Mad Cow inaction, Survivor, CD’s

The day/days since the last survivor have gone horribly bad. The best player got voted out tonight (which is likely open to discussion on a ton of sites.) I will say, instead, that ‘my guy’ got voted right out of there. Strongest player in the game, to be sure, most loyal guy, absolutely, just the next guy in the pecking order of the women. The absolution of what began all of those days ago.

I normally follow one or more of them through the whole endeavor, yet, when they voted out ‘Sarge’ tonight, I lost a lot of interest. Voting out the stronger players is just self-preservation, voting out the only guy who has helped/can help your game is just plain silly.

• This story, with a rather innocuous headline, Trade to Dominate Bush’s Farm Agenda , has me somewhere between angry and dumbfounded. The story is about the import/export of agricultural products, embargoes and other such dribble. One of the key things contained within it, though, is Mad Cow Disease.

I am not sure why this problem didn’t surface at all during the presidential elections, it certainly should have. I, as you likely know, am a butcher, and probably a bit more sensitive to the beef market than most people. I think it is pretty much common knowledge that there are over 20 countries that have banned the import of U.S. beef. It should be common knowledge that not only has the USDA not done anything to try to remedy the problem, but has in fact ordered at least one company to stop testing their own cattle for the disease. How this can possibly get us back into the international beef industry really escapes me. The only two possible reasons that I can see for this action is that either the USDA is afraid that really poor health standards over the last couple of decades have left a lot of the U.S. cattle with the disease, and they don’t want to make matters worse. The other option is that the USDA simply doesn’t give a fuck.

Now a fact that I didn’t know prior to reading the article is that the US imported more agricultural products last year than they exported. Not only that, the projected reports for 2004 are going to show that the defecit of export to import is likely to be in the billions. Knowing that fact, I am inclined to believe that the USDA is terrified to actually test the current cattle supply in the U.S.; knowing that sloppy standards have likely resulted in far more contamination than they let on to. The only reason that I assume that is that there is simply no way any agency would voluntarily let their product be banned, unless they had reason to believe that the truth is far worse than speculated.

Following on that same logic, and with the popularity of the Atkins Diet, I really believe that the standards of raising cattle in the U.S. have been altered enough to get rid of the disease in new cattle. However, the possibly infected supply of cattle must be exhausted before they dare to start testing them properly. In this scenario, this means that the USDA is knowingly feeding infected beef to the American people. In another couple of years they will start to test the cattle properly. Anyone who happens to die along the way will likely be swept under the rug so as not to cause another rush of fear in other countries. I know it sounds like a really bad conspiracy theory, but what other reason would there be for not allowing companies to test their own cattle, with their own money?

• Now for a random musing about the cost of cd’s.

This is a subject that I have been into a bunch of times before. While I am not going to try to find the pages where I went into it, I will just give you the basic idea of my previous arguments in a quick sentence or two. In 2002, I was able to buy 100 blank cd’s, jewel cases, labels and a program to print out the inserts for each cd. Net cost for each cd? Just under fifty cents, not counting the ink, which might have bumped it up to fifty-two cents. Now if that is how much I can do it for by myself, only buying 100 of everything, how much could it cost a company that buys their supplies by the millions? The second point was that you can buy a video game for the pc that has 5 discs in it, all with artwork on them, for about ten bucks once they are a couple of years old, note that the ten dollar price also has to pay the people who create/program the game, cover artists, etc. Also, it costs just as much to buy the latest music cd as it does to buy the latest hollywood blockbuster on dvd.

Today I found something, for the millionth time, that finally slapped me in the face about this whole issue. When is the last time that you were going through your mail to find that an old ‘LP’ fell out of it? How about an ‘8-track’? What about a ‘cassette tape’? That never happened, did it? The cd, however, is everywhere. It was falling out of one of the little pamphlets that I got in the mail today, there was a huge stand of them in the corner of the post office, even though the post office was closed, they were not stolen/missing/vandalized, no just sitting there. Of course these are all AOL cd’s so I guess it would be a bit tough to do anything with them, unless, of course, you were thirteen and really liked to watch what happens when you put one into the microwave (which is not all that spectacular, don’t try it). Is it really cheaper to send out cd’s (for AOL) than to pay for newspaper advertising, or just more effective?

The answers are all lost somewhere in time…Or at least in AOL Time/Warner…

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