Monday, December 22, 2008

Freeze a jolly good fellow

A highlight of the Christmas season every year is gathering my big family together under one roof -- my children, my parents, five siblings and their spouses, and twelve (thirteen by year's end!) nieces and nephews. Everyone is married now, save me and the kids, but I can recall many a holiday when new boy- or girlfriends were part of the celebration.

Tales of our past houseguests poke edgewise into at least one family conversation every year. Each of these dear departed-from-us souls has left behind fond memories, and I imagine that we've provided them with a few stories as well. Like how my sisters and I share a secret language of syllables and partial thoughts that no one can follow, not even our mother. Or how all three of my brothers-in-law swill too much grog every year and end up running naked through whatever neighborhood we're in, losing wallets and shoes and sustaining minor injuries in the imponderable annual ritual.

It's no wonder that the poor dears rarely returned the following year. It isn't that we didn't want to bring them into the fold; we did, and we tried. "Once when Joey was in first grade and I was in fifth, she went to a different school than the rest of us because we'd just moved back here from Topeka and there wasn't room at DR so I walked her to school and one of our friends, whose parents were Irish. . ." But with stories flying and a lifetime of shared experiences providing the framework, the new loves found themselves smack in the middle of what must've seemed to be a verbal maelstrom.

Occasionally my younger brother Andy would attempt interaction through the use of punnery. I know this was a friendly overture to our visitors because the entire family, so far as I can tell, despises puns, mostly because of him. When I was in high school, 11-year-old Andy -- redheaded, bespectacled, buck-toothed Andy -- would hang about ten feet away from my friends and interject punny witticisms whenever he could. My friends laughed (laughed!) at his horrid intrusions which would incense me. "Mom! Andy is bugging us! He's telling stupid jokes again!" My mom would admonish him, much too kindly to satisfy me, "Andy, sweetie, leave the big girls alone, and stop making puns. People hate puns."

Punnitry, for those who've been spared the exposure, is largely the trick of compacting two or more ideas within a single word or expression. It's wordplay at its most punitive. To wit: Punnery is a rewording experience, especially around Christmas time. That's when people exchange hellos and good buys with each other, the time of year when every girl wants her past forgotten and her presents remembered, the time of year when mothers have to separate the men from the toys.

Yes, that kind of punnishment.

Studies have shown a correlation between punderstanding and sound intellect, so the dumb jokes aren't really so dumb. Puns are found in many of Shakespeare's plays and in the Bible, more proof that they appeal to the lofty among us. Still, I loathe puns, which must be evidence that I'm not particularly clever, or so the punnits would have me believe.

This year will be only family and there will surely be a shortage of dumb jokes around the table. To take the heat off poor punmeister Andy, I'm going to surprise my family with a few holiday puns of my own. I won't trouble you with the three pages I've amassed so far but, trust me, much pun will be had this year. Enough to satisfy everyone for years and years to come, I can only hope.

So, Meretricious to all! And don't forget that There's No Plate Like Chrome for the Hollandaise!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Running on empty

Red BULL contains: caffeine, ginseng and guarana (all legal stimulants) sugars, artificial sweeteners, taurine (an amino acid said to lower blood pressure).
Red BULL promises: increased energy, better concentration, sharper cognitive performance, greater endurance, higher metabolism, faster reaction time.
Red BULL delivers: increased heart rate, heightened blood pressure, anxiety, jitters, hyperactivity, insomnia, hypoglycemia, dehydration.

A single can of Red Bull or any other "energy drink" increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The caffeine-jacked soda pop causes blood to become sticky which is a pre-cursor to cardiovascular problems. One hour after drinking Red Bull, the blood system becomes abnormal, functioning as it would in a patient with heart disease. This effect is seen even in young people.

