Neil, a few weeks ago someone asked you how you felt about Madonna not allowing photography at her book signings. In your response, you compared your post flight self to a disgruntled lemur. This made me pee with hilarity and, being that I work at a zoo, I promptly named our brand new lemur Neil in your honor. Today Neil bit off a lot of my leg. I was wondering if you could ask him to stop biting off parts of people through your super secret Neil-y connection.
I just realized not a lot of this is at all relevant. I blame it on post being-mauled-by-a-cute-and-fuzzy-animal stress.
(You'll find me explaining that in photos I look like a stunned demonic lemur at http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2003_09_28_archive.asp#106476844058853314. I wonder if Neil-the-lemur thought that "demonic" was part of the job description.)
Anyway, I'm not sure that it'll work, but I'm happy to give it a try. Right: Neil the lemur, if you're reading this on some Zoo Underground Internet connection, stop taking chunks out of the leg -- or any other bits -- of the nameless zoo correspondent. You're a vegetarian, dammit. Read the literature. This is a direct order from Neil High Command.
(Good luck. Let me know whether Neil-the-demonic-lemur reforms, and which zoo he can be seen at.)
On a serious note, additional personal interest convergence occurred on a more casual level with Alton Brown's rant about BSE. While I only occasionally catch Alton on the Food Network, I generally enjoy his shows. I do, however, have a mild hobbyist's interest in epidemiology, and have read Deadly Feasts, focusing on kuru, prions, and mad cow disease, as well as several articles and web sites on the subject. I agree with him: what the heck are we, or any country (we're not alone at all: it's unfortunately common practice), after all that's now known . . . how can industry be so stupid as to put infected tissue back into the food supply in any form? *shakes head* I only agree with him partially on culpability: absolutely, it is up to the individual to take responsibility, but it is also on the shoulders of agricultural distributors and regulators to act ethically and do what they can to insure the public safety. All parties involved in the process, as it were, from producer to consumer.
I commend The Fresh Market for its recent open communication with its customers via e-mail. Sure, it's good business sense for them to reassure, but I haven't seen any other grocery store chain take the initiative to let shoppers know the sources of its beef, the active steps they were taking to monitor it, and that they would continue to communicate if any changes occurred.
I absolutely believe we should be doing active, regular testing. I am more than willing to pay the estimated 2-3 cents per pound more, heck, even 2-3 dollars more, per pound, to make sure the supply is safe.