Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS Sacrifice or Privilege<p> Karen Rinaldi makes some really good points in her&nbsp;<a href="">New York Times piece about motherhood</a>&nbsp;and how it is too often portrayed and thankless drudgery. Not so, says Rinaldi who begins the piece by explaining how she enjoyed hanging out with her own children on a recent vacation:</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> I was looking forward to uninterrupted time with my boys. We would spend days by the ocean and take trips to the boardwalk, where they would scream with delight while riding the roller coaster &mdash; the same one I&rsquo;d ridden when I was their age, then ridden alongside them until Hurricane Sandy deposited it into the Atlantic. We&rsquo;d ram one another with bumper cars; we&rsquo;d ride the old-fashioned merry-go-round, waiting until my youngest son&rsquo;s favorite horse, bright-blue Freddy, became available. Some days were sure to end in tears of exhaustion, but the tears didn&rsquo;t outweigh the joy. Even on the bad days.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s true that too often moms are portrayed as slaves to their children and that motherhood brings no joy. Rinaldi explains that this narrative isn&rsquo;t just cultural; it&rsquo;s etymological, saying the word &ldquo;motherhood&rdquo; has evolved to become synonymous with &ldquo;sacrifice.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> When we cling to the idea of motherhood as sacrifice, what we really sacrifice is our sense of self, as if it is the price we pay for having children.</p> <p> Rinaldi wants to see this change and for people to see motherhood as a privilege rather than a sacrifice:</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> By reframing motherhood as a privilege, we redirect agency back to the mother, empowering her, celebrating her autonomy instead of her sacrifice. Granted, some of us have more autonomy than others. There are many mothers who would not have chosen motherhood, for financial or personal reasons. Still, by owning our roles as mothers and refusing the false accolades of martyrdom, we do more to empower all women.</p> <p> It was also refreshing to see Rinaldi take on that popular concept that&nbsp;<a href="">stay-at-home moms should earn a six-figure salary</a>&nbsp;for taking care of the kids and the home:</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> Calling motherhood &ldquo;the hardest job in the world&rdquo; misses the point completely because having and raising children is not a &ldquo;job.&rdquo; No one will deny that there is exhaustion, fear and tedium. Raising a family is hard work, but so is every other meaningful aspect of our lives.</p> <p style="margin-left: 0.5in;"> The language surrounding child rearing as a job surely derived from caregivers&rsquo; and homemakers&rsquo; efforts to be acknowledged as fulfilling an important role. And clearly raising children is one of the most important things we do &mdash; for both women and men &mdash; but that does not make it a job. In a job, an employer pays for services an employee agrees to perform. And there is a boss to whom the employee reports. In the case of parenting, who would that be?</p> <p> Enter jokes about that &ldquo;who&rdquo; being the kid. But my kid has exactly $5.40 in his piggy bank and he&rsquo;s not giving me a dime.&nbsp;</p> <p> Rinaldi goes slightly off course at the end of her piece, trotting down the predictable anti-male path of suggesting dads don&rsquo;t really do much and that parenthood is largely a women&rsquo;s job. Certainly that&rsquo;s true in some households but to suggest today that most men don&rsquo;t contribute is just silly. Yet, overall, Rinaldi is to be applauded for encouraging a change to the &ldquo;woe is me&rdquo; narrative so prevalent in the parenting world today.&nbsp;</p> GunlockMon, 7 Aug 2017 09:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Your Child Safe From Antivaccine Activists? • Cam & Co GunlockFri, 4 Aug 2017 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMale Fertility Is Not In Crisis Because Of Plastic<p> Look out, boys! It appears your sperm is taking a hike (or should I say a swim?). So says a hot, <a href="">new, headline-grabbing study</a> that claims men in Western countries have a lower sperm count than their counterparts in South America, Asia, and Africa.</p> <p> Okay, so if you&rsquo;ve recently been to Europe and seen the <a href="">men&rsquo;s fashion on display</a>, you might give credence to this claim.</p> <p> But, before we go full into full &ldquo;Children of Men&rdquo; panic mode&hellip;</p> <p> &hellip;.let&rsquo;s examine, first, the actual research, and then the researchers making this claim, both of which deserve deeper scrutiny.</p> <p> <strong>The Research on the &lsquo;Sperm Crisis&rsquo;</strong></p> <p> Is there a sperm crisis? Who knows! That&rsquo;s about the best answer science can give us at this point because sperm hasn&rsquo;t been a big area of study to date, so there&rsquo;s not a great body of evidence that can say either way. There are <em>some</em> studies, but the quality of those studies is mixed so again, who knows.</p> <p> But one thing is very clear. People aren&rsquo;t having many kids in the European Union countries (except for Denmark, which is currently experiencing a baby boom). Is that because they can&rsquo;t? The evidence says it&rsquo;s more of a choice than a result of infertility. Most Europeans simply appear pretty ambivalent about parenthood.</p> <p> Yet that didn&rsquo;t stop these researchers from making up a reason. Without even a nod to the fact that it&rsquo;s common to see a reduced birth rate as a country develops economically, the researchers instead looked for a villain. And they found one: Plastics!</p> <p> The study&rsquo;s researchers are correct in saying that plastics are hard to avoid, especially in Western nations. Plastics are everywhere&mdash;in your water bottle, your toothbrush, earbuds, the car dashboard, that shopping cart you use at the grocery store and the treadmill you use to work out, food containers, eyeglasses, your computer and smart phone, hair products and makeup containers, your hairbrush and razor. Even your clothing contains plastic. The list is too long to detail here, but you get the point.