Friday, January 7


Malcolm Gladwell has a book review in The New Yorker that talks about how cultures kill themselves off through short-sightedness. And what's the signal example? The Vikings in Greenland, who refused to change from their "traditional" beef-centered diet and wound up destroying themselves by burning through all their resources with animal agriculture. One entertaining quote: "The Norse needed to reduce their reliance on livestock-particularly cows, which consumed an enormous amount of agricultural resources. But cows were a sign of high status; to northern Europeans, beef was a prized food." And: "Right up until they starved to death, the Norse never lost sight of what they stood for." Boy, good thing we learned the lesson from their mistake, huh?

Thursday, January 6


That's what England's The Independent says, anyway. In the paper's frothy "100 ways to feel better" feature, under LIVE LONGER, is this item:"2. Be a vegetarian: Being vegetarian for 20 years or more adds four years to the average lifespan, according to a study based on 7,100 Adventists, who largely do not eat meat. A UK report also shows lower mortality rates among vegetarians." Also, of their ten items to add to your diet, 100% are plant foods.


Canada to Detail Mad Cow Investigation on Friday, blares this article, making the point clear in the lede (my emphasis): "Canadian officials will wait until Friday to provide an update on their search for cattle related to the country's second home-grown case of mad cow disease, a senior veterinarian said on Wednesday." Hmmmm. Why's that? "Things are changing day by day, so it becomes a little bit difficult, until the investigation is completed, to be able to come back and say, 'This is what we found'," the vet said. Anybody else find it odd that things are so fluid that they can't stop to say where things are at, yet somehow they know that on Friday they'll be at exactly the right point to provide an update?

Meanwhile: A farm in Alberta - that of Allan Degner - has been identified as the home of Canada's most recent mad cow. And back here at home, in Legislation introduced to keep ban on Canadian cattle, we hear that Representative Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) called the USDA's decision "outrageous," and said it demonstrates that the Agency "cares more about the interests of mega feed lots and processors than the interests of farmers, ranchers, and consumers." And Congressman Ron Kind sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, blasting the decision to reopen the doors just after the Canadians announced another case of Mad Cow Disease.

Wednesday, January 5


What's the big deal? When John Madden eats a Turkey with a Duck stuffed inside it, it's hilarious. But if it's a different kind of animal stuffing the bird, all of a sudden people get skeeved. "Valorie J. Macy had just removed the neck and giblets and was giving the bird a second rinse when a furry little rat or mouse plopped out into the sink."

There are plenty of choice quotes in this oddball article. "Norbest [the Turkey company] bills itself as the one of the leading turkey distributors in the world. The company motto, according to its Web site, is 'Perfect turkey every time.' Not every time, Macy would argue." Heh. And though the woman ditched the turkey and thawed out a ham for the holiday dinner, she wouldn't even eat that. "I had vegetables," she said. "I don't think I'll ever eat turkey again," she said. "I'm thinking of becoming a vegetarian."

Then the piece goes over the top, as well it should. "She imagined what would have happened if the rodent was found later, say after the turkey was cooked. The discovery of a little tail sticking out of the stuffing bowl would ruin the most picture-perfect Norman Rockwell moment, she said." Yep, I guess it would do that.

Tuesday, January 4


Copley News Service notes that "The same plant-rich diet that helps prevent cancer, it has been shown, also will limit your chances of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, [dietician Kim] Dalzell said. And it's also healthy for children." Not a lot of new news here, but one interesting study result: "When men in the Cancer Treatment study ate more broccoli and cauliflower -- three servings versus one -- they lowered their risk of prostate cancer by 41 percent."

Monday, January 3


"The U.S. Department of Agriculture has told federal meat inspectors that they should immediately shut down any slaughterhouse where they observe acts of cruelty similar to those surreptitiously videotaped by an animal rights group at a kosher meat plant in Iowa."

I always enjoy the willful blindness that allows officials to believe that animal cruelty isn't happening unless and until it shows up on videotape.


This is common knowledge among many of us, but it's usually not said so clearly or authoritatively: in an article headlined, "Hunting season leads to more deer on roadways," we hear that "When the hunters go into the woods the deer come out." And Mississippi Highway Patrol Staff Sergeant Charlie Case is quoted on the causal relationship: "[T]here is more activity in the woods, with hunters, that disturbs them." Additionally, "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports November as the start of the fall deer activity season, increasing the number of crashes." So... what might be one realistic solution to this problem, instead of annihilating the deer? "Case tells his driving students that there are no rules to avoid deer, but some precautions can help. 'People could slow down a little bit,' he said."


Late to the party on this one, of course. I'll have more as this progresses, but just wanted to point out the humor of the situation, in which the Mad Cow is discovered just as the US is about to re-open the border, declaring Canadian beef safe from Mad Cow. And since that was a purely political concern, the actuality of the Mad Cow can't change that decision.


All I can say about my time away is this: If you're traveling on USAir, do whatever you can to carry-on, rather than check, your bags. OK, now back to our regular subject matter.