Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The NY Times deserves a Nobel Prize

It has just performed an invaluable service to humanity: an interactive map of where to eat delicious Chinese food in Flushing, Queens.
I want.


A Missouri woman has found Jesus in a Cheeto. That is, a Cheeto in the shape of Jesus on the cross.
She calls him Cheesus.
Me, I've always known that Cheetos are divine.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Notes from the underground

Oy, reading the paper today makes my PMS worse.
(Is there a Guiness Book of World Records record for longest PMS in human history? I think I may apply.)

1. If there is anything even more retarded than a suicide bomber, it is a female suicide bomber.
I've freaking had it with these people.

2. Iran executed 29 convicts all in one day, today.
At last, something to make Texans feel better. (ouch).
By the way, if you are an apostate, I would not advise you live or travel in Iran. Apostasy is punished with death over there. So is adultery...

3. The guy who opened fire on that Unitarian church in Tennessee did it because he hated liberals.
Don't get me started. Imagine if every liberal would act the same way towards people like this racist, hateful nutjob. This country would be magnificent!
And the problem is, they are going to stick him in jail and feed him three times a day, and give him a nice comfy bed and probably protect him from the blacks and the gays he hates so much, which actually solves all his problems. As with the fucking Islamonazis, they always choose the wrong freaking victims. This is one case where the death penalty don't sound so bad after all.

4. I happened to waste precious minutes of my time skimming through that insufferable windbag Stanley Fish in his column in the Times.
Name of his post: "Travel Narrows" (as opposed to "travel enlightens or broadens your mind"), where he confesses that he hates traveling. People keep justifying that stupid column by pretending it's written in jest, but I think the professor is dead serious and even a worse crank than I could ever hope to be. He makes Woody Allen seem like the picture of relaxation.
I really object to this glorification of people who hate traveling. And I object to anyone giving traveling a bad name. Traveling is brilliant. Ensconcing yourself in an all-inclusive resort that totally shelters you from the reality of the country you are visiting, does not count. Having said that, I had to be surgically removed from Las Ventanas al Paraiso in Baja. I'm not a backpacker either.
As a commenter said, and I paraphrase, adding a bit more vitriol, about 98% of the world cannot afford to go anywhere except outside their shack without indoor plumbing, so it is some gall for those with the privilege to complain about it.
You know what I love about travel (which is certainly not the flying)? The fact that you are suddenly somewhere else. Treading foreign asphalt. I love that.
So screw Stanley Fish.

I am becoming a crank

I spend my days calling 311 to complain about construction after hours and sending letters to the Community Board and the Mayor's Office (I don't really, but even one every few months is too much).
To wit:

Dear Community Board members:

I am writing to complain about the exaggerated profusion of street fairs happening in our neighborhood and particularly on my block, the corner of XXXX and ZZZZ.
In less than one month there have been at least 3 street fairs in this area. This last Saturday there was one on XXXX St (there had already been one there several weeks ago) and the following day another one on ZZZZ.
This is unacceptable. The fairs are always selling the same mostly useless, charmless trinkets, they fill up the streets with garbage and they create unnecessary traffic jams on weekends. They are obnoxious and do not provide anything culturally rich to the neighborhood. I understand that they may be a source of revenue (and I would love to know what the money goes to) but it has gotten out of hand.
Nobody should have to deal with a street fair on their street more than once a Summer, as it used to be a few years back.
I respectfully suggest that you curb the amount of permits you give for street fairs in our neighborhood. And if you are not the responsible entity, I will appreciate if you can direct me to whoever else I should make this complaint to.


The Grande Enchilada.

If I could say instead to them: WTF with the freaking street fairs that I loathe with a passion, that suck and reek, I'd feel better, but one must be polite.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What makes you sick in Mexico?

For the concerned reader in Massachussetts who wants to know what to expect to get sick from in Mexico, the short answer is: everything... and nothing.

Everything: (If you choose to be paranoid):

• Tap water (except in hotels that claim it is safe to drink).
I do brush my teeth with tap water in Mexico. And I don't tape my mouth shut as I'm taking a shower. Just so you know.
• Strawberries
• Watercress, lettuce or anything leafy green
• Evidently now, some local jalapeños. Go figure which.
• Eating unwashed fruits with the peel on.
• Oysters and other molusks (in the months without an "r", from May to August)
• Raw fish as in sushi.
Evil lurks everywhere.

