January 26th, 2007

Pelosi Bitchslaps Bush

According to Americablog, this CBS News article doesn’t capture the full colour of the exchange between Madam Speaker and the President. Pelosi, skeptical of Bush’s confidence of success thanks to the new “surge” of 21,500 troops, asked him why he thought it was going to work this time given that an escalation of force had failed twice before:

PELOSI: Mr. President, why do you think this time it’s going to work?

BUSH: Because I told them [the generals] it had to.

PELOSI: Why didn’t you tell them that the other two times?

A classic comeback, if the transcript is accurate.


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January 25th, 2007

Gambling no longer a game of chance

“..a Pennsylvania man is now crying foul after he got the short end of the stick in an unfortunate “mishap.” The retired carpenter, who had visited the Philadelphia Park casino before, dropped his two quarters into a Wheel of Fortune slot machine only to win $102,000 — or so he thought. The machine proudly conveyed his winnings right alongside his actual name, sending his emotions into a jovial whirlwind, but apparently the machine wasn’t exactly supposed to, you know, let people hit the jackpot, and now he’s fighting just to get his due reward. A spokesperson for the venue stated that it “was just an error in the communication system,” but added the mistake seems to have originated in the in-house computing system, not within the machine itself. The man was offered “two tickets to the buffet” (saywha?) and advised to read the disclaimer on the machine, nullifying any awards if the machine malfunctions, but he still feels that this “fault” is illegitimate.”  stolen from engadget.

if i’m reading this correctly, this begs the question: if a central computer is dictating which machines win and how much they pay out, is it any longer a game of chance?  does it then become a game of controlled loss? i mean odds are odds but is it still considered chance when a computer decides that it only pays out once every 3,409,403 times played and only 10% of what it takes in because that’s what statistics COULD dictate? if so, i’m in the wrong business.


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January 25th, 2007

Fish are friends, not food.

If you’ve not seen Finding Nemo, you don’t know the hilarious scene where the sharks get together for something akin to Seafood Eaters Anonymous. “I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food,” they state, with great earnestness. It all comes apart because, duh, they’re sharks, hello.

Fast forward to Fish Wednesday. Readers of my Nerd’s Eye View blog will know that Fish Wednesday happens pretty regularly around our house, if not quite weekly. About a month ago, I started wondering where my fish was coming from. I get my veggies from a CSA, why was I getting my fish from the Safeway? Was there a better way to buy fish and did it matter where it came from?

Also, hey, while I’m at it, I thought, this is a good story for a food magazine. I pitched it to an editor I’ve written for and she accepted the idea. A little research will go a long way and I’ll be able to sit down and write a nice 1200 word piece. It turns out these are very big questions, dammit. I have been hoping for a simple sort of answer, some easy rules that will assuage my conscience and keep a nice plate of fish in front of me. The whole thing is quite a bit more difficult than anticipated.

Last week we visited with Mike McDermid who runs the Ocean Wise program out of the Vancouver Aquarium. And this week, we spent some time with Mark Plunkett who’s the conservation guy at the Seattle Aquarium. While I certainly feel much more educated as a consumer, I don’t feel like I’ve come to any easy conclusions.

There are a couple of basic things I can put my hand on, and for now, they’ll have to do. Step away from the Tiger Prawns, sorry, but put the crustacean down. Don’t touch that Chilean Sea Bass, no matter how gorgeously it’s marinated in wasabi and sake. (Argh!) No Orange Roughy, no farmed Atlantic Salmon.

I have a ton more reading to do. I’d like to talk to the guy at the fish counter at our neighborhood “green” market, I’d like to get in touch with the folks that buy seafood for our neighborhood not so green market, and I need to spend some time on the Seafood Choices Alliance web site.

I told our kind host at the aquarium that I felt like the story was starting to unravel for me. It wasn’t so much that it’s coming apart, it’s just that I’ve opened the proverbial can of worms. (Heh. For fishing. Get it? Heh.) When you start to ask where your food comes from, you unleash a whole lot of other questions that you hadn’t previously anticipated.

I find it both fascinating and frustrating. Frustrating in that I feel I can’t just sit down and hammer out my tidy little essay about sustainable seafood. And fascinating in that the avenues to explore are unlimited. I’ve not yet been to an oyster farm, talked to a fisherman or a chef, visited a seafood distribution hub… Dammit, it’s just supposed to be Fish Wednesday, not a master’s thesis.

Give a woman a fish and she’ll cook it, photograph it, and serve it up on Fish Wednesday. Ask a woman about a fish and she’ll embark on a Hemingwayesque journey to find out where the fish came from, what impact eating that fish has on the environment, whether or not it’s okay to eat the fish in the first place, and any number of as of yet unasked questions.

You can tuna fish, but you can’t just ask about it and expect an easy answer. Stay, um, tuned.


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January 23rd, 2007

Dancing around the world

I don’t know why I find this video so heartwarming. Maybe it’s because this guy got the greatest sponsorship deal in the world — after making a short video in 2005 of him dancing at the places he visited during a backpacking trip, Stride Gum paid him to spend 6 months travelling the world (including to my dream location, Antarctica) … doing the same thing. Maybe it’s because the music is so cool. Maybe it’s because he was a developer on one of my favourite video games of all time, BattleZone II. But I think it’s just because he dances with such endearing abandon.

Anyway, enjoy, and visit his site for all the details.


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January 18th, 2007

Important vaccination information

No quips today, just important information that you probably wouldn’t get anywhere else…

There is a  new booster shot for pertussis, better know as whooping cough. Although infants are routinely vaccinated, it has become clear that the benefits of the vaccine wear off by the time you are a teen. It is now advised that teens and adults get the new booster every 10 years. It is easily combined with a tetanus shot.  Although it has been out for about a year, it is now becoming easier to get it from your doctor (at first it wasn’t being supplied for some reason).

Why worry about this? Let me share my story (skip if you have heard this before)… about 2 weeks after my daughter was born my husband started to cough. A lot. He went to the doctor who told him it was a cold and to take cough suppressant. Well, it was a “cold’ like you have never seen. He coughed day and night without stop. Nothing helped. (Take a moment and imagine what it is like to cough nonstop for weeks.) When my daughter was 5 weeks old she started to cough the same cough. As you might guess, they both had pertussis. She had to be hospitalized for three days and had to have oxygen given through her tiny nose. (Take a moment and imagine watching your 5-week old turn blue from coughing and you will understand why I am sending this out.)  Luckily we diagnosed her right away and the could give her antibiotics which helped her significantly.  My husband coughed for about 2 months.

Infants die from this. As the pertussis vaccine is not started until 2 months, the youngest of babies are the ones who are most vulnerable. While you might be willing to risk having a terrible cough for weeks on end, please consider whom you might be coughing on, and that they might have a tiny baby at home.  I urge you to get the booster.


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