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Made In China (Annotated)

[I'll post my China imports story in a second, but first, some Monday morning links...]

[I'm not the most articulate human being -- not good with them word doohickeys. So it's reassuring when important people turn the language into a debris field, like something you'd see out a train window on the way to New York. This latest gem from our president is from a book review that ran in the Post:

Here is the president on his differences with Cheney -- whose daughter Mary is a lesbian -- over the subject of gay marriage: "My only ask was that if his daughter doubted my tolerance to her orientation that I would hope that he would help make it clear to Mary that this is a -- I was just worried about -- the reason I'd federalized the issue is because I was worried about the courts' defining the issue and that we'd end up with de facto marriage that was not traditionally defined, I guess is the best way to put it."]

[A shorter version of my busing story ran in the St. Pete Times. Florida's Best Newspaper. But -- gee -- where does it say I work for the Post? The Post puts this on the wire, but don't we require a citation? Better yet, shouldn't I get a cut? Where's my taste?] [Jeepers, the SPTimes has a ton of blogs, including this one devoted to the '80s. Notice how all their blogs have specific themes. They're about something. Why didn't I think of that????]

[Boodler bc on the threat of a Naughty Bomb.]

[By the way, we brag incessantly about how many comments we get here on the A-blog. But Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune got more than 1,500 comments on an item about a controversial TV reporter who got too close to the key figure in the case of a missing woman.]

[In the NYTimes, Robert Novak discusses (briefly) his conversion to Catholicism. Also, an interesting John Travolta profile.]


Now (finally), here's my story in the Style section on China imports, with some annotations, amendations, extrapolations and (the best part of all) interpolations:

By J.A.

"Made in China."

Suddenly, they're the three most alarming words in the English language.
Go to any big box store, supermarket, toy shop: When you weren't paying attention (but enjoying the bargains), everything became Made in China, or made with stuff that's made in China, or made with stuff-that's-made-with-stuff that's made in China.

Nixon shook hands with Mao; deals were cut; investments invested. Beijing got the 2008 Olympics; Shanghai got hundreds of glittering skyscrapers. Now some of our American flags are made in China, and half of our garlic, and something like 40 percent of our apple juice and 19 percent of our honey and 70 percent of our toys and 80 percent of our Vitamin C.

Also, diethylene glycol. That's the industrial antifreeze found in toothpaste imported from China.

And nitrofuran, malachite green, gentian violet -- all three of which are known to be carcinogenic -- and fluoroquinolone. These are antimicrobial agents used by the Chinese aquaculture industry, triggering a ban by the Food and Drug Administration late last month on five types of Chinese seafood.

And of course, melamine. That's C3H6N6for those wanting the molecular makeup. It's an industrial plastic that found its way into canned pet food in the United States earlier this year, triggering the recall of 60 million cans.

[Wenonah Hauter, of Food & Water Watch, told me, "China in particular tries to stay ahead of the curve in terms of the chemicals they use." But there are problems around the globe, from Vietnamese catfish to candy made in Denmark (see this story in the Times).]

[China dominates the headlines, and that's self-reinforcing. Robert Kapp, former head of the U.S.-China Business Council, told me, "We are in the midst of a media storm on this. Once this gets going, it takes on a life of its own." Kapp says one big problem is that China has so many small producers in remote villages, making reforms hard to implement: "It's going to be extremely arduous to enforce those standards down to the village level among the hundreds of thousands and millions of producers."]

"These commodities are flowing in our society essentially unchecked," says former FDA associate commissioner William Hubbard. "We're gambling. Because no one's looking at this stuff!"

Not many people, at least. The FDA says it has 625 field inspectors eyeballing food across the country; they manage to scrutinize about 1 percent of imports. [David Acheson, new food safety chief at FDA: "Simply putting more inspectors at the ports isn't the answer." We can't inspect every container coming into the U.S. "The country would go broke."]But the number of inspectors has dropped in recent years even as an increasing percentage of our food -- about 13 percent by one recent estimate -- comes from foreign countries, many lacking strict regulation. China has millions of small producers making food and chemicals for the global market. "As a developing country, China's food and drug supervision work began late and its foundations are weak," said Yan Jiangying, the candid spokeswoman for China's food and drug agency. "Therefore, the food and drug safety situation is not something we can be optimistic about."

And now this: Buns stuffed with cardboard.

"A hidden camera followed the man into a ramshackle building where steamers were filled with the fluffy white buns, called baozi, traditionally stuffed with minced pork," reports the Associated Press, summarizing a Chinese television news program. "It showed how cardboard [!!!!!] was first soaked to a pulp in a plastic basin of caustic soda -- a chemical base commonly used in manufacturing paper and soap -- then chopped into tiny morsels with a cleaver. Fatty pork and powdered seasoning were stirred in as flavoring and the concoction was stuffed into the buns."

The Chinese government has vowed to crack down on shady operators. It has to salvage the image of the China brand. The public relations strategy includes both defense and offense: Just yesterday, China banned meat imports from seven American companies, citing contamination by salmonella and chemical additives.

One might detect the pungent scent of a trade war brewing.

The former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, discovered last week that it's an extremely bad time to get blamed for any of China's food and drug safety problems. He had been convicted of taking bribes in exchange for helping drug companies evade regulation. Sentenced to death in May, he confessed his crimes in a written statement, vowed to return the bribe money, and pleaded for leniency. He proved unpersuasive; the government announced Tuesday that he had been executed. We can only imagine what he was given for his last meal.

Now, pull way back for the panoramic shot: This is a complexifying world in which no single person can grasp more than a tiny scrap of the economic and social systems that sustain us. We can no longer read the code. We don't know the origin of the thing we hold in our hand. We know only that it has a funny aftertaste.

We have become end users of stuff we don't understand that comes from factories we've never seen in cities we've never heard of full of people whose language we don't speak and whose names we can't pronounce.

[Partly this is a consumer preference: As Rep. Rosa DeLauro noted to me in the interview, "People want to have strawberries all year long." Acheson seconded that: "Consumers don't necessarily pay a lot of attention to where something is grown. I'm sure they pay more attention when they're buying a car." Here's a crazy thought: Buy local.]

"There's a world below our level of awareness that affects everything we do -- the quality of food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes on our back," says Robert Clark , a professor emeritus of government at George Mason University. "They're delivered by systems that are so complex, most of the people who are actually in the system don't understand them."

Consider the pet food calamity. One of the country's biggest pet food companies, Menu Foods, decided it needed a new supplier of a single ingredient: wheat gluten. It turned to a Las Vegas company named ChemNutra that specializes in importing food and drug ingredients from China -- stuff like potassium sorbate, L-Cysteine USP29 and L-Glycine USP28 .

ChemNutra bought wheat gluten from something called Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd., in Jiangsu province. The gluten from Xuzhou Anying was contaminated with melamine, the industrial plastic that ChemNutra believes was intentionally put into the wheat gluten to make it appear to be higher in protein. By the time U.S. inspectors reached the manufacturing plant in China, it had been closed and scrubbed clean. The melamine played a role in sickening or killing an unknown number of pets across the United States.

"There but for the grace of God go people," says Hubbard, the former FDA official. "That same kind of contamination could have killed 4,000 or 5,000 people."

Click here to keep reading the story.

[See also a related Outlook story.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 16, 2007; 6:56 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Why Does This Bun Taste Like Cardboard?
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Posted by: Oh yeah! | July 16, 2007 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Not much to say. Just wanted to be sure that the boodle started off the day in its usual way.

Posted by: skiohio | July 16, 2007 9:40 AM | Report abuse

"Notice how all their blogs have specific themes. They're about something. Why didn't I think of that????"

Achenblog: the "Seinfeld" of the Internets.

Posted by: byoolin | July 16, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

"Not much to say. Just wanted to be sure that the boodle started off the day in its usual way."

You got it right, then, skiohio. You've got us figured out.

I will point out that I read Joel's article yesterday while eating leftover Lo Mein from our local Chinese carryout. It was a little disconcerting, since I've always wondered what Five Spice is anyway.

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Why not pin down FDA's Acheson during your interview with him? If putting an increased number of inspectors at U.S. ports of entry is NOT the answer, than what does Acheson think the answer is? Just sitting on our American hands and twiddling our American thumbs? Letting the legal system take care of the miscreants?

What is the answer, especially since the chain of production is so widely distributed, down to the village level in China, as you point out? Shouldn't the folks who stuck melamine in dogfood be executed as well? Where does justice begin and end?

Did Acheson say anything at all about buying local? Certainly he knows the very troubled history of the agency he now supervises.

I bought local many times at the farmers' market in Modesto, but I had no knowledge whatsoever of what pesticides a farmer may have used on his field or her patch. I did know that what I was buying was fresh off the vine, the stalk, or the bush--days fresher than what I could have purchased at a supermarket in my hometown of Tracy. There are no guarantees about buying local, as the contaminated spinach from the Salinas Valley amply demonstrates.

There are two women who have recently written books--one, profiled this past week on NBC, about how she tried for a year to not buy a product made in China, the other who attempted, for about the same amount to time, to buy only local foodstuffs. Are these efforts really the answer?

To repeat: What is the answer? Media storms are not entirely unjustified, as in this case, when news reports are clustered in time and shed light on the fact that many different products emanating from China have been adulterated to contain harmful or death-causing substances.

Posted by: Loomis | July 16, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

We subscribe to the Tampa Trib at Chez Frostbitten South, but the St. Pete Times blogs are much better. I check in regularly at "Standing By"
written by an army spouse whose husband is deployed in Iraq. (I accidentally used my boodle handle there once and felt so naked.)

Good morning all. Light boodle week for me. Off to a follow up leadership retreat then Mr. F, the Frostrents, and all the Frostcousins descend for the annual "Cousins' Weekend." This is an off year so there won't be a full blown reunion. Good thing too. I'm still recovering from last year.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 16, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

NYT's op-ed today titled, "Killing the Regulator."

Killing the Regulator
The Chinese government's extraordinary decision to execute its chief food and drug regulator for taking bribes and allowing the sale of tainted drugs is a perfect example of all that is wrong with China's approach to regulation.

Beijing's leaders -- who disdain the idea of their own accountability -- may think that killing the regulator is enough to reassure consumers at home and abroad that China is now ready to guarantee the safety of its products. But they're wrong.

What China needs is an effective and transparent regulatory system and a clear understanding that its export boom will suffer if it continues to sell tainted food, toys and toothpaste. Until that happens -- and there is no guarantee that it will -- American regulators will have to do more to screen Chinese imports to protect American consumers.

China's dysfunction has deep roots. The Communist Party leadership has muzzled consumer advocacy groups and the press. The government is also loath to do anything that might hinder the country's breakneck economic growth. With no public accountability, shoddy companies are allowed to cut every possible corner in their pursuit of business, often under the protection of corrupt government officials.

The results include rivers laced with ammonia and toothpaste sweetened with an industrial solvent, as well as tainted antibiotics that have killed more than a dozen children and sickened hundreds. The good news is that for the first time China's leaders are talking about the need for more and better regulation. And Washington and other governments can help with offers of technical advice and warnings about the cost of failing to take it.

But the scope of the problem is too big, too complex and too urgent for the United States -- with $300 billion worth of Chinese imports a year -- to wait for Beijing to act. American importers need to provide the first line of defense. Companies like Wal-Mart should send inspectors regularly to visit the factories of Chinese suppliers, to ensure that products are up to acceptable standards. Ultimately the American government will have to enforce these norms.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has spent the last five-plus years emasculating the American regulatory system. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has seen its budgets repeatedly cut. The Food and Drug Administration has not received the resources it needs and today inspects only a minute share of all imported food.

It is hard to imagine anything good coming out of the China export scandals. But perhaps they will persuade Congress's new Democratic leaders that America also needs a stronger and more transparent regulatory system.

Posted by: Loomis | July 16, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Re. Chinese food: TBG, I've suddenly become a little leery of ordering the "Happy Family" anymore.

With or without MSG.

'twould be a bad thing if that "Happy Family" consisted of convicted bureaucrats and dissidents.

"'Happy Family' is... *people*!"

Good morning, everyone.

And Joel, thanks for the Naughty Link.


