“The Study of Reality”
Warning! This Blog Contains Social Commentary, Brilliant Observations, Dry Wit, and Rampant Sarcasm. Use At Your Own Risk.
Posted American Dream, Business, Consumerism, Economics, Politics on Thursday, October 9th, 2008. Comments(2)
Damn, I wish I didn’t end up being right about this…
On August 15 2007 I wrote this post about the impending economic collapse and how the prez was lying and saying that the economy was fine. Well, I’ll be damned if it all didn’t come true.
In paragraph 5 I said "God I hope we don’t have another savings and loan collapse/bailout type debacle." Well I guess that one came true too. Shit!
The election is less than a month away and I am shocked and saddened to hear some people blaming this whole thing on "liberals" and "too much regulation". These people obviously don’t have a clue what they’re talking about and are only parroting what they’ve heard from rush limbaugh and sean hannity. People are sheep.
John McCain is out on the campaign trail talking about more tax cuts for big corporations, even though [through specially written tax loopholes] the vast majority of large US corporations don’t pay any tax anyway.
Anyway…I don’t have the stomach right now to write another post about how bad the republicans have fucked up this country. Bottom line: Trickle-down economics has never worked and will never work for 99% of Americans. The only ones who benefit are the top 1% and fortune 500 corporations. The rest of us are screwed.
Wake up people. The US can’t afford another 4/8 years of trickle-down, tax cuts for the wealthy and unregulated corporate greed. We can’t afford to elect John McCain. We can’t afford someone who keeps his heads in the sand, hasn’t learned from history, and continues to worship the fallen idols of deregulation, greed-is-good, and other outdated and dangerous modes of thinking. Let’s not cut our own throats again…
Popularity: 61% [?]
Posted Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Science, Society on Saturday, September 13th, 2008. Comments(1)
One more installment in my recent anti-religion tirades…
I recently finished the book "Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up" by Jonh Allen Paulos.
It’s an interesting little book that, through mathematics, quite adeptly destroys all sorts of the supposed "logical" arguments for god. Regardless of the religious implications of the book, the author really lays out probability and mathematical principles in easy to understand ways. It was particularly fascinating to me how many things we see around us every day are hugely improbable statistically, yet they happen with great regularity.
Here’s a case in point…
I suppose everyone knows that creationism (the belief that a mystical sky fairy [god] created the universe) has been rebranded as "intelligent design" (ID). There’s been a new PR campaign in the world (mainly USA) to try to "prove" its validity and hold it up as an equal (or better) explanation than natural selection (evolution), and to have it taught in public schools.
Since there is of course no logical or scientific evidence of "intelligent design" [a 2000 year old story book which claims itself infallible is not evidence] , the best argument its supporters can come up with is that the probability that the world as we know it evolved from natural selection is highly unlikely.
Of course their whole "thought" process is severely flawed and show that its supporters have no knowledge of science and no concept of natural selection. They start out with the idea that the universe as it is now was the "goal" of evolution, rather than realizing that there was no end goal, only a starting place with an incomprehensible number of possible changes and outcomes which occurred over billions of years and ended up with what we have now. In other words it wasn’t planned to be this way it just ended up this way as a result of miniscule changes over billions of years.
But anyway, back the idea that the probability of the universe being this way is so unlikely as to be impossible. Paulos give a great illustration of things with an a seeming infinitesimal probability of occurring, occurring nonetheless.
Would you say that the odds of something having a 1 in 1068 probability of occurring would be small? Infinitesimal even? Would something with those sorts of odds ever occur? Just so we’re clear on the number; 1068 is 1 with 68 zeros after it. In other words something having a
1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
chance of occurring. It seems like something like that could never happen.
Well, if you shuffle a deck of 52 cards there is a 1 in 1068 chance of the cards ending up in any particular order. So every time you shuffle a deck of cards the order that the cards ended up in had a tiny 1 in 1068 chance of occurring, and yet it obviously did occur.
You would be justified in concluding that the probability that the cards ended up in that particular order was infinitesimal, but you would not be justified in concluding that since the odds were so small that it could not have possibly occurred. That my friends is what creationists try to do.
Simply because the a priori [rough translation: before the fact] chance of something happening is tiny, you can’t conclude that it could not have possibly occurred. When you shuffle cards they have to end up in some order. Regardless of the probability of any one particular order occurring, one particular order will occur. You cannot logically conclude that the possibility of moving from one order to another via shuffling is so improbable as to be impossible.
So how do we put this back into the real world of natural selection? Simply this: when an organism reproduces, the cards are reshuffled and any number of possible genetic changes will occur (as demonstrated by the fact that every offspring is not a perfect clone.) This particular genetic reshuffling that ends up was itself highly improbable to have occurred, but yet it did occur.
Genetics is of course much more complex than a deck of cards. When genes are shuffled there can be mutations which lead to more possibilities of changes in organisms. If you had a deck of cards that changed a tiny bit with every shuffle eventually it would not look like the deck you started out with. The possibilities of changes would increase the longer you shuffled the deck. If everyone of the 6 billion people on earth shuffled a similar deck then the number of change would grow exponentially. If they passed down their deck of cards to their offspring and the offspring continued to shuffle the deck over their lifetime then then the changes could grow even more exponentially. And if that continued for billions of years then the number of changes would continue to grow exponentially.
Something simple can end up incredibly complex with tiny changes over long periods of time.
That in a nutshell is natural selection.
1- organisms reproduce
2- the offspring is slightly different that its parents
3- that offspring reproduces
4- Its offspring are slightly different that it is
5- ad infinitum
The evidence is right in front of our faces, we witness it every time a child is born and yet some people still want to claim that it doesn’t happen. As I’ve said before, someone who consistently doesn’t believe what they see happening with their very eyes, and who denies reality, is detached (brainwashed by beliefs) from reality. It’s sad on a human level, but it’s incredibly dangerous on a societal level to have people making decisions based on superstition and non-reality.
This whole deck of cards/number analogy thing was based on about 2 pages of Paulos’ book. If you read the whole book you’ll find many more "arguments" for god debunked. It’s a pretty entertaining read. Don’t be put off by "mathematics" in the title.
Popularity: 62% [?]
Posted Religion, Science, Society on Friday, September 12th, 2008. Comments(1)
As if to punctuate yesterday’s post about no more religious nuts in politics, I received further proof that religious nuts are not connected to reality.
I got this chain email entitled "god’s pharmacy". It’s so laughably simple-minded and unintelligent that you’d almost think it was made to be funny, not to PROVE how smart god is.
Here it is in all its glory (no pun intended).
(My smart-ass comments in red)
A friend sent this to me. It’s been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish… all before making a human. He made and provided what we’d need before we were born. These are best & more powerful when eaten raw. We’re such slow learners…
God left us a great clue as to what foods help what part of our body!
God’s Pharmacy! Amazing!
A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye… and YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
And an unsliced carrot it looks like a horse dick, so what? Pretty much anything round "looks" like the human eye if you’re going to use that broad of a brush. No, "carrots" don’t enhance blood flow to the eyes; that would be vitamin A primarily to which you’re trying to refer. And as far as I know vitamin A’s benefits don’t come from enhanced blood flow.
