Sunday, February 17, 2008

BIS 2.17.08: Dumb Animals

If we women want the men in our lives to start behaving properly, we need to treat you all like the dumb animals you are.

At least according to a new book called “What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love, and Marriage”.

Author Amy Sutherland spent a year at an animal training school learning that she could use the same techniques trainers use to coax a seal to balance a ball on its nose to train her husband to pick his socks up off the floor.

Following in the theoretical footsteps of B.F. Skinner and his pigeons, and Pavlov and his dogs, Sutherland proposes that human behavior is equally affected by its consequences. By ignoring her husband’s negative traits and offering rewards for positive behavior, she claims she was able to retrain her husband from a clueless oaf into a – still clueless, but tidier oaf.

Critics of this strategy aren’t fond of the manipulation, nor the concept that men are as dim and malleable as beasts. It also bears noting that these tactics do little to combat the stereotype of the covert woman using her feminine wiles to con hapless males in the battle of the sexes.

But honestly, why aren’t men capable of remembering the simplest of household requests without yelling, threats, and intimidation? If we women choose reward over nagging to achieve the desired improvements, will it not lead to happier domiciles?

So for ladies listening, try these animal training tips at home:

If your mate does any helpful little thing without being asked, praise him like a toddler.

Ignore the negatives and don’t nag. Trainers call this Least Reinforcing Scenario.

Distract him from behavior that annoys you, such as hovering over you while you work on something, by creating a diversion – like food – in another part of the house.

And never admit to what you’re doing. The animals don’t need to know just how dumb we think they are.

Bad Roommates

Most of us have had a bad roommate situation in our lives, some of us have even been the bad roommate. But how hostile does a situation have to be for your roommate to let you die on the living room sofa and rot there for 7 or 8 years.

Neighbors complained of the smell emanating from the Bristol UK apartment for years, but assumed that the odd man who lived inside simply suffered from poor hygiene. When a cleaning crew was finally called into the building to tackle the odor, they were shocked to find the source to be a rotting corpse.

The 70-something year old man appeared to have died of natural causes, and his roommate, also in his 70s just went on with his daily routine, leaving the body to decompose, reporting the death to no one. He continued to live in the apartment with the corpse of his roommate for the next 8 years.

When I was 18, I had a roommate who soaked her panties in the kitchen sink. I’d go to wash a dish or get a glass of water, and the sink would be full of dirty undies. If it sounds sexy, it’s not, it’s disgusting. I told her she was gross and she threatened to punch me. Then we got in a knock-down, drag-out fight and she had to move out. Oh, yeah…we were also naked. Okay, maybe it was a little sexy.

For Best in Show Radio News, I’m Vanessa Cheatwood.

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BIS 2.10.08: Fetishes

I love you guys, but I’m not sure that any of you are normal. Food, drugs, psychiatric disorders…when we scratch the surface of Best in Show, we’re likely to find some idiosyncratic behavior. Although I can’t speak from any personal experience about the sexual deviances of my radio friends, I’m pretty sure at least a couple of you are serious sexual wackos. To test this theory, I’d like to talk about the Top 10 sexual fetishes as defined in surveys conducted recently by popular men’s magazines to see if you guys match up with other, y’know more normal type guys…or if you’ll admit to having sexual fetishes that are beyond the pale.

As reported by, here are the Top 10 sexual fetishes:

10. A flat stomach. Men and women both fantasize about flat stomachs.

9. Body piercings, specifically tongue piercings.

8. The “bad girl” look involving leather, rubber, latex, or vinyl.

7. Domination and submission. Predominantly women dominating and men submitting.

6. Feet and hands. Men like feet, women like hands.

5. Painted fingernails and lipstick on women, red being a color of choice.

4. Braids, ponytails, and pigtails. Men are favoring these younger looks for women’s hair, and Keith will be excited to hear that women actually have fetishes involving bald men.

3. Water. Showers, rain, bathtubs.

2. Golden Showers. I’m going to pause here for effect. The #2 male sexual fetish is a golden shower, giving or receiving. I’m talking about PEE!