Posted by: bc | July 16, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Glad to see the finished article! Question for the boodle: there was also an Outlook piece yesterday that defended the Chinese in terms of the place of honor that food holds in the national culture. And accused the U.S. media and public of racism for the way we're treating these incidents. Comments?

Also, I'd love to hear more from Acheson on ports inspectors and his preferred methods for addressing food safety...

Posted by: natalie | July 16, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Joel, as someone who has been known to mangle the english language frequently, I read the quote from Bush. I am still trying to figure it out. I am feeling better about my limited skills :-)

Re: Chinese imports - we are getting what we pay for correct?

Posted by: dmd | July 16, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. I find it particularly interesting, and disheartening, that although the Chinese government executed the regulator it has been reluctant to go after any of the businesses or institutions which bribed him. Personal responsibility is great (and I wish we could see some from our own administration) but only when included as part of a system of responsibility.

The more I rely on farmer's markets in the summer, the less I buy out-of-season produce in the winter. We also don't use much in the way of processed food. This has the advantage of being cheaper, and I have a good idea about where our food comes from. It is true that farmer's market growers may use pesticides etc., but at my local market the growers themselves, or close surrogates, are also the sellers. I can always ask them about their farming practices and, if I don't like them, buy elsewhere.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I haven't and won't read the Outlook article Natalie describes as defending "the Chinese in terms of the place of honor that food holds in the national culture. And accused the U.S. media and public of racism for the way we're treating these incidents." I do wonder if the similar outcry over the recent U.S. spinach and peanut butter contaminations were also racist, or if it is only racist because the contaminants are originally found in another country. And what of the fact, admitted by Chinese officials, that most of the contamination is to products consumed in China, by Chinese? How is it racist to report this? In other words, that accusation makes no practical sense to me.

The Chinese may well hold food in high cultural esteem. That doesn't appear to me to have any connection to the apparently widespread problem of contaminants in food within China itself, and in its exports. Here's pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if two other apparent Chinese cultural trands aren't colliding here. First is the cultural prediliction for the many over the few. That is, in China, like many Asian countries, society is more important than any individual. While this was exacerbated by Communist ideology, I believe it has roots in earlier Chinese culture. Second, the Chinese are just beginning the economic experiment of capitalism, with popular culture encouraging the amassing of wealth. What strikes me is the sheer numer of producers, large and small, who appear to have no qualms about adulterating their product to increase profit even when they know it will harm their neighbor the consumer.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Does NYT editorial carries more weight than the op-ed articles?

Posted by: daiwanlan | July 16, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Last night, I spotted the Useless Tree blog's photos of public executions in China.
The theme (this is a Confucian blog by a professor at Williams College) was the Confucian notion that you can't rule by killing. It seems the other philosophy (Legalist) is that it's essential to kill.

On the food side, Japan (and I'm sure Taiwan, too) have some food problems and foibles, but my unsubstantiated feeling is that both countries have lots of tiny local producers, and the food is of very high quality. Even if I can't work up much enthusiasm for all the fried stuff in Taipei's night markets.

Portland, Oregon is sort of a paradise for local food, if you define "local" to include the Hood River Valley on the other side of the Cascades and Sauvie Island closer to town. And maybe even the wasabi farm on the coast.

I remember Reading, Pennsylvania as being that way in the summer.

Long ago, when Sears pioneered catalog sales, then nationwide stores, the company had an elaborate product testing program. Additionally, they maintained long-term relations with trusted suppliers (Whirlpool would be the classic and possibly the most enduring example). So at a time when shoddy merchandise abounded, consumers could trust Sears.

I suspect that today's Republicans suppose that such private concern for ensuring quality is more effective than anything that government would do.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 16, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm somewhat confused as to why the issues with Chinese food goods are a surprise to anyone. The whole point of of our huge trade defiicit is that companies on both sides know they can use lax environmental and labor laws in order to squeeze yet another $0.02 out of each unit.

In hard goods it's maybe not so bad, the thing just breaks on you and you throw it out and get another one, and it's actually hard to find stuff NOT made there. But for any kind of consumables it's all invisible, and you're at their mercy.

Flouride in childrens' ice cream Mandrake. That's how your basic Commie works.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 16, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I was in St Pete for my high school reunion over the weekend and saw Joel's article and thought that this Outlook deal where he gets syndicated must be pretty sweet. Obviously, that is not the case.

The SPT also ran Weingarten's rerun where Gene calls Joel "Guy With Three Daughters" as if that were some distinguishing feature.

I used to read the SPT 80s blog, but that guy posts every day and people stay on topic and the 80s are too depressing to dwell on continuously.

When we went to China, it was suggested that we bring a lot of gifts since that is a big part of their culture. Finding suitable items that were not made in China proved troublesome. Fortunately a lot of Nike apparel is made in Central America. Problem solved. Nike tee-shirts and golf shirts went over great.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"I suspect that today's Republicans suppose that such private concern for ensuring quality is more effective than anything that government would do."

Dave o'C... I think that may end up being the case with Chinese imports, too. If the public decides that Chinese imports are shoddy (or tainted) they will, eventually, protest with their pocketbooks.

It may be hard at first and may take a long time to get these products out of the food chain, so to speak, but it will eventually happen if Americans believe the products (and/or the exporters) can't be trusted.

Of course, that doesn't take the place of government controls, but I think the businesses who depend on these Chinese imports will face big troubles if they don't enact their own controls.

In the meantime, more of us will still likely be hurt by of the high-fructose corn syrup in everything than melamine or bacteria in some Chinese imports.

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

A book I read last month, "Naked Economics" by Charles Wheelan, had a pretty impassioned defense of sweatshops as the bottom rung of industrialization.

It seems some people find being chained to a sewing machine preferable to being a subsistence farmer, which in turn beats being a starving refugee.

Consumer protection is a separate issue. Wheeler makes the case that clean air and water are luxury goods developed nations have glommed onto only recently. The problem is that acid rain and global warming don't respect borders very well.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

And China is now playing hardball back as Joel whiffed the scent of trade war. We are not squeaky clean ourselves when it comes to food safety. Two can play that game.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Billy "Put On Your Rosey Glasses and Drink The Kool-Aid" Kristol is doing a WaPo chat at noon.

Oughta be a laff riot.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Our Farmer's Market requires that the sellers be the growers of the produce, and I see many signs saying "No pesticides."

Saturday I saw a sign by some tomatoes saying, "Grown Outdoors."

Now that is getting really specialized. And what is the matter with being grown in a greenhouse?

Posted by: nellie | July 16, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Here's the Outlook article I mentioned earlier: I'm not saying I agree with it - just curious about other opinions on it. I'm certainly a big fan of buying local and seasonal!

Posted by: natalie | July 16, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

yello-When you were in the area for the reunion did you have a chance to ask your Seminole Heights pals about Starbucks? Urban homesteading in general?

I don't know what's happening with my tomatoes. They've been fed with a manure tea of guinea pig droppings and rainwater collected off the roof and the little patio darlings were supposed to be ripe by now and just larger than Santa Sweets (trademarked, over petrochemicaled, migrant worker exploiting burst of flavor those, but envied nonetheless). Instead I have roma shaped, larger than golf balls, just turning yellow beauties. I am a week or more away from ripeness, but when they do come in I'll have a bumper crop.

Posted by: frostbitten | July 16, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the FDA employs excellent mathematicians and statistical analysts to provide the very best random sampling procedures possible. Such as grinding up 10 or 100 products and testing them simultaneously for bad stuff. If the sample is clean, go on to the next 10 or 100. If not, narrow the search. That sort of optimal search strategy. One fears that crony appointments by the Bush administration might hamper science more than the usual bureaucratic hoops.

bc, thanks for the kind words about my blog. Joel, for good or ill, my blog has no theme either. It's whatever I feel like writing about. Blogger recommends against this sort of thing. Hmmph. Feh.

Posted by: Jumper | July 16, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I think the problem with consumers voting with their pocketbooks is twofold: the sheer volume of material from China, and the current regulations which permit sale of imported food without establishing its country of origin; plus, of course, the problem of foods which contain ingredients imported from China without attribution. It is hard to boycott Chinese imported foodstuffs and ingredients when you don't know that's where they come from.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Yearly during the height of peach season here, I struggle to find the excellent South Carolina peaches in regular stores. The shelves are usally jam packed with California peaches that taste like - cardboard. Mostly one must drive farther and find roadside stands or farmers' markets. But one-stop shopping burns less gasoline. I hate extra trips if they are out of my way. I guess I could bicycle 14 miles and buy peaches that way...

Lately I have urges to just strangle anyone who buys "Fiji water."

Posted by: Jumper | July 16, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

My Seminole Heights friends love the Starbucks. They say it's a great place to run into your neighbors. They put a lot of sweat equity into the place and like the location.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Funny how people's prejudices can influence their food buying. We were visiting cousins in Oklahoma and one walked in from the market and said, "Ugh. They only had those *Arkansas* tomatoes."

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I looked at the graphic accompanying yesterday's article about possible ways to reduce greenhouse gases. It looks like Australia/NZ win the award for most per capita GHG production by a mile.

Posted by: LTL-CA | July 16, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

While we are speaking about local produce, Yoki if you are out there, picked up some Ontario Green Beans the other day, very lovely. Hopefully truck loads will be on the way out west soon. The last couple of years they have been of poor quality in the stores (OK at Farmer's markets) but this year seems better.

I am guilty of bias when purchasing produce but I think it is more from familiarity than anything else.

Posted by: dmd | July 16, 2007 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Protologism: produjice: n. the irrational belief that our county's tomatoes taste better than THEIR county's.

It's not irrational with the peaches. I should just shut up or just lie and say "No, do NOT eat South Carolina peaches! They are awful!" Then there would be more for me...

Posted by: Jumper | July 16, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

That's okay, Jumper. Oklahoma peaches are like that too. When I lived in California, the same was true, and I always pick up Colorado peaches when we go there. I think it is wherever they are closest to their tree.

That said, Oklahoma peaches really are very good. I'm eating one with my lunch now.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Sneaks, so sorry about the grandDane.

Slyness, sending happier thoughts your way after your day of memorial services.

On the way to the country house, I stopped at a roadside stand and bought corn, yellow squash, peaches, and melon. I trusted that they were locally-grown and not from a produce wholesaler (wish I could say the same for my local farmer's market). Since there was a huge vegetable patch out back, it seemed like a good assumption. The flavor proved it to be true. Not quite as good as childhood 20-minutes-from-garden-to-table memories, but nevertheless.
The bonus of the weekend was the discovery of a blackberry patch on our property. An hour in the scorching sun and a scratch-mangled arm later, I had makings for about three pies. Only one got made, because I ran out of flour. The rest might just end up in the freezer for another time.

Posted by: Raysmom | July 16, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Actually, TBG, it appears that it is only you that I have "figured out". I'll keep working on it.

Posted by: skiohio | July 16, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Ivansmom... but what about those *Arkansas* peaches?

(These were the cousins from Grove, by the way, which is about 18 miles from Arkansas.)

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm not at all certain that it is fair to count New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions against the manmade world total. While it is true that the gases are emitted, they are part of the world's overall ecological system -- the cows and sheep burp loads of methane, which reacts with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, which plants consume and react with water through photosynthesis to produce cellulose and sugars and starches and so forth, which the cows and sheep eat, and so on. This system is skewed by the fact that synthetic petrochemical-based fertilizers are used in producing the feed, which contributes extra carbon that would otherwise be sequestered deep beneath the surface. Still, most of the carbon is part of the active ecological cycle and not part of the ADDITIONAL CO2 that has been put into the atmosphere specifically by humans. SOMETHING was going to digest that photosynthetic activity and produce gases -- bacteria, bunnies, wombats, or the bacteria that live in the rumen of livestock. It would have been something. So you can't blame NZ's livestock.

The same fallacy appears in calculations showing that ethanol produces about as much CO2 per passenger mile as gasoline, so it is supposedly no better as a fuel to reduce global warming. That is irrelevant, because the source of the carbon is the atmosphere, not the Earth's crust. Plants incorporate atmospheric carbon into organic molecules as an energy-storage medium, eventually resulting in CO2 as the stored energy is reaped. The carbon will be recycled, with no net increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases, except for the component that comes from fertilizer. There are other problems with ethanol as a fuel (specifically, energy-to-weight ratio, energy-efficiency of different feedstocks), but this isn't one of them.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 16, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

1,500 comments is a bad day for you, isn't it? You could write about draw-strings vs. twist-ties in garbage bags and the debate would rage well beyond 1,500 comments.

