Friday, September 12, 2008

Here's the thing with me: I don't express emotions very well. When something terrible happens, I have a huge range of complex feelings that I simply don't know how to properly get out of me, so I end up making jokes, however inappropriately, because that's an emotional response that comes easily to me. Even right now, I'm writing and deleting wisecracks in this blog-post, because after seven years, I'm still emotionally retarded about 9/11. So, for me, and hopefully for you, there's some value in revisiting the September 20, 2001 Daily Show in its entirety.

Kanye West arrested after scuffle at airport

Kanye West’s notoriously fickle temper boiled over Thursday, resulting in his arrest for apparently helping smash a paparazzo’s camera on the floor at Los Angeles International Airport.

Police arrested the music superstar shortly before 8 a.m. He and his manager, Don Crowley, were booked for investigation of felony vandalism, although prosecutors will determine what charges they might face.

West was released from police custody by Thursday afternoon. Blair Berk, who was retained as his attorney, said she couldn’t comment on the incident.Clips of the video shot by the celebrity gossip site TMZ shows West and Crowley grabbing the camera from a photographer, who is yelling “Police! Police!” and “Help me!” After they wrest it away, it appears that the manager smashes the camera to the ground, and the rapper follows by slamming down a flash.

Crowley is then seen accosting the TMZ videographer who’s shooting the footage. The video camera was broken in the scuffle before security intervened, the Web site reported.

The video starts mid-confrontation, and doesn’t show how it began or what might have caused it to escalate.

Los Angeles International Airport spokesman Marshall Lowe said West and Crowley were scheduled to board a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii on Thursday morning. They had not yet reached a security screening checkpoint when the altercation began.

The airport is a popular spot for the paparazzi, who frequently catch shots of Britney Spears and other celebrities arriving and leaving Los Angeles.

Charles Davis, who solicits charity donations at the airport, said he witnessed the incident, and that West was “attacked” by paparazzi, and the rapper “just defended himself.”

“I talk to him all the time,” Davis said. “He’s a very nice gentleman. Very nice. He gives good donations to help children. He’s got a good, kind heart. I’ve gotten his autograph several times. I just don’t see why he was arrested. The man just put the camera too close to his face. I don’t blame him.”

Davis said he didn’t think the camera was destroyed.

“It was just knocked out of the man’s hand,” he said.

Lowe said police at the airport interviewed witnesses and that West and Crowley were then sent to a nearby Los Angeles Police Department station for booking. West left that police station in a black Chevrolet Suburban by midafternoon, shielded by umbrellas so that photographers couldn’t get a shot. He did not give a statement to reporters.

West, who rocketed to stardom in 2004 with his album “The College Dropout” and follow-ups “Late Registration” and “Graduation,” has become well-known for his temper tantrums, skewering everyone from MTV to President Bush while the cameras rolled.

But before the Thursday incident at LAX’s Terminal 4, his many blowups had always been verbal — making headlines rather than police blotter.

West appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night, which was held at the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood. His performance of a new song concluded the show and represented a reconciliation with the network after a high-profile tiff last year.

Why Thin Will Always Be In

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that not all overweight people are necessarily at higher risk for cardiovascular diseases. This is being translated into headlines like, "Fit and Fat: Study Shows It's Possible."

Of course it's possible; doctors have known for many years that not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy. A person's overall fitness is more important to his or her health than numbers on the scale. For example, most professional football players would be considered overweight, yet they are healthier than average because of their level of fitness.

But the problem is that most Americans aren't like professional football players.

Most Americans — fat or thin — are not eating healthy diets, nor are they getting enough exercise. Physically active people are both fitter and thinner than people who do not exercise regularly. Researchers caution that the recent study does not show that being overweight is healthy; in fact, fat people had twice the heart risk as thin people.

Is big beautiful?

There's also of course a social element to obesity. As a nation we keep getting fatter, and for some people that's not a bad thing. Fat-acceptance groups and activists have tried for years to encourage the idea that fat is sexy. Countless books with titles like "Fat Chicks Rule!" and "Embracing Your Fat Ass" promote the message that big is beautiful. While their empowerment message is mixed (it's good to have a positive self-image, but accepting your extra weight may take years off your life), the truth is that the effort has failed.