1. Voyeurism and exhibitionism. Everyone wants to be dirty, rotten peeper or to be dirty, rotten peeped.

There are some things on this list that surprise me, -- I’m talking about PEE! -- and some things I expected to see that are missing, but I’m really interested in hearing how the 4 of you interpret the popular kinks.

For Sexy Best in Show Radio News, I’m Vanessa Cheatwood.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rethinking the Meat Guzzler


Published: January 27, 2008 - NY Times

A SEA change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil.

It’s meat.

The two commodities share a great deal: Like oil, meat is subsidized by the federal government. Like oil, meat is subject to accelerating demand as nations become wealthier, and this, in turn, sends prices higher. Finally — like oil — meat is something people are encouraged to consume less of, as the toll exacted by industrial production increases, and becomes increasingly visible.

Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests.

Just this week, the president of Brazil announced emergency measures to halt the burning and cutting of the country’s rain forests for crop and grazing land. In the last five months alone, the government says, 1,250 square miles were lost.

The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period. (In the developing world, it rose twice as fast, doubling in the last 20 years.) World meat consumption is expected to double again by 2050, which one expert, Henning Steinfeld of the United Nations, says is resulting in a “relentless growth in livestock production.”

Americans eat about the same amount of meat as we have for some time, about eight ounces a day, roughly twice the global average. At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we “process” (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total.

Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word “raising” when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.

To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days.

Grain, meat and even energy are roped together in a way that could have dire results. More meat means a corresponding increase in demand for feed, especially corn and soy, which some experts say will contribute to higher prices.

This will be inconvenient for citizens of wealthier nations, but it could have tragic consequences for those of poorer ones, especially if higher prices for feed divert production away from food crops. The demand for ethanol is already pushing up prices, and explains, in part, the 40 percent rise last year in the food price index calculated by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization.

Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.

The environmental impact of growing so much grain for animal feed is profound. Agriculture in the United States — much of which now serves the demand for meat — contributes to nearly three-quarters of all water-quality problems in the nation’s rivers and streams, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Because the stomachs of cattle are meant to digest grass, not grain, cattle raised industrially thrive only in the sense that they gain weight quickly. This diet made it possible to remove cattle from their natural environment and encourage the efficiency of mass confinement and slaughter. But it causes enough health problems that administration of antibiotics is routine, so much so that it can result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten the usefulness of medicines that treat people.

Those grain-fed animals, in turn, are contributing to health problems among the world’s wealthier citizens — heart disease, some types of cancer, diabetes. The argument that meat provides useful protein makes sense, if the quantities are small. But the “you gotta eat meat” claim collapses at American levels. Even if the amount of meat we eat weren’t harmful, it’s way more than enough.

Americans are downing close to 200 pounds of meat, poultry and fish per capita per year (dairy and eggs are separate, and hardly insignificant), an increase of 50 pounds per person from 50 years ago. We each consume something like 110 grams of protein a day, about twice the federal government’s recommended allowance; of that, about 75 grams come from animal protein. (The recommended level is itself considered by many dietary experts to be higher than it needs to be.) It’s likely that most of us would do just fine on around 30 grams of protein a day, virtually all of it from plant sources.

What can be done? There’s no simple answer. Better waste management, for one. Eliminating subsidies would also help; the United Nations estimates that they account for 31 percent of global farm income. Improved farming practices would help, too. Mark W. Rosegrant, director of environment and production technology at the nonprofit International Food Policy Research Institute, says, “There should be investment in livestock breeding and management, to reduce the footprint needed to produce any given level of meat.”

Then there’s technology. Israel and Korea are among the countries experimenting with using animal waste to generate electricity. Some of the biggest hog operations in the United States are working, with some success, to turn manure into fuel.

Longer term, it no longer seems lunacy to believe in the possibility of “meat without feet” — meat produced in vitro, by growing animal cells in a super-rich nutrient environment before being further manipulated into burgers and steaks.