Posted by: Eric Zorn | July 16, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I just looked up your George Mason U. source for your Style article: Robert Clark--older fellow, undergrad from Tulane, advanced degree from Johns Hopkins. Teaches health law. I hope he knows more about the law than he does about viruses. Does any Washington Post editor fact-check the science within Washington Post articles?

Jared Diamond links flu to swine and ducks, and cattle to smallpox, in his 1997 Pulitzer prize-winning book (p. 207), yet the dates of virology publications, both here and overseas, that show the close similarity of the camelpox and variola viruses were published in 2002. How is Clark sourcing his material? Is he relying on old stuff?

Along the same line of thought, I picked up the phone on Friday--for the second time, having called on Thursday morning when the news broke locally about San Antonio being one of five finalists for a naional Bio- and Agro-Defense Lab, finally reaching Rene Munoz of Rep. Ciro Rodriguez's office. He had not picked up his phone messages from the day before--amd my inquiries, so I repeated my questions, and the reporting by AP reporter Gamboa about the other diseases that may be included at this proposed agro-defense lab.

Munoz got back to me with an e-mail lickety-split, the fastest turnaround I have ever had after phoning a Congressman in D.C. He provided me this DHS website (weak overview):

Munoz also supplied the names of the "diseases of interest." I'll copy it exactly, since it's short:

The following diseases have currently been defined by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Agriculture as possibilities for study at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF):

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
Classical Swine Fever (CSF)
African Swine Fever (ASF)
Rift Valley Fever (RVF)
Nipah Virus
Hendra Virus
Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP)
Japanese Enchephalitis (JE) virus

Never heard of Nipah and Hendra viruses? Neither had I. National Geographic magazine, however, published an article about them in 2003.

More info on these two obscure viruses from the WHO:

The devastation caused by the Hedra and Nipah is in swine. The vector is fruit bats. Given that our county is home to one of the densest populations of Mexican free-tailed bats, does it make sense to put the national agro-lab in San Antonio?

We have so few swine. North Carolina has pigs hand over fist. If four of the viruses to be studied involve swine, why not put the lab in North Carolina, closest to where the pigs and objects of study are?

Plum Island incinerated its dead experimental animals. Will the proposed lab do more than just benchwork?

Posted by: Loomis | July 16, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Now THERE's an important topic. Personally, I eschew both drawstrings (an effete affectation of the moneyed classes) and twist ties for sealing garbage bags. I prefer to tie the corners, opoosite-to-opposite, using square knots (reef knots, to Mudge). Cheap and effective, requiring no additional components nor specialized products. Admittedly, one must empty the trash before the bag reaches the bursting point. I don't think one needs to leave more excess baggage (one might say) than for either of the other offered bag-sealing techniques.


Posted by: ScienceTim | July 16, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I always loose the twist ties, so it's either drawstrings or the SciTim knot technique. I am too lazy to ensure sufficient additional volume for compaction, so I often just place the open bag on the community section of the garbage pick-up area rather than in my yard.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks yellojkt!

Posted by: Crows, rats and stray cats | July 16, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

OK, we've been yammering about Chinese food and to a lesser extent about Murikin food for four or five days now, and exscept for channeling a bit of Rodgers and Hammerstein, I've been noticeably reticent about commenting (er, you *have* noticed, haven't you? well, maybe not, then. Strike the "noticeably," if the court please). But now I have a few comments:

1) All this talk about food is making me hungry.

2. The question of "race" doesn't belong anywhere in the discussion about the Chinese food problems. It ain't about race. Jeez.

3. Inspection of imported food as well as domestic food is just one of dozens of massively underfunded government agencies--immigration, EPA, education, port security, defense, civil rights, space exploration, funding for Sesame Street...just slip on your blindfold and throw a dart at the dartboard; you're bound to hit something. The list can (and does) go on seemingly forever. In six months everyone will have forgotten this issue, and the next problem on the agenda will be defective toboggans, or the cost of flood insurance, or whatever the crisis du jour.

Of course, what I can't figure out is why the Chinese were putting all that stuff in various food and feed in the first place. The contaminents have a cost, just like anything else; who the hell has a couple hundred sacks of melamine lying around?

4) Is "skiohio" martooni?

5. The Starbucks in Beijing just closed. Maybe the Beijinese thought the coffee tasted burnt and bitter, and was overpriced. In which case, they're right. Or maybe they just couldn't pronounce "barista."

6. Will Haygood's magazine piece on Simeon Booker was excellent.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 16, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

"Square knot" is fine, Tim. I was a Boy Scout before I was a sailorman.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 16, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I prefer to gather two corners together then make a double square knot between those pairs. When the bag is less than full a single knot with the whole top bunched-up together is quick and offers the best grip for heavy bags. I should know, I worked a few of years as a part-time or night janitor.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | July 16, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Mudge. We had a discussion this weekend over which is more expensive: pork or caustic soap.

And maybe the Starbucks closed because the customers kept asking for small, medium and large drinks.

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I tied the garbage bags as well, are twist ties recyclable I probably have a life time supply unfortunately I can never locate them when I might have a purpose for them.

Posted by: dmd | July 16, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Hi all,

1. methane. Tim, doesn't the CO2 neutrality of livestock including sheep assume that these animals are part of the natural ecosystem?

2. I disagree that the Bio-Agro thingie has to be close to the largest hog producers. It's not like they look out the window to see what the hogs are doing today, or send the interns to abduct a few. Speaking of hogs, I suspect the location eventually selected may have something to do with pork barrels.

3. garbage bags. I confess to the drawstring bags, but only in the garage so that I can hang it up. Otherwise I use the corner ties. I think a reef knot in the circumstances is overkill, but it may just be me - remembering to switch which side goes over for the second half is apparently too taxing.

Posted by: SonofCarl | July 16, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I went to look at Eric Zorn's blog. I find very persuasive his point that Amy Jacobson's firing and treatment would have been different if she had been male. For one thing, it's unusual to see a man who looks like a slender and very attractive blonde woman. Of course, I do not know what she looks like from the neck down, as I have found only head shots. Apart from that, I suspect men felt her presence must have been untoward and inappropriate, because men (and I am speaking as one) are jerks who would have wanted her to come to their own pool in a bikini for entirely untoward and inappropriate reasons. Not being a woman, I am not privileged to oversimplify the female psyche and attempt to deduce why women might (or might not) have disapproved of her actions and presence in that situation. She brought her children to a pool party at the home of a target of investigation who may well have murdered his wife. Would it have been wiser for her to go without them and in the absence of a social event? Should she wear a burqa and be seen in public only in the presence of her husband or male relatives? What is the appropriate level of distancing for a female reporter who happens to be attractive, when she is working a source? Would it have been all right if she were hefty, or had only one leg, or were just really ugly?

I suspect, as Zorn notes, that the problem is that she wore a bikini, which men would like to imagine is a sign of flirting with sexual availability. But she also brought her children, and attended an event with others present -- rejections of sexual availability. These days, a bikini also can be just a bathing suit. So, let's get over it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 16, 2007 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Victory gardens. Bring them back.

I had strawberry-spinach salad last night. Spinach & onions: grown 15 feet from my door (and that was a lot of work tilling the garden, I tell you.)

Strawberries: bought off the back of truck locally. They TASTE fresh and sun-ripened. Delish. If it has cardboard in it, it's damn good cardboard.

You can always buy and cook from scratch (like nobody does anymore) to ensure the ingredients do appear to be what they are supposed to be.

Buying local can cause a higher risk of liver cancer if, for instance, you buy peanuts that have not crossed state lines (they are not inspected), but overall you do gain in freshness and reduced time between field and plate for stuff to happen to food.

The best reason to buy as much as possible from local sources is that it ultimately saves fuel in transport between field to plate, as well as electricity in refrigating in the entire process, as well as delivers fresher produce. Likewise, buy fresh food seasonally.

Frozen and canned food do OK for out of season as they preserve nutrients better than shipping fresh from halfway around the world.

Besides, I sure do like living in the wild rice capital of the world.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 16, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I keep talking about Chinese food, and just when I feel like I'm full of it, I'm hungry for more about a half-hour later.

To follow up on the plastic trash bag question: wouldn't it be more environmentally sound to do away with plastic trash bags enitirely? A biodegradeable paper bag would make more sense, or you could do away with bags entirely.

Move trash from the indoor trashcan to the outdoor trashcan, the the trash collection folks will just dump the big cans into the back of the truck once you've taken them to the curb. Wash the cans out with a small amount of water and a bit of biodegradeable soap once a week, and spare the environment from those plastic trashbags.

Just a thought.

Another thought: Drawstrings belong only on duffel bags. I'd rather hold my pants up with twisty ties than with drawstings, too.


Posted by: bc | July 16, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the reminder: I'm out of garbage bags.

Where is Mary Schmich? On vacation? I miss her.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Chemicals are also cheaper in the PRC TBG. Most of the hypochlorites (pool chlorine) used in North-America now comes from China. Ditto for sodium dithionite (a paper bleaching agent). Since most containers would be of the one-way type to avoid the cost of returning them in China sub-standard units are sometimes used, thus reducing the safety in transport. Once in a while a less-than-scrupulous Chinese chemicals dealer would sell to an enterprising North-American customer a container filled with all the products necessary to start a meth manufacturing lab. At the current rate of container inspection it's a pretty safe endeavour.

OSHA's recommended method to close a plastic bag (for asbestos waste and other hazardous @rap) is to duct tape the bunched-up neck 10 in. from the top, fold the top part against the taped area and tape it again. It's a little excessive for domestic garbage though.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | July 16, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I would guess that there were too many people buy "coffee" or "tea" and not enough getting "triple grande mocha-latte-frapucinnos with a shot of twisted lime-flavoured syrup". That kind of thing would stop any Starbucks dead in its tracks.

Posted by: Kerric | July 16, 2007 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Continuing Science Tim's thought: Or, she could have been trying to direct attention to herself while her children scurried through the house filling the pockets of their jumpers with "evidence." It could happen. It'd make a great movie.

Posted by: CowTown | July 16, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

SonofCarl, I concur that the concentration of livestock in New Zealand is not natural. However, some mechanism would have contrived to digest and recycle the plant matter of New Zealnd, thus making it available fo rthe next generation of plants to consume it. Human intervention has caused that digestive process to be largely in the form of cows and sheep, rather than native species or bacteria, a major shift in animal populations. The net amount of plants as food, and thus the supportable biomass, is ultimately limited by the amount of sunlight available and the fficiency with which . The hitch in the system is that fertilizer makes plants more efficient at converting sunlight into vegetable material that can be eaten. I would be interested to understand the vegetable biomass of New Zealand without fertilizers, versus New Zealand with fertilizers. This is a question for Dave of the Coonties.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 16, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"he fficiency with which ." = th efficiency of plant photosynthesis.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 16, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

bc, I'm withya on the paper bag v. plastic garbage bag concept, but I'd point out that this practice is only practical in the cooler months of the year. In the middel of July, garbage turns immediately into a breeding ground for, um, "baby flies" (aka "live rice"). By carefully packaging garbage in garbage bags, one can place one's garbage receptacle on the curb with confidence that it will not irritate, frighten, or otherwise oppress sanitation workers whose contentment and safety are in society's interest.

Posted by: CowTown | July 16, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Off-topic (trash and contaminants) response to Cassandra's question from the last Boodle, regarding the Georgia man facing execution. He has a claim of actual innocence, since most of the people who testified against him have recanted (now claim they were lying), he did not confess, and still maintains his innocence. The federal statute (AEDPA) is basically designed to drastically restrict federal review of a prisoner's federal constitutional claims for a conviction under state law (which pretty much all criminal convictions are, as federal criminal jurisdiction is very limited). In theory the AEDPA has an exception which allows federal courts to review claims of actual innocence. In practice this is not so true. They'll probably execute him. Things like this make me wonder why I continue to be part of this system. Working for a state, I don't usually have to deal with the AEDPA, but I have taught it.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

bc, you already DO hold up your pants with twist-ties.