And by the way…vitamin A is found in many other foods in greater concentrations than in carrots—the top one being cod liver oil. I don’t know…does a cod liver look like the human eye?
A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
OK first, it’s "lycopene" not "lycopine". And ummm, actually tomatoes contain between 2-20 chambers depending on the variety. They’re green when they’re first "born" by the way. Just like the human heart right? (Or maybe that was the Grinch?) They might also be yellow, orange, pink, and dark purple to black. [I'll leave others to make the black hearted jokes.]
Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.
That’s the shape of heart? Uh, I guess so if you want to stretch your imagination…and selectively prune a bunch of grapes. Looks like a blood cell? Here we go again with that magical-god-proving-circular-shape? Good for your heart? Well Lordy-Be! Them there are anti-oxidants, which in addition to being found in other foods in much greater concentrations, are primarily found in grape SEEDS. And since that’s a picture of THOMPSON SEEDLESS GRAPES, they don’t have any freakin’ seeds anyway.
Here’s another bunch of grapes I found. Who’s heart is that shaped like Farmer Brown?
A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
Actually I always thought a walnut kind of looks like the wrinkly skin on your testicles when it’s cold. Maybe that’s just me.
Looks like a little brain? Well a little anthropomorphic projection never hurt anyone.
And by the way Freud, they’re not "neuron-transmitters" they’re "neurotransmitters"…and it’s the omega 3 fatty acids found in walnuts that are good for the brain. In fact flax seeds have 3x the amount of omega 3s found in walnuts. I submit that the size and shape of a flax seed more closely resembles the brain of whoever wrote this idiotic email. –>
Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
"…and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys. " — No Shit Sherlock! That’s because they were NAMED AFTER HUMAN KIDNEYs not the other way around.
Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don’t have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
"Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones." — So does a fucking stick Hippocrates! Go eat one of those.
Avocados, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs. Today’s research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).
"Avocados, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female – they look just like these organs." Hey if your pussy’s green like an avocado or purple like an eggplant you need to get that looked at.
Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.
Wow they’re full of seeds. Simply amazing! They must be the only fruit in the world to be full of seeds. And they hang in twos? Damn, you got me there buckwheat! You know what’s really sperm-and-nut-like about figs…it’s that they’re full of fig wasp larva…yum…you’re eating wasp jizz. Gee thanks god.
Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
Ohh this stuff is starting to make my head hurt…
Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries
Who has that many ovaries? With leaves too?
Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.
They look "just like" the mammary glands? What? Orange, yellow, and bumpy on the outside? Not like any mammary glands I’ve ever seen.
No, actually the mammary glands don’t look anything like that. The BREASTS might look a little like them though. Actually, I always preferred "mammary glands" that were cantaloupe and watermelon sized. Plus when those lemon titties squirt in your eye it burns like the dickens.
Onions look like the body’s cells. Today’s research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.
Hey wait a minute…I thought you said grapes looked like a blood cell? What’s going on here god?
" They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes." So does a kick in the nuts, and since onions look like nuts, ipso facto god planned it that way.
You know what else washes the epithelial layers of the eyes? Mustard gas! That is until you puke blood and cough up your lungs. I’d say you got a little carried away with the symbolism there god!
SUBJECT: Psalm 46:10
‘Be Still and Know that I AM GOD’
Please don’t break this even if you only send it to one person. Look at the date when this was started. Thanks.
So there you go you doubting Thomas…proof of god’s divine plan right there in the Safeway produce aisle. But I’m sure Sarah Palin already knew that.
Popularity: 60% [?]
Posted Humanity, Philosophy, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Society on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008. Comments(2)
The Religious Should Not And Cannot Be Trusted In Positions of Power.
Religion is a mass delusion that has been perpetrated far too long out of fear, ignorance, and power. I understand that people have been raised (brainwashed) that way (me included), but what continues to shock me is that in this day and age, with all we know about how the universe works, people continue to choose to live outside of reality.
Not only is that sad, it’s scary and downright dangerous. Witness the havoc these delusions cause…All the way from the 2,000 years of christian, jewish, muslim, hindu hatred and wars with each other to the parents who withhold medical treatment from their children because they believe that praying to god will cure all. I don’t want to belabor the point—I could give examples of this for another 10 pages.
The ignorance of humans never ceases to amaze me, but I’m especially shocked that this right-wing-religious-nut-Sarah-Palin seems to be so well received. I won’t even go into the effects of cult of personality, or the cult of a semi-not-ugly-face have on people. That’s scary in itself.
Look, normally anyone who says they hear voices is rushed off to psychiatric care and rightfully so. They’d certainly not be trusted to hold public office. BUT if they say the voices are from "god" then it’s like "Oh OK that’s cool…you’re not insane." These people should be getting the psychiatric help they need, not encouraged and allowed to continue in their delusions.
I guarantee a person who admitted being bi-polar or schizophrenic would not even be considered for public office; but here we go again with Sara Palin since people obviously didn’t learn their lesson from 8 years of a president with definite mental issues. I’m not just talking about him being unintelligent, I’m talking about issues resembling paranoid delusions, megalomania, schizophrenia, or personality disorders.
He definitely doesn’t shy away from talking about the voices in his head; but here once again another person needing psychiatric care is given a free pass because the voices are from "god". Freaking scary and directly parallel to such wackos as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or the Ayatollah Khomeini, et al.
[ I don't mean to imply that everyone who professes to "hear god's voice" is psychotic. Most are just deluding themselves because they "want to believe" and this is a way for them to "prove" that god exists and is looking out for them. It's really just the inner voice and self-talk that all humans possess and is part of a human brain's normal activity.]
I don’t want to go off on Bush’s mental problems too much, but this is an excellent article on them.
A couple of quotes from the article….
The author quotes Jung in analyzing George Bush’s mental disorders:
"Hysterical self-deceivers, and ordinary ones too, have at all times understood the art of misusing everything so as to avoid the demands and duties of life, and above all to shirk the duty of confronting themselves. They pretend to be seekers after God in order not to have to face the truth that they are ordinary egoists."
"At the root of Bush’s process is an unwillingness and seeming inability to experience his own sense of sin, guilt and shame, as if he is afraid of being exposed, of being found out. He’s clearly unable to feel any remorse and experience his own weakness and vulnerability, his own sense of failure. This threatens his narcissism too much. One aspect of Bush’s pathology is ‘malignant narcissism,’ as he reacts sadistically to others who mirror back his guilt and don’t support and enable his narcissism."
"Whereas Hitler’s evil was more overt in its cruelty and sadism, Bush’s dark side is much more hidden and disguised, which makes it particularly dangerous. People who voted for Bush are somehow blind to what is very obvious to others. It’s as if they’ve become hypnotized and fallen under the spell that Bush is casting. Why would people vote for someone stricken with malignant egophrenia? People who support Bush are suggestible and susceptible to the same malady that Bush is embodying, as if they have a predisposition for it (based on their own trauma, dissociated psyche and tendency to project the shadow). Supporting Bush is a sign that a person not only doesn’t see the deadly illness that is incarnating itself through Bush, but is an expression that this disease has taken up residence in their being and is using them to do its bidding."