</p> <p> Why all this plastic? Well, plastic is durable and safe and cheap to use so manufacturers love the stuff. So, since we&rsquo;re surrounded by plastic and it&rsquo;s tough to go a day without touching it, it&rsquo;s pretty easy to suggest a connection between plastic and [name the disease or terrifying condition]. That&rsquo;s what&rsquo;s happening with this classic correlative study. The researchers found a correlation between a substance and a disease. Far less dramatic (and headline-creating), however, the researchers did not discover that plastic <em>causes</em> the low sperm count.</p> <p> <strong>These Two Things Exist at the Same Time!</strong></p> <p> Journalist Rob Kemp, in an article for <em>The Telegraph</em> cleverly titled &ldquo;<a href="">Male fertility: hard facts vs flaccid myths</a>&rdquo; (get it?), reminded readers that these studies do more harm than good:</p> <p> In 2015, I spoke to Paul Serhal, male fertility consultant and Medical Director of the London-based<a href="">&nbsp;Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health</a>, about why he thinks such &lsquo;scare stories&rsquo; surrounding sperm health are a distraction from the real causes for concern</p> <p> &lsquo;Although there are issues over the influence of plastics and chemicals on health and wellbeing, this study linking plastics compounds and sunscreen chemicals directly to low sperm count is far from conclusive,&rsquo; Serhal argues. &lsquo;None of these elements are likely to be the root cause of problems for couples desperate to conceive.&rsquo;</p> <p> The difference between correlation and causation is important because it immediately limits the study&rsquo;s usefulness. Correlatives studies shouldn&rsquo;t automatically be thrown in the junk science bin, but people should know that they have limits and are often used by activists to further fears of certain products&mdash;especially those made of plastics or that contain chemicals (note: <em>everything</em> contains chemicals, a fact activists like to deny).</p> <p> One other way to explain the limits of correlation versus causation is to consider that the study might have found a correlation with some other materials&mdash;like wood (still quite ubiquitous in everyday items), glass, metal, water, and food. All of these things surround us every day. Should we blame those items? Of course not and let&rsquo;s face it, it&rsquo;s a lot harder to make wood and water sound scary. Not so of chemicals.</p> <p> The chemicals that make up plastics often have scary-sounding, multisyllabic names&ndash;like polyethylene, polypropylene, bisphenol, phthalates, and, here&rsquo;s a good one: acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). ABS may be tough to pronounce, but it&rsquo;s a workhorse chemical that makes plastics super tough for such unglamorous things as drainage pipes and far more glamorous things like electronic equipment exoskeletons, like the outer shell of your computer (you know, that thing that keeps your expensive Mac damage-free when the TSA guy rifles through your carry-on bag). Chemicals are pretty great, huh?</p> <p> <strong>This Study Also Ignores Other Key Factors</strong></p> <p> Interestingly and perhaps intentionally, the study also failed to consider other factors that could affect a man&rsquo;s sperm count, which according to the Mayo Clinic includes smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, obesity, past and present medical conditions and medication use, a history of cancer, and the rather obvious detail of whether the patient has experienced trauma to the abdominal, pelvic, or testicular area.</p> <p> Instead, the researchers collected already completed studies on sperm count then determined if the study&rsquo;s subjects (who all happened to be from Western, English-speaking countries) came in contact with plastics, which as I explained above are hard to avoid in Western countries.</p> <p> See how that works? They could just have easily examined the availability of individually packaged snack-sized containers of Jell-O pudding and concluded, yup, where pudding&rsquo;s available, men have a lower sperm count. Fun! Shall we try other things commonly sold in developed nations?</p> <p> <strong>Now Let&rsquo;s Look at the Researchers</strong></p> <p> Next, let&rsquo;s look at Shanna Swan, one of the lead researchers of the study. Swan looks legitimate. She&rsquo;s a professor of environmental medicine and public health obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. But she&rsquo;s also a well-known anti-chemical activist and an acolyte of <a href="">Frederick Vom Saal, an environmental activist</a> who has been dismissed by the National Toxicology Program and whose work other experts in the field of reproductive health (like Richard Sharpe, <a href="">here</a>) have denounced.</p> <p> Like Vom Saal, Swan has made a name for herself producing scientifically laughable yet headline-grabbing studies. She&rsquo;s boosted by activists who love her alarmist and regressive message and supported by a mainstream press incapable of understanding the basics of scientific research and rigor.</p> <p> <a href="">Consider another Swan &ldquo;study&rdquo; published a few years ago</a> on the chemicals phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA). For that study, Swan studied ten women who lived in an Old Order Mennonite community in New York State. This handful of women was described as adhering &ldquo;to a simpler lifestyle than the general U.S. population&rdquo; and the study disclosed that the women grew most of their own food without using agrochemicals, consumed few processed foods, used fewer household chemicals and personal care products, and relied far less on automobiles for transportation than your average American woman.</p> <p> For the study, each woman provided Swan urine samples over a 48-hour time period and, not surprisingly, Swan found that these chemical-rejecting and plastics-avoiding Mennonite women had less chemical exposure levels. In other news, kids like ice cream.</p> <p> Naturally, the hysterical headlines started to appear. Articles were published in a variety of mainstream publications, including United Press International, WebMD, and BusinessWeek, as well as other online publications and blogs all declaring that Americans are consuming dangerous levels of chemicals due to their exposure to plastics.