Friday, May 25, 2018

Goose alert, etc.

Yesterday was my first day back from a trip to visit friends in Dallas. While in Dallas, I did absolutely nothing of a touristic or cultural nature. Basically, after an early morning walk – the heat’s too fierce to go out walking much after 9 a.m. – we just hung around and talked. I was visiting my college roommate and her husband. Since they dated in college, I’ve known Tom just about as long as I’ve known Joyce. So, 50 year friends. A lot to talk about.

On those early morning walks, we mostly ambled around their neighborhood, a very nice section of Dallas. It’s an older residential area near the outskirts that has the wonderful feature of a lot of mature trees (and meticulous, very attractive landscaping for 99% of the houses). The trees provided much-needed shade for the rare person out walking. Alas, there were no sidewalks, and despite the signs reading “drive as if your children live here”, many of the drivers rampaged around like maniacs. Maybe that’s how they drive around their kids. (There was plenty of evidence of children: swings, play structures, signs cheering on what ever high school their kids went to, but we didn’t see much by way of actual children.) Not a walking neighborhood, with or without kids apparently.

One morning, Joyce and I ventured across the MPperimeter road (the width and speed of the Mass Pike, and, like the Mass Pike, no traffic lights) to check out a new development – built to your liking – that was going up.

The name of the development is the ultra-classy Da Vinci Estates, and the first house that’s gone up was a pile that appeared to be in the 8-10K square foot range. They grow ‘em big in Texas. There are nine plots in this development, and I think six have been sold and staked. It will be interesting to see on my next swing through Dallas what actually goes in there. Or it would be interesting if this wasn’t destined to be a gated community, so it’s unlikely we’ll get in to rubberneck.

But the thing that struck me was the wording on the sign  touting “MODERN PYRAMIDS.” I’m not all that up on ancient Egypt, but weren’t pyramids used as the final resting place of the pharaohs? Wouldn’t this be like advertising MODERN MAUSOLEUM? Then again, given the size of the one home we saw built, MODERN MAUSOLEUM might have been more apt, given that people refer to big old houses as mausoleums. At least where I come from.

Maybe the name pyramid was a warning to anyone attempting to cross that perimeter road on foot…

Me, I wouldn’t care to live in a pyramid, modern or otherwise. As for my post-mortem residence, it will be an ash plot at Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

Anyway, it was great to be with Joyce and Tommy, whose home is gorgeous: ultra-modern (their architect won an award for it) and, at a relatively modest by Texas standards 4K square feet, neither a pyramid nor a mausoleum. But it was, as it always is, wonderful to get back to Boston.

After five days of 90 degree heat, it was especially great to come home to yesterday’s upper-60’s, sunny, blue sky weather.

The magnolias are mostly past-prime, but there are flowers abounding and, on my walk along the Esplanade, a park running along the Charles River, I was able to stop and smell the lilacs. This after passing some graffiti on the Fiedler bridge that read “Darma’s a bitch.” Only someone had scrawled a “K” over the “D” in the misspelled darma. I don’t think the correction was necessary, as I believe that both dharma and karma can be bitches. Just sayin’.

After my time in Dallas, it was also quite nice to see water, as in the Charles River. There are creeks in Joyce and Tom’s neighborhood, but Dallas is more sun-baked than water-world. (I asked my friends – Rhode Island natives – whether they missed the ocean. They looked at me like I had two heads. Of course they miss the ocean, and they were quick to let me know that the Texas Gulf Coast doesn’t count.)

Quite naturally, where there’s water there are also water fowl.

I didn’t see many ducks on the Esplanade but, alas, I saw plenty of Canada geese, which in the past decade or so have become an urban scourge in these parts. Talk about foul fowl. They may look lovely on Christmas cards when they’re wearing a wreath around their goose-necks, but in real life they seem to do nothing other than waddle around leaving turds that look like cigars all over their paths. Which, by some nasty coincidence, tend to be the paths that humans walk, jog, and bike on

In some years past, “they” – whoever “they” are, I don’t recall – have done things to keep the geese from proliferating. At first they took their eggs, but then the geese would just lay more of them. So they started covering the eggs with oil. This process managed to keep the mother geese happy, but kept goslings from forming. Win-win.

