Morning Links

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

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61 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  David | 

    As sad as the dead dog is, at least there it seems to have actually been attacking, instead of wagging its tail in a potentially aggressive manner.

  2. #2 |  Robert | 

    +1 on #1. Disingenuous to label it “puppycide.” Appears to fall under legitimate self-defense by the cop involved.

  3. #3 |  Radley Balko | 

    Disingenuous to label it “puppycide.”

    It’s not as bad as some other cases. But he invaded the dog’s territory, and through no fault of the dog’s owner. Dogs can sense adrenalin and aggression. If cops are going to chase people through neighborhoods, across private property, they need to be trained to deal with the dogs they’ll inevitably encounter in ways that don’t involve filling them with lead.

  4. #4 |  Nickp | 

    “through no fault of the dogs owner”

    You didn’t read carefully. The owner was a criminal suspect who ran from police into the dog’s territory. The owner actively led the police to a place where they would be attacked by the dog while performing their duty, and in this case, I think the officer’s response was entirely appropriate.

    Not that the suspect escaped when the police were attacked by his dog.

  5. #5 |  Nickp | 

    “Not” should be “Note” in my previous comment

  6. #6 |  Radley Balko | 

    Ah, you’re right. Will correct.

  7. #7 |  BSK | 

    The cure for dog melting!

  8. #8 |  BSK | 

    Also, this group does some pretty great work on behalf of food trucks and other street vendors:

  9. #9 |  Dave Krueger | 

    The moral failing of the CIA’s vaccination scam in Pakistan.

    Goddammit, why do you people always have to dwell on the negative. You focus on the relatively minor fact that the CIA’s vaccination scam has now made suspect the delivery of medical care and aid everywhere in the world. You complain that the CIA has proven beyond a doubt that it is utterly without a conscience in the conduct of it’s mission to make the rest of the world hate us, a fact we have all been aware of for decades. But you are completely and unfairly ignoring the fact that the CIA showed an enormous amount of self restraint by not using the opportunity to conduct secret medical experiments (that we know of).

  10. #10 |  BSK | 

    Great link on the Norway tragedy. People’s responses have been very telling and, unfortunately, too few people are noticing the distinction.

  11. #11 |  MassHole | 

    You know that “Hitler finds out” gag on youtube? It’s what I imagine Pam Geller was like when she found out it was a white christian dude pulling the trigger.

  12. #12 |  Nipplemancer | 

    the original was vague and didn’t mention the dog biting the cops, nor that it was the suspects yard.

  13. #13 |  marco73 | 

    That Planet of the Apes headline looks suspiciously like a press release riding on coattails of a movie promotion. Seems everytime there is a movie promotion with any sort of science involved, someone has to dig up a news article quoting some authority on the subject. Typically, the closer the movie’s subject to any sort of fact set, the more breathless the coverage.
    We’ve seen some of the promotion for the next Planet of the Apes installment: my kids were laughing that somehow a couple hundred (or thousand maybe) apes using sticks and rocks could somehow threaten to take over a planet with 7 billion humans.

  14. #14 |  JMK | 

    I don’t think Sullum “obliterates” Bittman in his column, mainly because he fails to address the Bittman’s central argument; that pre-existing subsidies for commercial agriculture should be switched to support local produce markets. The US already has a massive system of subsidies for industrial agricultural products like soy and corn, which distort the true market price of commodities made with those products. This in effect, is an active subsidy on the “bad” food Bittman rails against. Very cheap oil to fry things, very cheap corn to make snacks.

    The artificially low price of inputs is what makes factory meat farming possible. It wouldn’t be feasible to provide dollar hamburgers if feed were bought at it’s true market price. This leads to unimaginable torture, images just a google search away, in the factory farms where animals spend their horrific days. This system is one of the leading sources of local environmental damage, poisoning watersheds across the country.

    (This system distorts global commodity prices too, by the way. The effects of our subsidies are felt hardest by poor rural farmers in the developing world, who cannot receive the true market price for their output.)

    The argument for repealing this system of subsidies carries serious water – and Bittman suggests that we redirect some of the windfall from repealing these pre-existing subsidies to small produce farms. I tend to think that price distortions didn’t result in a great system the first time, and that we should simply allow the true cost of all agricultural products be another factor in choosing what to eat (along with other things, like health benefits and ethical concerns). What Sullum is suggesting – that the status quo is working well, noting the prices at his local wallmart are great, fails to address the fundamental problems. The system isn’t working. Those aren’t the real prices.

