You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for December, 2003.

Puking in the wind

December 31st, 2003

The USDA has announced a ban on the slaughter and sale of cattle that are so sick they cannot walk. Over 190,000 such animals are slaughtered annually and put into our food supply — and less than 5% of them are tested for serious diseases such as Mad Cow. This is just stupid and short-sighted. I am an informed consumer — I am not unaware of the risks of eating meat, and my husband has visited a slaughterhouse. We put a lot of thought into what we eat and where it comes from. But this incident has lead to some re-evaluation and soul searching.

Outside validation

December 30th, 2003

Alton Brown’s latest rant is about the Mad Cow recall, and as always he hits the mark square on:

You think wanting


December 22nd, 2003

From yesterday’s Washington Post: What a Family Secret Begat: Essie, Strom and Me, by Marilyn W. Thompson. This piece is notable not for what it says about Essie Mae Washington-Williams and her father, but rather for the peek it provieds into an investigative reporter’s world.


December 19th, 2003

I highly recommend Adagio Tea to my tea-drinking readers.

Their customer service is amazing — you can submit questions via a form, or you can chat on-line with live help. I had a question (I was looking for a tea with some specific characteristics), so I used their live help — it was a fabulous experience. Emily, the woman who helped me, answered my questions and helped me pick out a tea that met my requirements. Rather than trying to upsell me, she suggested that I buy a sample of the tea first to make sure it met my needs. As an added bonus, my order arrived in only 2 days.

In addition to my tea, I also ordered the 16 ounce Aria teapot — I can now cleanly and easily make loose-leaf tea at work! I haven’t tried it yet, but I think the design is very clever. I’ll report back later on how well it works.

I will definately be ordering from them again. I have some $5 off certificates I can share with others via e-mail — let me know if you would like one.

UPDATE: I’m happy to report that the little Aria teapot works exactly as advertised. It makes one coffee mug of clear, beautiful tea and is easy to clean.


December 17th, 2003

The morning after pill was recommended for over-the-counter sale by an FDA expert panel yesterday. While this suggestion must still be approved by the FDA, they do usually follow the reccommendations of their expert panels.

Supporters of the move argue that over-the-counter access is vital because it will increase the number of women who use it. Since the pill works to prevent ovulation, it prevents unwanted pregnancies and therefore should reduce the number of abortions and gives women increased control over their fertility, without a mediator.

Opponents are split between those who see the pill as a form of abortion (in some cases, it does prevent a fertilized egg from implanting) and those who see it as a gateway to various undesirable lifestyles (worries range from promiscuous sex to increased spread of STDs).

I am pleased with the recommendation — and surprised by it. I would not expect a decision like this from Bush’s FDA. I hope that the FDA acts on the recommendation and approves OTC status for the morning after pill soon, with as few restrictions as possible.

(for more information about this decision, see Google News’ search results for morning after pill).

Silver Lining

December 11th, 2003

Time magazine’s article about the HIV/AIDS crisis in China is important. Dr. David Ho, who did pioneering work on the virus that lead to the development of the “AIDS cocktail,” has been working in China for 3 years to establish treatment and research centers that will both help people infected with the virus and provide a place for human trials “in the wild” of AIDS vaccines.

China’s mishandling of the SARS epidemic has opened leaders eyes to how things will get if they do not get a handle on AIDS/HIV. While I would not have wished so many deaths on any one, perhaps there is a silver lining here — there are currently 1 million HIV positive Chinese, and the climate is ripe for the disease to spread rapidly through the population.

China has started it’s first nationwide health education campaign about HIV/AIDS. The country is also establishing several new AIDS care centers, like this one in Yunnan. These centers will also serve as education nodes — most prevention efforts in rural China must be carried out face-to-face, not only because many people distrust outsiders, but because the illiteracy rate is so high.

I’m glad to see a start like this — I just hope they don’t stop.

Bad Morning

December 2nd, 2003

This morning, we spilled some Dayquil on the floor and — quick as a blink — my little boy cat Oscar tasted it before it could be cleaned up.

He immediately started foaming at the mouth and spitting, and my husband and I immediately started freaking out and running around in circles trying to figure out what to do.

We called a cousin who is a vet, talked to our own vet, and eventually decided that he had ingested so little of the medicine (the dangerous ingredient is acetaminophen — Tylenol — which is quite poisonous to cats) that he was probably ok, and that we would just watch him closely for a few days. He seems fine now, and is his normal, ornery self. Hubby stayed home from work today to keep an eye on him, and to nurse his own cold.

In honor of my little Oscar boy, and out of relief that he’s ok, I offer several resources about household substances that are poisonous to cats, and what to do should your cat ingest them:

Cat Poison Control. Lots of information about house plants.

Maxshouse Poison & Toxins. An extensive database of potential household poisons and how to treat your pet if exposed.

Animal Poison Control. A telephone toll hot-line that you can call (for $45) to get information about how to help your pet, run by the ASPCA.