Take a look at Red Bull's website. The company has aligned itself -- through high-dollar sponsorships, which are nothing more than manipulative ad campaigns -- with the sporting crowd. It started with rodeo; the Red Bull logo is tailor-made for a swaggering cowboy. The company's tentacles have reached into the racing circuit, BMX cycling, extreme skiing, even soapbox derby. You'll find athlete superstars wearing the Red Bull logo in arenas and venues across the globe.

It would be one thing if Red Bull was marketing its product to coke heads and junkies, providing them with a legal daytime buzz. But to suggest that athletes will benefit from the "energy" Red Bull offers is wildly irresponsible and evil. Unlike the electrolyte-balanced rehydration found in Gatorade, Red Bull is chock full of stimulants which cause rapid DE-hydration, making energy drinks exceptionally dangerous when used in rigorous physical activity. Fainting, loss of consciousness, kidney failure, and death are a few of the more troubling outcomes of serious dehydration.

Threatening the health and well-being of rednecks and jocks the world over wasn't quite enough for these bastards. Red Bull expanded its reach into the late night crowd. Barfare like "Vodka Bulls" and "Jaeger Bombs" combine Red Bull's powerful stimulants with a heavy depressant which can lead to heart failure and other health crises. Norway, France, Denmark, and even Uruguay have banned sales of Red Bull completely.

History has shown us that we can't expect responsible behavior from corporations. They have an apparent duty to shareholders to make money, unfettered by ethical considerations. That's why the Food and Drug Administration has been appointed our trusty watchdog. As soon as they've finished banning every natural supplement found in any organic health food store, I know they'll muster the energy to take on Red Bull.

That day can't come soon enough. Many of us are tired of running on empty promises.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

the Advent Conspiracy

Consumerism allows people to create the illusion of giving without having to sacrifice anything personal. Buying loads of useless or unneeded crap, wrapping it up in mountains of toxic paper and ribbon, presenting it, often by mail, to recipients we rarely see seems a requirement for anyone who isn’t Scrooge.

Let's try something new. Give presence this holiday season. Give time and attention, spend creative energy, become less fractured and manic, more unified and peaceful. Refuse to spend your useless gift quota ($450,000,000,000 spent each year in the U.S. divided by the American gift-buying population -- that's your required outlay). Donate some of the money you didn't spend to Living Water International, an organization working to provide fresh water to undeveloped countries.

A lack of clean water is the leading cause of death in under-resourced countries. 1.8 million people die annually from water-born illnesses, nearly 4,000 children every DAY. It's estimated that $10 billion would solve the world's fresh-water crisis. $10 billion. Our national priorities are beyond fucked up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

the Edsel's missing poetry

In the mid-fifties the newly-public Ford Motor Company sought a name for its soon-to- be-released experimental car, known in its design stage as the E-car. After in-house marketers came up with 300-odd names which were felt to be embarrassing in their pedestrianism, the company approached Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Marianne Moore, an icon of the popular culture, known as much for her wild passion for baseball and boxing as for her poetry. What Ford wanted was a car name that “flashes a dramatically desirable picture in people’s minds,” from a woman who seemed to know mainstream America. What they got was “Anticipator,” “Thunder Crester,” “Pastelogram,” “Intelligent Whale,” “The Resilient Bullet,” “Mongoose Civique,” “Andante con Moto,” “Varsity Stroke” and then, as her very last try for the name magic, “Utopian Turtletop.”

Understandably disappointed by Moore’s ideas, the company hired a marketing firm. When the agency forwarded a list of 18,000 possible names, it fell upon corporate executives to choose the best among them for final consideration. Every day an appointed panel of executives would assemble in an appointed projection room to watch as thousands of names were flashed across a screen in six-inch high letters, to oblivion unless someone shouted, “Stop!” and gave reasons for his enthusiasm.

None of the final contenders, neither “Corsair” nor “Citation” nor “Ranger” nor “Pacer,” made the grade in the end, and Ford returned to its earlier idea — one that had been rejected for years by the Ford family — and named the car after company scion, Edsel Ford.

