Archive for the 'Environment' Category

29
Apr
09

Swine Flu – It’s Not the First, Won’t Be The Last

What a strange coincidence that a potentially pandemic illness originating from domesticated livestock mushrooms at the exact same time I am reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.

In simplified terms, Diamond describes in his book how food-producing populations have been exposed for thousands of years to influenzas and other diseases carried by domesticated animals. Those with the genetic strength to overcome the illnesses or avoid them all-together lived to reproduce and, thus, propagate their genetic supremacy. Some bugs are meaner then others, hence the bubonic plague and Ebola virus.

These inevitable illnesses have made quite a mark on the development on human geopolitical history. Because food producers (FP) were exposed to these diseases and overcame them while hunter gatherers (HG) did not, the FPs easily decimated or wiped out many an HG tribe and culture. Smallpox has quite the reputation for being such a population reducer.

The main point here, however, is that as much horror and, possibly, death as the avian flu or the swine flu might wreak upon the global population, diseases transmitted from animals to humans are as natural as exinction. So long as humans live in close quarters with animals, and such cohabitation is unavoidable, the potential pandemic is always around the corner.

Me, I try not to be a germ-a-phobe. With weakened immune systems, our bodies cannot handle contact with the feces of many beasties. Sure, we don’t want to give each other illnesses, but a little dirty is good. So, I’ll start the Just Say No To the Wipey and Hand Sanitizer Campaign now.

As survival of the fittest is real, the cleaner we become as a species, the weaker we become. Looking on the bright side, it may not matter anyway since we’re killing our environment so rapidly, our only hope is space pods on Mars. Hello! Point me to the nearest mass-suicide cult ASAP!

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15
Apr
09

Tea Baggers – Disingenuous, Ignoramus Boobs

The blogosphere is alight today with opinion pieces denouncing these rube-magnet “Tea Parties.” Here’s another one.

cause bush told the truth!

cause bush told the truth!

First of all, much like a circus, these Tea Parties put on display for the rest of us to see, the imbecilic nature of Right Wing nutjobs. The ones who vote for their big biz Republican politicians who enact policy that directly injures their very constituents. Who is dumb enough to believe the Dick Armeys, Newt Gingriches, Limbaughs, Coulters, Hannitys, Glenn Becks, Michael Steeles, Rick Perrys, Mark Sanfords, Sarah Palins, Michelle Bachmanns, David Vitters? Who is dumb enough to be whipped into a gun-buying, revolution-shouting frenzy of inanity by this honorless Republican leadership? Go to a Tea Party tonight and find out.

DEFICIT

Here’s why these people are disingenuous: they are protesting government spending that would drive up the deficit. Well, their precious Reagan drove up the deficit, George H. W. Bush and his highly successful son drove up the deficit and nary a Tea Party was had. Where was the outrage? I remember a bunch of Right Wingers getting their panties in a bunch over the fact that Bill Clinton was sucked off by an intern, but did they ever congratulate him over balancing the budget? No. They don’t care about the deficit. They’re group-think idiots of the highest order.

They keep saying they don’t want our kids to inherit a huge deficit. Yet, they don’t give a shit if our kids inherit an environment raped by big business because we were to ignorant to switch to renewable energy when we had the chance. They don’t care if our kids inherit a country with semi-automatic weapons carpeting the countryside. They don’t care if our kids have affordable health care and access to decent medical attention. Their claims of concern for our kids is false and hollow and nauseating.

TAXES

And they’re complaining about taxes. Well, let’s see. Obama is instituting the broadest tax cut in history. And he’s only raising taxes of the wealthy to less than they were under Reagan. In fact, the GOP’s proposed budget again lowers taxes for the wealthy, increasing them for the lower and middle classes, according to this PDF put together by Citizens for Tax Justice. They also discovered that the GOP plan would cost $225 billion more than the Democratic plan.

These Right Wingers are also people calling for the U.S. to attack Iran, North Korea and launch a military operation in Somalia and off its coast – yet they don’t want to PAY for it. Funny how their buttboy Bush didn’t want to pay for his war of choice either – refusing to fund the soldiers on the battlefield appropriately and refusing to fund their care when they return home. Yet, the Bush administration sent billions of dollars to defense contractors who struck it rich while unable to account for millions, if not billions of dollars they received.

