The More Things Change …

26 01 2010

I haven’t played for several years (my original group is scattered across the continent, and starting a new group doesn’t appeal to me), but I played Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) through its manifold iterations from the mid-1970’s to the early 2000’s. The people I gamed with were all smart, clever, and generally fun to be with, and we have formed deep and lasting friendships based upon our common experiences through high school and the games we played.

Back in the late 70’s, a group hilariously misnamed the Moral Majority decided that D&D was evil, because it mentioned demons and devils and magic and the names of other gods. The fact that those demons and devils were intended to be enemies for the players to vanquish apparently never registered with the religious pinheads, and they labored mightily to get the game banned whenever and where ever possible (along with rock and roll, motorcycles, alcohol, and probably dancing).

Despite their hysteria, the Moral Majority utterly failed to destroy D&D, and legions of kids and adults play it to this day- albeit in lesser numbers since the advent of powerful personal computers and the high-quality games which can be played therewith. The lasting legacy of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson- who created the game- is itself testament to the inoffensive nature of role-playing games in general and D&D in particular (Jack Chick to the contrary notwithstanding). Those gaming friends from high school are all stable, successful members of society, with jobs, families, and homes. I am the sole exception to this otherwise infallible rule, being not only a Gummint employee (and therefore by definition evil incarnate), but also a taciturn curmudgeon with few redeeming qualities- just ask my wife.

It is with no little surprise, then, that I read the decision by the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upholding a Wisconsin prison’s decision to prohibit inmates from playing D&D.

One would think that keeping the inmates mentally stimulated would help prevent boredom and the attendant discipline problems, and that this would be a Good- or at least desirable- thing. The prison sees it differently. Based upon an anonymous inmate complaint that the inmates who played the game were actually a gang, the prison’s alleged expert on gang activity- Captain Bruce Muraski- searched the cells of the inmate gamers and confiscated all of the D&D material he could find. Note that these materials (books, dice, and character sheets) were all purchased by the inmates and delivered to their cells after being examined by the prison officials for contraband. Capt. Muraski even confiscated an extensive hand-written manuscript detailing a D&D campaign which had been written by one inmate.

Despite- or perhaps because of- his long experience as the prison’s Disruptive Group Coordinator (gang expert), Capt. Muraski declared that the inmates’ pastime represented a threat to prison security, and issued an order banning all fantasy games at the prison.

The inmates tried to seek redress through the prison complaint system, but that proved less than useful. The complaint examiner ruled that the complaint should be dismissed, and so it was. One inmate then filed a pro se suit against the prison, Capt. Muraski, and the Wisconsin official in charge of prisons. The inmate presented fifteen affidavits from other inmates, relatives, and three role-playing game experts that there was no connection between D&D and gang activity. The various affidavits contended that D&D had the opposite effect- helping rehabilitate inmates and keeping them out of gangs or other mischief. The prison’s response to this was an affidavit from Capt. Muraski, citing his 20 years of experience as a gang expert in making his decision that D&D- and other role-playing games- “have been found to promote competitive hostility, violence, and addictive escape behavior, which can compromise not only the inmates’ rehabilitation and effects of positive programming, but endanger the public and jeopardize the safety and security of the institution.”

Displaying yet more utter ignorance about the game, Muraski drew imaginative (not to say imaginary) parallels between the authority of Dungeon Master (DM) over a gaming group and the power wielded by a ganglord over his subordinates. I fail to see any resemblance to objective reality in this assertion, since the members of my gaming group showed me little respect and next to no obedience. A better description would be more like the relationship between a screenplay writer and the actors in that play, but even this analogy falls apart because the players are under no obligation to follow the “script” (the campaign or adventure created by the DM).

