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Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
A former top-ranking official at the Central Intelligence Agency was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in prison for defrauding the government by steering a clandestine contract to a military contractor who was a close friend.
The official, Kyle D. Foggo, was the executive director at the C.I.A. from 2004 to 2006. In that position, Mr. Foggo directed the agency’s administrative operations and budget, including some of its outside contracts.
Prosecutors said Mr. Foggo used that job to ensure the awarding of lucrative contracts to Brent R. Wilkes, a San Diego businessman and childhood friend, who in return took Mr. Foggo on expensive vacations, paid for his meals at exclusive restaurants and offered him a job after he retired.
Mr. Foggo pleaded guilty in September to a single count of wire fraud. Under an agreement with the government, he could not be sentenced to more than 37 months, the exact prison term handed down by Judge James C. Cacheris of Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va.
Mr. Foggo is the highest-ranking C.I.A. official to be convicted of a crime.
SKYNET IS HERE TO STAY We know that there are frequent claims by start-up companies that they are the ones to watch. The past is littered with the exploded infrastructures of competitors that were here one day and gone the next. You can rest assured that Skynet is committed to the present with an eye on what is coming over the horizon. Our revolutionary AI innovations and complex systems management programs are a solid base that you can count on being around today, tomorrow and fifty years from now. Skynet is the future!
Their synergistic mission-critical metrics will be the paradigm for outside the box repurposing empowerment solutions!
NOW PLEASE STFU. Can we finally stop hearing about the nefarious Democratic plot to return the Fairness Doctrine now? Please?
The Senate voted Thursday in favor of an amendment to the District of Columbia voting-rights bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which critics say would decimate conservative talk radio.
The Senate passed the measure 87-11.
The amendment, sponsored by Senate Republican Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Thune (S.D.), would block the FCC from reviving equal-time requirements by enacting the Broadcaster Freedom Act.
Specifically, it would prohibit the agency from forcing broadcasters to present opposing viewpoints on “controversial issues of public importance.”
The Fairness Doctrine won't be returning. Not under another name, not at all. It's just a lie being told to you conservatives by the usual rabble-rousers who make their money off of keeping you alarmed and fearful.
GOODBYE TO KILGORE TROUT, and the man who explained how Tarzan was related to Doc Savage, the great writer PhilipJoseFarmer.
Farmer wrote innumerable original creations, but also created -- or found -- the elaborate linkages of the Wold Newton family:
[...] The progeny of these travellers were purported to have been the real-life originals of fictionalised characters, both heroic and villainous, over the last few hundred years, such as Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Doc Savage, and Lord Peter Wimsey.
Other popular characters that Philip José Farmer concluded were members of the Wold Newton mutant family include: Solomon Kane; Captain Blood; The Scarlet Pimpernel; Sherlock Holmes's nemesis Professor Moriarty; Phileas Fogg; The Time Traveller (main character of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells); Allan Quatermain; A.J. Raffles; Professor Challenger; Richard Hannay; Bulldog Drummond; the evil Fu Manchu and his adversary, Sir Denis Nayland Smith; G-8; The Shadow; Sam Spade; Doc Savage's cousin Patricia Savage, and one of his five assistants, Monk Mayfair; The Spider; Nero Wolfe; Mr. Moto; The Avenger; Philip Marlowe; James Bond; Lew Archer; Travis McGee; Monsieur Lecoq; and Arsène Lupin.
Regrettably, I'm still in great pain from costochondritis, and not up to a lengthier appreciation of Phil Farmer, but the creator of Riverworld, of the World of Tiers, the winner of the Hugo for "most promising new writer" of 1953, the first science fiction writer who frankly addressed sex, a man who played in more fictional universes than I could list, was truly one of the greats of the field.
Philip Jose Farmer was 91
Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.
ADDENDUM, 2/27/09, 7:06 a.m.: Excellent NY Timesobit by Gerald Jonas, which quotes from Dick Geis' Science Fiction Review of the early Seventies that some of us remember fondly.
[...] In Cook County in Illinois, which includes Chicago, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart directed a lawyer to review all eviction orders to protect people who kept on paying rent after the buildings where they lived had been seized by banks. In Butler County in Ohio, Sheriff Richard K. Jones ordered his deputies not to evict people who had no place else to go.
“This is a cold place in the winter and I will not give people a death sentence for not paying their debts,” Sheriff Jones said in an interview. “These are human beings, responsible middle-class people who fell on hard times, and I just can’t toss them out onto the streets.”
Irresponsible, poor, lower class, people, though, deserve to be homeless. We can toss them out onto the street.
HOUSTON — The fireball that streaked across the Texas sky and appeared to dive toward earth over the weekend remained a mystery on Monday after the military said the event had nothing to do with a collision of satellites last week and did not seem to involve an artificial satellite coming down.
Whatever it was, the fireball on Sunday caused great consternation and wonder across Central Texas. Dozens of people called the police to report sonic booms and a bright fireball plunging toward the ground around 11 a.m.
