Tuesday, November 21


Hey, remember that historic War Against E.Coli, where we finally eradicated dealt a severe blow to stopped talking about it until the next E.Coli outbreak? This story put me in mind of that: Salmonella strain turning up more in chicken

Exactly what does the headline mean by "more"? Well, according to the USDA, over the previous five years there was a fourfold increase in positive test results for salmonella enteritidis on chicken carcasses.

Salmonella sickens more than 40,00 Americans and kills 600 people every year, so this is a pretty serious statistic. But wait - "The research was done before the Agriculture Department started a new program to reduce positive tests for salmonella. Since then, the incidence of salmonella has fallen from 18 percent in 2005 to 10 percent today, [the agency] said." Oh, OK, see? Just like with the revolutionary new E.Coli procedures that will start paying off in real data any day now. Victory is just around the corner!

Sunday, November 19


This column is nothing special - I'm just highlighting it to stand in for the overall trope that turns up more and more every year as the existence of vegetarians at Thanksgiving causes meat-eaters to get nervous.

I have to say at the outset that I don't know if the writer is a "humor" columnist or not, as there seem to be a couple sad attempts to be "wry," but in whatever case, this contains the "Tofurky trifecta" of non-vegetarians writing about vegetarians at Thanksgiving. That is, they've heard of Tofurky and decide to write a column centered around it.

* "Tofurky" misspelled as "Tofurkey"? Check.
* Seitan-based product identified as "soy-based" or "tofu-based"? Check.
* Complaint about vegetarians mimicking turkey-eaters by having a protein-based centerpiece? Check - and for bonus points, compounded by the central error of believing it is "shaped like a bird" (the headline for the whole column, in fact) instead of shaped like, well, a bag.
* Additional bonus points: Columnist describing self and rest of mainstream as "carnivores"

So to summarize, what makes this mind-numbingly typical is that the columnist blithely writes about something he clearly has absolutely no experience with and about which he can't be bothered to even fact-check, arguing from the perspective of clear ignorance about vegetarian (if not human) diets and traditions to tell us what we should do.

Not to single this one guy out - I just happened across this and found it to be a perfectly typical specimen of the genre (of which another signal aspect is that each participant seems to think he's invented the genre). So there you have it.