Fundamentally unsound

July 30th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Salon has one possible explanation of why the United States is planning to invade Iraq. I very much want this explanation to be wrong.

You’re better than ice cream

July 29th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Too many posts about politics make the baby Jesus cry. It’s time to bring in the I Love You Kitten.


July 29th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

By now, most people have heard that the United States government is making plans to invade Iraq. Why? Why would any government leak its battle plans to the press months before an invasion was planned? Are officials trying to figure out how the public would react to an invasion? Are they distracting the public from some other geopolitical game that the Bush administration wants to play? It’s a peculiar, and therefore suspect, way to behave.

All this advance notice has at least given the world an opportunity to see how ill-conceived the plans are. The New York Times explains one excellent reason to cancel the invasion entirely: War with Iraq could devastate the American economy and cause worldwide recession.

Already, the federal budget deficit is expanding, meaning that the bill for a war would lead either to more red ink or to cutbacks in domestic programs.

If consumer and investor confidence remains fragile, military action could have substantial psychological effects on the financial markets, retail spending, business investment, travel and other key elements of the economy, officials and experts said.

If oil supplies are disrupted, as they were during the 1991 gulf war, and prices rise sharply, the economic effects would be felt in the United States and around the world.

Ever onward! Ever onward!

July 26th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Sometimes my company’s executives annoy me. Okay, sometimes they really piss me off. I’ll say this much, though: Nobody has ever forced me to sing songs praising their merits as business leaders and human beings. If only IBM employees in the 1930s had been so lucky.

Here’s an excerpt from a song praising the glories of some random vice-president:

Your great knowledge, efforts untiring
Guide us safely each day,
Every act is to us inspiring
We believe all that you say.

Of course, things were different in 1931, yadda yadda yadda, but damn. I prefer not to believe that people were ever that credulous.

The cornification of America

July 19th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

America’s food supply depends heavily on corn, far more than most people realize. All that corn is hurting our health and our environment.

Make me a sammich

July 17th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink


I am suddenly very hungry. Of course, that might be because I haven’t eaten a real meal since Sunday night. Stupid flu.

Not-so-risky business

July 16th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

If you’d like to know how George W. Bush conducted his own business dealings, in the years before he started calling for corporate accountability, check out Right on the Money: The George W. Bush Profile. (Don’t miss part 2 and part 3.)

Sustainable diet

July 11th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

In response to my post about disgusting chicken-related issues, Christie asked, “In terms of killing the chickens (organic or otherwise), what would be a more humane way?”

Temple Grandin might be able to tell you. She’s helped American slaughterhouses find more humane ways of killing cattle, pigs, and other livestock, although I’m not sure whether she’s done any research with chickens. You can read more about Grandin and her work if you’re interested; she’s a fascinating person.

Humane slaughter is important, but it’s hardly what concerns me most. Let’s start by adding some historical context to this issue. In most parts of the world, meat was not a central element of the average person’s diet until fairly recently. Harold McGee explains this in his book On Food and Cooking:

Human diet from about A.D. 1400 to 1800 was essentially vegetable, for economic reasons; at that time, agriculture fed from 10 to 20 times the population that could be supported by animals grazing on the same acreage. …In the 17th and 18th centuries, the majority of people on the European continent rarely took more than a quarter of the total calorie intake from meat. Often it was closer to 10%…

Americans today eat an unusually large amount of meat, thanks to our affluence. “With one fifteenth of the world’s population,” according to McGee, “the United States eats one third of the world’s meat.”

This dietary emphasis on meat comes at a steep environmental price. Feeding and watering livestock takes an enormous toll on agricultural resources. In 1997, according to a Cornell University report, the grain used to feed livestock in the United States could feed 800 million people. Alternatively, we could farm less intensively if we ate less meat–a far better idea, since America is losing its irreplaceable topsoil at an unsustainable rate. As the Cornell report notes, “Iowa has lost one-half its topsoil in only 150 years of farming—soil that took thousands of years to form.” If our topsoil disappears, it will become difficult, if not impossible, to grow many crops. Millions would starve.

Our current situation is an anomaly. At some point, all of us will have to stop eating as much meat as we do, not because of ethics or health but as a practical necessity. Our current diet is leading us towards widespread famine.


July 10th, 2002 § One comment § permalink

Reason #718 to go vegetarian: Chicken nuggets contain terrifying things.

Reason #719: Chickens are raised under appalling conditions.

Ye sons of France, awake to glory

July 9th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

There’s only four shopping days left before Bastille Day. I went to Hallmark and bought a charming diorama of miniature peasants storming a tiny tower. No doubt you’ll want to pick one up for yourself—unless you’d prefer an “Embrassez-moi, je suis français!” T-shirt, or one of the tricolor beers they serve in all the American bistros on July 14.

Where am I?

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