Let us not ignore the ruling by the Court. In the ruling found here, the Court held that the collective 100 years of prison experience represented by the inmates who filed affidavits were completely over-ruled by Capt. Muraski’s 20 years- solely because they were on the wrong side of the bars. The Court also held that- despite the prison’s concession that D&D has never been associated with gang activity in the past or at any other prison- the concerns by prison officials that D&D might possibly do so in the future was good enough for the judges. In their citations of precedent, the Court used a wide variety of lower court filings (not judgements, just cases filed in lower courts) about D&D supposedly causing various people to go nuts and commit murder or other crimes. I can just imagine the judges passing around a Jack Chick tract or watching some of the hysterical 1980’s TV shows on the subject before reaching a verdict.

In short, despite my 30+ years of playing D&D, the fact that I have not yet murdered hundreds of people, raped their pets, and sacrificed their children to Zorkon the Space God is merely a strange anomaly among the millions of D&D-inspired serial killers who apparently roam the streets, blinded by the insidious menace of the so-called “game” to the harm they do. I guess I’ve fallen way behind the curve, so I’ll have to run out and butcher a few families to start catching up. The Court has issued a ruling, and therefore objective reality has no bearing on the matter.

Or perhaps the Court is composed of drooling old dotards in black mumus,  and the prison officials are humorless idiots-in-uniform who are more interested in maintaining their petty dominion by petulantly prohibiting a harmless pastime.

Current status: Shaking my head in amazement

Current music: Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp

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Scattershot

23 01 2010

Here are a few bits and pieces of interest to me.

Stupid Gets Smacked Down

And yet fails to learn its lesson. The Glenn County Board of Education has reversed Gary Tudesko’s expulsion for the horrific crime of having firearms in his truck … off campus. The board saw the firestorm of protest (mostly online) generated by the case and decided to trim the sails of the Willow High School administrators.

Those worthies are expressing outrage. The district superintendent was particularly insane in his complaint:

Steve Olmos’ response was one of confusion.The decision “has left me dumbfounded, almost speechless,” he said. The county board “is undermining our authority. They are definitely saying we don’t have jurisdiction off campus,” he complained.

Here’s a clue chit: You don’t have any authority off the fucking campus. If Gary Tudesko had brought those shotguns to school, he would have deserved expulsion- and probably some jail time. The fact that those shotguns were legally stored in a private motor vehicle off campus means he hadn’t broken any laws. He hadn’t broken any school regulations, either. The fact that he’s apparently a redneck of the first water is not an expulsion offense.

Score one for reason and rationality.

Hoist One for our Founders

I like the Brits. I like a lot of things about the UK. I am profoundly less enthusiastic about the UK’s libel laws and their State religion.

It turns out that a certain blogger has been pointing out the very stupid writings and sayings of a certain Anglican vicar, who complained to the police. The police sent an officer around to talk with the blogger, who thereafter agreed to move his blog from Blogspot to WordPress (he had apparently started the blog while in school, and the school wanted no part of the controversy). The police stressed that the blog’s author was not being “cautioned” or warned.

The vicar apparently decided that he now had all kinds of authority. Here is what he wrote to an Australian blogger who was also tormenting him with his own words and deeds:

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.

Vicious little bastard, isn’t he? The vicar, Stephen Sizer, is an anti-semitic loon of the first water and a Holocaust denier who is apparently a favorite read among the thugs ruling Iran.

One wonders why the police felt it necessary to confront a blogger over what is surely a matter for civil courts- even in the UK. Imagine that sort of crap taking place here in the US.

Pastor: I want to complain about this guy who’s been writing things about me. On the internet.

Police: You got the wrong number, buddy. That’s not a police problem.

Pastor: But … he’s making me look bad!

Police: Sue him. Not our problem.

Not that I have that much faith in most police agencies in this country, but they have more than enough on their plates without getting involved in purely civil matters.

Hardcore

Take a soldier out to your local watering hole, and buy that worthy a drink in honor of Major Richard (Dick) Winters (retired), formerly of Easy Company, 516th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne. He turned 92 this week. For those who have not managed to catch Band of Brothers on TV, here’s a clip. Here is a clip showing Maj. Winters in person.

There are several worthwhile reads regarding Dick Winters and the men he served with. Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers. Winters’ war memoir is Beyond Band of Brothers. Wild Bill Guarnere and Babe Heffron wrote Brothers in Battle: Best of Friends. Buck Compton wrote Call of Duty.

These men were heroes all, and they would likely be the first to remind you that they weren’t alone in their heroism. Thousands of ordinary men were thrust into a world of savagery and fire and blood and fought their way through it, making the world a much better place by doing so. We owe these men, and their brothers in arms wearing the uniforms of Great Britain, France, Poland, Russia, and China. Those men and women who fought and bled and all too often died to rid the world of a monster. We were lucky to have them.

If there is a just god, then Dick Winters should be enjoying all the nonagenarian trim he could handle. People who have met him claim he is extremely modest and very private, so we can’t drag him down to a bar and pay for his drinks in perpetuity. Happy birthday, sir.

Currahee!

Current status: Tired

Current music: Skye Boat Song





Speaking of Stupidity …

17 01 2010

…We’re back to the subject of school administrators as tin-plated dictators with delusions of competence.

back in October, a high school student named Gary Tudesko went bird hunting before school with one of his friends. The two hunters were running a bit late, so they didn’t have time to take Gary’s truck home and drop off the shotguns. Rather than breaking the rules by parking the truck in the school parking lot, Gary parked on the street- off school property. The shotguns were behind the truck seats, unloaded, and the truck was locked.

For some reason, the school’s sniffer dog was run past the vehicles parked on the street. The dog alerted on Gary’s truck, and the police were duly called. The cops determined that the owner was Gary Tudesko, and the school discovered that he was a student, so Gary was summoned to his truck to explain matters. He told the police what had taken place, and opened the vehicle to show them the shotguns. The police and the local District Attorney later determined that Gary had broken no laws. He was not arrested or charged with any crime. It should be noted that the fields near town are a well-known hunting area.

The school, unfathomably, determined that Gary was a threat to himself and others, and promptly expelled him for a year. When Gary’s aprents objected that the vehicle wasn’t parked on school grounds, and that he had not broken any rules, the school administrators claimed state law gave them “the right to search any of the student’s vehicles no matter where they’re parked or what they’re doing during school hours.”

For those of you playing at home, this is a load of fascist bullshit. By this logic, a student who is sick in bed at his home ten miles from the school can expect to have his vehicle searched in the driveway by school administrators or their hired agents. Zero tolerance seems to equate to zero thought, whether the subject matter is drugs, guns,  and tobacco.

If any of you who read this have children in school, how do you like the idea that school administrators or their agents can conduct searches of your child’s room or car at any time during school hours? Isn’t it comforting to know that your kid’s school administrators care so much for the safety of your child that they’re willing to violate your child’s rights? Where does it end? Does the school get a say in what religion your kid is allowed to practice? What if your child wants to ride dirt bikes? That’s dangerous! The school administration gets a say in whether or not that will be allowed. Perhaps the school will start interfering in what you serve your kid at dinner.

Why does this school believe they have the power to extend their draconian authority far outside school grounds? I’ll tell you why: It’s for the chi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ildren! Every time some alleged parent or another publicly bitches about protecting the children from every potential hazard on the planet, the autocratic despots in school administrations get to exercise more and more authority over the children under their “care”.

Far too many parents today spend huge amounts of time and energy trying vainly to remove any possibility of harm from their child’s life. This bubble-wrap mentality is actually increasing the danger to their children, and everyone with whom those children come into contact. Little Bobby gets a sniffle? Dope him up with antibiotics. There might be germs on the playground equipment where little Suzie is playing! Better wipe down every surface with disinfectant wipes or bleach. This ridiculous paranoia about supposed perils in everyday life are making things worse. Over-use of antibiotics is creating newly-evolved strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Wiping down every surface with bleach to kill germs makes it a certainty that some germs which are inevitably missed will find the child’s immune system weakened from inactivity.

