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The Boston Globe

Opinion

the podium

The truth about being fat

Excerpts from the Globe’s “Voices of New England’’ blog at www.bostonglobe.com/podium.

The uproar over the cadishness of self-appointed Wisconsin body monitor Kenneth Krause and the expanding groundswell of support for Jennifer Livingston, the anchorwoman he wronged, has obscured a couple of basic truths.

The first one is, fat is not good.

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Now, before the legions who backed Livingston turn toward me, I hasten to add: This is vastly different from saying that fat “people’’ are bad. Fat people are neither bad nor good, at least as evaluated by body size.

My point is that the experience of being fat is not good. I was a fat kid who became an obese adult into my 30s (top weight: 365), and during that time, I hated being fat. Now in a normal-sized body for 20 years and counting, I can say that non-fat is better.

Yes, part of my misery emanated from fashion and other severe opinions. Had I been able to control what other people thought and said about me, my experience would have been different.

But this kerfuffle seems to focus almost entirely on what other people say and think, and fatitude is much bigger than that.

— MICHAEL PRAGER

Author of “Fat Boy Think Man’’

CUBA, 50 YEARS LATER

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a standoff that brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war. Today, the missiles are long gone, as is the threat of nuclear annihilation. However, the gap between the two nations remains, prompting much discussion in this country about when and how to move forward, given the rigid US policy still in place.

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This is also the 50th anniversary of the day my childhood in Cuba was blown apart by Fidel Castro’s revolution.

On Sept. 6, 1962, a band of angry soldiers stormed into our home and seized the keys from my father’s hand. He was abruptly stripped of his business and all his financial assets. My family left Cuba that afternoon.

We suffered constant harassment from a government who labeled anyone expressing a desire to leave as gusanos or “worms.” Someone in our neighborhood was placed in charge of spying on us to report any suspicious activity. My brother, sister, and I did not attend school that last year to escape Communist indoctrination.

Gone was my motherland, and left behind were my grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends, most of whom we never saw again.

Today, Cuba has one of the most deplorable records of human rights abuse in the world. Innocent people continue to be arrested, tortured, and killed for attempting to exercise freedom of expression. Cuba remains an island-prison. The overall population is not free to come and go as they please. Cubans face years in jail if they try to leave the country without a special government permit.

Cuba is an example of what happens to individual lives when personal freedom is removed from their world.

Since I am an American citizen, I know I have a voice. The only way to move forward is by not leaving the Cuban people behind.

GISELA GUGGER

Teacher

COAL POWER IS NOT DEAD

The sale of two coal-burning mainstays of Massachusetts’ power generation fleet has rightly contributed to the concerns about the growing use and cost of natural gas and the state’s role as a beacon for encouraging clean energy.

Predictably, environmentalists lauded the sale of Brayton Point Station in Somerset and the Salem Harbor Station as the end of coal use in New England. Such talk of coal’s complete demise is unfortunate and potentially damaging to the stability of the region’s energy market.

The growth of renewables, on-site combined heat and power plants, and energy efficiency all play important roles in addressing concerns about over-reliance on natural gas. But the aggressive pursuit of clean-power technology should also include clean-coal technology.

Our nation and state should embrace the potential of clean coal as part of our energy future. If for no other reason, the United State should develop clean-coal technology to export to China so the coal they burn is cleaner. China is investing in clean-coal plants in Texas. Why not New England?

— CYNTHIA A. ARCATE

Former state energy regulator

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