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Jacob Sullum absolutely obliterates Mark Bittman.

    I have never bought into the oft repeated propaganda that poor people can’t afford to eat healthy foods or that junk food is so much cheaper than healthy food. It doesn’t stand the smell test and the prices I see at the supermarket don’t support the claim. Not even close.

    Of course, if you repeat something often enough…

  16. #16 |  BSK | 


    While I agree that the issue is overblown, it is also not as simple as stated in Sullum’s piece. Unless you are going to eat plain, raw vegetables (the healthiest way to consume most vegetables but less than ideal in terms of taste and actually getting people to eat them) you need additional ingredients to prepare them. While averaging the cost of even the most basic staples (olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, butter) out over the bevy of meals one can prepare still keeps the price low, there is an initial hit that makes many people hesitate. If someone lacks these staples, it is hard to convince them that fresh veggie dishes are cheaper when their first shopping trip costs them $25.

    Now, that doesn’t necessarily undermine the argument. But I do think it is a factor and should be considered rather than oversimplifying the argument.

  17. #17 |  Johnny Clamboat | 


    There are more than a few articles over at reason that argue for the cessation of all subsidies, no need to rehash the obvious.

    Where did you get the impression that Sullum was arguing for the status quo? I only saw an argument against subsidies.

    The idea that we’ll have a windfall from ceasing subsidies to commercial agriculture is comical. Have you been paying attention to the world’s worst reality show that is the debt target debate? Of course I can’t blame you if you do turn away from that trainwreck.

  18. #18 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Best take yet on the anti-Muslim right’s response to Oslo.”
    Bill O’Reilly, the Archie Bunker of TV News, was criticizing the NY Times for the headline calling this madman a Christian extremist.

    That’s what he was, right?

  19. #19 |  Howlin' Hobbit | 

    I for one welcome our new simian overlords.

  20. #20 |  Highway | 

    I dunno, BSK, those staples (and why not just go with generic vegetable oil over olive oil) are still some of the cheapest things in the market. And even then, most of the people who have a kitchen already have most of that stuff, plus more spices and seasonings. Even people who only eat processed packaged food have oil, salt, pepper, milk, and butter around. You need that stuff to cook french fries, mac and cheese, etc.

    Really, it’s not the cost of the food ingredients that’s the deterrent. It’s the time taken to prepare. And this is frequently completely ignored by the people arguing on either side. It’s not the time in the oven or boiling on the stove that’s important. It’s the prep time and cleanup time. I think the arguing about subsidies and ingredient costs misses this completely, and ultimately makes almost no difference because it’s obviously not the cost of the ingredients that is the problem. Sullum correctly points out that the food ingredient budget of the people who we’re talking about here is higher than it would be if they cooked from scratch. They’re paying for convenience and consistency and expertise. And they’re paying to not have to spend that extra 45 minutes a day tied down to a specific area in the kitchen, doing some of the most disliked chores in history.

    I also think that the ‘people should eat healthier’ arguments miss a huge opportunity when they only talk about fresh ingredients, because there are plenty of frozen ingredients that are cheaper, more convenient, and more accessible, especially talking about vegetables. Frozen corn and beans are much easier to deal with than fresh, and cooked with care do not suffer much (I find it much easier to get frozen corn cooked correctly than fresh corn), and frozen spinach is generally more nutrient rich than fresh spinach, although it’s not as usable in some recipes (but where it is usable, it’s again easier to deal with).

    But the bottom line to me really isn’t the cost of ingredients or the relative nutrition. It’s convincing people (including me) that it’s worth their time to spend it cooking and shopping. And that’s a hard sell.

  21. #21 |  CyniCAl | 

    Good news from the left coast for once — LA may not have a football team, but if a city this size removes red light cameras, then smaller cities will be influenced to do the same, so good for LA.,0,6729565.story?track=rss

  22. #22 |  Leonard | 

    There are two big differences between anti-Muslim blogging and the pro-Muslim propaganda in the MSM. No, make that three. The most salient difference is scale. The anti-Islam “movement”, if you can call it that, consists of a few bloggers, whereas the pro-Muslim side includes the NYT and the rest of the MSM, the universities and all other educational facilities, and all Western governments. Not to mention Muslims themselves, all billion of them. The disproportion in the sides is staggering.