</p> <p> At the time that Swan presented this study and answered concerned media inquiries about it, she suggested a <a href="">few minor changes to our collective lifestyles</a> would remedy the situation. Specifically, she suggested we all live like Mennonites, forgoing things like Wi-Fi, television, and cars. She also said Americans should begin consuming mostly homegrown produce&mdash;because busy moms and dads have enough time to plow, plant, and harvest massive quantities of produce every year.</p> <p> As a working mom of three kids, I have a ton of time to devote to grinding the grain I&rsquo;ve just planted, grown (without pesticides, natch) and harvested for the bread I have to make from scratch (even though I can get an already baked loaf at the store for less two dollars, and it comes with a free bag!). I&rsquo;ll also have to spend all my free time and each evening canning enough summer-grown food to last throughout the winter. Personally, I look forward to having cows and chickens living in my backyard, which will provide milk, eggs, and eventually meat for the family. What neighbor doesn&rsquo;t like having to listen to the sounds of animals being slaughtered?</p> <p> Swan also suggests you make yourself feel terrible by taking a pass on cosmetics and limit your use of personal care products. And she wants us all to get around town using sources other than automobiles, which is a head-scratcher considering we&rsquo;ll all have to move into the country to have enough acreage to grow all that food and raise those animals.</p> <p> <strong>The Truth about the Sperm Crisis</strong></p> <p> Science can be boring, which is why this seemingly reputable and dramatic fertility crisis study generated so many headlines. This exposes two troubling realities.</p> <p> First, science reporting is in crisis because the public can no longer rely on journalists to carefully examine a study&rsquo;s methodology to determine its validity, nor can the public expect journalists to examine the motivations behind the study&rsquo;s researchers to determine if that scientist is actually an activist pushing an agenda. (If so, it&rsquo;s fine to report on the study, but the researchers&rsquo; motives should also be exposed.)</p> <p> Second, these dodgy studies reveal that the field of science is increasingly becoming a tool of activists eager to scare the public and halt innovation in products. Scientists have one job: to make discoveries that will improve the human condition. It begs the question: Are researchers like Swan and her partners doing that?</p> <p> Are they helping people when they make weak correlations between modern conveniences and affordable products and diseases? Are they helping women by telling them to spend every waking hour growing, making, and preserving their own food? Was life really better 100 years ago, before everyone had a car, air conditioning, and easy access to modern conveniences? Was life better in 1917, when worldwide life expectancy was around 35 years?</p> <p> Swan and many other activists&rsquo; regressive goals will do one thing: harm people and bring innovation and product improvement to a screeching halt. People (and in this latest case, men) deserve better information about health trends that may signify a problem. Sadly, today science is taking a back seat to activism. That needs to change.</p> GunlockWed, 2 Aug 2017 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Your Child Safe From Antivaccine Activists?<p> Today&rsquo;s parents worry constantly about the kids: What are they doing, seeing, saying, eating? Is that shampoo safe? Are they watching too much television? Thanks to antivaccine campaigners, add measles to the list.</p> <p> In 2000, doctors were celebrating that measles essentially had been eradicated in the U.S. Even people who could not safely receive the vaccine, such as newborns, were protected by what&rsquo;s known as &ldquo;herd immunity.&rdquo; When a large portion of a population is immunized, there are few potential carriers to spread the disease, which shields everyone.</p> <p> <a href="">READ THE ARTICLE AT WSJ.COM</a></p> GunlockTue, 1 Aug 2017 11:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLena Dunham gives dog back to shelter due to "behavioral problems" • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 18 Jul 2017 11:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLassie Came Home. Lena Dunham’s Rescue Dog? ‘Re-Homed’ When He Became Inconvenient<p> Hollywood stars like their accessories&mdash;expensive jewelry, the latest high-end purse, arch-breaking shoes and overpriced clothing, rare pieces of art, sleek cars&hellip;and lately, pets.</p> <p> Of course, entertainers are a capricious lot, so they soon tire of these little playthings and shift their short attention spans to the next new, shinier, and pricier object. This sort of impulsiveness is perfectly fine when it applies to the latest Burberry clutch or Berluti Derbies, but when it happens with pets, well, that&rsquo;s a different story.</p> <p> Consider <em>Girls</em> creator and actress Lena Dunham and her rescue dog Lamby Antonoff-Dunham (named also for Dunham&rsquo;s musician boyfriend Jack Antonoff). The hyphenated surname makes clear that with Lamby&rsquo;s arrival, Jack and Lena were playing house and little Lamby was their child. The couple (or their public relations people) even promoted Lamby online, providing him his very own Instagram account (with 17.3 thousand followers) and a Twitter account (with, somewhat reassuringly, only 950 followers). Dunham&rsquo;s boyfriend Jack Antonoff even seemed a little jealous of Lamby&rsquo;s celebrity status, <a href="">telling</a> <em>Vogue</em> in 2014:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> I knew things were getting weird on&nbsp;<a href="">Instagram</a>&nbsp;when somebody recognized Lamby on the street. I was like, &ldquo;Oh. This is a famous dog.&rdquo; People can handle this kind of thing, but a dog shouldn&rsquo;t have to go through it.</p> <p> In Antonoff&rsquo;s defense, it can&rsquo;t be easy living in the shadow of a shameless self-promoter and professional nudist like Dunham while also having to contend with the growing fame of the family dog/child. Yet, Lamby&rsquo;s hyphenated last name and his social media presence, combined with Antonoff&rsquo;s suggestion in the <em>Vogue </em>interview that Lamby had to suffer eager fans approaching the dog on the street (and let&rsquo;s be real, Lamby&rsquo;s hardly being swarmed by paparazzi Kardashian-style, no matter how much Antonoff might desire it), is the type of bizarre anthropomorphizing behavior common with Hollywood stars and their pets. To Dunham and Antonoff, Lamby was their child.