"Buy local" and "cook from scratch," etc., sound good, but in fact aren't realistic options for gazillions of people. It may be OK for us middle and upper middle class types in some circumstances, but the fact is, most people live in an industrialized, highly mechanistic, highly technology world, and frequently an urban one at that. Many, many of them are poor. When you live on the 7th floor of a tenement, where exactly do you "buy local"? If you're an upsacale lawyer working for Dewey, Cheatem and Howe, and you work 80 hours a week and get home from work about 9 p.m., do you really think you have time to wander on down to the local farmer's market in the middle of your condo complex, and then go home and rustle up a scratch-built meal at 10:30 at night? Where do you buy locally grown peaches in Needles, California? If you've got a hankering for scallops or tilapia and you live in, say, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, aren't you pretty much s--t out of luck on local seafood? There's a reason why Cheyenne, Wyoming, isn't known for its crabcakes and why cattle rustling isn't a major crime issue in the Hamptons.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 16, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Watch it with the lawyer jokes. In fact, it is well known that only our associates work 80 hour weeks at good ol' DC&H:

Posted by: bill everything | July 16, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I thought bc was more likely to fashion a belt out of duct tape.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 16, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Joel, "Acheson" makes it sound like you are the father.

Posted by: breugel | July 16, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Curmudgeon, for reminding me why I live in the Glorious Midwest, Verdant Breadbasket of the World. Occasionally, when I feel coast-deprived (I used to sail to Santa Catalina on occasion), I question my decision to move right into the path of the dread Canadian Jetstream. But, we do have farmers' markets, right here in town. I can ride my bicycle to it. There ARE blessings to count. (Now sitting up straight, feeling self-satisfied and even somewhat morally superior).

Posted by: CowTown | July 16, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Couple of items here:

Loomis, re. your 1:45. I don't see anything where Clark is contradicting Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" there. Did I miss something? I don't get it. Can you explain? Also, I don't know what Clark's age has to do with *anything*.
Re. the location of the lab and proximity to pork industries/farms, seems to me that you'd want to limit the economic impact of a lab accident by keeping it *away* from any industrial swine facilities.

I work in Washington DC and live near the famous (or infamous) Ft. Detrick in MD, so I have a little perspective on such things.

Leaping wildly off-topic:

"Bush Announces Mideast Peace Conference"

Who does he think he is, Madeline Allbright? Jimmy Carter?


Posted by: bc | July 16, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Local and organic can have issues also. I bought a head of (organic) Romaine lettuce at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago. When I opened the storage container the next day, there was a slug on the lid. I just washed it down the drain, but still. Gotta be careful to wash everything thoroughly.

Posted by: Slyness | July 16, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Dear Joel
Please forgive my tardiness in responding to the addendum to your June 29 kit. I have been attending a Canada Day party for the last two weeks and haven't been keeping up with developments here on the boodle.

On the morning of June 28 2007 at 8:18 I informed the boodle that UNESCO had designated the Rideau Canal (I can see bits of it from the top of my tv antenna tower) a World Heritage Site. This is a designation of historical and cultural importance shared by the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids, Machu Pichu and the Taj Mahal.

A few hours later you posted a kit in which you described the P&O Canal as your local Great Wall of China and bewailed the liberties the local yokels were taking with it (the 'Merkin yokels, not the Chinese ones).

Let me just say here that while I have never seen the C&O Canal I do know a little bit about it having read a fine book called "The Grand Idea". Nevertheless I felt I must call you on your specious comparison of said canal with the Great Wall of China. I ignored the obvious silliness of comparing a canal with a wall but instead objected to their comparison on the grounds of significance and expressed my reservations in a post to your blog before going out to shop for beer and explosives in preparation for my national holiday.

The next day in your blog you invited me to analyze what you had written and pointed out that by describing your canal as a "local" Great Wall of China you had avoided the sins of hubris and braggadocio.
Upon consideration I must suppose you may be correct. I confess I'm still a little suspicious although somewhat mollified by your response. However, now that there is a World Heritage status canal, when you introduce the C&O to visitors you should say, "This is our local Rideau Canal." If they're from a 50 mile radius of where I live they'll know exactly what you're talking about.

Respectfully yours


So. 'sup?

Posted by: Boko999 | July 16, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Everyone in the DC area get ready...

Posted by: omni | July 16, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Mudge, and while you may just eschew say, seafood in the middle part of the country, that doesn't solve the problem of urban areas where there is no "local" and you don't have any way to get what is trucked in from a few miles away. Fresh produce is expensive in grocery stores and it is not cheap at most farmer's markets; it is just fresher and seasonal. And of course, staples such as rice, flour, sugar and coffee are basically "local" to nobody, even if your state grows them.

I do shop locally when I can and cook from scratch as much as possible, but it is time-consuming and takes money. I may have mentioned my non-producing tomatoes; growing one's own food, even when one has the opportunity, doesn't always work out as we hope. I have the land but not the time to devote to cultivation. Lots of people have no land, not even room for patio or window pots.

As I've mentioned, there is only one full-fledged grocery for an entire section of this city. In addition, though they're now building and selling downtown housing at an amazing rate, there is no grocery there. If you don't have extra cash or reliable transportation, or if you just work long hours, you're probably going to find a dearth of fresh produce and rely on prepared foods. And the label doesn't always tell us where those ingredients originate.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

bc uses duct tape for his suspenders, Lost (and also for his wallet).

I was only trying to make the point that the overwhelming majority of people, whether rich or poor, have something very close to zero chance to influence or alter where and how they buy and prepare their food. That some of us middle and upper middle class folks sometimes can indulge our yuppie dilletantish predilections (I include myself foremost in the category of yuppie dilletante) is nice, but the truth is we can't influence the overall situation a thousandth of a percent. We live in the world we live in.

Getting very dark and gloomy here (I'm speaking meteorologically now.)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 16, 2007 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, LiT wins that round.

Duct tape belt it is.
Duct Tape comes in a variety of colors and is much more comfortable. It makes for nifty suspenders and cummerbunds, too.

If duct tape's not availble, I'd go for zip ties ahead of twisty ties.


Posted by: bc | July 16, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

You're right, bc; I forgot. You do wear a duct tape belt. It's your shoelaces you replaced with twist ties.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 16, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the bean tip, dmd. I shall keep my eyes open.

I dunno, I fall somewhere between Wilbrod and 'Mudge/Ivansmom on the food question. I have a friend in Vancouver who is ridiculously over-privileged, and she makes sweeping pronouncements about how we should all be eating local, organic, etc. It makes me crazy. Well, that is lovely, if you can afford it, and if there is local food. Vancouver is pretty lucky on that count, Calgary not so much. Even if I had access to those, I wouldn't be able to afford them *and* do the other things I think are important for balance.

I compromise by cooking almost everything we eat from sratch and trying to construct meals on seasonal foods even if imported, trucked, etc. I work the sort of hours, most weeks, the DCH would require, but we still manage to eat real food and sit down together most nights.

All this to say, it depends on what is important to you, doesn't it, and declaring what is the right thing to do is fruitless; it will never be right for everyone.

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Actually, that last sequence was me anticipating Mudge's post and agreeing with it although preceding it. Yet another stunning example of clairvoyance, from the same folks who brought you the duct tape dresser set.

I use drawstring trash bags because they are enormously convenient and Ivansdad buys them at Sam's. Ecological nightmare, I know. When one only has trash picked up once a week, and either have to haul the bin back & forth uphill or keep it by the gate, one appreciates the virtue of containers.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Is it that dark sky to which omni was referring?

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Yup. Methinks we're about to get monsooned again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 16, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Either it was the sky Yoki or a reference to Bush's attempt at brokering peace in the Middle East.

Posted by: dmd | July 16, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I'd also point out that the fact I'm cooking for others has some effect on our meals. For instance, I've spent weeks looking for a prepared pizza crust which I can use to make pizza at home. I've tried four so far. Although my dear family members profess to love pizza, only the most recent one has come close to meeting their standard -- which, mind you, is FROZEN pizza. That's all I'm trying to replace. Yes, the stuff that tastes like cardboard. Perhaps I should just take my cue from the Cninese vendor and use cardboard. Feh.

Don't get me started on the virtues of homemeade macaroni & cheese (my preference, when there's time) compared to the boxed version (their standard wins again). Double feh.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

dmd, one was a thunderstorm prediction, while the other was a just wet dream.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 16, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

bc, when I was younger --- up until 1965 as I recall in southern California --- garbage WAS put in a small can and the garbage truck picked it up. And you washed the small can out. No paper, no plastic.

And they took the garbage to the hog farm! Talk about recycling!

Posted by: nellie | July 16, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I know y'all are just having fun about the Starbucks in the Forbidden City closing, but if you want the real story, I'll repost this:
yellojkt, hope you can find the picture that I'm sure you took.

On local food - I take the stance that you do what you can, and every little bit helps. So, if you can find local, fresh food and can afford to pay more for it, fine. It creates demand and helps the farmers. My chain supermarket now carries lots of "organic" vegetables, which it did not several years ago. I don't think they are necessarily local, though. And I don't always buy those over the lower-priced non-organic stuff. We also have a new grocery store that is selling itself on having fresh, local, organic products.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 16, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

A poor person hankering for shrimp and scallops would be out of luck anyway. The authors discussing local produce are actually referring to food grown within a 100 mile radius (250 if you're in the boondocks).

You are correct that in many areas, poor people with limited transportion often have to put up with what their local store carries. When I was in college I shopped at a safeway in NW DC that carries food of quality that wouldn't be tolerated in the Safeways even 3 miles away.

However, there are movements to try and correct this-- Edible schoolyards, etc. Way too many kids growing up on food stamps or limited budget have never even eaten an orange or other fresh fruit.

There are such in New Orleans, New York City, and other places.

And you'd be surprised at what people can manage if there are resources in place and the willpower to do so. Community gardens exist in various places. There are 8 in Washington DC alone.

I'm not saying everybody has access to those solutions, but part of a local food movements would also involve more access and education on food for the poor.

I mean, somebody survived on local foods alone in the desert, the major "farms" were barely within the 100 range radius. He learned to eat a lot of native foods-- and he had to be educated to eat so.

In the 1/2 acre I grew up on in VA (certainly more than most people have available), grapes, elderberries, mulberries, wild onion, dandelions, cherry trees, rose hips,etc. grew naturally.

With just one actual garden, we could have grown a lot of produce, had we known how to. I'm learning you can grow a lot of cucumbers in a typical wooden tub 18 inches in diameter. Not bad!.

That's why I said bring back victory gardens. I also mean the education and encouragment involved.

A Mediterranean diet can help protect again the burden of pesticides etc. in your diet, and reduces respiratory allergies in children. The limiting factor is fresh fruit and vegetables (and nuts) available for consumption-- a major reason why the poor do not eat as well they could.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 16, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Boko writes: 'However, now that there is a World Heritage status canal, when you introduce the C&O to visitors you should say, "This is our local Rideau Canal." '

I'll just say, "This is our big local ditch that sometimes stinks in summer."

Posted by: Achenbach | July 16, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Dare I admit I use twist-ties and actually know where they are?

Posted by: Raysmom | July 16, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Science Tim, great comment on the Zorn item -- make sure to post it to his blog (if there's any room left there for comments).

Posted by: Achenbach | July 16, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I am sure the joke predates Car Talk, but according to Wikipedia (and why would they lie):

"Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers, the pseudonyms of Tom and Ray Magliozzi of NPR's Car Talk radio program, named their corporation for managing the business end of Car Talk "Dewey, Cheatem & Howe." The DC&H corporate offices are located on a third-floor office, directly above the corner of Brattle and JFK Streets, in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The office is clearly visible from the square and, like the show, is a perennial source of amusement to the denizens of Cambridge."

I have posted photographic evidence of this office on the boodle before.

It's right over the kids book store with the monkey on the building.

I so wanted to be a lawyer, but I couldn't grow the dorsal fin.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Oh Yoki, those organic folks drive me crazy too.
Organic is good, but I can't afford it for everything and in fact, it makes more sense for some vegetables compared to others.

