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DAVIDSON: Can Un-hardy Americans Lead By Example, In the World?

As a populace, will we ever return to an adequate level of fitness?

Jeff Davidson

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I could not have imagined 35 years ago how un-hardy Americans have become. If individually, legions of us have grown soft and become couch potatoes who fill our faces every night, watching our favorite Netflix series, collectively, as a nation, can we maintain a leadership position to which others aspire?

As its citizens go, so goes a nation. Not everyone has to become a marathoner, or finish a five-mile swim. Still, as median weights have risen up and up and up over the last several decades, one has to wonder: Is there any leveling off point? Will there ever be a time when we return to a level of fitness, collectively, of which we can be proud?

A Pretty Great Generation

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I’m on board a cruise ship years back with nearly 3000 other passengers. As with the rest of the U.S. and increasingly the rest of the world, two thirds of the passengers are overweight, and about half of that group is obese. I’m a baby boomer, among those born between 1946 and 1964. Most of the passengers on board are older than I am.

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Of this older cohort, many fit the overweight or obese category. Most of these older passengers appear to be born between 1929 and 1945. In other words, they were not old enough to be in World War II. The 17 or 18 year old World War II veterans were born in 1927 or 1928. Older veterans, of course, were born earlier than that. Since few people appear to be in their mid- to late 80s or beyond, it’s a safe bet that few World War II veterans are on board.

The realization hits me: The “greatest generation,” those who fought in World War II, and the “least remarkable generation,” the baby boomers of which I am one, are separated by a half-generation, which I’ll call “tweeners,” born in the late 1920s to 1945.

Tweeners

The tweeners did not fight in World War II – it was their parents or their grandparents. Some fought in the Korean War and even Vietnam, but the total number of U.S troops in those wars was considerably less than in World War II.

Most tweeners benefitted from the sacrifices of the generations before them. They grew up during the boom times of the 1950s and early 60s. Where, however, is their hardiness? Not that hardiness is dependent upon having served in the military. Still, how did these tweeners become the least healthy people in our society?

The individuals that I saw on this and many other cruises, in their late 60s to early 80s, were distinct from the handful of those in the greatest generation. Those born earlier than, say, 1929 were more vigorous, tended to be more agile, certainly more slender and, in many cases, healthier than the tweeners. Okay, the cruise crowd might well be different than the rest of the population, but not by much.

Fanny Packs Galore

On occasion, I had the opportunity to discuss my observations about American hardiness with crew members. The crew members themselves – they are often Indonesian, Indians, or Filipinos – are hardy types. They work for a living in ways that the typical American probably does not. There is no obesity among them, and hardly anyone is overweight.

I asked crew members if it is easy to spot Americans because we tend to be, well, so large. They smile, but they say nothing. I presume that they cannot make disparaging remarks about any class of passengers, even if given the green light to do so. Crew members, indeed, are used to seeing portly Americans. They’ve seen literally thousands of Americans who can’t fit in bus seats, or cannot make their way up three steps. Crew members know too well what a fanny pack is.

The crew is used to seeing tweener-aged American women with beer bellies that once were ‘reserved,’ seemingly, only for their male counterparts. The crew is used to seeing Americans in this cohort with canes, walkers, or elastic stockings, in clothing so large that there is enough material for two normal sized people.

Just Another Day

Unlike me, the crew doesn’t question the phenomenon any longer, if they once did. To them, it is business as usual. Once this cruise ends, a whole new swarm of passengers will populate the ship, with the same physical dimensions and maladies as described above.

Three and a half decades ago, in general, American hardiness was a defining characteristic. What have we become?

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DA Says Andrew Brown Shooting was ‘Justified’, ‘Tragic’

New video evidence was released on Tuesday to explain the justification.

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Weeks ago, the small town of Elizabeth City, North Carolina was rocked by another police-involved shooting of an unarmed man named Andrew Brown Jr. Police had arrived to execute an arrest warrant on Brown, who had attempted to flee the scene when he was shot by officers.  Lawyers for Brown’s family suggested that the shooting was an “execution”, and demanded that authorities release body cam footage of the killing to the public. Now, the county’s district attorney has stated that, while the incident was certainly “tragic”, the police officers were justified in their use of force. North Carolina District Attorney Andrew Womble said at a press conference on Tuesday that the deputy-involved shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. “while tragic, was justified” – and no law enforcement officers will be criminally charged in the case. Womble, the elected district attorney for Judicial District 1, which covers seven counties of the northeastern part of the state, said that Brown was shot at by three Pasquotank deputies, whose actions were “justified because Brown’s actions caused deputies to reasonably believe it necessary to use force to protect themselves and others.” Womble began playing four body camera videos during the press conference, which was broadcast by several news outlets. Brown ignored deputies’ commands to stop and began to drive his car directly at one of the officers, Womble said. He said the first shot fired at Brown’s car went through the front windshield, not the back as was previously reported. The newly released portion of video was available online, and is graphic in nature. https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1394751010938183684?s=20 There is no telling if the explanation will satisfy police reform protesters, however, and Elizabeth City could see renewed protests in the coming days.

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CDC Mask Guidline Confusion Demonstrated in Latest Polling

Americans just don’t seem to trust the CDC.

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Around the nation, businesses are reopening to full capacity, fans are filling the stadium stands, and bands are announcing their touring plans, thanks to the diminishing perception of a threat stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been a long time coming for Americans, and some carry with them a wee bit of trepidation still about the coming recovery. A new poll shows that many Americans are even having a hard time processing the CDC’s latest mask-guideline adjustment. A significant portion of the public still believes in wearing a mask outside regardless of guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a recent survey. The survey indicates that forty-two percent of respondents believe everyone in their area should continue to wear a mask regardless of the CDC guidelines. Of the respondents, 39 percent said everyone should follow the CDC guidelines that state masks are only necessary outdoors when in crowds compared to only 19 percent of respondents who actually believe “everyone should do [what] they want regardless of guidelines.” And, somewhat surprisingly: Of those who believe in continuing to wear masks, broken down by party, the results were almost even; 36 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats want everyone around them to wear masks. Of course, the distrust that Americans naturally have for their government shouldn’t be overlooked either, as their handling of the coronavirus pandemic has spawned a number of protests and lawsuits around the nation.

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