He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.


David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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62 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    You are the former and/or current Tony Comstock, then.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I miss the old Poulos. Sorry to say it, but I do.Report

    • Avatar J.L. Wall in reply to Rufus F. says:

      He writes sentences that are comprehensible to the masses now.  Sellout.

      (This is my way of agreeing with you.)Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to J.L. Wall says:

        You know, it’s not exactly his writing style, although maybe it is that too. It’s more that his writing used to be challenging to me- I had to stop and wrestle with it, even if I disagreed vehemently, which I often did. I was hoping he would continue with that trend and write challenging books and push into the academy. But most of the stuff I see from him now is More of the Same. It’s very well written More of the Same. But I don’t feel much obligation to wrestle with it. I keep wondering if this is what happens with people who set out to swim against the tidal wave of stultifying and unserious media and culture- do they eventually become another node in the same board?Report

  3. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    Marion Nestle writes the USDA “has defined what ‘natural’ means for meat and poultry products” and suggests that the FDA should follow suit, arguing that for marketing and labeling foods the FDA should institute a standard to help inform consumers. I don’t understand why her suggestion is unbelievably careless. I don’t know what else Neslte has advocated for, but this particular measure seem aimed at helping consumers make more informed choices, like (ultimately unsuccessful) efforts in the European Union to require front of package nutritional information (Reuters).Report

  4. Avatar Pat Cahalan says:

    Does the weight increase affect anything else?  Lifejacket size ratios, or anything of that nature?Report

    • Avatar David Ryan in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

      What lifesaving equipment is required on what boats, on what routes and at what time of year is a whole other discussion, but briefly:

      So far as I know the change in average passenger weight has not changed PFD design. Among other considerations, PFDs are rated by pound of buoyancy, and boats carrying passengers for hire are required to carry Type I PFDs, rather than the Type II or Type III that are most popular with recreational boater because of cost and comfort respectively. Not surprisingly, Type I PFD are both costly and uncomfortable.Report

      • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to David Ryan says:

        Boats carrying passengers for hire are required to carry Type I PFDs, rather than the Type II or Type III that are most popular with recreational boater

        That was my uneducated guess.  Nice to know I can still uneducated guess correctly.

        Someone I know in the restaurant biz told me that the most unfortunately complicated regs are related to the lavatory.  Now, that may very well be a joke, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

        Similarly, it would be no surprise whatsoever if that was the case on a boat.

        Also, as long as we’re delving into “what it takes to take people out on the water”: how much do Americans with Disabilities bits affect you and yours?Report

  5. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    David, I’m trying to get the Bill Bennett connection.  Is it the Republicans’ fault you’re fat?Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


      It comes down to having the discipline to put the fork down. Govt can’t do it for you despite what liberals think.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Scott says:

        Government can help though. Government can help ensure you have more readily accessible information to make comparisons. For instance requiring traffic light food labeling on the front of product packages is one suggested government intervention, red, yellow, green indicators for things like sugar, salt, and fat. People might have a general sense that a given product is unhealthy, but not clearly understood how unhealthy something is. Also, clearer labeling systems give consumers an opportunity to more easily comparison shop in the grocery store. Another government intervention would be straightforward taxation of unhealthy products like alcohol and junk foods.

        Findings: General price increases were effective for reduction of consumption, health-care costs, and health-related quality of life losses in all population subgroups. Minimum pricing policies can maintain this level of effectiveness for harmful drinkers while reducing effects on consumer spending for moderate drinkers. Total bans of supermarket and off-license discounting are effective but banning only large discounts has little effect. Young adult drinkers aged 18—24 years are especially affected by policies that raise prices in pubs and bars.

        Interpretation: Minimum pricing policies and discounting restrictions might warrant further consideration because both strategies are estimated to reduce alcohol consumption, and related health harms and costs, with drinker spending increases targeting those who incur most harm.

        The Lancet, “Estimated effect of alcohol pricing policies on health and health economic outcomes in England: an epidemiological model” by Robin C. Purshouse, Petra S. Meier, Alan Brennan, Karl B. Taylor, and Rachid Rafa, published March 24, 2010

        Conclusion: Policy-based population-wide interventions such as traffic-light nutrition labelling and taxes on unhealthy foods are likely to offer excellent ‘value for money’ as obesity prevention measures.