I'm kind of sad though, that peaches have the highest pesticide load and you can't really wash the pesticides off (apples are next). There go non-organic peaches off my normal purchase list.

On the bright side, eggplant, which I do like, is pretty pesticide-free, even without buying organic.

I've learned that many imported vegetables and fruit DO carry pesticides banned in the US or Canada. If you ever have odd rashes once in a while from handling or eating fruit or vegetables, it might not be an allergy to the food itself.

For instance, I had occasional rashes from tomatoes I was preparing while working at Roy Rogers. As far as I know, I am not allergic to tomatoes, never have been, but I was baffled by the contact dermatitis.

I learned that NAFTA permits produce produced with illegal pesticides to be imported into the country, and it made sense at last.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 16, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Me too, Raysmom. I use twist-ties for all sorts of things, like tying plants to stakes and closing up frozen vegetable bags (frozen vegetables! The horror.) I remember the pre-plastic garbage bag days, and I won't go back. But someday, Seattle will require us to put food waste in the yard waste recycle bin...not looking forward to that because of the logistics (which in my case are quite small, really, but still).

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 16, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I have heard about this wonderful puppy who knows sign language and is in need of a home. Smokey's in New Jersey.

Posted by: Wilbrodog | July 16, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Yellojkt, it isn't the dorsal fin so much as the extra teeth. If you remember seeing your kids teething, then imagine growing rows and rows in law school -- well, let's just say that's why lawyers charge so much. To recompense us for the pain.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 16, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Abridging my last post, I have to point out that during the Dead of Winter, our family must forage through the local supermarket for staples made or grown in countries other than our own. Lacking a root cellar, we're compelled to eat Chilean aprocots and probably stuff raised in (shudder) China as well.

Posted by: CowTown | July 16, 2007 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Eric Zorn seems to have a nice blog, but he hit commenter gold with that reporter going undercover in the bikini. Each of his posts about her peg the comment meter, but when he posts about more mundane things, he gets a dozen or so comments and then the crickets start chirping. The Boodle is a full-service commenting portal. We don't allow pesky things like topics get in our way.

And our own Howie Kurtz has a nice take on reporters fraternizing with sources and objects of investigations.

The Telemundo lady that is "dating" the LA mayor and then reporting on the divorce proceedings definitely stepped over a line. A line marked "Yowzah!" I can't really blame the mayor that much. She must have a very persuasive interviewing technique.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Who can afford aprocots in the winter? Even in season. My mother had a tree. Had hardly any for the last 50 years.

We don't tie our garbage bags. We freeze stuff that may decompose until the morning the garbage man comes. That way the can doesn't smell and avoids the live rice. Besides we have bears and coyotes that come around if something smells good (or bad). The big problem with bears around here are garbage cans in parks that have picnic facilities.

Posted by: bh | July 16, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

bh's comment reminds me of my misadventures in learning to live with bears. I was pretty slow on the uptake, I must say. When we first moved to the mountains, I set up our compost bin (of course). After the first few additions, went out one morning to find it knocked over and all the stuff that was still more or less in one piece missing. Same thing a couple of weeks later, and once again. I finally twigged and that was it for the composting.

Also, some brilliant mind had planted two fruit trees in our back yard prior to our tenure. It didn't take me long to figure out that they should be replaced.

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Loomis writes: "Why not pin down FDA's Acheson during your interview with him? If putting an increased number of inspectors at U.S. ports of entry is NOT the answer, than what does Acheson think the answer is? Just sitting on our American hands and twiddling our American thumbs? Letting the legal system take care of the miscreants?"

I don't have my notes in front of me (am holed up at Library of Congress) but he spoke very intelligently, I thought, about the need to do more than play defense, but instead try to make sure that contaminated food doesnt enter the pipeline to begin with. that would mean working with other countries -- helping China, for example, establish a fully modern food safety system. And here in the U.S., enforcing safe practices in fields and factories. But I'd like to follow up on our interview and find out, for example, precisely how many inspectors there are. The FDA gave me a number but one knowledgeable caller has suggested that it's inflated. A pro-business Administration may be more reluctant to do anything to slow down or impede trade.

Posted by: Achenbach | July 16, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Hi Boko!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm starting to wonder. I just got some spam with the subject line:

企 ·业 ·如 ·何 ·应 ·对 ·全 ·新 ·劳 ·

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Boko, welcome back! Hardly dared to wonder where you had gone...

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 16, 2007 5:07 PM | Report abuse

My sentiments on the C&O. I will have to check out the Rideau if and when I am ever in your neck of the woods.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 16, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Just reading Money Magazines' Top 10 Places to Live. I love the Pros and Cons (especially the Cons) on numbers 5 and 6...

5. Claremont, Calif.
Population: 35,900
Typical single-family home: $700,000
Estimated property taxes: $7,800
Pros: Tight-knit community with topnotch schools
Cons: Poor air quality, high home prices

6. Papillion, Neb.
Population: 18,800
Typical single-family home: $250,000
Estimated property taxes: $5,100
Pros: Outdoor recreation, growing local economy
Cons: Lack of arts and culture

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

See my post in the comments section of Joel's Style piece. That may clarify things for you.

Posted by: Loomis | July 16, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Don't eat that spam, TBG!

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 16, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Knowing absolutely no chinese, I think that says:
"Fire Mama makes your man-dart bigger with great mortage rates."

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 16, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Gasping for air and begging for sympaki -- just put in another 6 hours. The pleading is being reviewed and I'm sooo tired. I'm much too old for this, although I admit that the compensation certainly pays the mortgage. And my knee is starting to ache and I haven't been to the gym for a month (oh b$tch, b$tch, b$tch).

Okay, I'm done. Feeling better for having pitched this whine into the ether. Although some cheese to go along with that whine would be nice.

gotta go

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | July 16, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

5,100 dollars tax on a 250,000 house - isn't that a little steep?

I also have neglected to pass on my sympathies to Bad Sneakers and her daughter.

Good to have you back Boko.

Just before I left work I decided to see what was happening on the Mommy Blog, topic today telling your boss you are pregnant again - Oh my they are a nasty crew over there.

Wilbrod like your translation, it is either that or TBG is being offered money from a Chinese Bank.

Posted by: dmd | July 16, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Re Joel's link to the Travolta bio in the NYTimes: Queen Latifah was on Letterman last week to promo the movie. She was her usual excellent self, and Letterman loves her, so it was a fun chat. The clip of the movie rocked. It's going to be fun to see.

From the piece on Travolta:
"I was beautifully parented by two very doting parents, so it's very easy for me to adore someone," he went on. "I adore my children. I adore other people's children. I adore other people. I can make a fuss over you like nobody can."

Wouldn't it be nice to know someone like that?

Posted by: THS | July 16, 2007 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else think the St Pete's version of Joel's article has a kind of weird headline?

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I agree that it's weird. "The Boy on the Bus" vs "I Was a White Boy Bused for Integration." A slant to be sure.

Back to China: I just bought a new lampshade that has a "Made in America" sticker that looks just like a postage stamp. It cost twice as much as the lamp, which I bought in a consignment shop. I LOVE consignment shops!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the good thoughts for my daughter. She's having a hard time even being in her house, it's so quiet and empty. Time will help her heal and I told her to keep as busy as possible with work and exercise. When my Dad died, tennis was my therapy.

Slyness, I laughed when I read about the slug in your lettuce. I have been harvesting ours and washing and inspecting each leaf carefully. The time and effort to do this almost makes me want to just go buy the stuff, of course that could have bugs too. Ah well.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 16, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

THS, those of us who've attended BPH's do know someone like that... *glancing over at the iPhone-wielding Boodler*


And AI CHIHUAHUA, what a way to go back to work! Journalistically misrepresented on an international scale!!! :-O

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 16, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Hi everyone! Been busy? I haven't.
At my buddy's Canada Day party I met an old friend who is having a cottage/retirement home built by a lake three hours drive from Ottawa. Because he has to work in Ottawa he isn't able to keep an eye on the guys doing the work on his house, so when he asked me what I was doing and I told him, "nothing", he suggested I go up to the site and supervise the proceedings.
After dragging myself from the party next day, coming home to gather dog food, clothes and rifles (he has 50 acres) I hied myself off to the lake to stay in a lovely trailer to eat free food, drink free beer and angle for free fish. . He even gave me a nice cheque! Oh yeah, the builders were very competent and did a fantastic job.

I got home late last night and the first thing I noticed after wading through grass that hasn't been cut in two weeks and opening the front door was an unholy stench. I hadn't emptied the kitchen garbage can before I left, so chucked out the offended offal, opened all the windows and went to bed. The first thing I noticed when I woke up this morning and came upstairs was the flies, hundreds of 'em. I must have killed 2 lbs. of the little buggers. I wonder if I had weighed garbage before I left and then weighed the garbage and the dead flies after returning I'd discover something interesting.
Anyway, so the next time you're going to leave your house for any length of time (ok, more than a couple of days) remember Boko and/or Sarah Stout and always take the garbage out.

Posted by: Boko999 | July 16, 2007 7:46 PM | Report abuse

*faxin' Boko a pest strip or seven* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 16, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

And he made a couplet!

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse

I thought this a moving tribute to Lady Bird Johnson.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 8:13 PM | Report abuse

But Boko... the real question is... twist ties or drawstrings?

Posted by: TBG | July 16, 2007 8:17 PM | Report abuse

TBG just when I was trying to uncrinkle my nose from the picture Boko painted I saw your comment - too funny.

Seriously Boko - Ick!

Scotty if you are going to be misrepresented at least you went big, probably not helpful huh?

Posted by: dmd | July 16, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Boko should have signed that one


Posted by: Wilbrod | July 16, 2007 8:51 PM | Report abuse

The Post did well in remembering Lady Bird. It's notable that the Washington "beautification" projects kept the garden-club ladies under control and enlisted the local residents. A good model for urban conservation.

Boko999's vacation reminds me that I might qualify to live in Canada if I study a lot of French to get some more points. That, or a more marketable degree.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 16, 2007 9:08 PM | Report abuse

D of the C,

*kept the garden-club ladies under control and enlisted the local residents.*

Should I take umbridge?

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 9:25 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Umbrage.

Why can I not learn to spell it? I take it every day!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Future Bill Kristol WaPo articles:

If the laws of physics are suspended and we spend 20 gigazillion dollars, we will be on the surface of Neptune by 2010. He likes the odds.

If Jason Campbell does a mind meld with Tom Brady and the Redskins defense becomes the Monsters of the Midway, Washington will win the Super Bowl in February 2008. He likes the odds.

I could go on like this, but it would be piling on.

Posted by: bill everything | July 16, 2007 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Maggie O'D, that was in fact very funny.

Apologize not. Neither for the spelling nor being a garden lady. My dear maternal Grandmother (Doris Howitt Doris Howitt, may her name live forever, from my mouth to God's ear) was a garden-lady, and also the wisest and most loving, hilarious, lively, dancing, funny and satirical best woman you could imagine. My life's blessing is that I knew her from the time she was aged 47 to 86. That is a good long time to know a beloved. I still feel her hand on my shoulder (Soldier, according to #2) and it makes me happy.

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

I hope the WaPo editorial board will take this opportunity to lampoon the adminstration's unilateral decision to hold a "peace conference."

What a joke. What a signal that the administration is flailing to find something that can be claimed as a legacy.
The epitome of pathetic.

Posted by: bill everything | July 16, 2007 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for that.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrodog, I sent Smokey's info to a number of my rescue contacts and asked them to pass him on. I know some of them work with assistance dog trainers.

My home computer is down, and there's only so much I can do from my work laptop. If you're interested in writing them, may be able to help. There are transports that a number of rescues use, I can get more info on them if they need him transported to another state.

On another topic, someone gave me _A Pack of Two_. Between that and _Marley_, I'm tired of reading about the experiences of neophyte dog owners. Please consider writing your own book!

Posted by: dbG | July 16, 2007 10:46 PM | Report abuse

OMG, I took a look at the Mommy Blog for the first time ever, and I killed the achenblog. The Power!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Love your titles for future Bill Kristol articles, bill everything. Did you see look at any of the comments on his Sunday piece. Many references to drug use as the only explanation for his remarks. My favorite referred to "Kristol Meth".

