- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 11, 2005

Don’t blame ‘toons

“On Tuesday, the Institute of Medicine issued a long-awaited report — requested by Senator Tom Harkin (D., Iowa), not coincidentally — that accused food companies of using popular cartoon characters and other dirty tricks to manipulate children into buying junk food and becoming obese. The institute demanded that advertisers either change their practices within the next two years or be subjected to a new round of federal regulation of what children can see and hear about food.

“The report generated a flurry of news stories across the country, virtually of them uncritically passing along the institute’s purported findings and assumptions. …

“[A]nyone who has children knows that ads and packages help to shape children’s requests for the latest snack foods or menu items. It is a big leap from that fact to proof of a causal relationship between, say, Sponge Bob exhorting kids on TV to eat Pop Tarts and kids getting fat. …

“That some kids ask for Shrek-brand cereal becomes a health problem only if they are allowed to stuff themselves with it.”

— John Hood, writing on “Free SpongeBob,” Thursday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Strike a blow

“J. Crew recently bowed to pressure from animal-rights activists and stopped selling fur after People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals staged an 11-week protest against the retailer. Yes, ‘Christmas’ isn’t the only thing taking it on the chin this winter.

“Want to strike a blow against political correctness, assert your independence and help the one class of farmers who are not looking for government handouts? Buy fur. There is nothing that exasperates the radical left more than a woman or a man wearing a fur coat or jacket.

“Fur makes a woman look glamorous and a man look macho. …

“Some misguided folks think they are doing their bit for Mother Nature by wearing faux fur. Have any idea how many gallons of petroleum it takes to make all this stuff?”

— Jane Chastain, writing on “Have yourself a furry little Christmas,” Thursday in WorldNetDaily at www.worldnetdaily.com

Familiar tale

“Years ago, George Harrison had a one-line cameo on ‘The Simpsons.’ The cartoon George pulled up in a limo, saw Homer and an ensemble called the Be Sharps performing on the rooftop of Moe’s, and, recalling the finale of ‘Let It Be,’ quipped, ‘It’s been done.’ Now that Little, Brown has unloaded Bob Spitz’s 983-page book ‘The Beatles: The Biography,’ I’m tempted to say the same thing.

“Eight years in the making, Spitz’s book is chock-full of interviews with hangers-on, siblings, groupies, Apple employees, and any other random bloke or bird who happened to be in Liverpool or Savile Row at the right moment. … The biggest scoop he scored is a lass named Dot who divulges her tale of getting impregnated by … McCartney on the eve of Beatlemania, only to miscarry. For most of this hardbound doorstop, though, the interview subjects recycle familiar stories and facts, and Spitz, certainly diligent and professional, presents the standard line. John met Paul and met George. They fired Pete and hired Ringo. Girls screamed, acid was dropped, John said accurately that they were bigger than Jesus, they all lived in a Yellow Submarine, then Paul couldn’t get along with Yoko and Ringo was eventually cast as a small conductor in ‘Shining Time Station.’ We’ve seen that road before.”

— David Yaffe, writing on “It’s All Too Much,” Thursday in Slate at www.slate.com

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