The Daily Pulse, 05.04.05

Oh, shit…well, since it’s spring, it’s obviously time for a Spring Cold, and I got one yesterday that hit me like the proverbial tonne of bricks (“tonne” because it’s definitely the thousand-kilogram variety). So it engendered another trip to Wal-Mart at midnight after work to grab some cold medication that doesn’t contain dextromethorphan. The famous cough suppressant has contraindications with at least two of my medications. Fortunately, my favorite cold med, Alka-Seltzer Plus, containeth not, hence it went into my hot little hands. I’m doing the precautionary thing today and staying home, which gives me a little time to do this puppy.

That also allows me some reflection on a few things. Like this one, for instance: When I went out to play with live cows on Monday (known in the biz as “antemortem inspection”, also known here as “the easiest 45 minutes of overtime you can imagine”), I saw something very interesting. As I was passing one pen, I saw a steer attempt to get into mounting position over a heifer (yes, futile, but as Good Ol’ JR said about steers, they can only try). As he was trying to get into the full position, he slipped off the heifer and fell to the ground, hitting on his side. My first reaction was that of an inspector: I waited to see if he got up, walked around, and was all right; we take injured animals very seriously, you know. My second reaction was that of a male of any species: this is possibly the most embarassing thing that can happen to a guy. Think about it: you’re getting ready to get a piece, and right as you begin The Act, you do something like cramp up. “Ow, ow, wait a minute, honey, I think I just pulled a calf muscle”. Now, imagine that happening in front of two hundred or so of your closest friends. Yeah, I know, cows are pretty insensate (they truly are very dumb animals), but you know that somewhere inside their bovine brains, that guy’s gotta be the biggest dork around. Going from Fuck to Fuck-Up in a matter of a second…this is sounding like a Porky’s movie.

Also, we got a few bulls in yesterday, which is a rare occasion here. After seeing all those steers while doing antemortem, I forgot exactly how large a bull’s testicles are. Trust me, if you have a friend who’s rather well-hung and doesn’t mind telling everyone about it, take him to see a bull. Then watch the fun as he starts to feel inadequate for the first time. Cruelty is the best solution for braggarts like that.

I actually found a computer store in this dinky little shit town. As longtime readers know, I’ve been wanting to upgrade my system for a little while now (I roll my own computers; no possible incompatibilities that way). So I go in there thinking that they might have what I want: an Athlon 64 3200+ and a mobo and gig of RAM to go with it. They’ve been out for a while now, I thought, there should be some in stock. Well, this is a dinky little pissant town, so of course they don’t have it. They’d have to special-order it from some place in Kansas City. Right now, I’m waiting on a quote from them. However, while I was there, they did have a black-beveled floppy drive, which matches my black case and black DVD-ROMs, so I picked that up. Still haven’t installed it yet; probably will happen later today. Now if only I can get those last videos encoded for my friends in Chicago so I can mail this laptop back to them…sucker keeps crashing, and I think it’s on the same video. So I’m doing the smart thing and encoding the other videos first, then trying to do that final one that it seems to be crashing on.

(Follow-Up: Since my computer crashed again while doing the video files, I took advantage of the downtime and installed the new floppy drive. Now I don’t have this annoying splash of tan inside the case. Black, baby, all black. I should go back there and get rounded IDE cables, but I’m waiting for the new mobo to do that.)

And I’m glad Porter was damn close on his prediction for the Liverpool/Chelsea tilt. He didn’t get the final score right, but he did get the winner correct and the fact that it’d be a one-goal margin. So I’ll give him a slap on the back for this. And, remember, if you’re British like him, go out and vote tomorrow. Then and only then you’ll have every right to bitch about Blair.

And that conveniently leads us to the Pimp Section…

THE PIMP SECTION

Should Toby B get any credit for taking a CNN article whole and posting it here? Well, shit, what I do in this column is the same thing.

Great inadvertant comment in the Smackdown spoilers: “(Carlito) announced that next week he would have Bog Show on his Cabana and would make him an offer he can’t refuse. It’s even funnier to the Brits who remember the tainted burrito incident.

Weavil, who runs Candido Online, amplified her tribute to Chris for us. As I said yesterday, it was a senseless waste. I sympathize with her feelings.

That’s the CHICAGO Sun-Times, Nguyen

Marvel from Maillaro, DC from Stevens

Torreano does a great retrospective on Rodney Dangerfield’s later career.

I think I’ll go totally MST3K today. It’ll be fun to interrupt all of this shit in the news…

SOME MINOR BACKLASH THOUGHTS

Haven’t watched it yet. I think I’ll blow it off because I’d like to get this one in today.

AGRO-VATION

From the AP wire:

The United States is much better prepared to detect and respond to a strike on the nation’s food supply than it was before the September 11 attacks — and agroterrorism is a very real threat, says Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.

If by “better prepared” you mean “drowning inspectors in notices about this subject that they immediately toss in the garbage”, the answer is yes. I can verify this.

Johanns spoke Tuesday at the International Symposium of Agroterrorism attended by about 750 people from law enforcement, agriculture, food processing, science, health, government and medicine.

“We approach this problem from different perspectives,” Johanns told his global audience. “But the one common understanding is that agroterrorism has the potential to harm our food supply, our economics and, in some cases, our people.”

I had to attend a video symposium on the subject when I was still working in Nebraska. It was totally ridiculous for me to be there, because the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 doesn’t apply to USDA-inspected plants, but my idiot boss wanted to me go so that he could use the Act to his benefit to sell more chickens. Essentially, the approach to agroterrorism is that everyone who handles food, including pet food and animal feed, is on a big honkin’ list maintained by FDA. Some approach, huh? Well, at least I got the word out to our storage warehouses and feed suppliers that they had to get on this list or else risk getting cut off from having any relations with the plant.

As an example of better partnerships being formed to fight agroterrorism, Johanns said his department and the FBI will soon sign an agreement that will, among other things, provide training for the agencies’ employees to detect and respond to agroterrorism.

If they’re suddenly training FBI agents to be meat inspectors, wouldn’t it be fair to train meat inspectors as FBI agents? I’d really scare the shit out of some people out there that way.

The former Nebraska governor also said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is committed to an animal identification system that eventually would allow the government to track animals from birth to market.

This amounts to, essentially, having birth certificates for cows. No, honestly.

Some Kansas officials, including Kansas Agriculture Secretary Adrian Polansky, have criticized the government for the slow progress on the animal ID program. Kansas and other states have begun animal ID programs to protect against mad-cow disease outbreaks and agroterrorism.

Actually, what Kansas is doing is a mutual ass-kiss and financial mating dance with Japan. The Japanese are terrified of BSE and only want meat from cattle under 20 months old. Mexico will only take meat from cattle under 30 months old, which you can easily do by examining teeth after killing the cow (yes, this plant actually maintains identification of the whole cow, including the guts, through the slaughter process). The Kansas beef industry has been pretty hard-hit by the closure of the Jap market. A number of months ago, Governor Sebelius went over there to “promote trade” (read: beg) in order to get that market back. So that’s why they’re pressing for this.

In an interview before his speech, Johanns said the USDA is about halfway through efforts to implement the animal ID program.

“I am absolutely convinced that we need this program,” he said. “But tracing individual animals from birth to processing is a multiyear effort that takes some time.”

Well, duh. It takes over a year for a cow to become big enough to slaughter (not counting veal), and getting the ranchers on the list is a royal pain in the ass. They just care about raising cows, not doing paperwork for something that doesn’t concern them.

Johanns also cited an improved national network of laboratories to test, identify, assess and respond to an attack on the food supply. He said the network also will improve efforts to eradicate and respond to disease outbreaks.

It’s the same labs. Improved or not, I can’t verify. However, the whole “disease outbreak” thing is in place. Plants are required to test for various pathogenic organisms, and we send in stuff for verification or for program requirements, like the salmonella testing that we have to start up here in a week or so. It’s a very extensive screening process.

Jeremy Stump, director of the USDA’s homeland security division,

So that was the compromise that kept us from becoming part of the Department of Homeland Fascism, like they were threatening to do with inspectors a couple years ago. Ah.

said new “sector councils” have brought together the USDA, Department of Homeland Security, Food and Drug Administration and the states to coordinate emergency response plans for agriculture.

Excuse me, you’re saying that you’re trying to get government agencies to work together and cooperate? Allow me to be an eentsy-weensty bit cynical about that one.

Stump said the USDA has asked for about $376 million for its food and agriculture defense initiative for 2006.

None of which will go to us underpaid, overworked meat inspectors.

“We have to think like someone who can figure out how to get around some of the initial barriers,” he said.

