Sunday, April 24, 2005

And he's having some fun now

The NYT's David Brooks ought to do humour more often: The release of a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicating that overweight people actually live longer than normal-weight people represents an important moment in the history of world civilization. It is the moment when we realize that Mother Nature - unlike Ivy League admissions committees - doesn't like suck-ups. It turns out she doesn't like those body-worshiping, multi-abbed marvels who've spent so much time at the bench press machine they look as if they have thighs growing out of either side of their necks. She doesn't like those health-conscious rice cake addicts you see at Manhattan restaurants ordering a skinned olive for lunch and sitting there looking trim and fit in their tapered blouses while their buns of steel leave permanent dents in the upholstery. Mother Nature, we now know, is a saucy wench, who likes to play cosmic tricks on humanity. If the report from researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is correct - and it is the most thorough done to date - then it seems that Mother Nature has built a little Laffer curve into the fabric of reality: health-conscious people can hit a point of negative returns, so the more fit they are, the quicker they kick the bucket. People who work out, eat responsibly and deserve to live are more likely to be culled by the Thin Reaper. [...] The chief moral lesson I take away from this report is that Mother Nature is happy to tolerate marginally irresponsible misbehavior. She doesn't want you to go completely to seed. If you're truly obese and arouse hippos when you visit the zoo, you could still punch your ticket at any moment. But she does want you to eat the occasional Cinnabon, so long as it isn't bigger than Delaware. She wants you to have that fourth glass of wine, and lecture the dinner table on the future of the papacy based on your extensive reading of "The Da Vinci Code." She wants a little socially productive mediocrity. Also comedy gold: "More people will realize we should all be patterning our lifestyle decisions on those made by Christopher Hitchens." Snrrrrk. Some of the Times' more caustic columnists would do well to pick up a bit of the art of gently self-deprecating humour. It'd be more readable than hysterical screeds about secret conspiracies involving Dick Cheney and the Pope, anyway.

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