Saturday, July 6, 2013

What Could Go Wrong?


As if it weren't bad enough I never get around to cleaning the shower, I was supposed to be polishing the cat all this time too, and all because nobody wants to buy cigarettes if they have to suck harder on them to keep them lit.

I'm not even sure about that last part. People who like cigarettes like them a whole, whole lot. They've already managed to get past the taste and the loogeys and the social stigma and the huddling next to the dumpster to get a fix, so what's a little sucking? Nevertheless, forty years ago the tobacco industry, already worried that customers might be put off by the cancer thing, were loath to tinker with the product, and when it looked like the government was going to try to make them do it, they sprang into action.

At the time, it would have been unthinkable to ask guests to light up outside. My parents didn't smoke but had ashtrays around for company; we all made ceramic ashtrays in school. But there were certain things we all learned were dangerous. Don't run with scissors. Don't take candy from strangers. Don't roughhouse in the back seat of the Studebaker when Daddy's trying to drive. And don't smoke in bed. Seemed like people were always smoking in bed and bursting into flames. If you died from something other than being an old fuck, you were probably smoking in bed.

So there was some talk of making cigarettes safer by making them burn out faster, so at least you won't die fast. And Big Tobacco got the notion that it would be SO much easier to just fireproof the whole house. It was like the NRA responding to a grade school massacre by calling for Kevlar gym shorts. Or the AMA combating diabetes by marketing stretchy pants. Boy howdy! Flame retardants for mattresses! Sofas! Carpets! Pajamas! Without them, you were one cigarette away from self-immolation. Big Tobacco got behind the campaign by drenching America's fire marshals with money and whipping up a frenzy of concern about fire safety. They ended up having to change the cigarettes anyway, but the manufacturers of flame retardants took the ball from there and ginned up the Citizens For Fire Safety and lobbied and advertised and leaned on legislators, intimating that a vote against their chemicals was tantamount to setting our children on fire. They got pounds of fire retardant chemicals planted in every house, in furniture cushions, TVs and electronics, carpeting, and, um, breast milk--and they have succeeded in keeping spontaneous breast combustion incidents at or near zero. The stuff is in our watersheds, our shellfish, and ourselves, and we're not sure what it's doing to us, but as long as we keep trying to set ourselves on fire with the cigarettes we don't smoke inside anymore, that's a small price to pay for safety.

Larry would be one such small price. My cat Larry topped out at about thirteen pounds of pure love and at some point she kept eating and dropping more and more weight until the day she went all
wobbly and perplexed, and Dave bought us an ice cream cone and we licked it together and went to the vet one last time. Fatal feline thyroid disease, once rare, has spiked dramatically with the introduction of flame retardants, which cats ingest while grooming themselves. Now they're recommending we sponge off our kitties once a day. I will say, Larry never did catch fire.

What else is small? Babies, sure! They also spend a lot of time on the carpet and furniture and put random stuff in their mouths. Dr. David Heimbach, a burn expert on the Citizens For Fire Safety payroll, is very concerned about babies. He gave dramatic testimony to the California state senate about a terrible death suffered by a baby whose parents put a candle in her crib, and setting aside for now the question whether those particular parents should have been reproducing, he was able to persuade the assembled legislators not to reduce the use of flame retardants. Fortunately, modern babies are way ahead of the game, sliding into the world already packed with the chemicals. If you did introduce some candle ambience into their cribs, the little guys would probably just smolder for a while and then go out. It turns out the good doctor's anecdote was entirely fabricated, but the truth is a small price to pay for the health of the flame-retardant industry. The Obama administration is looking into trying to ban some of this stuff, but everyone knows he hates American babies.

55 comments:

  1. I'd think polishing a cat would be more dangerous than anything else you mentioned. The look of shocked outrage on that black cat in the top picture is priceless. He looks ready to scratch the entire house into oblivion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. That cat looks positively MORTIFIED.

      Delete
    2. Well, Tater has that look because she has no idea that scratching anything into oblivion (with the exception of my chair) is even a possibility, so she doesn't know WHAT to do.

      Delete
  2. My dogs lick their balls after sitting on the carpet, should I be wiping them down also? The dogs, not the balls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The dog would probably enjoy having his balls wiped. LOL ;^)

      Delete
    2. Well, since they only lick their balls, I think you could get away with just wiping them down. Kind of a time-saver, that is.

      Delete
  3. I quit smoking back when cigarettes stayed lighted. I look at cigarettes self extinguishing in ash trays, but relit and smoked some more and wonder why that alone, don't even mention the price, keeps folks smoking. I am curious about the strength of the drag needed to smoke that smoke. But not enough to try.
    I think we know about all the flame retardants.
    But their dangers, no.
    A sweet little calico, that Larry was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was completely over the moon with Larry from the moment we met and stayed that way until BigTobacco took her away.

      Delete
  4. Murr, you have a gift for informing your audience in a way that keeps us laughing and reading and learning. Here's yet another poison I hadn't thought about, another industry whose lobbying changes our lives, and not for the better. Well, except for the dramatic reduction in human and feline spontaneous combustion. Thanks for your public service.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to be of service. Now what can we do about all this?

      Delete
    2. I wish I knew. I'm going to start by publishing a link to this on Facebook.

