How Oprah Goosed Weight Watchers Stock

December 22, 2016

By Karen

Here’s another perfect example of the media not doing its (math) homework. All Oprah Winfrey had to say was, “Hey, look, I lost some more weight!” and it became big news, no questions asked.

Oprah joined Weight Watchers® in August 2015, investing $43 million in the company in exchange for a seat on its board. By the end of January 2016, she filmed an ad claiming she had lost 26 lbs. eating bread every day.

I calculated she was losing 1-2 lbs. a week, which is reasonable, but hardly worthy of a media blitz, especially when you factored in how much Oprah needed to lose.

To provide some context, I followed the WW Points Plus® plan myself in 2012 and lost 50 pounds in 9 months.

So today we get this big announcement that Oprah has lost “more than” 40 pounds. Not “an additional” 40 pounds. Forty pounds total.

And if she actually lost “more than” 40, don’t you think she’d proudly give the exact number, like she did when it was 26?

So let’s do the math. She was down 26 in late January, and now 40 in late December. That’s 14 lbs. lost in 11 months.

Therefore, in 2016, her average loss has been 1.27 lbs. a MONTH. That’s 20.32 ounces. Averaging four weeks in a month, she’s been losing about 5 ounces a week.

And on that paltry progress, Oprah’s stake in the company grew to $77 million because the media didn’t do the math and put the story in proper perspective.

I’m really happy that Oprah feels she’s finally got the situation under control. I’ve been there. It’s a never-ending struggle.

What I have a problem with is Oprah growing even richer touting weight-loss results that would have most dieters in despair.

I once had a friend who’d say he could lose that much weight taking a good dump. Come to think of it, anybody could.


Bill Clinton’s 100 Percent Correct on Obamacare

October 6, 2016

By Karen

Bill Clinton’s catching hell for calling a certain aspect of the Affordable Care Act — NOT the whole program, mind you — “the craziest thing in the world.” And this is what he said (quotes taken from CNN)…

“But there is a group of people — mostly small business owners and employees — who make just a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid expansion or for the tax incentives who can’t get affordable health insurance premiums in a lot of places. And the reason is they’re not in big pools,” Clinton said. “So they have no bargaining power.”

“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world,” Clinton said.

I’m EXACTLY who he’s talking about. I’m a sole proprietor with individual health insurance, and I earn a little too much to qualify for any subsidy from the ACA.

In the past two years, my premium has gone up 52%. I’m still three years short of qualifying for Medicare, so I just dug into savings and paid off my mortgage because I fully expect my health insurance premium to become so crushing, I won’t be able to continue paying both.

Trump, of course, is cherry-picking Clinton’s statements as agreement with Republicans. That’s because Trump doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. All Trump’s said is he’d replace Obamacare with “something terrific.”

But Bill Clinton is spot-on about the ACA’s biggest weakness. I thank him for bringing it into the conversation.

Hillary favors adding a “public option,” but as long as greedy private insurers continue to gorge themselves at this trough, raising premiums AND collecting government subsidies, Americans will continue being screwed while having unaffordable access to healthcare.

The ONLY solution is a single-payer system — Medicare for all — with EVERYONE (including employers if they keep offering coverage to employees) paying into one central, not-for-profit pot. Done right, it would eliminate copays and deductibles. These are the additional costs that become deal-breakers when piled onto already-high premiums.

We’d ALL come out ahead in the long run.


Atkins Meal Makes Fasting a Better Option

March 28, 2016

By Karen

Since being on Weight Watchers®, I default to Lean Cuisine® or Smart Ones® frozen meals when I don’t feel like cooking. Anybody who eats these things knows they never quite look like the picture on the box. But my recent Atkins frozen meal took false advertising to a whole new level.

I tried Atkins because 1) I have a friend on a high-protein diet who says she’s flirting with size 6 and eats pork chops for lunch, and 2) the Atkins meals were on sale.

The Chicken Margherita pulled me in with this photo. By Weight Watchers standards, all that melted cheese qualifies as soft-core food porn…

AtkinsBox

But here’s what came out of the microwave…

IMG_0601

As porn goes, it was the culinary equivalent of two hairy, sweaty people with dirty feet doing it doggy-style on stained sheets with rats running around the bed.

I’m embarrassed to admit I ate it anyway because I hate to waste food — even greasy red and green globs laced with chewy chunks — and that it cost me 11 WW Points Plus (out of my 26-point daily allotment).

Dr. Atkins’ stomach should be turning in his grave.

The cats got the last laugh when my dinner looked, smelled, and tasted (according to them) a lot worse than any canned food I’ve ever served them — including the many flavors of Fancy Feast® they hate.

And an hour later, I needed a sandwich.


Apple’s Win Would be Terrorists’ Gain

February 23, 2016

By Karen

Apple’s refusal to help the FBI access San Bernadino mass-murderer Syed Farook’s iPhone is a joke. The world leader in creating innovative devices and software devised this super-tricky password feature that wipes an iPhone clean after 10 failed attempts to get in, and they want us to believe they don’t have the code to bypass it.

Well, I think they do — they just don’t want their customers to know it.

It’s like KFC claiming Colonel Sanders deleted ingredients from his secret formula for delicious fried chicken when he retired from the company, and they’re OK with that.

Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote an open letter to customers to justify Apple’s disingenuous stance. The implication is that Apple employs no one trustworthy enough not to steal the code and use it with evil intent, or sell it to the highest-bidding hacker. It’s just human nature.

It also implies that Apple itself can’t be trusted. Cook writes: “And while the government may argue that its (the code’s) use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

Apple’s been given permission to write their code in a closet, slip the results to the FBI through a crack under the door, and then immediately destroy the code.

But Apple thinks it will somehow become a “master key” out in the public domain that anyone may use to hack into any iPhone at any time.

Who could possibly be responsible for that happening except Apple?

It’s the old slippery slope tactic. You know, “If we let gays marry, people will be marrying their dogs next.”

Cook also claims: “The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

Does he really think none of this happens now? My iPad Mini tries to track my location every day.

There’s a supreme irony in Apple fighting to maintain the purity of the very devices its customers use to splash the illustrated minutiae of their lives all over the Internet.

And the government already has access to whatever crumbs are left. Let’s not kid ourselves. The TSA can even fondle your boobs and stick its hands down your pants.

If Tim Cook is allowed to obstruct justice and spit in the faces of the San Bernadino victims’ families, he’ll certainly gain a lock on the terrorist smartphone market. ISIS can rely on Apple’s protection, no matter how many slaughters are coordinated on iPhones.

But if one more dead terrorist turns up with another inviolable iPhone after another domestic massacre, I don’t think it would be remiss for the feds to charge Mr. Cook with aiding terrorists and being an accessory to murder before and after the fact.

 


How the South Can Help End the Madness

June 19, 2015

By Karen

I’ve read conflicting reports, so I’m unsure if Dylann Storm Roof legally bought a Glock with birthday money, or used a 45-caliber pistol his father gave him for his 21st birthday (because every unemployed 9th-grade dropout needs fire power, right?).

Either way, Roof shot and killed 9 total strangers at a bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, simply because they were black and Roof thinks he’s better than them.

What immediately followed were more futile pleas for strict gun control, a no-brainer in every other country. Unfortunately, we let the puniest-brained among us control that issue, and they love our reputation as the world’s most senselessly violent society.

Meanwhile, there’s one facet of this whole racist-serial-killer problem that might be easily rectified if anyone had the balls to mention it.

Today on CBS This Morning, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley said this country needs to have a conversation about race.

Well, DUH. Hasn’t she noticed we’ve been having that conversation since an almost-daily event has become white police officers killing defenseless black people (even in Charleston)?

What we really need is an intervention. Someone needs to tell the South to shut up about the Civil War. Instead of perpetually keeping it front and center, let’s finally bury it so future generations of clueless punks will have to do some research to fuel their baseless bigotry.

Roof grew up in Columbia, South Carolina, which proudly flies the Confederate flag. Roof has that flag on his “Confederate States of America” license plate.

I’m a New Englander who has lived in Virginia for 43 years, well over half my life. But I will never, EVER identify as a Southerner because I refuse any association whatsoever with the Civil War.

Yet Virginia marinates in it because Richmond was once the capital of the Confederacy. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union, and it got the war rolling with the first battle at Fort Sumter.

If South Carolina is anything like Virginia, it has preserved battlefields so lame-brained re-enactors can refight the old fights, secretly hoping they’ll have a different outcome and “the South shall rise again!”

You can’t swing a cat in Richmond without hitting a statue of some defeated Southern general. The Richmond Times-Dispatch manages to dredge up late-breaking Civil War “news” most days. And it recently ended an interminable reprinting of ancient daily war-time dispatches to commemorate the war’s 150th anniversary, or some such bullshit.

I do my best to ignore every bit of it.

