Sunday, February 08, 2009

Writer's Block From Too Much To Choose From

I was on YIM the other day with my blog friend Divya who lives in London before work, chatting about writer's block. I realized there's plenty of fodder out there to write about, but I'm blocked. Maybe it's having too much to choose from.

I've noticed in the last few years, even when I go to the store, sometimes I wander for an hour or two just looking at the stuff on the shelves before finally making my selection. I'm thinking maybe too much choice is as bad in its way as too little choice is.

Then there's Madoff and other ponzi schemers being exposed. The ripple effect of their depredations is mind boggling and the harm they've done to so many American charities and philanthropic trusts is devastating on a long-term scale I cannot begin to wrap my brain around. The repercussions are manifold. Rabbi Marc Gellman's open letter to Bernie Madoff in Newsweek pretty well tackled it: "You betrayed charities whose good works you have extinguished in an afternoon. These betrayals are epic in their scope and dazzling in their utter lack of remorse or responsibility. There must be some new word invented to describe the way you have redefined betrayal. The Bible calls such things a toevah, "an abomination". It means an act so alien to our values and our natures that it cannot be understood or explained. You have committed an abomination. This is what you have done...." and that's only the beginning of Gellman's critique. Google "Marc Gellman on Madoff" and the first link will take you to the full letter.

There are a few things that have occurred in my own life time that I have viewed as an actual abomination. This is right up there on the list. So is the next item in my menu tonight.

Over the last few weeks we've been hit by yet another salmonella scare involving the Peanut Corp. of America in Georgia. What are these people thinking? One comment from the Associated Press said, "Food and Drug Administration officials earlier had said Peanut Corp. of America waited for a second test to clear peanut butter and peanuts that initially were positive for salmonella. But the agency amended its report Friday, noting that the Blakely, Ga., plant actually shipped some products before receiving the second test and sold others after confirming salmonella...

"...The salmonella outbreak has been blamed for at least eight deaths and 575 illnesses in 43 states. The Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation. More than 1,550 products have been recalled."

Frankly, I was gobsmacked in the market the other day seeing how many products had been pulled off the shelves because one of their listed ingredients were peanuts. Peanuts are one the US's staple foods & used as a primary, secondary or tertiary ingredients in food products. I counted over 50 familiar grocery items missing from the shelves including various brands of dog food from the pet food aisles.

The Peanut Corp. of America's second largest client was the USDA who purchased peanut products for hunger programs serving the country's poorer population. There are a lot of average joes out there getting USDA commodities now that they've lost their jobs & incomes over the last year or so. How cynical and criminal is this company? Too busy or committed with other things than to ensure they put out a safe, clean product? It takes a lot for the government to go after a company with criminal charges and that company sure has earned those charges in spades.

The news on crime has me just about convinced that our civil society is teetering closer to the edge of barbarism than ever before. I'm sure y'all can come up with your own lurid examples, so I'm gonna spare ya mine this time. There's plenty we should not tolerate that we do tolerate and vice versa. When is enough enough?