I found the peace conference proposal amazing too. Does anyone have the sense that we are backing the wrong horse? Not saying that Hamas is a positive social force, but what is the point of isolating them in this way?

I mean . . . I understand what they think the point is, but how can it possibly help?

Posted by: THS | July 16, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

OMG, I took a look at the Mommy Blog for the first time ever, and I killed the achenblog. The Power!

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I think that the dictator of the blog must be asleep at the wheel or on vacation.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 16, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

No no. The Boodle is never dead. It's just restin'

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Or, not.

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, maybe I qualify as a neophyte, too? Wilbrodog would say so.

But yes, there needs to be books about people who actually don't screw up their dogs in ways that are all too sadly familiar to rescuers.

Wilbrodog wants to do a funny first-dog narrative.

Meanwhile until that need is met, isn't updated overly often, but always worth the fur time and pics ;).

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 16, 2007 11:11 PM | Report abuse

arghrghrgh! I kil't it dead, I did.

Posted by: Yoki | July 16, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

hahahahaha (pant). Do a funny first-dog narrative, Wilbrodog.

Posted by: Yokisdogs | July 16, 2007 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Have you all read Donald McCaig's books? I read Nop's Trials quite a few years ago - about a border collie - very good. I think I may have read another, and looking at Amazon, he's written quite a few. Michael Dirda mentioned him in his chat the other day.

Posted by: mostlylurking | July 16, 2007 11:28 PM | Report abuse

(insert theme from "Jaws")

Hi everyone! What's up?

I'm slightly amused by the WaPo headline: "Fenty Plans to Endorse Obama"

Well, yeah! This was in question, by whom?

Posted by: Bob S. | July 16, 2007 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Loomis, I looked at your comments to Joel's Style piece, and I still don't understand.

I was talking about this with a good friend of mine - someone quite intelligent and resourceful - and they later sent me this: "The 2002 Journal of General Virology reports that even though the camelpox virus and cattle virus both *probably* evolved from the same rodent
virus (and possibly even at the same time), and even though the camelpox virus
seems to be closer genetically to the smallpox virus, somehow or another,
the camelpox virus hasn't yet made the leap to humans, while the cattle virus has. (The article specifically says CMPV has not caused disease in humans.)"

Can you reference your source for smallpox being caused by or mutated/evolved from camelpox?

Humans and chimpanzees are between 94 and 99% genetically identical (depending on who you ask), but only humans came up with YouTube.


Posted by: bc | July 16, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's this article:

Cowpox causes a milder infection than smallpox does, and apparently camel drovers do get a mild rash from camelpox. It's not gonna be a majorly lethal disease to humans, just camels.

For all we know, maybe camelpox is an mild cowpox-smallpox relative that got infected to camels through humans and became virulent in camels-- it can kill up to 25% of young camels.

You might as well devote your energies to re-engineering the influenza virus to be a bioterror agent; it'd take about the same level of work.

I assume this is part of the weapons of mass destrucamelotion hysteria proposed as a reason for going to Iraq.

I assume the U.S. would have received those WMDs C.O.D. (Camel on Delivery).

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 17, 2007 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod - My article on this very subject is still undergoing peer review, but suffice it to say that the monkey-cow-small-penis-spider-pox web has been unravelled (as it were) and will be fully revealed in a major subscription-only publication sometime soon.

I only wish that I was at liberty to elucidate further!

Posted by: Bob S. | July 17, 2007 12:31 AM | Report abuse

You might want to set up your website and your press agent to field all those media calls, Bob S, or you might get a pox on you from angry journalists.

Posted by: Wilbrod | July 17, 2007 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Good evening late night boodlers. I saw a most curious sight along the river on my way home tonight.Three owls sitting in a tree. I think it was a mother and two younglings.I stopped and got out and looked at them for a while. Owls have got to be the coolest birds.

Here is another strange thing, with all the woods around here,how come all the deer hang out by the side of the road. Is that where all the good greens are.

I guess I should have asked Mrs. Owl for she is the wisest of them all.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | July 17, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Penn State ecologist Edward Bellis spent years trying to figure out how to keep deer off the roads. One solution was extremely high fences at the edge of the pavement. I think the other was to not have any grass.

Tonight, WSJ is looking like a deer a bit too close to the pavement.

Spotted a swallow-tailed kite yesteday. Perhaps even cooler than the crested caracara.

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 17, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Very little to report this morning in the news. The highly renowned international peace negotiator, George W. Bush, has summoned a Mide-East Peace Conference, inviting only the nations that recognize Israel to attend. Let's see, that would include Israel, Great Britain, Nantucket and Samoa. I hope they get a lot accomplished. Among other things, I hope they manage to reduce the waiting times on those Nantucket ferries.

I was very disapointed in Gene Robinson's column on Barry Bonds this morning. Seems Bonds isn't such a bad guy after all (not withstanding his steroid use and complete, utter, total boorishness as a human being). Gene, Gene, c'mon. Gene seems to think Bonds's job is "to entertain, to thrill," and to hit home runs. Who, I'd like to know, does Bonds "thrill"? Who does he entertain? His teammmates hate him, most of his fans hate him, and baseball as an institution can't abide the man. Yes, he hits home runs, although many opurists would argue that's not quite the point of the game. Something to do with winning, and -- dare I even bring it up -- sportsmanship, team play, etc.?

My wife and I are a bit bummed out. We heard from our best friends last evening, the couple we're co-building our vacation house with. My wife has been friends with Sharon for close to 40 years. Seems Sharon found out yesterday or maybe over the weekend that she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. No details yet on how severe, how far it has spread, or course of treatment; everybody's still in shock and awaiting more tests. Their youngest daughter just went over to Iraq two months ago as an Army lieutenant. Our friend is an operating room nurse; her husband is a physician's assistant, so they have plenty of expertise between them, so that may help some.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 17, 2007 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, boodle. I'm up and moving about. Just wanted to check in, and see what you folks are up too. I see we're still talking about China, and the mess they send us to eat and drink.

Hello, boko.

And Loomis, you're right about the hogs in North Carolina. And we have chickens, too. One can travel not far from where I live, and get a wake-up call that opens everything. Many in the county have complained, but the commissioners don't pay them any attention. We live with it. And going east from here, it's even worse.

a bea c, thanks, but the people in charge of the program came up with the idea to take the children to the restaurant. I'm tagging along to help, but it is a good idea. The children love it.

Read Eugene Robinson's take on Barry Bonds this morning, and I just love the way that man writes. He expressed my sentiments exactly concerning, Mr. Bond.

I see the Post will have Cornel West expressing his views on race and America. That should be interesting, and more.

Have a good day, my friends. I hope it isn't too hot where you live. It is hot here, and getting hotter. We were outside most of the yesterday, but I doubt that will be the case today.

Mudge, I found some tomatoes from a guy here, and he had just pulled them. Not a lot, but I cooked them, and they were so good. Fresh is always better. I suspect we need to go back to farming in this country, and I mean small farming. That way we wouldn't have to eat cardboard from somewhere else.

I haven't live that long, but every Republican administration removes those things that are in place for watching and inspecting, and then you have mess. And people keep voting for these folks. It seems they believe in allowing folks to check on themselves, and people call me crazy because I believe in God. Hump!

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 17, 2007 6:21 AM | Report abuse

And in reading the excerpt regarding the President's take on Cheney's daughter, I did not understand that. I just did not get it, which makes me wonder more than ever, why did people vote for this man? I mean at some point one had to know this, so there must have been convincing reason regarding some other virtue that would compensate for this lack? And the answer is? Fess up, folks? Can it be told in mixed company?

Posted by: Cassandra S | July 17, 2007 6:26 AM | Report abuse

>I just did not get it, which makes me wonder more than ever, why did people vote for this man?

According to Orthodox SubGenius literature: "Know how dumb the average American is? By definition half of 'em are dumber than that."

Smart people scare dumb people, because dumb people are still smart enough to know the smart guy might pull something on them they don't understand. That's one of the reasons Al Gore bothers so many people.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 17, 2007 6:33 AM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I am sorry to hear about your friend. Sending good thoughts your way.

Posted by: dmd | July 17, 2007 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Knitting a bit on what Cassandra and Error F write:

it is the populist voice we tend to like, in our presidents.

I hear Westernness-- Texas cast on the Middle-West voice -- in GWB speech patterns, vowel sounds, and images. We (USians broadly brushed) like folksy, homey, non-elite leaders.
Teddy Roosevelt
GWB (not GHB)

GWB also speaks in short sentences: contrast with John Kerry and Al Gore, whose speech patterns are built around longer sentences, often opening with qualifying -- read as hedging -- clauses.

And yes, some presidents defy this, but then, the politicking and luck factor in, or perhaps we occasionally try on the elite model.

FD Roosevelt
GHB (with such East Coast Patrician overtones grafted on a bit of Texas)

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 7:15 AM | Report abuse

*treading-water-amongst-the-paperwork Grover waves* :-)

Hope to have more time to comment later today. As long as I'm not misinterpreted again... *L*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 17, 2007 7:17 AM | Report abuse

'Mudge, good thoughts headed to you and your friends.

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 17, 2007 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Ahh Mudge, membership in the cancer club. I hate how that happens. Instead of YOU signing up, the mandatory membership package explodes on your porch like a pipe bomb.

They have you and darling Mrs. Mudge. I expect you will offer food and other gestures of practical kindness. Homemade vanilla pudding, light on the sugar, can be a lovely and soothing treat.

I suggest one of those Swedish pillows. I read recently about a pillow called a Chillow, that stays cool throughout the night. I might look into that, since fevers post chemo are common. Getting decent sleep can make a huge difference during the Cancer Club Initiation tortures.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 7:29 AM | Report abuse

>'Mudge, good thoughts headed to you and your friends.

Yes, and hopefully a good oncologist too. What I've learned is anyone looking at this really needs to come up with their own little team to navigate the system and side-effects and diet and all that. If you're rich all the better, but ad hoc help is better than none.

The doctors are good but there's so much they don't even address. Also remember THEY have never taken any of the stuff they prescribe, so accuurate and quick feedback is essential to help you through.

And eat. Eat like crazy.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 17, 2007 7:34 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, Mudge. It's frustrating to know a friend has cancer and all you can do is offer support. I wish I could do more for my friend, but I call her and she knows I am here if she needs anything. I'll add your friend to my list of people I send good thoughts and prayers to.

Posted by: Bad Sneakers | July 17, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

As I discovered quite by accident last night, I am not the only contemporary female Loomis interested in a virus or viruses. The article at the NYT discusses whether a herpes virus, one of the more recently discovered ones, is the underlying cause for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Information about Kristin Loomis' (she of Harvard Business School) HHV-6 Foundation:

Many more medical conditions in which Human HerpesVirus-Type 6 may be implicated:

Posted by: Loomis | July 17, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all.

Mudge, I'm sorry to hear of your friend.

Wilbrod, thanks for that link. I was thinking the same thing you were; that the level of engineering or mutation required to change the camelpox virus into something virulent to humans;

a: hasn't happened yet, and
b: were someone to try to develop bio-weapons, there are better and easier places to start. For example, Ebola and Marburg are already quite virulent to humans, all someone needs to do is acquire (Ebola is still found in the wild, is it not?), produce and deliver it (something you'd have to do with any viral bioweapon, correct?). If someone wanted to develop a custom virus and a vaccine, that's a *lot* of work no matter where they start, camelpox or otherwise.

I'm still trying to figure out why you think Clark and the WaPo fact-checking folks were off-base, Loomis.


Posted by: bc | July 17, 2007 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Really ecellent column on Iraq and jihadists in general in Salon, at

Money quote: Even a superpower has areas where it cannot impose its will.
The limits of American power have been shown in the Middle East. It's time to get out, protect our own borders, do some diplomacy and police work, and let things cool down. And they will cool down. The jihadist moment is too insane and self-destructive to last. Like a wildfire, the best thing to do is starve it of oxygen.

bc, Ebola and Marburg wouldn't make very good bioweapons: they tend to burn out too fast. For a weapon you want something with a slower, longer incubation period, so it can spread more widely before it is discovered/isolated/quarantined. Of course, they *would* scare the bejesus out of people, which is something. More of a terror bio weapon than an effective one.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 17, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Update on the discussion yesterday concerning Troy Davis in Georgia, a 90 day stay of execution has been granted.