        International Journal of Obesity, “‘Traffic-light’ nutrition labelling and ‘junk-food’ tax: a modelled comparison of cost-effectiveness for obesity prevention”, by G. Sacks, J.L. Veerman, M. Moodie, and B. Swinburn, published Novermber 16, 2010


  6. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Great post, but I may disagree with you about your last point:

    Meanwhile, over at The Atlantic, Marion Nestle has recently called for the government to regulate the word “natural”. This is part of Professor Nestle’s ongoing campaign to regulated us into Correct eating habits and Good health, but it strikes me as an unbelievably careless thought.

    I think this is a case where an assumption that liberals want to control your life is coloring your interpretation of why people support these kinds of laws.  I live in a pretty “Everyone Be Healthy!” city and so these kinds of regs are popular here.  But support of these regs has little or nothing to do with a desire to force people to eat what they don’t want to eat, and more to do with allowing people to eat what they do want.

    Consumer pushes to have standards about food that is labelled organic, natural, fat free, etc. exist because food processing companies have historically used these labels in very purposefully dishonest ways.  Taking a cow that is raised in an industrial complex using industrial methods is, as far as I’m concerned, all fine and well.  Grinding up half of that cow and selling it at Safeway for more money with the label “Organically Grown” isn’t, especially since there are very real health concerns that can enter into the choice to buy organic meat.  I’m not sure that I understand the objections of regulations that say that a company that primarily uses artificial chemicals in their processing cannot turn around and sell that food as “All Natural.”

    Which is not to say that governmental regulations can’t fish things  up; the national standards that control what can and can’t be called organic were practically written by the food processing industry.  But I think it’s important to note that the intention behind the regs you’re discussing here isn’t to make buying a hamburger illegal; it’s to make sure that companies are required to be honest with their customers about what is in the food that they process, and how it is processed.Report

  7. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Benjamin Franklin, famously, had a checklist of virtues he used to mark himself on each day in an effort to achieve moral perfection. They were: Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility. A lot of people tried to follow those virtues. My grandfather, for instance, was a devotee. Is something like this what you mean by a more complete litany of virtues?Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Food used to be a private thing that other people had no business judging and sex was the thing that would have the force of social disapproval if you went outside of a small handful of acceptable behaviors.

    They seem to be in the process of switching places.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

      I wonder which one gets more kilobytes in Leviticus.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

      Jay, as a semi-pro history obsessive, I am legally required to ask in exasperation, “When you say ‘used to be’, exactly what &#^$@ time period are you referring to?!?! And, so help me God, if you answer with ‘the past’, ‘in the mists of time’, or ‘antiquity’, I will give you a failing grade and send you to detention.”

      I hope you understand.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

        It seems to me that, when I was a kid, people were disapproving of affairs, homosexuality, and pretty much anything that wasn’t monogamy-with-the-intent-of-finding-a-spouse.

        Now one hears the arguments that one’s sexuality is not the business of others. If two folks are gay, it’s none of your business. If two folks are poly, it’s none of your business. If someone is pounding one out with his constituents over the internet, well, we don’t know what kind of relationship that he and his wife have and so we shouldn’t judge.

        It also seems to me that food choices were much more private when I was a kid. Disapproving of Crisco vs. Lard vs. Canola Oil was unheard of. Folks might judge you for being *FAT*, but that was because you were fat.

        Now we see things such as serious suggestions about the government regulating the use of the word “natural” with regards to food… and we see arguments that this is right and proper.

        Maybe my childhood isn’t particularly representative, of course.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jaybird says:

          Cause you’re such a youngsterReport

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

          From what I surmise, your childhood was idyllic, especially if it produced you as an adult. Not that my experience differs greatly and I assume we’re about the same age.

          I don’t want to talk for David here, but I get the feeling that he’s talking about something more encompassing than healthy eating and not at all tub-thumping for regulation. What I think he’s getting at is the concept of individual virtue, which has been understood in a fairly encompassing way, covering all sorts of behaviors and attitudes- by which I mean definitely during the 18th and 19th centuries in the US and into the 20th, although arguably not far into the second half of the century. At any rate, that is what William Bennett is talking about. I think David’s suggestion is that many social conservatives pick and choose what virtues are worth practicing or preaching, with temperance in eating coming in pretty low on the list for the American audience, and not lying with another man coming in very high on the list.Report

        • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Jaybird says:

