Smokey the Magnificent

Failing the Turing Test since 1986


I have questions. In my mind.

1. What is it with women who deliberately marry into awful last names?

I mean, I took Helpdesk Man’s name when we wedded up, and to be honest I sometimes have vague regrets on that score; I prefer my old last name, and after eight years being called Mrs — still sounds like I’m being confused with my mother-in-law. But it’s not like his surname is actively obnoxious… or like my old one was particularly euphonious, come to that… and it’s certainly simpler pigwise for all of us to have the same last name, so meh. Whatever.

But if his surname had been something ghastly, you bet I’d have had second thoughts. Today, for instance, I saw a photo of a lovely old couple named Mr and Mrs Poot. Which means that once a trembling young fiancee had to look down the dark abyss of years and consent to being known forever and always as a Poot. Mrs Poot. The Poots. And she consented. I don’t think I can fathom a love like that. Unless her maiden name was, like, Snotwrangler or something, in which case she and her fiance probably fell in love over the mutual trauma of it all, but then why didn’t they run off together and change both their names to Montgomery?

2. Do people eat tumours?

I mean, yes, ew, but then I have a similarly visceral reaction to all sorts of foodstuffs cherished throughout the world. There are cultures in which people chow down happily on insects, blood puddings, calves’ brains, live octopi and eyeballs, after all. So why have I never heard of people cooking up tumours? Are they, like, carcinogenic? Presumably a cross-species, denatured-by-cooking cancerous mass wouldn’t be an actual health risk to humans, would it? And certainly they’d be difficult to farm – one has horrid visions of a bunch of squealing piggies being zapped with gamma radiation or forced to live under power poles with cellphones taped to their ears – but wouldn’t that just increase the market value? I mean, we go to tremendous lengths to acquire vanilla beans and truffles.

Perhaps tumours aren’t good to eat, though. I mean, they’re not muscle meat… are they? Or fat, surely? So what *are* they exactly? Growths of what texture of matter? Doesn’t it vary wildly? Seriously, if you have any information on this, let me know, because it’s really bugging me. What about predators – in the wild, if they come across a tumour in their prey, do they eat around it? Or can they smell the evil? Dogs can sniff out cancer, they say; and we think it’s noble, but maybe they’re really going “Mmmm, nommy”.

3. OK, so. America. The War on Drugs. Using is illegal. No?

So how come when a celebrity admits on a talk show to having spent the last few decades in a coke-addled haze, he doesn’t get carted off to the clink? I mean, he just confessed to a crime, didn’t he? Similarly, why aren’t people arrested on the way into rehab or AA meetings; or why aren’t the clearly drug-celebrating lyrics written by rock stars used as probable cause for searching their trailers for the vast quantities of crack they gleefully sing about consuming?

I mean, I know the police care more about dealing than using. And I’m not saying it would be a good thing if going to rehab got you chucked in the clink, because then no-one would ever go to rehab. I’m just saying, is the law the law or ain’t it? And if they never enforce it, shouldn’t they either start enforcing it or change it to comport with the reality of the situation? I mean, I’m sure Carrie Fisher had a legal team check through her confessional autobiographies (which are pretty good, incidentally), and did any of them say “Um, Carrie, you realise if you confess to using drugs here they can put you in prison?” Presumably not. Because of course they wouldn’t. But one assumes the same would not have applied had Martha Stewart written a wryly introspective account of her years as a tax fraudster. (Fraudstress? Fräudlein?)

4. Why are hamsters illegal in New Zealand? Because they are. And I want one. If someone were to send me a hamster, could I look after it for ten years and then talk about it afterwards on late-night TV so as to grant myself celebrimatic immunity? But then, who am I kidding; it wouldn’t last ten years. Rowan found a caterpillar on an ear of corn the other day and fell in love with it, and despite us googling the correct kinds of leaves and making it a sweet little habitat and only dropping it on the carpet twice, it pined away and died in a matter of days. And we were none the wiser until my younger sister said “Don’t you have automatic fly spray?” We’re not good with pets, is what I’m saying. A really robust hamster with impeccable gut flora and solid dental hygiene would maybe last a month, tops. Heck: maybe New Zealand made that law just for us. 

  1. Kovac

    The question about tumors was asked on reddit and received this reply.

    Immunologist/MD student here. Yes it is edible, no it is not “meat” unless it is a tumor of muscle, and even then odds are they are undifferentiated tumor cells not really approaching real meat. I do not know why you would want to eat one, but yes. If it belongs to another person, the odds of you “getting” cancer are ~0% due to major and minor mismatches between immune antigens called HLAs (when you hear people talk about transplant matches, this is what they are talking about). So basically your immune system would kill the tumor, no problem. Even if the tumor is yours, odds are the cells would die in the stomach environment…unless you have stomach cancer, low stomach acid, and that is the tumor you ate. And even then I do not know of any mechanisms by which a tumor can “invade” through the GI tract, but honestly who knows.

    Congratulations on asking a hilarious question and making my day.

  2. Kovac

    I have wondered about the drug use thing myself.

    Kevin Smith openly talks about smoking marijuana on his podcast.

    I think the issue is that while you do have some kind of admission there, you will still need physical evidence of the crime being committed. And it’s just not worth the effort of trying to track down that evidence.

    If they admitted to a more serious crime like murder I expect that they would look into it.

  3. Kovac

    Perhaps hamsters are more destructive force than mice and rats?