    But there are two other important distinctions to be made.

    First, Islam and right-wing anti-Muslim nationalism (my label for ABB’s ideology, such as it is) are based on entirely different source. The Koran itself — the perfect, final, and literal word of Allah — contains the justification for Islamic terrorism. So it doesn’t matter what percentage of Muslims are peaceful. So long as Muslims maintain the belief in a literal Koran, there is always the danger that someone might take their holy book seriously. By contrast, there is no inflexible and inherent ideological content to anti-Muslim nationalism. Thus there is no necessary reason why it must tend to violence. And as we see: it largely doesn’t.

    The other big distinction between pro and anti Muslim agitation in terms of their responsibility for terrorism is a matter of practicality. Recall the aforementioned staggering disproportion in the two sides. This has real effect: right-wing terrorism in the modern West is inherently stupid, because it doesn’t work. Whereas left-wing terrorism works just fine.

  23. #23 |  BSK | 


    Great point. I don’t think I made my point well. I agree that price is not the main hindrance. I was only pointing out that the argument that, “Spinach only costs $2 a pound! That’s so cheap!” isn’t really looking at the whole picture. And I think you’d be surprised how many people lack even basic ingredients in their kitchens. I remember I used to read a blog that promised every meal cost less than a dollar. The problem was, a meal would call for a teaspoon of salt, which the blogger would argue cost only a penny (or whatever it was… it was very, very low), or half a tomato for 37-cents. But the fact is, you can’t go to the store and by a teaspoon of salt or half a tomato. So unless you already had the salt or the tomato, you were paying much more for that meal. Now, future meals would obviously reap the benefits, but there is in initial barrier to entry, something that I think is being ignored.

    I agree with you on the frozen veggies. Even canned veggies aren’t the worst thing on earth. Are they as good for you as fresh? Probably not. They tend to be high in salt. But are they better than Spaghetti-Os? Certainly.

    One area that is often ignored is the prepared food sections of the supermarket. Often times, these have great, healthy, already-prepared options. However, there is quite a mark-up. Subsidize those, and you have your fix. Make a cooked rotisserie chicken cost $5 and the hot salad bar full of prepared veggies $3 a pound and you are still probably saving money over processed foods and providing the convenience.

  24. #24 |  BSK | 


    Are you arguing that being fair and objective when analyzing and reporting on Islam and Muslims is pro-Muslim, perhaps your argument stands. Otherwise… nope.

  25. #25 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I mostly despise any point of view that the government should stop pending money on one idiot program and spend it instead on some other idiot program. I hear a lot of that these days.

    I would prefer they stop spending the money all together and let the taxpayers keep it. And no amount is too small to qualify for such treatment. I would apply the same rule whether we’re talking about $10,000 or 10,000,000,000.

  26. #26 |  NY Cynic | 

    Good read on the Washington Post article. Justin Raimondo and Anthony Gregory also take down the neocon talking points that are circulating around this tragety. Caution on the comments section Raimondo’s article, seems that Paleocons have shown up to push their racial nationalist bs in response.

  27. #27 |  Pablo | 

    #20 Highway–I think you hit the nail on the head, esp. with working parents as opposed to the single/childless. After working all day I can imagine that a mom or dad would much rather get something from the drive-thru at Chili’s than spend 30-45 minutes over a hot stove.

    I don’t buy the claim that is expensive to eat healthily. When I was in grad school my roommate and I pretty much lived off of baked potatoes, brown rice, beans, apples, broccoli, eggs, and canned salmon and mackerel fixed a bunch of different ways. Cheap food and very nutritious. We both had really low bodyfat. And yes we had some spectacular farting contests.

  28. #28 |  BSK | 

    Perhaps people need to realize that you can fix delicious meals that don’t require 30-45 minutes over a hot stove. Drop a pork loin in a crock pot with a couple other ingredients before you leave in the morning and return home to a reasonable and tasty facsimile of pulled pork. Spinach, oil, and garlic in a hot pan for a few minutes is delicious and nutritious. Most fish can be cooked a variety of different ways very quickly. It isn’t THAT hard to get a half-way decent meal together in under 15 minutes if you take the time to learn. But how many people do? Or even know that it’s possible without the use of processed foods?