“They” – whoever “they” are – don’t seem to have been doing much of anything this spring, goose ZPG-wise. Every goose I managed to pass along my walk had anywhere from 3-5 goslings with it. They may look all sorts of cute and fuzzy now, but by the enGeesed of June there’s no doubt that they’ll join the ranks of the turd-producing waddlers.

Why can’t they be like their far-better behaved duck friends? In a couple of weeks, our ducks will be producing flotillas of ducklings – I’ve seen as many as a dozen trailing behind their mothers – but I don’t believe I’ve ever had a close encounter with a duck turd. I don’t imagine that they’re trained for it, but I’m guessing that our local ducks crap in water. Bless ‘em.

Bottom line: goose alert to anyone walking down by the banks of the River Charles, which is where you’ll find me on many of my daily strolls, avoiding goose turds. Happy to be back. Oh, Boston you’re my home.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Caged tiger at the prom? Excellent idea!

I wasn’t much of a prom goer, but I did go to the Assumption Prep (now defunct Catholic boys school) senior prom with a guy from the ‘hood I was friendly with. He was plenty smart, funny and nice enough. I went out with him a couple of times – whenever he needed a date. But there was no “like” there. (As it turns out, P was gay – a category that we were not generally aware of in 1966. Sadly, he died pretty young, I believe by suicide after losing his partner to AIDS. At least he got out of Worcester and found his way to San Francisco.)

In keeping with the practice of the time of borrowing the title of a popular song, the theme of the prom was Cast Your Fate to the Wind. Since we were all such sophisticated wits, our big yuck was rebranding the theme. At our table, at least, the theme was Cast Your Faith to the Wind. Which I’m guessing was precisely what happened within the next couple of years to at least half of the young folks sitting at that table at The Yankee Drummer Inn eating rubber chicken.

(In case you’re wondering, I wore a pale pink dotted Swiss empire waist gown and white patent leather flats, as P was my height and it just wasn’t done for the girl to be taller than the boy. I carried what was known as a colonial bouquet, with pink sweetheart roses, baby’s breath and a paper doily. Very sweet, as was P, especially in retrospect, as the entire event must have been torture for him. P wore a very pretty blue batik dinner jacket.)

Proms – at least back in the day, at least when you went to a prom at a boys school – featured a favor for the girls. Our was a tiger pajama bag. Pajama bags, for those unfamiliar with this particular item, was like a stuffed animal. Only unstuffed and with a zipper. When you got out of bed in the morning, you’d tuck your PJs into the bag and prop it in the middle of your bed.

I never used the tiger PJ bag, as it was a strident yellow-orange color, which clashed with my bedspread. I think my (much) younger sister Trish used it – maybe as a toy, stuffed with nylons.

When our table wasn’t repeating the Cast Your Faith to the Wind witticism, we made sly jokes about how suggestive a pajama bag was, what with the extraordinarily slight whiff of “sex” associated with PJs and beds. Racy stuff!

I hadn’t thought about that tiger in years. That is, until a Florida high school decided that it was a good idea to have a caged tiger at their prom.

The theme of this year’s Christopher Columbus High (like Assumption Prep, an all-boys Catholic school) was “Welcome to the Jungle.” So why not liven things up?

The prom, hosted at a hotel near Miami International Airport, featured several animals including a caged tiger, a lemur, two macaws and an African fennec fox. (Source: USA Today)

While this sounds like the kind of brain-dead idea that a bunch of high school boys might come up with, it seems that it was school staff who planned the event.

No word on the other animals – did the lemur leap? did the macaws caw? – but it’s reported that the tiger paced throughout the dance. Imagine the agitation on the part of all these animals, being subjected to loud music, flashing lights, and a couple hundred sweaty noisy kids jumping around (at least some of whom were some sort of high).

According to statements sent to multiple local outlets, Christopher Columbus High School said the tiger was never in danger or forced to perform, and handlers were with the animal at all times.

I read somewhere else that there were also two police officers on hand, just in case the tiger managed to free itself from its cage. How wonderful it would have been to have cops firing at a powerful, wild, hell-bent-on-escape tiger, in a venue replete with loud music, flashing lights, and a couple hundred sweaty noisy kids jumping around. Not to mention a no-doubt agitated leaping lemur and a couple of wildly cawing macaws. (I don’t know what an African fennec fox might have been up to. Probably no good.) Now that would have been a prom experience to remember. A lot more interesting than tittering about a pajama bag or jadedly re-quipping, “Cast Your Faith to the Wind.”