HYPOCRITES

We’re seeing calls for Revolution – for people to arm themselves as if to somehow thwart the government. How ridiculously hypocritical these white, racist conservatives are being! What if members of the left made these anti-government slogans? How unamerican we would be labeled –  how unpatriotic.

This is a lunatic fringe minority of the American demographic and they want to control the fates of the rest of us. They would rather overthrow the legally-elected government representing the views of the majority of this country. The election was a blowout – the American people spoke and were absolutely demanding a change in leadership and these crazy teabag freakos would attempt to undermine the very democracy innumerable people have shed their lives to give us. They seek to weaken the country and cheapen the government system that makes them so proud only when it serves their selfish purposes.

LIBERTY

How deep does these people’s inability to process logic and thought go? Consider their calls for liberty. Bush used illegal warrantless wiretapping on the American people (and most relevant journalists). Right Wingers were silent. Bush banished Habeas Corpus from the Constitution. The Right Wingers were silent.  Bush turned the Justice Department into a partisan death squad. Right Wingers were silent. The illegality of gays to marry inhibits the liberties of a vast number of Americans. Marijuana as never caused the death of a person, yet the liberty to smoke pot legally is almost non-existent. Women’s liberty to choose to end a pregnancy would be taken away if these conservos had their way.

The only liberty they want is to take away the rights and decisions of those who disagree with them. They would oppress the rest of us for their own, ignorant, baseless, uninformed reasons.

DOUCHEBAGS

This shade of political activist allows the terrorism of the rest of the country by easing the release of assault weapons onto our streets and into the hands of criminal elements both

yeah, and Bush wasnt? Jeez....

yeah, and Bush wasn't? Jeez....

domestic and outside our boarders. Their answer is that we should all arm ourselves, encouraging the possibility of gun battles in our neighborhoods.

These Tea Baggers do not understand the realities of their theories and the results of their lunacy. While their opinions on deregulation and taxation and government spending, etc. sound quite wonderful, they have unintended consequences and materialize in ways that damage this country’s economy, civil liberties and safety – as was illustrated so clearly under Bush.

The Tea Baggers had their chance. They controlled the White House and Congress for six of the last eight years and their policies tore this country asunder, taking it to the brink of collapse. This subgroup of political outliers would dictate liberties not only to the rest of Americans – but hang the rest of the world out to dry, attacking many without justification and at the same time arousing indignation that we sacrifice our “sovereignty” by abiding by U.N. Resolutions.

These people are idiots – the lowest common denominator of the uninformed. They are being used by people and leadership whose policies affect these “protestors” negatively in a significant way. Yet, time and time again, Republican “tax and deficit” lies – and the use of god, guns and gays – gets these turkeys hot to trot in an attempt to inhibit progress and improvement of this great nation.

It’s real cute, the mock revolution and display of boobery by the ‘baggers. I’m glad the rest of us can sit back and chuckle at the baffoonery without real fear their opinions will gain any traction. In my opinion, the best way to overcome this circus of ‘tards is to stay informed. Read,read,read. And remember the last eight years.

In short, take a hike, tea baggers. You don’t know what you’re talking about and the rest of us (ahem, the majority) don’t need or want you.

And I don’t want to hear any shit about the Tea Parties being Libertarian before being hijacked by the Right Wing wackos. This blog is meant for those hijackers. The tea bags are being funded by the Right Wing death squads and that’s why I’m responding so vehemently.

UPDATE 4.16.09: After looking at all the pics of these rallies, it was clear there were no minorities amongst the Tea Bag douchers. A klan-esque political movement of old, white people that is tasteless to minorities, gay people, non-believers and progressive women will go nowhere and gain bupkis. And Rove thinks this “movement is significant.” Um…right. He also referred to Democrats’ “tax and spend tendencies.” Why don’t we talk about how great the “no tax, but sill spend a lot” policies of the Republicans are? I guess it’s true. Right Wingism does rot the brain.

14
Apr
09

Earth Hour – This Photo Series is Cool as Hell

I’ve been meaning to post this link to a Boston Globe piece showing the difference between recognizable destinations from around the globe lit up and then darkened during Earth Hour. Just click on the photos to see the before and after differences.