  29. #29 |  Jesse | 

    Gosh those poor saps are depressing. To think that a mother of four sent in $200 after Ben Bernanke created 2 trillion out of thin air and didn’t spend a thin dime of his own salary. Talk about throwing good money after bad (or imaginary).

  30. #30 |  Highway | 

    Even single or childless people don’t want to spend time cooking. I sure don’t (and I don’t). Everyone *can* make time to cook food, because for just about everyone, they choose what to spend their time doing. But when the choice is “stand around in the kitchen prepping food, watching it do stuff on the stove, and cleaning up everything you touch” or “Throw something in the oven and go do other stuff for 15 minutes” or “Take a 10 minute trip to McDonalds or Wendys or the sub shop”, it’s not hard to see why people choose the easier thing. People value their time, and unless they get enjoyment out of cooking, then it’s a tough sell to tell people they should spend 15 dollars in personal time to cook or go spend 8 dollars on prepared food.

    And to address the ‘healthy’ issue: It’s eminently possible to eat only prepared foods and be a healthy person. Not to toot my own horn (cause it’s pretty untootable when you got up to 280 pounds), but I’ve lost 35 pounds over the past 6 months without changing *at all* the places I eat at. And really without changing what I eat, with some very specific exceptions: I no longer eat french fries. I eat hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. I even have two sandwiches instead of sandwich and fries. I have an Egg Mcmuffin for breakfast, but take half the muffin off and no hash brown. Diet Coke instead of orange juice. Not exercising more. Cutting out a lot of snacking, but not completely. Really, my goal was to just try to make somewhat better choices. The initial impetus was a ‘Biggest Loser’ competition at the office. And I didn’t win (which wasn’t my goal anyway), but I did lose 30 pounds doing that, and because I didn’t really change what I ate, or how much I ate, I can still do it. 2 months afterward, I’m one of two people (out of 22) that hasn’t gained some back (and even lost more).

    Now I could do better if I cooked my own food, maybe. But maybe I’d make more wrong choices. Maybe I’d overdo it on pasta and breads. But I certainly wouldn’t like spending that time in the kitchen.

  31. #31 |  Highway | 

    Perhaps people need to realize that you can fix delicious meals that don’t require 30-45 minutes over a hot stove.

    I was thinking more of that 15-20 minute cooking meals. My 45 minute estimate is from start of prep through end of cleanup. It’s not the cooking time, it’s the total time, and actually the time on the stove is probably the easiest part, if you took the time to prep everything. But you’re usually talking 10 minutes to get stuff out, cut and chop and measure ingredients (because part of eating fresher ingredients is buying whole items like onions and celery) and get it going. 5 minutes to boil a pot of water, perhaps. Then say 10-15 of actual cooking time. Then 3-5 minutes for plating (getting everything out, serving). Then you take 10-15 minutes to eat, and then you’re facing cleanup. Sure, some stuff goes in the dishwasher, but you don’t fill up the dishwasher every day and if you’re cooking every day you need those pots and pans for tomorrow. So handwashing is needed. And that’s getting you up to 45 minutes total time.

    I think this whole discussion might be indicating a contributing factor as well. If people who are advocating for cooking continually underestimate the time it takes to make things, then people who try to cook will see that they can not come close to the time it ‘supposedly’ takes to cook items, and will get disheartened when they realize they’re taking an hour for preparing something that some book erroneously says should take 20 minutes (I did read an article a few months ago about recipe time estimates, and how they are terribly inaccurate, because they generally don’t even bother to be right, they just throw a number on there). Someone who is good at cooking will always get something done faster than someone who is new at it, but we’re not trying to convince the person who’s good at it. If people budgeting time for cooking underestimate that time, then they will be late for their next thing, and that will negatively affect their desire to cook next time.

  32. #32 |  hamburglar007 | 

    The link in the media campaign finance article seems to be broken. I don’t know much about things abroad, but most of the major US papers fight tooth and nail on 1st amendment rights, sometimes collectively. I have no problem with a media outlet campaigning for reforms that benefit them with respect to their right to do so, just has I have no problem never giving my business in any form to such a media outlet. I do have a big problem with a media outlet making campaign donations (and any corporate donations period).