The school’s statement is posted on their website as Prom 2018 Statement

As a school community, we regret the decision to have had live animals at our prom. This incident in no way reflects our school’s Marist values and/or accomplishments of our young men nor our sensitivity to animal rights. We will immediately evaluate our current policies and procedures regarding all school activities and events. We can assure the Columbus community and all who have expressed concern, that we are sorry. We have learned a great deal from this experience.

I’ll just bet you’ve “learned a great deal from this experience.” What else are proms for?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

And sometimes life is nasty, brutish, and long

The oldest women on earth has spoken. A bit short of her 129th birthday, Chechnyan Koku Istambulova has plenty to say. And ain’t none of it cheerful.

Poor Koku sure missed out in the joie de vivre department.

'I have not had a single happy day in my life. I have always worked hard, digging in the garden.

'I am tired. Long life is not at all God's gift for me - but a punishment.' (Source: Daily Mail)

Of course, there are plenty of reasons for that profound unhappiness. Koku was born in a poor and backwards – even by the standards of 1889 – village. She lived through the Bolshevik overthrow of the tsar. Watched Nazi tanks roll through her town. Was deported by Stalin – along with everyone else in Chechnya – to Kazakhstan, which was/is no garden spot. And as if Kazakhstan wasn’t bad enough, she was shipped to Siberia for more living misery, digging through the permafrost, trying to make her garden work. And as if Siberia wasn’t bad enough, she eventually landed back in Chechnya, which resulted in zero joy, even though Chechnya was her native land and Koku missed it when she was in exile.

To add to Koku’s misery, she outlived all of her children, including a daughter who died a few years back at the age of 104.

But not one “single happy day” in her entire life? Yikes!

'Looking back at my unhappy life, I wish I had died when I was young. I worked all my life. I did not have time for rest or entertainment.

Hmmmm. I consider myself to be someone who has “worked all my life,” but there’s work and there’s work. And when work is pure, unadulterated drudgery without any “time for rest or entertainment”, well, I might “wish I’d died when I was young” too. But, Jeez Louise, grim as the story of Koku’s life is, you’d think there might be at least a scintilla of happiness in there. One perfect spring day when her kiddos were small and the family had an egg to share. Talk about depressing.

'We were either digging the ground, or planting the watermelons. When I was, my days were running one by one. And now I am not living, I am just dragging through.'

Man, not even being able to take some pleasure from eating watermelon. Of course, she just mentions planting them, not eating them. Maybe she had to sell her entire crop.

One of my husband’s favorite TV shows was the late 1970’s-early 1980’s sitcom Taxi, and his favorite character was Latka Gravas, who had emigrated from some fictional Eastern European hellhole. When talking about his childhood, Latka would say that it wasn’t that bad, even in those early years when his family lived outdoors. “We had the bucket. We had the chair.” (I have a tiny bucket ornament that hangs on my Christmas tree in honor of Latka and my late Christmas-hating husband. Jim’s favorite quote from Latka was this one: “The only thing that separates us from the animals are mindless superstition and pointless ritual.")

Anyway, Latka’s life sounds like an absolute fun-filled pleasure cruise compared to Koku Istambulova’s. 

I’m not one of those folks who want to live forever. Right about now, 90 sounds good for the endgame. But ask me if and when I hit 89. If I still have my health and mobility, if I’m not demented, if my home isn’t underwater (literally: I live on landfill), if my family and friends are still around in good health and mobile, and not demented, well, why not?

But 129 sounds like about 29 years too much for anyone, even for someone like me who’s led a pretty good life with plenty of happy days along the way. Let alone for someone whose highpoints were watermelon digging while Panzer tanks rumbled past.

Guess Hobbes wasn’t right about everyone’s life. Sometimes it turns out to be nasty, brutish, and long.

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A shout out to the wonderful Lauren Duca, who tweeted about poor Koku, and who “cannot wait for this feature film starring Kate McKinnon.”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Robots are people, too?

While we haven’t yet reached the technological singularity (when AI will just start getting smarter and smarter and surpass human intelligence: can’t wait), it’s no secret that robots are keep getting smarter and smarter. (While it sometimes seems that actual people are getting dumber and dumber, I don’t think that there’s actually any evidence that this is the case. Yet.)