And, yes, I particpated in Earth Hour – however, I was still cooking a relatively complicated meal and had to push back my particular Earth Hour to 9:30-10:30 p.m. My bad. Next year, I’ll do better – promise! I encourage others do so as well, if they can, because it is such an easy way to make a statement and participate in a movement that benefits all of us. Yay.

19
Jan
09

With Less Than 24 Hours to Go, I Say NEVER AGAIN

With just one day to go all I can say is I never thought this day would come. This is my long accounting of George W. Bush and that which he wrought upon our nation. It’s not a full catharsis, but merely the start so that we may say Never Again.

2000 Election – My Confessional

I can remember exactly where I was the moment the news stations called the 2000 election for Bush. On a treadmill in Perth, Australia. Everyone in the gym looked in my direction to see what the lone American thought of her next president. Mind you, this was before the news stations realized they had committed the media blunder of the century and we’d have to wait for characters like Katherine Harris and hanging chads to become famous before the Supreme Court decided who our next president was.

Having recently graduated college and, thus, deciding to party like a rock star, I was too clueless to get my act together and send in an absentee ballot to participate in the election. It’s the only one I’ve missed and will carry the shame until dementia erodes my cognitive abilities. I would have voted for Bush, though. Gore was such a lame douchebag (not to mention Lieberman) and I had yet to fully shed the Republican shackles of my youth. Hell,as a University of Texas student, Bush had been my neighbor. No one knew the gravity of the election and most people I knew were eager to see our governor succeed.

During the campaign, Bush kept saying the U.S. had to stop being the world’s policeman and scale back our military entanglements around the globe. Having recently studied the Vietnam War, international diplomacy, nuclear weapons policy and the fall of the Soviet Union – his rhetoric hit home with me. How was I to know he’d do a 180 once he had his finger over the red button?

This was before the convenient days of Google and Wikipedia. And I was clinging to the bubble of youthful ignorance with full force, which meant I did not research W’s history. I did not discover that he was an utterly failed businessman who had skated through early adulthood like many rich kids on his daddy’s name without forging a worthy identity or principle. I did not know the man was a hollow shell with only a pre-determined ideology and a daddy complex to steer decisions that would determine the fate of millions.

2004 – Was Bush Sent to Make this Nation Atone for Sins of its Past?

By 2004, it was glaringly apparent that Bush was incapable of the necessary consideration and deliberation to benefit this country or any other. In the primaries, I voted for Wes Clark, thinking him to be the only Democrat candidate who could reasonably compete with Bush for votes while the Iraq War of choice was being waged. Instead, John Kerry walked away with the nomination and I knew Bush would be reelected. Kerry was a non-starter, running on an “I’m Not Bush” platform, echoing the dismal reality that the Democrats had no voice, no testicular fortitude, no message.

Our country was to be held hostage for another four years by the evangelical, anti-intellectual far right and their moronic leader. I truly believed (living in Oklahoma, at the time) that the majority of this country were actually uneducated hicks who cared more about their guns than community service and thought it more important to have a big dick than humility. It was as though the America I thought existed was being suffocated by the intolerant and selfish and stupid.

I immediately bought a “01.20.09” bumper sticker, proudly displaying my patriotic desire to alter the direction of our nation. I wasn’t alone. Every time I saw another car sporting the same sticker – more than you’d expect here in north Texas – my heart leapt for joy. The peeps were waking up.The tide was turning, biatch.

THE WORST PRESIDENT IN HISTORY

It has been a most painful four years. Gay marriage bans, attempts at abortion redefinitions, no repentance for sending thousands to die for a war of choice – a war based on lies and deceit and salesmanship, and almost every department under the Executive Branch in ill repute for either illegal activity or preventing progress.

Bush is so smug with pride over the fact that the U.S. has not been attacked since 9/11. “I’ve kept America safe,” he repeats. But another leader of higher caliber could have kept us safe without sacrificing our dignity, integrity and honor. A better leader would have questioned his decisions, would not started or outsourced a war designed to establish a legacy. A better leader would have known things are not so simple, not so black and white, and not easily designated “good” and “evil.”