  33. #33 |  awp | 

    BSK and Highway,

    As a “poor” person (sixth year grad student) I generally eat only food from the grocery store, because it is so much cheaper. My normal daily oatmeal, three sandwiches, and dinner costs less than eight dollars a day.

    I had been an engineer who didn’t know how to cook, and was working ten-twelve hour days. So before I went to grad school almost all my meals were out at restaurants. When I started grad school I quickly realized that to continue eating well I needed to eat cheaply. When I started eating cheaply I lost 60 pounds in the following six months.

    The main reason my experience is different from the average “poor’ person, is the nature of my work. As a grad student I sit and mess around the computer all day. Even then sometimes when I get home I really dread having to cook dinner(I generally cook five days of dinner at a time). I can’t imagine I would ever cook dinner if I had just gotten home from 16 hours on my two jobs where I was standing or doing actual physical work.

  34. #34 |  BSK | 


    I am someone who enjoys cooking, so it is very possible that I underestimate the time, effort, energy, etc. required to cook. I do think that some meals can be reasonably prepared in a short amount of time, but probably not as short as is often offered. However, many of the same time issues that come in to play with cooking fresh are an issue when cooking prepared meals. Cooking a frozen pizza still dirties a cookie sheet, plates, and knife. A can of Spaghetti-O’s will still dirty a pot and bowls, unless you zap it in the microwave, at which point no amount of time in the dishwasher will get off the encrusted nuclear bits.

    But, yea, for many people anything over 5 minutes of total time in the kitchen is simply too much. For me, that gets to a larger issue plaguing society, which is namely that people want more and more but don’t want to pay for it. Seth Myers was recently talking about how inane it is for people to complain about commercials during television (particularly broadcast television). If there were no commercials, TV would cost a hell of a lot more, probably far more than many people would be willing to pay. As he said, complaining about commercials is like insisting the worst part of going food shopping is having to pay at the checkout. Yea, it is probably accurate, but it is pretty absurd to assume you can have the latter without the former. People want things to be quick and easy without sacrificing what is usually sacrificed by getting things quick and easy.

    What is the solution? Fortunately, the market seems to be correcting a bit, with many new, healthier fast food options out there, many of which have disregarded some of the many misconceptions about “healthy food” (e.g., Chipotle; many wouldn’t argue that a burrito is healthy, but they use good quality, fresh ingredients, and a few smart choices makes it a whole lot better than McDonalds). Ending corn subsidies would help. Better planning for school meals that avoid the dogmatism that plagues many current movements would be another nice step.

    Beyond that, people are going to eat what they’re going to eat. If people hate to cook, you could give them free vegetables and not much would happen with it. If they don’t care about their health, no amount of shaming or taxing is going to make their tastebuds any less responsive to the salt and fat at McDonalds. To the extent that people are unaware of how their food choices impact their health, both long and short-term, I would favor educational campaigns, assuming they were free of propaganda, hyperbole, or sanctimony. Fat chance on that, unfortunately.

  35. #35 |  JSL | 

    #18, the media seems to be backing away from calling him a “Christian fundamentalist” after reading his manifesto.

  36. #36 |  Brandon | 

    “most of the major US papers fight tooth and nail on 1st amendment rights, sometimes collectively.”

    It’s hard to get past this bit of fantasy to the rest of your comment, Hamburglar. The major US papers, if they fight for anything, usually fight for privileges for those they label “press,” which to them means “only the established newspapers like us, and not those dirty bloggers or stupid slack-jawed citizens.” They don’t fight for rights, they fight to keep their status.

  37. #37 |  MacK | 

    From the food trucks:

    ‘Mayor Larry’ Guidi said. “I like the idea of having a special events permit so we can control it and collect fees.”

    Isn’t that modern slavery at it’s quintessential peak.

  38. #38 |  DarkEFang | 

    There are a number of variables being ignored in the discussion about cooking vs. pre-made food.

    If you live a long way from grocery stores, you need to purchase many days worth of food at once. But carrying all those bags over a long distance is going to be a problem for most people. This makes car ownership a must for people who cook for themselves.

    People in densely populated neighborhoods, like those in New York City, generally have places to buy groceries nearby, so they can buy whatever they need for the next day or two. However, they amount of time they spend shopping for groceries is going to rise.