Of course, the Edsel was a spectacular failure on many levels, marketing most notably. Later consumer surveys revealed that the public strongly disliked the name, associating it with Edson tractors, dead cells (batteries) and weasels.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ode to a floater

Oh, squiggly line in my eye fluid, I see you there, lurking on the periphery of my vision. But when I try to look at you, you scurry away. Are you shy, squiggly line? Why only when I ignore you do you return to the center of my eye? Oh, squiggly line, it's all right. You are forgiven.
-Stewie from Family Guy

Friday, December 5, 2008

twiLight the horror

I'm compelled by admiration to link to Eric's post on our shared blog Not My Tribe. As a mother of girls in the thick of an Edward-the-dreamy-vampire lovefest, I felt particular pain upon reading his take on the Twilight phenomenon. I'm going to read the book this weekend, desperately seeking leeway to temper his indictment of those of us who've allowed our daughters to enter the seedy genre of 'tween romance.

A priesthood serving only beauty

If only everyone could feel the power
Of harmony like you! But no, for then
The world could not exist; no one would want
To spend time taking care of life’s low needs;
All would be given over to free art.
We are but few, we chosen, happy idlers
Who look disdainfully at petty usefulness
And form a priesthood serving only beauty.
Isn’t that so? But now I feel unwell. . . .

-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, moments before his death, in Aleksandr Pushkin’s play Mozart and Salieri. Mozart died on this day in 1791 at the age of forty-five — allegedly at the hands of friend and fellow composer Antonio Salieri — while composing his final work, the Requiem. . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The wit of Robertson Davies

""I am full of holy joy and free booze," said Cobbler. I feel moved to sing. It is very wrong to resist an impulse to sing; to hold back a natural evacuation of joy is as injurious as to hold back any other natural issue. It makes a man spiritually costive, and plugs him up with hard, caked, thwarted merriment. This, in the course of time, poisons his whole system and is likely to turn him into that most detestable of beings, a Dry Wit. God grant that I may never be a Dry Wit. Let me ever be a Wet Wit! Let me pour forth what mirth I have until I am utterly empty — a Nit Wit."
—from Tempest-Tost, by Robertson Davies, who died on this day in 1995

Monday, November 24, 2008

María está aprendiendo hablar español

"I'm going to learn Spanish!"

I've said this so many times that no one listens to me anymore. Whenever I proclaim my renewed intention to become fluent in Spanish, my kids roll their eyes and mock me for my lack of initiative, knowing that it will never happen. At least I think they're deriding me but, since they talk about me in their secret language -- Spanish -- I'm never sure whether I should be offended by their words, or proud that they are becoming proficient en español. I've shed tears in foreign countries because I couldn't speak Spanish but, still, I stand mute and embarrassed when my littlest daughter greets me after school. "Hola, Mama. Cómo está?" "Mmmmm, bueno? bien? mucho bueno? muchas bien? I'm good. How was school?"

It's not like I haven't tried to learn the language. From Spanish for Dummies to Lonely Planet phrasebooks to Berlitz and Rosetta Stone, I've tried. I've really tried. But somehow I get bored or discouraged and put my brand new books and CDs aside, vowing that I'll never visit another Latin American country again.

Well, my hope has been renewed. I've stumbled upon the perfect program -- LiveMocha. It's a cross between Spanish class and Facebook. The curriculum is divided into courses, units, and easily-digestible lessons. The lessons are divided in learning, reading, writing, speaking. For each writing and speaking assignment, other students -- usually native Spanish speakers learning another language -- provide instruction and feedback within hours, sometimes minutes. I have an opportunity to review the work of those learning English. I can engage in online chats with other students to become conversant, or help them become conversant in English. If I'm not interested in chitchat, I set my status to "busy" and study in peace.

LiveMocha offers courses in many languages (Russian, Chinese, Icelandic and Hindi to name a few) and everything is available for free.

