Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ruining it for the rest of us

Litigious assholes, that it. Or because of idiots and busy-bodies, just the threat of litigious assholes. Let's look at two stories in Sunday's NY Times.

Lion Country Safari
Lion Country Safari has put its lions in cages. The country's first drive through safari park, I have a couple 30-year old photo albums (instamatic 110!) with pictures of lions just feet away from the car, ostriches trying to peck their way through the window, and my favorite - the car in front of us completely hemmed in by 3 elephants. We couldn't move for about 10 minutes until the elephants got bored and wandered off.

Compare this to Disney's Animal Kingdom. There, they stuff you on a safari truck with 20 other people and it then speeds through an embarrassing "chase the poachers" scenario, ending with insulting animatronic baby elephants. Along the way, you will pass live animals, but the truck barely slows down enough for a decent picture.

I remember Lion Country Safari being very adamant about the safety precautions, so why are they caging the lions? From the article: Too many were opening their car windows and occasionally even doors, a park official said, making the threat of lawsuits too great for the small attraction. What type of moron would risk be attacked by a lion?
A caravan of cars streamed through on a recent warm afternoon, many stopping to take pictures of the lions - 3 males and 11 females - in their new enclosure. Joe Gagne of Loxahatchee figured it was now all right to roll down his window for a better shot, but doing so got him a reprimand from a worker in one of the zebra-striped trucks.

Mr. Gagne, who had brought his sister and her children, visiting from South Carolina, said the lions seemed "pretty peaceful."

"If they've never had an incident all this time," he said, "why bother with the fences now?"

Thanks Joe Gagne for ruining it for the rest of us. I nominate you for Asshole of the Week.

Cooking with Teflon
Interesting artcle about discovering a new technique for scrambled eggs. Basically, you whip the eggs and cook in swirling, boiling water. Interesting and I'll have to try it. The author is Daniel Patterson, a professional chef and restaurant owner. So why is he going through this convoluted method? Because there's a busy-body involved:
At first I made scrambled eggs and toast every morning, but that was before Alexandra, my fiancée, had me throw away our Teflon pan. An environmental lawyer, she cited the lawsuits, fines and nasty press that DuPont has incurred in connection with its nonstick pans. "DuPont claims its cookware is perfectly safe," she said with the practiced disdain of her profession, "but if the fumes can kill birds when the pans are overheated, then it's probably not good for us either."

You know what the solution should be? DON"T OVERHEAT THE PAN. Teflon is a wonderful substance and is truly nonstick. And it's cheap. Other stuff? Not so nonstick or cheap. If you want perfect scrambled eggs or an omelet, a cheap Teflon pan is the way to go. See a scratch, throw it out and get another one. In my kitchen, about the only thing that gets cooked on a nonstick surface is eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches. Everything else is cladded stainless steal and, soon, cast iron. Exactly how hot does teflon need to get to be dangerous? From Wiki (looks pretty accurate):
Reports of Teflon's apparent toxicity may be misleading, however, as all chemicals will decompose when heated enough. Teflon begins to deteriorate after the temperature of cookware reaches about 500 °F (260 °C), and begins to significantly decompose above 660 °F (350 °C). By comparison, cooking fats, oils and butter will begin to scorch and smoke at about 392 °F (200 °C), and meat is usually fried between 400–450 °F (200–230 °C), but hot spots in the pan can easily exceed this temperature. In recent years, under the threat of litigation, DuPont has become more forthcoming about the risks of using Teflon on hot surfaces, but has not stopped selling the product.

That's a lot of heat and most cookware rarely has a need to get that high. Much less anything nonstick. So, if you kill yourself with toxic fumes while cooking an egg, excuse me if I just chalk it up to "nature weeding out the stupid." Like the book says, think of it as "evolution in action."

Question - who's the bigger asshole here? The professional chef who should know better or the lawyer who wants to foist her ignorant views on everyone else?

Ralph Nader should rot in Hell
Just read what Patricia Nielsen Hayden has to say.

It's another in a long line of FDA decisions removing useful and helpful drugs, because someone else is trying to be helpful. There is no such thing as a perfectly safe drug. Drugs come with all sorts of side effects, some of which are occasionally deadly. What the FDA should do is make sure all dangers and risk factors are properly identified and spelled out.

And everyone should stop legislating putting common cold medication behind the counter.

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