Not exactly what the article is really about, but:
[E]very Sunday, we would drive over and I’d play around either at the farm proper or the home they had with a couple of acres. And they owned a Pomeranian dog.
First, this is a weird thing for a couple of farmers to own. I later learned that there is a link between old Eastern European folks and Pomeranians. They are very heavily owned by young Asian women and 70-year-old Eastern European dudes. I was in Ireland once and I was told a theory by a farmer there about farming with animals. If you have pigs or chickens or cows, you have to not get too attached to animals because they might get sick and you have to kill them, or if you’re raising a pig for slaughter, you have to kill it and feed it to people. So one of the things that farmers do is buy one spectacularly useless little dog. It’s like a Chomskyan release valve on a farm. That’s why these Irish farmers have little Jack Russell Terriers. They can pet them and love them and not have to worry about having to kill them. —Clive Thompson
Excuse my ignorance, but what is a “Chomskyan release valve?”
I can’t speak for Chomsky or for Clive Thompson, but I think it’s a reference to Chomsky (among others, eg, Zinn) observing that societies need to methods for expressing dissent in order to be stable. But I don’t know why that would be Chomskian per se, because that is the way release valves generally function in a system. Also, this could easily be – indeed probably is – a woefully ignorant reading on my part.