That’s about as perfectly as it can be said.
I personally can no longer in good conscious just let these religious delusions continue unchallenged; especially when we’re faced with another [vice] presidential term of people who admittedly hear voices in their head and make decisions based on a 2,000 year old book written by bronze-age storytellers.
Most Americans can plainly see the evil that comes from the muslim world trying to enforce their barbaric, 8th century mythology on the rest of the world. Yet sadly [religious] Americans seem blind to the fact that THEIR stated ultimate goal and worldview is the exact same thing. But I suppose that’s inherent in the religious person’s psyche…to kill or convert the infidels. Again another false and needless problem caused by people making life-threatening decisions based on 2,000 year old mythology.
We as a country and as a world cannot continue to let people who hear voices in their head and who are so disconnected from reality that they believe magic sky-faeries rule the universe…we should not and we can not any longer let these obviously unfit people rule the United States and the world.
We need to call a spade a spade and not give people who are obviously disconnected from the real world a pass just because they pull the "religious card". Let us at least call it what it truly is…a delusion. And delusional people have no business making decisions for society.
Popularity: 63% [?]
Posted Funny on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008. Comments(0)
I ran across this post the other day, entitled:
The Best Forwarded Email I’ve received in a Long Time: Canada’s Tallest Building
“I know you have a keen interest in architecture so I thought you might be interested in the CN Tower ( Canada ’s National tower ). It is the highest tower in the world. Measuring 553 meters (1,815?), it is an ingenious piece of architectural wonder. This is an outstanding photo of the tower. .
Please forward this to all engineers and architects and everybody that is interested in civil wonders”
I am interested in architecture so I’m glad I ran across this post.
I never knew the CN tower was so HUGE. I’d like to see it in person some day.
Popularity: 73% [?]
Posted American Dream, Business, Consumerism, Economics, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Nature, Politics, Science, Society on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008. Comments(0)
More scare tactics from the anti-facts/reality/science wing of the conservative movement.
A while back I received an email with the subject line of "Lies Vs. Truth". It was one of those chain emails that right-wing type folks so often seem to send around. (I assume it’s the same demographic who "learns" about politics by talk-radio, because I never receive any left-slanted chain emails.)
The gist of the email was that all of our oil problems would be solved and that prices would go down by a huge amount if only we’d drill in ANWR. It showed pictures of the tundra, which it labeled a "wasteland" and insinuated that since it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t valuable to anyone so we might as well drill and what’s the big deal. It also showed a herd of caribou within a couple miles of a drilling facility and a polar bear standing atop the oil pipeline. The inherent message was "see the animals are fine, what’s the problem."
It was your typical diatribe about how "the liberals" are ruining the world, blaming Al Gore for high gas prices, and other emotional rather than fact-based "reasoning". Your typical Rush Limbaugh type of hype—long on hot air, short on facts.
I deleted that email as I usually do with this sort of crap, but something gnawed at me for a couple of days. I couldn’t bare the thought of someone’s opinion actually being swayed but that load of rubbish. I couldn’t bare the thought of more uninformed idiots making political and environmental choices based on this load of hogwash.
Not that I though it would do much good, but I replied with the following email….
Sorry I just couldn’t let this load of half-truths and innuendo go by without, as Paul Harvey used to say, "The rest of the story."
I don’t care to get into a big argument about anything but I can’t bear the thought of people making actual political decisions based on scare tactics from a hyped-up email.
Lies vs. Truth? Hmmmm. I don’t see any facts in that email, just name calling and fear-mongering.
So lets look at some actual facts…
But first, why does this type of crap always have to demonize people and reduce them to a label like "the democrats", "liberals", "greens", etc? There are people with views different than your own obviously. Labeling them and reducing them to a stereotype instead of a real human being makes them easier to hate. That’s the whole reason for it. Anyone who’s intellectually honest knows that regardless of the political/social/economical/ leanings there’s plenty of BS, slant, and lies to go around. To act as if "your side" has all the answers, is perfect, never lies, and has a lock on virtue is completely dishonest and is a disservice to democracy.
We all personally deal with people one on one who think differently than we do and we generally treat them with courtesy and respect. I don’t think most of us walk around all day yelling at people and calling them names do we? Why then do people do it emails? I guess it’s impersonal and if they’re just "a [insert your hated stereotype here]" then they’re not really a human being and so are OK to insult? Maybe I just look at people differently than some folks do…
But since the email demonized the "liberals" and "greens" I’ll assume that it was written from a "conservative" and "republican" point of view and respond accordingly.
Why is ANWR such a political football anyway? The amount of oil there is very small. According to the US Department of Energy, United States Energy Information Administration:
"Additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR would be only a small portion of total world oil production, and would likely be offset in part by somewhat lower production outside the United States. The opening of ANWR is projected to have its largest oil price reduction impacts as follows: a reduction in low-sulfur, light crude oil prices of $0.41 per barrel (2006 dollars) in 2026 for the low oil resource case, $0.75 per barrel in 2025 for the mean oil resource case, and $1.44 per barrel in 2027 for the high oil resource case, relative to the reference case."
Wow! Drilling in ANWR would have the huge impact of reducing oil prices by 41 cents a barrel…in 2026! It would take at least 10-15 years to even get the oil fields set up so in only 18 short years from now we could be looking at a savings of 41 cents a barrel! Wow, that awesome. I’m sure that would translate to maybe 1 cent reduction in gas prices.
But again, any oil produced in anwr is at least 10-15 years away anyway. It does nothing to change gas prices today and in 18-20 years from now it’s still only a tiny, tiny, change at all. In other words it’s not worth it financially.
And look, what we’re really seeing here are the last gasp efforts of junkies. Think of a heroin addict. They do more and more desperate things to get their fix. They rob their neighbors, they let their kids go hungry, they prostitute themselves. It’s the same thing now with oil. US oil production peaked in the late 60s to early 70s. World oil production has peaked within the last few years as well. There’s less oil and more people who want it so the price goes up.
Seems to me that republicans/conservatives are always talking about the virtues of the free market, free from the restraints of rules and laws. Well here it is–the free market in action. How do you like it? Was it all that you hoped it would be?
And speaking of the free market, the email mentioned gas taxes and said that Al Gore and the democrats wanted to raise gas prices. Just so you know, the main reason our roads and infrastructure is falling apart is that fuel taxes do not even come close to paying for the costs of building and maintaining roads (which they’re supposed to do). So by the logic of getting rid of government meddling and distorting the markets, fuel taxes would probably need to be raised by 4 or 5 times higher so that they would actually cover it. As much as high gas prices suck, you’ve got to pay for the roads and the fuel taxes are supposed to pay for that. Use the roads more, wear them out more, pay more to fix them. That’s the way it’s supposed to be but fuel taxes have been kept artificially low because of weak political stomachs. The true costs are hidden and that’s not free market.
The point is we’re behaving like desperate junkies. Sure you can keep doing more and more desperate things to get your fix but sooner or later you’ve either got to pull the needle out of your arm or you’re going to die. This all could have been avoided but certain factions and political parties have consistently voted against energy efficiency and alternative forms of energy [read conservatives/republicans]. So US, you’ve got exactly what you voted for. Stop complaining. Or do something about it. Kick the habit!