Posted by: dmd | July 17, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Howdy y'all. It is hot here too, now that the incessant rains have ceased, and feels like real summer.

Mudge, I'm sorry about your friend.

Cassandra, somewhere up in this Boodle I posted an answer to your question about the Georgia execution. Short version: they'll probably execute him without hearing his claim of innocence. It's a bad thing.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 17, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Most of the nasty bugs are pretty fragile beings, they die quickly outside their host. Anything that requires a French kiss, or an even more intimate contact, for contagion doesn't make a promising weapon. Hence the popularity of anthrax in the bio-warfare circles.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | July 17, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, dmd, for posting the Georgia story. I'm glad he's got a stay and a chance to present his evidence. However, everything I said earlier stands. Please note that the body granting the stay, and preparing to hear evidence, is NOT anyone from the federal or state judiciary. It is the state clemency board. While it is certainly refreshing to see a clemency board willing to examine evidence in a death case, that board's power is very limited. If they are convinced that he is innocent, based on the evidence they hear, they cannot do anything about it. That is, only a court can reverse the conviction. All the clemency board can do is commute his sentence to life in prison. So, even if this board finds he has presented a convincing claim of innocence, the best thing that will happen is that he'll still be a convicted murderer sentenced to life in prison, instead of death. Somehow this isn't how the system is supposed to work.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 17, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, so sorry to hear about your friend.

CP, I checked on the Chillow, and it looks like $30 well-spent. There's also a similar product for the pooch, called the Canine Cooler. Although that is quite a bit pricier ($130 for a large size).

Posted by: Raysmom | July 17, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

bc, I think that Loomis' concern (since Loomis seems not in the mood to answer this question herself) was with Robert Clark's comment that we got the common cold from viruses from horse, while cows are supposed to have given us smallpox. Cowpox and smallpox are related, but I'm not clear that we are supposed to have gotten smallpox as a mutation of cowpox. And the common cold from horses? First I've heard of it.

Posted by: ScienceTim | July 17, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Morning Everyone, Hi Cassandra.

How about a bio weapon with a nice literary pedigree?

Posted by: Kohl, Eric 999-0000 | July 17, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Hey Raysmom! Thanks for the Chillow info. When a beloved is in the cancer club, sometimes caregivers need a range of small tricks to gain micro-experiences of comfort. Regarding pillows and sleep: the smallest changes sometimes offer respite. So, I like to give several pillows in textures and sizes. Having a supply of clean cases helps with a sweaty session. I think the chillow might be a great idea....AND psst, perhaps also a menopause present.

The Chillow predates my two experiences with beloveds in the Cancer Club. But the expensive Swedish pillow was very nice for long bed sessions. When the Cancer Club shifts into the Dying Club, well, the Swedish pillow with that microfoam was a boon.

Expensive to offer a beloved doggie the comfort of cool sleep! My little doggie would fit a people chillow. But, perhaps the cost covers a chew-proof surface?

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Ok, now for my on-kit comment. Quite a few years ago, I knew a single mom who had adopted two little darling girls from China. She boycotted nearly everything she could that was made in China, including the Happy Meals plus tokens. I do not know how this ended for her family, since she moved to Florida about ten years ago. She was very clear about human rights problems in factories, etc. I marvelled at the committment. I also know that her little ones coveted the normal things (Disney figurines, toys, games, etc.) made in China. Others in my acquaintence worked very hard to buy birthday gifts that fit the no-China zone. Hard to do.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, re. Ebola and Marburg, you're right; I should have been clearer rather than brief.

At this point, I think it's more likely that terrorists would develop and use such weapons rather than governments. E and M are spectacularly scary, and would seem to fit the bill for that use rather than for widespread slow-fuse anti-people-weapon purposes as you point out.

I guess it's a biological equivlent of dirty bombs and real nuclear weapons...


Posted by: bc | July 17, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

CP, I can appreciate the difficulty of not buying goods made in China. I've tried to do this for years, for similar reasons, and it's almost impossible in some cases. (Staying out of Wal-Mart is a good start, though.) Have you tried to find a pair of reasonably-priced shoes that aren't made in China, for example?

Posted by: Raysmom | July 17, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Here's a link to an article (questions) posed to an author who wrote about not purchasing anything from China for a year. Quite interesting.

Posted by: dmd | July 17, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

My mood has nothing to do with it, Tim. Other things are happening here--I hope to reveal soon.

You are right, however--my concern is with Clark's statement about the origin of influenza (swine and ducks, not horses) and smallpox (far less likely cattle and far more likely camels for a host of reasons or readings or citations that I'm not sharing--easy enough for Boodlers to Google variola and camelpox and get PubMed citations and the like), Clark's statement or graf coming at the end of Joel's piece.

You probably realize I rarely read fiction but was yesterday and this morning in the gripping last pages of William Martin's mystery "Harvard Yard." It's like old home week there--the historical characters and much--though not all--of the history of Harvard. The classes he focuses on early in the book are the classes of 1642 and 1678, the classes of my antecedents John Wilson and Grindal Rawson. Harvard presidents Elizur Holyoke, James Bryant Conant and so much more. The fictional part of the book has to do with the chase through generations of the family Wedge for the original Shakespearean play, "Love's Labor's Won," once part of John Harvard's library. The author's background is Harvard--English and history, drama (film school at USC) and the mystery is full of all three.

I'm halfway through the camel book, so shall swing back there after completing "Harvard Yard" in order to better tell a story here, then move on to Carroll's "Lab 257," which itself has a fascinating opening with the mention of a particular sultan.

My husband has had Chillow for a couple years now. We have the insert to the pillowcase, a flat pad, that you fill with water. The pillow remains quite cool thanks to the Chillow in the pillowcase. My husband sleeps so hot at night that it gives him relief during the summer months, not a big concern this summer, as we've yet to break 95 in the daytime because of all the rains.

If Joel investigates the number of FDA inspectors, it would be informative if he broke the numbers down by those involved domestically and those involved in inspecting international goods. ABC's "Good Morning" profiled the "Made in China" story this morning on its broadcast. Our paper reports this a.m. that the FDA amy soon be tasked with regulating tobacco products, a role the FDA does not relish, according to the reporting.

Posted by: Loomis | July 17, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Somebody esplain to me what the point is of not buying a product made in China? Is a Chinese sweatshop any worse than one in South Korea, or Malaysia, or Pakistan? It seems to me the Chinese themselves will never know it if you don't buy their product. I'm not saying I'm opposed to boycotts; I'm generally all in favor. But for a bioycott to work it has to be announced and given publicity, so the numbers become large enough that the Chinese (or whoever) notices the impact. But on a one-to-one basis, I don't think the Chinese really care whether I'm buying their cardboard-flavored toothpaste or not.

If you don't like the specific product, fine; that I understand. I just don't get the larger picture (because I think there isn't one, except pointless self-gratification).

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 17, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, the woman in the story I linked to was not boycotting, just attempting how much of daily life is impacted by Chinese imports. An experiment if you will.

My only issue with Chinese imports is in the area of fake products, produced to mimic the look if not the quality of the original. Harmless if it is a fake Gucci, not if it is a motor component etc.

Posted by: dmd | July 17, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

>Somebody esplain to me what the point is of not buying a product made in China?

Mudge you're quite right, a sweatshop is a sweatshop.

My concerns have actually been more along our trade-deficit situation with them, which has no parallel with the others.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 17, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Yep, Error. The trade deficit is actually my favorite scary gummint economic number.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 17, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

From Sunday's book review column:

According to Amazon, the best-selling book of 2006 was "Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems," by Cesar Millan.

Posted by: LTL-CA | July 17, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

That makes me sad.

Posted by: Yoki | July 17, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

bc writes:
If someone wanted to develop a custom virus and a vaccine, that's a *lot* of work no matter where they start, camelpox or otherwise.

The Russians have had been involved for decades now in creating souped-up viruses, sometimes coupled with other dangerous biologicals. If you don't know what's in these tremendously lethal chimera (I think it's called, would have to check) soups, it would be hard to know where to begin to create a vaccine.

And to think that we're not dabbling in Black Science (even looking for antidotes or otherwise, as we've been accused--and none of us outside of these highly secretive labs probably knows where the truth lies) is naive.

Where did I read in the last several days that the pathogens that the Agro-Defense Lab wants to target have not reached our shores yet? Hoof and mouth (and mad cow as well) in Europe certainly, as well as allegations of instances along the China-Mongolia border. Rift Valley Fever in Africa. Hedra and Nihap in Malaysia.

Also, as we begin to start the unraveling of these "bugs," we still don't have a thorough knowledge of these microbes' interaction with the human system. For example, one small example, why can babboons carry the HIV virus yet not be sickened by it?

A disjointed post, but off to my day.

Posted by: Loomis | July 17, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"Have you tried to find a pair of reasonably-priced shoes that aren't made in China, for example?"

Raysmom, I think the problem is the reasonably-priced constraint. If shoes two or three decades ago were reasonably-priced, then the same standard today would be something like $200 a pair (allowing for inflation). We Murkins are spoiled.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Snake oil and fads sell well.

I'm with you Mudge, a general boycott of Chinese things doesn't make sense. It's not always visible either; the old pushrod 6 in the GM minivans comes crated from China, anmong other things. So the Merkins and Canuckstanis buying this all-American vehicle are actually buying a big chunk of Chinese stuff inside it.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | July 17, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

And it makes the GM minivans cheaper in 2007 than they were when I bought mine in 2000, which is great for anybody with limited resources.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | July 17, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

A sweat shop is a sweat shop whether in Pakistan, China, or secreted away in a NYC warehouse.

I am not sure what to say about boycotting these days. Globalization makes the world overwhelmingly flat. To live "purely" is impossible. Besides, it is the nature of life -- all life -- to consume.

I know that the lettuce and grape boycotts of the 70s changed the farmworker situation in the US toward the better. I know that the Nestle boycott of the late 70s to mid 80s did change at the margins and occasionally the middle, infant formula problems in developing countries.

I do not know what to say about today. I try to consume less. Period. We N. Americos live too high on the hog by any standard: solid waste, energy consumption, excessive stuff, etc. We are perhaps realizing a whiff of how that does not secure happiness or even a modicum of contentment.

But I know that my life (born by chance here and how) creates a whiplash of poverty in the rest of the world. I pray about it constantly. I try to live more simply. I remind Congress about what I value. Bread for the World is especially helpful for US citizens.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I think this question from Mudge is key:

Is a Chinese sweatshop any worse than one in South Korea, or Malaysia, or Pakistan?

What's the answer? Or does it have to do with the number if incidents of adulterated products that are harmful, or the volume of trade? the last link that Joel gave us in an article written by a writer from the SF Chron, showed that the most recalled products last year, foodwise, I think, were not from China. Again, I ask about the distribution of FDA inspectors, and how do they perform their spot checks of produce?

I tried on a blouse from India recently at T.J. Maxx. I started itching immediately, a real skin reaction. I couldn't wait to remove it. I've not had an incident like that before in the dressing room.

Had two very severe outbreaks of hives in the last several years after eating shrimp. Yet the allergy panel of tests this past spring performed by local allergist Dr. Paul Ratner showed I am not allergic to shrimp. One meal was prepared at IHOP, with shrimp from who knows where? The other were jumbo shrimp from Vietnam that we bought from Costco and prepared at home. What gives?

Posted by: Loomis | July 17, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Economists name at least two constructs to help us make sense of this consumption/fairness problem: 1) the free rider problem adn 2) the tragedy of the commons.

1) Free rider problem
From Wikipedia: "In economics, collective bargaining, psychology and political science, free riders are actors who consume more than their fair share of a resource, or shoulder less than a fair share of the costs of its production. The free rider problem is the question of how to prevent free riding from taking place, or at least limit its negative effects.

Because the notion of 'fairness' is controversial, free riding is usually only considered to be an economic "problem" when it leads to the non-production or under-production of a public good, and thus to Pareto inefficiency, or when it leads to the excessive use of a common property resource." AND

2) Tragedy of the commons
From Wikipedia: "The tragedy of the commons is a type of social trap that involves a conflict over resources between individual interests and the common good. It occurs when there is a tendency towards free access and unrestricted demand for a finite resource. The term derives originally from a parable published by William Forster Lloyd in his 1833 book on population. It was then popularized and extended by Garrett Hardin in his 1968 _Science_ essay "The Tragedy of the Commons."

