Roach milk latte, anyone?

A few weeks ago I was innocently scrolling through my Twitter feed when my eyes were assaulted by a news headline announcing that cockroach milk has superfood potential.

When I told Callaghan on the phone, he said, “You need to stop reading stuff.”

To which I replied: “I need to get off of Twitter.”

I rely on Twitter to bring me breaking news the minute it hits the ozone. I follow two local channels and one national channel and therefore I’m up to date on ALL of the news. But just because you CAN know all the news, doesn’t mean that you SHOULD.

You’ve probably already heard about this cockroach milk thing. I myself may (or may not) have jumped onto Facebook that same day to air my angst. I don’t really remember. I could feel the panic attack igniting in my chest cavity and burning away at my rib cage like fire licking at a paper scrap, blackening the edges and curling them inward before culminating in a flame of victory that extinguished itself to leave a trail of smoke and a sad smudge of ash where the paper used to be.

In other words, I felt like I was having a heart attack and I couldn’t breathe. I was practically hyperventilating on the phone with Callaghan.

It’s about time to do something about this ridiculous roach phobia. (“Katsaridaphobia,” apparently.)

Anyway. In case you haven’t heard, it’s been discovered that a certain roach produces milk that might be the elixir of life. And here I thought that would be grapefruit juice.

Let’s break down this article (from and my thoughts as I read it.

Got (roach) milk? A team of scientists do, and they’re developing it for possible human consumption.


Researchers from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bangalore, India, have been analyzing the “milk” produced by the Pacific beetle cockroach (Diploptera punctata).

Trying to make it sound less horrifying by calling the roach by its flowery Latin name. Diploptera punctata. The string of syllables might sound melodic when you say it out loud, but the second word seems kind of… suggestive, doesn’t it? They’re not fooling me. A roach is a roach is a roach.

Their goal: to create roach-milk-derived protein supplements that can feed the world’s exploding population.

Protein supplements.

Also, what was going on with the person who gazed upon an oily-looking, long-antennae’d, winged demon and mused, “What if I were to crack it open and lick up its roachy milk?”

And who do these lunatics think they are, anyway, thinking about feeding starving people in the world?

Grossed out? We are, too, but there’s a method to their madness.

I don’t care to know the method, thank you.

While researching for this masochistic blog post, I came across a few articles in which it was proposed that roach milk could be used in protein shakes. Never have I been so relieved to be vegan.

The researchers found that the milk protein crystals from Pacific beetle cockroaches contain four times the nutritional value of cow’s milk. These crystals slowly release proteins, fats, sugars and essential amino acids overtime, which can help maintain steady energy levels.

I know another thing that releases a badass energy source slowly over time. It’s called Superstarch; we often blend the chocolate one with peanut butter and half a banana. Voilà… slow-releasing energy with protein, healthy fat, and sugar from the banana. Roach milk unnecessary.

The scientists won’t be corralling cockroaches like farmers do cows, however.

Oh, right! They want the roach milk, but they don’t want to do the dirty work and corral the roaches.

They’ve envisioned a roach milking future that’s far more high-tech: using biotechnology to sequence the genes and reproduce the milk in a lab setting.

AH HA. Unlike cows, God didn’t bestow upon roaches a languid demeanor, adorable sound effects, trendy color patterns, and big, sweet, fluttery eyes. Roaches are therefore exempt from the horrors of factory farming. Only cute animals get to experience terror, pain, and suffering when being used for food! ROACHES ARE SPECIAL SO LET’S LET THEM LIVE PEACEFULLY. God forbid we use biotechnology to reproduce other animals’ milk in labs.

Their findings are found in the International Union of Crystallography Journal.

There’s a whole society of experts here throwing a roach party to celebrate the premiere of this nightmare.

Roach milk. If this milkshake brings boys to the yard, I’ll be like, WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE.

I couldn’t bring myself to search for roach pics to accompany this post, so here, have some baby bunnies. Baby bunnies are the opposite of roaches, as everyone knows.




“A night with Venus, and a lifetime with mercury” (Haiku 10: Syphilis) (Sharing original poems.)