That means that USDA would have to think in the first place. They haven’t demonstrated that. Here’s an example: I’m applying for promotion positions right now (as per yesterday’s column). One of the things I applied for was listed as being in Providence, Rhode Island. They proceeded to withdraw that job announcement because “they got the location wrong”. It’s actually in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Providence and Pawtucket are about five miles apart. For the sake of five miles, they’re throwing away a job notice and having to introduce a new one, one that I had to apply for all over again? I thought I was anal.

Johanns told conference attendees that more voluntary actions are needed by those involved in providing the world’s food supply, including smaller companies.

Those would be the same companies that the big companies tried to close down by forcing HACCP down their throats five years ago, courtesy of a pussy-whipped USDA. Since that didn’t work, drown them in more inconsequential paperwork.

But he said conferences such as the one they were attending made him optimistic.

“Having everybody on the same page working together is truly exciting,” he said.

You’re from Nebraska, Mike. What do you know about exciting?

All in all, yet another attempt by the Junta to keep the populace on edge and a total puff piece for USDA. Hey, I don’t mind slamming the bosses when I need to.

OLD BLUE EYES IS MADE

From Reuters:

Frank Sinatra once served as a Mafia courier and narrowly escaped arrest with a briefcase containing $3.5 million in cash, entertainer Jerry Lewis told authors of a new book excerpted on Tuesday in Vanity Fair magazine.

Is anyone surprised at this revelation? Sucessful East Coast Italian boy having mob connections? My God, what a surprise.

The anecdote attributed to Lewis is one of several accounts linking the legendary singer to organized crime in the unauthorized biography “Sinatra: The Life,” by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan and due for release May 16 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Yeah, stating the f*cking obvious makes me want to buy the book.

Sinatra always denied any connection to the Mafia, though FBI files released in December 1998, seven months after his death, portrayed the singer-actor as a close friend of reputed Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana.

Anyone with any knowledge of the Outfit knows this. It’s so well-known that the singer character in The Godfather is based on Sinatra.

FBI documents also suggested he had contact with mobster Lucky Luciano during a 1947 trip to Cuba and alleged that his early singing career was backed by a New Jersey-based racketeer named Willie Moretti.

Dean Martin’s early singing career was backed by the mob too. Who cares? They turned out to be great entertainers.

The book recounts a claim the authors attribute to Lewis, one of Sinatra’s “Rat Pack” compatriots from the 1960s, that Sinatra once carried money for the Mafia.

“He volunteered to be a messenger for them,”
Lewis is quoted as telling the authors. “And he almost got caught once … in New York.”

Hold it. I don’t know if the authors are saying this or the article f*cked up, but Jerry Lewis was never a member of the Rat Pack. Everyone knows this. Shit, Dean was a member of the Rat Pack, and he and Lewis weren’t on speaking terms during the 60s. My guess is that the article f*cked up, but, shit, Reuters is good about checking facts. They shouldn’t have let this one go. Of course, I got this from Reuters through CNN, so who knows how many layers of writers it went through. Now if they’d said that Joey Bishop had said this, it would have had some credibility.

Lewis is quoted as saying Sinatra was going through customs with a briefcase containing “three and a half million in fifties” and that customs officials opened the case. But due to crowds jostling for a glimpse of the star, officials aborted their search.

Otherwise, Lewis said, “We would never have heard of him again.”

Bullshit. Sinatra was one of the biggest stars in music at the time. If the mob had bumped him off before he went to trial, the FBI would have been on them, despite the J. Edgar Hoover drag photos. And it’s definite that Sinatra would have perjured himself in front of a grand jury in order to keep the truth salted away.

According to Vanity Fair, the authors do not claim that Lewis witnessed the customs incident but rather related the account “as a fact of which he had knowledge.”

Lewis said the incident occurred shortly after Luciano was deported from the United States to Italy in 1946.

So how did Lucky get to Cuba after his deportation to Italy one year earlier? Supposedly he never left Italy after the deportation out of fear that his competition would bump him off. The last place he’d go would be Cuba. Meyer Lansky would have never left him leave the island alive.

So, in other words, Jerry Lewis is passing on what at least is a third-hand story and trying to pass it off as fact. That means one thing: he’s totally full of shit. Again, what a surprise.

UP IN THE AIR, JUNIOR BIRDMEN…AFTER ALL, THAT’S WHERE GOD IS

From CNN:

The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it will appoint a task force to investigate allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy.

Among the items to be reviewed will be Air Force policy and guidance concerning religious respect and tolerance at the academy, said acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael Dominguez.

Well, they are following the official policy of the Junta. So that makes the Air Force the most loyal of services to the current government of occupation.

