Mice Lose the Smell of Fear

December 13, 2007

By Adele

Science has made another hopeless attempt to create a mighty mouse, like anybody wants one.

Japanese researchers at the University of Tokyo with nothing better to do genetically tinkered with the receptors hooked to mice’s tiny little noses so they’d be born unable to smell cats.

First, let me set the record straight on one vital point: Cats do not smell. Litterboxes smell – when humans don’t clean them often enough.

In any case, our alleged odor runs a distant fourth to our teeth, claws, and talent for playing rodent hockey when you ask mice what they fear about cats.

mochikko_ap.jpg

The researchers said cats would have to be willing to meet the mice halfway for true friendship to occur. Oh, sure, put the burden of success on us. They had a dumb young cat named Mochikko-chan let a fearless mouse make a fool of her without lifting a paw. For the sake of self-respecting felines everywhere, I hope as soon as this picture was snapped, Mochikko grabbed herself a tasty helping of Mice-a-Roni.

The researchers claim they can apply their technique to other mammals and make them unafraid of their natural enemies. What on earth for? So they can end up someone’s lunch and never know what hit them?

Besides, it’s not animals who need help in learning how to get along. It’s humans. Maybe if Muslims, Jews, and Christians couldn’t smell each other, they’d stop all the fighting.

How about that idea, researchers? Get to work!


Anthony Bourdain’s Christmas Cop-Out

December 12, 2007

By Karen

The cats aren’t big Anthony Bourdain fans, but I am. They probably think he’s eaten a few of them in his travels.

No Reservations

I, on the other hand, pre-ordered his new book, No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach, and wrapped it as a Christmas present to myself so he’ll be under my tree on Christmas morning. How hopelessly devoted is that?

I’ve read and loved a lot of his non-fiction, Kitchen Confidential, A Cook’s Tour, and The Nasty Bits, as well as his novels, Bone in the Throat, Gone Bamboo, and The Bobby Gold Stories. I’m awed by his bitingly witty writing style.

When I learned he was doing a Christmas special on No Reservations on the Travel Channel, I marked my calendar, eagerly anticipating a peek into his new life as a born-again husband and first-time father.

The first surprise was that the show was filmed at his brother’s house in Connecticut, far from Tony’s home in New York City. The plush, affluent setting made Tony’s endearing cynicism toward everything seem a bit over the top, so it was probably wise to keep his brother and sister-in-law’s appearances brief.

Instead, they left the limelight to Tony’s thoroughly unlikable niece and his foul-mouthed little nephew/godson. I’m hoping Uncle Tony slipped some big bucks into their stockings to get them to put on an act and they really don’t ape his snarkiness every day. It’s very unattractive in children.

The turkey-selection/killing segment stood in stark contrast to other episodes where animals have been butchered by poor rural people who sincerely wanted to give Bourdain their best. His enthusiasm felt a bit unseemly.

I didn’t begrudge him his defense of foie gras by visiting good friend and fellow chef Ariane Daguin. The ducks did look relatively happy. But I expected him to at least mention he named his new daughter after Ariane, and he didn’t.

The incongruous presence of Queens of the Stone Age was a rebellion against smarmy Christmas carols I could appreciate, and it was fun to watch him chop down the Christmas tree and make his troll of a nephew drag it into the house.

But I really enjoyed seeing Tony in the kitchen, proving that he really knows how to cook. Then again, I’m turned on by the sight of any man doing something useful in the kitchen.

The biggest letdown was the climax, with Tony sitting at the table with his brother and his brother’s family. Where did he have his new wife, Ottavia, and their baby Ariane spending their first Christmas as Bourdains? Out in the garage? Bing Crosby was reputed to be a real bastard, and even he didn’t pretend he was single at Christmas.

The Bourdain brothers didn’t even include their own mother in the festivities.

Tony’s probably compelled to foster his image as a latter-day sex symbol, and he may personally want to draw a line between his public and private life by keeping his new family off-camera, but it certainly made for an incomplete Christmas special.