Another suggestion is a return to grazing beef, a very real alternative as long as you accept the psychologically difficult and politically unpopular notion of eating less of it. That’s because grazing could never produce as many cattle as feedlots do. Still, said Michael Pollan, author of the recent book “In Defense of Food,” “In places where you can’t grow grain, fattening cows on grass is always going to make more sense.”

But pigs and chickens, which convert grain to meat far more efficiently than beef, are increasingly the meats of choice for producers, accounting for 70 percent of total meat production, with industrialized systems producing half that pork and three-quarters of the chicken.

Once, these animals were raised locally (even many New Yorkers remember the pigs of Secaucus), reducing transportation costs and allowing their manure to be spread on nearby fields. Now hog production facilities that resemble prisons more than farms are hundreds of miles from major population centers, and their manure “lagoons” pollute streams and groundwater. (In Iowa alone, hog factories and farms produce more than 50 million tons of excrement annually.)

These problems originated here, but are no longer limited to the United States. While the domestic demand for meat has leveled off, the industrial production of livestock is growing more than twice as fast as land-based methods, according to the United Nations.

Perhaps the best hope for change lies in consumers’ becoming aware of the true costs of industrial meat production. “When you look at environmental problems in the U.S.,” says Professor Eshel, “nearly all of them have their source in food production and in particular meat production. And factory farming is ‘optimal’ only as long as degrading waterways is free. If dumping this stuff becomes costly — even if it simply carries a non-zero price tag — the entire structure of food production will change dramatically.”

Animal welfare may not yet be a major concern, but as the horrors of raising meat in confinement become known, more animal lovers may start to react. And would the world not be a better place were some of the grain we use to grow meat directed instead to feed our fellow human beings?

Real prices of beef, pork and poultry have held steady, perhaps even decreased, for 40 years or more (in part because of grain subsidies), though we’re beginning to see them increase now. But many experts, including Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason University, say they don’t believe meat prices will rise high enough to affect demand in the United States.

“I just don’t think we can count on market prices to reduce our meat consumption,” he said. “There may be a temporary spike in food prices, but it will almost certainly be reversed and then some. But if all the burden is put on eaters, that’s not a tragic state of affairs.”

If price spikes don’t change eating habits, perhaps the combination of deforestation, pollution, climate change, starvation, heart disease and animal cruelty will gradually encourage the simple daily act of eating more plants and fewer animals.

Mr. Rosegrant of the food policy research institute says he foresees “a stronger public relations campaign in the reduction of meat consumption — one like that around cigarettes — emphasizing personal health, compassion for animals, and doing good for the poor and the planet.”

It wouldn’t surprise Professor Eshel if all of this had a real impact. “The good of people’s bodies and the good of the planet are more or less perfectly aligned,” he said.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, in its detailed 2006 study of the impact of meat consumption on the planet, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” made a similar point: “There are reasons for optimism that the conflicting demands for animal products and environmental services can be reconciled. Both demands are exerted by the same group of people ... the relatively affluent, middle- to high-income class, which is no longer confined to industrialized countries. ... This group of consumers is probably ready to use its growing voice to exert pressure for change and may be willing to absorb the inevitable price increases.”

In fact, Americans are already buying more environmentally friendly products, choosing more sustainably produced meat, eggs and dairy. The number of farmers’ markets has more than doubled in the last 10 years or so, and it has escaped no one’s notice that the organic food market is growing fast. These all represent products that are more expensive but of higher quality.

If those trends continue, meat may become a treat rather than a routine. It won’t be uncommon, but just as surely as the S.U.V. will yield to the hybrid, the half-pound-a-day meat era will end.

Maybe that’s not such a big deal. “Who said people had to eat meat three times a day?” asked Mr. Pollan.

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

BIS 1.27.08: The Future of Our Foreskins

I think it’s about time we all got on the same page about this whole circumcision thing. Not owning a penis myself, I’m turning to you guys to weigh in on this important debate: to cut or not to cut.

The debate over the preservation of one 12 year old boy’s foreskin has gone all the way to the Supreme Court in Oregon. For 3 years, the boy’s father, who converted to Judaism in 2004, has been trying to have his son circumcised as part of the faith. The mother appealed to the high court to keep her son intact, saying the operation could harm her son physically and psychologically.

On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the 12 year old himself should have say in the decision and that if the boy wants the operation, the mother’s motions will be denied. If the boy does not want to be circumcised, the father’s continuing custody of his son will be analyzed by the courts.

This case as covered by the Associated Press.

So this got me thinking, if the Supreme Court agrees that a 12 year old should have a say in which parts of his body he chooses to hang onto, why are newborns robbed of this decision and ritualistically altered within hours of their birth? Automatic non-medical circumcision is on the decline, but the topic remains one of the most controversial in pediatrics today.

At this point I had intended to describe the circumcision procedure, done on most male babies in the United States and without anesthesia, but I’ve decided against it because one of you might throw up. Suffice to say, the description included the following words: penis, cut, bleeding, clamp, crushing, scalpel, and blunt probe.

For Jews, circumcision is Law, and was the first commandment given Abraham by God, that his foreskin be cut and that all male children to follow should also have their foreskins cut as a sign of their covenant with God.

For everyone else, it is possibly the anachronistic result of the myth that a man would face future disease, injury, and locker room jokes if his penis were to lack customary trimming. 19th century physicians suggested that the child’s penis produced itchy substances which encouraged masturbation. As they believed masturbation caused insanity, blindness, tuberculosis, and a litany of other diseases (for which they could offer no other cure), these early physicians urged parents to employ aggressive hygiene. Boy babies began to be circumcised automatically in the U.S. as a measure against filth, but as time has gone on and circumcision clearly did not slow down the masturbatory habits of anyone, why is genital mutilation still a common practice in this country? When I ask men about the hypothetical futures of the genitals of their unborn male children, those who have been circumcised all seem to lean towards continuing non-medical cutting because of a concept that the boy should resemble the father. And maybe he should. Or maybe that’s ridiculous.

Like I said, I’d like you all to weigh in because I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to feel about foreskins. I do NOT have a penis. I’m Vanessa Cheatwood.

For more on this topic:

Science Daily

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Neo-Nazis in Israel

Members of the alleged neo-Nazi ring from Petah Tikva.
Police: Israel has dozens of neo-Nazis | Jerusalem Post

The original picture painted by investigators of a Petah Tikva-based neo-Nazi group has grown more serious in the days since the lifting of a gag order on the subject, as more and more people have submitted complaints to the police claiming that they too fell victim to the violent gang.

Central District police disclosed that information late Monday, hours after Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen revealed during a pre-Rosh Hashana celebration the bad news that there are "dozens more neo-Nazis in Israel."

Police were working on finding those neo-Nazis, including combing neo-Nazi Web sites for possible suspects, Cohen said at the annual toast at the Police National Headquarters in Jerusalem.

Experts have warned that neo-Nazi organizations may be active in urban areas including Beersheba and the Haifa suburbs.

Cohen added that although a number of neo-Nazi Web sites have been operating in Israel over the past few years, neo-Nazi organization among immigrants was still not a widespread phenomenon.

Shortly after Cohen's announcement, Central District police confirmed that since the revelation of the gang's existence following the arrest of nine suspected members, they had received three additional complaints from citizens who claimed to have been attacked by the same group of neo-Nazis.

The complaints spanned two police precincts - at least one was submitted in the Tel Aviv District and a second in the Central District, where the case was originally cracked.

The third complaint was filed anonymously by a father who claimed that his son had been attacked by the gang.

All the complaints, including the one originating in Tel Aviv District's Yiftah Subdistrict, were transferred to the Central District's Central Investigative Unit, which has been responsible for investigating the case following two Spring 2006 synagogue desecrations in Petah Tikva believed to be the handiwork of the same cell.

The suspected members of the gang, whose remand was extended Sunday in the Ramle Magistrate's Court, will be indicted Tuesday morning in the Tel Aviv District Court. Sources within the Justice Ministry said that due to the fact that some of the suspects are juveniles, the details of the charge sheet against them can only be revealed Tuesday pending a judge's approval.

It is likely that the youths will face charges related to distribution of racist materials via the Internet, as well as concerning the two Spring 2006 Petah Tikva synagogue desecrations, and a number of other violent attacks.

The alleged ringleader of the group has been seen in home videos displayed on the Internet espousing violent philosophy, and police have reconstructed Internet chats in which he allegedly told would-be followers that they must "erase their [Jews'] religion, to burn their houses and their shelters - I mean their synagogues," as well as saying "I have always been a Nazi and I will always remain one. And I will not rest until we kill them all."

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter reiterated at the toast that Israel should not hurry to change the Law of Return, which permitted the neo-Nazi youths to enter Israel, and that it was important to examine the matter carefully.

"Israeli society must ask not only where these youths made a mistake, but also where we made a mistake in absorbing them and in their education," he said.

Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, himself an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, took a similar position to Dichter on Monday, saying that the state must come down hard on the neo-Nazi groups but also warned against generalizing against the Russian sector and calling for a stop to FSU immigration.

"First and foremost, we need to deal with the gang without compromise. It is an unacceptable phenomenon and we need to eradicate it with an iron fist, without mercy," Lieberman said Monday, adding that it is "completely unreasonable" to change the Law of Return "because of one or two gangs, or 10 youths."

The government response continued to trickle down Monday as the Education Ministry announced that the educational television stations, youth groups and schools will dedicate the coming week to the topic of neo-Nazism, with teachers and youth group counselors working with high school and middle school-age students to offer special materials drawn up in response to this week's revelations.

In addition, the film The Wave will be broadcast on educational channels during school hours throughout the week, and educators are encouraged to use the movie's content to stimulate discussion on the phenomenon.

The film, produced in the United States in 1981, is based upon a social experiment carried out by an American teacher who, through the experiment, displayed the ease through which youth can be co-opted into violent fascist beliefs and behavior.

Education Minister Yuli Tamir and ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav sent a letter to school principals in which Tamir told school officials that "the ministry is continuing to stick to the policy through which we must confront these problems and not sweep them under the carpet.

"The scale of the phenomenon may have been presented by the media with a certain amount of exaggeration, but as members of the pedagogical community, we must give our students the opportunity to speak about these things and about the dilemmas as a preventive action."

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

It was before the sun came up... - Colorado Priest Faces Charges After Nude Jog at High School Track

He told officers he sweats profusely if he wears clothing while jogging.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Virgin Chicken

'Virgin Chicken' Off the Menu in Beijing
Hungry visitors to next summer's Beijing Olympics won't have to choose between "steamed crap" and "virgin chicken" if Chinese authorities succeed in ridding restaurant menus of mangled English translations.

The Beijing Tourism Bureau has released a list with 2,753 proposed names for dishes and drinks, designed to replace bizarre and sometimes ridiculous translations on menus, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

Foreigners are often stumped by dish names such as "virgin chicken" (a young chicken dish) or "burnt lion's head" (Chinese-style pork meatballs). Other garbled names include "The temple explodes the chicken cube" (kung pao chicken) or "steamed crap" (steamed carp).

"These translations either scare or embarrass foreign customers and may cause misunderstanding on China's diet habits," Xinhua said.

It's the latest effort by Beijing Olympics organizers to clean up the city and ensure that the best image is presented to the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected next summer.

Etiquette campaigns are afoot to stamp out bad manners such as jumping ahead in line, spitting, littering and reckless driving. The revised menu names are part of an effort to ban unintelligible English, known as "Chinglish," that abounds on signs everywhere.

A team set up by the Beijing Municipal Foreign Affairs Office and Beijing Tourism Bureau has been working on the menu names for more than a year, Xinhua said. Translators developed names for dishes based on one of four categories: ingredients, cooking method, taste, or the name of a person or place.

For example, a dish with mushrooms and ducks' feet will be listed as simply "Mushroom-Duck's Foot." Others proposed names include "Fish Filets in Hot Chili Oil" and "Crispy Chicken."

The tourism bureau is soliciting public opinion on the translations. Once a final decision is made on the list of names, they will be used in restaurants across China, Xinhua said.

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Virgin Chicken

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Naked Leopard Man