So then the email went on to show photos of what it termed a "barren wasteland". We don’t even know if those are actual photos of the land in question. Regardless, just because you may not think that it looks "pretty" does not mean it’s a "barren wasteland". I’m sure the animals and plants that live there don’t consider it so. Not to mention the people who have depended on that sort of land to live and hunt for the last 10,000-15,000 years.
Aren’t conservatives always going on about "property rights" and "takings"? Well there are 50 indigenous groups of people who are opposed to drilling in anwr because of the havoc that it would wreak on their lives. So how do you square that? Is it ok for a government "taking" just so some corporation can profit? Yes, believe it or not there are still some people up there who try to live a traditional life which depends on the health of the caribou, the fish, and the land for them to survive. Or would you rather just say screw the land and animals and have the people go on welfare?
The email goes on to act as if they want just this tiny little part of the land, so what’s the big deal right?
OK here’s where they’re already drilling in Alaska
Here’s where they’re already allowed to drill on the north slope.
See that tiny piece of land at the top right? That anwr where they want to expand oil drilling.
The point is that drilling is already allowed on 95% of the north slope! All we’re talking about is allowing a mere 5% to go unmolested. Can’t it be OK to just leave a tiny bit alone? Can’t we leave just a bit of land that we don’t rape and pillage? Or is our only value corporate profits? Isn’t there more to life than that? Seems like there are a few choice bible verses that say so. Something about "the love of money…"
Then the email shows caribou and a bear near the oil rigs. So what? Where the hell else are they going to go? That’s where they live. But you can bet that having all of that industrialization is certainly not doing them any good.
Here’s a nice animal photo for you. It’s our national symbol of freedom and liberty being scrubbed of oil from the Exxon Valdez disaster.
Whoops, here’s a couple of critters that didn’t make it.
Thousands of animals died immediately; the best estimates include 250,000 to as many as 500,000 seabirds, at least 1,000 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs.
So let’s not forget the ole Exxon Valdez disaster. It’s 20 years later and the area is not even close to recovering.
Here’s some current data from a USA today article:
According to a study out Feb. 15 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Geological Survey and Alaskan agencies found that oil levels in the sands around the sound are much the same as they were when tests were done five years ago. The study says oil has seeped down 4 to 10 inches.
Seventeen years ago, scientists predicted that the oil would be long gone by now. "We expected the natural decay rate was 25% a year. But very little of the oil actually disappeared," says Jeffrey Short, a NOAA research chemist. "What’s left is going to be there a long time."
Instead, the researchers estimate, the oil is "weathering" away at a rate of 3% to 4% a year. "It will be readily detectable for decades," Short says.
The herring fisheries collapsed. Salmon have not recovered. So 34,000 fisherman and others have lost their livelihood because of the Valdez disaster. 34,000! So what are they supposed to do? Just screw them too and let them go on welfare?
Yeah, yeah, it could never happen again. Easy for you to say when you don’t live up there and depend on it for your life isn’t it? What’s the risk to you? Out of site out of mind right? If you don’t know them personally then they don’t matter. As long as you get what you want then screw everybody else. That’s the attitude I guess. Never mind that it doesn’t make economic sense. It make good political grist for the mill.
But seriously, passing around those stupid political hack-job emails does no one any good. All it does is stir up resentment and hatred. Don’t base your political or other decisions on crap you read in an email and don’t just forward them along like a robot. Read the facts, inform yourself, separate the fact from the hype, and then make your own decision.
That’s democracy in action regardless of if you’re a liberal or a conservative. That’s what we need–people thinking for themselves based on facts, not emotions and fear.
The guy who sent me the email was pissed that I responded. I guess he doesn’t like facts that don’t fit into his political leanings. He had no rebuttal of the facts, how could he. Facts are facts. His only response was that he guesses if it would take 10 years to get oil out of ANWR that we should have started drilling 10 years ago. I guess he’s not bothered by the fact that the oil in ANWR might lower gas prices less than a penny a gallon and would screw up one of the last remaining un-raped pieces of land. Wow. Talk about selfish. He’s a good right-wing christian though so I’m sure jesus would agree that harming many for the tiny benefit of a few is ok. I think that’s in the good book somewhere. "Fuck them that may be harmed by thine actions if thou shall save a few shekels."
Most of the people who responded (there were many cc’d on the original email) thanked me for telling the other side of the story. One was an oil man who had worked up on the north slope. He said I was right on and that he agreed that we shouldn’t drill there even though drilling in anwr would bring him more money. One conservative-type said that I had raised some good points "from the liberal perspective". Again, I don’t know how facts can be liberal or conservative, but some folks feel the need to see the world with an "us against them" mentality. Sad. That’s most of the problem right there.
I don’t know if it did any good but I feel better. Hopefully at least a few people dropped their dogma and looked at the facts. I ain’t countin’ on it though…
Popularity: 81% [?]
Posted American Dream, Economics, Environment, Healthcare, Humanity, Philosophy, Politics, Society on Friday, June 13th, 2008. Comments(1)
Popularity: 100% [?]
Posted American Dream, Business, Economics, Healthcare, Humanity, Politics on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008. Comments(0)
Since healthcare is the #1 cause of bankruptcy in the US, you’d think it would have been more of a forefront issue over the years —especially for those right-wing-types who seem to live by the rule that money is all that matters. Healthcare has been on the minds of Americans for the past few years but it’s been one of those political "third-rails" so politicians have been largely scared to touch it. (Remember how Hillary was crucified a few years ago for her "socialist" health care plan.)
The tide seems to have shifted and it seems that people are finally starting to demand that this healthcare mess be solved. Just so you know where I stand, I don’t think that healthcare should be a for-profit enterprise. When Humana et al came in and started running healthcare as a business with only the bottom-line as the goal, healthcare began a monumental shift to taking care of Wall Street instead of taking care of people.
As a sign that things are indeed shifting, one of the most powerful lobyist groups has taken on the issue. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has created a website called DividedWeFail.org where they take on the issues and the politicians. You can sign petitions, tell your congress people how you feel, and get involved in other ways if you’re interested.
The org is non-partisan as their logo illustrates:
Check it out. Make your voice heard.
As an aside – I just heard John McCain unveil his healthcare plan today. In short, it’s a whole lot of nothing. A whole lot of business-as-usual. I’m not so sure about Barak and Hillary’s plans either, but their proposals are still a hell of a lot better than what we’ve got now.
John McCain’s healthcare plan
Regardless of your political persuasion, I hope that we can all agress that the current healthcare system has to change. Healthcare costs are rising at twice the rate of inflation and have been for years, meanwhile the health of the US citizen as a whole has been greatly degraded.
The US has the worlds most expensive healthcare system and yet our system is rated #37 in the world by the world health organization (WHO).
Here’s a report from the university of Maine about the sorry state of the US healthcare system. It’s from 2001 and you know things have only gotten worse. It again outlines that we have the most expensive healthcare system in the world (by far) but also interesting nuggets such as the US ranking #26 for infant mortality rates in the industrialized world. (That’s 26 from the top).
To sum it all up—the US healthcare system sucks for everyone except the insurance companies and drug manufacturers and the politicians they pay off. It’s time for a change. DEMAND IT!