</p> <p> But then, just a few months ago, Antonoff and Durham did the unthinkable, at least when it comes to parenting children: They gave Lamby away because of &ldquo;behavioral problems.&rdquo; According to a report in<em> <a href="">The Cut</a></em>:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> Last week, Lena Dunham&nbsp;<a href="">revealed the answer</a>&nbsp;to a social-media mystery. What ever happened to Lamby, the rescue dog who was the subject of her Instagrams and a&nbsp;<a href=""><em>New Yorker&nbsp;</em>essay</a>&nbsp;before he disappeared a few months back? It turns out Lamby had quietly and discreetly checked into a canine rehabilitation center, the Zen Dog, before eventually being re-homed. &ldquo;There were so many lessons in it, about forgiving myself and loving with an open palm and giving in to a larger plan,&rdquo; she wrote, without apparent irony.</p> <p> Interestingly, it was Lamby&rsquo;s social media profile that made people notice his disappearance. Forced to address it after her fans persisted in asking about Lamby, Dunham implied to <em>People </em>magazine that Lamby had been biting people. Sounding desperate about the situation, she said she was heartbroken that Lamby had to be &ldquo;re-homed&rdquo; (a euphemism that, like &ldquo;pre-owned,&rdquo; instead of &ldquo;used,&rdquo; sounds better than &ldquo;gotten rid of&rdquo;) adding, &ldquo;When you love something you have to let it go,&rdquo; and noting that she and Antonoff &ldquo;needed to be responsible to ourselves, our neighbors and especially our beloved boy.&rdquo; That beloved boy, she said, would be missed forever. Then, in what can only be described as a peak millennial moment, Dunham promised to someday &ldquo;really write about the pain and relief of letting Lamby go off and really be Lamby.&rdquo;</p> <p> Except, Lamby isn&rsquo;t really going to be allowed to be Lamby, right? Dunham didn&rsquo;t release Lamby into the wild or set him free into a mosh pit of dog bite fetishists willing to be attacked. No. Dunham gave him to a dog trainer, where his Lamby &ldquo;spirit&rdquo; will likely have to be broken until he is ready for re-adoption.</p> <p> Certainly, no one should have to keep an animal that bites, but Lamby&rsquo;s sad journey was likely the result of Dunham trying to look charitable and woke to the needs of animals without really wanting to put in the time it takes to care for a pet. The next time Dunham rescues a dog, she should consider adopting an older dog that, you know, won&rsquo;t be around long. It&rsquo;s an ideal solution for a busy actress who wants to appear socially conscious without the hassle of actually caring for something.</p> GunlockTue, 11 Jul 2017 09:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Holderness Family Embraces Helicopter Parenting this Summer (But I Still Love Them!)<p> I&rsquo;m a fan of the <a href="">Holderness family</a>&mdash;the YouTube sensation made up of petite and pretty, yet relatable, mom Kim; tall and adorably dorky dad Penn; and two delightful, patient, and very agreeable (to their parent&rsquo;s whims) pre-teen kids. They produce funny and very popular music videos that make light of life as a middle class family living in the suburbs. In our age of hyper-stressed parenting, it&rsquo;s nice to have the Holderness family around to remind parents not to take it all too seriously and that parenting can be fun.</p> <p> Mostly they get it right. Their recent comparison of what it&rsquo;s like to go to the beach with and without kids mimicked brilliantly British comedian Michael McIntyre&rsquo;s <a href="">hilarious routine</a> recreating what it&rsquo;s like to leave the house with and without children (spoiler: with kids, it involves more than just walking out the front door).</p> <p> Yet, the Holderness&rsquo; latest video, which focuses on the difficulty of getting through the summer months when the kids are out of school, hit an off note with me because it&rsquo;s premise is that it&rsquo;s the parents&rsquo; responsibility to entertain the kids during this break. It&rsquo;s not.</p> <p> The catchy hip hop song starts with Kim yelling to a group of neighbors: &ldquo;Okay, Parents, huddle up!&rdquo; followed by Penn rapping &ldquo;Okay, team, the school year is through! Three straight months and we&rsquo;ve got work to do.&rdquo; The message is clear: Parents are summertime&rsquo;s cruise directors and keeping the kids amused is going to be awful.</p> <p> The rest of the song focuses on the packed summer schedule, with Penn suggesting a play date and singing: &ldquo;Day One: we need an activity to do, how about we gather at a park around three!&rdquo; This is followed up with a call for Kim to clean her children (they&rsquo;ve become sweaty) who each seem old enough to clean themselves. Then comes a suggestion that they spend an hour doing a jigsaw puzzle, while Penn hovers over them.</p> <p> Day Two isn&rsquo;t any better. Penn and Kim wants to sleep in but, sadly, the entire family has to take the dog on a walk around what appears to be a very nice, suburban, and seemingly safe neighborhood. Someone needs to tell Penn and Kim that they can, in fact, sleep in if they let the kids walk the dog&mdash;by themselves.</p> <p> Day Three shows no signs of improvement. The Holderness kids are invited to a party. Yay! A break, right? Nah. The entire family attends the party. Days Four and Five are similarly grim, as the family can&rsquo;t seem to pry themselves away from each other.</p> <p> Of course, this is all supposed to be good, lighthearted fun and the Holderness family has indeed captured the dread many parents feel at the loss of&mdash;let&rsquo;s be honest&mdash;school-based babysitting. But the Holderness parents should be careful to protect their carefree, fun brand and not convey or support the type of helicopter parenting that&rsquo;s so prevalent today. They shouldn&rsquo;t fall into the trap of portraying parenting as a dreadful chore and kids as an unrelenting, living and breathing to-do list.