While there is anti-fat bias in the media, anti-thin bias exists as well: Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, the Olsen twins, and Lindsay Lohan have been regularly mocked and criticized for their thinness. On late night talk shows you are far more likely to hear a joke about how thin Nicole Richie is than a fat joke about how heavy Queen Latifah is.

Ideals of beauty change somewhat over time, but the simple fact is that proponents of plus-size preference have failed to convince America that fat is beautiful. They have tried for years to make fat as sexy as thin. It's no secret that thin people are considered more attractive than fat people.

But thin will always be in, for a few simple reasons.

Supply and demand

The first is simple supply and demand. This is pretty easy to grasp — things that are rare (whether diamonds, Picassos, or people with extraordinary sports ability) tend to be more highly valued than things that are common. In our culture (and in many others around the world), the vast majority of people are overweight or obese. Because the average person is overweight, thinner people are by definition rarer, and therefore more in demand. And the fatter our country gets, the more valued thin people will be, based on body shape alone. This isn't a value judgment of worth, it's basic economics.

There's also an evolutionary perspective.

At one point in our evolution, people who were heavier than average were prized as mates, clearly having access to food and resources. That is no longer true, and today obesity is instead a strong predictor of health problems; the person of normal weight is, on average, healthier than his or her overweight counterpart. All animals, including humans, choose partners partly (if subconsciously) on reproductive fitness: will this person be healthy enough to carry on my genes?

Note that this bias also works against very thin people. Men are less attracted to unhealthily thin women for the same reason. Studies done by researcher Devendra Singh show that when men are asked to rate the attractiveness of silhouettes of womens' bodies, they overwhelmingly pick the silhouette corresponding with the healthiest weight for women — not too thin, not too fat.

Of course, body shape is only one factor of many, and most overweight people find happiness and love. Being thin is no guarantee of being happy, attractive, or healthy. But, like it or not, there is — and always will be — an advantage to being thin.

Ever wonder if your doctor is laughing at you?

You're sick, in the hospital, or maybe even undergoing surgery. The last thing you want to contemplate is the thought that your doctor might be making fun of your toe rings while you're anesthetized.

Hospitals want to make sure that more seasoned doctors don't promote or further unprofessional behavior.

Hospitals want to make sure that more seasoned doctors don't promote or further unprofessional behavior.

But does it happen? Yes. According to a survey of doctors starting a residency in internal medicine, 17 percent had -- along with their colleagues--made fun of a patient, sometimes when the patient was under.

Egad. Is nothing sacred? The good news, though, is that 94% of the 110 medical interns who took the anonymous survey realized that such behavior was inappropriate, according to a research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That means that only seven doctors in the survey thought that type of behavior was A-OK.

I guess it's not that surprising, given the behavior of our on-air favorites. From "Grey's Anatomy" to "House," the overwhelming warts-and-all portrait seems to be this: Doctors are human. They fall in love, they get angry, and they like a good chuckle -- sometimes at the patient's expense.

Is it so surprising that some of those bad on-air behaviors might occur in real life too? Guide to preventing medical mistakes

Is unprofessional behavior more common than in the past?

Television shows from yesteryear, such as "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "Dr. Kildare," presented doctors as somber and ultraprofessional, but that doesn't mean that unprofessional behavior is a new problem, says study author Vineet Arora, M.D., an assistant dean at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago.

"Those shows projected a much more professional image," she tells me, but "to say that this is a new phenomenon would not be correct."

Learning respect and discretion are part of the so-called hidden curriculum -- all of the things doctors learn on-the-job that don't have to do with diagnosing and treating diseases. How to get your doctor to take your pain seriously

Hospitals want to make sure that more seasoned doctors don't promote or perpetuate unprofessional behavior and that newly minted M.D.s -- like those surveyed -- learn what is appropriate and inappropriate by the time they finish their residency, the training period after medical school.

While the teaching hospitals aren't trying to drain all the humor out of the residency experience, they want to teach doctors where to draw the line. "I do think there are examples of really good-natured humor that is therapeutic, but not at someone's expense," she says.