Popularity: 76% [?]
Posted Humanity on Monday, April 14th, 2008. Comments(0)
Don’t complain about how hard your life is.
Popularity: 62% [?]
Posted American Dream, Economics, Politics on Monday, April 14th, 2008. Comments(0)
Well no shit!
President Bush often argues that history will vindicate him. So he can’t be pleased with an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted by the History News Network. It found that 98 percent of them believe that Bush’s presidency has been a failure, while only about 2 percent see it as a success. Not only that, more than 61 percent of the historians say the current presidency is the worst in American history. In 2004, only 11.6 percent of the historians rated Bush’s presidency in last place. Among the reasons given for his low ratings: invading Iraq, “tax breaks for the rich,” and alienating many nations around the world. Bush supporters counter that professional historians today tend to be liberal and that it’s too early to assess how his policies will turn out.
On the bright side, Warren G. Harding’s presidency now looks a whole lot better.
But what’s seriously disturbing is reading the comments on that story. I’m absolutely astonished that there are so many people who are still drinking the republican kool-aid and saying that Bush is a good president. Bush and Reagan fucked up this country, its people and the world and these people are still blaming it on “the liberals”.
When did we last have a liberal president? Jimmy Carter in the 70′s. (A failure I agree) (Clinton was a republican in liberal clothes.) Before that…LBJ? Hmmm…wasn’t that back when the country was still strong and “moral” like the conservatives like to reminisce about.
LBJ, JFK, Ike, Truman, FDR. 4 democrats and one republican. When was the last depression? Hmmm…after 3 republican administrations? Hoover, Coolidge, and Harding. You’d think that people would finally realize that trickle down economics doesn’t work. Unless you’re one of the top 1 or 2 percent that is…
The ability of people to stick their heads in the sand in order to not admit a mistake is truly amazing.
Popularity: 70% [?]
Posted American Dream, Business, Consumerism, Economics, Environment, Philosophy, Politics, Society on Friday, February 29th, 2008. Comments(0)
Let me preface this by saying Democrats have certainly not always made the best decisions in the past few decades either. I’m not a Democrat and I’m not a Republican. I base my comments on the evidence of the past 25+ years, not on having a partisan ax to grind.
This post probably makes me sould like a sterotypical "bleeding-heart liberal" which I’m not, although the Bush administration has destroyed most of my conservative viewpoints. Now It’s clear to me that the liberal or progressive point of view is sorely needed to save the American Dream.
My interest is in the best interest of the many, not of the best interest of the few.
I’ve been driven to write this post after reading a couple of books lately:
The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America
Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism
And the blog post that I quote in this post.
Hopefully people are starting to see that this house of cards that our society and economy have been seduced and forced into is falling apart. The economy has been in the toilet for the common US citizen since the 80′s and the "Reagan Revolution".
Corporations and the rich have done well for themselves over the past 25 years. It’s easier to get ahead and achieve wealth when you climb the ladder of "success" by stepping on the backs of the majority and "financing" tax-cuts and the nation’s economic foundation with a credit card mentality. Just sell more T-bills to China and keep your head buried in the sand.
But now thats it’s hitting Wall Street in the pocketbook and white-collar jobs, suddenly people are paying attention and seemed surprised that the party has come to an end. I’ll grant you that many people have been willing accomplices to this phenomenon and have willingly sold their soul to achieve their ideas of success.
Of course how are we to know what people have done to themselves and what people have been brainwashed into doing? Education has been cut and cut and cut since the Reagan Revolution. So has mental health treatment. So has regulation of industry. So has caring about your fellow human. So has a sense of fairness.
But what has increased? Marketing is incessant. We’re being told to buy, buy, buy, almost every waking moment. People have become television zombies and are bombarded with marketing messages. Almost every website is full of ads. Buses and trains have ads on them now–both inside and out. Stadiums and civic arenas are now named after corporations. Sporting events are named after corporations. The back of your grocery receipt has ads on it. The grocery now sells gift cards to pottery barn and home depot. Now ads are even placed in front of you in urinals at restaurants and other public locations. Seriously, you can’t even take a piss anymore without being bombarded with advertisements. I’m sure that advertisements on toilet paper can’t be far behind.
Then you have television shows which try to make you feel like a loser if you don’t consume. On home and garden shows everyone has to get a new granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances. (Even though most people have to work so much they rarely eat at home any more.) Then there are other shows showing the homes of millionaires and their cars and all of their other hideous over-consumption.
There are several shows where people berate other people for the way the look and dress. You’re told that you’re a loser if you don’t wear the latest fashions. Television is full of shows about models which imply that you have to be skinny and buy lots of expensive clothes and $1000 handbags to be a decent human being. Then just throw it away next season and buy more stuff.
Visa and mastercard bombard the airwaves, print, and the internet telling you to buy buy buy what you really can’t afford–just charge it, it’s kind of like getting it for free isn’t it? Meanwhile they sponsor legislation making it more difficult for people to file bankruptcy which they’ve largely fallen into because they have followed the bidding of the credit card commercials. Hmmm I guess you can have your cake and eat it too. If you can buy off the right politicians.
When I put all of this together I really have to seriously ask myself how responsible most people are for the mess they now find themselves in. They’re not getting a good education anymore. Most people can’t afford college anymore. The only financial information people are taught is to buy more stuff. Indeed our president says that to be a good American you’re required to buy more stuff. (If you cancel your macy’s card then the terrorists have won.)
All we’re told anymore is to buy more stuff. Meanwhile the average American’s real wages are lower than they were in the late 1960′s, prices have increased hundreds or thousands of percent, the dollar is collapsing, national and public debt is higher than it’s ever been, energy prices are out of control, healthcare is unaffordable for most, and the distribution of wealth is the most out of balance since the great depression.
The evidence I see for the collapse of the American economy and indeed the American dream lies squarely in the hands of the Reagan and Bush dynasties. In all ways possible they have sold out America and Americans to the highest bidder. And yet, poor and middle-class, hardworking American’s still continue to support them. The very people most screwed by the republicans are their most ardent supporters. Stockholm syndrome at its finest.
And how does this happen? Because republicans have cunningly co-opted "religion" and "morals". By their actions they’re the furthest thing from Christ-like but they’ve managed to somehow convince the religious people of this country that they the republicans are fighting the good fight. They’ve convinced poor and middle class people to oppose the "death tax" even though it only effects those people with millions of dollars. They’ve equated being a "liberal" with communing with the devil.
In the entire history of the United States (and indeed the world) the only time that there was a real middle class is when the power and ability of the rich to control people, governments, wealth, land, and society were finally reined in. In the US this basically lasted from after WWII until Ronald Reagan. Taxes were high on the very, very wealthy which finally slowed down the endless accumulation of wealth and creation of dynasty which had existed since the beginning of time, education was good, unions were strong, and the common person made a living wage. Reagan killed it. Yes there were lots of millionaires made but there were also lots of homeless people made—a condition which had basically not existed in the US since the great depression.
I could go on and on about this. The facts are there and yet many people do not want to accept reality. We all want to believe in the American Dream. We all want to make money and live a good and comfortable life. The problem is that the ability for all but a few to achieve this has been stripped away.