A friend once told me that she attended a weekly Bible study to receive instruction and encouragement, to be challenged to think and grow, and to be held accountable by her teachers and peers. She said that reading the Bible and trying to be good on her own was futile. I recall thinking that it was unfortunate that she didn't have enough faith in herself to go it alone. Now I think I understand the concept of a support group as an impetus to lasting change. I am hopeful that Ana and Jorge and Mauricio and the rest of my new friends will inspire me to stick with the program.

Maybe I'll even attend Bible study at Our Lady of Guadalupe and kill two birds with one stone. Fluent in Spanish and righteous by the year's end. People are sure to run when they see me coming.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three great finds

Souvenirs from my mini-vacation in Breckenridge:

1. Why I Write by George Orwell

2. Poet Sharon Olds' letter to Laura Bush

3. The Weather Underground, co-founded by Bill Ayers

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Poolside haiku

a swirling eddy
frothy seaweed eyes emerge
disembodied head

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rocky Mountain medicine

Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even. . .cocoon for long periods of time, away from televisions and computers, to spare oneself the exquisite torture of an American Presidential Election.
~George Orwell and Marie Walden

Am I happy Obama won? Yes. Do I think he'll bring significant change? No. The tender-hearted idealist in me is buried under mountains of rhetoric, hyperbole and outright bullshit.

I'm emerging slowly, squinting at the sun, trying to find Pollyanna.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Friday, October 3, 2008

We get up early to BEAT the crowds - haha

The Denver Police Union is selling this t-shirt to raise funds and gloat about their brutish behavior at the DNC. The front of the shirt bears the R-68 logo encased in a circle/slash. The police claim that the t-shirt was made after the convention as a funny joke, but at an R-68 meeting I attended last week founder Glenn Spagnuolo claimed that he saw the shirts prior to the start of the convention and that every police officer wore one under his uniform during the DNC.

The dishonesty and arrogance of the Denver PD isn't surprising in the least, but their abject stupidity is a little shocking. Do they forget that they're defendants in several legal cases arising from their inappropriate behavior during the convention? Do they think that these t-shirts won't betray their thuggish attitude toward protestors? I can only imagine that their legal counsel isn't happy about this little fundraiser.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Captain of the debate team, ya know

McCain staffers know they can't get Sarah Palin up to snuff for the vice presidential debate in a mere two days. But they can put a few eggs in her basket by offering some very sage, very sexist, fashion advice.

Let's give 'em some good ol' Alaskan crude. . . .

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Biden takes on the Palinator

Do you remember the Grossinator? It was a handheld device designed to hurl childish insults at bystanders. Part of the fun was creating vulgar statements using four buttons, each of which had several sentence fragments associated with it.

Button #1 - You're like/It's time for/Let's all make/How about/I just love/I'm gonna make/There's nothing like
Button #2 - a big/a long/a revolting/a disgusting/a slimy/a foul/a horrible
Button #3 - gross/oozing/awful/wretched/stinky/
Button #4 - fart/burp/scab/m'booger/snot/barf/puke

After you'd chosen the words that would comprise your insult, a final button caused the Grossinator's growly voice to broadcast your lowbrow wit to all within earshot. If you didn't have an insult preference, the Grossinator combined the fragments on its own. Hearing the familiar words and phrases cobbled together in unexpected, sometimes nonsensical, fashion was most hilarious.

Sarah Palin's recent encounters with the media have been disastrous. So disastrous, in fact, that Saturday Night Live was able to parody her interview with Katie Couric using parts of the transcript verbatim! McCain's campaign handlers are holed up in Sedona with Palin this very minute trying to coach her for Thursday's debate. There is no chance that they can make her look well-informed. At best they can hope she doesn't say anything egregiously erroneous, or downright dangerous.

I think the safest plan would be to limit Palin's leeway in the debate. To keep her from wandering into parts unknown (by her), campaign strategists should carefully select words and phrases for her to memorize and combine as she saw fit. Even better, they could enlist Mattel to create the Palinator.