Worst of all are those who wet their panties over the thought that their precious sprogs might possibly see a firearm. Horrors! Little Johnny saw a gun! Sign him up for therapy.

A commenter on FARK.com named cobrasmity posted this gem:

SCHOOL — 1957 vs. 2007

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1957 – Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2007 – School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1957 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 – Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students.
1957 – Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to cl ass, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 – Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1957 – Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 – Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Pedro fails high school English.
1957 – Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, and goes to college.
2007 – Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.
1957 – Ants die.
2007 – BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated; Johnny’s Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1957 – In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2007 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

That’s a little absurd, but so is the nonsense being spouted by the school administrators in this case.

School administrators are public servants. We pay their salary. Let’s try exercising some influence in how these nimrods do their jobs. Go to school board meetings and speak up. Read the student handbook at your kid’s school and find out what sort of powers the school claims to have. If you don’t like what you read, do something about it. The reason school administrators are getting away with this petty despotism is because we let them.

That’s something we, the People, can change.

Current status: Hacked off

Current music: Banditos by The Refreshments





The Anthropomorphization of Stupidity

13 01 2010

Hey, Pat Robertson! Shut up, you cock!

“Mr. Madison, Robertson, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

Why is this douchebag still permitted to pollute the airwaves with his drivel? Why is this allegedly-religious pinhead not behind bars for his terroristic threats against the US government and foreign leaders?

For those of you living in an isolation chamber, Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake yesterday. Early reports have around one hundred thousand people dead. US military personnel are already either on the ground or on the way- along with hundreds of relief groups, rescue teams, charitable organizations, and individuals from around the world.

Rather than acting quickly to provide aid by calling upon his legions of deluded followers to donate time, money, or services to the relief and rescue efforts, this eccentric and evil Yoda look-alike has decided that his god smote the Haitians because they allegedly made a deal with the devil. In 1791.

Apparently, Robertson’s imaginary friend takes a really long time to get around to punishing those he dislikes. Anything living in Dover, Connecticut a few hundred years from now had better watch out.

I say imaginary friend because Pat Robertson is living proof of the non-existence of a just and loving god. This alleged human is the antithesis of the christian ideals he supposedly believes. No one acting the way this shithead acts could possibly claim to be a religious leader, could they? With a straight face?

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.

You’re probably sick to death of quotes from Robert Heinlein, but this one is directly on point. Pat Robertson seems to believe that he can get away with actions which are squarely against the tenets of his supposed religion and no one will notice. Perhaps he’s merely stupid, or senile from drinking his miraculous energy drinks. It’s more likely that he’s simply batshit insane. What else would you call someone who hears voices no one else can hear?

Current status: Filled with loathing

Current music: Name Your Poison by Richard O’Brien





Hearts and Minds

4 01 2010

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The rabid fundamentalist christians are very close to getting their version of reality included into every textbook in America for the next decade or so.

Read this article, and weep for the future of our nation.

Because Texas (pronounced takes-ass) has a set of rules which mandate all schools in that state use the same textbooks, and further has rules which have allowed the fundie-loonie Governor to pack the board which approves those textbooks with his batshit crazy fundamentalist cronies, wholesale re-writing of the past may soon be required reading in your child’s school. Texas would normally not have quite so much influence, since California is an even larger market and tends to pull textbook publishers back toward the center. However,  California’s economic Chernobyl means that they will not be purchasing textbooks for another five years at the earliest. This in turn means that any textbook publisher who wishes to make money for the next couple of years has to comply with the religious fuckwits who control the textbook appropriation process in Texas.

Despite the fact that we have scads of hard evidence indicating that the Universe is roughly fourteen billion years old, the new science textbooks will not have this tidbit of information, thanks to a small group of hardcore religious extremists in Texas who believe it to be their duty to cram their pigheaded, willful ignorance down the throats of your children.

