Putting A Price On Your Pet’s Life

Jul 31 2014 @ 11:24am

David Grimm ponders the moral dilemmas created by recent advances in veterinary medicine:

When our dogs and cats used to get very sick, we could justify putting them to sleep because it was the only option. Now, in an age of kidney transplants for cats and chemotherapy for dogs, euthanasia has begun to seem like a cruel way out.

Yet not everyone can afford to save their pets. And some go bankrupt trying. … “It’s wonderful that people are willing to spend $10,000 or $20,000 to deal with their sick pet, but ethically it puts us in quicksand,” says Douglas Aspros, the former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the manager of a veterinary clinic in White Plains, New York. “If a client wants me to do a $20,000 surgery on a cat, the practicality has to go beyond, ‘There’s someone willing to pay for it.’ As a society, should we be promoting that?” Some vets, says Aspros, have started to use companies that offer credit to people with marginal incomes—just so they can afford their vet expenses—and the pet owners end up paying very high interest rates. “How much responsibility do we have for getting them into that?”

Race And Beauty, Head To Toe

Jul 31 2014 @ 11:02am


Maureen O’Connor reports on the state of “ethnic plastic surgery”:

The people I interviewed differed in their aesthetics, politics, and medical preferences. But they passionately agreed on one thing: No matter what white people say, this isn’t about them. Plastic surgery doesn’t have to be a sign of deference to some master race, they told me. In fact, it could be the opposite.

According to O’Connor, those most perturbed by these procedures are the people you might least expect:

Read On

The Myths Of Gaza

Jul 31 2014 @ 10:42am

Peter Beinart has a relentless rebuttal to several of the talking points by defenders of Israel’s latest assault on Gaza. Since it’s paywalled – but you can get around it by clicking the link in the tweet above – here’s my brief summary.

Myth Number One: Israel left Gaza in 2005. It didn’t in any meaningful way, maintaining control over all of Gaza’s borders, identification of all citizens, and squeezing still further the small space Gazans had to live in. It evacuated a small number of settlers in order to pre-empt any serious two-state negotiation based on the then-operative Saudi and Geneva plans. That’s why the US official position is that Gaza is still under occupation – an occupation that somehow allows Israel to pummel it at will, as if it were a foreign country.

Myth Number Two: Hamas seized power. Nope, it won an election, fueled in part by widespread opposition to Fatah’s corruption and incompetence. Now think about that: the Arab world held a free and fair election … in Gaza. The US reacted by fomenting a Fatah coup against it – that led to Hamas’ seizing power in response. That’s how the US reacts to Arab democracy if the Israelis don’t like it.

None of this excuses Hamas’ war crimes, its rocket fire purposefully directed toward civilians, its extreme theocratic essence and its rabid anti-Semitism. But it sure doesn’t excuse Israel’s brutality and contempt and propaganda either.

Kilgore suspects that 2014 electoral victories will make the GOP overconfident in 2016:

In both 2008 and 2012 the GOP managed to nominate presidential candidates with relatively moderate images and demonstrated swing-voter appeal. In both cases, the nominations were in no small part fortuitous following a demolition derby of more ideologically rigid rivals. The odds of the “most electable” candidates winning a third straight GOP nomination have been diminished by the relatively low popularity of Chris Christie (damaged significantly by “Bridgegate” and already controversial for supporting a Medicaid expansion in his state), Jeb Bush (headed for a direct collision with conservative activists for his championship of Common Core education standards) and Marco Rubio (more distant from conservative sentiment than ever as the prime Senate sponsor of “amnesty” legislation).

Linker welcomes this turn of events. He argues that “the best chance for genuine Republican reform will be for the party to nominate a fire-brand who gets roundly and unambiguously repudiated by voters”:

Read On

Chart Of The Day

Jul 31 2014 @ 10:03am

Medical Marijuana Teen Use

Christopher Ingraham insists that “the notion that medical marijuana leads to increased use among teenagers is flat-out wrong”:

A new study by economists Daniel Rees, Benjamin Hansen and D. Mark Anderson is the latest in a growing body of research showing no connection — none, zero, zilch — between the enactment of medical marijuana laws and underage use of the drug. The authors examined marijuana trends in states that passed medical marijuana laws. They tracked self-reported pot use by high school students in the years leading up to and following the enactment of these laws. They conclude that the effects of medical marijuana on teen use are “small, consistently negative, and never statistically distinguishable from zero.”