However, if you will pardon the pun, it is a crapshoot. The fact is, you may eat watercress salad with cilantro and jalapeño and apples and nothing will happen to you. You may eat at a fancy restaurant and get the runs; you may eat at a taco stand and be spared, or viceversa. The fruits and veggies listed above, although probably safe in clean places, (and many fancy restaurants have imported lettuces) have a higher possibility of being in contact with polluted irrigation waters, which is why some people think they are not advisable.
I don't eat oysters in Mexico City. Period.


• THE ICE WON'T MAKE YOU SICK. If it is in cubes and you haven't seen it being dragged through the streets as a dripping block the size of a safe, YOU CAN DRINK; HELL, YOU CAN EVEN CHEW THE ICE. The reason why this is in caps is because I am tired of answering this question.
There is plenty of bottled water everywhere. Over there they haven't heard about the environment yet. You can litter the Earth with the spent plastic bottles of water you drank in Mexico.
• There are several perfectly logical reasons why people get Moctezuma's Revenge, which if it makes you feel better, doesn't really discriminate. It attacks the locals as well.
1. Your intestinal flora may not be used to the local bacteria. I used to get sick every time I came to the States. That, I guess, was The Alamo's Revenge.
2. Mexican food is elaborate and uses lots of spices and ingredients, that may feel a little heavy. It's very easy to overdo it as it is SO GOOOOOOOD.
3. Easy on the Margaritas, pardner.

Now. Going to Mexico and worrying about the Revenge will probably make you sick. I have known people with otherwise delicate constitutions that have never ever gotten sick from food in Mexico and my theory is that it's because they surrender to it with gusto. I recommend you do the same. (Disclaimer: I will not be held responsible for your runs or any such events in case they happen. Bring the pepto and the immodium if you need a crutch, although you can find both in abundant supply at any pharmacy).
Do not be like someone I knew who would travel frequently to Mexico on business and all she ever had for lunch and dinner was grilled chicken. This is a crime.
The fruit is magnificent, the food is sublime.
If you see a guacamole, have it; I command you. You will see the light.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Amiguitos again

Chavez and King Juan Carlos are chums again. All is forgotten.
I imagine the King is telling Chavez, if you ever talk to us like that again, te voy a jalar las orejas. (I'm going to yank you by the ears), a favorite threat of my mom, who was a feared disciplinarian, as opposed to Chavez's mom who apparently never told him that it is not polite to point at people.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Til Debt Do Us Part

Check out this enlightening, sobering, heartbreaking, infuriating NY Times interactive series about Americans in debt.
I, who am a Flintstone when it comes to finances, have never understood the American custom of buying stuff you can't afford. I have never understood why you want to pay interest on anything that is not a house. If you can't pay in full for it, just don't buy it.
According to the article, the average American has like 8 or 11 different credit cards. WHY?
I have never paid interest on anything and, so help me Gortz*, I never will.
I can see that there is some good in helping people have a house of their own, but helping is the operative word, not tricking people into a lifetime of debt, into foreclosure, into losing their shirts.
If you take out a loan, hopefully you understand that you will be able to pay for it on a long term basis. But even if you do, the rapacious banks will do anything in their power to suck your blood with fees and penalties and obscure transactions. Because they profit from your need. And they got you by the balls. It's your house we're talking about. The very place you live in.
The system is devised to make them rich and to fuck you up. And you are not protected. Nobody cares about your fate. The series shows that people's initial calculations are not unrealistic, for the most part, but life happens and circumstances beyond people's control (illness, sudden unemployment, divorce) can suddenly lead to a nightmare of debt. People do not think enough about savings. Or they do but they can't save. They can't save because they are buying things on credit. So they calculate they can make it to within an inch of their lives. So, for instance, without savings, and sometimes working more than one job, someone suddenly has a serious illness and they can count on going straight to hell. Even with insurance, people cannot afford their healthcare if it requires serious intervention. The government does not step in to save people from foreclosure. The government has made it harder for common people to declare bankruptcy in order to protect the banks. The government protects the insurance companies, not the patients. It does not step in to regulate the most mendacious, evil banking and financial practices, like profiting by selling the debt to investors (this I really don't understand). It actually bails out banks that loan money to people who they know could never pay it back. To the poor. How is the government bailing the banks out? With our tax money, which should be going to things like health and education and the eradication of poverty. And I agree with Barney Frank. Why does the CEO of Fannie Mae make 25 million dollars a year? W.T.F????
It's like we are serfs in the Middle Ages. Where the fuck is our revolution?
Look at the mess we're in, thanks to unchecked greed. You can freaking thank Ronald Reagan and the freaking Republicans for this state of affairs. People can't pay for their homes and they can't sell their homes. The banks are collapsing. I can't believe how the people of this country just let the government and the corporations ram them up the ass with nary a peep. Storm the freaking barricades!

