Mmmmm! Liquefied Fat and Antibiotics for Dinner!

From the valuable Delancey Place, which sends out a worthwhile excerpt to read each day, more on something most of us don’t want to know about at all: The perils of factory farming:

In nature, cows graze and eat prairie grass. In the beef industry, cows are taken to CAFOs – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – where they live in small lots and are fed corn. It is this beef that ends up on our dinner tables:

“So then why aren’t steers fed grass? Speed, in a word, or in the industry’s preferred term, ‘efficiency.’ Cows raised on grass simply take longer to reach slaughter weight than cows raised on a richer diet, and for half a century now the industry has devoted itself to shortening a beef animal’s allotted span on earth.

‘In my grandfather’s time, cows were four or five years old at slaughter’ [a CAFO operator] explained. ‘In the fifties when my father was ranching, it was two or three years old. Now we get there at fourteen to sixteen months.’ Fast food indeed. What gets a steer from 80 to 1,100 pounds in fourteen months is tremendous quantities of corn, protein and fat supplements, and an arsenal of new drugs. …

“[At the CAFO’s] thundering hub, three meals a day for thirty-seven thousand animals are designed and mixed by computer. A million pounds of feed pass through the mill each day. Every hour of every day, a tractor trailer pulls up to the loading dock to deliver another fifty tons of corn. … [to which are added] thousands of gallons of liquefied fat and protein supplements, vats of liquid vitamins and synthetic estrogen and … fifty-pound sacks of antibiotics – Rumensin and Tylosin. Along with alfalfa, hay and silage (for roughage), all these ingredients will be automatically blended and then piped into the parade of dump trucks that three times a day fan out from here to keep the [CAFO’s] eight and a half miles of trough filled. …

“We’ve come to think of ‘corn-fed’ as some kind of old-fashioned virtue, which it may well be when you’re referring to Midwestern children, but feeding large quantities of corn to cows for the greater part of their lives is a practice neither particularly old nor virtuous. …

“Cattle rarely live on feedlot diets for more than 150 days, which might be about as much as their systems can tolerate. ‘I don’t know how long you could feed them this ration before you’d see problems,’ [Veterinarian] Dr. Mel Metzin said; another vet told me the diet would eventually ‘blow out their livers’ and kill them. Over time, the acids eat away at the rumen wall, allowing bacteria to enter the animal’s bloodstream. These microbes wind up in the liver where they form abscesses and impair the liver’s function. Between 15 percent and 30 percent of feedlot cows are found at slaughter to have abscessed livers. … What keeps a feedlot animal healthy – or healthy enough – are antibiotics.”

Author: Michael Pollan
Title: The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Publisher: Penguin
Date: Copyright 2006 by Michael Pollan
Pages: 71-78

Teddy Roosevelt–and Oscar Wilde?

If you’d like to read  at least one intriguing thing every day, subscribe now to Delancey Place,  a free service that sends you one intriguing [and relatively brief ] thing each day–usually an excerpt from a book you don’t have time to read, but at least you get a taste. Here’s the website. No strings attached.

Today’s excerpt from Delancey Place reminds us that political  image-making and remaking long preceded today’s sound-bitten politicians. And it recalls the words of a character in a Western movie I bet you can’t name: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” That’s what they did for Teddy Roosevelt. (Answer at bottom of page.)

 

In  today’s excerpt – Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, a New Yorker born to extraordinary wealth, was the first master of the political imagery made possible by the new mediums of photography and mass produced books. He used this skill adroitly in his rise to be America’s 26th president:

“Teddy was an oddity in nineteenth-century Albany. Politics at that time was a game played by beer- and whiskey-drinking men, not aristocrats. To New York’s political press and players, Teddy was a shrimp-size dandy, dressed in tight-fitting, tailor-made suits, a rich daddy’s boy who read books and collected butterflies. Teddy made a bad first impression when he appeared on the assembly floor dressed in a purple satin suit, speaking in a high-pitched, Harvard-tinged voice. The other assemblymen took one look at the rich kid and laughed.

“In 1880s Albany, it would have been acceptable to be wanting in areas of intelligence or legislative ability. But being seen as effeminate was a death sentence for an aspiring politician. This was, after all, forty years before American women were even allowed to vote. Roosevelt’s assembly colleagues hung the demeaning nickname ‘Oscar Wilde’ on him, a mocking reference to the disgraced British homosexual. One newspaper went further, speculating whether Theodore was ‘given to sucking the knob of an ivory cane.’

“During the years 1884 to 1901 – from the time young Teddy thought of how to reform his effeminate image to when he became a manly man president – William Cody’s extravaganza Buffalo Bill’s Wild West was the leading cultural sensation in the United States.. … Recognizing that a frontier adventure of his own could remedy his wimpish reputation, Roosevelt galloped west, following Buffalo Bill’s tracks.

