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wshaffer
Writing misguided articles about the diseases of affluence is one of the diseases of affluence 
24th-Mar-2011 03:26 pm
diabetes, insulin
I've been boggling at this article since I read it, as it's some kind of amazing example of how to wrap a halfway decent point in a bizarre miasma of nostalgic pastoralism and weird ideas about masculinity.

You should really read the article, because it is well-written after a fashion, and also contains a number of striking details, but to summarize: The author has worked as a surgeon in Afghanistan and in Canada, and has observed that lots of people in Canada are fat, while hardly anyone in Afghanistan is. He has also been to Polynesia, and has observed that islanders who have hewed to traditional diet and lifeways are manly paragons of tattooed hotness who can navigate canoes with their balls, while the islanders who have taken to Western things like SPAM and the internets are jiggly and have high rates of diabetes. This is all the fault of urbanization making us unmanly.

So, okay, I basically agree with the premise that the Standard Western Diet is really bad for a lot of people. I'm certainly happier and healthier now that I eat differently. I would like to note that this did not require my learning to go out and kill my own dinner. Nor did it require reclaiming my lost manliness, which is good, because, being a woman, I haven't got much.

Oh, yeah, women. Our author does pause to note that diabetes often makes women infertile, but doesn't really seem to be interested in women beyond their reproductive capacity. He certainly never stops to ask whether the pre-urban lives he is idealizing were particularly fulfilling for women, who presumably were doing things like cooking, raising kids, and hauling water, rather than going out and hunting caribou or making long ocean voyages.

No, what really gets me about this article, besides the literally visceral horror of fat, is the sense that the author is really lacking a sense of proportion. It's like he's all, "Guys! Lay off the Cheetos! Or the world will suffer an epidemic lack of tattooed hotness! Oh, yeah, and kidney failure." (Never mind that I don't think I'd have to go very far in my social circle to locate a type 2 diabetic who is possessed of tattoed hotness.)

Or, I dunno, maybe that angle just stands out to me because I've read about a million articles about how the Western lifestyle is going to kill us, but this is the first article I've read about how it is depriving men of important manly capacities like being able to steer a canoe with your nuts.
Comments 
24th-Mar-2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
That sounds extremely uncomfortable.
24th-Mar-2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Well, it's pretty obvious why it never took off as a navigation technique in the Atlantic. (Actually, I'm not sure that it ever really took off in the Pacific - I didn't spot a reference to "sensing wave patterns with the testicles" in the Wikipedia article on Polynesian navigation, and there's no way I'm trying to more targeted google search while I'm at work. But it could just be a figment of the author's over romanticizing imagination.)
24th-Mar-2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
I finally had to go look, because steering a canoe with your nuts? Wendy must have misread the article, I thought as I read. No nuts-navigation in the early part of the article, nor in the middle, and I'm thinking, hmm, not here, and then whoops! there it is. Huh.

Wonder if it works.

My favorite sentence, about the risk of heart attacks: "...half of us will spend our last minutes with the impression that a large kitchen appliance is sitting on our chests."
25th-Mar-2011 01:25 am (UTC)
Holy crap. I thought the nut-steering was a joke on Wendy's part.
25th-Mar-2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
I'm sincerely flattered that y'all think I have a warped enough mind to make something like that up.
25th-Mar-2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
I just thought you were using "balls" as a metaphor for "sheer manliness."
25th-Mar-2011 11:12 pm (UTC)
Well, I was, it's just that in this case, the metaphor was also literal.
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