Archive for July 26th, 2006

Double rant

Rant #1

Julia Moskin, in today’s NYTimes, discusses “ice-structuring protein�? in an article on innovation (har!) in ice cream making. The key fact about this manipulation of this food is buried down near the end:

Products produced with the new technologies are less affected by partial thawing than traditional ice creams, which become dry, sticky and hard in fluctuating temperatures.

And why is this in play? Because manufacturers want to ship their product (it’s not ice cream if you ask me!) to Asia—and curb the potential for degradation as it’s transferred along the way (aka reduce “cold-chain issues�?).

Ick. Count me out!

Rant #2

In his new book, Conservatives without Conscience (2006), John Dean describes a series of “authoritarian conservatives�? who recently have held prominent political positions in the US (he begins with J. Edgar Hoover). One characteristic they share, he notes, is the tendency to act inconsistently and amorally. Tendency, heck, they flat out do it.

With his laserlike mind, [Bill] Frist makes Bush and Cheny look like filament bulbs near burnout…. Frist is Richard Nixon with Bill Clinton’s brains, and Nixon was no mental slouch. (p. 152)

Frist, in his first book on his experiences as a heart surgeon, Dean says, describes the bind he found himself in while doing heart research on laboratory cats at Harvard Medical School. Basically, Frist would test the medicines on the cats, then dissect their hearts to gauge their effects. At some point, he

ran out of cats. “Desperate, obsessed with my work, I visited the various animal shelters in the Boston suburbs, collecting cats, taking them home, treating them as pets for a few days, then carting them off to the lab to die in the interest of science….” (p. 154)

Whew, there’s a major lapse of ethics. Dean doesn’t mince words—he calls Frist a “serial cat killer “(p. 155), and notes that Frist could have been prosecuted for cruelty to animals, and probably for fraud in obtaining them from the shelters.

Watch your blood pressure!

Dean’s book is a good library read, however, and probably not worth buying. One flip through the pages speed-reading and you will get the gist of it. The details will only get your blood boiling. On the other hand, if that engages you in the political process (getting you to the polls at minimum), maybe it is worth buying!

Quote of the day

…an individual dimension of social status…maybe only situationally and not generally relevant.

p. 110 in White, Joyce C. (1995), “Incorporating Heterarchy into Theory on Socio-Political Development: The Case from Southeast Asia,” in Heterarchy and the Analysis of Complex Societies, Archaeological Papers, no. 6. Edited by Robert M. Ehrenreich, Carole L. Crumley, and Janet E. Levy, pp. 101–23. Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association.