When Obama comes back from his jaunt in Europe, it would behoove him to talk about what the hell he plans to do to stop this.
And I'm still waiting for the day when a bounty is put on Bush's head. I'm still waiting for the day when there is an outcry to put him in the slammer and throw away the key forever. Disgraceful son of a bitch.

*since we don't believe in God, we invoke the closest sounding syllable, Gortz.
Or we could use Joe Pesci, as per George Carlin's suggestion.

Carlin is right

I think the reason why I am in this ornery mood is twofold.
1. PMS. You better believe it. Yesterday I displayed an inordinate amount of sheer bad blood toward anything that moved on the street: girls with heels so high they walk like baboons, guys in red Porsches, the entire Meatpacking district, any cabdriver who honked, people with dogs, basically anybody who crossed my way.
2. I also caught George Carlin's last show, It's Bad for Ya, on HBO. He was so good. He said some amazing truths. And he was so ornery and misanthropic and funny, I feel his spirit has descended on me today. Check him out!
Truer words were never spoken.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Overheard in the subway: Oy!

My lovely friend N. tells a very interesting story that happened to her yesterday on the subway.
She is sitting in the subway doing a crossword, minding her own business, and a Hasidic man in full Hasidic regalia starts having a conversation with her.
Which should immediately raise a red flag, since aren't these guys not only not supposed to look at a woman, let alone talk to her?
Anywho, I wish I could quote exactly, but the whole gist of the conversation at first seemed to revolve around the crossword. However, as the man leered at her, N. soon realized that he had something else in mind. It was all sexual double entendre.
The man said for instance, between leers, that his wife was too tired to do the crosswords and that she can never finish them. N. reports that the way he looked at her, he was almost licking his lips. EEEWWW.
(N.: You are welcome to quote here from your own experience. I'm a lousy reporter, as you can see.)
The thing is, N. felt completely creeped out by this sexually frustrated creepazoid. What I find offensive is this guy's desperate assumption that he could approach this woman and speak to her like that. Sexual harassers have this genius way of insinuating stuff that, without the subtext, seems perfectly innocent. If the woman were to complain, the guy could say, "I'm only talking about a crossword, you crazy bitch". It is repulsive and cowardly, to boot.
The fact that this was an ultraorthodox Jew makes this even creepier, because he is operating from a warped frame of reference and his approach is even less based on respect than that of a garden variety horny asshole, if you can imagine such a thing. The ultraorthodox look at secular women as if we were all curvehs, whores.
Don't get me started. There is no love lost between them and me.

At the risk of being horribly politically incorrect:

I saw the picture of Barack Obama visiting Yad Vashem. When I was a college student living in Jerusalem, my friends and I used to make fun of the fact that every time a visiting dignitary alighted in the Land of Israel, the first thing they would do with him or her was take them to Yad Vashem, the National Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Mobutu Sese Seko -- Yad Vashem, Queen Beatrix of Holland -- Yad Vashem, George Bush Pere --Yad Vashem. If Che Guevara, Napoleon and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile were alive, that would be their fate as well.
We used to joke that they didn't even let the poor visitors finish wiping themselves with the freshening towelette, when they were already hurling them towards Yad Vashem. We used to say the airport should be at Yad Vashem. We were of course crude, cynical and exaggerating wildly, but there was something (and I bet half the people will beg to differ and the other half will use this as antisemitic fodder) kind of funny about the laying on of the guilt trip as soon as the foreign machers hit the ground. I think of my dearly departed friend Martine, with her caustic Dutch sense of humor, and I can't help but think she would be getting a kick out of the picture of Obama with his yarmulke, visiting the haunting, overwhelming hell that is that place.