    Another factor to consider is that a trip to the grocery that costs $100 in rural Iowa might cost $150 in Manhattan. The cost of living is higher in urban areas, and poor urban areas are especially hit hard when it comes to buying groceries. Chain supermarkets don’t set foot in the poorest areas of the city, so people rely on bodegas that charge more and have poor selection.

    Another factor for inner city residents is the fact that in densely populated areas where space is a premium, kitchens are often woefully undersized. If you live in Manhattan, you are going to live in a tiny apartment, even if you have money. At best, you’ll have a kitchenette. Counter space is going to be nonexistent, so even if you want to cook, you really aren’t going to have the room unless you turn the living room into a food prep area.

  39. #39 |  BSK | 


    One of the positive steps the NYC government took was to allow additional vendor permits for “green trucks” in low-income areas. There are some chain stores that work in low-income areas, such as Associated, but there produce is terrible. This step helped bring in better quality produce at a reasonable price (since it couldn’t be stored long term) and has made quite a difference in a few neighborhoods.

    Now, I know many would balk at requiring vendor permits in the first place, but such is the current reality. Personally, I think allowing additional permits earmarked for this purpose is a good policy, even if it is big government-y. I don’t know if there are any other benefits to the green trucks, such as tax breaks.

  40. #40 |  JS | 

    The US government in general seems to be getting a bit obsessed with getting people’s DNA. I remember several stories about that in the last couple of years. Now that they got bin Laden I bet they’ll get rid of all that DNA they gathered and that Hilary had her diplomats trying to steal from UN officials, because, you know, they don’t need it anymore what with the war on terror winding down and all.

  41. #41 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #38 JS

    …with the war on terror winding down and all.


  42. #42 |  2nd of 3 | 

    Update on the Georgia mother convicter in child’s jaywalking death:

    1 year probation and 40 hours community service. The judge “also made the unusual move of offering her a chance to clear her name at a new trial”. No further details Probably the best possible outcome under the circumstances (not that she should have been charged, much less convicted, in the first place).

  43. #43 |  MattJ | 

    I want to put my $0.02 in as someone who has switched from the regular restaurant-goer and prepared food eater to someone who mostly cooks his own stuff.

    First, I made the switch in order to lose weight. It worked – I dropped from 245 to about 200 and have stayed there.

    Second, making this switch has saved me a potload of money. Can’t recommend it enough. A portion of that is that the food I’m eating is cheaper, and a portion is because I’m eating less food overall.

    Third, there are ways to cook that can save time. When I was eating less healthful food, I cooked just as much as I do now, but I was cooking crap. (Hamburger helper, spaghetti, etc) Now if I still cook some of that stuff, it’s because I eat much smaller servings, which brings me to…

    Fourth, and this is a big one, in my opinion. You can make a HUGE change towards more healthful (and less expensive) eating by doing the following. Prepare a simple, raw-vegetable salad and eat a bunch of it before every meal so that there’s less room in your gut for crap. Don’t put a bunch of dressing or cheese or croutons on it – just fill your gut half-full of leafy greens, tomatos, carrots, cucumbers, etc. Prep time is significant, but not daily if you make a big enough salad, and all you need is a sink, an knife, and a cutting board. Then balance your meal with the same stuff you always eat, but cut back to half, or a third.

    BSK-I am living proof that one can eat Spaghetti-O’s without dirtying anything other than a spoon. Back when I was eating them, I found them to be fine at room temperature – I started eating them that way when I was a pre-teen and continued until grad school. Total prep time – as long as it takes to run a can opener. Total clean up time – as long as it takes to throw the can away and put the spoon into the dishwasher.

  44. #44 |  BSK | 


    True that. I sometimes still use what I call the “homeless man pot”. Take the lid off, peel the label off the side of the can and get as much glue as you can off it, pop it right on the burner, and cook away. Works for soups, beans, Spaghetti-Os. Not quite as quick as your method, but at least you have hot food! You usually do need a bowl afterward or you risk burning yourself on the can and it can be awkward to eat, but it does save a pot. To your point about filling up with veggies first, I’d recommend tossing a little bit of olive oil (or another dressing with healthy fat in it) or nuts or avocado on your salad. Research shows that getting some healthy fats into your body at the beginning of the meals helps your full-reflex kick in sooner. For other meals, you can throw peanut butter on your toast or a handful of almonds down before a sandwich. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to control your portions with that base.