The modern Republican party since Reagan is nothing like the Republican party of years past. The Republican party of years past supported such things as the civil rights movement, the clean air act, and the endangered species act. All things that the modern Republican "Neo-Con" party is squarely against. It is now a party of the powerful, of the corporation, of the cult of money, of Enron, or Worldcom, or the savings and loan collapse, and now of the real estate and financial collapse. Humans be damned if they get in the way of profit.
And yet still I see that John McCain (not that he’s exactly the same as Reagan or Bush but he still holds many of the same delusions) has a fair chance of winning the presidency. We’ve all been raped and our country sold down the river for the profits of the very few, and yet people still think that trickle-down economics will someday work–even though we have nearly 30 years of evidence to the contrary.
Is this the world we want?
Is this the best we can do?
Is this the American Dream?
I know it’s not.
Look, I’m not against corporations or business—of course that’s where jobs come from. By it’s nature a business is concerned with making profit, no surprise there. The problem lies in the fact that, for many corporations and the people running them, profit is the ONLY consideration. Human welfare, health, the environment be damned if it gets in the way of profit.
That’s why there needs to be limits and controls placed on companies. For the most part, left to their own devices, they’ll destroy the world in the name of profit. We all want to believe that humans are good and that they’ll make the right decisions, but the fact is that humans are not always good and most of the time the decisions that they make are based on their own greed and self-interest. The saying is that "the love of money is the root of all evil". The actions of many corporations bear that out.
This is the blog post that I referenced at the beginning of my post.
If you hang around the wizards of high finance (investment bankers, bond traders, brokers, and the like) you’ll soon hear the word “monetize.” It’s a synthetic term meaning turning something of value into money. In it’s most practical sense it’s used to describe how a new company like Google can monetize their search engine technology by selling advertising connected to search results. Similarly, we can monetize our golden retriever pet by breeding her and selling the puppies. It’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but when it becomes the only way you look at the world, it transforms you into a scoundrel. Please excuse my shocking example but young girls are being monetized in countries like the Philippines and Thailand by being sold to pimps as young prostitutes by their own parents. You see when we lose sight of the inherent, spiritual dignity of human beings and lose respect for the sacred value of nature we begin to see people and our planet as “things” to be monetized. The reason we need to regulate our financial markets is that the mindset of Wall Street is to turn everything into money. There is no financial language for human, spiritual, or nature’s inherent value.
So now we have a growing economic crisis. Economists hope it’s simply a modest tidal wave. They want it to hit quick and recede so the mess can get cleaned up and they can get back to monetizing things, people, and the planet. Business as usual. But their economic problem is likely to be more like global warming submerging our coastline rather than a single wave. The melting icebergs are the declining values of trillions of dollars of residential real estate. Sure the sub prime mess might be contained at losses of $200 billion or so. But now prime borrowers who used their good credit on bizarre loans that encouraged interest only or even minimum payments that added interest to a loan’s principle every month are in deep yogurt. Eighteen months ago a client of mine was offered a $1.5 million loan to buy an overpriced house in San Diego for $1465 a month! The true 30-year amortization of the loan was over $10,000 a month but not to worry. He was assured he could always sell in 6 months for $2 million. When he asked me what I thought, I told him my mother taught me whenever “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” I would get a bellyache. Yes he could afford $1465 a month; what he couldn’t afford was a $1.5 million house. He passed. Well lots of other people didn’t pass, and they’ve got a looming heartache. Some estimate there are more than $500 billion of over-bloated prime mortgages that are at risk in the next 4 years. If prime borrowers start walking from their homes, the impact on the global economy and our children’s well-being could be staggering.
I, of course, don’t know what‘s going to happen. What I do know is that all this was caused by Wall St. trying to monetize our homes. Yours and mine. The idea was simple. American homeowners on average owned nearly 60% of the equity in their homes in 2002. They represented trillions of dollars of “locked up” value…money. Banks began to offer home equity lines in the 1990’s to get at this value by creating secured, interest-earning loans. But that was chicken feed for Wall St. They got federal regulators to relax oversight of the mortgage market then they trained an army of retail mortgage brokers to sell homeowners on refinancing their old fashion mortgages with a new variable rate, payment option loan to “monetize” the equity in their homes. Free up cash for us to pay for granite countertops, Hummers or just blowout vacations. The financial wizards made billions in fees and we got suckered into thinking there was such a thing as a free lunch. Now we’re paying for it. All of us. Not just those who took out loans, but also our children who are already having a harder time finding jobs in a frightened economy or are paying higher credit card interest for gas they can’t afford.
Could all of this been avoided? Absolutely. The hyper-inflated real estate boom made our whole nation Enron 2. The lack of oversight and regulation of Wall St.’s monetization of our assets is a direct result of a failure of leadership. Leaders of financial institutions and regulators who are supposed to insure our financial markets have integrity completely failed. Meanwhile, today oil speculators have driven the price of oil to at least $20 a barrel higher than real demand says it should be. You see prices of nearly every commodity from wheat and corn to oil is going up faster than demand because financial wizards are now focused on “monetizing” the essentials of our lives. No, it’s not a conspiracy. It’s simply the result of only seeing the value of things as money. When powerful people operate without rules, we all pay more than we should. It would be great if the world could operate on the honor system. But it can’t. We need real leaders who can’t be bought and who aren’t afraid.
And speaking of fear, it doesn’t hurt to look inside. We also have our own inner “Wall Street Banker.” An inner voice calling us to monetize our own lives. To work at jobs we don’t value or to work too long and too hard for money at the expense of our relationships and peace of mind. We need to take care to regulate ourselves lest we become corrupted by our own fears. All of us need to stand for the quality of our lives rather than quantity of what we can produce. We need to own 100% of the equity of our souls.
Man, I hope people wake up soon…
Popularity: 91% [?]
Posted Nature, Politics, Society, Things I've Noticed on Monday, February 4th, 2008. Comments(3)
Oh my god, this shit is getting serious now.
I read with horror as I see our freedoms literally being stripped away…
According to this week’s Fire Cracker school newsletter…the penalty for "intentional farting" is now a detention.
One of the other students, Kyle Ruger, said the act by the boys was funny, but he had mixed feelings about whether it was appropriate.
Jordan Knowlton minced no words when she expressed how she felt, saying, "It’s gross."
This is AMERICA dammit. We have a god given right to fart when we damn well please. It’s called the second ammendment—the right to fart and bear arms.
They can have my metamucil when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.
And who is this "Jordan Knowlton" anyway? What do we know about her? Innocent middle-school student or Chinese spy? Al-Qaeda terrorist? Whoever she is, she’s obviously bent on THE DESTRUCTION OF AMERICA!
First they take away your right to fart, but who knows where this could end? It’s a slippery slope.
Hasn’t history taught us anything?
FIRST THEY CAME
When they came for the belchers,
I remained silent;
I was not a belcher.
When they locked up those with smelly armpits,
I remained silent;
I did not have smelly armpits.
When they came for those with bad breath,
I did not speak out;
I did not have bad breath.
When they came for the farters,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a farter.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
WAKE UP AMERICA!
