Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


You have to read all the way to the end of this NYT story on Pepsi and Coke cutting back on animal testing (Animal testing? Yes.) to find this gem:

In January, Roll International, the company that makes Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, agreed to cease tests on animals after PETA disclosed a 2005 study financed by the company that tested the juice to see if it might relieve artificially induced erectile dysfunction in rabbits.

Let me just enumerate all the ways in which this single sentence short-circuited my brain:

1) A juice company is spending good money to find out if its juice has health effects, and the effect they look for is relief of erectile dysfunction. Not looking for improved cardiovascular health, better digestion, younger-looking skin . . . . Nope. We just wanna cure erectile dysfunction.

2) In rabbits.

3) That's been artificially induced.

4) In rabbits.

5) And then they hid the study until PETA, knowing an opportunity for ridicule when they see one, smoked it out.
It leaves me wondering so many things, such as how they artificially induce erectile dysfunction in rabbits. And how they verify that they've done this.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nazi raccoons

Meanness and bald stupidity so often go hand-in-hand:

KASSEL, Germany -- In 1934, top Nazi party official Hermann Goering received a seemingly mundane request from the Reich Forestry Service. A fur farm near here was seeking permission to release a batch of exotic bushy-tailed critters into the wild to "enrich the local fauna" and give bored hunters something new to shoot at.

Goering approved the request and unwittingly uncorked an ecological disaster that is still spreading across Europe. The imported North American species, Procyon lotor, or the common raccoon, quickly took a liking to the forests of central Germany. Encountering no natural predators -- and with hunters increasingly called away by World War II -- the woodland creatures fruitfully multiplied and have stymied all attempts to prevent them from overtaking the Continent.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


The situation has been complicated by the fact that few people within the Bush administration understand what the World Bank does, says another official.
Depressing to actually hear them coming out and saying it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Long but fabulous

From last year's Harper's:

It cannot truly be a surprise that a society that has steadily dismantled or diminished the most basic access to health care, relief for the poor and the aged, and decent education; a society that has allowed the gap between its richest and poorest citizens to grow to unprecedented size; a society that has paid obeisance to the ideology of globalization to the point of giving away both its jobs and its debt to foreign nations, and which has just allowed one of its poorer cities to quietly drown, should choose to largely opt out of its own defense.
. . .
Who could possibly believe in a plot to lose this war? No one cares that much about it. We have, instead, reached a crossroads where the overwhelming right-wing desire to dissolve much of the old social compact that held together the modern nation-state is irreconcilably at odds with any attempt to conduct such a grand, heroic experiment as implanting democracy in the Middle East. Without mass participation, Iraq cannot be passed off as an heroic endeavor, no matter how much Mr. Bush's rhetoric tries to make it one, and without a hero there can be no great betrayer, no skulking villain.
Via Atrios

Separated at birth?

Rudy and Eustace . . .

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When the cat's away

Bush Told War Is Harming The GOP

"It was a very remarkable, candid conversation," Davis said. "People are always saying President Bush is in a bubble. Well, this was our chance, and we took it.

Their "chance," I assume:

President Cheney flew to Baghdad on Wednesday to urge top Iraqi officials to move as quickly as possible toward a political reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite factions, whose bitter divisions underlie much of the country's violence.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ripple effect

Study: Child abuse, troop deployment linked

Robert Davis and Gregg Zoroya

Sending soldiers to war puts their children left at home at higher risk of abuse and neglect, says a study out Tuesday.

The study among military families shows that reports of emotional, physical and sexual abuse and child neglect peaked during the main deployment of troops to Iraq. When deployments began, reports of abuse quickly jumped from 5 in 1,000 children to 10 in 1,000.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Happy feet

Finally worked my way through two, count 'em, two knitted socks. Couldn't have done it without this tutorial, which I adapted for toddler size (use the worsted weight instructions, but with fingering weight yarn and size three needles).

I was smart enough to follow the tutorial's suggestion of noting where in the stripe pattern I started sock #1, and to start sock #2 at the same place. I was not smart enough to make sure I started from the same end of the skein. Thus, you'll notice the stripe pattern is reversed on sock #2. Live and learn.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Follow up

How cool that the Wapo is staying with this:
When Carole Fisher read the news in March that Circuit City fired 3,400 employees so it could replace them with lower-paid workers, she knew one thing: She would never shop there again.
I'm with Carole--and why would the brains at Circuit City have thought anyone would do otherwise, given that CC has several competitors with very similar prices?

Now if we could only do the same thing to WalMart.

Friday, May 04, 2007

No, really?

Sometimes, businesses get what they deserve:

Circuit City fired 3,400 of its highest-paid store employees in March, saying it needed to hire cheaper workers to shore up its bottom line. Now, the Richmond, Va., electronics retailer says it expects to post a first-quarter loss next month, and analysts are blaming the job cuts.
Couldn't have seen that one coming.