Anyway, the robots, or their virtual, software-based cousins, the bots, are out there. And some of them – especially those nasty little bots; especially those nasty little Russky bots – are up to no good.

As robots/bots get older, wiser, and more malicious, the question arises about who’s responsible if one of them does something bad. Prosecutorially bad.

Under an ongoing EU proposal, it might just be the bot itself. A 2017 European Parliament report floated the idea of granting special legal status, or “electronic personalities,” to smart robots, specifically those which (or should that be who?) can learn, adapt, and act for themselves. This legal personhood would be similar to that already assigned to corporations around the world, and would make robots, rather than people, liable for their self-determined actions, including for any harm they might cause. The motion suggests:

Creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, so that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons responsible for making good any damage they may cause, and possibly applying electronic personality to cases where robots make autonomous decisions or otherwise interact with third parties independently. (Source: Slate)

Oh.

The “robots wouldn’t have the right to vote or marry.” I agree with robots not getting the vote, even though they’d certainly be smarter than certain low information voters, that’s for sure. On the other hand, robots/bots could “decide” to make some truly terrible electoral choices. And the prospect of robots marrying is too ghastly to contemplate. Would a robot be able to marry a bot?

But robots are surely more like actual living, breathing persons than are corporations, and SCOTUS has declared corporations people. So who knows what’s going to happen in the long run.

At least with a corporation, you can identify who’s responsible and accountable for bad corporate behavior: the officers of the corporation. They can be fined, and even become imprisoned, if their companies play fast and loose. Because we know that, when it comes down to it, the “corporation” isn’t the actor. It’s the people running the corporation.

Who’s responsible when it’s a robot? The robot’s owner? The person who created the code that the bot used to smoke the entire power grid of the US?

With robots/bots “self-learning”, getting smarter and perhaps nastier, who’s responsible when they go rogue?

All this fretting about robotic personhood:

It’s a forward-thinking look at the inevitable legal ramifications of the autonomous-thinking A.I. that will someday be upon us, though it’s not without its critics. The proposal has been denounced in a letter released April 12, signed by 156 robotics,* legal, medical, and ethics experts, who claim that the proposal is “nonsensical” and “non-pragmatic.” The complaint takes issue with giving the robots “legal personality,” when neither the Natural Person model, the Legal Entity Model, nor the Anglo-Saxon Trust model is appropriate. There are also concerns that making robots liable would absolve manufacturers of liability that should rightfully be theirs.

My goodness, who knew there were that many models of just what defines personhood? I’m just as happy to sit here in blissful ignorance, without worrying a whit about the economic, legal, and philosophical underpinnings that need to be considered if and when robots get declared people.

Certainly, before I gave such vaunted status to machines, let alone software, I’d vote for creating a demi-personhood category for sentient beings, like doggos and pygmy chimpanzees.

I don’t know what John Frank Weaver, a Boston attorney who works on AI law and author of Robots Are People, Too – and here I was thinking that my blog post title was original -  thinks about doggo or bonobo (pygmy chimp) personhood, but he does think that we should be figuring out just what status robots have.

Weaver has written about what it means to give robots various aspects of personhood, including the right to free speech, the right to citizenship, and legal protections (even for ugly robots). As you can guess from the title of his book, he himself recommends limited legal personhood for robots, including the right to enter and perform contracts, the obligation to carry insurance, the right to own intellectual property, the obligation of liability, and the right to be the guardian of a minor.

Okay. I’m nodding along until I get to “guardian of a minor.” A minor human, or a minor robot? The inquiring mind of an actual human would like to know.

Meanwhile, while I’m fretting about whether dogs should be given some of the rights of personhood – so many dogs being so colossally superior to so many humans – I do have to point out that robots are dogs now, too. If you haven’t seen the Boston Dynamics pup, check it out here. (See Spot run!) All I can say is that, if humanoid robots are going to get personhood, surely dog robots should too. Arf!

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*I initially read this as “robots”

Monday, May 21, 2018

The All-American Language Lab

This map’s been around for a few years, but there’s something pretty fascinating about it, no?