One thing I’ve learned in the last few months is that the mind, left to its own devices, can wander and dwell on bizarre things.

Haiku 10: Syphilis

(by Kristi Garboushian)


Romantic aside:
Keats’ “La Belle Dame sans Merci,”
blown-glass femme fatale.

Dead rose

Dead rose


Hedonism spawns
creation: le maquillage,
acerbic beauty.

Beneath the skin

Beneath the skin


Artists, dictators
(brilliant cast of “The Great Pox”),
poets, writers, kings.

Thomas Hardy's Ale

Thomas Hardy’s Ale


Voltaire’s Candide smirked.
Syphilis an affliction?
Tout est pour le mieux.

Candide, Voltaire's famous satire

Candide, Voltaire’s famous satire

La Fin.

I’m still obsessed with the syllable, infatuated with the value of these units that make words. It’s strangely soothing.

A Modest Proposal for Police Academy Overhaul for the Purpose of Applying Crucial Changes to Training Needed to Refleckt Upon the Current State of Affairs Lest the Police Force Suffer Even Greater Mortifickations.

Special announcement to those joining the police force!


Police academy programs designed to train recruits and test them at their outer physical and mental limits are outdated and must be re-designed to reflect today’s realities. Undergoing the challenges of military-style “boot camp” police academy for aspiring officers of the law is no longer necessary.

No longer are recruits required to demonstrate:

–athlete-level physical fitness, meeting minimum requirements for endurance and strength

–an ability to fight, showing that they’re capable of defending themselves and others in physical altercations

–good judgment

Today’s police recruits no longer need to go through all this hassle, because in any given situation, officers need only to whip out a weapon and pull the trigger. It’s an ingenious approach; one wonders why they didn’t move to this strategic model of law enforcement in the first place, and what a great way to trim the budget! It’s senseless to waste the resources and energy on an elaborate training program designed to achieve superior physical fitness with superior physical combat and self-defense skills when all that needs to be trained is the trigger finger. The quickness and agility of the trigger finger is the most important feature a successful rookie can possess.

Here is a recent, real-life quote that provides a succinct example:

Asked why he felt the need to pull his gun, (insert name) told grand jurors he was concerned another punch to his face could “knock me out or worse.”

He was afraid of getting knocked out. Honestly, if you were to read this sentence completely out of context, would you guess that the person in question was a police officer?

Neither would I.

I’m not questioning a cop’s right to defend him or herself. I’m just noting that clearly, our current police academy training programs are a collective embarrassing failure if cops from coast to coast are afraid of getting punched. I read somewhere that it’s human nature to take the easy way out in the face of adversary, and this makes total sense. Why unscrew the light bulb to temporarily disable it when you can simply yank it out of its socket and smash it to the ground, let’s say, six times, so there’s no chance it will ever shine its light anywhere again? Light bulbs are expendable, after all!

The percentage of police academy training time dedicated to shooting practice is, apparently, a smashing success.

This particular successful officer was afraid of getting punched again, so he pulled his gun (not his can of mace or pepper spray or whatever fumes they’re using these days). He did not disable… he killed. He didn’t just double-tap… he sextuple-tapped. That’s how terribly in danger he felt, even though he was out of arms’ reach of the unarmed individual when the fatal shots were fired (I’m actually not even sure what happened, to tell you the truth. I earnestly tried to follow what the cop said in his testimony, but I got all confused because he said he was sitting in his car when he fired the first shot through the door, but that shot wasn’t fatal, and then suddenly he was outside of the vehicle and the other guy was somehow down the street coming toward him, which in my mind looks like an amateurish jump-cut in a video that I can’t reconcile, and that’s why, according to him, the cop had to fire however many more times was necessary in order to kill. He had to make sure that the guy was completely dead so he wouldn’t be able to throw another punch. Anyway. Details.)

Man, do I feel safe knowing that cops such as this one are out there to protect me. I heard he’s looking for another job now, though. I would consider hiring him for a part-time shopping mall security guard position, but I suspect the 70-year-old candidate in my applicant pool would be more of a qualified badass.

But I digress.