      Delete
  5. Three wonderful pictures, all for different reasons ...

    I'm off now to polish my cats. If I'm not back by Wednesday, please send help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will we need something like a baler to pull you back together again?

      Delete
  6. How did you manage to steal Jazz for that photo? I am really, really jealous of your time and space travelling arrangements.
    Larry was indeed a cutie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I've made the same observation about Jazz, at least to myself. People think all black cats look alike, but they don't.

      Delete
    2. No, they don't. Both Jazz n Jewel are black but they are more different than chalk and cheese. It was the expression on your black beast's face that reminded me more of Jazz.

      Delete
  7. This was a very informative post. I'm sorry about Larry. It seems like I hear of someone else I personally know having cancer. I did not know about the tobacco folks trying to divert our attention by creating hysteria about potential fire hazards in our homes.
    I do believe that I would have a much better chance of escaping and surviving a fire from a burning building, especially with warnings from my very loud smoke detectors, than escaping and surviving a stage IV cancer even with early detection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oddly enough, one of the things that I think might possibly do me in is our #^$$^$$ smoke detectors. That don't go off unless it's in the middle of the night during the deepest sleep phase. That's why Dave changes all the smoke detector batteries on Valentine's Day for me.

      Delete
  8. Dr. David Heimbach has clearly been taking instruction from Michelle Bachman, (R., Googlyeyes, MN) on how to make up cr*p when testifying before congressional bodies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When confronted, he said his stories are meant to be anecdotal, and could have happened in some form or another. You might like to read this article.

      Delete
  9. Lordy. That was a brilliant post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Larry should have been Lara what with all calico cats being female. What's with that, anyway?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I'm the naming culprit. Murr picks out the kitties, I name them. Larry is a beautiful name. Yes?

      Delete
    2. My befuddlement was less about the name than why all calico cats are female.

      Delete
    3. Well, the color gene is carried on the X chromosome, and...and...I'm a little confused about it really, but if you only have one X chromosome you can't get the calico mixture of colors. You can only be orange. Or something else. Incidentally, Larry was a tortoiseshell. No white.

      Delete
  11. It's simply mind boggling just how many chemicals have been added to our homes without ever being tested for safety. This was a very good post - albeit sad. Poor Larry and lovely you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yah, they were in too big a hurry to save the world from bed smokers to do any testing. Fie.

      Delete
  12. I'm glad Larry never ignited. I've had two cats with hyperthyroidism but they both lived to old ages. I guess it wasn't bad enough that cigarettes were poison, Big Tobacco saw the need to poison the whole environment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's especially vexing because I kept Larry indoors and she should have been plenty safe. I hate those bastards.

      Delete
  13. I'm amazed (and pleased) every morning when I find I'm still alive. We've poisoned our water, our air, our soil, our food, and our homes. What on earth will it take to kill us all off? And why aren't more politicians and lobbyists and big corporation CEOs not perishing at an accelerated rate like the rest of us?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as they're perishing rich, they're happy.

      Delete
    2. You are exactly right. A friend says that she thinks they all really believe that there is a Bank of the Hereafter that they can transfer their riches to.

      Delete
    3. I sure hope they all go to the same place so I can go somewhere else. Oh that's right, I'm not going anywhere.

      Delete
  14. They're too busy drafting yet another abortion bill.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've been a smoker for the past 20 years. I know it's disgusting and I should really quit. But, at least I NEVER smoke indoors - or around animals or babies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometime I should tell you about how Dave quit after fifty years. And it finally took. Good luck to you, sweet pea.

      Delete
    2. May I request this story about how Dave quit? My other half is trying, after about the same number of years. Trying for the fourth or fifth time. Any tips not only appreciated, but begged for ...

      Delete
    3. I think Dave should tell us himself. (Thought he could just sneak in here and start posting stuff...he should know there's a "price" to pay for that kind of behavior.)

      Delete
  16. So can I or can I not safely smoke in bed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember Paul Lynde getting that question on Hollywood Squares: "what should you do if your partner smokes in bed?"

      Slow down.

      Delete
    2. Or there's the other joke: "Do you smoke after sex?" "I don't know. I've never looked."

      Delete
  17. So sorry about Larry. And about all the crappy chemicals in our lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You and I, Roxie, we're on the way out anyway, but who knows what all this shit is doing to the kids. Asthma? Ear Infections? Inability to remember phone numbers?

      Delete
  18. So you're saying everything we buy now from slip covers to throw rugs has that shit on it? It does seem like there has been a huge increase in cancer in pets. I'm sorry about Larry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've spent a lot of time on the floor myself. Thank goodness I don't lick myself. I can't reach anywhere I'd be inclined to.

      Delete
  19. Well, maybe all that flame retardant will come in handy in 2036 when asteroid Apophis smacks the Earth. Surviving cockroaches and ticks will thank us for our foresight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those ticks are going to be so lonely without us...

      Delete
  20. Good grief woman, good luck with the cat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Tater takes a good polishin'. Due to never having gotten the original cat memo, she is unaware of the menace inherent in having claws.

      Delete
  21. Cigarettes and tobacco companies have a lot to answer for.

    ReplyDelete