Language Map

It makes sense that, in California, Nevada, and Hawaii, the third up language is Tagalog. Lots of Filipinos in those states And lots of Vietnamese in Washington and Texas make sense, too. Washington is West Coast, and I remember reading about Vietnamese shrimpers/fishermen in Texas. But who’da thunk that it would be the third most commonly spoken language in Oklahoma and Nebraska?

And what’s with Oregon and Russia?

It’s interesting to see where the native tongue is a native tongue: Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico, Yupik in Alaska, and Dakota in South Dakota. I like that a lot. But compare and contrast South Dakota with North Dakota, where the third most popular language is German – one of 16 (if I counted correctly) where that’s the case. I knew that the Midwest and Plains states were loaded with Germans. And I’m pretty sure that Lawrence Welk was from North Dakota. But, given that the last great wave of German immigrants was probably in the immediate years after WWII when the Germans who’d made it over during earlier waves brought over a bunch of second-cousin displace persons, where are all these German-sprechters coming from? This last wave was 60-70 years ago, so who’s out there speaking all that German?

By the way, I know about DPs because a lot of them ended up sleeping on my German grandmother’s couch in Chicago. When we visited Chicago – an every other year routine – there was always a landsmann or two buzzing in and out of Grandma’s house on North Mozart. Nephews, cousins, fellows from her home town. Most of the ones I recall were men, but I’m sure there were women among the people by grandmother sponsored. (The only woman I remember was the French wife of one of those German cousins. They’d met during the war.)

Anyway, I’m guessing that when German is the third most spoken language, all that means is that there aren’t a lot of folks in the state who speak anything other than English or Spanish.

I see that the third most spoken language in Illinois is Polish, rather than German, and that Polish outpost floats in the sea of German. Not much of a surprise – lots of those Central Europa types immigrated to Chicago. But I would have thought that there’d be more Germans than Poles. Maybe this reflects more recent immigration patterns. I know that there are a fair number of newby Polish immigrants in the Boston-area. (Don’t know if it’s still the case, but for a while there were a number of imported Polish priests around here. One of them said the funeral Mass for my cousin twenty years ago. We were all a bit weirded out that someone with such a pronounced Polish accent was officiating at a parish so Irish-y that the statue of St. Pius X that adorned the front entrance resembles JFK.) Anyway, maybe the Chicago Poles are newcomers.

The Midwest outlier, however, isn’t Illinois. It’s Michigan, where Arabic comes in third. Hamtramck, outside of Detroit, used to be a majority-Polish Catholic town. It’s now homing in on becoming majority-Muslim. Hence the Arabic. Or it’s Minnesota, where Hmong is third-most-likely to be spoken. That’s because in 1975, when Laos was more or less destroyed, Minnesota welcomed in a lot of Hmong refugees.

After German, French is the language placing third in the most states: 11 in all. (Twelve if you count French Creole in Florida.) Four of the French states are in New England, which comes as no surprise, given the French Canadian population of these states. Massachusetts and Rhode Island, however, have Portuguese as their third. Lots of Azores/Portugal folks – think the Gloucester, Provincetown, and New Bedford fishing fleets. And there are a ton of Brazilians in the Boston area these days, too.

Back on the French front, Louisiana is one of the Francophone states, as anyone who’s seen The Big Easy will understand, eh cher? But what’s up with West Virginia? French? C’est vrai? (French for ‘huh?’)

For those of us who know folks from Philadelphia or who are familiar with Frank Sinatra, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen’s mother, it’s no shocker that Italian is the third language of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

And anyone who’s spent more than a New York minute in Manhattan will get why Chinese is spoken there.

Two states speak Korean: Georgia and Virginia. Why not?

I really don’t know why I found this little map so interesting. Guess it’s because, if you squint a bit, you can see something of the history of immigration to the U.S. More or less. Plenty of British Isles immigrants over the years. And lots of Irish in that immigrant flow as well. Thanks to the British occupation of Eire, the Irish contributed little to the Tower of American Babel. Our English wa already baked in.

In any event, I had fun looking at the All American Language Lab. It’d be even more fun to look at what they looked like in 1900 and 1950. Spanish probably wouldn’t have been Number Two, other than in California, Texas and a couple o other states. But I’m too lazy to track down those earlier maps. If they show up in my Twitter feed, however, I’ll be so there.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Where’s the beef? In the carnivore’s freezer.