If he’s ever coerced into doing something like this again, I suggest a slant he’d be more comfortable with: Tony’s solitary search for the spirit of Christmas in the farthest corners of some non-Christian country. That would be worth watching.


We Must Flush Insurance Parasites from Healthcare

December 6, 2007

By Karen

On November 30 while Leeland Eisenberg was holed up in Hillary Clinton’s campaign office in Rochester, N.H., with road flares strapped to his chest, pathetically trying to bring attention to inaccessible, unaffordable healthcare for the mentally ill, I was on the phone becoming mentally ill trying to find out why my individual health insurance is going up another 18%.

Since 2004, my monthly premium has increased 90% – and I’ve never had a serious illness or accident. I’m a self-employed, single, childless woman in my early 50s. I take nothing but two generic prescriptions for hypertension that run about $11 a month combined. In 2008, I’ll be paying $488 a month for health coverage. They manage to stick me with the lion’s share of virtually all my preventive care, and I still never seem to meet my $750 annual deductible.

What surprises me is that more people don’t pull an Eisenberg in the offices of major insurance companies using real bombs.

A representative for my insurer, a name you’d recognize, told me this year’s outrageous increase is because I’ve grown a year older. To make me feel better, she assured me it’s being imposed on everyone else who did likewise.

Apparently customers remaining alive is a problem that requires massive infusions of cash to these crooks.

When I asked if having a birthday could make my rate balloon so much, what would happen if I actually needed to use the coverage, she assured me that claims have nothing to do with rates.

I hope her nose grew a foot longer. If that were true, then seriously ill people wouldn’t be getting canceled just when they need insurance most.

The bald fact is that the success of the entire insurance industry depends on taking money from people and providing NOTHING in return. With healthcare, this often turns deadly.

And in any other context, it’s called stealing.

The presidential candidates who say universal coverage is the answer because 47 million are uninsured are totally missing the point. The answer doesn’t lie in forcing everyone to be financially bled to death by these insatiable insurance companies.

Insurers will never provide “affordable” healthcare. Sure, they may temporarily roll back rates a tad just to get the politicians off their backs. But as soon as attention turns elsewhere, they’ll make up for any shortfall with even worse rate hikes.

The only solution is to remove insurers from the equation altogether. Stop letting them be the obstacle between patients and care. Eliminate their bureaucratic burden on physicians. End their extortion.

Conservatives might argue that shutting down insurance companies would cause a spike in unemployment. And what would we do with all that cushy office space now housing the leeches?

I say turn the buildings into hospitals and retrain the employees. Instead of being parasites who earn their living denying care, let them ease the nursing shortage by providing care.


Larry Craig, Your 9 Lives are Up

December 3, 2007

By Fred

In addition to the police officer in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s men’s room in June, eight more men have told the Idaho Statesman they had sex or fielded passes from Idaho Senator Larry Craig over a span of 40 years, back to his college days. Their stories can’t be concretely proved, but Craig’s documented travels seem to coincide with the dates.

Statesman file photo

Statesman file photo

Talk about a guy looking for love in all the wrong places.

Craig still insists the world’s lying and he’s terribly misunderstood. He has yet to give a “straight” answer to why he goes to gay clubs and says and does so many gay things.

He had a bizarre dress code during some of his little trysts – he kept his pants on. Probably to keep from getting caught with them down. But did Monica Lewinsky’s stained blue dress teach him nothing? All it takes is one cell phone camera to catch him with a wet crotch. And he can bet all eyes are trained on his crotch, since he’s made it the focus of his existence.

This guy who’s so afraid of getting caught, according to one of his eight boy-toys, allegedly tried to score a quickie in the Denver Airport men’s room during a layover for a flight to DC – while he was flying with his wife.

But the real irony is that Craig himself made his ex-lovers sing like canaries. They had no problem servicing a closeted gay senator. What set them off was finding out he’s a liar and a hypocrite.

The way I see it, Craig’s got nine turds in his litterbox and no pooper-scooper in sight. The only way out is OUT.


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