As I was saying, updating the police academy curriculum to dedicate most of the training to the firing range would make sense, and it would help the police force with their myriad of public relations problems, too. If police recruits aren’t expected to enter active duty knowing how to engage in hand-to-hand combat, self-defense and ethical situation containment, then the entire force wouldn’t have to suffer such intense mortification when one of their own gets up in front of the public and says he felt the need to pull his gun because he was concerned another punch to his face could “knock me out or worse.”

I spent a few moments browsing a police academy website to get an idea of the physical demands of academy training. Here’s an excerpt:

The rigors of the job can be both physically and emotionally challenging so new recruits are carefully screened to determine if they can cope with the police academy training lifestyle. The expectations of a new recruit will be one (sic) of strict discipline and order, similar to that of a military boot camp, and he or she will be pushed to the limits of their capabilities of which they will be expected to give one hundred and ten percent effort.

Physical Demands Preparation:

Be in good health, while abstaining from any drug use, smoking, or drinking

Attain top physical condition and be able to perform their best in extreme circumstances (as it may be of paramount importance in the field)

Be conditioned and able to run two to three miles with an average of at least eight minutes per mile

Sprint at least a hundred yards multiple times with little to no rest

Be able to bench press your own weight or more

Be able to do at least twenty push-ups and thirty sit-ups in under a minute


Mental Preparation Advice:

New recruits must be able to push themselves beyond exhaustion.

New recruits must be able to take orders and criticism from their commanding officers whose responsibilitie is is (sic) to prepare trainees for the harshest conditions

A policeman’s job is one of honor and integrity. Recruits must display these traits and enter the job with passion and fortitude. If they aim high to complete the police academy training & requirements they will excel in their profession.

Now, given the vast differential between these published standards and training goals and what’s actually happening out in the field today, I can only imagine that a task force has already been formed, and it’s hard at work re-vamping the police recruit requirements to match reality (or at least someone already picked up the cookies for their first meeting). There’s no need for physical strength or fighting skills or mental toughness or fortitude or honor or integrity anymore. Guy punches you and you get scared? Just pull out your weapon and shoot! And if the first shot doesn’t kill, then shoot again! And again! And again! And again! And again. Done. Easy.

It’s not just shooting with a firearm, either. I’m also talking about firing electrical weapons like tasers, as we know that cops can and do kill people by tasing them repeatedly, as in the case of this other guy – skinny, shirtless, unarmed and homeless – who was tased to death by five cops who apparently all felt that their lives were in danger, even though the guy – who hadn’t been aggressive, belligerent or disobedient at all – tapped out.

(Evidently the concept of tapping out only exists in the cage. There’s no surrendering or tapping out in the field. Many of today’s cops don’t seem to recognize these signals or understand the language. And when they can commit their random acts of brutality on camera and get away with it – as in the case of this recording of the unarmed homeless man getting tasered to death, which I had the misfortune to see – they have little incentive to stop, anyway. Even if all cops were mandated to wear surveillance cameras on their vests, one has to ponder the absurdity of getting Big Brother to monitor the activities and behaviors of these shoot-to-kill Robocops running amok with no human senses to guide them in their actions.)

Forget the whole “punishment fitting the crime” thing, too. This really is just a technology issue!

Not all cops struggle with these issues, of course. One of the nicest guys I ever knew was a cop, and he was a very good one. I knew him professionally, I witnessed him in action, and I was always impressed with his demeanor and skill with people. He’s retired now and I haven’t seen him in years, but I can only imagine what he must feel if he views any of the surfacing cell-phone camera clips of the brutality committed by his former fellow officers. We used to work out at the same gym. He was in outstanding physical condition and more than capable of taking down unarmed suspects without murdering them.

Once more thing: Since the art of self-defense is totally irrelevant in today’s trigger-happy police force, may I suggest that we convert the police academies into firing ranges… dedicated spaces for target practice.  Just target practice. That’s all. Obviously, they need it (incidentally, soldiers who waste six rounds of ammo trying to kill a single target would likely fail to qualify on the range… embarrassing), and surely it would cost less than the upkeep of running tracks, obstacle courses, weight rooms, other specified training spaces and classrooms and instructors for training modules for skills that won’t be utilized out in the field, etc., etc. If our officers’ field performance records don’t reflect the training they’ve had, then what the hell kind of police force do we have, anyway?