          The shape of public health concern need change according to the different diseases that afflict the population, as the leading causes of disease change the public health response of the government changes. If smoking is a leading killer, then expect a concerted effort against smoking. Since obesity has emerged as a major problem, heart disease, diabetes, etc., public health measures will be directed at that. Food has been an area of federal level action for quite some time, the FDA and its forebears are more than a century old and labeling legislation is now several decades old. I’d also guess that innovations in the food industry could prompt the need for cordoning off some foodstuffs as “natural” and others as not so much.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Creon Critic says:

            I’m sure that it will work as well as the war on poverty, the war on drugs, and the war on terror.Report

            • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Jaybird says:

              Hasn’t the war on poverty significantly reduced poverty amongst the older population? Also, the Labour government in the UK, up until the Great Recession, had made significant inroads in combating child poverty. In the public health domain, smoking is a lot less prevalent than it used to be in the US in decades past. I think a public health approach to drugs would do a great deal of good.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Shit, I don’t need the Wall Street Journal to tell me that!Report

              • That’s a good point to put into the mix. But outweighed, to me, by the broader public health consequences of cheap alcohol and tobacco. The Lancet piece describes an intervention that is especially targeted at those abusing alcohol, largely avoiding impacting the general public, mandatory minimum pricing per unit of alcohol. Also, there are non-tax measures, Australia’s proposal to remove branding from cigarette packaging, or other measures from public awareness campaigns to prohibitions on sponsorships and advertising in certain circumstances, and limits on the level of nicotine in cigarettes. Overall, I view both non-communicable disease and communicable diseases as worthy of (proportionate) public health interventions.Report

  9. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Sort of in that vein, here’s a delightful depiction of a glutton by Samuel Butler that I found in this book of 17th century character writings:

    A GLUTTON eats his Children, as the Poets say Saturn did, and carries his Felicity and all his Concernments in his Paunch. If he had lived when all the Members of the Body rebelled against the Stomach, there had been no Possibility of Accommodation. His Entrails are like the Sarcophagus, that devours dead Bodies in a small Space, or the Indian Zampatan, that consumes Flesh in a Moment. He is a great Dish made on Purpose to carry Meat. He eats out his own Head and his Horses too—He knows no Grace, but Grace before Meat, nor Mortification but in fasting. If the Body be the Tabernacle of the Soul, he lives in a Sutler’s Hut. He celebrates Mass, or rather Mess, to the Idol in his Belly, and, like a Papist, eats his Adoration. A third Course is the third Heaven to him, and he is ravished into it. A Feast is a good Conscience to him; and he is troubled in Mind, when he misses of it. His Teeth are very industrious in their calling; and his Chops like a Bridewell perpetually hatcheling. He depraves his Appetite with Haut-Gousts, as old Fornicators do their Lechery, into Fulsomness and Stinks. He licks himself into the Shape of a Bear, as those Beasts are said to do their Whelps. He new forms himself in his own Belly, and becomes another Thing than God and Nature meant him. His Belly takes Place of the Rest of his Members, and walks before in State. He eats out that which eats all Things else, Time; and is very curious to have all Things in Season at his Meals, but his Hours, which are commonly at Midnight, and so late, that he prays too late for his daily Bread, unless he mean his natural daily Bread. He is admirably learned in the Doctrines of Meats and Sauces, and deserves the Chair in Juris-Prudentia, that is in the Skill of Pottages. At length he eats his Life out of House and Home, and becomes a Treat for Worms, sells his Cloaths to feed his Gluttony, and eats himself naked, as the first of his Family, Adam, did.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

      And after abandoning that, we can pick it back up, repackage it, and make it something more appropriate for the 21st Century.



      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

        Well, obviously that’s not where I was going with that, but I assume you know that and are just commenting on something else or someone else.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

          I’ll restate from the beginnings of my recollections then:

          When I was a kid, what one ate was NOYB and sex was something that society in general was allowed to have opinions on.

          Now it seems that we’re becoming a society where sex is NOYB and food is something that society in general is allowed to have opinions on.

          It’s certainly true that Christians had a deadly sin called Gluttony at one point and it also seems to me that that sin was abandoned at some point prior to my childhood… and it also seems that the old sin is being brought back with new and improved marketing for a modern generation.

          I wonder what we do today that is considered NOYB that will obviously be something that we, as a society, will be expected to care about tomorrow?