</p> <p> Instead, Kim and Penn should do what they do best&mdash;remind us that parenting isn&rsquo;t the thankless job so many say it is and kids don&rsquo;t need to be &ldquo;entertained&rdquo; every second of the summer break. Perhaps a catchy song telling moms and dads that boredom is okay and completely normal. In fact, I&rsquo;m sure Penn and Kim could look back on their own childhoods&mdash;before smartphones, Wi-Fi, and the hundreds of television channels and on-demand shows now available&mdash;and remember that boredom was a huge part of their own summer breaks.</p> <p> My own mother in no way saw herself as Julie the Cruise Director (that&rsquo;s a <a href="">Love Boat</a> reference for you millennial readers). In fact, my mom was more like Claire the Kid Neglector&mdash;a mom norm in those days, not a reason to call Child Protective Services.</p> <p> I remain a huge fan of the Holderness family and always click on their videos to lift my sprits. Let&rsquo;s hope they keep up the good work and resist the urge to over-parent and overprotect.</p> GunlockFri, 30 Jun 2017 10:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy It’s Hilariously Hypocritical For Food And Wine To Lecture About The BLT’s Carbon Footprint<p> I love nothing more than to read a cooking magazine cover to cover, and dream of all the dinner parties I never seem to have enough time to host. Cooking magazines have become a respite in today&rsquo;s hyper-political world where people can become upset with the most innocuous of comments or gestures.</p> <p> Yet a recent article in <em>Food and Wine</em> shows that even cooking magazines are buckling under the pressure to become more &ldquo;woke&rdquo; to the problems of the world. Consider its recent publication of an article about the carbon footprint of the lowly bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.</p> <p> The online article links to a YouTube video where NPR science reporter Adam Cole explains the carbon emissions involved in producing a BLT sandwich&mdash;from growing the grain, to making the bread, to the transportation costs associated with getting the items to the store, and eventually to your kitchen and belly.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a lighthearted video, but the message is clear: our most basic habits&mdash;even making a sandwich&mdash;are dooming mother earth.</p> <p> <strong>Magazines&rsquo; Carbon Footprint Dwarfs That of Sandwiches</strong></p> <p> That&rsquo;s somewhat rich coming from a magazine, a publication that no doubt produces its own rather large carbon footprint, made even more awkward by the fact that this product is made of dead trees. Perhaps <em>Food and Wine</em> can ask Adam Cole to do a video on the carbon footprint of producing a monthly magazine.</p> <p> Cole could explain that one felled tree produces X number of magazines and how one tree leaves homeless X number of squirrels and owls and one sweet family of mice that lived in its root system. Cole could then show video of the now deceased tree being loaded into a diesel-spewing truck. Next he could show the tree corpse being transported to a factory (eww, a factory!) where it is pulverized and turned into paper, and then show how those reams of paper are loaded on yet another diesel-guzzling truck to be brought to another yucky factory where a magazine&mdash;filled with far more complex recipes than a BLT&mdash;are produced for people with loads of money to waste at Whole Foods. These magazines are then sent via the Postal Service to homes throughout the world, which of course involves more trucks, more gas, more carbon.</p> <p> Cole might also explain&mdash;like he did with the sandwich of death video&mdash;that <em>Food and Wine</em> is online, where they have a website and several social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. So, just like the BLT, which Adam Cole explains require electricity to be made, <em>Food and Wine&rsquo;s</em> online presence similarly requires electricity, which of course, means more carbon. More death.</p> <p> <strong>Sorry, Guys&mdash;Food Is Necessary For Existence</strong></p> <p> But would the take away be of such a video on the evils of magazine production?&nbsp; &nbsp;What lesson is a <em>Food and Wine</em> reader supposed to derive from this article on the evils of the BLT production?</p> <p> The writer concludes by reminding readers that &ldquo;&hellip; a single sandwich creates an estimated 800 grams of carbon dioxide: enough gas to fill 100 gallon jugs. It turns out this simple sandwich isn&rsquo;t so simple.&rdquo;</p> <p> He&rsquo;s right. Sandwiches aren&rsquo;t simple. But here&rsquo;s something that is simple: people need to eat. Producing food requires energy, which will lead to the release of carbon.&nbsp; There&rsquo;s really no way around it.&nbsp; Of course, what humans don&rsquo;t require to breath is a magazine&mdash;something that seems to be lost on this article&rsquo;s authors and the magazine&rsquo;s editors.</p> <p> I don&rsquo;t read <em>Food and Wine</em> for articles on economics, or essays on the benefits of interstate commerce. I&rsquo;m not skimming <em>Food and Wine</em> to find a historical perspective on how the industrial age lifted the human condition by bringing consumers things like sliced bread (and sliced bacon and lettuce and tomatoes, even when those vegetables are out of season). But I do expect those in charge of <em>Food and Wine</em> to understand why it&rsquo;s perhaps bad business to publish articles that damn the magazine&rsquo;s own existence.</p> <p> After all, if you really cared about the earth and about reducing your own carbon footprint, you might consider never purchasing paper magazines anymore. One suspects the carbon footprint of producing a 100-page magazine far exceeds that of a lowly sandwich.</p> <p> I certainly hope this was a random occurrence on the part of my favorite magazine, and that <em>Food and Wine&rsquo;s</em> editors will remember that people read the magazine for the food and the wine&mdash;not to feel guilty for eating one of summer&rsquo;s best sandwiches. Of course, if one is moved to choose between two deadly habits&mdash;BLTs and magazine reading&mdash;it would be wise for those at <em>Food and Wine</em> to remember that most would choose the tastier of the two.</p> GunlockWed, 28 Jun 2017 10:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSay anything...just not to a mom • Cam & Co GunlockTue, 27 Jun 2017 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSay Anything. . . Just Not to a Mom?