By these standards, those elderly mall cops are all we need… their trigger fingers work just fine, and they can probably use the jobs more than the younger people who are capable of doing other work that does require physical capabilities.

But It’s “Free-Range”!

My weekend started on a serrated-edged note of dark humor when, during a business meeting at a restaurant, my dinner companion and I snorted over a particular menu item:


Free-range rabbit on the menu.

Free-range rabbit on the menu.


As you can see from this photo of the menu, the restaurant offers rabbit with the assertion that the rabbits are “free-range.” Fantastic! Happy little bunnies hopping hither and thither over a grassy knoll.

But then we read that the rabbits are “slow-roasted” and “hand-pulled.” Hand-pulled? We exclaimed in unison. My visual instantly went from happy little bunnies to torn-apart bunnies. The menu’s brief description concludes with a touch of poetic, seductive frill, the “black trumpet mushrooms, thyme, Pecorino” part elegantly cloaking the macabre “slow roasted hand pulled” part. Perhaps they thought that starting with the nationality of the rabbit would smooth the way for the rest of the description… better these misfortunes befall a Canadian rabbit than an American one, though the dish is Croatian, not Canadian.

Coniglio Pljukanci: “Canadian free range & slow roasted hand pulled rabbit…”

Following this template, Callaghan and I – ever on the look-out for ways to amuse ourselves – later came up with a list of menu items featuring animals humanely kept before their inevitable demise:

Boeuf Bourguinon: “French grass-fed cow, guillotined, braised and immersed in a Burgundy wine sauce…”

Jaegar Schnitzel: “German open pen pig surrounded by barnyard friends, then bled out through the throat and filleted…”

Lamb Stew: “New Zealand petting zoo lamb executed by firing squad, cut into chunks…”

Kobe Beef: “Japanese cow tucked in at night with a bedtime story, then slaughtered & grilled…”

There’s probably something slightly wrong with us for having so much fun with this, but in my defense I was more reminded of Dr. Jonathan Swift’s satirical essay “A Modest Proposal,” in which he advocates the killing and eating of babies and children as a way to alleviate the poverty problem in 18th-century Ireland:

A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.

He had many ideas, in fact, and applied a great deal of thought to the matter:


Excerpt from Dr. Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick" (Eighteenth-Century English Literature, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1969)

Excerpt from Dr. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick” (Eighteenth-Century English Literature, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1969)


On that note, I’m going to go put something together for lunch today. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, anyone?

You’re American. You Must Be Obese.

We got back from our latest trip to Nice last night. While we were there, we took the time to visit the maison de carnaval (“house of carnival”), the place where the majestic floats for Nice’s annual February carnival are made. We wanted to get a sneak peek at the construction progress because, like last year, several of Callaghan’s drawings were selected to appear as floats.

I have something to get off my chest, so I’m going to go ahead and dump it here.

(By the way: This is not about Callaghan!)

Let’s say you’re an artist. You decide to participate in a contest to come up with a series of original drawings on the theme of “The Five Continents,” depicting your visual interpretation of the corners of the world. (This refers to the non-American version of the world’s continents, hence five rather than seven.)

The competition is intimidating. You know that your drawings have to be absolutely inventive in order for the committee to select one or more of them; a prestigious carnival’s enormous, sophisticated floats will be based on the winning drawings.

So here you are, ready to go! The continent of North America lies before you, challenging you. There are many options, many things about this continent you can take and develop into creative ideas. You sit and think and soon find yourself rolling along an exhilarating wave of inspiration, creative idea after creative idea blooming up from the depths of your imagination. Your mind hums with anticipation; you can already feel the satisfaction of releasing the creative mojo from your brain, taking the images from your mind’s eye and transferring them to paper.