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.

Heinlein’s words have been proven true repeatedly- most recently by the Taliban. The only differences between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the christian loonies in this country are language and dress code. The fundamentalist christians gripping the hilt of this subtle dagger do not even bother to conceal their goals. They boast of their belief that their god wants them to conquer this country, and then the world.

But first, they will try to enslave the minds of your children. They will use America’s traditional open-mindedness and laws against us, and enshrine their version of reality in your childrens’ textbooks. I’ve been saying for years that these willful ignorami are the enemies of our civilization- is anybody listening?

America’s current status as a world power was grown by our farmers; dreamed up by our scientists; built by our engineers and technicians; and paid for by our bankers, industrialists, and workers (in one coin or another). Maintaining that status is- and will continue to be- dependent upon scientific and technical progress. That key scientific and technical progress is in turn dependent upon new generations learning the lessons taught by the scientists of the past, then adding their own unique additions and advances to the works of those giants who broke new ground- from Copernicus to Galileo to Newton to the Curies to Bohr to Einstein to Hawking.

But that apparently isn’t good enough for these religious pinheads. They would seemingly prefer that we dumped everything that didn’t conform to their precious holy-book-written-down-from-the-oral-traditions-of-desert-sheep fuckers.

“If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference?” -Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Emptiness of Theology.

That quote from Richard Dawkins is not precisely correct, of course, since many of the early scientific pioneers were religious (particularly Newton), and some were actual clergymen. The point, however, remains valid. The barbarians won’t be happy until we return to some non-existent Golden Age of Christian America- probably based upon a poor understanding of life in the early 19th century. All of our scientific and cultural progress since that mythical time must make way for the greater glory of their desert storm deity. These old white guys are deeply unhappy with uppity furriners and colored folks disturbing their precious little dystopian ideal White nation. Check out the following quote from the article I linked earlier:

Barton and Peter Marshall initially tried to purge the standards of key figures of the civil rights era, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall, though they were forced to back down amid a deafening public uproar. They have since resorted to a more subtle tack; while they concede that people like Martin Luther King Jr. deserve a place in history, they argue that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities. As Barton put it, “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.” Ergo, any rights people of color have were handed to them by whites—in his view, mostly white Republican men.

If this doesn’t bother you, you probably aren’t paying attention. It bothers the Hell out of me. These pernicious fuckwits are hell-bent on destroying the very soul of America and replacing it with the Republican Plantation of Jesusland, a slightly more technologically advanced version of the Taliban’s thirteenth-century paradise on Earth which will be nonetheless equally destructive. If you aren’t white, male, and christian, you just won’t matter.  Black, asian, and hispanic minorities will be graciously permitted to till the fields and work in the factories, while women will return to being sexual commodities for their “betters”. Non-christians will be economically and physically persecuted until they conform, emigrate, or die.

When will the people of this country realize that they’re allowing the barbarians in our midst to undermine what we (the People) have spent the last 230+ years building? Why do we allow these willful idiots to spew their nonsense in public without constant justifiable denunciation and opprobrium? They make no secret of what they want. Are we to sit idly by and let them build their racist theocracy upon the smoldering ruins of our flawed but wonderful republic?

Judging by the apparent total lack of interest in dealing with these morons … I believe the answer is probably yes.

Current status: Outraged

Current music: Seen All Good People by Yes





Tasty, Delicious Murder

1 01 2010

Red meat is bad for you in large quantities. So sayeth the food scientists and the FDA. I accept this to the extent that I don’t pitch a fit when my beloved wife cuts the portion size of meat servings to rational levels (as determined by the health nazis). I don’t have to like it, but I accept a modest reduction in my meat intake as a necessary evil in the interest of staying healthy. There are limits, however.