<p> Lately, I&rsquo;ve seen a lot of articles that tell people what not to say to mothers:</p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to a mom</a></p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to a mom who had a C-section</a></p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to a mom of boys</a></p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to a mom of girls</a></p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to moms of twins</a></p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to moms with one child</a></p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to moms of a lot of kids</a></p> <p> <a href="">What not to say to a stay-at-home mom</a></p> <p> What not to say to&hellip;.</p> <p> &hellip;and on and on it goes.</p> <p> Sadly, I haven&rsquo;t come across an article entitled: &ldquo;You Can Say Anything To Me Because I&rsquo;m a Grown Up Who Can Deal.&rdquo; And really, considering what moms do deal with on a daily basis, we really should be able to handle quite a bit, right?</p> <p> For instance, most new moms (and dads) go without a proper night&rsquo;s sleep for weeks at a time. Moms dutifully wipe dirty butts, pick boogers out of noses, and clean vomit off of car seats, beds, floors, carpets, and often even ourselves. Moms keep their kids safe during night terrors and sometimes sleep in teeny toddler beds. They clean and tend to wounds, pick hair for lice, and conduct body checks for ticks. Moms sometimes have to deal with school bullies, tough teachers, and those other moms on the playground who play mean girl games.</p> <p> Breastfeeding moms have to endure the process of feeding or pumping milk in less than ideal situations. Bottle feeding moms have to make sure their gear is clean and ready at all times. Working moms juggle schedules and caregiver needs and guilt, while stay-at-home moms battle loneliness and money woes and anxiety and guilt. All moms deal with nagging, constant interruptions, and thankless task completion each and every day. It&rsquo;s true that mothering can be humiliating, exhausting, physically challenging, frustrating, and yet rewarding all at the same time.</p> <p> Considering these clear displays of endurance, tell me, why in the world would these strong women be bothered when someone gives them a condemnatory side glance while breastfeeding in public? Why would these tough moms put much stock in the Crossfit Dad who looks aghast as their children devour a Happy Meal and sugary juice box? Why would a reasonable mom spend any time worrying about the snide remark made by the sanctimonious neighbor after witnessing that mom hauling in tons of formula and the party-size bag of cheeseballs after a trip to the grocery store?</p> <p> Of course, no one is made of steel. It&rsquo;s natural to feel uncomfortable when you sense that you are being judged, but why are we encouraging moms to care about something that&rsquo;s out of their control?</p> <p> This week, ABC News <a href="">reprinted a heartfelt Facebook post</a> by mom blogger Laura Mazza, imploring people to stop judging other moms. Mazza explained that we don&rsquo;t understand people&rsquo;s individual situations so we should hold off on judging that mom who is breastfeeding in public or that mom who is bottle-feeding, or the other mom that&rsquo;s scolding her kid loudly, or the one that won&rsquo;t get off her smartphone at the playground.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s a nice sentiment, but let&rsquo;s get real. No one&rsquo;s going to stop judging. Being judgmental is as natural as breathing. While Mazza&rsquo;s post is well-meaning, it might be better to advise women to try to ignore the judgment, side glances, snide comments and rudeness of others and just get on with their busy lives.</p> <p> Moms walk a tough road that requires a lot of physical and mental strength. It would be nice if the people around us always understood that and tried to make parenting easier. But it&rsquo;s inevitable that we are going to be met with some jerks along the way that add to our load. We don&rsquo;t need to wish them away; we have the choice to shrug them off and ignore those who don&rsquo;t approve.</p> <p> It wouldn&rsquo;t be the hardest thing you&rsquo;ve had to do today. Not even close.</p> GunlockMon, 26 Jun 2017 12:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumVulnerable women shouldn't have to wait 45 days to conceal carry • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 20 Jun 2017 15:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDr. Gwyneth and Her Goop Will See You Now<p> Retired actress and current lifestyle guru Gwyneth Paltrow is determined to expand her Goop empire. Paltrow isn&rsquo;t going to let her recent <a href="">admission</a> on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that she &ldquo;Doesn&rsquo;t know what the f**k we [at Goop] talk about&rdquo; deter her from teaming up with Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Cond&eacute; Naste to launch a Goop magazine&mdash;a paper version of the website that will ostensibly be filled with more content that Paltrow doesn&rsquo;t really understand.</p> <p> And last week, Paltrow hosted her first Goop Health Summit, called <a href="">In Goop Health</a>, where people paid between $500-$1,500 to learn how to turn away from science and evidenced-based medicine in favor of a variety of peculiar and downright harmful treatments all sanctioned by the actress.</p> <p> Since I don&rsquo;t have an extra $500 laying around, I wasn&rsquo;t able to attend Goop&rsquo;s health conference in Los Angeles, but I did read others&rsquo; accounts and was pleased to see that most of the coverage was in agreement: At best, Goop is just another time-consuming fad for rich, white, body-obsessed women. At worst, Goop and these new health summits are dangerous and attract the very demographic vulnerable to dodgy medical advice and the promise of miracle cures.</p> <p> One critic of Paltrow&rsquo;s summit was Dr. Jen Gunter, a Canadian OB/GYN and a board certified pain specialist who is a frequent critic of medical quackery and pseudoscience. Hearing that Dr. Amy Meyers&mdash;a summit speaker&mdash;suggested that magnesium can be used in place of antibiotics to treat non life-threatening infections, Dr. Gunter, on her own website, reminding Goop devotees that all infections can become life-threatening if they&rsquo;re not treated properly. Gunter wrote:</p> <p> This is the medical equivalent of saying it&rsquo;s okay to play in traffic just avoid the really big trucks. Or only wear your seat belt if you think you are going to be in a life-threatening crash. This is dangerous and unethical advice. I am&nbsp;not sure how else to sum it up.