And laughter at a patient's expense could compromise care, says Dr. Arora.

"What if you were a patient and someone made fun of you behind your back?" she says. "You trust somebody to care for you and you would wonder about their ability to be objective and truly care for you." Five surgeries to avoid

Dr. Arora couldn't say whether the behavior of TV doctors -- such as Dr. House -- influences real-life doctors in any way. "That's an interesting question," she says. But TV programs do influence the public's image of doctors.

"Certainly media portrayal of physicians definitely has an impact on the public perception of physicians," she says.

Burnout may contribute to unprofessional behavior

Dr. Arora suspects that sleep deprivation and burnout are part of the problem. Doctors who behave unprofessionally, she explains, might have troubles of their own.

"There's a lot of good data to suggest that people who are sleep-deprived in these settings do have more staff conflicts and burnouts and could possibly even further exacerbate unprofessional behavior," she says. What to look for in a medical specialist

And there are more serious behavioral problems -- aside from laughing at patients.

The survey included questions about behavior that is frowned upon, such as attending a pharmaceutical-sponsored dinner or social event (69%), as well as behaviors that are considered egregious, including falsifying patient records (13%), and reporting patient test results as "normal" when unsure of the true results (10%).

"Those are examples that would compromise patient safety," Dr. Arora says.

An unprofessional demeanor in residency could spell trouble for your entire career, she adds. Research has shown that those with poor ratings on professional behavior early in their careers are at greater risk of disciplinary action later on

Wendy's Takes First Stab at Viral Video With 'Crazy Lettuce'

When it comes to fast-feeders, the quirky viral video has largely been the domain of Burger King. But square-burger marketer Wendy's is trying to get the buzz headed its way with a new video called "Crazy Lettuce."

Crazy Lettuce
In the viral video 'Crazy Lettuce,' a head of lettuce devours a Baconator sandwich.

The viral concept was spun out of TV spots the shop created. In one, a man shuns a bite of salad offered by the woman across the table. "I can't eat that," he says. "I'm a meatatarian." In an effort to co-op the meatatarian message, Wendy's worked with Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, on the video, which shows a head of lettuce devouring a Baconator sandwich (two beef patties, two slices of cheese and six slices of bacon). The work is its first effort in the space and a stark departure for the chain, which made its name by way of simple homespun ads by the company's founder, Dave Thomas.

So far, results for the film are mixed. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive on MySpace, where it has received 82,000 views, and heavily negative on YouTube, where it picked up about 16,000.

Anti-marketing demographic
It could be a matter of audience. Jeff Taylor, a 23-year-old who blogs at, said he doesn't think the video will track with Gen Y. He noted that it has yet to have any imitators, a key indicator of success. Another thing that could work against it: The finicky demographic hates to be marketed to, and on YouTube, the film is prominently flagged as a viral video for Wendy's.

"They don't appreciate campaigns that are overtly 'We're trying to get you to share this video,'" said Mr. Taylor. "They'll kind of push back if they decide the campaign is supposed to be viral from the start."

But on MySpace, many of the commentators claim to love the video. One user, L. Kay, wrote, "I have to keep watching it over, and over, and over again! Genius!"

Izzy DeBellis, executive creative director at Kirshenbaum, said the effort is aimed at a "psychographic" rather than a demographic. "That would seem like the obvious thing, but I don't think that's Wendy's in general. We're not targeting solely an 18- to 24-year-old target," he said. (The chain is known to have an older-than-average core customer.) What it is looking for, said Mr. DeBellis, are serious meat-eaters.

The big idea
He said that the idea of a "meatatarian" kept rising to the top as his team was looking for ways to promote the Baconator. "We loved the idea of something that was bigger than a TV commercial or one word on a billboard," he said.

Mr. DeBellis said it's difficult to set a bar for success for "Crazy Lettuce," which was done for $25,000, while the average TV commercial costs more than $300,000.

Wendy's could use a home run. Second-quarter net income fell 32% on higher commodity costs and sluggish sales. Same-store sales were up only 0.1% at company-owned restaurants, and 1.1% at franchised locations.