How many Americans did Bush keep safe from Alzheimer’s and diabetes and paralysis by supporting the limitless possibilities of embryonic stem research? How many teenage girls turned to abortion because Bush decided federal funds would support abstinence-only programs proven time and time again to fail, aptly demonstrated by the 2008 Republican V.P. nominee herself? Bush’s legacy entails auctioning off national protected lands (why?) and hindering the listing of many species (including polar bears) from the endangered species list.

At every turn available, the Bush administration sold out this country and it’s citizens to the mega-corporations designed to bleed every penny we have and every penny we’re approved for from our shrinking wallets. He sold the war and soldiers’ safety to Blackwater, Halliburton and myriad of other war profiteers. He sold our energy policy to the energy companies, the EPA to business hell-bent on raping the environment. Even the FDA is a joke, a corporate gimp with a failed record for protecting the consumer.

Under Bush, our nation became a budding autocracy who spies on its citizens at home and abroad. The Justice Department was politicized, the State Department was a Yes Man, the Defense Department was the epitome of incompetence, Homeland Security is a theatrical presentation, FEMA is a mythological black hole, the CIA is a plaything of the Executive.  The FCC has multiplied its interference in our “freedom of speech” a thousand-fold.

There has been no shining light from this President. No progress. No national greatness achieved. He came to office promising to unite and instead tore our country asunder.

With less than 24 hours to go it almost doesn’t seem real. Probably because it will take a generation repair the endless damage that clouds the horizon.

Obviously, I do not believe history will smile on George W. Bush. Unlike others, I do not think that his legacy will mirror the future of Iraq. The Iraq War empowered Iran like nothing else could for centuries – and history knows. In this age of information, ALL the destruction by this administration is on record and serves as a reminder that it does matter who the President of the United States is. Their character and integrity and intellect matter. Their decision-making matter.

We must remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. We cannot let time sweeten the memory of the last eight years. We must record it and remember it for the sake of future generations. So that we may say with conviction: NEVER AGAIN.

Is it real? It doesn’t feel real.

12
Jan
09

Why Are Oil Prices So Volatile?

Hint: It ain’t supply and demand.

Last night, 60 Minutes aired an invaluable report explaining the roller coaster oil prices – a must-watch (or must-read, if you prefer the trascript) for anyone confuzzed by the inanity of the energy market.

Spoiler: those manipulative bastards from Enron make a comeback.

Video and transcript here. Really, watch it or read it.

08
Nov
08

Obama Critics Need Back The Hell Up – For Now

With the election over, hapless McCain supporters are coming through the woodwork with their preconceived fears of an Obama administration. Already, they’re criticizing his future administrative decisions, claiming they’re “terrified” of the coming president.

I have four words for you imbeciles: Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

Let me spell it out as clearly as I can: your president has utterly ravaged this country during his tenure. Oh, you don’t think it’s all his fault? Let me give you a small reminder of his activities over the last eight years:

  • Convincing our country and neighbors to support the invasion of a sovereign country with lies and false intelligence. Severely mishandling the war for years, lying to the American people about the progress of the war and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths and handing more power to Iran than the country has enjoyed in centuries.
  • Appointing unqualified loyalists to positions that would result in the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina and subsequent deaths of a multitude of people.
  • After claiming to be called to spread democracy, attacking liberty and freedom in the U.S. by, among other things, erasing one of the foundations of democracy: habeas corpus.
  • Establishing a Justice Department that sought to subvert the law rather than uphold the Constitution, leading to the illegal politicization of the department and illegal warrantless surveillance of Americans at home and abroad.
  • Allowing the SEC to enact deregulations that would contribute to the destruction of the economy.
  • Giving tax cuts to the wealthy while the country was at war.
  • Compromising the war on terror by abandoning the military situation in Afghanistan.
  • Failing to enact necessary and obvious energy policies that would benefit future generations, refusing to abide by the Kyoto Protocol, and coddling energy companies that would discourage the development of alternative energy sources and tools, such as electric cars.
  • Supporting unConstitutional bans against gay marriage.
  • Operating with a lack of intellectual curiosity, a certitude and an isolationist arrogance that has grossly reduced U.S. credibility abroad.
  • Attempting to privatize social security – which would have decimated the program had it succeeded

George W. Bush has relentlessly damaged this country politically, economically and militarily year after year after year. He has been the most incompetent president the country has ever experienced. Ever.