Button #1 - Senator McCain and I/Our administration/It's got to be about/My experience as
Button #2 - economy/healthcare reform/terrorism/taxes/
Button #3 - certainly does/ultimately/I dunno/you know/yeah
Button #4 - gotcha journalism/liberal elite/spending/the United States of America/Alaska

Notice that there are no words associated with abortion, birth control, evolution, war, religion, state troopers, lipstick, pigs, Russia, Wall Street, Bush Doctrine, United Nations, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, or special needs children.

I didn't actually put together any of the above fragments to make sure they made coherent sentences. But then the Palinator wouldn't, would it? It would simply say whatever it's been programmed to say.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Love Poem

It's so nice
to wake up in the morning
all alone
and not have to tell somebody
you love them
when you don't love them
any more.
--Richard Brautigan

You say you don't love me

as though it were a revelation. You say "I DON'T love you," as opposed to "I don't LOVE you." You make it sound like daisy petals sealed our fate.

Of course you don't love me, didn't love me. And I don't love you back.

Finally we're in the light with everyone who knew all along.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

George Saunders' gal, Sarah Palin

Excerpt from "My Gal" by George Saunders, one of my favorite funny but twisted authors.

"Explaining how she felt when John McCain offered her the Vice-Presidential spot, my Vice-Presidential candidate, Governor Sarah Palin, said something very profound: “I answered him ‘Yes’ because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”

Isn’t that so true? I know that many times, in my life, while living it, someone would come up and, because of I had good readiness, in terms of how I was wired, when they asked that—whatever they asked—I would just not blink, because, knowing that, if I did blink, or even wink, that is weakness, therefore you can’t, you just don’t. You could, but no—you aren’t."

The article devolves into the usual George Saunders weirdness, but it's worth a few minutes, if for no other reason than to get a taste of Saunders himself!

Read the full article in The New Yorker online.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Death of a Democracy

From the Army Times:
Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

...this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“If we go in, we’re going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role,” said 1st BCT Commander, Roger Cloutier.

For the past 130 years, the Posse Comitatus Act, along with the Insurrection Act, has prohibited the government from using the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement. However, the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill allows the federal government to deploy the military here at home basically whenever they feel like it. This new "federal freedom" will most likely be used to limit our Constitutional liberties and suppress dissent.

Who's minding the store? How are these bills -- including one that throws out more than 100 years of American history with a single pocket veto -- passing without a whimper? Why don't we know? And why don't we care?

In the words of Willy Loman, "Attention must be paid!"


Friday, September 19, 2008

A breath of transcendental fresh air

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.
Ralph Waldo Emerson ~ from Nature, 1836

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cheyenne Mountain State Park awaits

Cheyenne Mountain State ParkCheyenne Mountain State Park has everything a state park should have: 1600 acres of open space with more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas (including a group picnic pavilion), camping sites (both RV-compatible and hike-in tent spots), a lovely visitors center, flora, fauna, and a whole lot of America the Beautiful. I went there the other day expecting to see plenty of weekend athletes; instead, except for a few construction workers and a handful of maintenance guys, I had the place pretty much to myself. What's up with that?

Here are a few possible reasons people are staying away:
1. No dogs on the trails
All I can say is YHGTBFKM. What pencil-pushing couch potato came up with this idea? This is Colorado Springs, Dog Fancy's choice as the most dog-friendly city in the country. People here love their dogs. People here not only walk their dogs daily, they hike their dogs daily. They love big athletic energetic dogs, and those dogs need 1600 acres of open space and 20 miles of hiking trails to be happy.

Park signs explain that the ban protects our precious pooches from predators and rattlesnakes. Well, if this is the case, why aren't they concerned about ME? And shouldn't pet owners be allowed to determine what risks they are willing to assume? Post a sign warning of potential dangers and leave it at that.