It seems like only yesterday that I was putting down my bowl of ice cream to chuckle about the Paleo diet. You remember Paleo? Think only foods that Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble would have put on the table: meat and fish, fresh fruit and veg, eggs and nuts. Strictly hunter-gatherer – no grains, which need to be cultivated – no processed foods, and no dairy, because I guess there were no domestic cows for Wilma and Betty to milk. And Fred and Barney were getting their meat from animals like hyenas and not bothering to milk them on the fly. Or from animals like dinosaurs, that don’t produce milk.

Odd as Paleo struck me – I ain’t never going to give up my grains, thank you – it made more sense to me than vegan. Sure, vegans can have grains, which is an improvement on Paleo. And I’m cool with the vegetarian aspects. What I don’t get about vegan is thinking that it’s exploiting a chicken to take an egg, a cow to spritz some milk, a bee to nab some honey. If you have the chickens in your backyard air-conditioned chicken coop, and know that they’re cared for, etc., how exploitive is it to ask them to produce an egg or two for you?

But, hey, I couldn’t stick with Atkins or South Beach for more than three days before falling off the no-carb wagon and landing, mouth wide open, in a big old bowl of pasta.

And then there’s the carnivore diet…

…a regimen that involves eating only animal products like meat, offal and eggs, and no plant-based foods. It’s an extreme version of the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet – which trains the body to run on fat rather than carbohydrates – that has become popular in recent years. Proponents of the diet say it reduces inflammation and blood pressure while increasing libido and mental clarity. (Source: The Guardian)

I like meat and eggs just fine. But offal? Oh, how awful.

I wouldn’t refuse liver if it were the last food on earth, and I do occasionally eat pate. But kidney? Isn’t their function to filter out impurities? And don’t they come with a whiff of urine?

Sweetbreads I tried once: too rich for my blood. Brain I ordered by accident in Paris. I recalled from high school French that veau meant veal, but I forgot entirely that cervelle was brain. It actually didn’t have much taste, but it looked kind of like chewing gum that had been extruded through the space between my front teeth.

As for tongue. Big gross beef tongue. Little pink lamb tongue. Really weird duck tongue. Yuck of yucks.

And no plant-based foods? No apples. No oranges. No peppers. No pears. No pistachios. No tomatoes. No potatoes. No broccoli. No grapes. No peaches. No cereals. No asparagus. No cukes. No bread. No blueberries. No walnuts. No rice. No thanks…

One of the adherents to the life of carnivory is Shawn Baker, a surgeon who eats roughly 4 pounds of steak a day. Which is about the amount of steak I consume in a year. Baker admits.

“It can be monotonous eating the same thing over and over again, but as time goes by you start to crave it.”

I tend to be kind of a boring, monotonous eater. After all, I’m somone who ate a baloney sandwich on white bread with kosher dill pickle every Monday through Thursday for all four years of my high school career. (On Friday’s – fish day – I ate a PBJ.) Yet I don’t think I could hack eating steak all the time.

But Baker likes the simplicity of it. No meal planning, no thought going into what’s to eat, quick in-and-out grocery shopping. All you need to know is where the beef is. Sort of like wearing the same outfit everyday. (What to wear today? Jeans and a sweater. That was easy.)

It did not surprise me in the least that:

…the all-meat diet has been embraced by a cluster of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, who describe themselves as “bitcoin carnivores”.

As Michael Goldstein, a “bitcoin and meat maximalist” has it:

“Once someone has grown capable of seeing beyond the lies and myths that experts peddle in one domain, it becomes easier to see beyond them in other domains as well.”

Should we all be spending more time on Reddit and with InfoWars? Will that help us grown capable of ferreting out lies and myths?

While all sorts of wonders are attributed to the carnivore diet, many are skeptical. One such skeptic is Stanford professor of medicine Christopher Gardner, who has this to say:

“Are these T rex? African lions? Or humans? Assuming [you are referring to] humans, this sounds disastrous on multiple levels,” he said.

The lack of dietary fibre in an all-meat diet is likely to wreak havoc on the bacteria in our colons, known as the microbiome, he said. “Growing evidence suggests that in the absence of adequate fibre, the bacteria in the colon consume and thin the protective mucus lining, which then leads to impaired immune function and inflammation.”