In Williamson County, north of Austin, so many callers were convinced that the plummeting light was a burning aircraft that the sheriff’s office dispatched a helicopter and several patrol cars to look for debris.
“No one said they saw it crash,” said a spokesman, Detective John Foster. “But it looked like it was going down; it was approaching the earth.”
Whether artificial or not, he said, the object was bigger than an ordinary shooting star. Smaller meteors cannot be seen during the day, and they do not have such a long tail.
One astronomer at the University of North Texas, Ron Dilulio, told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the object had to be the size of a pickup truck to remain visible, as it did, for several seconds.
Some witnesses compared the fireball’s brightness to the sun. Others swore it was a plane on fire. The ball of light flared up at least twice on its descent, which lasted five to seven seconds, according to an amateur video posted on the Internet.
“I saw a ball of fire with a fire streaming out of the back of it — I thought it was a plane crashing at first,” said Doug Schmidt, an engineer from Richardson, a suburb north of Dallas. “Just before it disappeared, I saw a little flash of light.”
[...] A shot of black limousines gliding up to Capitol Hill sets the stage for one of the most dramatic moments in the narrative, the Sept. 18 meeting in which Mr. Paulson warned Congressional leaders that without a huge bailout, the financial system would melt down. Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, recalls the meeting: “There was literally a pause in that room where the oxygen left.”
And that's how we tragically lost so many Senators to suffocation on September 18th, a date we'll never forget. A nation mourns in tears.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. Oh no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was literalism killed the Senators.
I ALWAYS SAID WE'D TURN TO EATING INSECTS FOR PROTEIN IN THE 21ST CENTURY, and sure enough, we have.
You just didn't realize it:
[...] The F.D.A. actually condones a certain percentage of “natural contaminants” in our food supply — meaning, among other things, bugs, mold, rodent hairs and maggots.
In its (falsely) reassuringly subtitled booklet “The Food Defect Action Levels: Levels of Natural or Unavoidable Defects in Foods That Present No Health Hazards for Humans,” the F.D.A.’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition establishes acceptable levels of such “defects” for a range of foods products, from allspice to peanut butter.
Among the booklet’s list of allowable defects are “insect filth,” “rodent filth” (both hair and excreta pellets), “mold,” “insects,” “mammalian excreta,” “rot,” “insects and larvae” (which is to say, maggots), “insects and mites,” “insects and insect eggs,” “drosophila fly,” “sand and grit,” “parasites,” “mildew” and “foreign matter” (which includes “objectionable” items like “sticks, stones, burlap bagging, cigarette butts, etc.”).
Tomato juice, for example, may average “10 or more fly eggs per 100 grams [the equivalent of a small juice glass] or five or more fly eggs and one or more maggots.” Tomato paste and other pizza sauces are allowed a denser infestation — 30 or more fly eggs per 100 grams or 15 or more fly eggs and one or more maggots per 100 grams.
Canned mushrooms may have “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams of drained mushrooms and proportionate liquid” or an “average of 75 mites” before provoking action by the F.D.A.
The sauerkraut on your hot dog may average up to 50 thrips. And when washing down those tiny, slender, winged bugs with a sip of beer, you might consider that just 10 grams of hops could have as many as 2,500 plant lice. Yum.
Giving new meaning to the idea of spicing up one’s food, curry powder is allowed 100 or more bug bits per 25 grams; ground thyme up to 925 insect fragments per 10 grams; ground pepper up to 475 insect parts per 50 grams. One small shaker of cinnamon could have more than 20 rodent hairs before being considered defective.
Peanut butter — that culinary cause célèbre — may contain approximately 145 bug parts for an 18-ounce jar; or five or more rodent hairs for that same jar; or more than 125 milligrams of grit.
In case you’re curious: you’re probably ingesting one to two pounds of flies, maggots and mites each year without knowing it, a quantity of insects that clearly does not cut the mustard, even as insects may well be in the mustard.
But, hey: it isn't really bad for you; why be so fussy about mere aesthetics?
Of course, we could lobby the Obama administration and Congress to tighten the standards on fly eggs, maggots, and rodent hairs, but: mmmm, rodent hairs!
I'm also suffering from a problem with my virus protection program, which may be related to the Facebook problem, or completely unrelated; I can't say for now.
And lastly, thanks to reader Brett Thomas for pointing out that the latest ailment I've been suffering severe pain with this past week (and occasionally to much lesser degrees before) appears to be Costochondritis. It's nice to have a name to add to my various other syndromes, even if there's not much to be done for it.
Oh, and conveniently, the local clinic-for-the-poor which only gives appointments 6-7 weeks in advance called on Friday to say they were cancelling my appointment, which was to be my first, which they'd already cancelled once before, which I've been trying to get fulfilled for some six months now, and I should call again Monday to reschedule.