2. $6 day pass
I understand that state parks need to generate revenue, but couldn't there be some wiggle room here? An annual park pass is $60, which isn't
crazy expensive, but, still, there is something sort of offensive about having to cough up money to visit a park that's in our back yard. Especially when we have so many free trails nearby. Couldn't the park provide locals a discounted pass, or offer free entrance for walk-in traffic? In any case, they need to do something to make local day trippers feel welcome.

3. Campsites and most picnic areas are NOT OPEN yet
Despite the fact that the park opened in 2006, the park isn't very open. How is CMSP expecting to lure out-of-town visitors -- visitors with campers and tents and zillions of other outdoorsy choices -- when the park is basically unusable?

A park ranger told me that they hoped to open the park to campers at the end of September. He also said that they might have to scale back certain phases of the park's development plan because of budgetary concerns. Let me get this straight. CMSP missed the whole summer season, their entire annual revenue season, to focus on construction, and now they have to cut back construction because they have no money? The word mismanagement is on the tip of my tongue.

4. Zero community outreach
How many of you know anything about Cheyenne Mountain State Park? Do you know how to get there? Do you have a map of the trails? Do you
know that their visitors center is set up to host parties and wedding receptions? Do you know about the prairie-to-peak ecosystems unique to CMSP? I'm guessing you don't.

Yes, the park is short on funds and can't do big slick marketing campaigns. But until CMSP is open to the Airstream set, shouldn't they be targeting us locals? They could get the word out to thousands of Colorado Springs residents by having an inexpensive booth at Springspree, Pridefest, or the Diversity Fair. They could host an annual picnic at the park to draw in the community. They could set up tables outside high-traffic retailers, like the Girl Scouts do, and hawk shirts and hats, hand out information, and sell annual park passes. There is no shortage of open-space do-gooders willing to do the legwork.

Okay, bitchfest over. Now the plea. CMSP is a community jewel. A few noble souls fought the good fight against developers aimed at turning the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain into a sea of little boxes. Wide open space is a gift, better than Prozac, more fun than Mr. Biggs. It keeps us grounded. It keeps me sane. If budgetary pressures mount, we will see the state parceling off the park for sale. We'll see a cutback in hours, services and personnel, which will only make things more precarious.

So go! Go to the park. Skip the fast food lunch and pay the $6. Better yet, cough up $60 for an annual pass and go any time you please. When it opens for camping in a few weeks, do an overnight just for fun. It's a great way to enjoy camping without the usual hassles. Grill some steaks. Make s'mores. You can even bring Fido if you keep him off the trails.

This park needs local support to survive. It's a work-in-progress. Express yourself to the powers-that-be. Tell them what you like, and what you'd like to see changed. I think they'll listen. They want us there. So let's be there.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Cheyenne Mountain State Park near NORAD
Cheyenne Mountain State Park wild turkeys
Cheyenne Mountain State Park wildflowers
Cheyenne Mountain State Park Visitors Center

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Irradiation proclaimed safe by FDA terrorists

Most of the food in the American diet is approved by the FDA for irradiation and chemo treatments. Our fresh produce and meat are subjected to these invasive procedures 1) to kill microorganisms and other pathogens 2) to arrest or delay the ripening process 3) to act as a pesticide 4) to prevent spoilage or sprouting. Although they don't say it explicitly, irradiation also masks serious sanitation problems in both farming and meat processing and provides greater immunity to the food industry executives who can claim that their products were "clean" when they left the facility.

The FDA has assured us over and over that the process of irradiation is completely safe. So safe, in fact, that consumers don't even need to know which foods are exposed to ionizing radiation.

I think the FDA should define its terms. What do they mean by safe? Irradiation works by breaking down molecules and creating free radicals. Sure, the free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also damage vitamins and fragile enzymes. The free radicals can combine with existing chemicals in the food, like pesticides, to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs). Some of these URPs are known toxins like benzene and formaldehyde, and others are unique to the irradiated foods. Since they are unique, I guess we can assume they are safe.