Thus began one of America’s great political makeovers. After returning to Manhattan in 1884, Teddy boasted to the New York Tribune: ‘It would electrify some of my friends who have accused me of presenting the kid-glove element in politics if they could see me galloping over the plains, day in and day out, clad in a buck-skin shirt and leather chaparajos, with a big sombrero on my head.’ Wrote Roosevelt, ‘For a number of years I spent most of my time on the frontier, and lived and worked like any other frontiersman. … We guarded our herds of branded cattle and shaggy horses, hunted bear, bison, elk, and deer, established civil government, and put down evil-doers, white and red … exactly as did the pioneers.’ …

“In fact, Roosevelt had commuted west aboard deluxe Pullman cars, staying for short periods of time to check on his investments and gather material for his books. Ranchman Teddy was to Theodore Roosevelt what Buffalo Bill was to William Cody: a spectacular fiction concocted with an audience in mind.
[In 1885], Teddy published Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. Three years later, he published Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail. Both books were action packed, beautifully illustrated adventure tales about the ‘real’ West. …

“Until his death, Teddy would repeat these mythical accounts of his Western adventures, passing them along as fact. But despite his claims to the contrary, Roosevelt spent the majority of his ‘Western years’ in Manhattan. Notes John Milton Cooper Jr. in The Warrior and the Priest, ‘His commitment to western ways was neither permanent nor deep. Between the summers of 1884 and 1886 he spent a total of fifteen months on his ranch. He did not stay for an entire winter in either year; his longest stretch there came between March and July 1886. The rest of the time he shuttled back and forth to the East Coast.’…

“Teddy’s ranches went bust within two years and he finally abandoned the West. By the end of 1886, half his inheritance was gone. Teddy knew his ranching days were over. John Milton Cooper Jr. writes: ‘In his subsequent career on the national scene, no aspect of Roosevelt’s life except his war service made him more of a popular figure than his western sojourn. Nothing
did more to make him appear a man of the people. He himself liked to recount how ranching had augmented politics in ridding him of all snobbish inclinations. Actually, his experience was more complicated. In going west, Roosevelt was following a well-beaten track among the upper crust on both sides of the Atlantic. One of his Dakota neighbors was a French marquis, while two others maintained dude ranches for scions of the best British and American families.’

” … In 1886 – one year into the creation of the Ranchman myth – Roosevelt ran for mayor of New York. Newspapers hailed the ‘blizzard-seasoned constitution’ of the ‘Cowboy of the Dakotas.’ “

Author: James Bradley
Title: The Imperial Cruise
Publisher: Back Bay

Quiz Answer: John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence.

Why the Chinese Rule–or Will, Soon

OK, I guess all of us  will be working for the Chinese one day, as the smug Chinese professor says in the widely circulated video. (Unless it could be said we already are, given their massive holdings of U. S. debt.)

By now, many have heard of a new book called Battle Song of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. It’s the story of a Chinese-American supermom who raised two frighteningly accomplished, brilliant kids who will probably sit on the Supreme Court one day if they are not busy inventing cures for death. And she did it her way, or the Chinese way, as you can read in a startling excerpt from the book. These are kids who, she reminds us, were never allowed to:

• attend a sleepover

• have a playdate

• be in a school play

• complain about not being in a school play

• watch TV or play computer games

• choose their own extracurricular activities

• get any grade less than an A

• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

Key quotes:

If a Chinese child gets a B—which would never happen—there would first be a screaming, hair-tearing explosion. The devastated Chinese mother would then get dozens, maybe hundreds of practice tests and work through them with her child for as long as it takes to get the grade up to an A.

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

The full excerpt is here. Brace yourselves, American slackers.

Many have wondered whether in fact Asians might be inherently brighter than other, more frivolous ethnic groups, but if you look at the way this woman raised her kids (while she was not teaching law at Yale), there’s really no need to invoke biological superiority as an answer.

These folks get it done because, to quote the old movie, failure–meaning an A-minus–is not an option.  And neither is a lazy weekend, or the finale of “American Idol,”  or wandering through the mall.

 

More Ironies from Arizona Shootings

“U. S. District Judge John M. Roll,  who was killed in the rampage, was one of the first federal judges in 1994 to strike down part of the Brady gun-control law, saying it was unconstitutional for the federal government to require states to conduct background checks. Ultimately, the law was upheld and background checks are required today.”

The Washington Post, January 10

Sad Irony of Giffords Shooting

“I have a Glock 9 mm., and I’m a pretty good shot.”

–Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in an interview with the New York Times last spring, after her office was vandalized following her vote for the Obama health care bill.

No word on whether the Congresswoman carried the 15-round model, the 10-round, or another. Matte finish, or black? Hmm.

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