So how was your weekend? Mine blew chunks. First, Friday afternoon I come down with some fucking head cold. "IT'S NOT SWINE FLU," my boyfriend tells me every time I ask, BUT HOW WOULD HE KNOW? He's not qualified to rule out swine flu. He's not a doctor, you know, even if he does play one during certain role-play scenarios that I'm not allowed to write about, per his you-can't-write-about-our-sex-life fatwa. (He's actually not into medical role-play scenes; I only tossed that out there to throw snoopers off the scent. He's an adult baby.)
Okay. By yesterday afternoon I thought I was feeling well-ish enough-ish to get out of bed-ish and go see Zombieland with my son—his first R-rated movie, my first zombie flick since Sean of the Dead—but I was wrong. Modern zombie movies are loud and pounding headaches are fickle. You think it's nearly gone and then it comes roaring back when you trust your skull to the magic that is Dolby Surround Pound Whatever. (So how did that loud R-rated zombie flick work out for the kid? I'm pleased you asked: Zombieland wasn't all that violent, except for that scene where the zombie clown is dispatched with a sledge-hammer blow to the head. I empathized with the zombie clown. No sex, no boobies, thoroughly cartoonish gore. Zombieland wasn't a problem—the preview for Saw XXXXVIII, on the other hand, was extremely problematic.)
Came home from Zombieland, crawled back in bed, and only just got up to discover that... it's beautiful outside. And I'm too ill to go outside and enjoy it. Sick in the head, sick in the stomach—which is interfering with the work I brought home with me this weekend: writing up the short synopses for HUMP! films [GET YOUR TICKETS FOR THE PORTLAND SCREENINGS, WHICH I'M HOSTING, NOW], which requires me to watch some of these videos again... which are stacked up next to the bed... but I'm not in right place—I'm already nauseous—to watch HUMP! films or write up HUMP! films.
So I decide to read the paper, which the boyfriend left outside the bedroom door before taking off to enjoy the day with the kid. And I feel all miserable and dehydrated and hotzone and I'm feeling really sorry for myself and then I read this:
Stephanie Smith, a children’s dance instructor, thought she had a stomach virus. The aches and cramping were tolerable that first day, and she finished her classes. Then her diarrhea turned bloody. Her kidneys shut down. Seizures knocked her unconscious. The convulsions grew so relentless that doctors had to put her in a coma for nine weeks. When she emerged, she could no longer walk. The affliction had ravaged her nervous system and left her paralyzed.
What was wrong with Ms. Smith? She ate a hamburger.
The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.” Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.
And those scraps and ammonia-soaked mash are supposed to be tested for E. coli contamination... but aren't. Because some slaughterhouses won't sell meat to grinders that test for E. coli. And that's not illegal because the U.S. Department of Agriculture "allows grinders to devise their own safety plans." Sounds like a plan. And meat processors don't want to test for E. coli because, if it's found, that could trigger a recall. So lots of ground beef is only tested for fecal contamination when it reaches the mouths of American consumers: if someone gets sick, and if the illness can be traced back to a hamburger, then we'll do the recall.
Anyway. I'm glad I don't eat ground beef... very often. And I'm glad my kid doesn't... very often. And I'm no longer feeling sorry for myself, but rather feeling sorry for Ms. Smith.
And you know what? If we're not gonna have universal health care then we need an uncontaminated food supply. If we're going to have a contaminated food supply, then we need universal health care. But no health care and a contaminated food supply really seems like a bad plan. But I'm all hopped up on Theraflu, so... what do I know?
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