Obama's Grand Tour

This man is the best thing that could happen to American policy in the Middle East. Simply to be able to generate "good will" on both sides is miraculous progress.
The Arab world suddenly has to contend with a potential American president who does not conform to their existing prejudices. This can only be good for the region. That he does not automatically discount engaging the Palestinian leadership in the quest to end the strife and that at the same time he has pledged to support the existence of Israel is the most realistic alternative we have so far, and at last, a sign of hope, to use a much abused word.
So memo to the Jews: It's good for the Jews.
Memo to the Arabs: it's good for you too.
Memo to the McCain campaign: stop behaving as if Obama was an uppity upstart. This tour is serious, important, and so far, brilliantly executed, which is much more than what your candidate has said or done for himself.
Memo to the American People: He the Man.
Go Obama!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Latinos in fear

Today I heard something so appalling, I could scarcely believe it. I heard a Latino say that many Latinos are afraid of an Obama victory because that would displace them as the priority minority, meaning I suppose that since Obama is Black, he is just going to care about his homies, beaners be damned.
This is so stupid and racist and childish, I can't even begin to process it.
Most Spanish speaking countries have traditionally been extremely racist towards their own darker citizens. There was slavery in the Spanish colonies. There were castes. The Spanish conquistadors were not exactly paragons of human tolerance. Their racist attitudes have endured, now defanged and civilized but still insidious and learned from the bosom, to this day.
1. I really resent that victimized "look at me, I need to be marginal minority number one" mentality.
As if it were a contest.
2. It is a sad reality that even the downtrodden like to find someone they can feel superior to. Usually someone darker or poorer than them. Cf. Dominicans vs Haitians, for instance. And in the case of many Latinos, Brown vs. Black.
2. The fact that Obama is Black colors everything, so to speak. Not that he is an extremely capable, extremely smart, extremely presidential MAN. etc. But that he is Black. People just can't get past this.
Think of all the problems this man is going to have to deal with if he becomes president, and Latinos are worried he's just going to cater to his own. How petty and provincial and pathetic.
What really annoys me is the appalling lack of solidarity of such a statement.
I am well aware of the tensions between the Black and the Latino communities. But one would think that Latinos could identify with a man who rose from the bottom, whose father was a foreigner, who belongs to a minority like them.
But what do I know?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Real Egalité?

