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   vegetarians against the apocalypse
Tuesday, March 25 1997

A bit of free wisdom from the Gus: If you feel content, you are ignorant.

I had a little email exchange today with some guy named Townsend who maintains the computers in UVA's Cocke Hall (as you recall, I complained about the CD players not working). He claimed someone had checked the CD players and that they worked. He also wanted to know what my affiliation with the University was and I, not answering him, accused him of typical suspicious-bureaucrat "blame the messenger" syndrome. It feels so good to burst bloated egos via email. Meanwhile, someone with a very Italian name (Leandro Asnaghi-Nicastro) critiqued as "looking fake" the obviously faked photograph illustrating my Christin-Gus letter exchange page. But I joked along with him and he eventually requested to use some of my material in some future issue of his ezine. I looked over it and I would suggest you do the same; it's at

I found, though, that once my housemates heard the gory details, they too went from disbelief to unease.
Back at my house I chatted with my housemates and their houseguests about a range of things, particularly Mad Cow Disease. They were generally ignorant about all the things that make Mad Cow Disease scary: the up-to-30-year dormancy period, the widespread use of cannibalism in the meat industry, the possible existance of Mad Cow Disease already in Wisconsin, and the behaviour of prions. I myself was ignorant about all these things until yesterday. Now, with the knowledge of how close to Apocalypse Mad Cow Disease may take our species, I feel as though my life has changed. I suddenly feel the need to tell everyone the scary details of Mad Cow Disease, and how our Federal Government looks the other way and does essentially nothing while the contagion builds. People are comfortable in their ignorance. I found, though, that once my housemates heard the gory details, they too went from disbelief to unease. Perhaps they'll be eating less beef. Perhaps they'll tell their friends. Perhaps a wave of anti-beef revulsion will sweep this nation. That is what it will take to cure the sickness in the American food industry.

I myself eat meat. I've never had a reason to personally stop doing so. Environmental anti-meat arguments never had much effect on me, and neither did Animal Rights or Health aguments. But with Mad Cow Disease possibly capable of spawning a new plague, it suddenly seems irresponsibly complacent to eat beef or to allow others to do so uninformed of their risks.

Elizabeth is a vegetarian, so she could be smug while I talked of these things. She's also a non-smoker these days. She's anxious while conversing, since she feels the need to have some sort of prop in her hand. I myself enjoy holding a drink while I socialize. So she suggested we go get some beer. She drove us to the Barracks Road Kroger and we each picked up a six pack. But then she went off to hang out with Liz West. I began my pre-work nap.

I really would have liked to gouge out the eyes of the responsible programmers, I'll tell you.
At Comet, I had an enormous struggle with Microsoft Word 6.0 for the Macintosh. It refused to save my Word Documents in any other format (though I needed to attach one of them to an email message in a more generally readable format). I was so frustrated that I started screaming like my maniacal brother at the computer. I almost dumped a cup of tea on the mother fucker. That would have been blaming the wrong party, I have to admit. Macintosh is cool. Microsoft is the problem. I really would have liked to gouge out the eyes of the responsible programmers, I'll tell you. I ended up having to select and copy the text from the Microsoft Word Window and paste it into an email message window. These are the 90s...and I was forced to use such ancient techniques. By the way, I would never OWN Microsoft Word since it is so dreadful, so I have no credentials to call tech support. And their canned help "feature" is a miserable unintuitive abomination. I hope those programmers suffer a slow, lingering death. Of course, given the idiocy their work suggests, they probably are already in the final throes of Spongiform Encephalopathy.

I did more research about Mad Cow Disease and found this rather blockheaded book review in the Washington Post. The book reviewed is Deadly Feasts: Tracking the Secrets of a Terrifying New Plague by Richard Rhodes. This book contains a much more fleshed out (pardon the term) analysis of prions and the diseases they cause. It tells the tales of such historical prion researchers as Nobel Prize winning Dr. Carlton Gajdusek, who identified the behaviour of prions in the Spongiform Encephalopathy known as Kuru seen in a tribe of ritualistic cannibals of New Guinea. Dr. Gajdusek has recently made dire predictions about what will happen if current meat practices are continued. But the reviewer, a Mr. John Schwartz, dismisses such predictions summarily simply because Dr. Gajdusek once admitted guilt to molesting children. My response: when the messenger comes shouting that the Hun are at your gates, you don't stop to ask him if he beats his wife. The reviewer reassures us "The U.S. Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration took additional steps after the book went to press to reduce TSE risk" without elaboration. What I know is that the government has called for a "voluntary moratorium" on feeding cattle recycle animal proteins, and that, for obvious economic reasons, no one is abiding by this moratorium. I'd like to send Mr. Schwartz some vitriolic email, but his email address is conveniently absent.

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