Some 55 complaints of religious discrimination have been filed going back to 2001, prompting school officials to require that all 9,000 cadets and faculty and staff members take a 50-minute course on religious sensitivity, academy officials said.

I’m sure that will work as well as the sexual harassment lectures we had to endure in the Army. In other words, not at all.

Among the allegations are that cadets are frequently pressured to attend chapel and take religious instruction, particularly in the evangelical Christian faith; that prayer is a part of mandatory events at the academy; and that in at least one case a teacher ordered students to pray before beginning their final examination.

The report said it found that non-Christian cadets are subjected to “proselytization or religious harassment” by more senior cadets; and that cadets of other religions are subject to discrimination, such as being denied passes off-campus to attend religious services.

The report said that in at least two cases “highly qualified individuals were dissuaded from attending the academy … after learning of the official culture of religious intolerance and hostility toward those who do not subscribe to and practice evangelical Christianity.

“When the Air Force is denied the service of the country’s best and brightest young people because they feel excluded from the academy by religious intolerance, the armed forces and the nation as a whole are weakened,” the report said.

Now this is not good. The military is supposed to build the best and brightest of the nation and put them into the service of their country, especially in the academies. The United States was founded on principles of government non-sectarianism. Seeing religious-based harassment in the Air Force Academy is almost as bad as seeing the rampant sexual harassment that goes on in there, despite each academy being bitch-slapped for it in the past.

More than 90 percent of the academy’s students identify themselves as Christians — 60 percent Protestant and 30 percent Catholic.

About 1 percent are Jewish and the rest is made up of Mormons, Hindus and Buddhists, among others, according to academy officials.

Complaints ranging from anti-Semitic slurs to teachers preaching in class were mounting with the school’s chaplain last summer, according to school officials.

I wonder if the evangelicals were trying to convert the Catholics. When I worked as a guard during college (for a little extra cash), a lot of the other guards were evangelicals who kept trying to convert me because of my agnosticism. I countered with Heisenberg and attempted to disprove the existence of a supreme being because the universe didn’t work by the whim of some figure, but by mathematical laws. Of course, now I believe that the mathematical laws are so good, a surpreme intelligence must be behind it. But I don’t believe in a specific God.

In one case, students promoted the Mel Gibson movie “Passion of the Christ” by plastering hundreds of movie posters in the cafeteria.

Students also used their school e-mail accounts to promote the movie, prompting the superintendent of the school, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, to clarify that students could not use government e-mail to promote their religion.

Like the movie needed any more promotion than it got. It grossed three hundred million plus.

In another instance, the commandant of the academy, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again-Christian, drew fire from at least one student who said the general put God in front of the Constitution in a speech to students.

The student who filed the complaint noted that as a member of the military one first swears allegiance to the Constitution and then to God.

An academy official said Weida’s messages must now be approved by Rosa and other commanders.

Well, the part about the oath is true, from what I remember (it’s been seventeen years since I took it). But throwing that shit into a speech in a government agency is just plain wrong. Glad to see they’re cracking down on this cracker.

None of the complaints involved broken laws or violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but officials said that several students have been counseled for their actions.

The UCMJ is totally pussy. And it tends to be used more for harassment purposes than for disciplinary ones. I know this to be a fact.

The Air Force has said that a survey of cadets in 2004 uncovered “perceptions of religious bias.”

Of the more than 3,500 cadets who responded, more than 50 percent agreed that religious slurs and jokes are used.

Conversely, just fewer than 50 percent reported they “never” heard demeaning comments.

Nearly 50 percent of non-Christian cadets surveyed said classmates have a low tolerance for those who do not “follow a religion” or “believe in a divine being.”

What’s with all of the 50 percent stuff? Actually, there’s a climate of fear. You’re taught never to narc on your fellow cadets. I wish that principle applied to USDA inspectors as well (and we applied it in Illinois as meat inspectors). It’s because of others’ narcing that I’m afraid for my continued employment at this point.

MINI-MAILBAG!

Semi-Regular James Lawson asks the following:

1. Is there any place to get the Dr. Who Confidential episodes? My wife is enjoying the series and I think those would help her better understand things.

Yes, there are. Niteshdw’s site specializes in SF torrents. I think it requires registration, though, but I’ve never received a piece of spam related to them. Also, TorrentSpy carries some SF torrents, and they’re a tap site, which means they get fed torrents from all over the place. They’re doing a good takeover from SuprNova.

