- The Farm Bill got shredded, even after tons of email asking the House to pass an effective bill. It's in the hands of the Senate now. I'm not an optimist. I have a letter from my senator in hand. It's one of those frustrating letters that basically says, "Yeah, I got your letter. I am not promising to do anything about it." This is followed by a cryptic message (exact quote):
"While the Federal Government does play an essential role — especially in the areas of defense, commerce and transportation — I do believe that many other important decisions are better made at the local level where individuals have faces, and are more than just numbers or statistics."
WTF? He IS my representation of local interests at the federal level. I am taking this to mean that he is just going to go with what the large-scale lobbyists want, and we'll just have to fend for ourselves back here at "the local level." My tax dollars in action.
We need to keep an eye on what these guys are up to at the federal level. I sent this guy an email and told him I was watching his vote, and my own would be based on it. I guess that puts me on a list somewhere so Dick Cheney can read my email now.
- Dick, in case you are reading, you are a blight on humanity. I wish daily for impeachment of you and your sidekick, Bush. Thought I would make it really clear since you are busy and all.
- My favorite rant source, China, adds THREE to the rant list this week. First, let's talk Mattel. Here's a good quote from the New York Times:
“If I went down the shelves of Wal-Mart and tested everything, I’m going to find serious problems,” said Sean McGowan, managing director and the toy analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities. “The idea that Mattel — with its high standards — has a bigger problem than everybody else is laughable. If we don’t see an increase of recalls in this industry, then it’s a case of denial.”
True. See, I do fault Mattel for having so many things slip through in the first place. But I do commend their efforts at cleaning up the mess. I am sure, as the quote suggests, that other toy manufacturers are just slinking away to the corner until the storm passes. And that sucks.
- Baby bibs made in China, contaminated with lead. See above. But read this one too, particularly the statement by Kathleen Waugh of Toys R' Us. That reeks a bit like the pig farm down the road from my childhood home.
- Okay, lousy segue, but a serious issue regarding a new swine flu happening in China. The disease is devastating hog populations in 25 of China's 33 provinces and spreads rapidly leaving tons of deaths in it's wake. China has not fessed up to the issue and the magnitude, surprise, raising international concern.
“They haven’t really explained what this virus is,” says Federico A. Zuckermann, a professor of immunology at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. “This is like SARS. They haven’t sent samples to any international body. This is really irresponsible of China. This thing could get out and affect everyone.”
Irresponsible? China? No! I can't imagine.
- Speaking of pigs, I caught a bit of Food Network the other night. It was a commercial with Paula Deen's syrupy southern accent telling us, "Y'all just check out my yummy pork recipes at the Smithfield Farms web site." Ali at Cleaner Plate Club first alerted me to Smithfield's status as one of the worst environmental polluters in our nation.
Food Network, shame on you. You were hanging by a thread when you canceled Mario's cooking show, and fired Sara Moulton while crap like "Unwrapped's" tribute to processed junk food stays on the air. Teetering on the edge with your banal "Next Food Network Star." Now this. I have lost faith in you. I still love you, Alton. I will miss you since I am no longer going to watch your channel.
Yeah, since I don't watch TV much, this rant matters as much to FN as did my letters on the Farm Bill to my representatives. Not. At. All. I'm still going to write them.
- Despite legislation that mandated wellness programs and nutrition reforms for schools, 23 states, including mine, still received an "F" in the Center for Science in the Public Interest's review of school food programs. While the lunch itself has to adhere to 30-year-old food pyramid guidelines, the ala carte and vending machine foods are still crap.
- Fast food brings us a new menu item with eight slices of bacon, four slices of cheese, two "beef" patties on white bread. Competitive chains step up with the "Baconater." A whole day's calories in a wrapper. Thanks for paying attention to the obesity epidemic, guys.
Tell you what, why not just make a few extra bucks by selling ad space on the wrappers for cardiologists? How about this ad:
"Chest pain? Numbness? Shortness of Breath? That's not indigestion, Buddy, that's a heart attack! Call Dr. Feelgood now, buy two bypasses, get the third for free."
Scary thing? The menu items are a response to demand. Healthy food does not sell.
- FDA is reevaluating the safety and effectiveness of cough and cold medications for children under the age of 2. Drug makers respond by trying to deny there is an issue.
From the NYTimes article:
"But the drugs’ makers say that the F.D.A. approved the drugs because they are safe and effective. Virginia Cox, a spokeswoman for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, said that the drugs’ labels already advised against their use in children under the age of 2 unless a doctor approved. Ms. Cox said there was no need to raise this age limit to 6.
Some of the drugs have drawings or pictures of infants in diapers on their labels."
- Here's an interesting connection: CARE, one of the largest charities in the world, turned down $45 million worth of food assistance from the U.S. Their reasoning was that the commodities shipped prevented the African farmers from succeeding by having to compete with the U.S.-provided grains and commodities.
"CARE’s decision is focused on the practice of selling tons of often heavily subsidized American farm products in African countries that in some cases, it says, compete with the crops of struggling local farmers."
So, I guess the screwed up Farm Bill is harming local farmers in Africa as well as our own country with the exact same subsidized industrial-farmed crops? Niiiice.
- Ah, Disney. Just as I was seeing a ray of hope post-Ratatouille. University of Washington researchers published a new study that suggested that infants and toddlers under two were not only receiving no IQ benefit from Baby Einstein programming, but that the children's exposure to the media may actually have caused a slower rate of language development. Disney's CEO Robert Iger (Disney owns Baby Einstein) wrote the researchers and demanded that the press release for the study be retracted. Disney has yet to provide valid proof that the study is wrong, or that the product has any of its claimed benefits.
The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood invites you to email Disney yourself and request such proof. C'mon, you know you want to do it. How many crappy food products and movie-related toys have you been forced to buy? Go ahead, poke the mouse.
- A new study by Stanford researcher, Dr. Tom Robinson, showed that pre-schoolers' perception of taste was altered by the packaging. The children in the study consistently preferred foods wrapped in McDonald's packaging even though the foods were identical.
- For lucky 13, I have to just turn it over to someone who is vastly superior in the whole "rant genre." Here's a personal favorite from Mark Morford (I love this man) titled, "Scooter Libby in Hell: What do Dick Cheney, Paris Hilton, "The Sopranos" and colon spasms have in common? Find out here!"
Dick, you still reading? Go to bed already, it's after midnight there. Uh, while you are up, can you explain your complete 180 on war in Iraq since 1992? You sounded so, well, sane in that video clip.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Thursday Thirteen: Random Rants
I've been so busy lately, I had not read much of the news. Maybe that was a good thing. Or maybe trying to run four miles in the 112-degree heat index just blew a fuse. Here's a recap: