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Monday, June 30, 2008

PETA vs The Lobster Zone

Strangely enough, this has nothing to do with my previous article about PETA and Lobsters. A new "monster" has appeared before PETA and has once again yielded outrage from the organization. What demonic insult to animalkind is PETA rallying against this time?

Imagine putting money in a carnival claw game, except instead of a chance to win a fuzzy stuffed animal, it was a chance to win a delicious live lobster that would be cooked up for you if you won.

Congratulations, you're now thinking of "The Lobster Zone" - a game that actually exists in many fisheries and sports bars and restaurants and the machines are actually manufactured by a domestic company.

PETA is obviously not pleased. And yet, I think they should at least consider it better than the alternative.

"JD's Lobster Zone machine turns torture and death into a game, pure and simple," says PETA vice president Tracy Reiman. "Incarcerating lobsters in filthy tanks inside a boisterous club, making an abusive game out of their capture, and finally boiling them to death is every bit as reprehensible as tormenting cats, dogs, or any other animal."

PETA didn't even know that this one sports bar's machine was actually one of many machines that have been produced by The Lobster Zone and are available in more than 300 locations nationwide.

First off, I'd like to point out that dogs and cats aren't currently being bred/caught for eating here in the USA, despite my arguments that they might as well be. You can't compare lobsters with cats and dogs because we aren't eating cats and dogs. Also, cats and dogs have brains capable of feeling pain, and science can't even prove or disprove the same thing about lobsters.

Secondly, I have absolutely no clue why PETA is against this. Okay, I have SOME clue (mostly their gratuitous usage of the word "torture"). But when you think about it, isn't this game literally giving the lobsters a second chance?? I mean, they already had one shot at not being boiled alive - and they screwed it up by walking right into a lobster trap. At this point, we'd normally say "game over" and they get put into a tank, and patrons of the restaurant could point at one and say "feed me THAT one" and out it goes into the boiling water and served with a garlic butter sauce.

Now, we've given lobsters a second chance. A patron can point a claw at the lobster and say "feed me THAT one", but unless they're lucky or skilled, the lobster can get away! True, there's no REAL escape since they're trapped in a tank, but isn't giving them a chance to NOT be killed and eaten a step in the right direction? If this expanded, and every time you wanted a hamburger from McDonald's, you had to slip some coin in a machine and try and grab your cow with a backhoe-type claw contraption, wouldn't that mean less cow death?

I don't understand why PETA is so adamantly against this machine - their own logic should at least count this as progress in their favor.

The machine itself was developed with the help of a marine biologist and have been around for more than a decade. A competitor lobster-game-machine company (because The Lobster Zone doesn't hold a monopoly) even boasts that its machines can net $10,000 a year to a company. Of course, the machines themselves cost $15,950 - and I'm guessing it doesn't come with lobsters - but that's still an eventual profit.

The Lobster Zone's owner, Ernie Pappas, said that his games don't generate many complaints. "If a restaurant does 8,000 (customers) a week, we might get one person every other week who complains."

PETA's website, LobsterLib 'surprisingly' argues that since there's no humane way to kill lobsters (even though it's not scientifically agreed upon that they even feel pain) - they shouldn't be eaten. Oh, and also we should all be vegetarians as well. Too bad nobody told that to the lobsters; a lobster's favorite food is lobster.

The best part of this story is that despite PETA's letter and campaigning, the sports bar's owner still has his game up and running and we will probably keep it.

"I just hate like hell for somebody to tell me how to run my business," he said.

Denver restaurant consultant and vegetarian John Imbergamo said he doubts any controversy that PETA generates will turn people away from J.D.'s Bait Shop.

"It's not exactly a place that's sprout- and tofu-friendly," he said.

If anything, the kind of people who would be curious about this game might hear the publicity and go there, Imbergamo said.

Do you hear that, PETA? Humans are not yours to push around, and when you start spewing your propaganda and telling business owners what they should do, you make more enemies than friends and they will push even harder just to spite you.

You could have at least tried to claim a small victory in that lobsters could defend themselves from being boiled alive and eaten by escaping the crane - but instead you chose to stumble over your own two feet. Not only do you look like idiots (bigger ones than you were before this incident), you're rooted the owner further into disobeying your orders and probably given him and his bar and the game itself more publicity.

And after all, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

Frankly, there's an even better argument against PETA's chastizing of these games. True, if a bar patron played and won, they could eat the lobster. But I'm willing to bet that if a PETA member played and won, they'd let the PETA member take the lobster with them and the lobster could be saved! PETA - they just gave you a chance to save the lobsters, on TOP of a chance for the lobsters to save themselves! Go grab your quarters and get to rescuin'!

(The Denver Post article)

(PETA's tirade and letter to the bar owner)

Read more!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Horrible Games

Summer is (sadly) finally here, resulting in widespread usage of smaller sleeves, shorter pants, and a general increase in skin-flesh being brought to the general public's attention. As a result, I've actually wound up listening to my iPod less than usual in order to maintain the voice-in-my-head narration at full uninterrupted volume.

What is the narration apparently going on inside my head?

Horrible games.

For example, at times, the voice in my head is the narration of a type of game show called "The Pregnancy Game". Combining the first paragraph of this sentence with the fact that I am male - that should already worry you about the horrible-ness factor of this game.

Basically, it's making a guess about every bulging female stomach (and living in Chicago, there's more than enough to keep this game going at all times) and guessing which category the bulges fit into:

- Doesn't look pregnant and probably isn't (this is the easiest, due to the jiggliness of smaller guts that scream "cellulose" and not "fetus")

- Looks pregnant but probably isn't (difficult category, requires a lot of judgement of stomach size related to other body parts and focusing on nuances and gestures to suggest that this mound of jutting flesh is not a temporary setback for the woman)

- Looks pregnant and probably is (slightly easier than the last one, gestures give it away and extreme body-part size differences are key elements to this category)

- Doesn't look pregnant but probably is (virtually impossible to identify, unless I had x-ray vision - in which case this category would become "doesn't look pregnant but certainly was and sorry about what my x-ray vision did")

The rules to the game are very simple. Upon sight of a potential victim, you have 5 seconds to make a guess of which category she falls in. Then you have to keep track of her for at least 30 more seconds. If at any time, you notice things that make you second-guess your category choice for even a second, no points for the round. If your guess seems true, score one point.

You lose all your points if you get confronted by any victim (or any male who is with her).

My personal high score is like 15 during one lunch break.

Try to beat it - if you dare.

Just try not to get arrested . . . or beaten up. Read more!

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin Has Died

There are no words to describe this grief, even though he's constantly suggested at least seven of them...


ET breaks the news that comedian George Carlin has died from heart failure. The man who made famous the "seven words you can never say on television" passed away at 5:55 p.m. Sunday at Saint John's Hospital in Santa Monica, his longtime publicist said. He was 71.

Carlin, who has had several heart attacks and a history of cardiac issues, went into the hospital this afternoon after complaining of heart problems.

Carlin has more than 20 comedy albums, 14 HBO specials, numerous TV and movie roles, and three best-selling books to his credit. Last year, he celebrated his 50th year in show business, and he had just finished his last HBO special in March, "It's Bad for Ya."

"Our Father who art in heaven, and to the republic for which it stands. Thy kingdom come, one nation indivisible as it is in heaven. Give us this day as we forgive those who so proudly we hail. Crown thy good into temptation, but deliver us from the twilight. Amen."

"Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck."

We'll miss you, George. Read more!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Favorite Online Sweepstakes

Of course, I need a separate post just to detail some of the better sweepstakes out there.

Namely, the sweepstakes that let you earn extra entries by mentioning their sweepstakes in your blog. They usually have the contest on THEIR blog, so it's like a nice kind of social networking?

Anyway, the first to make the list is Table for Five and their sweepstakes: Win a box of Personalized Stationery from Paperlicious.

(This sweepstakes ends June 19th, 2008.)

Keep this page bookmarked, as I intend to promote several more sweepstakes, the blogs they are on, my chances of winning increasing, and maybe get a few more readers in the process! Read more!

Butts and the Homeless

Apparently today's RedEye decided to spend an entire page of print regarding the problem of too many cigarette butts littering the beaches and streets of Chicago. Because with gas prices and a war and failing public transportation - it's the perfect time to rub more salt into the wounds of smokers who have been chastized out of every building and shunned a distance of 15 feet from building entrances.

They apparently followed around some environmental organization member and watched her pick up cigarette butts on the North Avenue Beach and she collected "137 butts in a few minutes."

The city is now going to start issuing $500 fines this summer to "anyone caught puffing or tossing a cigarette scrap within 15 feet of a beach."

So on one page, there's an article about this woman picking up butts and complaining about smokers - next to that is a blurb about how deadly and toxic and non-biodegradable the components of cigarette filters are - and under it all is a statistic-laden indictment of how few butts make it to trash cans and how dirty the city really is. There's also the burning question calling for feedback:

"Are cigarette butts blighting the beach, or should non-smokers lighten up?"

Well, here's my reply I plan on sending:

If the city drives all the smokers from indoors (where there are lots of garbage cans) to the outdoors (where garbage cans are scarce), the inevitable fact is that the outdoors becomes littered with cigarette butts. Smokers may be to blame for their garbage, but more to blame are the people who drove them away from the bounty of indoor trash bins.

As for the solution, local businesses should be able to enroll in a city program where they can issue plastic bags to the homeless and pay them $5 for collecting a full bag with cigarette butts. The homeless do honest work and get paid (rather than harrassing passers-by for money), the city gets cleaner and maybe the businesses get some reward for participating in the program. Win-win-win.

--Aaron Samuels, 24, Bridgeport

Do you think it's a crazy idea? I know, it's different from my usual method of dealing with the homeless (read: ignoring them), but anything that gets them off my case can't be a bad thing.

Update: They sent back an e-mail saying:

Thanks again Aaron.

RedEye staff

Which I think is their way of saying "we appreciate the response, but we won't be printing it." Oh well, at least that's what I have a blog for! Read more!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Idiotic Product: Centerpiece Gourmet

So I'm starting up the ‘Idiotic Product’ catchphrase on this new blog. I’m also starting the use of the ‘Buyer Beware’ tag so I can group together all of my collective "don't buy this product because if you do you're either an idiot or have evolved so far ahead of mankind that you can actually find a GOOD reason to purchase it and please let me know if this is the case" articles.

Anyway, my choice for today is the Centerpiece Gourmet, a product that turns foods into flowery centerpieces that can be eaten.

Quite the Idiotic Product!

Okay, before we start this - I'll admit that the concept seems like a good one. Straight out of an episode of Martha Stewart, it's a presentation of food that's appealing to the eyes as well. However, Martha has the brainpower to know that you can get the same result from just properly making food and presenting it on a platter where people will want to eat from it - not done with the methods used to make these edible monstrocities that will never look anything like they do on the box.

Because the pictures on the box aren't made with real food!

Just like the picture menu at a fast-food joint, that's not real food they're presenting to you. There's an entire industry out there responsible for making those photographical edibles that wind up on a menu. That's why the lettuce looks so green and crisp, the tomatoes ripe and juicy, and the meat so thick and bun so fresh and springy. They're NOT FOOD, and they also weren't handled by the 17-year-old fry cook or Javier at the grill, haphazardly getting your mediocre food to you at a better-than-mediocre pace. Following that path of logic, even if the food on the box were real, you're not Martha Stewart. You're (more than likely) the culinary equivalent of those fast-food employees, especially if you were dumb enough to buy the Centerpiece Gourmet. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t need a kit in order to make these things, right?

Now let's investigate how you make these "edible masterpieces".

According to the advertisement, the kit basically comes with things a competent chef might already have in the kitchen, like several knives, and a few rarer items that require a few skill levels in cooking, like a melon baller. Oh, and a wicker basket. Also, you get a bunch of special cookie-cutters. Not "special" in the sense that they do anything more than a normal cookie cutter, namely “cut things”, but in the sense that they're flower-shaped and you might not have those around, unless you've tried making these centerpieces yourself without the kit and you got so frustrated you shelled out the $25 and just got the kit as well.

Oh, and you get 100 wooden skewers.

So the theory behind it is that you take foods, use the cookie cutters to make flowery things and leaves and whatnot, then run them on skewers and arrange them in the wicker basket until it looks pretty and your guests can enjoy AND eat!

Well, let's start with the fact that while you may have bought this under the guide of "anyone can make these fantabulous things", you've got to have enough skill with a knife to slice fruits, vegetables and meats (whatever foods you're Centerpiece Gourmet-ing) thin enough to make the cookie-cutter shapes appear like they do on the box. I'm a beginner chef, so I am admittedly not too awesome with the thin-slicing, especially of hard meats and veggies. Knife accidents are very commonplace in the kitchen. So let's say that you're skilled enough to slice into that apple and cookie-cut a nice flower chunk from it, and arrange it on the skewer. Unless that kit’s instructions have bothered to mention to let the slice soak in lemon juice or lime juice - you've got a lovely browning flower that's growing more icky-looking by the minute. Cutting most fruit triggers an enzyme that, when exposed to air, turns the flesh that icky brown color, and an acid bath shuts down that enzymatic process.

Yes, it will get browner by the MINUTE. Unless you're at ninja-level with this system, the centerpieces they've got on the advertisement look like they took at LEAST an hour to accomplish, especially if you want it to look presentable. (Unless you’re combining the Japanese art of flower-arranging with edible centerpiece creation, you’ll likely need more than one solitary food-flower.) That's an hour that your food is not only out of the refrigerator, but being cut and perforated, skewered, and left to lazy about in open air. And with juicier fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe (which it looks like they used, if they had been real food), that's precious juice dripping out, not only out of the fruit and making them drier, but dripping onto the OTHER foods... Two of the worst pitfalls in the cooking business are “the danger zone” (temperatures where bacteria love to breed) and “cross-contamination” (foods getting into other foods).

Okay, so let's imagine that you're at ninja level and managed to prepare food that's NOT been left out in the open for more than an hour and have NOT been dripping or contaminating the other skewered foods. You've miraculously taken an assortment of fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses and actually managed to complete the unlikely masterpiece from the kit as depicted in pictures on the box/advertisements.

They're just going to eat it!

That's right. After all that work – there’s only two ways this goes down. They EAT the food and your masterpiece is ruined - or they DON'T eat the food because it "looks too good to eat" or "can't even tell it's not flowers" (because their noses have been lopped off and can't smell open-air cheese/meat) and all that food goes to WASTE.

And now that I've pretty much warned you of most of the flaws in the product itself, let me enlighten you on the advertisement's blatant disrespect for your intelligence.

You know how on some infomercials, they'll give you a bonus "extra tube" or "other extra device" or even an “entire extra set/system” and claim its value that you're getting FREE? Well on THIS product, they do claim you're getting something extra for free. The item you're getting extra is a "Professional Leaf Design Tool". That's right, if it weren't for their generous extra gift, your Centerpiece Gourmet with its skewers and cookie cutters would NOT have come with the LEAF-SHAPED cookie cutter! Have fun making flowery centerpieces of food without a leaf shape! Thank goodness we're giving you this bonus cookie cutter for FREE when you order our product! And be thankful we're giving it to you for free, because a leaf-shaped cookie cutter is apparently AN OVER $50 VALUE! It's just like the ones the PROFESSIONALS use!

In conclusion, don't be an idiot who bought this IDIOTIC PRODUCT.

Stick to cubes of food with toothpicks and a real centerpiece that nobody will eat. Your guests will thank you.

(Or be an idiot and buy this IDIOTIC PRODUCT for $24.99)

This post is also available at ThisIsBy.Us Read more!

Monday, June 09, 2008

School Allergies

When it comes to allergies, it seems that very few people are unaffected. We all at the very least know SOMEONE with an allergy if we ourselves fall into the rare category of "no known allergies" (since it's impossible to be 100% sure). More often than not, these victims of allergies are children - with the list of allergens growing larger and larger as more and more children are having reactions.

But where do we draw the line? Who is supposed to have the freedoms?

I speak, of course, regarding the widespread "allergy bans" going on in schools today. With the number of children needing to carry epinephrine just in case of a reaction during the school day, at what point does the matter become one for the schools themselves or even the government to make a ruling to force the schools to take action?

Frankly, I'm asking you.

This isn't one of my usual musings followed by my opinion that certainly leads in one direction and mocks anyone going the other direction. At best, I can attempt to mock both directions, since I don't know which side of the fence I'm leaning.

On the one hand, there are now millions of children who are deathly allergic to common items. In fact, eight foods account for 90% of all allergic reactions — peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition says food allergies lead to 150 deaths, 30,000 emergency room visits and 2,000 hospitalizations each year.

One can find it easy to argue in favor of "children who could die" - we as a society apparently feel the worst when a child dies, prefering to take the optimistic route of the endless potential for good that has been shattered by ending that life too soon rather than a pessimistic approach of "that baby could have grown up to be a mass-murderer, so nice work there, tree nuts." We don't like the imagery of sending a child into a potential death zone, full of products that could have been made in a factory that may contain peanut dust, hoping each day that it isn't her last.

But at what point do we bother to stand up for the kids who enjoy products made in peanut-dust-offender factories?

On that other hand, researchers are suggesting that the cause of the dramatic increase in childhood allergies is that parents are simply overprotecting their precious snowflakes, leading their immune system to become the equivelant of an ignorant hillbilly bigot (I'm not saying that all hillbillies are bigots or ignorant, or that all bigots are hillbillies, but that these immune systems are all three), too dumb to discern friendly peanut bits from infectious bacteria and takes a sawed-off shotgun to the whole danged lot of 'em and requires a lot of medication to get them to calm the hell down.

That in mind, when does the bad parenting spread from the above lack of building their child's immune system to demanding that other children and parents bend to their whims to protect their precious snowflake from the evil peanut dust? When does a school have the right to yield to their ear-splitting wails and deprive the other precious snowflakes their right to eat a PB&J? We already mess with the school lunch system enough, but now we have to tack on regulations about what outside food is brought in via a child's homemade lunch? The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act may do just that - regulating all food contents allowed to be present inside the school.

Frankly, just upon writing what I thought would be an unbiased look at both sides of the argument, it seems I've stumbled upon the side I lean towards.

I don't think the government should interfere. I don't think the schools should have to regulate this. I think precious snowflakes belong in "precious snowflake schools" that have volunteered to mandate these things, rather than being forced to.

First of all, we should be paying a little more attention to students bringing GUNS, KNIVES, WEAPONS, DRUGS and other illegal things to school first and foremost. I mean the REAL dangerous stuff. I knew a kid in my high school class who got suspended for having a HAMMER in his LOCKER. Kid you not. I also know a kid in my high school class who got expelled for having alcohol in his prom limo (and being drunk), one who got suspended for smoking pot within 30 yards of the school, and two who were expelled for making a fake bomb threat (though in their defense, it got us out of attending that stupid rally, even if it did get moved to later date). These are the things our school officials should be caring about rather than the potential threat of a Reese's peanut butter cup.

I guess this is where I descend into my usual hate-filled tirades, or at least making statements that offend people.

I'm hoping that the writer of this article was intending to rally sympathy for this child when the following was written:

Danielle is terrified to attend school on the days following big candy holidays like Halloween and Easter because students bring peanut butter cups and other goodies with them.

Her nut allergy is so severe that she can go into shock if a child across a table or a school bus aisle eats peanut butter candy. She takes four allergy medications every morning and carries two pens of self-injectable epinephrine, a form of adrenaline, everywhere she goes in case she starts to have a reaction.

"Having peanuts in my face is like having a loaded gun held to your head," said Danielle, who estimates that during the past school year she suffered 20 reactions that landed her in the emergency room or a clinic for breathing treatments.

Call me an asshole if you will (go ahead, it wouldn't be the first time and it won't be the last), but this just sounds to me like someone who wasn't meant to live with the rest of us. Like Mother Nature (or Darwin) is trying to finish the job that these overprotective parents neglected to start. The kid who swallows too many marbles doesn't get to grow up and breed. The kid who can't look at a peanut without exploding probably shouldn't, either. I don't want to jump straight to "put this child out of her misery" or "let's kill all these allergy kids" - but when you're faced with that kind of story, doesn't that pop into your mind for like AT LEAST A SECOND?

I'm willing to jump straight to "give them their own schools", though. Rather than detract from everyone ELSE'S learning with the constant jabbing of epi-pens and time delays over reminders against tree nuts or searching lunches for deadly peanut dust - assign one school (or have one volunteer) to be peanut-free. Bam, move those kids there. You can't argue that it's financially-mean to these parents to have to send their kid to a farther-away school or something, because I'm sure that the cost of 20 E.R. visits during one school year is way more costly.