    I think many people would be surprised to learn the things they can make at home that are cheaper and better than they get at the store and require very little work (though sometimes less common tools). Peanut butter requires two to three ingredients and a food processor. Fantastic soups can be made very easily from pre-made kits or from a handful of ingredients with very little prep or active work. Make your own pasta sauce in minutes. Granola is a piece of cake, though can be a bit labor intensive.

    But, again, people who don’t want to do the work won’t.

  45. #45 |  Justin | 


    Your declaration that Adam Serwer’s post was the “best take yet” on the whole Oslo thing is immensely disturbing. In his post, he demonizes–without a single shred of evidence, which I thought you valued immensely–Robert Spencer of There is no justification for this. Robert Spencer has never demonized Muslims and is not an “Islamophobe” (whatever that loaded term means, anyway). He has never promoted violence in any way and has actively disavowed any ties to any violent organizations in the past and present. Your support of demonization without evidence is unfortunate. Please consider reading Robert Spencer’s response to the ridiculous allegations against him before taking anything Serwer says seriously.

    Sincerely, a big fan.

  46. #46 |  Highway | 

    We do have to remember that we’re talking about people who all have very different circumstances. And primarily, these articles are talking about poor urban families. That means children who don’t have much experience with complex flavors or desire to try something new, parents who don’t have a lot of time and energy, locations that are not conducive to convenient, well-stocked markets, and inertia against changing.

    I really think that if it was sold as a ‘Spend one hour a day maximum and you’ll eat better and healthier and enjoy it more’ that it would get more traction, rather than cherry picking recipes and techniques that are faster but don’t result in an appropriate meal for everyone.

    Thinking a little more broadly, I wonder if maybe trying to get schools to cut down on homework assigned would help. I’ve been shocked seeing the amount of homework that all children are expected to do for grade schools. This can take a lot of attention away from other household activities, especially something like food preparation, which children as young as 7 or 8 can assist with. If this is a priority, then it has to take priority over something else. But there are so many ‘priorities’ now: food, sleep, school, health and dental, and every single one is considered ‘most important’ by the people pushing it.

  47. #47 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    the CIA showed an enormous amount of self restraint by not using the opportunity to conduct secret medical experiments (that we know of).

    It was brought up, but they noted we live in a Wikileaks World* now and they all cursed and shook their fists at the sky.

    *Uhm…but…you know Wikileaks hasn’t had any impact at all and is just overblown hype.

  48. #48 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I don’t mind anyone who says they have to pay more if they want the convenience of food they can just heat up in the microwave or get from a drive-up window. I just don’t buy the argument that they’re forced to eat high-calorie foods because they’re too poor to eat healthy. I don’t even consider flavor a factor because flavor is something everyone has to contend with, rich or poor. Of course it’s true that people tend to get fat when they consume lots of tasty sugar and fat, but that’s different than claiming they are forced to eat sugar and fat because they can’t afford healthier foods.

    Christ, the first time I heard the argument I laughed out loud. It’s gotten to the point where poor people are never responsible for their own plight and now we’re supposed to believe that one of the horrors of poverty in the U.S. is being over-fed because they’re too poor not to be?

  49. #49 |  expat | 

    That dog might have been melting, but this one has found its own solution:

  50. #50 |  Fritz | 

    Those people who are donating money to the gub’mint are not poor saps; they are fucking idiots.

  51. #51 |  William | 

    I’m not a professional journalist but thanks to Radley I know know an inappropriate use of an anonymous source when I see it:

    Slate vaccination article quoting the WaPo:

    “People need to put this into some perspective,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “The vaccination campaign was part of the hunt for the world’s top terrorist, and nothing else. If the United States hadn’t shown this kind of creativity, people would be scratching their heads asking why it hadn’t used all tools at its disposal to find bin Laden.”

    Did anyone else catch it?

  52. #52 |  Big A | 

    #45 Highway- I think you nailed it with ‘inertia to change’. It’s not that people like what they’re eating so much, or have already weighed the benefits of convenience against cost or health. It’s more that they haven’t considered how much difference little changes can make. Furthermore, this message that people can be too poor to eat healthily is heard and understood by poor people. I wonder how many of them believe it without having nosed around in the produce section in a few years. Or whether someone trying an arugula salad would be looked down upon for eating “out of class”. Finally, trying new things is a luxury that I think many poor people don’t realize is often not expensive. Eating new things or even going to new places can usually be done more cheaply than expected (i.e. waiting for something to go on sale, free museum days etc). Maybe people who’s finances are already stretched just aren’t used to having luxuries.

  53. #53 |  Big A | 

    #47 Dave- I’m waiting for when poor people are forced to drive vehicles with low gas mileage because they can’t afford anything better.

  54. #54 |  BSK | 

    Big A-

    I think, in the end, education is likely to be the most impactful approach. However, we have seen how well the government (federal in particular) has done when it comes to reaching the poor masses about healthy choices…

  55. #55 |  JOR | 

    I’m not sympathetic to the right at all, particularly not the sort of people to whine about “cultural Marxism”, feminism, or the Imminent Jihad, but the right-wing asshats are adjusting to the actual facts of the case a little bit better than the gliberal dipshits who wanted Loughner to be a Teabagger so badly they kept pretending he was until it was no longer possible.

  56. #56 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Spot on, Dave.

    As for the cooking discussion, I will add that cooking might take time, but my wife and I make up for it by cooking at least 2 or 3 meals worth of food at one time, and then reheating leftovers. If it takes 30 minutes to cook 3 meals, that’s only 10 minutes per meal. I don’t care where you live, the overhead of going to a restaurant is going to be that much.

  57. #57 |  Highway | 

    Michael Chaney, that’s a good solution for you, and it’s a good thing for people to consider. But many people would not be happy eating the same thing 3 days in a row, and wastage of leftovers is a significant waste of money for people. So if someone has that intention, but will not follow through on it, they’re not saving anything by making enough for multiple meals, they’re coming out behind the curve.

    So it’s a good thing to suggest, as well as things like “If you’re grilling chicken, grill twice as much as you need, eat the grilled chicken one day, and make chicken salad or something else with some of the leftovers” enough to change what you’re eating. This works very well with proteins, which are probably the more annoying things to cook for people. But I think it has to be accompanied with being honest and realistic about the effort required.

  58. #58 |  Big A | 

    #54 BSK- You’re certainly right. But how to get the word out? Seems like for anything you can think of that you want done- there’s someone who is trained or experienced enough to do it really, really well. What people provide the service of educating lots of people at once?

  59. #59 |  BSK | 

    Big A-

    That is the million dollar question. Part of the issue is not only figuring out how to educate people, but first figuring out how to inform people that they need to be education (GOD that sounds presumptuous and patronizing, ugh!). What I mean is that many people think they know what is healthy and what isn’t. They all took health class and learned the food pyramid, didn’t they? They ordered a diet coke with their Big Mac, no? They look for the Trix boxes that scream “NOW WITH WHOLE GRAIN!” Now, these people aren’t stupid; they’ve simply been inundated with bad information, much of it coming from (drumroll please!) THE GOVERNMENT! But it is very hard to have someone unlearn something, especially when they’ve believed it to be true for most of their lives.

    Obviously, there are others who probably know they eat an unhealthy diet but simply don’t care or have bought into the propaganda that they can’t really do much better for themselves (too expensive; too hard; not tasty) or underestimate the short- and long-term effects of their food choices. Those people might be easier to teach but are also far more likely to suffer from inertia.

    This situation isn’t unique to food… how many people still smoke? Use dangerous drugs? Drink too much? Drive too fast? Practice unsafe sex? Do generally stupid and dangerous things? Some of these practices have had wars waged against them! Yet they persist. Because, in the end, people are going to follow what motivates them. For some, that is the enjoyment of a home-cooked, tasty meal. For others, it is the feelings that come from a healthy lifestyle. More still will seek quick, easy, tasty foods. And if any of us truly new the secret to motivating people to do the “right” thing, they’d be billionaires by now.

  60. #60 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    People are overlooking something in the cooking argument – fuel costs. The microwave is an amazingly cheap way to prepare meals compared to the hob. And oven? Ouch.

    I spend, combined costs, under £3 a day on food. It’s not easy, even in the UK. But, for example, I can get 1kg bags of organic frozen vegetables for £1…

  61. #61 |  Rob S | 

    Headline of the Day also hosts the Twit of the Day. Check this dribble: /facepalm