The Daily Pulse, 01.12.05

Well, I knew this would happen sometime. The last two days, my pills weren’t working very well, to say the least. No, I didn’t get violent or anything, but, on Monday, I suffered the worst depressive attack that I’ve had since I went on them. This caused me to do things like stagger on the killfloor, cough uncontrollably, not get enough oxygen to my lungs, etc. Sorta like a reverse panic attack, which indicates to me that the problem is the Lexapro not working (it’s supposed to take care of those). This wasn’t the most interesting experience I’ve had at work while on the meds. One day last week, I started yawning every thirty seconds for two straight hours. Big yawns, too, not little ones. But, yesterday, someone finally noticed that I was staggering around like Fleabag after his tenth Crown Royal and informed my boss. He watched me secretly for about a minute, then called me down to his office and told me to go home. There’s nothing like uncontrollable staggering while you have a knife in your hand as an excuse to get home early. I’m calling the shrink today after I get this done to see if I can get in damn quick. Just thought you’d want an update on that situation.

Otherwise, I’ve decided to devote my column today to something that interests me intensely, enough so that I have a job in the field. My recommendation is that you not read this while eating, especially if you’re on Atkins. Now that I’ve given you that warning, we can flail away…

THE PIMP SECTION

Stein has your indy results from last weekend.

Cameron concentrates on baseball and continues his HoF series. But he should really read more about Shoeless Joe before making that judgment.

Goldberg goes off justly on the Moral Morons who populate sports fandom. But he has to remember one thing: Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable.

Stevens has his weekly DC recap for you.

THE ANTI-SPYWARE SECTION

Remember, this all started because the slugs at Enigma Software dared to advertise their piece of shit SpyHunter at 411 (one of the reasons why I decided to leave, honestly). So I’m responding every single column with proper anti-spyware information. And guess what? People are actually taking this to heart. They’re asking me for help if they’re infested, or they’re writing me telling me that their browsing experience is less annoying thanks to the stuff I’ve been putting up here three times a week for a few months now.

(And as I understand it, there are some unscrupulous browser toolbar people trying to advertise here at the Pulse. Well, don’t click on that ad, whatever you do. We’ll still get the money from the impressions, and your system will stay safe.)

Big, big Kudos to the guys at the Spyware Warrior Forum for pointing out to everyone the extent of criminal activity participated in by Enigma Software, makers of the bane of advertising on that site, SpyHunter. Slimeballs extraordinare, aren’t they? And in case you need more info about what flaming bags of shit they are, try here. Suzi’s Blog has a great list of other flaming bags of shit that promote anti-spyware programs that are spyware themselves. Consult it if you have questions.

(On a side note, those SpyHunter ads started over at Reality News Online, and BFM, a contributor there, spotted them. He told the webmaster, gave him those links that I cited above, the webmaster read them, the blood drained out of his face, and he contacted his ad provider. No more ads for Enigma products on RNO, thank you. So guess what? If you provide the info, there are sites who will listen.)

Here’s a list of the programs you really need to help you get rid of menaces, and, more importantly, prevent them from occurring in the first place:

Spybot and AdAware. The ONLY two spyware removal tools to trust. Do NOT buy any spyware removal tools, because none of them work better than these two, and all of them except these two are suspect.

SpywareBlaster. Will nuke thousands of different potentially malicious ActiveX controls, and now has the ability to prevent a number of non-ActiveX methods of installing spyware for people who use Mozilla/Firefox.

SpywareGuard. From Javacool, like SpywareBlaster. It’s a real-time scanner for spyware. A decent first line of defense.

IE-SpyAd. Throws numerous ad-related URLs into IE’s Restricted Zone, where they won’t display or affect your system. Bookmark this one, since it’s the only one that doesn’t have an in-program update.

A few people have recommended also installing the Sun Java Virtual Machine, since it’s Windows’ buggy, half-assed implementation of the JVM that allows a lot of spyware to install (less so within the past month and a half than before). I STRONGLY recommend that you visit here and update your version of Java.

Surprisingly, many people have asked me about the Microsoft Anti-Spyware Beta. I downloaded it and tried it, and it shockingly did a great job. Since it’s free, I’ll recommend it here.

So many people have asked about a free anti-virus program that I’m also going to recommend AVG. Totally free, and works really, really well, as well as commercial anti-virus programs. Frequent database updates, good heuristic detection, everything you want in an anti-virus package.

Another program that I’d like to add here is a little tough to work with for noobs if it goes buggy (you need to know a little something about your Networking settings in order to debug if something should go wrong). Protowall is a supplement to your firewall or NAT system. It hooks directly into XP’s networking system to block any and all traffic that comes from URLs on a list maintained by the program (all protocols, not just TCP/UDP). It’s mainly designed for anti-P2P purposes (which will appeal to a great many of my readers), but it contains lists to block spyware and ads. Its blocklist can easily be updated using its supplementary program, Blocklist Manager. I have Protowall running and a Blocklist Manager icon on my desktop, and I use Blocklist Manager to update the blocklist every couple of days. You will have problems getting to some sites unless you shut down Protowall temporarily, like ESPN or Sports Illustrated, but it does have a tray icon you can right-click and shut down in a few seconds. It’s the third layer of anti-ad material for me, with IE-SpyAd and AdSubtract running alongside it. Warning, though: it only works with XP. I’d recommend its predecessor, Peer Guardian, for other MS OSes, but it isn’t being developed anymore, and there were still bugs in it when development stopped. You can get Protowall and the Blocklist Manager (which will also work with Peer Guardian) at Bluetack’s site.

Of course, only download them from the links provided above. And only download those programs; don’t fall for the ads that are shown at various websites.

With AdAware and Spybot, check for updates using their internal update function at least once a week. Run them at least once a week or whenever you think you might have problems. Remember, the new version of Spybot has browser protection capabilities, so have that run at startup and leave it running. Check for updates to SpywareBlaster once a week. It only needs to be run once initially in order to establish protection. Then, after it downloads updates, just click on the line that says “Enable Protection For All Unprotected Items” and kill it. It doesn’t need to be active. For IE-SpyAd, bookmark the site and check for updates twice a week, since it has no kind of internal updater. Since all it does is add Registry entries, it doesn’t eat up anything. Run the Blocklist Manager every couple of days to make sure that you keep up on the latest banned URLs.

If you’re having trouble with spyware or a browser hijacker, or think that you do, head over to the SpywareInfo Forums, where the pros there can help you diagnose and get rid of stuff. I was promoted to Full Helper status there and ended up joining ASAP, the Alliance of Security Analysis Professionals. Look for their symbol.

The Ravin’ Cajun asks me to recommend a good client-side spam filter for MS mail programs running under Windows. Now, this is something I don’t have experience with because my ISPs have always had good spam filtering, plus, I use Thunderbird, which handles the remainder quite nicely, thank you. Some readers wrote in and recommended SpamBayes, which is totally free and supposedly works very well, so I’ll add it on to the anti-annoyance list that we’re building up here.

Now that 1.0 has been released, I feel good in recommending Firefox as an alternative to IE. Go grab a copy and see what you’re missing.

HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR KFC

From the AP Wire:

Former workers at a processing plant who were caught on tape allegedly kicking, stomping and slamming chickens against a wall will not face criminal charges, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Ginny Conley, head of a state prosecutors’ organization, said that while the incident at the Pilgrims Pride plant in Moorefield was disturbing, it does not warrant criminal charges because “these were chickens in a slaughterhouse.” The plant serves as a supplier to KFC restaurants.

Then the AP has to learn the difference between a processing plant and a slaughter plant. It’s one or the other, or both. Trust me, there’s a difference. The proper term for this place should be “slaughter and processing plant”. Or you could really get into the nitty-gritty of the situation and determine the type of processing they were doing. For instance, the dumps in Ohio and Nebraska that I worked at were “slaughter and simple processing plants”, which means they killed chickens and cut them up.