Of course, the alternative is I could once again go the Emergency Room, and once again be charged around $1200. I'm starting to think it would be worth it just to get some hydrocodone, rather than just Aleve or other non-prescription painkiller, though, for the combination of Costochondritis, gout, and toothache.
THE MOST BORING STATUS STUFF. I still have a very nasty torn set of muscles in the front and side of my chest and my back, and every time I sneeze or cough it gets worse.
This hurts like hell. The gout has also been acting up a lot, as have the bad teeth.
The medical clinic that makes appointments only 2 months in advance has now canceled on me for the third time; I've been trying to see them since early last fall, after months simply unable to reach them by phone, and now have to call to reschedule yet again, following their message today that they wouldn't be in the office next Teusday anyway..
Facebook mysteriously disabled my account last night for no apparent reason, and hasn't responded to repeated requests for an explanation.
My virus protection software program, AVG, has broken down again, and the only way I can currently access the internet is to have it turned off, while I try to figure out how to fix it. Reinstallation hasn't helped so far.
Life otherwise has a lot of suckitude, and not nearly enough love. Me, I'm full of love, but amn't doing well at finding it the way I'd like to.
I AM EVER MORE DECREPIT. The reason I've been silent this past week has pretty much been a combination of nasty toothache with a horrible pulled muscle in my chest/back, which has been causing awful pain since, along with resulting in my being forced into a version of Dr. Roboto.
Plus the depression and sadness has been acting up again.
Sorry about all that; we hope to be back to more blogging Real Soon Now. I sure wish it were easier to get some prescription painkillers.
DRUNK QUANTUM TELEPORTATION WOULD BE EVEN BETTER. One step at a time, though.
Without quite the drama of Alexander Graham Bell calling out, “Mr. Watson, come here!” or the charm of the original “Star Trek” television show, scientists have nonetheless achieved a milestone in communication: teleporting the quantum identity of one atom to another a few feet away.
The contraption is a Rube Goldberg-esque mix of vacuum chambers, fiber optics, lasers and semitransparent beam splitters in a laboratory at the Joint Quantum Institute in Maryland.
Small details to work on:
[...] The method is not particularly practical at the moment, because it fails almost all of the time. Only 1 of every 100 million teleportation attempts succeed, requiring 10 minutes to transfer one bit of quantum information.
“We need to work on that,” Dr. Monroe said.
Hey, one quantum step at a time. We have to work up to drunken quantum teleporting of this quality:
It is normally a moment of cheery reassurance when an airline pilot greets passengers during preparations for take-off. But Alexander Cheplevsky sparked panic on flight Aeroflot 315 when he began to speak.
His slurred and garbled comments ahead of a flight from Moscow to New York convinced passengers that he was drunk. When he apparently switched from Russian into unintelligible English, fear turned to revolt.
Flight attendants initially ignored passengers' complaints and threatened to expel them from the Boeing 767 jet unless they stopped "making trouble". As the rebellion spread, Aeroflot representatives boarded the aircraft to try to calm down the 300 passengers.
One sought to reassure them by announcing that it was "not such a big deal" if the pilot was drunk because the aircraft practically flew itself.
Hey, no problem, then!
[...] "At first, he was looking at us like we were crazy. Then, when we wouldn't back down, he said 'I'll sit here quietly in a corner. We have three more pilots. I won't even touch the controls, I promise'."
Drunken quantum teleporting will be even more fun!
[...] Their hero is poor, sensitive, and mocked for his dirty clothes and strange mannerisms. Overwhelmed by insomnia and guilt, he was also plagued (according to the medical diary he kept in Latin) by flatulence, rheumatism, asthma, palsy, dropsy and gout.
I've got, er, some of those!
Here's another thought:
[...] We tend to go to past authors looking for kinds of writing that remain familiar today: single-authored, volume-length, recognizably literary works, especially novels. But Johnson’s “Rasselas” (1759), an “Oriental tale” whose polysyllabic pomposity disappointed the young Jane Eyre, is the worst place for readers unacquainted with Johnson to start. His best work was topical, collaborative, and either journalistic (especially the twice-weekly essay-periodicals like The Rambler, which he turned out as regularly as any blogger) or editorial (whether in the form of compilations, abridgments, translations or even a library catalog).
So, in other words, his best work was that which is like blogging, journaling, commenting on the internet, and quoting and commenting on the work of others.
Me, too! We're like twins!
This is also an intriguing passage:
[...] A prolific ghostwriter (both for love and for money) and an easy touch for any friend who wanted a loan, a prologue or a preface, Johnson spent much of his time eating with friends younger (and, as Meyers oddly details, shorter) than he. He formed a club with painters like Reynolds, political thinkers like Burke and writers like Goldsmith; his house sheltered a motley crew of dependents including a former prostitute, a blind poetess and Francis Barber, a boy who had been a slave in Jamaica and ended up being Johnson’s heir.
I must remember to eat only with people shorter than me.