Where are the civil libertarians? (or civil librarians) Where are the freedom fighters? Where is Mike Huckabee? Where is Ron Paul? Their silence is deafening.
If this doesn’t wake people up to the Evils of the Patriot Act I don’t know what will.
This may be the first small step from the North American Union…it’s probably those damn Canadians…I have it on good authority that Canadians don’t fart, so it wouldn’t surprise me.
Regardless of who is behind this, they must not succeed! Stand Up for America. Write to your representatives. Tell them this goes too far!
I propose that February 5th be proclaimed forevermore as "National Flatulence Day".
As a show of solidarity to our oppressed brothers and sisters, I encourage everyone to Fart and Fart Proudly…as often and as loudly as possible.
It was good enough for the founders of this great nation and it’s good enough for me!
Popularity: 73% [?]
Posted Consumerism, Environment, Nature, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Science, Society on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007. Comments(4)
As if hunting and eating them was not enough, those wacky Japanese have decided to also humiliate whales by making them wear Santa Hats. Now this definitely IS anthrophomorphism.
Hunting ships are already on their way to the icy reaches of the Southern Ocean, where this year’s catch of 1,000 will include humpbacks for the first time in 40 years.
The hunting expedition also plans to kill 50 fin whales, the world’s second largest animal after blue whales, as 850 smaller minke whales.
Wildlife officials say the display of the white belugas wearing Santa hats is both sad and ironic against the background of the Antarctic hunts, due to start in the region after Christmas.
"While whales are being used for entertainment in Japan, the Japanese fleet is subjecting whales to a cruel death in the Southern Ocean," said Mr Darren Kindleysides, a Sydney-based campaigner for the International Fund for Wildlife.
"Sadly, the aquarium owners seem to be showing as little respect for whales as their Government."
An Australian whale-watching official, Mr Peter Lynch, said the aquarium display was disrespectful to the whales, adding: "The real irony lies in the fact that the general population in Japan have no idea what’s going on in Antarctica."
However, the Australian government will be casting a different eye over the activities of the Japanese whalers in Antarctica – it plans to send a former P&O cruise ship, now converted into an armed vessel, to the region to monitor the hunting.
Following high-level talks, the vessel, Oceanic Viking, which has a reinforced hull to cut through ice, will be leased to the government to track the Japanese whaling ships and keep a check on their activities.
The crew is trained for polar conditions and they will use ‘super-telephoto’ lenses to record the whale slaughter.
In addition, the ship will have two .50-calibre machine guns manned by a customs boarding party should a clash of any kind with the Japanese vessels occur.
Australia’s new Labour Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has accused the former John Howard government of doing nothing to save the endangered whales, adding that nobody took seriously Japan’s claim that it was conducting scientific research. full story…
"Scientific Research" my blowhole!
OK really I can’t say making the whales wear santa hats is particularly cruel (certainly not worse than wrenching them from their home and forcing them to live in a tiny cage and stop communicating with each other because they’ll go deaf from the sounds bouncing around the container) . In fact I’m sure the whales are having a good laugh at the dork standing next to them.
But really, this is just another stupid example of how people use and abuse other animals for their amusement. It’s just a "thing", not a living being with feelings and sensitivity or anything. It’s just a little play thing. AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!
And the Japanese have got to be the worst at it with all that cutsey hello kitty, pokemon, raping little girls manga crap. Their culture is just fucking weird in that way. (And yes I know plenty of Japanese. I’m married to one in fact.) They live in a fucking dream world in certain ways. They’re still taught that America was the aggressor in world war 2, they know nothing about the rape of Nan King (but that’s a different post.)
On the positive side, you can buy beer and porno magazines in vending machines in Japan. And they have the best and most high-tech toilets in the world. You’ve not taken a proper shit until you’ve shit on a Japanese toilet and had it clean your asshole with water and then blow dry it. No wiping! No Muss! No Fuss! But honestly I don’t have the patience to wait for the air dryer. It takes too long, just like a hand dryer. Plus I don’t want to get a chapped anus! Do they make ass-chap-stick?
(FREE TIP: Make sure you don’t press the "ladies wash" button by mistake or you’ll get your nuts and/or vagina showered instead of your bunghole. That is of course unless your nuts and/or vagina need cleansing then by all means press that button.)
Where the hell was I? Oh yeah cruelty to animals…My wife said they used to eat whale meat at school lunch. Isn’t that nifty. Really we westerners can’t bitch too much about whale killing. I mean, how many billions of chickens, cows, and pigs do we kill and eat? (By "we" I mean you carnivores out there.)
Man I really don’t even know what to say. The absurdity boggles the mind. OK, how about some more humiliating photos then?
Popularity: 91% [?]
Posted Nature, Philosophy, Psychology, Society, Weird on Wednesday, December 19th, 2007. Comments(0)
This is awesome!
In a rapid fire test of mental addition, monkeys performed almost as well as college students, showing they’re no slouches when it comes to number crunching. The macaques got their sums right 76 percent of the time, while the students got the correct answer 94 percent of the time in a series of increasingly challenging maths tests. more…. First off, I don’t know if this is good news for monkeys or bad news for college students. I guess it give new meaning to the phrase "a monkey could do your job." And secondly, I enjoy saying the word "macaque." Macaque, macaque, macaque, macaque. If you don’t shut up I’m gonna smack you upside the macaque. That has a nice ring to it. Seriously though, I hope this is one more piece of ammunition to help people realize that it’s not OK to abuse, perform cruel tests on, kill, eat, or destroy the homes of our non-homo-sapien relatives because "they’re just animals." This is not anthrophomorphism, but rather a recognition that humans aren’t the only creatures on earth to feel pain, have emotions, and in fact be intelligent. (George Bush excluded.) Besides that…monkeys don’t join fraternities/sororities, look down on other "lesser primates", drink too much beer, have unprotected sex, and produce more vapid idiots like themselves. Unlike some of the apes I’ve seen at college.
In a rapid fire test of mental addition, monkeys performed almost as well as college students, showing they’re no slouches when it comes to number crunching.
The macaques got their sums right 76 percent of the time, while the students got the correct answer 94 percent of the time in a series of increasingly challenging maths tests. more….
First off, I don’t know if this is good news for monkeys or bad news for college students. I guess it give new meaning to the phrase "a monkey could do your job." And secondly, I enjoy saying the word "macaque." Macaque, macaque, macaque, macaque. If you don’t shut up I’m gonna smack you upside the macaque. That has a nice ring to it.
Seriously though, I hope this is one more piece of ammunition to help people realize that it’s not OK to abuse, perform cruel tests on, kill, eat, or destroy the homes of our non-homo-sapien relatives because "they’re just animals." This is not anthrophomorphism, but rather a recognition that humans aren’t the only creatures on earth to feel pain, have emotions, and in fact be intelligent. (George Bush excluded.)
Besides that…monkeys don’t join fraternities/sororities, look down on other "lesser primates", drink too much beer, have unprotected sex, and produce more vapid idiots like themselves. Unlike some of the apes I’ve seen at college.
Popularity: 77% [?]