Well, mucus-consuming bacteria is a bit more medical-ness than I needed. But it does seem logical that all meat wouldn’t be all good for you. There’s also research that suggests that consuming more meat is bad for your heart. Then there’s:

Factory farming of animals is also linked to antibiotic resistance in humans and is a huge contributor to the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

You’ve convinced me. No carnivore diet for this gal.

Think I’ll go have a cookie and a glass of milk.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

That Aaron Schlossberg sure is one clever marketer

Advertising costs a ton, and I’m guessing that’s especially true for the lawyer ads that run on TV. Better to take advantage of free press and social media. Which is what NYC attorney Aaron Schlossberg did the other day. What better way to reach your target audience, attract new prospects, than have all kinds of buzz buzzing around you?

Here’s the scoop on Mr. Schlossberg.

Apparently hoping to expand his client base, he did a bit of inspired performance art in a Manhattan restaurant when he stopped in for lunch. Overhearing a couple of employees speaking Spanish – a language that, according to his web site, Mr. Schlossberg is fluent in – the man went on a full-bore/full-boar rant. Fortunately for him, someone was able to capture his performance on her smartphone. And as luck would have it – or maybe just clever planning on this part – the video went viral. You can check it out here.

Some of the highlights:

In the video, the man tells an employee, “Your staff is speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English... This is America.” (Source: Huffington Post)

Which reminded me of a weird old experience I had when I was in college. My roommate’s widowed mother and two maiden aunts came into town and took us out to The CafĂ© Budapest – back in the day, one of the swankier Boston restaurants. There was a couple sitting nearby, speaking French. For some reason – likely associated with tee many martoonis – the two maiden aunts went into a bit of the rant about people coming to this country and not speaking English. Part of their rave included repeatedly emphasizing the fact that their parents were immigrants, but they had always spoken English. They omitted the fact that their parents, who were themselves the offspring of Irish immigrants, spoke English to begin with. My roommate and I, along with her mother, were completely mortified. Eventually the maiden aunts calmed down.

That was nearly 50 years ago. The world one might have hoped had changed for the better, not the worst.

The employee attempted to explain that his co-workers were simply interacting with other customers.

That hardly satisfied the man, who can be seen pointing wildly around the room at everyone he said he overheard speaking Spanish.

After other customers laugh at his antics and taunt him, with one telling him he’s “fucked up,” the angry man becomes even angrier.

“My guess is, they’re not documented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of [them] kicked out of my country,” he said. “They have the balls to come here and live off of my money I pay for their welfare, I pay for their ability to be here. The least they could do, the least they could do is speak English.”

Schlossberg seems a bit confused here. First off, he forgot to call these people “animals”, which seems to be the on-trend word for Hispanic immigrants of late. Second, these were Spanish-speaking folks with jobs, so what was that about paying for their welfare? But Schlossberg’s the clever marketer, and he’s the one that would know best about what search terms would most help him reach his ideal clientele.

On his firm’s website, they tout their creativity:

We are proud of our ability to develop out-of-the-box solutions while still offering exceptional litigation strength that can win for our clients when more conventional approaches are most appropriate.

Personally, I’d prefer my lawyers to take that more conventional approach if it is, in fact, most appropriate. But that’s just me and, anyway, I’m not their target client. I will say it’s good to see that his firm is committed to out-of-the-box, whether they’re litigating or marketing.

Prior to his brilliant out-of-the-box video – he even got a complete stranger to shoot and post it for free – Schlossberg had already proven himself adept at social media. As I saw in his LinkedIn profile (which for some reason seems to have been taken down), one of his two references was from a woman with the last name of Schlossberg, of all things. I’m sure it was just a coincidence. After all, while Schlossberg is not as common a surname as Rogers, there are plenty of them around. Isn’t Caroline Kennedy a Schlossberg?

Anyway, the review on LinkedIn wasn’t written by Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. But by using a reference that gets us thinking – is this his mother/aunt/sister/cousin/wife? – Aaron Schlossberg is demonstrating his prowess with out-of-the-box thinking. I mean, anyone can have a LinkedIn reference written by someone who’s not related. But, hey, the most conventional approaches may just seem the most appropriate.

I wish Attorney Schlossberg all the luck in the world.

He may need it if he wants to do any more take out lunching in midtown.