A couple of years ago, my wife asked me if I wanted to try an experiment. She would serve vegetarian meals once or twice a week and see how it worked out. Despite the fact that I am a dedicated carnivore, I had read the relevant health-nazi literature and agreed to give it a try. We had a variety of meals with no meat a few times a month for about six months, then my wife threw in the towel. It turns out that my meat consumption had either remained stable or actually increased because I had a tendency to eat larger portions (and second helpings) of meat the day after a veggie meal.

The next idea was to reduce meat portion sizes with each meal and increase the amount of vegetables. The theory was that using smaller plates and filling the non-meat space on the late up with greens would reduce the psychological desire for larger portions of meat. We’ve been on this particular gimmick for a while, now, and it has been largely successful. Unfortunately, we discovered that the portion-reduction scheme runs into a serious physiological limit- at least in my case. After a few months, I started getting a strange feeling around the hinges of my lower jaw and started having cravings for meat.

The wife began increasing the amount of protein in my meals, on the theory that this would abate the cravings. This reduced the cravings slightly, but only for a few weeks. The next trick was to increase my vitamin intake, hoping that I was just not adjusting well to the reduced levels of iron and other meat-related vitamins. This had no effect at all. Finally, my wife went to see my doctor. She told the doc all that she had done to try and get me to stop craving meat, but none of it had worked. What could she do to eliminate these meat cravings?

My doctor shook her head and said, “Give him meat.”

Dejected, my beloved wife slowly increased my meat portion sizes until my meat cravings vanished. I still get that weird feeling in my lower jaw from time to time, but we have a cure for that, too.

Once a month, we buy a large amount of pork and beef from one of the warehouse stores. We get long pork loins and large eye-of-round beef cuts in bulk, because the unit price per pound makes it a bargain. Since one of the stores mislabeled the beef early in our adventure and the pork loin comes in a long, suggestively-shaped cylinder, we call it a “Pig-dick and Round-eye Safari”.

Once we bring home our load of meat, the ritual begins. I start by sharpening every knife in the house. I’m not going to use them all, but this is a good time to perform basic maintenance on the blades. We get out a large, flat tray and an industrial-sized box of ziploc bags, and I begin cutting the meat up into useful portions for freezing. Pork loin is usually cut into quarters, and the eye-of-round is usually cut into thirds. The resulting smaller portions are then trimmed of excess fat, if needed, and popped into freezer bags for long-term storage in our chest freezer.

While I am engaged in meat-cutting, I carefully cut a few slices off either the pork or beef, and set these aside. I also trim a few tidbits for the cat, who gets fussy when her servants fail to provide such tribute. Once the meat is whisked off to the freezer, I break out a skillet and some spices and cook up some herbivore flesh.

Any trimmed fat is tossed into the skillet first, with the fire low. This greases the pan and adds additional flavor. Once a thin layer of fat has coated the bottom of the pan, I add in a few shakes from my wife’s special spice mix. Her father taught her to take a few common spices and mix them up in certain proportions, and it really adds a lot to many dishes- especially if one is trying to avoid salt.

Increase the heat to medium, lay the slabs of meat in the spiced pan, and lightly pepper the meat. Cover and cook until done to taste (I like my beef rare), turning the meat occasionally to ensure even cooking. While the meat is cooking, get out some bread, mayonnaise, mustard, and cheese. I use a spicy brown mustard and the sharpest cheddar or jack cheese I can find. Place cooked meat on bread, with cheese between slices of meat, and devour. If you wish, make growling noises to indicate that you are a carnivore. Bonus points if you finish the meal without pausing for breath or a drink.

Dennis Leary has a comedy routine where he talks about vegetarians. Roughly paraphrased, he says, “A tomato tastes like a tomato. A carrot tastes like a carrot. But meat tastes like murder, and that’s fucking delicious.”

Tasty, delicious murder.

Current status: Sated

Current music: Deacon Blues by Steely Dan