Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Slow jams and mad cows

Apologies for going something like 72 hours now without posting anything new. Two reasons for that: first, I wanted to keep Oreo-milk baby on top for as long as possible, and second, I've been crazy busy the last three days combing the Interwebs for videos like this one of President Barack Hussein Obama "slow-jammin' the news" (and writing a criminology paper):

The POTUS with the mostest pulls it off. Frankly, when BHO starts to venture into anything like this, my cringing reflex gets ready to send my limbs flying, being as I am straight outta Compton and he's not. I wonder when/if/how Mitt Romney would handle a slow jam of the news on Jimmy Fallon's traveling show. He'd probably keep changing the lyrics, or make them up as he went along.

Anyway, this post is free of any Korea-related content, so I'll just add this gratuitous link to news of another cow in the US, this one from California's dairy belt, testing positive for Mad Cow Disease. One wonders if the candlelight vigilantes back in Seoul will take notice.

If they do, they should pay attention to things like this:
Of the millions of cows slaughtered each year, the government tests only 40,000 for the disease, said Michael Hansen, a scientist at Consumers Union. “So we really don’t know if this is an isolated unusual event, or whether there are more cases in U.S. beef,” he said. “Our monitoring program is just too small.”
Got that? This is due to a Bush43-era policy that the Obama administration has not yet fully reversed: a deliberately spotty check of the meat supply under the theory that a random "polling" (my word, not theirs) of animals in the food chain will detect big problems while remaining a cheap form of inspection.

So what that means is that, if only 1 in 100 animals are checked (that's about what the rate has become since the Bush administration cut inspections 90%), then we can expect that this one case of BSE is not a sole case but one of around a hundred. So where the effin' fudge are the other 99 (or 79 or 119)?!

It should come as no surprise that corporate Korea, which recently reopened the Korean market to American beef, went into squeamish mode:
In South Korea, the country’s No. 2 and No. 3 supermarket chains said they have “temporarily” halted sales of U.S. beef, the Associated Press reported.
Those two would be Home Plus and LotteMart. I guess we'll have to wait and see if E-Mart will do the same. Given that a huge part of the justification for lifting the ban on American beef was that no cases of BSE had been discovered since 2003, this is hardly an unreasonable reaction. (The ban, by the way, was imposed not just on then #3 importer South Korea, but also #1 importer Mexico and #2 importer Japan, as well as dozens of other countries, I think.)

I realize mine is an unpopular opinion in the K-blogosphere, but I think that the anti-beef protesters were on to something with their qualms about American beef (even if the movement was hijacked by the chinboistas and started to get hysterical). From pink slime to unnatural feed to antibiotics to tainted meat to Mad Cow to Lord knows what else, American beef just really carries a lot more risk than most people realize. We factory-farm our beef and we do wholly unnatural things to it, like turning cattle into cannibals, that causes Mad Cow Disease outbreaks in the first place:
The European BSE epidemic is believed to have started when cattle ate feed containing brain and nerve tissues from animals with BSE. Feed supplemented with meat and bones from specific animals is now banned.

The chance of human infection is further lessened by a ban on cattle brain and spinal cord as food for humans and the prohibition of butchering practices that might inadvertently contaminate beef with nerve tissue.

How the California cow got the disease remains unknown. Government officials expressed confidence that contaminated food was not the source, saying the animal had atypical L-type BSE, a rare variant not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.

However, a BSE expert said that consumption of infected material is the only known way that cattle get the disease under natural conditons.
Seriously, why would anyone think that feeding cow to cows is a good idea? And look at how much we don't know, like what causes these other types of BSE. I'm afraid we might be in for a shock somewhere down the road thanks to some of these practices.

Over at ROK Drop (I'm all about cross-pollination of linkages), there is a discussion brewing on this very same thing. Rather than turning my own comments #5 and #8 into a whole new post, I thought I'd just direct you there.



  1. How long after you leave Compton are you still allowed to say that you're "straight outta Compton"? I'm thinking by now you should have graduated to "been outta Compton for a while."

    1. You can take the young man out of Compton, but you can't take Compton out of the young man. (Please note that I am avoiding saying boy in this context, even though I was in elementary school when we moved to Orange County.)

      Seriously, so many of my views in life were shaped by experiencing the sharp contrast between living in Compton and living in OC.


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