Worst political quiz ever

In perhaps the worst political quiz I have ever seen, this questionnaire tries to sort people into red state vs. blue state types based on consumer and entertainment preferences.  It is based on a book by successful political strategists from presidents Clinton and Bush.  Based on this quiz, I wonder about the quality of advice they provide.  I scored 11 out of 12 (12 being most Republican) based upon the fact that I prefer Discovery channel to court TV, College football to tennis, and Dr. Pepper to Sprite or Pepsi.  According to these guys, I should be about as red as they come. 

Just one example of how bad these questions are, though…  They ask you to choose X Games or college football as opposed to tennis or Major League Soccer.  I think the X Games are ridiculous, but I also think it is pretty safe to say that college football fandom is dramatically more popular than soccer or tennis (which I both like, but not as much as college football) among both Democrats and Republicans. Likewise, I enjoy shopping at Whole Foods, but my average trip is more likely to be to a grocery such as Kroger (okay, that was two examples).  Anyway, try it yourself.

Your tax dollars at work in Montana

Great column from E.J. Dionne today pointing out that when it comes time to save your Senate seat, even so-called fiscal conservatives brag about all the tax dollars they've been spending.  So long as those tax dollars are spent in their state.  Exhibit A is Montana Senator Conrad Burns.  At his campaign website is a prominent image that says: “Conrad Burns never voted for a tax increase.”  You can also click on a link that details the “Over $2 Million brought back for Montana” and see how much federal tax dollars were spent where you live.  What rank hypocrisy.  Where do Burns and his kind think all this money to spend on Montana is coming from?  Right now, the answer is that we are borrowing it.  How much more morally and intellectually honest to just raise taxes to pay for the desired spending.  Or at least try a little less hard to spend money that we don't have in Montana (not that that would ever happen).

Carbon Monoxide in the Meat

I assign a chapter from Fast Food Nation every semester.  It is a book I really think every American meat-eater should read. This latest news report made me think of the book.  Apparently, the USDA and FDA have made a series of regulatory decision that allow meat processors to pump carbon monoxide into meat packaging.  This allows the meat to retain a fresh looking red color even as it spoils. 

“Proponents, including the three major meat producers, say the process
is safe and will help reduce the $1 billion the industry loses every
year from having to discount or discard meat that has begun to turn
brown but is still safe to eat.”

Sorry, but I am happy to be one of those wasteful people who discard brown meat.  Interestingly, the two major studies of this technique have both been at the meat lab at Texas Tech University, my former place of employment (the political science department, not the meat lab).  I still remember asking a student what brought her to Lubbock from South Dakota and learning that she had been recruited to join the national champion meat judging team.  Who knew?  I also miss getting monthly fliers in my mailbox about university meats on sale that month.  I still remember the Valentine's special: nothing says romance like a fresh Boston Butt. 

On a more serious note, this article shows the power and influence of bureaucracy and interest groups in making policy.  Major decisions about the safety of our food are made by the USDA with little, if any, input from consumers.  Shouldn't people be aware that their meat is artificially being kept red.  Furthermore, it is not a consumer advocacy group looking to ban the process, but simply a company that uses spice extracts to preserve meat and is losing money to carbon monoxide.  Anyway, you can think about all this with your next hamburger.

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