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Updated: 11/22/02



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"The Gold Coast"
by Nelson Demille

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weekend


Friday, 22 November, 2002

Ya know, I should have paid more attention to him. I should have seen that he was depressed and tried to get him some help. There was the failed suicide attempt earlier this year, but he seemed to be better after that. And now he's gone.

"Big Koi", also known as, well, the Big Koi, decided to make a run for it sometime during the night. Unfortunately, since he has no feet and can't breathe out of water, he didn't get too far. I found him lying on the balcony, a couple of feet from the pond. We had an unceremonious burial down the garbage chute.

[Stupid fish.]

Made a chicken-broccoli stir-fry last night for dinner. Poor Dad. I put a little bit of sambal (Thai chili paste) in and tested the limits of his spicy food tolerance. I also feed him wasabi peas (dried peas coated in a little wasabi paste), just to get his palate jump-started.

After dinner we watched "The Perfect Storm" on DVD. It was pretty good, but it made me realize how INSANE these fishermen are. Hard, nasty, dangerous work for weeks on end, and it all comes down to how good your catch is.

[No thanks.]

Continuing on with yesterday's example of bad parenting, there is a lawsuit claiming McDonald's burgers and fries are making kids fat:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Are Big Macs hazardous to children's health?

Lawyers have filed a class-action lawsuit against McDonald's on behalf of New York children who have suffered health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

In federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday, a lawyer alleged that the fast-food chain has created a national epidemic of obese children. Samuel Hirsch argued that the high fat, sugar and cholesterol content of McDonald's food is "a very insipid, toxic kind of thing" when ingested regularly by young kids.

The plaintiffs include a Bronx teen who ate every meal at McDonald's for three years while living in a homeless shelter. Another is a 13-year-old boy from Staten Island who says he ate at McDonald's food three to four times a week and is now 5-foot-4 and 278 pounds.

McDonald's lawyer Brad Lerman insisted the lawsuit was a frivolous attempt to cash in on the Golden Arches, "the kind of lawsuit that shouldn't be in court."

"People don't go to sleep thin and wake up obese," Lerman said. "The understanding and comprehension of what hamburgers and french fries do has been with us for a long, long time."

McDonald's has asked Judge Robert Sweet to dismiss the case, arguing those who filed the claims cannot show their health woes were caused by Big Macs and insisting the company has never misled customers about its food. The judge did not immediately rule on the request.

Now, one might ask . . .

WHERE THE HECK ARE THESE KID'S PARENTS?

I'll tell you where. They're making the rounds on the morning talk shows complaining about how Mickey Dee's "lured" their children in and forced them to eat that horrible fattening food without giving them any healthy choices.

[I am incensed.]

I am so tired of hearing about the myriad of lawsuits out there for ridiculous things, especially when it's all about trying to avoid taking responsibility for one's own actions, but this one takes the cakes. No one FORCED these children in there. If they went there three times a day, SOMEONE had to have given them the money to do it, right? Maybe, the PARENTS? "Oh, but they should have had more healthy things for the kids to order."

I see. McDonald's is responsible for having healthy choices on the menu too. Oh, wait - they DO have salads on the menu, right? Not good enough. They apparently need to have CHILD PROOF WRAPPERS on those fries and burgers to protect those children whose PARENTS don't take enough interest in them to know where they are spending their time and what they are eating.

And as McDonald's lawyer says, "People don't go to sleep thin and wake up obese." A responsible parent should be able to notice if their child begins to have a weight problem and find out a) WHY and b) what they can do to help their kid. Eating disorders are often the result of psychological problems and poor self image. Perhaps if the parents showed a little more interest in their children's health and well-being, the kids wouldn't be in this situation.

["I shouldn't have to take responsibility for my children."]

Oh, but it's not limited to children. According to ABCNEWS.com, an overweight Bronx man is suing four fast food chains because he's fat.

Caesar Barber, 56, a maintenance worker who weighs about 270 pounds and stands 5-foot-10, claims McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC jeopardized his health with their greasy, salty fare. He filed a class action lawsuit on Wednesday in the New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of an unspecified number of other obese and ill New Yorkers who also feast on fast food.

Barber's lawsuit is the first broad-based action taken against the fast food industry for allegedly contributing to obesity. He claims the fast food restaurants, where Barber says he used to eat four or five times a week even after suffering a heart attack, did not properly disclose the ingredients of their food and the risks of eating too much.

"They never explained to me what I was eating," Barber said on ABC's Good Morning America.

[Um . . . HAMBURGERS, FRENCH FRIES and FRIED CHICKEN. That is what you were eating, you moron.]

The article goes on to read:

A food industry spokesman says he is surprised Hirsch can make his legal argument with a straight face.

"He must be aware that fully two-thirds of all foods consumed in America are consumed in people's homes. Is he proposing that we sue America's moms?" said John Doyle, co-founder of Center for Consumer Freedom, a restaurant industry group.

More troubling is the implication the lawsuit makes about the abilities of Americans to choose what they eat, Doyle said. "To win his suit he has to convince a jury or a judge that people are too stupid to feed themselves or their children. If people are so stupid, should they be allowed to vote or go to work in the morning?"

Time Magazine also chimes in on the subject in an article by Jessica Reaves:

"They said '100 percent beef.' I thought that meant it was good for you," Barber told Newsday. "I thought the food was OK."

According to the Associated Press, Barber is a 5-foot-10-inch maintenance worker who weighs 272 pounds. He suffered heart attacks in 1996 and 1999 and has diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Samuel Hirsch, Barber's lawyer, told the AP, "There is direct deception when someone omits telling people food digested is detrimental to their health."

Yes. And there's a little something we like to call abject stupidity when someone refuses to take even the slightest bit of responsibility for their own actions or, for that matter, refuses to walk the extra three feet and read the nutrition information posted on the wall of almost every fast-food restaurant. I'm sorry Mr. Barber isn't well, but when you've had multiple heart attacks, and you continue to eat Biggie Fries for lunch, you've either got a serious lack of IQ points and probably shouldn't be allowed to wander the streets alone, or you've got a death wish.

I have an idea. Let's have everyone in America decide if they are intelligent enough to feed themselves. If not, we'll just stamp a big "DUH" on their foreheads and shuttle them all off to a special camp where they don't have to worry about things like DECISIONS. We'll have other people think for them.

[And they'll live happily ever after.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"So I will say it with relish. Give me a hamburger but hold the lawsuit."

-- S. I. Hayakawa (1906 - 1992)
US scholar, university president, politician
Address to the Senate on legal debate over which fast-food chain makes the biggest hamburger
NY "Times," 6 Oct 1982.

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