The South persists in nurturing this delusion that there was something noble about the Civil War. It’s as abhorrent to anybody else as if Germans waxed nostalgic about how wonderful it was to be Nazis.

In both cases, an entire race was ritually abused and died in unimaginable circumstances at the hands of another race that believed itself superior. In both cases, the oppressors were white.

Glorifying the Civil War accomplishes nothing but to sow seeds of racism and blind hatred so they take root in empty minds like Dylann Roof’s.

The Civil War had no justification. Period. Nobody was ever born to become somebody else’s labor-saving appliance.

Until the South lets go of its bizarre need to paint the Civil War as “the good old days” and sincerely acknowledges the equality of blacks and all human souls, it will continue to spawn racist killers.


Let Hobby Lobby Hypocrisy Spell Bankruptcy

July 3, 2014

By Karen

The Supreme Court’s reliable misogynists stomped way over the line this time by giving national crafts chain Hobby Lobby the OK to impose its religious beliefs on its employees. No wait, not ALL its employees. Just the ones who don’t want to be pregnant every time they have sex.

It seems Hobby Lobby’s owners are good Christians and don’t believe in certain forms of contraception (morning-after pills and IUDs). However, they DO believe in profiting from these products by investing their employees’ retirement funds in the Big Pharma companies that make them.

Personally, I don’t think the Supreme Court went far enough. Once the 4 dissenting justices (Sotomayor, Kagan, Ginsberg, and Breyer) saw they couldn’t preserve women’s reproductive insurance coverage at Hobby Lobby, they should have argued for a fair ruling that extends to reproductive options for Hobby Lobby’s males — no more Viagra, Cialis, or vasectomy coverage.

The Supreme Court seems to take the founding principle that “all men are created equal” literally and not apply it to women. If we could somehow make that statement gender-neutral and these men knew their own rights would vanish every time they disenfranchised women, I bet men would suddenly have a lot fewer “deeply held religious beliefs.”

Companies are NOT churches, and when they’re allowed to act on Christian beliefs — or Jewish, Muslim, or other faiths — everybody but the males at the top ends up being inferior and undeserving of equal rights.

And that’s exactly the slippery slope the Supreme Court has left us on.

Hobby Lobby thinks it won this battle. But Cats Working stands squarely with actor George Takei and many others in calling for a boycott. Hobby Lobby must lose its war on women as a warning to corporate America, and our best ammunition is Chapter 7 bankruptcy.


Progressive Insurance Responds on Snapshot

June 2, 2014

By Karen

In March, I told you about driving around with Progressive Insurance’s Snapshot® device in my car, being monitored for 30 days, only to qualify for no discount on car insurance.

I snail-mailed the link to that post to Progressive’s president and CEO, Glenn Renwick. As you might expect, my letter was kicked to the bottom of the org chart to a “consumer relations specialist” I’ll call Susan.

Susan filled a page with boilerplate babble that didn’t address my concerns, which were:

1. Why does Progressive collect information they claim not to need?

2. What does it take to qualify for a discount if driving only about 50 non-rush-hour daylight miles total, a few days a week, doesn’t?

Susan opened with…

I’m writing on behalf of Glenn Renwick… Thank you for your letter and for taking the time to share your concerns.

Off to a great start, addressing my “concerns” with the usual empty corporate yada yada yada.

She went on to non-explain…

When you sign up to test drive our Snapshot® program, we display rapid acceleration in the overview of your driving habits, but it isn’t used in the calculation of your discount. We also don’t factor turns into our calculation.

She utterly failed to address WHY Progressive collects information it doesn’t need.

Finally, she got personal…

Snapshot® considers overall driving habits including miles driven, time of day, and the overall number of hard braking events. We define a hard brake as a decrease in speed of 7 mph/second. You had 25 hard breaking events within the 215 miles you drove during your 30 day trial. Your results didn’t yield a discount in our Snapshot® program. While we encourage our customers and potential customers to try the Snapshot® program, we don’t guarantee a discount.

She failed to acknowledge how seldom and little I drove, and that my braking behavior resulted in my not hitting anything. With Progressive, stopping for ANY reason must constitute bad driving.

She closed with…

I’m sorry for any frustration you’ve experienced… and gave her phone number in case I “have questions.”

“ANY frustration?” Didn’t my letter to the CEO give them a HINT?

This pathetic non-response didn’t resolve anything, and I stand by my belief that Progressive’s discount program is a sham, and anyone would do well to avoid it, if only to dodge the incessant online advertising it generates.


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