Fight Archive


Book Review: “Cooking for Dogs” by Marjorie Walsh

At my job, I encounter a lot of very stupid books. There are a lot of very stupid people, you see, and they like to read very stupid books. And then those get donated to my non-profit and I sort through them and judge the anonymous people who donated them, usually harshly. It grants me the rare opportunity to feel superior to people who likely make more money than I ever have or will. Like the guy who took the time to leave a half-garbled sentence in my seller feedback when I had to cancel his order of “The Preppy Handbook” or some shit, due to Amazon being glitchy? Yeah, I still make fun of that dude in my head sometimes. And I make fun of you when you drop off thirty Danielle Steele novels at my donation bins, too. It’s a perk of being in the book donation world: I get to examine your marginalia, the titles you read, the boarding passes you leave in the middle of shitty airport books. I get to peek into your life and decide whether or not you’re a good person. What’s that? You just donated five Rachael Ray cookbooks?

Oh, hi. I think less of you.

But I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered a more loathsome book than the one that I’m about to describe. Published by Random House in 2007, penned by the illustrious Marjorie Walsh, who runs “an elite dog resort in the UK catering to a handful of pampered pooches, with… specially-developed meals,” we have the one and only “Cooking for Dogs: Tempting Recipes for Your Best Friend to Enjoy.” Seriously. That’s the title. It only goes downhill from here.

Full disclosure: it’s a cookbook, and I haven’t read the recipes beyond their titles. I’m not judging the book on the basis of its recipes. I’m judging it on the basis of it having been written. Also, the introduction. And then I’ll probably pick some of the recipes to highlight for the purposes of pointing out how ludicrous the whole thing is. And then I’ll say “Fuck” a few times and conclude. Or maybe I’ll just conclude with “Fuck.” Hard to say. Let’s get going.

Here is Marjorie in the intro:

When I looked at the nutritional information on commercial pet food and saw by-products, fillers and derivatives I decided that I didn’t want to feed that to my dogs. I wouldn’t eat these things, so why should our dogs?


I’ll try to ease up on the all-caps. Pressing forward:

I started out by just making extra food when cooking the family’s meals, so that our dogs ate what we ate. Because I wanted to get it right, I did a lot of research and invested in some nutritional software. The end result is happy, healthy dogs with coats like velvet, plenty of energy, and hardly any pooping.

Hardly any pooping. Great. Instead of pooping, they just beg all the time because they’re being treated to fucking lamb with lentils (actual recipe) and salmon stroganoff (also an actual recipe), because some idiot with way too much time and money is pushing a book that encourages feeding dogs people food. But hey, no shitting! No more cleaning up shit! Sure, you have to spend 20 minutes prepping and 55 minutes cooking Scruffy’s avocado and chicken casserole, but no poop! Who’s walking who, now, motherfuckers?


…[T]he experts don’t really know what makes the perfect dog food. Breeders and vets will have their favorite foods, too. So, how do you know?

PICK ME PICK ME! I bet if you feed them people food they’ll like that best of all! Yay! Where the fuck is my medal?

Dogs are like humans:

No, they’re not.

all different.

Soda cans are like humans: all different. Grains of sand are like humans: all different. Giant green dildos are like humans: all different.

For larger dogs it is much kinder to put their feed bowl in a stand adjusted for their height so that they are not stooping to eat their food.

Because who would subject a dog to the indignity of stooping for his meal? Now, maid? Cook Scruffy some tuna polenta, it’s his birthday.

From here, the introduction becomes slightly less patently offensive. Walsh assures us that dogs need plenty of calcium, and that the ideal meal “should consist of 25% protein, 30% fat, and 45% carbohydrates.” “Hold on a second,” you might be thinking. “Didn’t she admit in the second paragraph that there’s a wide range of opinion when it comes to what to feed your dog, and that every dog is different? Like humans?” Well yeah, sure, you pedant. But that was a whole page ago, and Walsh has a deadline to meet, books to sell. This is the right formula for all of the iddy-biddy, special snowflake dogs on the planet. Or you know. Close enough.

(I should note here that the second page of the particular copy I have is highlighted in pink and underlined in ink, suggesting that the previous owner has read this introduction at least twice, each time with an eye toward studying its hidden wisdom. This is deeply depressing on a number of levels, but I don’t feel like crying right now, so let’s keep going, if we could.)

So, armed with this information you can actually share your evening meal with your pet, remembering to add calcium to their portion. Dogs also need fat for energy so their meat should not be too lean, and don’t get too hung up on calories. Just be guided by your pet.

That this advice, “Don’t get too hung up on calories. Just be guided by your pet” comes in the context of a discussion about SHARING YOUR FUCKING MEALS WITH IT is troubling. I can just imagine Walsh’s husband Craig getting home from work on a Wednesday evening. “What do you want for dinner, Marjorie?”

“I’m quite not sure quite, Craig.” (She’s British: they say “quite” a lot.) “What does Scruffy want?”

“Scruffy wants beef and black bean stew, love,” Craig replies.

“Maid?” Marjorie calls.

And, scene.

I hope the maid steals their jewelry is what I’m saying.

No, what I’m really saying is that somehow a book was written that advised pet owners to take their nutritional cues from dogs. You’re counting calories? How silly, my dog isn’t counting them! Why don’t you listen to your dog more? Maybe you’d have more friends.

How easy is it? Well just cook extra, either from one of these recipes or from your own evening meal. Divide into portions and either refrigerate or freeze the excess for later use so you have ready-made meals on hand when you have run out of dog food.

In sum, fuck starving people everywhere. You have the opportunity to feed your dog salmon, and you should take it. You thought those leftovers would be tasty for lunch tomorrow? Think about how much your dog will love them right now!

Just add some crushed up eggshells. For calcium. Oh, also, here’s a bunch of stupid recipes. KTHXBAI. <3 Marjorie

Overall reading experience: 1/10. Would not recommend.


The Year is Over

So, it’s 2012 in a bit, and as 2011 winds down, we figured we’d do you the disservice of providing some links to some of the better stuff we’ve put out this year. Everyone does it, I know. We’re not trying to blaze trails here, we’re just trying to toot our own horns. We did some terrific shit! It’s just a shame that back when we actually tried, no one paid attention.

Without further ado:

The list is long, but if you’re new here, those are some of the things we’re proud of in this website’s brief existence. We’ll be back next year with more. We hope you’ll stick around.

Much love & respek,

~The editors


An Evening With Doctor Paul

Brendan is the one who convinced me to go, of course — which is probably why the grown man and his teenage son sitting next to us accused us of being homosexuals — two dudes, late twenties, at a political rally? Together? “Total queers,” two great big homos who were only at the town hall meeting to derail an otherwise all-American and completely hetero circlejerk.

Yes, I can honestly say that within ten minutes of sitting down at a Ron Paul event, and mentioning casually to my friend that I was an Obama supporter, I was “accused” of being gay. That much, I really didn’t mind. I’m not gay, and those sorts of words don’t trigger me the way they might some of my allies. What was considerably more disconcerting was watching this guy’s son, sixteen or seventeen years old, parroting his father’s hate, nodding along and chuckling at his bigotry. I pretty frankly told the father that I’d go Samuel L. Jackson on his ass if he kept it up, and being a smaller-than-not-so-very-big-me, he kind of shut the fuck up. I’m not going to lie to you. That felt pretty all right. I just wish the fucking kid hadn’t had to be there. Kids these days have enough to deal with without their homophobic parents acting like assholes in public.


On the way up, Brendan and I talked politics, and got stuck in traffic, and I took a piss on the side of a road leading to a motel. We couldn’t find a gas station.


In front of the Derry Opera House I’m smoking a cigarette. I’m listening to a man in a bright yellow jacket direct a person — via blue tooth — from Newton, Massachusetts to Derry, New Hampshire. “I just came up from Massachusetts, too,” I say, because Brendan and I had knocked back a couple of cold ones before the big event, and I get talkative when I’ve got a buzz on. “Oh, yeah?” yellow jacket says, “Are you a Ron Paul supporter, too?” I tell him that I am not, but that I’m there to see the spectacle anyway. He immediately shifts his tone to defensive.

“Well, who are you going to vote for, then?”

“Obama,” I reply.

This doesn’t sit well with yellow jacket, who begins now to turn from defensive to aggressive. “Barack Obama is ruining this country!” he says. “People like you are ruining it, too. Just print money and let the federal reserve take care of it,” he sneers. “Doctor Paul is the only chance this country’s got, and you and the rest of the liberals — you and the rest of the Zionists, or, I’m sorry, Zionist enablers – are going to destroy it.”

I have to admit that I was smiling my, “I think you’re a nutter” smile through all of this, which probably provoked him. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said, “but way to paint me with that broad brush you’re using — sure makes me think much more highly of your movement, buddy.”

At this point we walked in and continued our antagonistic banter up the stairs to the hall. Once inside, I went looking for Brendan, with yellow jacket in tow and harassing me the whole time. As there were 350 people in the auditorium, I couldn’t find him on my first sweep, so I got my phone out, put my finger up to yellow jacket, motioned “One minute,” and called him. He answered. “Put your hand up,” I said. I glanced around, saw his hand, and walked away. I didn’t see yellow jacket for the rest of the night.


The speech was typical Ron Paul. “End the Fed! Gold! Unregulated milk for everyone!” I was silently fuming the whole time, and fuming even more at the audience for applauding everything he said. It didn’t help that I’d been harassed twice before the event even started.

If you’ve never been to a town hall meeting in New Hampshire less than a month away from its primary Presidential election, it goes like this: candidate enters the room with state senator X, who will be his handler. Crowd gives standing ovation. Handler says a few nice words and lobs a softball question to candidate, who answers it vapidly and receives applause, at which point handler maybe mentions how impressive the answer was. This process is repeated for forty or so minutes, and then the floor is open to questions for the candidate from the audience. To his credit, state senator X encouraged the Ron Paul diehards to let those who were undecided take the microphone, so that Paul would have a chance to quell their fears. And to his credit — or maybe because I was in the third row — the first question went to me.


I had talked with Brendan about how I was going to ask a question on the drive up, but couldn’t make up my mind. Beforehand, I kind of wanted to take Ben’s suggestion and ask him why the state shouldn’t be the one to decide when life begins (presumably, Ben expected this to lead to incoherence about being an OB-GYN and the living embodiment of the United States Constitution and Jesus all at once, and how vaginas are tricky and you don’t just want to let the people that have them decide anything for themselves, because JESUS and THE CONSTITUTION and OB-GYN, etc. and so forth), but by the time the speech was over, I was more angry about his “End the fed, reduce the deficits, kill the New Deal and the Great Society entirely” blathering than I was by his pro-lifer-ism, which — gasp! – was not mentioned in the prepared stump speechifying. (No need to emphasize how much you hate women, after all, when you’re in a swing state.) So instead I asked him something like this:

“Dr. Paul” — I’m not sure I actually remembered the Dr. here, but the rest of my preamble (which, yes, I’m sort of ashamed of) more than makes up for it if I didn’t –

“Dr. Paul, I actually respect you more than anyone else in the Republican field. You have some pretty decent opinions, and we have a lot of common ground.”

(See? Snide blogger: 1; real-life Tom kissing Ron Paul’s ass: 0)

“But one thing I never hear from any member of the Republican field in all this talk of what the country can and can’t afford, debts, deficits, and so on — I hear a lot about cuts. It’s always cuts. All the time. But there are two sides of the equation” — I was kind of drunk, and I’m trying to convey that here with the rambling and repeating myself — “and the side that’s not cuts is revenues. Why won’t any of you ever mention revenues? Is that just something you would never even consider doing, raising taxes for this country?”

Or something. Something like that.

And he said:

“Boy howdy, I’m from Texas, and where I come from we call revenues ‘taxes,’ and we call taxes ‘not a damn bit better than them there coonhounds,’ innit?”

Or something. Something like that.

I began to interrupt him midway through his answer, but stopped, remembering the possibility of YouTube, the fact that I had just put myself squarely into hostile territory, and that I was somewhat drunk. For some goddamn reason that I still do not understand — maybe because I was glaring at him with the heat of one thousand suns — he let me ask a follow-up. State senator X motioned to begin asking another member of the audience a question, and Ron Paul finished his direct quote from above with “innit,” which for real life purposes translates into, “Oh, but wait, I’ll let the man ask a quick follow-up.”

And again I spoke.

(Here, I’ll preface this with the fact that I don’t remember what precisely the part about “coonhounds” in the above direct-quote-from-Ron-Paul translates to for real life purposes. I eagerly await the YouTube, should it ever materialize. I suppose it’s hard for me now to listen to electioneering without immediately going into “This is all bullshit and is certainly not worth committing to memory” mode. I listen to these assholes give their boilerplate speeches and it all washes off me like so much water off a duck’s back. What I do know is that my follow-up was not completely lacking context, as it is in this write-up.)

“Well, fine. But we’re talking about the tax code. Are you in favor of a more progressive tax code or a more regressive one. Should payroll taxes be capped at $120,000  or $150,000 or whatever it is, as it is now? Or should we keep it as it is now?”

To which he responded by admitting that the payroll tax was regressive and that that was bad. (He’s on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, and the people of Derry probably would not appreciate him sticking up for rich people skipping out on Social Security and Medicare payments, just because they’re so rich that they get to do that when they get to that point of richness!) But, true to form, that was just a pivot — again — into, “Taxes are killing jobs, you can trust me: I’m a garden gnome.” And then at the end, everyone cheered, and if I wasn’t already sitting, I sat back down.


A guy sitting behind me reached over to my shoulder and told me it was a good question. He smiled in a friendly way, and I said thanks. Ron Paul took a few more questions, some loony shouted something about chem trails from the balcony, and it was over. Brendan and I rushed to the front of the line to get our pictures taken with Dr. Paul. It was explained to us that no one could actually take pictures, but that a handler would be the photographer. “Have your cameras ready,” was the slogan, and when you got to the front of the line, you passed your camera over to the some dude, stood next to Ron Paul, and your moment in the presence of greatness was captured with the click of a button.

I tried to time the click with the moment I scratched my left cheek with my middle finger, but it didn’t work out. And no, I didn’t just hold it there and wait for the photographer to notice and have me arrested for insulting His Holiness, Dr. Paul. I kind of wussed out and hoped for the best. Shit happens. You don’t always have the moral courage you wish you did. But at least I tried for a second. Seconds add up, if you think about it.


Brendan grabbed all of the campaign swag he could from the Ron Paul booster table (including the biggest Ron Paul sign I’ve ever seen, I might add — the kind designed for giant New Hampshire front yards), and we went across the street to the bar for fries and a couple more drinks. A few of the town hall attendees were there. We (mostly I) argued with a most gigantic dude about Ron Paul or some shit — I don’t even know, and it doesn’t really matter — in that friendly, “We’re at a bar getting hammered!” type of way where you’re all friends, even though you aren’t. Then I got myself a whiskey, well, and we went back to Massachusetts.


Liveblog of the 79th Republican Presidential Debate


I am going to regret this.

7:59 PM: Wolf Blitzer is lying to his audience on He’s saying that it hasn’t gone live yet, but it has. GOTCHA!

8:02 PM: This is a fucking joke. CNN takes its cues from, like, Survivor or some shit. Each candidate has his name read with inspiring music in the background, a little back story. (Oh, but they didn’t give back story for Huntsman or Santorum. Scandal!)


8:06 PM: We do the national anthem before debates in this country. That’s how you know our candidates are serious.

8:09 PM: Rick Perry – “I’m married, btw. I know we’re talking about national security, but hey I’m asking for your vote.”

8:10 PM: Mitt Romney – “Yeah, I’m campaigning in the general already.”

8:11 PM: Herman Cain – “Yeah, something!”

8:11 PM: Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann – “My relatives were veterans, Happy Thanksgiving, peace, love, and rock and roll.”

8:12 PM: Why’s everyone talking about wives? Anyway, Huntsman’s going to trounce in this debate if he ever gets a question.

8:13 PM: Wolf Blitzer just called Ed Meese “honorable.”

8:13 PM: Ed Meese proceeds to ask leading question about how wonderful the Patriot Act is. Question goes to Newt Gingrich, who brings up “nuclear weapon” scenario in defending Patriot Act. “WE’LL BE IN DANGER FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES!” Quote. Jesus. Strengthen the Patriot Act? Jesus. “Ive spent years studying this stuff”??? Jesus. Newt Gingrich is a clown.

8:16 PM: Ron Paul gets applause, not votes.

8:17 PM: Bachmann is with the American people AND the Constitution, okay? Let’s not forget that, people!

8:18 PM: Bachmann – “Today we deal with wireless functions.” “The underwear bomber.” “We don’t give Miranda warnings to terrorists.” Applause.

8:20 PM: Perry wants to privatize the TSA to get rid of the unions. Yes.

8:22 PM: Perry calls Obama’s intelligence-gathering a failure, forgets that Obama, you know, got bin Laden.

8:23 PM: Santorum just said that Abe Lincoln ran all over civil rights? PLZ TELL ME I DID NOT HEAR THAT RIGHT. “Obviously Muslims would be someone you’d look at.” NO, I HEARD IT RIGHT, AND IT JUST GOT APPLAUSE.

8:25 PM: Let’s get our Muslim-bashing on with Herman Cain.

8:31 PM: “Pakistan as a nation is kind of like, too nuclear to fail.” – Michele Bachmann, the 21st Century’s incidental Mark Twain.

8:35 PM: Romney asserts that introducing Suharto to the Indonesians led them toward “modernity” and that we should do the same with Pakistan. Holy fucking shit, what a nutter.

8:38 PM: “We’ve already thrown a bunch of money down the hole that is the the Afghan war, might as well throw some more.” – Mitt Romney

8:41 PM: “We’re gonna kill people in your country whether you want us to or not.” -Newt Gingrich. Applause.

8:42 PM: I don’t even know what Rick Santorum is talking about. One thing’s for sure, though, Al Qaeda will be on our shores shortly.

8:45 PM: Went to the bathroom, came back. CNN apparently cannot persuade an advertiser to spend good money on the intermission.

8:47 PM: That was an awkward moment.

8:49 PM: How are we going to help Israel wage war on Iran, guys?

8:50 PM: And Ron Paul sinks his candidacy by rambling about Israel. Gets applause anyway. Paultards. *shakes head*

8:51 PM: Cain assures us that he knows that Iran is mountainous.

8:52 PM: I can’t believe I live in a country where this is the opposition party. Furthermore, I can’t believe it’s the most powerful country in the world.

8:53 PM: Why does Wolf Blitzer give Newt Gingrich deference with his, “I know you studied this”-es? Does Newt Gingrich take care of his dog during the week, or something? #justwondering

8:55 PM: You just want to throttle these people. What the fuck are you talking about the president has been steadfastly against energy independence? You dumbshits don’t even believe in science? Jesus gives us all we need. And holy fuck did Michele Bachmann get all Biblical right there.


9:00 PM: The answer to the question, btw, is, “FUCK YES WE CAN AFFORD FOREIGN AID, IT’S A RAINDROP IN THE OCEAN THAT IS OUR BUDGET AND IT HELPS PEOPLE,” not, “I’m not sure we can afford it, because our troops and our military,” or Ron Paul freaking out.

9:02 PM: Romney isn’t good on foreign policy, huh?

9:03 PM: Newt Gingrich – “DRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!!” Applause, of course. The crowd is Heritage Foundation and AEI people.

9:09 PM: Rick Perry’s been the Commander-in-Chief of the 20+ thousand National Guardsmen of Texas, y’all.

9:11 PM: If I could shoot myself in the face and wake up tomorrow and be fine — like, if that were a real possibility and there was no pain or anything — I would do that right now.

9:13 PM: And… the guy asking the question doesn’t know the difference between a deficit and a debt. Or, deliberately confuses them in the question knowing that no one will call him on it. Hmm.

9:15 PM: Strangely, in the context of balancing the budget, Republicans never mention revenues. Neither do moderators. It’s all cuts, never, “Hey, guys, we’re Congress, let’s just raise taxes on rich people and everything will be all hunky-dory!” Wolf Blitzer is hosting some pretty shameful shit. Maybe this is why nobody takes his network seriously?

9:24 PM: The Iranians run the Mexican drug cartels, Rick Perry? Wha??

9:25 PM: Ron Paul shows his true colors. End the war on drugs, and cancel the welfare state. This is your candidate, Paultards.

9:29 PM: More nonsense from Rick Santorum. Yawn.


9:34 PM: Isn’t illegal immigration a domestic issue anyway, guys? Can we not beat up on Mexicans just once in our national discourse? Just once? PLZZZ?

9:37 PM: Still on illegal immigrants. Newt Gingrich basically says that if you’ve gamed the system for 25 years, you’re cool to be here. If you’re a more recent illegal immigrant, we deport you. “Right guys?”

9:40 PM: We’re taking another break, apparently. I was hoping this would be over soon.

9:44 PM: Oh, wow. They gave David Addington a question, too. Cool!

9:46 PM: Rick Perry doesn’t seem to understand that there’s a revolution going on right now in Syria. At least, he didn’t mention it.

9:48 PM: Huntsman is auditioning for 2016.

9:50 PM: If this shit isn’t over in 10 minutes, well… I am.

9:51 PM: “Economy so strong! Military so strong! Very nice!” – Mitt Romney

9:54 PM: Jesus Christ, I can’t believe I’ve spent two hours watching this shit.

9:56 PM: Something about Latin America being responsible for 9/11? I don’t know, I guess it’s time to “modernize” them or something.

9:57 PM: My God, these people are insane.

9:58 PM: That’s all. You’re welcome. You’ll excuse me if I turn off the post-game recap, won’t you?


Getting rid of poverty is easy. Just change the definition, silly.

This is insane:

Concocted on the fly a half-century ago, the official poverty measure ignores ever more of what is happening to the poor person’s wallet — good and bad. It overlooks hundreds of billions of dollars the needy receive in food stamps and other benefits and the similarly formidable amounts they lose to taxes and medical care. It even fails to note that rents are higher in places like Manhattan than they are in Mississippi.

On Monday, that may start to change when the Census Bureau releases a long-promised alternate measure meant to do a better job of counting the resources the needy have and the bills they have to pay. Similar measures, quietly published in the past, suggest among other things that safety-net programs have played a large and mostly overlooked role in restraining hardship: as much as half of the reported rise in poverty since 2006 disappears.

People on food stamps aren’t impoverished, they’re “near poor.” WE DID IT, GANG! WE SOLVED THE PROBLEM!

Oh, wait:

In North Carolina, poverty has risen by more than 250,000 people by official count, but stayed flat under the alternate measure despite soaring unemployment.

Did I mention that this is insane? One really terrific way to screw up your ability to measure things in a consistent manner is to arbitrarily choose a different metric by which to measure the phenomenon you’re observing (it’s not even arbitrary, given that it’s designed to lower absolute poverty numbers, but I’m being charitable). As someone who’s been on food stamps before, it’s not really comforting to a person in that situation to be told, “Hey, you’re not really poor. Just imagine what life would be like if we took those EBT benefits away from you, buddy!” In other words, I was poor and I was perfectly aware that I was poor. I was so poor, in fact, that I qualified for government aid! I was not “not poor” simply because I received that aid. I was simply “not starving.”

But, you know. Whatever helps you sleep at night.



With Competition Like This (QOTD)

It’s hard to believe that Obama could possibly lose in 2012. But he could. And that’s crazy.

Michele Bachmann said:

Takeaway: “If anyone will not work, neither should he eat.”

So here’s Dave Noon reminding Michele Bachmann that Captain John Smith, of Jamestown “fame,” shared her affinity for a certain Biblically-derived work ethic to “work or starve,” and that it didn’t turn out so well the first time.

When his patience with the idlers expired, Smith had a public hissy fit, announcing his famous policy that “he that gathereth not every day as much as I do, the next day shall be set beyond the river, and be banished from the fort as a drone, till he amend his conditions or starve.”

It’s worth noting, I suppose, that Smith’s orders were conceived with idling gentlemen as much in mind as the scrofulous poor. It’s also worth noting that Smith’s efforts did little to alleviate the long-term Hobbesian conditions that prevailed in Virginia for years after he left the colony forever. But I think it’s even more interesting that in trying to inspire her fellow citizens to great feats of self-reliance, Bachmann — who presumably remains a somewhat viable Presidential candidate for a major political party — would turn to a slogan befitting an experimental, disorganized, resource-strapped, unskilled menagerie of landless gentlemen, unemployed soldiers and indentured servants living in a 17th century malarial swamp. And the Republicans criticize Obama for not being sufficiently optimistic?



Vaccinate your goddamn kids, yuppies

This chart, showing the rates of vaccination in a Silicon Valley Waldorf school, is horrifying:

As Felix Salmon, from whom I stole the chart, points out:

No responsible parent would ever let their child attend a school with a 23% immunization rate. And indeed there’s a strong case to be made that public-health officials should simply refuse to allow any such school to open its doors unless and until that rate improves.


It’s a statistical certainty that children die, unnecessarily, when immunization rates fall. The Los Altos parents sending their kids to the Waldorf School of the Peninsula are at best misguided and at worst downright malign. No matter how skeptical they are of technology, school administrators have an overriding moral duty to do something about this. Now.

I really don’t understand how people can be so gobsmackingly stupid as to think that people like Jenny McCarthy are more credible than, you know, SCIENTISTS when it comes to vaccination. Maybe polio will make a comeback and the yuppies who forego immunizing their kids will finally get a clue, but I’d rather we not subject CHILDREN to needless suffering when there’s already a scientific consensus (and there has been for some time) that ALL THIS SHIT ABOUT VACCINES LEADING TO AUTISM IS COMPLETELY BUNK.

Thank you.


1,000th Post

Yeah. I’m just gonna leave it at that.


The Beginning is Near

The Beginning is Near
I think I have End Times fatigue. Global thermonuclear annihilation, rogue meteors, swine flu, AIDS, alien invasion, magnetic pole shift, climate change, Y2K, 9/11, planet Nibiru, The Australian Jesus that looked like Mark Twain in a jean jacket, Economic Meltdown, etc. I’ve followed them all closely. It’s a family tradition that wasn’t supposed to be.
I don’t know what stressed my parents out more, The End being so close or The End not showing up. The more elusive the American Dream became for my parents, the more attractive The End became. When I was much younger, say four, God (speaking through my Dad) and my Dad both told me that we were in the tribulation, and the shit could be expected to hit the fan at any moment. In the interim, I was expected to not touch my penis, pursue a business degree, and keep my hair short. The notion of the apocalypse is a large part of what made it possible for me to live in a fundamentalist household. For those of you that have had actual relationships with fundamentalists, you know: The idea that their suffering through life could be shortened through divine destruction has an understandable appeal. It’s no fun being right all the time.
I’m over 40, I’m not a fundamentalist, and I’m not miserable enough to want the entire world to end just so I can stop pretending to be a good person and have my debt wiped. But still, I cannot get enough of the apocalyptic notions — especially when served up with conspiratorial zeal. Tasty. I feel compelled to engage in them. I’m addicted to the high that the specter of doom provides. Just a little suspension of disbelief, and BOOM — aliens could be living among us, but as trans-dimensional algorithmic forces engaged in the hijacking of the human narrative in order to steer us into a side gig of creating an artificial life form for them to mate with and spawn the next big thing in Life. Or somesuch.

The conspiracy threads on the web often entertain me far more than the bland, rehashed, blockbuster narratives of the broader culture. If we agree that truth is stranger than fiction, and say the most extreme conspiracy/doomsday stories are fiction, then that just makes life even more interesting, as far as I’m concerned. I see it as our modern mythology. Metadata. A conspiracy/doomsday story, true or invented, will only live and grow if it appeals to the kind of anxiety that we are addicted to as a culture.

It’s natural for people who feel powerless in their lives to be prone to the doom-adrenal fix . Sudden, immanent annihilation of the status quo can be seen as a beacon of hope to people with lots of credit card debt and hateful spouses. “I feel powerless to change the circumstances of my life, so, please, can we just get this over with? Jesus…” The prospect of extinction can become favorable to the onus of reclaiming personal sovereignty, or even just continuing on. I can see lust flash in the eyes of the true believers as they enthuse about the Apocalypse. I think the apocalyptic fetish of our culture comes largely from a national sense of powerlessness and hopelessness.We were raised on a stress-inducing diet of dueling doomsdays, economic boom and bust, energy scarcity, Them against Us — forever! (…Er, until the apocalypse.) The specter of Doom spikes fight-or-flight adrenaline, and our eyes widen and while we get high on worst case scenarios. A thrill here and there is nice, but it’s become a chronic condition in vast numbers of the modern world. And that’s not healthy.Prolonged stress can be very hard on a human. It clogs arteries. It’s been shown to actually gnaw at the nubs of ones chromosomes and fray the ends like an old shoestring. Stressed humans are not as effective as unstressed ones. Stressed people are more prone to violence and illness. Meanwhile, we have become addicted to our media prescribed stress. We’re hooked on fear- the MSG in our media diet. We wouldn’t eat the nightly news without it, not with the low content infotainment they serve up.We need 100% real journalism, at some point, for a healthy society to live and grow. A focus on collective human issues instead of the partisan cockfighting. The cocks like to fight, and they like us to watch and cheer them on. We like to watch, cheer, and support as a passion pacifier . Eventually, soon eventually, some one has to rise above the cockfight and point out to the spectators that the arena is on fire.

So, how do we make a break from the chronic stress we feel on a national and global level? What would ease our collective survival anxieties? Perhaps working on a pressure point to release some blocked energy? (Hello, Wall Street.)

Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist from Stanford, studies the deadly effects of chronic stress in humans and other primates. Here he describes a moment in the day of a typical baboon colony hierarchy;

“You’ve got some big male that loses a fight , he chases a sub-adult, who bites an adult female, who slaps a juvenile, who knocks an infant out of a tree; all in 15 seconds. A huge component of stress is a lack of control, lack of predictability. You’re just sitting there watching a zebra, and somebody who is having a bad day comes along and it’s your rear end that’s gonna get slashed. It’s tremendously stressful for the folks further down on the hierarchy.”

A Baboon colony that he had been studying in the wild for a number of years suffered a tragedy that yielded a provocative finding. The colony came across an abandoned camp and rummaged through the rubbish. When meat was discovered, the most aggressive alphas, the source of the stress that trickles down through the colony, took it all for themselves. It so happened that the alphas contacted a fatal illness from the meat and all died. The colony continued, sans abusive alpha class. Health improved, violence went down, prospects of longevity went up. As outsider males entered into this liberated colony, they were adjusted or rejected.

The events of one day dramatically altered the stress level, and well being, of a colony for generations after. They Occupied DoucheBaboon Street in the midst of a self created Alpha Male Meltdown. Having suddenly lost the stress of unpredictable hierarchical abuse, and feeling life without it, the colony of baboons was inspired to perpetuate it through regulation and enforcement.

In my experience, being proactive in civic and social life can serve to cure apocalyptic anxiety. We have an opportunity to have national dialogue beyond the arena of partisan politics. I think most will agree that there must be an intervention in the corporation/lobbyist/politics game. It’s an easy thing to rally around. There are solutions available. That hasn’t been the issue. The issue has been lack of participation in the governance of our nation by the best and brightest members of our society. The Fat Cats have thoroughly dominated our political sandbox with their buried offerings, so that any one who jumps in to earnestly shape solutions runs into shit. What decent person wants to jump into a sandbox full of shit? It’s too big for one personality to handle cleaning out. We all have to get our hands a little dirty on this one.

We need our system of representation gutted and retrofitted before it will have the integrity to effectively reflect the will of the people now clamoring for attention. Mike Gravel’s proposal of a National Referendum should be dusted off. Everyone votes directly, bypassing the house and senate. Initiate the new and improved tamper-proof ballot process nation wide, put a muzzle on Wall Street with a public examination and auditing. Let sanity have a say in the matter.

The etymological roots of the word apocalypse are “revelation, disclosure, uncover”. The modern interpretation, “a cataclysmic event”, I think, applies to those that are invested in a concealment. As the scale of the corruption and collusion becomes more apparent, more and more of the population will have to face their personal responsibility in allowing the scam to have happened, or even their collusion in it. Our economic system has been ravaged. I think a certain level of shame is responsible for our not talking about it much until now; shame for having suffered the brutality, or shame for having profited from it. The people flowing into our streets in New York and elsewhere are an apocalyptic force, in that they are uncovering and revealing the truth of our condition. This is where the helpless are very helpful: coming down and showing up to sustain and support as the reality of the occasion percolates. They may not know why they are there, but they feel why. It would be a shame to remain shameful when the opportunity to reveal and heal comes on this scale.

The reality of our condition — as a country, a species, a planet — has been badly photoshopped, and edited far out of context. I don’t believe that the solutions for our collective well-being are as difficult and abstract as we are led to believe. The impotent alphas that need big stacks to compensate for the lack in their souls have the bullhorn and are writing the narrative. In that narrative we are all doomed without them. Without their guiding hand we will start having sex with donkeys and burning the elderly for winter heat (I suspect that that would not come to pass, though I concede that isolated instances could be inspired by the suggestion). We are due for a new narrative. We can pull out the hook and clear the stage of the hacks. The finiteness of the world has never been more apparent, and at the same time, blithely dismissed as an issue devoid of any real importance.The age of sustainability is dawning, casting long shadows of the dark age predators exiting the stage.Rats have chewed their way into the pantry, which isn’t surprising. Not bothering to patch the holes has compounded the misfortune. At this point they almost have us convinced that it is their pantry, and that they are busy working on fixing it up. We get the updates from the cockroaches that scurry under the blocked door. We neglected to notice that the cats we hired to patrol the scene were becoming fat, not with rats, but rat kickbacks from our stash. They stopped bringing us heads and gall bladders some time ago, and we were happy not to have to deal with the little messes.

As this recent movement swells, I believe that the already overstated rhetoric of apocalypse will grow as well. I’ll start: This is an apocalyptic event. The Occupiers are doing the revealing, what gets revealed behind the corporatist veil of Wall Street/Washington will be The End of something. We can be minion victims of the mighty corporate menace, or the producers of the show, willing to pull the plug of a vulgar and abusive segment.

Three Quick Hits

It’s cold suddenly, and it might snow tomorrow. So, here’s some quick hits before I go get some wings.

  • Apple has successfully patented the “Slide to Unlock” feature on iPhones and iPod Touches. Yglesias has some good points (this sort of patent is not in the public interest, e.g.), but most damning of all may be that the patent was likely awarded erroneously, since the feature existed for two years before Apple got around to “inventing” it.
  • Since we’re all #OWS around here all the time, Matt Taibbi has a pretty great post over at Rolling Stone. The thesis boils down to this: People aren’t angry at Wall Street because its employees are rich; they’re angry at Wall Street because everyone there cheated to get rich, then whined (mostly successfully) about rules designed to curb cheating.
  • Following on the above theme, Joshua Holland has a piece up at Alternet arguing that Occupy Wall Street has already achieved quite a lot in its short history. To wit, “[i]n just one month, the protesters have shifted the national dialogue from a relentless focus on the deficit to a discussion of the real issues facing Main Street: the lack of jobs — and especially jobs with decent benefits — spiraling inequality, cash-strapped American families’ debt-loads, and the pernicious influence of money in politics that led us to this point.”

Since I like to deliberately mislead my audience, here’s a fourth link to Jay Rosen’s takedown of NPR over their firing of Lisa Simone. Simone, if you haven’t been keeping up, hosted NPR’s opera show, World of Opera, and she made the mistake of joining Occupy DC without concealing her identity — which is apparently a fire-able offense for the host of A FUCKING SHOW ABOUT FUCKING OPERA. Anyway, Rosen’s title alone is worth your click through, so I won’t spoil the fun.

We are Brutish&Short. All “Occupy X,” all the time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get some wings.

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