“Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties” — In Praise of Skepticism

September 28, 2009

“One of the healthier things we learned in the sixties, and are unlikely to forget, was to be more skeptical of the pose of objectivity. When we hear words of wisdom, we want to know who is talking. When the voice of reason speaks, we’re inclined to ask what unconscious needs are at work. When we look at the social or economic structure, we want to know whose interests are being served. . . .Even in a state of economic retrenchment*, when many of the innovations and reforms of the sixties get shoved to the back burner, our skeptical, critical habits of mind have proved to be among the sixties’ most durable legacies.”

— Morris Dickstein, Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties, 1977

* When Dickstein was writing this the country was reeling from the effects of the 1974-75 recession, then the most severe economic downturn since WW II.

Harmony Farms Dog Food — a new arrival at my market

September 25, 2009

Last week I went cruising down the pet food aisle in my local SUPER Stop & Shop. They are in the midst of renovating the entire store — we just got the all new rolling shopping carts with a gun metal gray finish instead of the standard chrome! Some people will tell you progress is an illusion. Don’t you believe it.

Normally, the dog food brands that are carried in a super market are of middle to low quality, in terms of ingredients. You’ll find lots of corn on the ingredient lists, along with lots of wheat, soy, glutens and, worst of all, by-product meals. These ‘meat meals’ cover a great multitude of sins. These chicken, beef or simply labeled ‘meat by-products’ include all the parts of an animal that are left over after the meat has been stripped off.  Lungs, spleens, kidneys, hearts, brain, blood and more.

It was the genius idea of grinding up cow by-products and adding that as a protein to cow feed that led to the mass outbreaks of  Mad Cow Disease (bovine spongiform encephalitis). This involves a scary little thing called a prion — a folded, infectious bit of protein that attacks the brain and neural structure — every disease prions cause is both untreatable and fatal.

The ‘meat meal’ in your dog food could consist of the euthanized bodies of dogs and cats from shelters, roadkill, diseased or injured “downer cattle”, or zoo animals. Remember that the protein sludge created this way uses the whole animal: heart , brain, hoof and paw, coat and fur.

The take away is stay away from by-products and meals, especially, when choosing dog food.

I stop in the newly revamped dog food section and notice that for the first time the bags if kibble are separated by a divider with a limited selection of premium brands on one side. There is also a small refrigerator section with whole raw foods designed for dogs. I’m impressed. Raw and refrigerated food is too expensive for my budget; I also have some doubts over its perceived value and actual benefit to our dogs.

Back in the kibble I find a brand that’s new to me Harmony Farms. Meat is always the number one ingredient in their dog food. Their foods have no corn, wheat, soy, glutens or artificial coloring, flavoring or ingredients. Click on the chart below to see how their ingredients stack up against Beneful, IAMS, Pedigree and Purina.


Price Comparison by the Pound

$1.30 lb. Harmony Farms (17.5 lb. bag)
$1.23 lb. Hill’s Science Diet (40 lb. bag)
$1.17 lb. Evolve (30 lb. bag)
$1.45 lb. Solid Gold (33 lb. bag)
$1.46 lb
. Innova (30 lb. bag)
$1.80 lb. Newman’s Own Organic (25 lb.)
$1.88 lb.
Natural Balance Organic (25 lb.bag)

Of course, there’s some wiggle room in the above numbers since not every kibble sold was packaged at the same weight. Hill’s Science Diet comes across cheapest, in part, because it’s sold in the largest size, a 40 lb. bag. So use this only as a rough guide.

So I’m trying out Harmony Farms for our two Labradors. It is convenient not to make a second trip to a specialty store to buy my kibble.

And being Labradors I’m fairly assured that they’ll eat whatever is placed in their bowls; palatability is never an issue with this breed.

If any of you out there have any comments or information about your experience with Harmony Farms Pet Foods, we’d love to hear from you!

World’s Most Expensive Dog? At $600,000, it may just be.

September 25, 2009

most_expensive_dogThe New York Daily News reports that a Chinese woman has paid 4 million yuan (approximately $600,000) for an 18 month old black Tibetan mastiff named Yangtze River Number Two. For the complete article, go here.

Of course, given today’s world wide economic climate and the heartbreak of “foreclosure dogs” in this country, spending on this scale for a single canine is hard to justify. But then the excesses of the wealthy leisure class are hard to rationalize even when everyone is housed and fed (and employed with health coverage).  The price paid for Yangtze River Number Two would fund half the construction of an animal shelter where I live.

The market that supports this kind of transaction between a breeder and a buyer is tiny and disconnected from the ordinary world of dog owners, that’s the main reason a story like this becomes “news.”

The great leveler here is the dog; he’s doesn’t measure his value in dollars or yen. Nor does he love his new owner more devoutly than that rescued mutt from the pound curled up on your living room floor.

3D Photography: Pumpkin Carving, Dogs and Fire

September 24, 2009

For 3D viewing, use redblue (or redcyan) anaglyph glasses. Click on images for larger size.

Top to Bottom: Pumpkin Carving in New England; Harley, Yellow Lab age 7; Deezey, Black Lab age 3; evening campfire on Russian Beach.



Cheese or Font? It’s a very clever word game.

September 17, 2009

cheese-or-fontThere’s a great little word game online called Cheese or Font? where all you are required to do is categorize a word as either a type of cheese or a typeface.

The vastness of both categories can baffle even the most knowledgeable, providing lots of head-scratching fun. Check this out, it’s worth your time.

Krautkrämers Meat Water, High Efficiency Survival Beverage — And they’ve got to be joking, right?

September 10, 2009

cubano_sandwich_800“Even Fidel can’t resist this culinary opiate of the masses! Roasted pork marinated in mojo, melted Swiss and a briny layer of pickles will tempt and fortify you for the long struggle against your oppressors! And you don’t need a plancha to press this pequeño – just a straw (included)!

Store it cool, but drink it warm.” Click on image for larger size.

So reads the copy at Krautkrämers Meat Water, but I suspect this is an elaborate hoax. Or an art project. A High Efficiency Survival Beverage. Meat Water?

But with mouth-watering flavors like Cuban Sandwich on Cuban bread (ham, roast pork, baby Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard), Tandoori Chicken, and Dirty Hot Dog could it all be real? Nah, but it is really funny. Oh, and could the tip off be that the only merchandise for sale is a T-shirt, “I’d Rather be Drinking Krautkrämer’s Meat Water” and a Limited Edition Meat Water™ Genuine Memory Home Edition Lunch Box Set for $39.99?