The real conclusion is that this whole situation is one more reason why I don't want to have kids right now. And why I probably don't like YOUR kids. And why I'm glad my parents let me eat things that fell on the floor or were JUST past their expiration dates.

What do you think? Should schools get to decide? Should the government? Should they just be sent to their own allergy-free schools? Should they just be put out of their misery because almost dying 20 times hasn't gotten the message across yet?

(The article that sparked this rant) Read more!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

PETA and Lobsters

PETA is just one step closer to complete insanity, judging by this latest little publicity stunt that will never take off.

The situation starts off with Skowhegan, Maine - a county that is currently building a new jail and is trying to sell off their outdated jail. That sounds sensible enough. And then PETA gets in the act. PETA has sent a proposal to the Somerset County commissioners to LEASE their jail to PETA so they can turn it into a "Lobster Empathy Center" (that's what they're calling it). The realtor handling the jail's sale has identified the proposal as "likely a publicity stunt."

Judge for yourself with this excerpt from the letter sent by PETA to the commissioners:

"A prison is the perfect setting to demonstrate how lobsters suffer when they are caught in traps or confined to cramped, filthy supermarket tanks. The center will teach visitors to have compassion for these interesting, sensitive animals while also commemorating the millions of lobsters who are ripped from their homes in the ocean off the coast of Maine each year before being boiled alive."

Luckily, unlike the Chicago City Council who were all taken in by PETA shock video and banned the sale of foie gras two years ago (and recently realized their mistake and repealed it), Commissioner Chairman Phil Roy isn't buying it and is willing to point out the many many issues regarding this letter.

1. Skowhegan isn't even part of coastal Maine.

This whole shenanigan is to make the public aware of the lobster catching going on at the coast of Maine. Stupidly, they chose a town about 53 MILES away from the coast of Maine (namely Rockland, home of the Maine Lobster Festival) to launch their futile efforts.

2. PETA complains about lobster jail, but never lifted a finger about the humans kept in those conditions.

Even this commissioner will point out that humans are animals too, and PETA couldn't care less about the humans who have to suffer with "objectionable" conditions - but if an animal has to go through something even remotely similar to those conditions? That's the only time PETA pretends to care and sends out these insane letters.

3. PETA wants to use the space for propaganda that lobsters feel pain.

Studies have frankly been done for a number of years with no factual conclusion on the subject. One famous study, however, sides with the "it is unlikely that they can feel pain" camp. Biologists have said for years that the lobster's primitive nervous system and underdeveloped brain are akin to an insect, and while lobsters react to stimuli (like boiling water), the reactions are escape mechanisms and NOT a conscious response or an indication of pain, they say.

"It's a semantic thing: No brain, no pain."

4. PETA wants to trap visitors and put rubber bands on their fingers.

That's just ridiculous. While I can understand that there's a parallel between rubber bands on claws - those rubber bands are there for the protection of those handling the lobsters, not to torture or be "mean" to the lobsters. If a vicious dog was threatening to bite people, you'd put a muzzle on it. If your cat is scratching the furniture or people - you get it declawed. It's a safety precaution and exploiting it under the guise of torturing a defenseless creature is insane. It's because the creature ISN'T defenseless! Plus, the whole notion of human-sized lobster traps and cramming people into a giant replica lobster tank with filthy glass walls? That's going a little too far. The place was going to be set in a JAIL and you're going further out of your way to remind people that they don't like being confined in dirty small spaces? Waste of time and bigger waste of props.

This whole thing is crazy from square one.

Nonetheless, even if it's (obviously) a publicity stunt, it's being forwarded to the realtor along with all other offers. The realty company has expressed that all offers would be considered, but admitted that the county has no interest in leasing the jail. The property needs to be sold, and the use of the property is the bigger issue being looked at. The county wants to provide jobs and "get the property back on the tax rolls." There are currently 22 leads already, including one proposal to purchase the jail for "a gristmill, artists colony, bakery and other cultural uses."

I'm hoping that seems like an infinitely better idea than leasing the building to a terrorist organization like PETA for the purpose of turning it into a "Lobster Empathy Center".