2. Are there any good newsgroups that are torrent related?

None that I know of.

Frank Baldwin asks this:

Believe it or not, I still have dial-up at home. Where we live has no DSL and I hate the cable company so that’s out. My neighbor across the street has cable internet. He wants to give me a wireless card so I can tap into his connection. If we did this, would he basically always have access to my computer? I know him pretty well and trust him, I think. We really don’t use the computer for much other than my wife’s schoolwork (she’s a teacher). I don’t use it much because after work the last thing I want to do is sit in front of another computer. And we don’t pay any bills or do banking online.

Still, I’m a little wary and I’d like to get your thoughts.

I don’t really know jack shit about wireless networking, but if you’re within a hundred meters of the location of the router, so it should work. You’re going to have to set up a VPN or establish a 192.168.1.XXX proxy for your system to his router, just as on a LAN network. If you don’t know聽what is vpn, be sure to teach yourself about it. So you should have little trouble trying to get that functional. I’d Google for tips on getting a wireless network set up.

Even better, if you have XP SP2, they have a Wireless Network Configuration tool in Control Panel. It’ll set up a secure wireless network that you can protect with a WPE key or WPS key. Unless you give your neighbor your WPE key, you should be pretty secure. Just make sure that your neighbor has a damn good firewall (either based in hardware in the router or a server with a dedicated firewall; Smoothwall is a good Linux-based firewall to be run on a dedicated machine).

So you should be good to go.

Regular HBK826 asks this personal question of me:

“2) in Ohio. Longtime readers will know the significance of that last one.”

Shit, it wasn’t that long ago was it?

Actually, it was. 1999-2000. Let’s see…Chicago to Ohio, then to Wisconsin, then back to Chicago, then to Iowa for a bit, then back to Chicago again, then to Nebraska, and hence to Kansas, with another move hopefully coming this year. U-Haul should send me f*cking Christmas cards.

IT’S MADE OF PEOPLE, YOU KNOW

Aussie Bureau Chief Brett Wortham chimes in to ask a few questions about Soylent Green, the panic classic from the early 70s with Charlton Heston and (in his last movie role) Edward G. Robinson (he’s also pissed off about Vioxx being pulled because it’s the only thing that can help his migraines; have you asked for another COX II inhibitor? There are some still on the market, you know)…

1. Would the scenario that that movie outlines be nutritionally possible?

Yes, it would. The human body is simply animal protein in muscle tissue (along with water, of course, and other things), providing the necessary amino acids that the body needs, not to mention necessary fats and certain minerals. The other Soylents could provide carbs, sugars, and other materials the body needs to function.

2. Do you see such a scenario happening or will we be able to invent/improve farming methods to feed the world. Probably won’t happen while there is 170 odd different govts..would need 1 maybe 2 or 3 govts for that to work, I guess.

Thomas Malthus said a few hundred years ago that the human population would level off because we couldn’t grow enough food to support a population beyond a certain level. This, of course, didn’t come to fruition because farming methods kept improving. And they’ve been improving ever since. Crop yield increases and new methods of breeding (or genetically engineering) animals will keep a larger human population fed. Of course, nature (natural disasters, new diseases) and humankind (bioweaponry) react against this to trim the population. So there’s a balance to be reached.

3. if we went down that track and re processed human flesh into something to feed the masses. Ignoring all the religious conniption fits this is going to throw up, not to mention peoples reactions if it ever became wide spread knowledge, least for a few generations till all the old guard died out and people just adapted and moved on. Oops, got sidetracked…my question is, if we did this, would we be opening ourself up to a huge risk of a similar disease to bovine spongyform whatever it is (mad cow) in a more human form? Ive read your articles re this disease and it’s some scary shit, but, yeah not sure if eating our own would enlarge the risk.

First of all, it’s bovine spongioform encephalopathy, BSE for short. As for opening ourselves to increased risk of prion-related diseases like Kreutzfeld-Jacob Syndrome (the human form of BSE), that wouldn’t happen. The problem with prions happens when the prions cross into different species. What’s relatively minor in sheep, to take BSE as an example, in the case of scrapie, becomes dangerous when the prions that cause scrapie get into cows (namely BSE), and become deadly when it crosses into humans (KJS, which has no cure). So eating something like Soylent Green, which is made from people, poses no risk to humans because people who eat it are eating humans. Thus no species crossover.

And I’ll end this off on that queasy note. Enjoy it and enjoy everything else that I write. As if you don’t already.

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