Theologian John Cobb and development economist Herman Daly suggest "internationalization" rather than globalization. See their book 1989, 1994 _Toward the Common Good_.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Herman Daly's words on the difference between internationalization and globalization.

DALY: I'll just throw in my pet distinction between globalization and internationalization. Very often you talk against globalization and people say, "Oh you're an isolationist" "Old fogey" or this or that. But I think its important to say that internationalization means recognizing the importance of relations between nations, treaties, protocols for environment reasons, a certain amount of trade is, I think, beneficial. All of that is international. International is a space that is becoming more and more important. Globalization is something totally different. That means the erasure of national boundaries for economic purposes. That means integration, not relations among separate units. It means the merger of separate units into one unit by erasure of boundaries, so this is what is really frightening about globalization. When you do have that merger local communities, and local now even means national, lose control. Their laws for internalizing costs get undercut by integration with countries that don't do that. So it seems to me that globalization is like making an omelet. You integrate the global omelet by breaking the national eggs and nobody wants to think about that it's a logical implication of global integration is national dis-integration. You have to rip apart the economic structure of the nation in order to re-integrate it into the global structure. And this is happening and people are celebrating that. They say, "Oh that's wonderful we have a bigger system.. and don't you want to be in a global community with everyone else?" Well, yeah, global community is a nice idea, but I'd like to see it first reached through internationalization.
End quote. Taken from an interview (1999) and posted at

To read more by Daly see his paper posted at the UMCP School of Public Policy:

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the quote-hogging on the boodle. However, Herman Daly's thinking about sustainable economics is very helpful when examining the sweat shop(s) products in our lives.

I should have stamped the John Cobb-mention with a THEOLOGY alert. Cobb is a pastor and theologian. Those who know me here won't be surprised that I would know about a source that is at once, theological and "economical."

And, book lovers may appreciate knowing that Daly won the Sophie Prize, founded by Jostein Gaarder, Norwegian novelist.

Posted by: College Parkian | July 17, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I have decided to ignore proscriptions against murder. It doesn't matter if I kill someone. After all, only if large groups of people get together and really commit to a strong change in things, will murder rates be reduced. Whatever I do as a lone individual, will only have the most minute effect on the overall murder rate.

Q: What is wrong with the above logic?

Posted by: Jumper | July 17, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

But Loomis, shrimp is/are just about the most allergy-producing food out there. Granted, you may be allergic to one species but not another, but that is hardly grounds for any kind of boycott or consumer action on any kind of nationwide scale. The solution is: don't eat shrimp. Clearly you ARE allergic to some species of shrimp, and Ratner's test was wrong, insofar as you may not have been tested for all species, just one. I mean, look at the evidence. Ratner says the test shows you aren't allergic, yet you have two outbreaks. Unless the hives were psychosomatically induced, who ya gonna believe?

Shrimp and prawns come in dozens of species, althought the Asian species, Black Tiger, make up about 56% of the world market of edible shrimp. The Murikin Bubba Gump domestic kind is the Atlantic white shrimp(Penaeus setiferus). And there's people farming shrimp, in China, Thailand and Brazil, of all places (maybe they have killer piranha shrimp in the headwaters of the Amazon, I don't know)--but something like 80% of farmed shrimp are only two species, the Penaeus vannamei (Pacific white shrimp) and the Penaeus monodon (giant tiger prawn). So right there ya got the four most common, likely species of edible shrimp. Then throw in the variable of diet--maybe that particular school of shrimp ate a bad batch of algae bloom (it happens).

The moral of the story is, Life's a crapshoot.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 17, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, although I'm not sure this is the logical problem you have in mind, one problem with the statement is that it treats an actual violation of state and federal law through single acts -- murder -- as if it were a matter of pure social behavior. That is, the question may be how to reduce the murder rate. However, murder is inevitably a singular crime against the person, even though a group of murders may happen very quickly or even at the same time. In the most basic sense the only way to reduce the murder rate is through a series of individual non-acts. More broadly, the statements compares consumer or social boycotts of activities which may not themselves be illegal (though they may be immoral) with societal decisions to obey, or not obey, enacted laws.

We recently had a local op-ed complaining that enforcement of "social host" laws (i.e., arresting parents for hosting teenage drinking parties) was merely forcing government's idea of prudent alcohol choices on society. The author completely missed the point that, more than just being a potential social ill, teenage drinking is a crime. Social host laws are merely one of many ways to enforce the underlying law against underage drinking.

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 17, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Nothing, Jumper, your logic is impeccable. Nothing you do will have much effect on the overall murder rate, unless of course you manage to kill large numbers of people--large enough to skew the stats. I'm thinking triple digits.

Of course, on the other hand, if you only kill one or two people, it won't affect the numbers much at all. (They will most likely arrest your a$$ and send you to the electric chair in some states, but that wasn't your question.) If on the other hand you don't buy Chinese toothpaste, Alberto Gonzalez will most likely leave you alone.

I suspect you are confusing internal reasons with external reasons, though.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | July 17, 2007 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Of course a sweatshop is a sweatshop. (I knew when I posted I was going to unleash that sentiment.) But there are Chinese export businesses run by or for the benefit of the Chinese Red Army, which I don't care to support. Since I don't know which is which, I try to stay away altogether. I'm not boycotting, per se, but if I can find a similar product made in the USA within a reasonable price difference, I'll buy the USA product. Plus I don't like to see us so dependent on any one country.

Posted by: Raysmom | July 17, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I understand those answers.

Posted by: Jumper | July 17, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

From today's NYT

Vital Signs
Nutrition: Another Benefit Is Seen in Buying Organic Produce

Published: July 17, 2007

People who choose organic fruits and vegetables to avoid pesticides and other chemicals may have another reason to buy organic. A new study finds that organically grown tomatoes have higher levels of flavonoids, which may protect against cardiovascular disease.

More Vital Signs Columns »
Web Link
Ten-Year Comparison of the Influence of Organic and Conventional Crop Management Practices on the Content of Flavonoids in Tomatoes (Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry)]

Writing in The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers said the level of one flavonoid in the organic tomatoes was almost twice as high as that in conventionally grown tomatoes.

Because of evidence that flavonoids may fight age-related diseases, the study said, researchers have been trying to develop crops with higher levels of them. In the United States, only potatoes are eaten more often than tomatoes.

The researchers, from the University of California, Davis, looked at tomatoes grown over a 10-year period in organic fields and regular ones. Not only did the organic tomatoes score better, they said, but over time their flavonoid levels kept increasing.

The lead author of the study, Alyson E. Mitchell, said she was surprised at the extent of the difference.

"We sort of went into this expecting higher levels," Dr. Mitchell said. "We did not expect to find the levels that we found."

The study offered several possible explanations, most having to do with the fertility of the soil. Organic farms, the researchers said, gradually improve the soil by letting organic matter accumulate through the use of cover crops, compost and manure.

The study also said flavonoids were among a group of metabolites produced by plants in part to ward off pests. So it is possible, the researchers said, that the increased pressure on organic crops from pests may result in more flavonoids.

Posted by: Maggie O'D | July 17, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

>One meal was prepared at IHOP, with shrimp from who knows where?

Somehow I've never considered the possibility of eating shrimp at an IHOP. You might want to stick with the pancakes and eggs next time.

Or try an IHOS - International House of Shrimp.

Posted by: Error Flynn | July 17, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Mmmmm, shrimp pancakes with maple-horseradish syrup.

Does anyone else have difficulty taking the word "flavonoid" seriously?

Posted by: Ivansmom | July 17, 2007 1:16 PM | Report abuse

CP I would probably argue that Daly is a little out on the edge from my perspective. I do not necessarily equate global trade with the erasure of national boundaries. It seems people get wrapped up in the amount of imports received from a particular country, without taking into account the importance to nations of exporting. As a nation of exporters, Canada would be in big trouble if suddenly people decided to only buy domestic. We are a small nation in terms of population, with huge transportation costs nationally, we simply could not produce the majority of the goods we consume cost effectively.

We only have to look to the recent past to see where NA went through a similar sweat shop era. Companies look at the bottom line when dealing with costs and sadly the best interests of the employees do not necessarily register as high as it should.

For those against globalization I wonder how do you assist developing/underdeveloped nations, are they not entitled to broaded their horizons economically?

If I am looking at this too simplisticly - I apologize, just the way my brain works.

This article is of interest concerning the SPP, and some peoples out of proportion fear of N.A. integration.

Posted by: dmd | July 17, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

There will be no "Unions" in "North American Union."

Globalization is one part of a worldwide effort to stamp out collective bargaining once and for all.

Posted by: Jumper | July 17, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Firstly Jumper there will be no NA Union, but secondly can you explain why there would be no Unions - based on what evidence?

Posted by: dmd | July 17, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

New kit.

Posted by: Yoki | July 17, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for reading and mentioning "Standing By." We rely mostly on word of mouth, so thanks for letting others know about it.

Posted by: Jan Wesner | July 17, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I appreciated the Made in China article. However, it would have been interesting to know why Menu Foods "decided it needed a new supplier of...wheat gluten." To save money, maybe? If so, how ironic: many of the contaminated pet foods were not discount brands, but were expensive ones chosen by pet owners who wanted high quality.

Posted by: Leslie Wilder | July 17, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I appreciated the Made in China article. However, it would have been interesting to know why Menu Foods "decided it needed a new supplier of...wheat gluten." To save money, maybe? If so, how ironic: many of the contaminated pet foods were not discount brands, but were expensive ones chosen by pet owners who wanted high quality.

Posted by: Leslie Wilder | July 17, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

The notion that organic produce may have more flavonoids makes sense. For those who might want to know a bit more about "chemical ecology," check out one of the books by Thomas Eisner, one of Cornell's finest (and most readable).

Eisner spent quite a bit of time at Archbold Biological Station near Lake Placid, Florida, on the citrus-famous central ridge, where he's worked on the chemical-laden (and very mint-smelling) local Dicerandra mints, which are extremely limited in distribution.

Now if McPhee could visit with Eisner . . .

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | July 18, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

"Posted by: Leslie Wilder | July 17, 2007 08:44 PM" Am I entering a different time zone here? My EST reads 1:13 PM. Martooni, seeing you later.

Posted by: daiwanlan | July 18, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

There would be a reason for people who outsourcing to China.While China will fight on the anti-dumping claims, it will also continue to review and revise its own trade structure to improve its trade balance (and international relations)
I belive that it's very hard for consumers to forswear Chinese imports because of the low price. There is no harm in the trade of China & US.On the contrary, the trade of the two countries can strengthen their mutual supplement with the advantages of each.
If some problems were found in trade, so the importance is to solves the problem, but not discontinue the trade, perhaps such desistance might causes more problems, such as mentioned in the article.
AmeriChinaB2B is one of the professional B2B trade marketplaces to facilitate online trades between exporters and importers from America and China.Welcome to AmeriChinaB2B( ) to begin your business trip of China.

Posted by: Moonzie | August 4, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

The Bush administration and China have both undermined efforts to tighten rules designed to ensure that lead paint isn't used in toys, bibs, jewelry and other children's products. Both have fought efforts to better police imported toys from China.
Inspecting should be one of the import processes. Regard this as and warn to promote goods quality. Anti-China trade or boycott won't be the way to solve the promblems.
There would be a reason for people who outsourcing to China.While China will fight on the anti-dumping claims, it will also continue to review and revise its own trade structure to improve its trade balance (and international relations)
Say, U.S.A. needs to strengthen the export of China in order to guarantee its trade balance from the other side.
Demand for many US products in China are very strong,but there are few, if any, effective methods for US SMF's to access Chinese buyers and meet the demand. AC-Ali enables US businesses to list their company and product descriptions in English. AmeriChinaB2B will translate these descriptions in Chinese and put them on its China Business platform which attracts a large number of Chinese importers and distributors looking for American products to import to China. Welcome to AmeriChinaB2B(

) to begin your business trip of China.

Posted by: Jamie | September 3, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse

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