What do you think? Isn't lobster delicious? "No brain, no pain?"

(The article about PETA's indecent proposal)

(The study showing lobsters probably don't feel pain in the first place) Read more!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sharon Stone vs. China

Normally, I wouldn't be upset with Sharon Stone. She's got a long history of being on PETA's bad side, which usually put her on my good side. While I'm not a fan of wearing fur (it's too hot for my tastes), Sharon Stone truly is - and PETA has been verbal against her and her outfits many times. She even wore a brooch that contained a RAT FOOT, which those animal-rights hippies were severely opposed to.

But alas, nobody is perfect, and Sharon Stone decided to voice her opinion regarding the recent earthquake in China - and is pretty much accusing them of deserving it through karma because of their treatment of Tibet.

First off, I don't think we should ever pay attention to the opinions of actors/actresses. They're paid to look pretty and do/say what they're told through the use of scripts and directors. Just like the notion of a "trophy wife" whose job is to shut up and look pretty, I wouldn't want to trust the opinion of someone who's just supposed to look good - depending on the opinion's relevance. If the person were famous for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics, I'd trust their opinion on physics-related matters; likewise I WOULD trust an actress's opinion on movie-business affairs or getting good representation.

When it comes to earthquakes, politics and international affairs, though? Shut the hell up and look pretty, damn it!

Secondly, if you're Earl Hickey or his brother Randy (AKA "fictional characters on a TV show"), I can understand you attributing things to karma. Unfortunately, you're NOT those people, which means you don't attribute EVERYTHING to karma and pick and choose what is "karma" and what isn't based on your own selfish opinions. I know for a fact that China experienced major earthquakes in 1976, 1975, 1974, 1970, 1969, 1933, 1932, 1927 and 1556 was one of their worst if you're judging by the death toll.

Which is more likely? That some supernatural force judged a country and magically caused this wrath to befall them - or that China is part of the Pacific Rim and is located on top of numerous fault lines where earthquakes naturally occur over time and it occurred again a few weeks ago?

Thirdly, if you were really crazy enough to take the "China is bad and deserved it" approach, why would you choose this earthquake to be the pinnacle point of karmic justice? I mean, China's been repressing Tibet for quite some time. Wouldn't you really want to attribute this disaster to the more recent and more-widely-publicized LEAD PAINT and TAINTED PRODUCT fiascos? I'm just saying, if you're going to argue that being mean to other people yields a natural disaster, it's hard to back that up with further evidence. I don't recall any natural disasters occurring during Hitler-era Germany or even in genocide-filled African/Middle-Eastern countries (unless you consider "living in those countries" as disaster enough, in which case I'm sure there were many countries in those regions NOT performing genocide).

Far worse things have been committed to deserve karmic punishment. I've also never heard of GOOD karma befalling countries, whether they deserved it or not.

So what was China's response to this accusation of being quake-worthy in the eyes of karma?

The founder of one of China's biggest cinema chains said that his company will no longer show Sharon Stone's movies.

While I'm not entirely sure that I agree that this is really much of a retaliation in the first place, it's a symbolic gesture that at least is backed up by an idea that I CAN agree with:

Ng See-Yuen, founder of the UME Cineplex chain and the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, called Stone's comments "inappropriate," adding that actors should not bring personal politics to comments about a natural disaster that has left five million Chinese homeless, according to the Reporter.

That's kind of what I've been saying all along, but with an added oomph at the end. Actors aren't supposed to be spouting their opinions about things - especially about things that have had such a devastating effect on mostly-innocent people. You can keep your own opinions about China's governmental policies regarding the Tibet region and people, but saying that some 2-year-old Chinese girl deserved to have her home and worldly possessions destroyed by a natural disaster because she happens to live in a country with a not-perfect record of civil rights?

That is certainly "inappropriate" and it's absurd to even mention it in the first place.

Actors and actresses should just shut up and look pretty because that's what we pay them to do.

Do you agree with Ng that Sharon's comment was inappropriate? Do you agree with Sharon that Ng's people randomly deserved a natural disaster because their government does some naughty things? Or do you just agree with me that you should trust an entertainer's political statements as much as the advice of a blind optometrist?

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