JFS hypothesized that one of the reasons that a correlation (which, as we all well know, does not equal causation) may exist between fat and birth defects is because so many fat women try to lose weight before they become pregnant. And how do they do that? By cutting out carbs, which are often fortified with folic acid. And what does folic acid do? Help prevent birth defects. Duh! Science reporting FAIL.

  3. Wanna know why obese women have a harder time conceiving? Because the vast majority of women who have PCOS, the single largest cause of female infertility, are obese BECAUSE of the PCOS. So, it’s not that fat=infertility, but that infertility (in this case) = fat.

    The logic, they fail to get it.

  4. I think we should make all these legislators leave their cushy government jobs every 8 years and go work for minimum wage for at least 4 years. They should see the contrast between real life and political life. They should have to survive on food stamp allotments and beg their relatives for rent money or car rides.

    Then let them justify voting themselves pay rises and holding up stimulus packages. But I’m sure, all us drudges lack is a sufficient knowledge of the location of our bootstraps. We’re all lazy, or we wouldn’t be poor. Right.

  5. I also speculate that birth defects are higher among overweight/obese women because the prenatal vitamin recommended doses are based on “normal” weights, and someone who is bigger may need more of them for the same effect.

    Just a thought!

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