We have written here before about the zeal of the French for secularism. I love secularism. Secularism is my middle name. I believe, as the French do, that the state should be 1500% secular and that religion absolutely cannot play a part in state affairs (if it was up to me, in anything, ever).
However, that certain people living in France wear Muslim garments like the niqab, throws French secularism into an interesting conundrum, since the French defend freedom of religion but they balk at allowing individuals to freely express their religion if that means wearing a burqa or a niqab or some such fashion.
So now they have denied French citizenship to a Moroccan woman, who has a French Moroccan husband and French children and speaks fluent French because she chooses to wear this niqab (which is the one that covers her completely). They say she can't be a citizen on the grounds of "insufficient assimilation" to French culture.
O la la la la.
I am the last person to be on the side of religious zealots. BUT. The ruling claims that this woman's niqab is incompatible with the "essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes". But are women in France truly equal to the men? Do they make the same salaries? Do the French allow ultra-orthodox Jewish women to wear wigs and long hemmed and sleeved clothes, and whores to wear skimpy clothes? These women are as unequal and exploited by men as any Muslim woman wearing a niqab, as far as I'm concerned. So why not enforce that supposed equality with them as well?
It seems to me that the equality of the sexes is a bullshit argument. The "insufficient assimilation to secular life" is the only argument, and a valid one, (but a little fascist, n'est pas?). I agree with the French that religious fundamentalism of any stripe is incompatible with secular democracy. This presents a contradiction, since it is the nature of democracy to tolerate religious pluralism and all kinds of human mishegoss. That is why there are a lot of people living in Western democracies who don't want anything to do with democratic principles (except when it comes to using the health benefits, the schools, the better pay, etc. That, they like). This creates tension.
In the case of France, democracy came about as a response to the abuses of the nobility and the clergy. In our case, sadly, it came about because of religious persecution. People came here to be able to worship in peace. That is why here believers from the Church of Elvis can walk around in full white jumpsuit regalia and nobody will bat an eye (maybe that is also why, you don't see too many niqabs here. People here feel that they have to make less of a statement 'cause no one really cares).
In France there is not much love lost for religion. They are perfectly happy without it. They want to keep it that way. Bless 'em. But does it really rile them so much that religious people wear absurd, offensive clothes? What's it to them, really?
Intolerant people abuse democracy. Democratic people are supposed to embrace everybody and smile. How are democratic nations to react? Like the French? Or like us here, where anyone can wear what they pretty damn well please for the reasons that their conscience dictates? (As long as they don't want to blow all of us up, which is the actual source of the French anxiety, not that fairy tale aka the equality of the sexes).
Me, being the not-so-enlightened despot that I am, I think that religious fundamentalists have no business living in Western democracies (and that includes Israel). They would certainly be better off in places where they can oppress women, stone adulterers, think the world was made in 7 days, and behave like Precambrian goatherds without creating so much frisson and agita for the rest of us, who are indeed, the truly civilized world. But since you need draconian measures to enforce the separation, it's just easier to bear them and hope that the ways of tolerance and freedom will impact them positively (as long as they don't blow us all up and they don't mess with our science, our schools and our lifestyles, just as we don't mess with theirs).
In fact, I would abolish religion if it wasn't such a Stalinist thing to do.

The Polanski Saga Continues

From the New York Times:

...Mr. Polanski and his lawyer have asked the Los Angeles district attorney’s office to review a new documentary in which a former deputy district attorney claims to have coached the judge in the case.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, his lawyer, Douglas Dalton, said Mr. Wells’s self-described contacts with the judge appeared to violate California law and legal ethics. At the time, Mr. Wells worked in the Santa Monica courthouse of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, but, after some initial involvement, he was not assigned to the Polanski case.

“There could be a motion to dismiss based on prosecutorial misconduct,” Mr. Dalton said.


West Side Story is coming back!

Or to put it this way, Gee, officer Krupke!

A new production of West Side Story is coming to Broadway (I like to live in America...)
They are threatening to make it more authentic, with actual singing and dancing Latins, which is actually great, and actual words in Spanish. I can't wait. It is a gorgeous musical. My only concern is that there seems to be a Spanish libretto from Argentina that they are using as a base and somebody saw a Colombian production, and it's all well and good but the Spanish slang of Maria and friends is Puerto Rican and it should reflect that.
I'm sure the producers will have the good sense to run it through the Puerto Rican equivalent of the Royal Academy of Language before it opens (or something like that).
There is nothing more offensive to Spanish speakers than when Spanish is used incorrectly by non-Spanish speakers that are trying to be nice and they end up fouling up the language. Or they get the slang wrong. Believe it or not, here in the US, this happens, inexcusably, with much more frequency than it should. The sad truth is that many Latinos here speak their own language very badly for a variety of reasons, including the hideous Hispanic media, the indifference to reading, and the lack of serious respect for Spanish.
I just happened to write a letter to the organizers of the Latino Film Festival in NY, complaining about their communications in Spanish, which seem to have been written by an illiterate. It is appalling that a film festival that represents this culture cannot find a proofreader to make sure that the Spanish is correct. It is offensive and highly unprofessional. But there always seems to be a double standard. The English is fine; the Spanish is plagued by errors, as if it was the language of retards. This drives me CRAZY.
So I hope for the sake of my very favorite musical, that whatever Spanish they insert in there is the right one.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My 2 cents on the New Yorker cover