And you Republicans feel you have any right to open your fat mouths and issue criticisms of a man who has yet to take the oath of office?! The gall, the stupidity, the ignorance!

I am absolutely unopposed to critiquing Obama’s efforts as president. We must certainly pay attention to the developments and decisions of our government. It is our responsibility and duty as American citizens to ensure our government operates with accountability and proficiency at all levels at all times. Feel free to raise your voices – when it is time.

But give Obama a chance to lead. Take a step back, take a breath, take responsibility for your vote for Bush and Cheney in 2004. Shut your mouths and study the actions of Obama before you unleash your predetermined accusations of a man who will undoubtedly make mistakes, but will undoubtedly perform better than the leader you delivered to us.

I don’t like to dispense with advice, but allow me – just this once, Republicans – to issue a few words you’d be well-served to heed: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

24
Oct
08

How Great is the U.S.?

Since Sean Hannity keeps saying the U.S. is the greatest country god gave the Earth and among the anti-intellectuals, patriotism equals character, I thought I’d look into how great our country is when compared to other nations.

Infant Mortality:

According to the CDC, the U.S. ranks 29th in infant mortality levels when compared to other nations. We’re behind Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, CUBA, Czech Republican, Denmark, England & Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Now – just in case you weren’t paying attention – I just listed a whole helluvalotta states with socialized medicine. Oooh, bad word! I know!

So, we’re not the greatest in one of the leading indicators of health care quality: infant mortality rates. Let’s move on.

Life Expectancy and more:

According to the CIA World Factbook (and made into a pretty chart on Wikipedia), the U.S. is 45th in life expectancy when compared to other nations. The United Nations has us up at 38. We’re behind Costa Rica, Malta, a whole bunch of socialist countries, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates and a whole bunch more.

Okay…well, maybe this is because we’re so awesome and have so many conveniences we don’t move around that much and that’s why we die earlier – but the life that we live is so much more awesome. Well, that’s not true either, a study at the University of Leicester found that the U.S. is 23rd of the world’s happiest countries.

AND, we’re way down on other lists including unemployment, and our students aren’t even in the top 20 in math, reading and science.

We are free, though – and there’s definitely something to be said for that. Or maybe not.

Freedom

Reporters Without Borders says the U.S. is 36th in terms of freedom of the press. 36th!! Shit, we’re on the same level as Bosnia & Herzegovina. Trinidad & Tobago are ahead of us, including Slovenia, Suriname, Lithuania and Estonia and all those other countries that beat us in all the other categories.

We have the 20th smallest level of “perceived corruption” – but all those countries with lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancy rate even less than we do on “perceived corruption.” And less is better here, people.

Economics

Well, The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal found the U.S. 5th in terms of economic freedom. And the World Economic Forum gives us top spot in Global Competitiveness. So, as long as we’ve got our shit together when it comes to money, who cares if our citizens die before everybody else and we can’t keep babies alive?

At least we’re number 1 in renewable energy attractiveness! There’s a small spot of sunshine!

Now, I’m not exactly sure how you measure greatness. But when a doctor says the word “cancer” to you, I doubt you’ll really be concerned with words like “capitalism” and “socialism” and more focused on “treatment availability” and “cure.” After your newborn succumbs to an acute illness, I doubt you’ll be glad our health care system is “for profit.” And after your “for profit” health insurance doesn’t cover needed procedures and you’re forced to declare bankruptcy (which was made harder under George W. Bush and would remain so under McCain), something tells me you won’t be shouting about how the U.S. is the best country on Earth. You’ll just leave that to millionaire Sean Hannity who can afford health care for his family.

Do you think me anti-American for saying such things? I don’t really care. I know am grateful every day I am from this country and I speak from the experience of having lived outside the U.S. – so I know what I’m talking about. I wonder if Sean Hannity has lived abroad.

The point is, the U.S. has a lot of room for improvement and many other countries present many benefits to their citizens that we do not enjoy here. Before we run around shouting about how awesome we are and attacking those who might disagree with us, we should look to carving out a better future for the U.S. and the children who will inherit it.

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” Gandhi (this dude from India who lived a long time ago)

P.S. People throwing around terms like “Real America” and “Pro-American” can suck it. We’re the UNITED States. Or didn’t they get that? How dare those imbeciles.




Scarlet Letter of Atheism

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