Saturday, October 4, 2008



440 pages in two days? No way. Like the Patriot Act, this thing was prepared beforehand. Do they think we're that stupid? Guess they do, and most of us are.

Right, this thing was prepared at the White House since the beginning of the ordeal. . . and with the attempt to disrupt the electoral campaigns (which were perceived as leaning towards Obama). Actually if the process would have been favorable to McCain it wouldn't have started until the spring. . . Shame on us...


Translation: Sarah Palin believes the right to privacy exists - which can only mean it exists at the individual level, yet she has no problem with state governments taking that right away, and only has a problem with the federal government ensuring the right is upheld.


Wal-Mart has been campaigning for irradiated food approval for years. So have the other four or five grocery concerns that control super-market retailing in the United States. The ability to keep meats and produce on the shelves for weeks or even months is quite appealing from a profit making perspective. My wager is this as much as anything else is driving the push to allow irradiated foods.

There are very noticeable differences in food texture, coloring, and flavor suggesting the process just might produce more profound changes than its proponents would have us believe. Indirectly, I'm none too happy about entrusting stockpiles of cobalt 60 and cesium 137 to the likes of a Donald Tyson. (Tyson owns IBP which packages more than 80% of the beef sold in the US.)

One poster hinted darkly that it is Wal-Mart and the major food distributors that are behind this move. I'm sure that's right. This technology increases the safety of the dispersed corporate food distribution system. Obviously, it would be better for humankind and the planet if we returned to a locally-based organic farming system. The political economy of peak oil will probably move us there eventually. But in the meantime, why not improve the safety of the behemoth that we've got? I try to buy from farm stands and CSA whenever possible and I encourage others to do so. However, the vast majority of people go to the local Stop n' Shop. Should we be willing to deliberately keep the food distribution unsafe and allow them to be sickened just to prove that our preferred system is better? The big conglomerates want to reduce their liability by eliminating backlash from toxic food. Does that not create the same effect as acting to ensure public health? I'd rather help Wal-Mart make a buck than willingly allowing another public health crisis.

Lastly, somebody mentioned trusting Tyson et al with radioactive materials. That is a fairly good point, but it is also a matter of economics. I seriously doubt that Tyson has any desire to own and operate an irradiation facility. There are many merchant facilities scattered across the country that perform irradiation on a fee-for-service basis. The most likely path is for the food producers to use that existing network. Furthermore, I doubt that cobalt and cesium will be the radiation sources used for this. Electron beam is more efficient for this job, is less likely to effect the food, and does not require a radiation source. There are several large-scale EB facilities already located near agricultural centers that are underutilized. No toxic nasties involved, just high energy electrons from an accelerator. No residues and no waste. - Chris Collns

Even if CC is right about everything he says (and I'm not convinced he is), this is still just another argument for local food. Why have already nutrient-deficient food made more so with radiation, when you can get food grown the right way? And I have a sneaking feeling that people thought many years ago about antibiotics the way he does about irradiation, i.e. that there's no way we could be creating a bigger problem with this solution - but look how wrong they were.

As an indirect consequence of our national paranoia over 'terrorism', accidental irradiation occurs with surprising frequency through electronic screening of containers. In the aftermath of the postal anthrax scare electronically sterilized mail adversely affected seed shipments. Many gardeners complained of near zero germination rates from many packages.---which raises a lateral issue with supermarket goods, seeds from irradiated fruit are rendered sterile, as is garlic. Some of the larger retailers have taken advantage of security x-ray examinations as a backdoor means of irradiating food and circumventing regulatory prohibitions.

I have actually purchased what was purported to be organic strawberries and was surprised to discover that they would not decay. Weeks passed and they maintained the same red color and only slightly shriveled up. The flavor was horrendous. They tasted wrong from the start. Something wasn't right and they weren't behaving as authentic organic produce. o, caveat emptor.


The federal government is now bailing out compulsive gamblers in Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, and elsewhere. Anyone who has lost $1000 or more gambling in U.S. casinos may apply for a full refund at taxpayer expense, by writing to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Include a copy of your income tax returns as proof of your gambling losses, and the Treasury will issue you equal compensation within 6-8 weeks. The refund program does not apply to offshore gambling, Internet gambling, and losses at casinos run on Native American reservations.


Algorithms got us into this subprime mess. Economists had it all planned out. Any unforeseen event, which usually there are lots of, throw them off. - Joe R

Actually, if you want to get technical about this: Joe Biden was widowed before he married his current wife. While being widowed and being divorced are two completely different things, it still represents a marriage ending. That would then therefore give a negative one hundred and ten points to the Obama/Biden ticket. So while McCain - Palin have an electability of -104 points, the Obama - Biden ticket has an electability of -110.


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