I got it in the mail on Monday. At first I gasped. Next I thought, well, this won't help. Then I saw a flag burning in the fireplace. And it was that extra over the top detail, (and I just discovered the portrait of a Mullah and the fact that this is taking place in the Oval Office) that made me see the cover in the provocative, satirical light that the magazine intended. Of course, I knew immediately it was meant to be satirical. This is The New Yorker, not the NY Post.
It is interesting that the Obama and McCain campaigns are saying that the cover is offensive. Well, that is exactly the point. The cover just illustrates people's fears and prejudices about the candidate and his wife. What is offensive is that so many people perceive the Obamas like that. The cover just paints quite literally, albeit painfully, the absurdity of such notions. Satire can be brutal, but it speaks the truth. In this case the truth is not that Obama is a Muslim and a flag burner and his wife is Angela Davis, but that this is how a lot of people see him, unfairly, with prejudice and malice.
I will enjoy the shitstorm, in the meantime. Once in a while they run covers that push the envelope and create little shitstorms, like the Art Spiegelman cover a few years back of a Hasidic man and an Arab man kissing (if I remember correctly). It took guts to run this cover, which helps to open up the debate about these issues. It is understandable, though a pity, that the Obama campaign responded the way it did. I'm sure the candidate gets it, but the problem is that most of America doesn't.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Not kosher

Apparently, there is a huge kosher meat processing factory, Aggriprocessors, that has not only committed pretty serious violations for its inhumane treatment of animals, but also of its immigrant workers. The place is plagued with all sorts of denunciations, from seriously scary unsanitary conditions in the meat, to sexual harassment, to mistreatment of illegal workers. This is rich, to say the least, coming from a kosher plant.
If I am not mistaken, one of the reasons for the kosher slaughter laws is to prevent animals from suffering by giving them a quick and painless death. And if I'm not mistaken, the entire Old Testament is peppered with commandments, laws and admonitions about human decency, towards animals and humans alike.
But this is what happens in certain instances where religious people (and this is not exclusive to Jews) cloak themselves with the mantle of righteousness, while otherwise behaving despicably. They think if they beat their chests and pray to heaven long enough and in public, no one is going to notice their evildoing; when indeed, the very fact that they are religious is what may corrupt them in the first place.
In the case of the immigrants, it's as always, a sad and terrible story. Between the unethical behavior of their employers, and the zeal of the immigration enforcers, these poor hardworking people are paying with jail, while their employers (who provided them with fake social security numbers) are not punished, as far as I know.
This is not the way good Jews behave.
Just so you know, not only has the New York Times reported on this issue, as have several national newspapers, but also the Jewish Daily Forward* and the Jewish Advocate.
• This plant should be closed.
• The people who consume this plant's products should boycott them.
• Rabbis should issue some kind of injunction against this plant.
• God should smite the owners of this plant with fire and brimstone.

*The Forward has an internet page in Yiddish!!!!! Is that cool or what? I'm going to start practicing...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Pico de Gallo makes you sick

Or blame it on the Mexicans, as usual. Apparently, there are about 1000 reported cases of Salmonella in the US, the worst epidemic in years, and they are linked to either raw tomatoes, jalapeño or serrano peppers and cilantro. Guess what? They're the three key ingredients in pico de gallo, or salsa mexicana as it is actually called in Mexico (plus onion). I smell right-wing conspiracy. But given this diet, I bet most of the poor sick people must be Mexicans too. How many gringos eat cilantro?
They are blaming serrano peppers too, because according to some gringos, they are hard to distinguish from jalapeños. No, they are not. Jalapeños are bigger and plumper. Serranos are small and thinner and their taste is crisper. They have more bite. But both are deep green, like the color in the Mexican flag. Come to think of it, I think the flag is the color of pico de gallo and not the other way around.
In any case, I ate all of the culprits this week. I served guacamole with raw cilantro and raw tomato and raw serrano peppers to my guests. So far, no one has complained. I made a fabulous corn chowder with cilantro and roasted serrano pepper, with the leftover greens. I've been having the runs, mind you, but that is because I ate an evil tuna burger at a fancy schmancy restaurant for brunch. Serves me right.
Bottom line is, during the sweltering Summer we must be careful with what we eat outside, because in the heat things rot faster.
And what I love about this blog is that I can share my stomach predicaments, and those of the nation with you, patient readers. If not with you, with whom?

p. s.a bit of gross out info, courtesy of Web Md:

What causes salmonellosis?

You can get salmonellosis by eating food contaminated with salmonella. This can happen in the following ways:

  • Food may be contaminated during food processing or food handling.
  • Food may become contaminated by the unwashed hands of an infected food handler. A frequent cause is a food handler who does not wash his or her hands with soap after using the bathroom.
  • Salmonella may also be found in the feces of some pets, especially those with diarrhea. You can become infected if you do not wash your hands after contact with these feces. OY.
  • Reptiles, baby chicks and ducklings, and small rodents such as hamsters are particularly likely to carry salmonella. You should always wash your hands immediately after handling one of these animals, even if the animal is healthy. Adults should also be careful that children wash their hands after handling reptiles, baby chicks or ducklings, or small rodents. OY VEY.

Beef, poultry, milk, and eggs are most often infected with salmonella. However, vegetables may also be contaminated. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. They develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days. Most people recover without treatment. However, diarrhea and dehydration may be so severe that it is necessary to go to the hospital. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are at highest risk.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Even Jon Stewart is a Chicken

Ex-Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi has written a book where he makes a case about prosecuting George W. Bush for murder (of American soldiers in Iraq), and nobody wants to hear about it. Nobody in the media, that is.
130,ooo books have been sold without any help from the usual pundits on TV. They're not touching it. Not even the Daily Show is touching it. One cynical guy, the editor of Newsweek, attributes it to fatigue from Bush bashing. I can never be exhausted from reminding people that Bush and his cronies are literally getting away with murder, among other gross misconducts. Never. So it's not really that, is it?
This is truly revolting.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hitler Beheaded

We wish! A little too late, for my taste. But it must have felt great for the guy who did it.
This headless Hitler was a wax figure at Madame Tussaud's in Berlin. They put him behind a desk in his last days in the bunker right before he offed himself, the coward, (so that people couldn't pose with him). Before his head was chopped off, they made him looked pissed, as he was comme d' habitude. I think that if they already went through all the trouble of making a wax dummy of Hitler, they should have had a little more fun and imagination and should have put him in a gallows, or a Nuremberg trial, or behind bars, or in a contraption from the Spanish Inquisition (wouldn't that be rich?) or burning in a circle of hell designed just for him and those who loved him, who were plenty.
But this is what they get for playing dummy with this putz. If they have any sense, they should leave the wax figure like that, with the head wherever it happened to land. That would be more suitable.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th?

Lots to kvetch about this 4th of July:
The economy
Bush is still there
It's depressing really.

I don't own a car because I live in New York City. I think it was about time that Americans started feeling the pain about their energy waste. There is no other country on Earth that wastes more energy with more gusto than the US. Maybe it won't kill people here to take a train or use a bike or walk somewhere.
If this means the death of the SUV, it will be cause for celebration. GM is trading like at $6 a share. It is not Toyota's fault. American car companies behave like dinosaurs and they make cars that look like dinosaurs.
But the rising gas prices affect me too. Everything is more expensive.
This is Summer in NYC. Unless I am literally wilting, I do not turn my air conditioner on just because it is Summer. I live with the heat, which is rather nice, unless it is impossible.
People really need to start revising their trigger happiness for electrical switches.

The fireworks were nice in the rain.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Where are the women in advertising?

One thing I noticed at Cannes was that there were far more many guys than there were women.
There must have been like 7 males per female at Cannes, or more. If you are a woman and you go there to get laid, the news could not be more wonderful (just try finding someone sober enough).
And if you're not looking to get laid, the attention and the flirtation are still great. There are hordes of marauding males whose faces are screaming to get laid. The later the hour, the more desperate the quest. Which is fine by me. The more, the merrier.
At the opening party, a first in my lifetime of public restroom usage: the queue for the restrooms was much longer and far slower on the male side. By far. This could not be attributed to the fact that women who work in advertising are fast urinators, or that all the guys happened to be doing drugs at the time.
The reason for the miraculous bathroom line is that advertising, or at least the creative side of it, is almost all exclusively male. We all knew that, but it is quite something to actually behold the physical proof all under one roof, so to speak. Mostly male creative directors, not one female film director in the New Directors Showcase; males, males, and more males picking up Lions.
The NY Times reports today that Omnicom is creating G23, an agency run by women, with women in mind. Cool. Give me a job.
But it would be cooler if women were not a niche. We are the other side of human, not the lower side, or the more misunderstood side, or the less talented or less intelligent side, or the side that works the same but gets paid less. Why are these things still happening?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Eat Pray Love

I was given as a birthday present this book called Eat, Pray, Love, a mega bestseller. It's the journey of self discovery of a self-involved, navel gazing woman, who, despite all of her discoveries, seems to be as self-involved and navel-gazing at the end of the book as she was at the beginning. Except before she was miserable, and after pasta in Italy, ashram in India and magic man in Bali, she is happy. (I would have had the pasta in Italy and left it at that). I hope my dear friend Sonia will forgive me for not liking this book. My eyes rolled so many times on every page, I was beginning to feel like that girl from The Exorcist. However, I couldn't put it down. Not because it was suspenseful or I wanted to know what was going to happen, but because it was so fascinatingly appalling, I just had to see it through. The writing seemed to me sloppy and witless and not particularly insightful or well observed (I guess powers of observation must be quite limited when you are gazing at your navel with such focussed concentration). But the book did give me something very useful. It actually gave me a meditation mantra. Readers, do not panic. I have not yet gone out of my spirituality-hating wits. But all of us, and particularly those of us for whom life is a catastrophe waiting to happen, can sometimes benefit from a little peace of mind. I have tried a couple of mantras here and there, mainly to lull myself to sleep, and the one the writer shares in this book is the only one that actually seems to work. So for that, I'm grateful to her.
If you must know, I am also learning Tai Chi. Soon I will be dispensing wisdom from a cave in a mountain.

A night at the opera

This happened a week ago but I didn't get around to tell you about it until now. We had a stopover night in Milan. We arrived by train from Cannes in the afternoon. It was very hot. We had a perfect plate of pasta at one of the cafés across the main square of the Duomo. We walked inside the Vittorio Emmanuele gallery, which is lovely. We had fantastic gelato. Ice cream stores in Italy sell cocktails too, or at least this one did. It was a splendid café. These people take their food seriously, even if it's ice cream or particularly if it is ice cream. Then we walked in the heat. Contrary to our fears, many big stores were open. We had a fabulous iced cappuccino at a little café on a small piazza next to a church. The best iced coffee I've ever had in my entire life. Then we strolled around the beautiful streets that house all the luxury Italian designers. Gorgeous clothes, they were already showing the fall collections. It must have been 98 in the shad and all you could see in the stores were cashmeres and heavy wools and leather. Then went to a beautiful park where dogs were allowed to roam and play like crazy, not enclosed, not on a leash, not so many rules like we have here, and we lied on the grass and took a deep and restful nap. Then we went to La Scala, thinking we were buying tickets for La Traviata, but since we did not know what day it was (blame it on the Gutter Bar) we got tickets to Daniel Barenboim playing Beethoven sonatas instead (the opera was the next day). Which in fact, was what the doctor ordered, calm and quiet and better suited for reflection.
Milanese music lovers still dress up for the theater. We looked like schleppers. Still, it was awesome to sit in one of the boxes that is right on the side of the stage. I can't get over the fact that the floor of our box was made of terracotta. We sat on deeply cushioned stools that were far more comfortable than I expected. The walls are cushioned too, so these cheap seats can be comfy too. Because it is not such a big hall, everybody looks at everybody else. I felt like in one of those movies where ladies fan themselves and look at somebody's mistress with an eyeglass.
When the concert was over we crossed the galleria V.E. and lo and behold, a giant screen next to the Duomo was broadcasting the Italy-Spain soccer game and hundreds, if not thousands, of Milanese fans were screaming their exasperation at the bumbling Italian team, who was busy defending itself from the relentless attack of their foes. The game was decided on penalties. Spain won (luckily for us, as this guaranteed us a good night's sleep). It was so cool to go from La Scala to the soccer at the Duomo on the same night. We got like a concentrated, espresso, visit to Italy.
And I really like Milan. It is a real city, not a beautiful tourist trap.