Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Biscuits and Pork Chops...it's NOT what's for dinner

A friend had a great post today about a AAA baseball affiliate team in Allentown, PA. The team, the Iron Pigs, have as their mascot a large pig, affectionately named “Pork Chop.” Clever, right? Not so, say some local Hispanics, who apparently feel slighted by the mascot’s name, claiming it is (I'm not making this up) an ethnic slur. Under pressure from the group, the team changed the mascot's name to Ferrous. The name change, while actually quite clever, nevertheless, ticks me off.

When I read things like this I'm infuriated. It kind of makes me want to scream,"HEY! They're slaughtering Christians in the Sudan, yet somehow THIS PIG'S NAME has become your personal front burner issue. I can't believe THIS is the hill you want to die on!" I daresay silly, symbolic gestures such as this must constitute an insult for people of Hispanic origin who are reasonable, productive members of society.

First of all, I seriously doubt naming the mascot "Pork Chop" was intended to be any sort of an ethnic slur. Let's face it, the name made more sense than "Chicken Little," right? And, according to industry insiders, pork is officially "the other white meat." (NOW, who's the focus of the "racial slur"?)

Second, I find wisdom in these words: "He who takes offense when none was intended is a fool. He who take offense when offense WAS intended, is a BIGGER fool." (Emphasis added) If, indeed, the name of the mascot was chosen solely in hopes of offending Hispanics, then mission accomplished...thanks to the small cadre of complaining Hispanics.

You know, sometimes it's best to just embrace the "tag" you're given. I'm originally from Alabama and occasionally (and by "occasionally" I mean "unceasingly") people across the US think people from the South are, well, less than bright. In fact, sometimes, in referring to an idiot, they will call that person a "Bama." My response? It was likely meant as a compliment! Ain't no shame in 'Bama, baby!

You know, sometimes non-Southerners refer to Southerners as "biscuits." Again, I say, "Ain't no shame in biscuits!" Apparently lots of people agree with me because when the capital city of Montgomery held a contest in order to decide the name for it's new AA baseball affiliate team, the "Montgomery Biscuits" got the winning vote.

And I tell you what, those loyal fans in Montgomery LOVE their Biscuits! When the opposing team is up to bat, the chatter begins and all over Riverwalk Stadium you hear, "Hey, Butter, Butter...Hey Butter, Butter...SWING Butter!" And during the games they actually use air cannons to shoot biscuits into the crowd! Um, um, um! Nothin' beats fresh biscuits...except, maybe, fresh biscuits and a cold Coke-Cola! (Don't you just love the pat of butter in the little cartoon biscuit's mouth?)

At any rate, the point is it's not necessary to take offense over every little issue. Reserve indignant responses for stuff that really matters. In the mean time, put a biscuit in it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Headline: That Which Doesn't Kill You May Not Make You Stronger...Though It's Probably Safe To Ingest

Tonight my friend/classmate Rich launched his new blog. (Can I get a “Whoop!”) His topic of choice was nutrition, toxins, pesticides, organic foods, etc. It was a great post, as evidenced by the fact it 1) made me think, and 2) compelled me to comment. Once I formulated my thoughts, I figured as long as I was actually typing more than a paragraph, I’d slap it on here and call it a post. (See below.)

I’ve added Rich’s blog to my list of favorites (Deep Thoughts By Rich) and I invite all my loyal readers (and again, by “all” I mean “both”) to visit. He’s a smart fellow and, were I a betting woman, I’d wager I'll be asking him for a job or voting him into public office one day in the not-too-distant future. Good luck, Rich!


I was recently reading about "intuitive toxicology"—the mental shortcut ordinary people use to think about the risks associated with chemicals. One of the beliefs that underlie intuitive toxicology is that nature is benevolent—that human products and activities are more likely to be dangerous than the products of natural process.

As Rich pointed out, EVERYTHING is made of chemicals and, thus, EVERYTHING can be poisonous. What frightens me (typically on a daily basis) is the ability of alarmists to force broad policy change simply by playing on the fears and ignorance of members of society.

Anybody remember Alar? No? Well, I do. It was a pesticide used on apples—until the National Resources Defense Council released a study asserting that about 1 in every 4000 children exposed to Alar would develop cancer. Then, like clockwork, the media latched on and the real chaos ensued. The CBS "news" (and I use the term loosely) show 60 Minutes implied Alar was outright poison—I mean the kind Snow White's wicked stepmother/queen would use, you know? People were in a state of panic. Grocery stores refused to sell Alar apples and eventually the EPA declared it a human carcinogen—but only after Uniroyal (the maker of Alar) had already voluntarily halted all US sales of the stuff.

But here's the rub: NRDC's research was crap. They extrapolated from research conducted on mice in order to make their determinations. In order for their assertions to be true, all children consuming apples would have had to eat something like a "truckload" of apples or several thousand gallons of apple juice EVERY DAY. And even at that rate of consumption we could only expect 1 in 4000 of those children to develop cancer.

As it turns out, the real risk was something like 1 in 250,000—of course, those figures never got the same media exposure the NRDC study enjoyed. (Who cares about the truth, right?) In the mean time, Uniroyal and apple growers across America were...well, S.O.L. Their combined losses totaled somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And, in what can only be described as a cruel twist of fate, in the absence of Alar, some growers were forced to use substitute pesticides which were found to be less safe than Alar. Go figure!

The lesson here, children, is this: Resist the urge to heed the emotional call to arms on such matters. Do not add to the deintellectualization of America by buying in to any ol’ thing emitting from your television set. The world is full of people whose sole purpose is to foist off on you a load of kooky crap and all the while try to convince you it is science.

And that's all I have to say about the matter. For now.