The Weight of the Nation

The Weight of the Nation

This USA Today article examines the four-part documentary series, “The Weight of the Nation,” which is on America’s obesity epidemic.  Our excess weight is impacting our productivity as a nation.  The simplest motto I know to attack obesity is “Eat Less, Move More.”  Our meal size proportions are bigger than any country I’ve experienced and we are highly sedentary.  I recommend that you weigh yourself at least once a week to keep yourself on target toward your weight loss goals or to make sure that you haven’t gained weight.  I wouldn’t weigh yourself everyday because then you get obsessive about losing weight.  Have a healthy and positive attitude toward your body image and remember “sedentary kills.”

Read also “As America’s waistline expands, costs soar”

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America’s Debt to Propaganda


There is some virtue in recalling the debt of America to propaganda. Far from being a recent affliction, propaganda has been one of the most powerful contributors to the growth of civilization on the North American continent. The propagandist of religion walked beside or a little in advance of the explorer, trader, and occupier of the broad acres of the New World. The natural reluctance of men to pull up stakes and settle overseas was partially overcome by the incessant use of propaganda.

It is true, as we are often reminded by disillusioned observers of the American scene, that the early bearers of European culture to this continent were often recruited from the debtor’s prisons of the Old World, and dispatched to the New World under constraint. Gradually, however, the lure of the West caught the imagination of Europe and sturdy citizens trooped by the millions to these shores. The alluring slogan, “the land of opportunity” is in itself a tribute to the tireless propaganda of the colonizing and shipping interests on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Without the seminal touch of capital investment, the abundant resources of the New World would have remained unused. The task of attracting capital to a fallow continent was undertaken by promoters who made use of every device in the propaganda repertory of their day. All in all, there is no doubt of the efficacy of propaganda in overcoming the hesitation of men to move themselves and to risk their capital in America. This, perhaps, is America’s greatest debt to propaganda.

Harold Lasswell

Reo M. Christenson, and Robert O. McWilliams, Voice of the People: Readings in Public Opinion and Propaganda (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962), 323.

The 1960s: From Cool to Chaotic

1960s America has been described as a decade for the youth and as a turbulent turn in American political culture.  Like a reverse spring, it came in like a lamb and left like a lion.  John F. Kennedy defines the early decade.  He evokes cool at 43 years young when he is elected president in November 1960 with his younger and very pretty bilingual wife, Jacquelyn Kennedy.  Their two children, Carolyn and John, are picture perfect.  Kennedy proclaims “Ich bin ein Berliner,” initiates the idealistic Peace Corps, staves off nuclear disaster with Cuba, and holds very popular news conferences with a fawning White House press corps that looks the other way from his private life.   In November 1963 the dreams for the American decade die with the assassinated president.  LBJ takes office and is challenged by JFK’s younger brother, Bobby Kennedy, who is also assassinated in June 1968 after winning the California Democratic Primary, two months after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee.  In the summer of 1969 America is heavily involved in Vietnam but manages to fulfill a JFK dream to put a man safely on the moon. There’s so much turmoil by the end of this decade that one song helps people to forget their troubles.  It’s the top rated song of the year:  Sugar, Sugar by The Archies

American Culture Survey Results

I asked you to tell me what pops into your head about American culture.  Draw a picture or tell me in a few words.  Here are the results by category:

FOOD: Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Fries, Pizza, Coca-Cola, Popcorn, Junk Food in general

ENTERTAINMENT: Madonna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys,  Boyz II Men, Pop, Rock ‘n Roll, Hip Hop, South Park, The Simpsons, Michael Jackson (Thriller), Beach Boys, Woodstock


PLACES: Fast food places like McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King; Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Skyscrapers, Big Houses, Farms, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, Paramount Pictures, 21st Century Fox

DESCRIPTIONS: Fat People, Big Houses, Obesity, Cars, Guns, Baseball, Facebook, Starbucks, Apple, Microsoft, Football, People holding the American flag, Alcohol, $, Holy Cross (Christian), Power, #1

The TV Ad Presidential Candidate

1984 Presidential Campaign Commercials

In 1984, Republican incumbent Ronald Reagan was being challenged by Democrat Walter Mondale.  That year the Reagan campaign ran a puzzling Bear commercial that referenced the Soviet threat, though some viewers thought it was about gun control or the environment.  “Some say the bear is tame, others say it’s vicious and dangerous.”

The website, Living Room Candidate, archives famous political campaign commercials over the past 60 years of the TV era.  Explore how political campaign ads have changed over the decades.

Romney: American Exceptionalist

Governor Romney believes in American exceptionalism, that we are great not just because of our military and economic power but also because of our values. The current president does not. … He believes in engagement – which has often not worked – while the governor believes we should say what we believe and work from a position of strength.

Richard Williamson, a leading Republican foreign policy specialist and adviser to the Romney campaign

Have dinner with Barack!

Dinner with Barack

Is this sweepstakes contest of the American presidency an example of our commercialization of just about everything?  Can you imagine your own political candidates doing such a thing?  Or is this just being honest that the highest office in the land is really for sale?

You might say, well there’s no purchase required to enter the sweepstakes.  Look closer.  You have to give your email address and zip code.  That’s all the reelection committee needs to barrage you with fundraising appeals.


Can Tokyo learn from the American presidential election?

Can Tokyo learn from the American political ‘matsuri’?

Japan’s politics are as Machiavellian as anyone else’s behind closed doors, but their public campaigns are demure compared to the United States — and many in Tokyo are aghast at the negative campaign tactics used on the road to the White House.

The idea that whoever won the 2008 Democratic nomination would make history was exciting for the Japanese. This time around, most people see the current field of Republican hopefuls as a noisy blur, an only-in-America phenomenon — or a “matsuri,” as one woman described it, in reference to Japan’s colorful, oft-chaotic outdoor festivals.