You unsheathe your drawing pencils. You’re inspired. You’re proud of yourself. For North America, you’ve decided, you’re going to focus on the United States. You’ll incorporate various elements into your drawing – elements that will represent America. One of these will be an American woman: She’ll be obese. She’ll be blond. She’ll be naked except for blue star pasties on her nipples and a tiny red and white striped bikini bottom. She’ll wear a gold crown. You’ll put her up on the back of a pink Cadillac. In her upraised hand, you’ll draw in a diet soda. She is a parody of the Statue of Liberty.

At the carnival’s home offices, the selection committee reviews the hundreds of entries submitted by talented artists. Next thing you know, you receive a letter of congratulations. Your drawing was selected! Your idea was so original, it beat out all the others. At the end of February, a pink Cadillac float representing America, complete with the ridiculous half-naked obese woman brandishing her diet soda, will drift along in the parade for all to admire. You’ll receive an award for your clever design at the end of the carnival’s run. Congratulations.

Here are the rhetorical questions this scenario begs in my mind: Is the world really so conditioned to viewing America this way that it can’t see the juvenile cruelty of ridiculing obese Americans? Can there be an acknowledgement of the difference between a successful satire and outright hostile social criticism hiding behind the guise of satire?

Dear Selection Committee: I don’t get it. I don’t get why you would taint the illustrious tradition of your annual carnival by selecting a drawing such as this. Shouldn’t you be setting high standards for carnival parades, rather than lowering them by perpetuating mean stereotypes through the pedantic representation of them in your floats?

Why reduce a country’s identity to a stereotype, anyway? America. Geographical wonders such as redwood forests, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, the Great Lakes and Niagara falls. Specific, world-wide-recognized characters such as Elvis, Mickey Mouse, the Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam. Places such as Hollywood and New York City. All of these emblems could be used as the basis of satire. Also worth considering is the tremendous cultural diversity among the American population.

America is nothing if not multi-cultural. The country grew up as a coming-together of people from all over the world, and those people brought their traditions that have both held pure and mixed together with others. It can be said that to be American is to be of mixed ethnicity; most Americans are “mutts.” I’ve known very few Americans who are 100% anything. It’s not like Europe, where it’s more predictable that people in Germany are of German ethnicity, people in France are of French ethnicity, people in Italy are of Italian ethnicity, etc. There is no such thing as an “American” ethnicity. America is unique in that it’s a country in which almost all of its citizens (the exception being Native Americans) can trace their ethnic roots back to their places of origin. “American” is a nationality, not an ethnicity. America is a collection of the world’s people.

How can anyone miss the greatness of this? When you really think about it, isn’t it a stunning concept? Isn’t it great, I mean truly great that a country such as America even exists?

What I’m trying to point out is that it’s kind of gratuitous to draw an obese white person and stick it on a float called “America” to represent its people. Clearly, the intent here is not to satirize. The intent is only to turn the subject into a laughing-stock for the amusement of the parade audience, most of which is not American.

Stereotypes can be negative or positive. Obesity is a negative American stereotype that suggests disapproval of not just a body condition, but a psychological one as well. Often, obesity is perceived as an attitude-oriented issue – one that can easily be changed if the person “really wants to.” It’s a complex stereotype, and it’s hostile: the obese are viewed negatively on different levels. This is why I’m feeling this drawing stretch beyond satire, and I have to wonder what the artist was thinking. Did he choose to portray obesity because it would be the easiest of the negative American stereotypes to draw? Or because it’s perceived to be the funniest? Or because it was just the first thing that occurred to him when he thought about America, so he went with it without bothering to search his mind for alternatives?

I saw this drawing, obviously. In my opinion, it’s not even that good. (I think I’m at least slightly qualified to make this judgment, since I live with Callaghan and I see the results of his considerable talent every day.) Regardless, if the decision to draw an obese person was made in bad taste, the decision to select the drawing out of hundreds was even worse.

I believe it would be possible to come up with ways to visually satirize America with the finesse required to also celebrate it – not just mock it. Intelligent, creative satire. I’m all for it.

We’re aware that obesity is an accelerating medical problem in America. But who is anyone to indict us, as a nation, for being “greedy” or “lazy” or “self-indulgent” (or whatever the perception may be) because of it?

Who is uglier – the obese American, or the person ridiculing him or her?