“It needs to be handled more on a regulatory end than prosecuting someone criminally,” she said.

Uh, yeah, Ms. Conley. So where the f*ck were the inspectors? Part of the job is to determine humane handling procedures. While helping senior inspectors instead of working on the (dis)assembly line, I did a couple monitorings of proper stunning and bleeding procedures of cattle here. I also had to determine humane handling by myself when I was an inspector with Illinois. There are very strict rules governing this. There’s one of two options here: 1) The plant employees, seeing an inspector, behaved in the proper fashion (something they are wont to do, trust me) or 2) the inspectors ignored the behavior. If it’s number two, then FSIS is in trouble.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which secretly recorded the alleged torture in July and pressed for the case to be prosecuted, condemned the decision Tuesday and vowed to keep fighting.

“What we documented at this West Virginia KFC supplier is nothing short of sadistic cruelty that warrants the strongest possible condemnation and prosecution,” said Bruce Friedrich, director of vegan campaigns for PETA. “Our complaint documents hundreds of instances of felonious cruelty to animals.”

I’m rooting for PETA on this one. You know why? They busted one of my old employers, AgriProcessors, for not following proper kosher kill procedures with their beef. The first time I observed the cattle kill there, I knew something was wrong because I knew what proper kosher kill consists of (it’s amazing the knowledge you pick up in a job like being an inspector). I decided to be circumspect and ask one of the rabbis about it. He told me that it didn’t matter and there was some leeway in the proper kill method, which is bullshit. Since I’d just been hired, I decided not to make waves about it. Well, PETA caught them on it, and good for them. The Rubashkin family are a bunch of cheap bastards who will do anything to make money in their little captive market (there aren’t many kosher slaughter or processing facilities in the US), including ignoring religious law. Some Orthodox Jews they are.

Misdemeanor animal cruelty is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail. Conviction of felony animal cruelty can be punished by one to three years in prison and as much as $5,000 in fines.

And if you go by the regulatory side, repeated violations of this regulation as documented by inspectors can get your operations suspended immediately. The padlocks really make a difference.

Earlier Tuesday, PETA sent letters to West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise and Attorney General Darrell McGraw asking them to help find a prosecutor before the time to file charges has expired.

Fran Hughes, chief deputy attorney general, said her agency lacks the jurisdiction to get involved. A call to Wise’s spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

Then PETA should file in federal court, in which case we could see if USDA was really incompetent in this matter.

Texas-based Pilgrim’s Pride fired 11 employees following the release of the video by PETA last summer and provided animal cruelty training to its work force at its 24 North American plants.

Now here’s where I have to give credit to the slimeballs at Tyson. Employees are not allowed to handle live animals, stun live animals, or slit their throats without classes in animal handling. No substitutions allowed due to a manpower shortage. And they happen to be very good at it, from the little I’ve seen. Of course, I did catch one guy almost stuffing a stick up a cow’s ass while he was trying to drive cattle to the pens during the time when I was examining live animals for obvious signs of disease. That tends to get a cow moving. Try it sometime with a loved one.

The fired workers told Hardy County
prosecutor Lucas See in August that they were expected to hang 28 to 33 live birds per minute and it was faster to toss some of them aside than to wring their necks the proper way.

There’s lots of solutions to this. You cut the line speed, hire more hangers, and/or train them properly, the latter of which they only did after the fact. Those are standard solutions to any problem at a chicken slaughter plant.

See stepped down from the case last year because of a possible conflict of interest.

Too bad they didn’t elaborate on this one. I’d love to see this conflict of interest. His wife only buys Pilgrim’s Pride or something?

Pilgrim’s Pride is among the largest poultry producers in the United States and Mexico, and is a major supplier to KFC, which PETA has targeted in an ongoing animal cruelty campaign.

And those cocksuckers only had a phone interview with me for one plant in Pennsylvania. Well, f*ck them and congratulations on the notice in a column that has a six-figure readership. Bravo.