    Or perhaps they are no worse but why introduce them now when we have the option not to.

  4. Krissy

    As an American who has used a lot of drugs… I have opinions! So, drug usage in this country is complicated. You can’t be prosecuted for saying that you once had drugs on your person nor that you once consumed drugs. That’s outside of prosecution. Because people can say anything they want. However, being *caught* with actual drugs is a problem. That you can get arrested for.

    If you don’t have the drugs on you this second you can say anything you want. Like I used to pick up ecstasy for parties and deliver it. Sometimes I would be transporting enough to go to jail for many years. I didn’t get caught. Drugs were consumed. Many years have passed. No evidence!

    We uhm, are kind of weird? It would be like saying, “I robbed three houses once when I was a kid.” Without knowing which houses, where, and when… you can’t be prosecuted.

    “I committed rape.” To whom? When? Where? Without those details… no crime can be taken to court.

    Evidence baby. Evidence is the bright shining line.

    Also! We have a major race problem to go along with our drug war so most of the people confessing to drug usage are white and they will be ignored. There are millions of black people in jail for using drugs. There is a much larger number of white people outside of prison using drugs every day. It’s pretty stupid. It’s horrifying. We are destroying a generation of men. It is catastrophically damaging for our country.

    More African American men are in prison right now than were slaves in this country. That’s *messed up*.

    We’ve got big problems. 🙁

  5. Smokering

    OK, but… supposing the police *really* cared about your Ecstasy-toting past… couldn’t they use that statement you just made to justify at least opening an investigation, maybe tracking down the other people who were at the parties and who could remember you handing it out? Enough corroborative anecdotes count as evidence, don’t they? Like if six people say they saw Jim rob a grocery store, wouldn’t that be enough to convict him of it, even if there was no DNA or security-camera or other evidence?

    Or wouldn’t it? Apparently I know less about the legal system than I thought. I know that a mere confession can’t get you convicted under some circumstances… like all those people who confessed to being Jack the Ripper… you need a body or a murder weapon or something for a murder charge, right? But is there the same burden of proof with drugs? I mean, if you said you did ’em and other people said “Yep, I was there, she did ’em”, wouldn’t that be evidence enough? I mean, they’d accept multiple witnesses for a crime like rape, wouldn’t they, even if it was too late for DNA evidence to be taken?

    Or at least, if you said you did ’em *last week* and *the week before* and *every weekend*, wouldn’t that give the police probable cause for raiding your trailer to find the drugs you are, statistically, almost certain to consume again *this* weekend? But they never seem to do that.

    I’m confused.

    Also, is there a statute of limitations for drug-dealing/possession?

  6. Krissy

    They cannot prosecute you for acts unless there is evidence. The drugs are gone. It doesn’t matter if they line up 1 million people to say they saw they watched me do it… that’s not proof. All those people could be lying. And even if there was extensive photographic evidence…. that can be doctored and isn’t *proof*.

    We have the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond all doubt. A bunch of people saying, “Oh I totally saw it happen” is how we got the Salem witch trials. We are a bit more cautious these days. 🙂

  7. rbjaneite

    Personally, I think Poot is kind of awesome.

  8. smokering

    Would you change your name to it if you married a dashing young Mr Poot?

  9. smokering

    So, does that mean it’s basically impossible to prosecute for rape without DNA evidence?

  10. Trish

    Hmmm. Now, that’s interesting. I think that in fact might not be the case here? I seem to recall a case involving a sportsman and his wife, and he did end up being sentenced for repeated rape on her say so. I don’t remember who it was. But if it was a stranger, you would really want evidence such as DNA, to make sure you had the right person. On the other side, you’d want it since you can’t rule out psychopathic malice on the accuser’s part. Also, it’s just too easy to catch someone innocent in that net, I would think – see someone on camera in the vicinity who fits a description …. the chick who wrote The Lovely Bones recognised her attacker on the street, but presumably they also had DNA garnered from a physical exam at the time. Off to eat chocolate and watch something amusing now :/

  11. Krissy

    Prosecuting for rape is almost impossible anyway. Approximately 3% of rapists see time in prison.

    It isn’t that you MUST have DNA evidence, but you must have such an overwhelming stack of evidence that it cannot be denied.

    We don’t prosecute people for rape because “someone said it happened”. That isn’t how it works. I have tried prosecuting for rape numerous times (I had a crummy childhood) and the only time the police even thought it was worth following up was when I called on my father. I was *so completely hysterical* that they were willing to interrogate my father based on my words. Not *prosecute*, but bring him in for questioning. My story was long and convoluted and easy to check in a bunch of places.

    My father corroborated my stories and added details I couldn’t remember. He also admitted to having raped most of the women and children in our extended family. The police called up those other women, verified the stories, then decided they had a good case against my father.

    Even with no DNA evidence. It was my word and my aunts’ word, and my sister, and my mother, and my brother and…

    So DNA is not MANDATORY. But you have to have a pretty strong case.

    Given that I’ve snorted baby powder (I was 11 and I was told it would be fun. It wasn’t.) it is harder to prove that people who “saw” drug use… actually saw drug use. That’s much harder to go back and prove.

    Also: drugs are a victim-less crime. Mostly we prosecute people for *dealing* drugs. The users… are generally people who are already mentally ill and suffering. Tracking them down is just plain mean. We don’t target users. They aren’t “the problem”.

    I hope we go for full decriminalization like Spain did. They saw a massive drop in addiction when they moved money from prosecution to treatment.