Monthly Archives: March 2011

Electronic Maintenance Records

From The Onion, “Quick Lube Shop Masters Electronic Record Keeping Six Years Before Medical Industry

“We figured that a basic database would help us with everything from scheduling regular appointments to predicting future lubrication requirements,” said the proprietor of the local oil-change shop, Karl Lemke, who has no special logistical or programming skills, and who described his organizational methods, which are far more advanced than those of any hospital emergency room, as “basic, common-sense stuff.”

Monitor Group Under Fire for Qaddafi Project

Monitor Group, the top-tier strategy consulting firm, is in hot water for their relations to Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi, who is currently engaged in a brutal war of repression against his own people.  Mother Jones has the scoop on the project:

But the firm also succeeded on other fronts. The two chief goals of the project, according to an internal document describing Monitor’s Libya operations, were to produce a makeover for Libya and to introduce Qaddafi “as a thinker and intellectual, independent of his more widely-known and very public persona as the Leader of the Revolution in Libya.”

I’m confident that Monitor isn’t the only major consulting firm that engaged with an autocracy to help them gather legitimacy on the international scene, they’re just the guys who got caught when their client decided to respond to peaceful protests with a military crackdown.  

Given the criticism Monitor is now receiving for their work, will it make other consulting firms more hesitant to take on dictators and their governments as clients?  Or will the financial appeal, combined with a genuine belief that they’re helping these countries move towards more democratic government and efficient services for citizens, keep consulting firms engaged?  At the time, I don’t think anyone at Monitor thought there was a problem with what they were doing, but I have to think there’s some serious soul searching going on at the firm right now.

The Breast Ice Cream In Town

Apologies for the pun, but it was hard not to.

An ice cream parlour (you spell it that way on the other side of the pond) in the UK has had their new ice cream flavor confiscated by health authorities:

The ice cream, dubbed Baby Gaga by maker Icecreamists, is made by combining a liter of donated breast milk from a single woman with vanilla pods and lemon zest.

I’ve had ice cream made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, and of course good old fashioned cow milk, but human milk is pretty new to me.  The opportunities for innuendo here are crippling.

In an attempt to keep this blog high-brow, I’ll note a blog post at The Guardian that asks why we consider consuming human breast milk a repugnant transaction:

Eww! Ice-cream made out of breast milk! Gross! There’s a good chance that was your first reaction to reading about the Baby Gaga ice-cream being served by the magnificently trend-baiting Icecreamists parlour in Covent Garden, and to be perfectly honest, even after thinking it through for long enough to write this piece, it’s still my reaction.

However, I’m less convinced by her conclusion:

Ultimately, I suspect there’s a power relationship in eating that’s unsettled when we begin to think of our dietary resources as having agency: if this food is willingly given, how am I supposed to feel like the top of the food chain? It’s a power dynamic that probably feeds into the sexual connotations of adults consuming breast milk – yes there is a fetish market, and yes, I’m sure that some of the patrons at the Icecreamists are attracted by something other than the lure of the ultimate natural and free-range food.

I’m not convinced that people get so much pleasure out of dominating animals through factory farms that it unsettles them when a human gives her milk willingly.  For the most part, the closer humans are to animals, either in physical similarity (monkeys), or proximity (dogs and cats), the less likely we are to use them for food.  Academics think this is one of the origins of food taboos, because it’s much easier for disease to spread from animals that we’re closer to, ostensibly the reason health authorities are scanning Baby Gaga.