After the anthrax scare a few years back, the US Postal Service began irradiating our mail. Because there is no danger in irradiating anything, least of all the mail, they were surprised when postal employees began to experience headaches, nausea, eye irritation, lightheadedness, nose irritation, and chest or throat tightness when processing irradiated mail. The USPS hired an industrial hygiene consultant who found elevated levels of carbon monoxide, ozone, chlorine, and other volatile organic chemicals in the work area. The USPS called OSHA.

OSHA pseudo-scientists came in and performed a bunch of tests. They found the same URPs that the consultant had identified, and quite a few more. But instead of addressing the dangers of mail irradiation, OSHA made the following recommendations:

1) "Air out" the mail before processing.
2) Monitor facilities for high concentrations of toxic chemicals/gases and, if found, try a change in handling methods or provide additional ventilation.
3) Keep a log to track health problems related to handling or being exposed to irradiated mail. Have the log reviewed periodically by an occupational medicine physician to look for trends or areas requiring further evaluation. (like maybe increased cancer rates or other pesky statistics)
4) Recommend that employees experiencing eye irritation use over-the-counter eye drops as often as necessary to relieve symptoms. (don't worry about the underlying causes)

Can you believe it? OSHA sold the postal employees down the river so they could keep the irradiation-is-perfectly-safe lie going. I'm sure they weren't given much leeway by the unscrupulous ignorant bastards at the FDA.

Scientists have known for years that irradiation causes food to become vitamin deficient which leaves well-fed bodies starved for nutrition. Irradiation deactivates food enzymes which affects the digestion process, which affects absorption of nutrients, which affects every cell in the human body. Irradiation damages the very DNA of not only the food, but also the bacteria it's supposed to kill. This, in turn, leads to irradiation-resistant super germs that are far more dangerous to us than the original pathogens. Irradiated food contains toxic radiolytic products, aka poisons, which are ingested by you and me and everyone we know. Irradiation creates free radicals which are known to cause cell damage. The cell damage can manifest in innumerable ways, from premature aging to cancer to blindness.

The process of irradiation is safe? It's certainly not free of harm. I guess the FDA means that irradiation is safe from public scrutiny, safe from government accountability, safe from ethical study, safe from its own sad truth.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Plain

Someone forgot to tell Cindy McCain that the fashion word on Sarah's big night was "populist." Cin's half-peeled banana outfit was examined by the couture analysts at Vanity Fair and the numbers look like this:

Oscar de la Renta dress: $3,000

Chanel J12 White Ceramic Watch: $4,500

Three-carat diamond earrings: $280,000

Four-strand pearl necklace: $11,000–$25,000

Shoes, designer unknown, I'm thinking Manolos: $600

Total: about $300,000!

How long until Sarah Plain stops playing moose hunter/hockey mom/sexy librarian and starts sportin' some real duds? That would make the election season almost bearable.

info via Liza at culturekitchen

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

If it's not in his jeans, it's in his genes!

Men who cheat on women should not be held responsible. Why? According to a new Swedish study, there is a direct relationship between a man's DNA and his aptitude for monogamy. Infidelity is a genetic likelihood for certain men!

Two of every five men possess a gene variant that is linked to both marital discord and lack of emotional intimacy. Men with two copies of the variant have twice the risk of conjugal dysfunction than their male counterparts. The gene also seems predictive of whether men marry or just live with women without taking the leap.

I guess, in addition to relationship counseling and testing for STDs, we women should insist on DNA analysis before getting seriously involved with a genetic mutant. Will it be long before Merck comes up with an expensive drug to combat his natural predilections? Ask your doctor if Fidelistat is right for you.

I think the man should ask his wife instead. Or, worse, he should ask his girlfriend!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Autocracy Now!

There have been some really astounding Gestapo tactics playing out in St. Paul today. Preemptive raids, mass arrests, suspension of habeas corpus, and police brutality to name a few.

Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman was arrested and charged with obstruction of a legal process (ha) and two of her producers have felony riot charges pending. The three were manhandled by the police and sustained minor injuries.

The scariest thing? The police knew who they were arresting. They knew that they were being filmed. They knew that there was no crime being committed. And they did it anyway. Why? Because they have approval to shut down any and all dissent by whatever means.

It isn't their immediate bosses giving them carte blanche to tread on the Bill of Rights. The approval is coming from much higher up the chain of command.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's simple, Sarah Palin. Just say no!

Exactly who is John McCain pandering to by adding Sarah Palin to the ticket? Talk is that he's hoping to hook the evangelical crowd, but he's obviously missing a few key bits of information.

Conservative Christians do not put their women in positions of authority over men. Ever. In my former church, women were not allowed to preach to the general congregation because this was seen as unbiblical, and a condescension to their male counterparts. Believe it or not, they aren't even permitted to lead the "praise and worship" musical segment of the Sunday service for the same reason. Jezebel can forget about the support of evangelical males.

As for females, they present an even peskier problem. Christian women have strong opinions about the roles of wife and mother. In my experience, few evangelical wives are employed full-time outside the home. Their lives are about rearing godly children and glorifying their husbands. Many consider themselves helpmates, subordinate to their husbands and the church. They are not going to view Sarah Palin as a sister in Christ. She resembles a Biblical harlot, not a Proverbs 31 role model.

There is a nonreligious unbridgeable gap here as well. In case you hadn't heard, there is an ongoing feud between stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) and women employed outside the home. The SAHMs claim the moral high ground in the area of child-raising and husband-tending, while the working women, especially those in traditionally male-dominated professions, cling to feminist values of independence, equality, and self-actualization. Ms. Palin -- the working woman who calls herself a soccer mom -- may strike both camps as an imposter. And many women, regardless of work status, will wonder why Sarah would leave five children, including a special-needs infant, to be used as a pawn in a good-ol'-boys ploy.

I feel sorry for Sarah Palin. She's being used as hastily begotten arm candy to pretty up an ugly ticket. Things won't go well for her this election season. In my opinion, she should have refused McCain's offer. She should have thanked him for the honor of being asked, and then used the national spotlight to showcase who she really is. Not the life preserver he'd like her to be.

Sarah Palin-Melnitz for VP!

You know how sometimes something you see, hear or smell calls to mind another something? Something close yet inaccessible. It's a bit like the feeling of deja vu, yet not exactly.

Anyway, when I saw Sarah Palin for the first time yesterday, I had the sense that she reminded me of someone. For some reason, I kept thinking about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but couldn't complete the mental thread. It gnawed at me all day. Kids show. It had to be late eighties when my boy was little. Whaaaat was it?

Finally it came to me. Ghostbusters! Janine Melnitz, aka Annie Potts, aka Sarah Palin. Now I can sleep.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Suburban warrior

We were told that we risked arrest if we remained on the grass median. Armed with my pocket-sized Bill of Rights and my reading glasses, I donned my riot gear and stood my ground.

DNC: Police state of the union

"Those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin

Police state

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DNC: Denver PD serving and protecting

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DNC: It's anarchy!

Anarchy: a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.

From the moment I saw them I knew what they were. Scattered around in small groups, surrounded by bicycles and backpacks, sharing food, tossing frisbees. Some were dressed in black. A few had tattoos. They were young, and clearly dangerous.

How dare they question the status quo? We have over 200 years of American history and the two-party system is working just fine. They should be proud and grateful that they live in the land of the free and the brave. Like I am.

So why is it that I've never felt less free, or more cowardly, than I do right now?

Maybe instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of the young anarchists to impede their progress, the cops ought to walk beside them or, better, let them lead.