</p> <p> The Guardian&rsquo;s Lindy West&mdash;usually someone who can be counted on to bash these sorts of privileged gatherings&mdash;was more sanguine, <a href="">writing</a> that we should all lighten up:</p> <p> These women are having fun. They are sitting on pillows and connecting with each other. It is the kind of spontaneously intimate conversation that happens among women all the time, dressed up in the language of magic and, sure, monetised.</p> <p> And some were simply amused. Elle&rsquo;s Crystal Meers <a href="">wrote</a>:</p> <p> High on matcha lattes and Bulletproof Coffee, women (and a handful of men) shopped the Clean Beauty Apothecary, hydrated with Moon Juice tonics, and joined The Class founder Taryn Toomey for a new style sweatless session. But bone broth aside, the main attraction of the day was the five panel discussions exploring the Goopiest of Goop topics from gut health to the mother wound.</p> <p> Whatever your feelings about Gwyneth, Goop, and the advice given out at the health summit, one thing&rsquo;s for sure: Despite her efforts to come off as a self-effacing everywoman interested in helping people &ldquo;become their best version,&rdquo; Paltrow&rsquo;s not at all like us. This was perhaps best demonstrated when Paltrow invited her good friends&mdash;actress and self-help book author Cameron Diaz, designer-of-very-expensive-clothing Tory Burch; I&rsquo;m-not-sure-what-she-does-or-why-she&rsquo;s-famous Nicole Richie, and super model and wife to a billionaire tech visionary Miranda Kerr&mdash;to chat about the complex job of being a working mother.</p> <p> Lindy West reported that each of them delivered &ldquo;a bounty of platitudes about ambition, female friendship, self-care&rdquo; but that not once did they acknowledge the elephant in the room: They are all filthy rich with staffs to help them deal with these &ldquo;complexities.&rdquo;</p> <p> Women seeking advice from the Goop panelists should also note that these women can also employ top doctors to treat them after they do something silly&mdash;like relying on crystals for hormonal balance, doing sixteenth-century leech treatments to improve skin, putting rocks in their vaginas, engaging in unnecessary draining of one&rsquo;s lymphatic system, steaming their vaginas (do you sense a theme?), sitting in pools of goat&rsquo;s milk to rid oneself of parasites, starting starvation diets, and deciding a picture of your aura is better than taking anti-depressants.</p> <p> For the average woman who lives on a budget, it&rsquo;s important to avoid things that actually make one sick and will cost precious dollars to fix. For that reason, it&rsquo;s probably best to avoid Goop&rsquo;s health advice, unless of course, you&rsquo;re in it for the laughs. There are plenty of those, along with the leeches.</p> GunlockMon, 19 Jun 2017 12:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumJerry Seinfeld Isn’t Disgusted Enough With Kardashian-Style Reality Television<p> Jerry Seinfeld isn&rsquo;t a fan of reality television. In an interview with sartorial online magazine Mr. Porter, Seinfeld explained that he&rsquo;s not one to easily get upset with his kids. Yet there&rsquo;s one thing that grates on his nerves: When they watch &ldquo;Keeping Up With the Kardashians.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"> <em>I never lose it around them. The one time I really, really got upset was when my daughter was watching the Kardashians on her phone in her bed and I could not take that scene. For someone who for their whole life, television was the Olympics of being a comedian. It was only for the very best. You had to have everything. You had to go through all the different hierarchies of your career to get to television. I&rsquo;m offended by reality television on many levels and that show of course is the premier example of reality television. These people are not doing anything interesting. I lost my temper with that one.</em></p> <p> Seinfeld&rsquo;s right of course, but it&rsquo;s clear his irritation with the Kardashian family has more to do with their seemingly effortless and meritless ascent to television stardom, a venue Seinfeld clearly reveres as only appropriate for those who have slaved away in the bowels of Hollywood or endured the standup comedy circuit like he did.</p> <p> While it does indeed seem unfair that this talent-free family has prospered on nothing more than self-promotion (to the tune of $100 million for four more seasons of vulgar showboating), the Kardashian clan&rsquo;s greatest offence is hardly taking advantage of a system that rewards those who have the least self-respect. In fact, they might even deserve praise for figuring out how to game the system.</p> <p> <strong>It&rsquo;s About Content, Not Just Style</strong></p> <p> The really disturbing thing about the Kardashians is the content of their show&mdash;the dysfunction, cruelty and disloyalty to each other, pettiness and backstabbing, staged relationships and even marriages, the drug abuse, depression, sexual exploits, boundary-less living and hard partying, financial recklessness, and utter moral emptiness. Or how about how the family&rsquo;s relentless pursuit of material wealth and fame has endangered Kim&rsquo;s physical health and Rob&rsquo;s mental health?</p> <p> These are the things that should bother Seinfeld far more than the family&rsquo;s bizarre meteoric rise and million-dollar payday.</p> <p> The Kardashians aren&rsquo;t the only ones producing unsavory content on television. Just last week, ABC suspended production of its reality show &ldquo;Bachelor In Paradise&rdquo; after allegations of sexual misconduct involving two inebriated contestants. The details are murky, but if we are talking about drunken hookups, one wonders: Isn&rsquo;t that the whole point of that show?</p> <p> <strong>The Kardashians Are Just One Example</strong></p> <p> Seinfeld also seems baffled that people actually want to watch ne&rsquo;er&ndash;do&ndash;wells doing nothing. But he forgets that voyeuristic window-peeping into the lives of rich people is a popular sport. What else accounts for the popularity of such vapid gossip sites as TMZ and Perez Hilton? Most of the people featured in those outlets are similarly &ldquo;not doing anything interesting,&rdquo; unless, of course, you consider paparazzi shots of Jennifer Aniston filling up her SUV&rsquo;s gas tank, Katy Perry lounging on a tropical beach, or a comparison of cellulite on the perfect-by-normal-standards bodies of young actresses to be interesting. Many do.