          My own, personal, conclusion is that it will also be a matter of taste.Report

          • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Jaybird says:

            Sex too is the subject of public health concern, it is just a different kind of public health concern – and fraught territory given the culture wars. But safe sex messages abound, and on my college campus free condoms were readily available, from RAs, at the student health center, and the student union. But for the culture wars, I think sex education in America would be a really useful tool in improving sexual health. At high school age I recall seeing some sex education materials from the Netherlands, Americans would have a huge battle on their hands if sexual health were addressed in such an explicit manner.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

            Sex is still everyone’s business, as you may have noticed the last time you tried to have sex in the shower with a ten-year-old boy. We’re just allowed to make public allusions to the fact that there are more kinds of sex than the missionary position.

            And people have been getting snorky about other people’s consumption choices since the first distillery was invented. The Temperance Movement has always been with us; it’s just given up on alcohol and moved to butter and carbs.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

              The temperance movement went after stuff that made you feel good. (Hey, feeling good is the reward for being good. It shouldn’t be available in a dang bottle!)

              The new movement is now going after stuff that merely tastes good.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

                But eating stuff that tastes good feels so good!Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

                Okay, you’re arguing against this new temperance movement. So, is there a widespread movement to ban junk food in the United States analogous to the movement to ban the sale of alcohol? Given that there’s a bit of everything down there, I’d imagine there probably is. How successful have they been? The last time I was in the US (Thursday), I got the impression that junk food is winning.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Further to this “progress” thing, you know, I assume, that cultures don’t progress- they just change. One of the biggest misconceptions we got from the Enlightenment was that there’s some sort of similar process analogous to technological change going on with culture. So, if a word processor really is an advance on a typewriter, then the cultural norms of today must be an advance on those of the previous generation in some sort of upward slope. After all, we’re getting wiser each generation, right? Approaching some sort of perfection? The arc of history bending towards justice? No. There is no arc of history- it has no direction. Culture isn’t becoming perfected; nor is it in decline. To believe all of that, you have to believe in teleology and that history has a direction, which means you have to also imagine yourself able to predict the future. Good luck. But the differences between generations are just that- differences. Humans have an endless fascination with novelty. If you hate something in this generation, chances are their kids will reject it. Boredom actually is a historical force.

                Doesn’t mean it’s progress or decline. I find that, if you don’t believe in teleologies of cultural progress, it’s hard to see eye to eye with liberals and, if you don’t believe in teleologies of cultural decline, it’s hard to see eye to eye with conservatives.Report

              • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Life expectancy, rates of communicable disease, literacy rates, crime rates, corruption perceptions, frequency of Great Power war, opportunities for minorities and women – isn’t progress shorthand for an overlapping consensus on a set of things we want to prevent or promote. Some are associated with technological change, but some are associated with social/cultural change. Observers should keep in mind the pitfalls of “Music these days, terrible!” thinking, but there are metrics that’re pretty useful in other domains.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Creon Critic says:

                It’s not a bad metric, but it can easily become a sort of self-satisfied status quo thinking akin to nationalism. I see this all the time with my students. There are plenty of things they’d like to change, but they’re also comfortable in the knowledge that the culture was always a lot less enlightened than we are right now. You’d think the number 1 profession throughout all of human history until their birth was “angry, torch-wielding peasant”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F. says:

                I find that, if you don’t believe in teleologies of cultural progress, it’s hard to see eye to eye with liberals and, if you don’t believe in teleologies of cultural decline, it’s hard to see eye to eye with conservatives.

                Libertarianism in a nutshell.

                When I look at a thing and see that it’s a matter of taste (and therefore NOYB), it seems that both sides are upset with me for not seeing it as a matter of morality that one side sees that I ought to condemn and the other that I ought to endorse.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah, there are some other reasons that I don’t consider myself much of a liberal or a conservative too. There are reasons too that I don’t consider myself much of a libertarian, although I’ll hold my tongue so we don’t end up with another 500+ comment thread. Also, I’m still not sure if my qualms with libertarianism aren’t mostly stylistic.Report

      • Avatar Creon Critic in reply to Jaybird says:

        Public health professionals aren’t publishing warnings in JAMA and the like because they’re moved to make a more virtuous society. They are not repackaging mores from earlier eras, they are issuing warnings about the causes of disease in our era. Warnings supported by evidence. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice for instance grounds its findings in a very different evidentiary base and reasoning than those with the prevention of disease in mind. Were the problem in the US widespread malnutrition due to insufficient caloric intake, then the public health advice would be about supporting ways to eat more. The junk food (or alcohol) itself has no particular valence, moral or otherwise. Were junk food mark two invented tomorrow, tasty with no negative health consequences, the public health minded would move on to other causes of disease. Thus there is no repacking of ideas about gluttony here, merely concern with the causes of serious illness.Report