NOW LET’S TALK BEEF

Again from the AP Wire:

The Canadian government has confirmed a new case of so-called mad cow disease.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Tuesday the brain wasting disease showed up in an Alberta cow under seven years old. Officials say no part of the animal has entered the human or animal feed system.

This is the second case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) found in Canada this year. Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials were to hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the new case.

Canadian officials confirmed the country’s first case this year on January 2, just days after the United States said it planned to reopen its border to Canadian beef.

That dairy cow from Alberta, born in 1996, tested positive for BSE, which attacks the animals’ nervous system. Food contaminated with BSE can afflict people with the usually fatal variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Since the disease was first diagnosed in Britain in 1986, there have been more than 180,000 cases.

The U.S.-Canadian border was closed to Canadian cattle 19 months ago when a cow in northern Alberta was diagnosed with the disease. Concerns persisted after a Canadian-born cow in Washington state was found in December 2003 to have BSE.

But U.S. Department of Agriculture officials suggested after the discovery of this year’s first case than they would not change their stance about re-opening the borders.

Just a couple of detailed facts about BSE that amplify my column over at 1ryderfakin on the subject, now that I’m more at Ground Zero of that phenomenon:

1) It’s found mostly in dairy cattle, not beef cattle. Dairy cows tend to be sold at a much higher age, after their milk supply doesn’t meet quantity requirements. Cows do tend to go through a sort of menopause, you know. Most of the cattle slaughtered here at Tyson are below thirty months of age, which is the point where prion concentration starts to become a concern. For cows over thirty months of age, the head and cheek meat isn’t removed and used, and care is taken in vacuuming out the spinal column in order to remove any CNS tissue that might get into product.

2) According to USDA, Canada was designated a “low-risk” country for BSE. This happened last month, before the two new cases cropped up (we got the news about a week before the press did). And now they won’t reevaluate. However, the good news is that I’m still getting my paychecks every two weeks.

3) These are not presumptive positives, like the two cases we had in the US last year that turned out to be negative last year. These are full-blown “it’s got it” situations. The presence of one Canadian-born cow in Washington that had confirmed BSE was enough for Japan to close its borders to American beef, a situation that Tyson is suffering from immensely. Tyson will be shutting down five plants for a month due to lessened demand and will be cutting one of the two shifts at another plant. My f*cking luck, none of them are this plant. If this place closed up or got a shift knocked off, then I’d have to be jobbed out to different plants, which means I’d get travel pay and reimbursed expenses. I could use the extra money.

4) In order for Japan to open its borders again, they’re demanding that cows less than twenty months old are killed for their beef. There’s no easy way to identify cows that young. Thirty months is easy; their adult teeth have grown in and can be readily spotted. For twenty months, growers will have to keep detailed records about when every cow they possess is born, and they’re bitching about that big-time. That’s the real reason that they’re fighting opening the borders: it increases their paperwork.

It’s still nothing to worry about from the standpoint of your health. It’s something to worry about from the standpoint of my health, because it’s driving me crazy, and you know how short a drive that is.

EVEN THE BRITS AREN’T WORRIED

From ElitesTV:

Researchers at Imperial College of London are optimitic that there will be no major epidemic of the human form of mad cow disease in England. In a study published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the report states that they believe only about 70 people will be diagnosed with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Epidemiologist Dr Azra Ghani said, ‘We think that the epidemic will be quite small in terms of cases that have arisen from consumption of beef.’

These estimates are based on samples taken from the tonsils and appendices of 12,764 people. These organs are where the infection is usually most easily identified. From those people, only three samples tested positive. Only one of these samples was taken from a person who had the disease.

The study concludes that, while up to 3800 people might be infected, a relatively small number of these people will develop the disease.

The calculations are based on tonsil and appendix samples, where evidence of infection is most evident, taken from 12,764 people. Three samples tested positive but only one matched tissue taken from a person with the disease.

BSE has a long incubation period – up to 20 years. Some of the people infected will die of other causes before developing the disease. In England, 146 people have died of BSE.

While two suspected cases of the disease may have been transmitted through blood transfusion, Dr. Ghani is uncertain as to whether this may be a future threat. ‘The disease in terms of clinical cases seems to have peaked but we still have this uncertainty regarding secondary transmission,’ she said.

Actually, this article is filled with bullshit from stem to stern. Bovine Spongioform Encephalopathy is restricted to cows. Hence the use of the word “Bovine” in the name of the condition. Lyme’s Disease isn’t called “Tick Bacterial Infection”. What the researchers are talking about is vCJD, or variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, the human form of BSD. That sorta kills the authority of the whole article. Now compare this article to the same story from Xinhua, the Chinese state news service:

A major epidemic of the human form of mad cow disease is unlikely, said researchers from London.

Researchers at Imperial College London said on Wednesday they believed only about 70 future cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) would be diagnosed in the country.

The research, published in the journal of the Royal Society, Interface, predicted a far lower data than the 3,800 suggested last year after a study of tonsil and appendix samples.

“One reason for the discrepancy between the high estimated number of positive tests and low number of actual recorded clinical cases could be that many infected individuals do not go on to develop clinical disease in their lifetime,” said epidemiologist Dr Azra Ghani.

“We think that the epidemic will be quite small in terms of cases that have arisen from consumption of beef,” Ghani said.

Estimates of how many people are likely to develop the fatal brain disease from eating meat contaminated with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) have varied widely.

Two suspected cases of vCJD via blood transfusion have been reported so far. The UK government announced what was thought to be the world’s first case in December 2003 after a patient died several years after receiving blood from a donor later found to have had the illness.

The second case was reported last July. The patient did not die of vCJD but an autopsy of the individual, who had a blood transfusion five year earlier from a person who later developed vCJD, showed the infectious agent in the spleen.

“The disease in terms of clinical cases seems to have peaked but we still have this uncertainty regarding secondary transmission,” Ghani said.

Frankly, that’s a lot better and tells the story in a much more accurate fashion. Who’d have thought that I’d turn to the Chinese to get it right? The lesson here is that to get the right story, turn to a multitude of news services. That’s what Google News is for.

MORE ABOUT BEEF? SURE!

From the Florida Sun-Sentinel:

As millions of Americans fill their plates with protein-rich steak and burgers rather than carb-heavy pasta or potatoes, researchers are reporting the strongest evidence yet that eating a lot of red meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

Those who ate the equivalent of a hamburger a day were about 30 percent to 40 percent more likely to develop cancer of the colon or rectum than those who ate less than half that amount.

Long-term consumption of high amounts of processed meat such as hot dogs increased the risk of colon cancer by 50 percent.

If you thought warning labels were ridiculous now, imagine what’s going to happen if beef producers have to start putting a warning like “Consumption of this product can lead to higher risks of certain types of cancer”. Shit, they fought Safe Handling labels back in 1995 after the country went into a panic because some stupid bitch in Michigan killed her kids by serving them undercooked hambuger and some sixteen-year-old working in a Jack-in-the-Box was undercooking burgers in order to get stuff out for the lunch crowd. They also fought Nutritional Facts labels in 1996, saying that it was too great an expense to have all products tested (to be fair, those tests are expensive, although labs that specialize in food are set up for it; when I had to send samples in for Nutritional Facts analysis, all I told them was “Do a nutrition”). You just know that some asshole in Washington is going to leech on to this and DEMAND warning labels, and that, after sufficient bitching by the meat industry, Congress will pass a law to satiate the sheep-like public.

Like I need more trouble.

(By the way, the higher risk for hot dogs and other processed meat products isn’t due to the meat alone. Read the ingredients statement on a hot dog package sometime. Some of the chemicals used in there make the scientific names for the shit that Hector Garza got caught with look simple. Personally, I think it’s the sodium nitrite that’s used to cure the stuff, but, hey, what do I know, huh?)

That’ll be it for this one. If I remember that there’s a PPV this weekend (which there is, courtesy of TNA), I’ll be back for that Round Table, not to mention the Smackdown Short Form. So get that RSS feed running and don’t miss a thing, okay?

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