</p> <p> There is some good news, though. It appears the popularity of reality television in general and the Kardashians&rsquo; show in particular are beginning to wane. Americans are experiencing a bout of reality television fatigue and have grown tired of the gimmicks to gain their attention&mdash;such as the weird cross-pollination of genres (&ldquo;Survivor&rdquo; with totally naked people? Let&rsquo;s give it a whirl! Blindfolded dating? Why not! B-grade celebrities and sharp knives? Heck yeah!).</p> <p> While Seinfeld may have missed the mark on why we should all change the channel when the Kardashians appear, he&rsquo;s still doing a public service by pointing out that there are far better things to watch on television&mdash;like old &ldquo;Seinfeld&rdquo; reruns.</p> GunlockMon, 19 Jun 2017 08:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFancy Food Marketing: Silly or Smart? • Cam & Company GunlockTue, 13 Jun 2017 10:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy The Baby Industry Really Doesn’t Want Newborns To Sleep In Cardboard Boxes<p> To paraphrase Dr. Seuss: would you put your baby in a house, with a mouse, in a box, with a fox? A lot of people are saying yes &mdash; to the box, that is. According to the <a href=""><em>New York Times</em>, babies in boxes are all the rage in Finland</a>, and there&rsquo;s growing popularity here in the United States.</p> <p> It makes sense. These days, it&rsquo;s trendy to suggest Scandinavian countries are far superior to the United States in basically all areas of policy&mdash;from maternity and paternity leave to gay marriage, education to government corruption, and so on. So it&rsquo;s no surprise that maternity wards in America are now adopting the Finnish style in how and where we put our newborns to bed.</p> <p> According to the <em>Times</em>, part of the appeal is that Finland has a very low child mortality rate&mdash;a statistic some hospitals and public health groups say is due to the fact maternity wards in Finland give new parents a cardboard box filled with baby supplies that can double as a baby bed.</p> <p> <strong>States Are Having Baby Box Giveaways</strong></p> <p> Now hospitals in several American states&mdash;New Jersey, Ohio, Alabama, and Texas&mdash;are planning to start their own baby box giveaway programs that, in addition to baby supplies like diapers and formula, will come with advice on safe sleeping practices for infants.</p> <p> Of course, this isn&rsquo;t anything new. When I brought home my firstborn son a decade ago, my father marveled at the supplies I had purchased. In addition to the crib, our son had a lovely, ruffled, and tufted bassinet to sleep in as well. My father chuckled at seeing these two expensive items. &ldquo;Huh&hellip;two beds for this precious boy!&rdquo; he noted. You should have seen his reaction to the diaper wipe warmer!</p> <p> My father then adopted what&rsquo;s best described as a grumpy &ldquo;These spoiled kids these days!&rdquo; attitude and reminded me that when I was a newborn, I was placed in a dresser drawer on the floor, adding, &ldquo;it was good enough for you!&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>Babies Are Now Big Business</strong></p> <p> He&rsquo;s right, of course. But times have changed, and babies are now big business. In fact, the baby products industry rakes in billions of dollars each year. <a href="">A 2015 Vox article on the baby market boom</a>, asked an important, if not rather obvious, question: Are these companies serving parents, or just preying on them? Consider the money-making potential in this market before you answer. Vox reports:</p> <p> Some of the market&rsquo;s most dominant companies have hit record-breaking numbers over the last few years, further signaling that parents are indeed spending more money than ever before. In 2013, Graco, a popular supplier of strollers, car seats, and high chairs, pulled in $119 million in sales. But that&rsquo;s nothing compared to Pampers, Proctor &amp; Gamble&rsquo;s diaper brand which also happens to be its largest; it brought in $10.7 billion this past year. Bed Bath &amp; Beyond Inc. has seen its sales double since it acquired BuyBuy Baby in 2007. Babies &ldquo;R&rdquo; Us has expanded its footprint to 224 stores, and currently carries more than 20,000 products; it brought in $654 million as of August.</p> <p> Of course, there&rsquo;s nothing wrong with companies making money and understanding consumer demands and psychology. But it&rsquo;s also interesting to consider what a cardboard box would mean to this thriving and booming industry.</p> <p> <strong>The Government Wants To Regulate Your Baby Box</strong></p> <p> But the baby market need not worry. Their friends in the regulatory space are already sniffing around this (not so) new and affordable trend, and wringing their hands about the lack of regulation in the baby box industry. The <em>Times</em> article quotes one member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission&mdash;which is charged with pulling faulty, damaged, dangerous, or badly designed products from store shelves&mdash;wondering, &ldquo;What is the box made of? How durable is it? If you use it through three different children does it deteriorate?&rdquo; They add ominously, &ldquo;those are things they&rsquo;ll determine in the standards committee.&rdquo;</p> <p> Ah, yes, thank goodness for a government standards committee looking into these dangerous boxes and posing these tough questions.&nbsp; As usual, regulators think most parents are pretty stupid&mdash;unable to determine if a box has deteriorated to the point of being dangerous, or was somehow cheaply made and not durable enough to house a tiny infant for the night.</p> <p> If I were to do it all over again, I&rsquo;m not sure I&rsquo;d trade my crib and frilly bassinet for a lowly box. But we should all be able to agree that parents should have more choices and price points in baby products&mdash;and trust them to make the right decision for their families.</p> GunlockMon, 12 Jun 2017 10:06:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum