Scorpion Cabbage anyone?

My issues with GMO Foods and Labeling

The wife and I’ve been discussing GMO foods a lot lately, what with films like Food Inc, Forks over Knives and her blog.

There’s no question that there’s some level of GMO that’s required in the world to avoid a Malthusian catastrophe, the issue is the level, manner, and intensity of it all.

Those that are pro-GMO often give the old saw that corn is genetically modified. And this is true to an extent but at its most basic, that’s just simple hybridization: the taking of interrelated species and introducing them to each other to create a hybrid entity that might actually occur in nature.

In corn’s case, it was the interbreeding different grasses to produce corn. That’s fine by me and probably fine by most people because it’s: Grass+Grass=Corn.

Grass A: Wanna get it on?
Grass B: Um, ok.

But that’s not the stuff freaking people out because in the aforementioned, the internal logic of the plant’s DNA isn’t affected. Mother Nature permits it without any lab necessary.

Modification within an genus I can deal with –  the genes of a white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) with the genes of a deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) – no problem.

White-footed Mouse: Wanna get it on?
Deer Mouse: I’ve never been with a White-Footed Mouse before.
White-footed Mouse: Really? We’re lovely.

These are related in some baseline genetic level.

However, genetic modification above that level – above the Genus level – that I have an issue.

When you take the genes of a scorpion and insert that into the genes of a cabbage so that it’s poisonous to insects but harmless to people, that makes me uncomfortable.

Scorpion: Wanna get it on?
Cabbage: Say what now?

How uncomfortable I am, not really sure. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

Mainly cause we don’t know the future ramifications of this stuff; no one’s regularly eating scorpion DNA but now we potentially are. Don’t really have any solutions but at the most basic, we should differentiate between the levels of GMO – there’s a huge gulf of difference between hybridization and gene splicing. That’s why I’m against GMO food labeling as it stands now but totally for it if this is made clear.

Life is weird and getting weirder.

Got less than three hours sleep last night. Luckily, my insomnia is more an exception than a norm these days.

Should mention that I saw my doc yesterday. He said that my recovery is roughly twice beyond where I should be; in other words, I look as if I’d been out of surgery for 10 weeks insteada five weeks.

Cool.

Location: heading to Harlem
Mood: busy
Music: Wheat meat, dairy free tea told so happy clappy high on life
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Non-intersecting

Our Hyperbolic and Non-Intersecting Lives

Him: How’s wok?
Me: The workload’s killing me; my phone won’t stop ringing.
Him: Quit complaining. It’s better than the alternative.

This Thanksgiving was a little different for me that my usual, mainly because of my work schedule and injury.

The injury meant that I wasn’t in the right headspace to see my friends like Johnny and the Family Man, plus the Professor wasn’t in town.

But I did manage to see my family and my buddy WM who came on Thanksgiving with a homemade baked carrot cake. Hung out with him and the fam for a while before heading back to my pad that night.

Had to go because of my work schedule. Was actually all over Queens and Brooklyn the morning of Thanksgiving and then on an industrial farm the day after Thanksgiving and then off to the Jerz to see the wife’s fam.

Still, I can’t really complain; have to catch up on the three weeks I couldn’t work and also make up for the dismal years and theft.

As I was driving along and alone, thought about algebra, coordinate geometry, and the idea of non-intersecting lines. (it’s what I do). Essentially, if you have two lines which never intersect, they can get ridiculously close but never actually touch – and this goes on into infinity.

Though about that in relation to my leg. Feel much better now but the injury plus my age makes me think that, while I’ll get close to how it use to be, I’ll never get there.

It’s slightly sad, but more just a fact of life and something that I suppose I’ll accept one day.

On another point, it’s the opposite of my concept of venn diagrams, where people intersect in your life and some stay and some leave.

But now there are also those that leave and kinda stay – like via Facebook, blogs, or random email – but you never intersect with again.

I see them get older, get married, have families, but not really. Our lives are simply hyperbolically non-intersecting.

It’s slightly sad, but more just a fact of life and something that I suppose I’ve accepted.

Location: getting ready to have some (more) leftovers
Mood: busy
Music: Went to the Apollo, you should’ve seen ’em go go go
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Thanksgiving 2012

Thanks for letting me make cameos in your life

Wrote something long and drawn out but instead, as I do most years, I’m just gonna point you to an entry I wrote in 2008.

Wow, it’s Thanksgiving 2012. We’ve been together six years, my interwebs friends.

Thanks for letting me make a cameo in your life.

Bum leg notwithstanding, I’m so grateful for everything I have – my tiny pad, my family and friends, my awesome wife, and my stash of frozen chili and rum.

Life is good.

For those of you not in the US, have some turkey tomorrow.

As for you in the US, Happy Turkey Day!

Location: getting ready to see the fam
Mood: caffeinated
Music: Hello sunshine how are things going?
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Travelogue (Kinda) – Downtown NYC

We love weddings and staycations; even better together

A buddy of mine that’s made a number of appearances in this blog over the years under another name got married this past weekend downtown.

The wife and I decided to book a hotel downtown a while ago so that we could have a staycation. But we were worried after the storm hit that the Hilton Doubletree downtown might be damaged so we called and they said everything was fine.

We found out later that this was only partly true.

Getting around downtown with a cane and a buncha bags wasn’t easy, and there was definitely a strong odor of gas/anti-freeze/oil in the air. Everywhere we went, there were ConEd workers and pumps chugging along. Piles and piles of rubbish everywhere.

But we made it to our hotel in one piece.

The thing that was partly true about the hotel was that only two of the three elevators were working. We didn’t think that was going to be a big deal but it ended up meaning long waits for everything.

Me with a cane meant that we couldn’t take the stair so it was a whole lotta hurry up and wait.

We decided to just stay in the hotel for dinner and I ordered myself fried chicken with waffles before crashing.

The next morning, we ordered some breakfast and then went out for a walk. Downtown is really completely different from rest of the city in that it’s streets are a lot like Boston or Philly because of this massive fire in 1776.

We couldn’t believe how much the water rose during the hurricane.

But it was a sunny, if not cold, day so the city looked like it was getting back to normal.

We then went over to Battery Gardens where we sat for a Jewish ceremony complete with my Asian buddy smashing glass at the end and getting hoisted up on a chair.

Saw a number of old friends that I’d not seen in a while.

Also, isn’t it funny when you find out that you have a friend in common with people that you didn’t know knew the same people? That seems to happen more and more these days.

The guy with the shaved head below insisted on getting me food while I sat and nursed my leg – what a mensch! Between him and my wife, I pretty much just sat back and received food and drink. That’s the way to live, my friends.

I’m leaning on a cane below; I wanted one with a silver handle and a fur hat for the festive occasion but the wife put a stop to that idea.

She ruins all my great ideas.

The next day, took almost half-an-hour for the elevator to arrive but we made it home soon enough. Spent the rest of the day nursing my leg; the trip home wiped me out.

Life is slowly getting back to normal for us as well. As it were.

Me: Morning, honey. Oh shoot, I’ve got to call that chicken farmer this morning.
Her: Morning. Wait, what?

Location: planning a trip to an industrial farm
Mood: better
Music: But someone picked you from the bunch
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Flip-flopping is a marketing term

Making informed decisions based upon new information is not a bad thing

While I’m glad that Obama won the election, I’m tired to hearing that Romney was/is a flip-flopper. I disliked his disengenous changing of positions, but the term flip-flopping is a nonsense marketing word like pink slime to push an agenda. It’s the difference between insect-vomit and honey.

George W. Bush refused to change his stance on anything, despite all evidence to the contrary. This is a summarily bad thing.

Thought of this because my friend Alexandra recently sent me this article and it, in turn, made me think of Fujifilm and Kodak.

For those of you too young to know, the two were bitter, bitter rivals in the photo film market. When the world went digital, Fuji saw the writing on the wall and – despite film still being very popular at that time – took a hit early to develop new technologies.

Kodak did not, instead staying the course despite all evidence to the contrary, trying to squeeze every penny from their dying business model.

As of yesterday, Kodak is trying to reinvent itself by selling its only asset, its patent portfolio.

Fuji, meanwhile, changed course and came up with products like the astoundingly advanced Fuji F1, which is potentially a game-changing, stylish camera.

Let me mention that I met Alexandra at my wrasslin class.

A decade ago, I took Judo with this instructor that thought very little of the now popular jiujitsu. Instead, he taught us very traditional judo.

My current jiujitsu coach is the exact opposite, not only teaching us very modern moves, but inventing some of his own, such as the Rat Guard, which I use and love.

He and I talk about that old Judo instructor from time to time.

The funny thing is: they’re both the same person.

He saw the world was changing and changed with it. One of his students is one of the top-ranked fighters in the city, precisely because he saw the direction of the world.

Change is inevitable. The ones that survive and flourish are the ones that change.

Me: You know that thing that I do that annoys you?
Her: You’re going to have to be a lot more specific than that.

The wife is blogging a lot more, which – because it’s a food blog – involves me stuffing my face a lot more as well. She just made a vat of Sage and Brown Butter popcorn so I’ve been eating that non-stop.

Her blog is doing better than mine. I cannot have this.

Must sabotage while still getting the benefit of food.

———-

The article Alexendra sent me, BTW, is about traditional book publishing. I think it’s dying because the world is changing how it consumes books.

Speaking of consuming books…

The Men Made of Stone - Logan Lo
Location: getting ready for meetings, lots of them
Mood: sore
Music: makes it so hard to stay But nothing lasts forever
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Veterans Day 2012

Destined to repeat history

Prior to 1862, most guns were single-firing or revolver-type guns that had a relatively slow rate of fire. But in 1862, a doctor named Gatling created the Gatling Gun, which could fire at an unheard of rate of 200 rounds per minute.

Gatling said that:

It occurred to me that if I could invent a machine – a gun – which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished.

His purpose was to make warfare so terrifying, so costly, that no sane country would go to war again.

Similarly, General Sherman’s widely considered to be the first modern general because of his policy of total war. He wanted to destroy “much of the South’s physical and psychological capacity to wage war.”

To this day, Sherman’s still considered one of history’s villains in the south.

I always thought of Sherman as the human equivalent of Gatling’s gun. He thought that he would perform actions so horrifying that the war would end and no one would ever want war again.

He wasn’t the first nor the last.

In the 50s, the idea was that a nuclear bomb would be so terrifying as to prevent war from ever happening again.

That’s where Gatling, Sherman, and all the others were wrong.

We consistently underestimate mankind’s ability to totally _______ each other over.

This entry is because my friend and other wrasslin instructor, Jason, said that he’s sad to see that WWII veterans are dying off. He’s worried that people will forget the lessons of war.

With every bit of respect to Jason – a war veteran – the bigger issue is that people never learn the lessons of war to begin with.

Sherman himself said it best: “I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

It was true when he said it and true now, as are his characterizations of those that seem to want it so easily.

In any case, this blog’ll return to more whining about my bum leg later on but for now, the deepest gratitude to people like Jason, Matt, Dennis, Danny and all the others.

Thanks.

Location: getting ready for work with popcorn popping nearby
Mood: grateful
Music: The old man said to me Said don’t always take life so seriously
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Render unto Caesar

The Republican Party at a Crossroads

One of the three passages from the Bible that I quote most often is Matthew 22:21, which goes: Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.

Jesus said this after being asked by his enemies if the Jews should pay taxes:

  • If he answered Yes, they could brand him a sellout to the Roman occupation.
  • If he answered No, they could report him to the Romans as a subversive.

He sidestepped the question entirely by saying the above.

Which brings me to last night’s vote. In all of these years of posting, I don’t think I’ve ever told you what political party I adhere to.

Growing up in the Reagan years, I’ve traditionally been a Republican and then, more recently, an Independent.

Like the Republicans, I want smaller government, less wasteful spending, and tighter reins on government programs.

But their social bent makes it difficult to see myself aligning with them in the near future, or ever again for that matter: The jaw-droppingly misplaced views on women’s rights, the virulent anti-immigration bent, and (most annoying to me as a practicing Christian that has actually read the Bible) the pseudo-Christianity.

My friends think I’ve moved left. I’ve not.

With the exception of certain items, my views have been fairly consistent through the years. It’s the political landscape that’s moved right. Even Obama, with the healthcare reform – a traditionally Republican ideal spearheaded by Nixon – his aggressive hunt for Bin Laden, and his extensive use of drones for strikes, is far more right than I would have expected.

Unfortunately, the right has moved ever more right as well, particularly socially. To the point that my vote is not wanted, even though it is needed. The same goes for the Hispanic and female vote, which were deciding factors in this last election.

So now the party has a choice: Continue to alienate the fiscally conservative but socially moderate voters like myself or tack back to the middle where compromise is a virtue not a vice.

Romney won more white male votes than any candidate ever – 6 out of 10 white males voted for him. And yet that was not enough.

Moreover, it will never again be enough.

So back to the Bible quote.

Papers are noting that the party is at a crossroads: continue to cling to this ridiculously intolerant RHINO Tea-Party view and become completely irrelevant OR see the world as it is.

My suggestion is to crack open the Bible and give that quote a re-read: Give unto Caesar (the government) what the government requires for you to survive and unto your own beliefs what you need to make it through your day.

The two are separate and should always remain separate. If God is god, he is god without needing a seat on Pennsylvania Avenue. If He’s not, the problem’s moot.

And here’s the main thing: Even the big guy Himself said that.

Explicitly.

Finally, when my breakup happened years ago, the only thing I knew clearly in my haze of insomnia and sadness was this: I do not want someone that does not want me.

Every time I thought of calling or writing her, that sentence stopped me. And now I’m happier for it we’re both happier for it.

Put another way, you don’t want me? Fine. I’m going to take my ball and go home.

God bless and protect the man and the office. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi…

 

Location: going to the office for the first time in a while
Mood: conflicted
Music: Why am I the one always packing all my stuff?
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Doors close, lights change, and a bell goes off

Normal is still not quite normal

Heartgirl went to work today, her first day back since the hurricane hit.

We’ve been giving to the Red Cross to assuage our survivor’s guilt. If you’d like to do the same, it’s as easy as texting “REDCROSS” to 90999 and you’ve paid back the aether just a little bit.

Here’s a joke to lighten the mood:

A father, mother and son from the country goes to the city for the first time. They walk into a department store and are astounded by the amount and variety all the stuff. They marvel at the escalator and all the modern items they see. The mother goes off to look at clothes while the father and son continue staring at things. Presently, they come across an elevator and they watch an old woman walk into it. The doors close, lights change, and a few minutes later, a bell goes off and a beautiful young woman walks out. The father continues to stare ahead but says to his son: “Quick, get your mother.”

It’s not the best joke but it’s one of the few I know.

In any case, been slowly trying to get myself back to normal after the ACL surgery. Weaned myself off the painkillers I’ve been taking for my leg and have been trying to make it to make it to physical therapy as much as possible.

The object in the left in the picture below is actually not some disgusting sausage, it is, however, my disgusting sausage-like leg. The swelling, after two weeks, has gone down a lot but it’s not gone yet.

Knobby knees after ACL surgery

Moreover, if it looks like there’s no muscle there, you’re right. After an hour of hard working out once a day, my left leg still feels like mush. It’s amazing how quickly muscle atrophies without use.

So I’ve been heading to this physical therapist near my house. It’s close but to get there you wait forever for this tiny elevator to bring you to the fourth floor. At my last session:

Physical Therapist: Let’s see your bend on your right leg. (measures) 145 degrees, that’s impressive.
Me: Oh, I didn’t know you were measuring it. I’m not actually trying to bend it. (bending good leg)
Her: 155 degrees. Wow. (measures left leg) 135 degrees. So you’ve got a little work to do.
Me: What are the chances of me getting 155 on the left leg?

Her answer was that they have to make the new ACL tighter so that 155 is possible but potentially improbable.

Here’s the thing:

I’m not very strong. I’m not that accurate. I’m very clumsy. I don’t have much reach. I don’t have much stamina.

What I do have is speed. I’m very fast. I was very fast. Because I was flexible.

That was my one thing when it came to fencing, kickboxing, wrestling, etc.

Her: Are you ok? Are you in pain?
Me: (shaking head) Oh yeah. I just … ah …
Her: I’m sorry. Like I said, it’s possible still.

It’s silly, I know. I’m almost 40. I couldn’t expect to be flexible forever. And people all across the city have lost everything while I’ve just lost a little flexibility so I absolutely count myself amongst the very lucky.

So I’ll make this pity party brief (and then text more money to the Red Cross) by saying that it’s just that I’ve never really felt old. I joke about it a lot. But I’ve always felt young. And suddenly I’m very aware that I’m not.

Thought of that joke as I took the elevator down.

And the doors close, lights change, and a few minutes later, a bell goes off and an old man hobbles out.

Location: waiting for a friend
Mood: hard to describe
Music: I’m much too fast to take that test
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