Dating With Mental Illness, Ctd

Jul 31 2014 @ 9:35am

A reader writes:

Molly Pohlig’s perspective on dating with mental illness is right on. I have PTSD and have watched the effects, pre- and post-diagnosis, torpedo many a relationship. In addition to the PTSD, I have two chronic pain conditions, so there is also the toll of being a physical caretaker. One man filled this role with ease; I ended our engagement for fear that I would destroy his gentle and kind nature with the rage and swings that are part of my life.

I spoke with a friend about this while my last relationship was in its death throes. He understands – he has PTSD himself from childhood trauma (very different than my adult-acquired version) and deals with depression, anxiety, and chronic migraines. He said he thought that the only way for someone struggling with an issue this serious to have a relationship was for them to find someone else with mental illness.

I thought he was being ridiculous and just flirting. I was wrong about the first part and right on the second. We are scheduled to be married this fall.

Read On

A Rebel By Any Other Name

Jul 31 2014 @ 9:03am


Will Moore looks at the labels applied to insurgents over time:

I plugged the words “bandits,” “communists,” “guerrillas,” “insurgents,” “rebels,” and “terrorists” into Chronicle and produced the graph [above]. We see that the US Civil War produced an enormous use of the word “rebels,” and though the count today is a much smaller percentage of the total number of words published in the Times,[1] we see that “rebels” grew dramatically in prominence in 2011. “Communists” first appears around 1918, and then explodes after 1945. The impact of 9/11 upon the word “terrorists” is equally prominent.

The Eight Billion Dollar Store

Jul 31 2014 @ 8:27am

On Monday, the national discount store chain Dollar Tree announced that it would buy out its competitor Family Dollar for $8.5 billion in cash and stock:

Both Dollar Tree, which sells items $1 and less, and Family Dollar, which sells $1 items but also higher priced goods, have struggled amidst a weak economy. While years ago recession boosted deep-discount stores’ sales, Family Dollar reported in April declining second-quarter profits while announcing that it could cut jobs and close nearly 400 underperforming stores. Earlier this month, its third-quarter report noted a 33% drop in profit. Difficult economic conditions have become financial headwinds for discount store shoppers, who are forced to choose between discretionary and necessary items. … [A]verage shoppers have an annual income under $40,000, and 50% receive government assistance.

But the recession bonanza for discount stores has faded, Annie Lowrey observes, and now some of these chains are struggling:

So what’s happening in the consumer economy that might help explain the malaise? The answer is “not much” — that is, not much is happening, and that’s hurting retailers.

Read On

“Sartorial Slumming”

Jul 31 2014 @ 8:02am

Kate Dries observes that denim-on-denim, or the “Canadian Tuxedo,” is so hot right now. Marcotte is unconvinced:

Meanwhile, Judith Thurman – in what could well be the first New Yorker piece illustrated by Kim Kardashian in open-thigh jeans – examines the history of denim and other forms of “sartorial slumming”:

You may suppose that dressing like the indigent, in rags and tatters, to make a statement about art, politics, or identity, started with the punks. But Count Tolstoy adopted the rough homespuns of Russian serfs, along with a credo of “voluntary poverty,” inspired by Christ and Buddha, that wasn’t popular with his family members. In the nineteen-twenties, Paul Poiret accused no less than Chanel of perpetrating a look that he called la misère de luxe: costly couture outfits made from jersey tricot, a proletarian fabric formerly used only for work clothes and men’s underwear. It was suddenly chic to look as though you had something better to do, and to think about, than changing an effete toilette three times a day.

Readers – not to mention Dish staffers – can relate to a recent post:

I’ve worked from home for 15 years and I can’t imagine working any other way. The thought of having some middle manager keeping tabs on when I enter or leave the workplace, how long my lunch is, and when I choose to take off early for the day is now repugnant to me.

As a self-employed home-based freelancer, exactly the type reviewer Jenny Diski is describing, I decide how much my time is worth. When I want to take a few days off, I take them. When I’m finished with work at 2pm, I don’t sit in front of my computer trying to look busy for someone else – I go outside to play with my kids. If I want to take a vacation or pay off a credit card, I don’t have to figure out how to slice up a fixed monthly income differently; I can just take on an extra project or two, spend a couple weeks working longer hours, and get a fat check for my efforts.

I admit I’m extremely fortunate; I’ve been working this way for a long time and have a large stable of clients and steady work. Building up to that from nothing can be a tenuous and nerve-wracking prospect. And there are, of course, downsides.

Read On