Posted Nature, Science on Monday, December 17th, 2007. Comments(0)
This is some amazing stuff. A fascinating work of science. If they would teach science this way in school (emphasizing fun, practical, and/or offbeat applications) then more kids would pay attention in school.
Why pregnant women don’t tip over
There seems to be more keeping pregnant women upright than fear of toppling over and squishing their unborn child. Researchers from Harvard University and the University of Texas at Austin examined 19 pregnant women and discovered a number of reinforcements in their backs that men lack, including a lumbar (lower back) curve that spans three instead of two vertebrae and spinal joints that are 14 percent larger and positioned differently. These enhancements allow expectant mothers to lean back by as much as 28 degrees more than normal to offset the added heft of a baby bump—up to 30 pounds on average, or the weight of two bowling balls—without destroying their backs, the investigators report in Nature. They also present evidence for similar differences between the sexes in Australopithecines (early relatives of humans), suggesting that women long ago evolved such scaffolding to compensate for walking upright while supporting their swelling wombs. (Nature)
Damn evolution is freaking amazing…
Popularity: 69% [?]
Posted Politics, Society on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007. Comments(0)
Today I received the following chain email…
Like a lot of folks in this state, I have a job. I work, they pay me. I pay my taxes and the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit. In order to get that paycheck, I am required to pass a random urine test with which I have no problem. What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test. Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their "you know what," doing drugs, while I work. . .. . Can you imagine how much money the state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check? Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don’t. Hope you all will pass it along, though . .. Something has to change in this country — and soon!
I usually delete these types of chain letters before reading them. They’re usually some sappy story about how much jesus loves me, our brave troops, or some touching thing that someone learned from watching a child. You know, crap along those lines.
I read this one and dismissed it. Then I went back and read it again and thought it was an interesting concept–"Piss Tests for Dollars". (Wasn’t that a Clint Eastwood movie? No wait, I think that was "A Fistful of Piss Tests for Dollars.")
Generally I think the idea of piss tests goes a little far in the violation of privacy direction, but I guess if it’s good for the goose it’s good for the gander. Surely if you’re gonna trample on people’s privacy so they can make money, it makes sense to trample on them if you’re going to give them money. If you’re going to transfer the wealth it seems to me that it should be equal on both sides of the equation.
I’m only partially joking. I really think it’s a good idea even though it probably puts me in the same ranks a Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
Popularity: 69% [?]
Posted TV, Weird on Friday, September 21st, 2007. Comments(0)
I haven’t posted in a month because…well it’s a long story and might make a good post in itself someday. But the short answer is…I just don’t give a shit!
But finally I’ve been inspired and found something that I’d like to share with the world. This is the kind of thing that makes me proud to be an American…ME-WOW!
Popularity: 71% [?]
Posted Business on Monday, August 20th, 2007. Comments(2)
On a postive note…
‘Queen of Mean’ Hotelier Leona "Only the little people pay taxes.”Helmsley Dies
Goodbye to one of the 80′s greed queens. I wonder if she was able to "take it with her?"
But seriously, death is a sad thing and I’m sure her family and friends (if she had any) are sad to see her go. I really feel sorry for people like that. So empty inside, so shallow and mean. You have to feel sorry for someone like that on a human level.
She did give millions of dollars to medical research so she may have had a heart in there somewhere. Although you have to wonder if that was done out of concern and kindness, or to try to put a positive spin on her legacy.
Popularity: 69% [?]
Posted Business, Consumerism, Economics, Politics on Saturday, August 18th, 2007. Comments(8)
Add Countrywide Bank to the Corporate-Greed-Induced Fuck-Up of the American Economy.
Or As I like to Call It…Savings and Loan Crisis – Folie à deux
Californians rush to pull money from Countrywide Bank
Parent of home loan company assures that bank is stable
The rush to withdraw money — by depositors that included a former Los Angeles Kings star hockey player and an executive of a rival home-loan company — came a day after fears arose that Countrywide Financial could file for bankruptcy protection because of a worsening credit crunch stemming from the sub-prime mortgage meltdown.
The parent firm borrowed $11.5 billion Thursday by using up an existing line of credit from 40 banks, saying the money would help the lender meet its funding needs and continue to grow. But stock investors, apparently alarmed that the company felt compelled to use the credit line, sent Countrywide’s already battered stock down an additional 11 percent.
They borrowed $11.5 BILLION
Of course everyone knows that the real problem with the economy is the welfare cheats and the labor unions and the over-regulation of the benevolent corporations who are looking out for all of us. Shoot, just read Jerry Bowyer’s column in the National Review and you’ll see it’s true.
Here’s where the problem isn’t: household wealth. Right now, household wealth is the strongest it has been in this nation’s history. Corporate profits are as strong as ever, too. Business has plenty of cash on hand.
It’s also not a borrower problem. Mortgage applications are up, not down. Personal income is up, not down. Mortgage interest rates are still relatively low. Default rates are up slightly, but still quite small.
It’s also not a sub-prime problem.
Hmmm. Interesting. See you silly people, household wealth is the strongest it has been in this nation’s history. Although I do recall something about American’s having a negative savings rate these days and real wages being lower than they were 30 years ago. I guess that’s some quirk of economics that I don’t understand. But I do know that when corporate profits are the highest they’ve ever been that’s got to be good for the average America Citizens right?
But don’t worry, Jerry has the answer for us…
And who has the standing to bring together these diverse parties — the regulators and the Fed — and get them talking to each other? There’s only one man who can do that: George W. Bush.
I’m not talking about a bail-out. And I’m not talking about further regulation. To the contrary, I suspect that when we find what’s blocking the credit hose, we’re also going to find a regulator standing on top of it. We need to find out for sure, though. And there’s only one person who can get all the right people in the same room at the same time.
I’ve always been glad that we have an MBA president. It’s time for him to step up.
Damn straight! I’ve always been glad that we have an MBA for president too. He’s done wonders for our country so far. And I think you’re correct Jerry, the problem with the economy is over-regulation. If only we hadn’t over-regulated Enron and Worldcom, I’m sure they’d still be around and powering our super economic engine.
Maybe Mr. Mozilo of Countrywide would like to have a little get together with Charles Keating and Neil Bush. And heck, Jeb and George Bush oughta be there too to because they know a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about that ole’ savings and loan crisis in the 80′s. Shoot, that little mishap only cost the American taxpayers $123.8 BILLION. And what’s a few hundred Billion between politicians and corporations?
But I’m sure Jerry Bowyer and the supply-siders are probably right. The problem is over-regulation not under-regulation.
When are we American’s gonna learn that you can always trust a corporation to do the right thing? All we have to do is spend our way out of this crisis. I’m sure we must be getting close by now…
|The Gross National Debt|
Popularity: 81% [?]
Posted American Dream, Business, Consumerism, Economics, Politics, Society on Wednesday, August 15th, 2007. Comments(11)
The other day the prez came on TV to reassure everyone that the economy’s great and that people should keep on spending themselves into a debt blackhole because it’s good for the economy. The first thing I thought was "This guy’s on crack!" But then I remembered that he’s detached from reality and a fucking moron. Then it made a lot more sense.
Then he started with the standard scare tactics straight outta "dictator 101"…"The evil democrats are gonna raise your taxes so watch out." Gee maybe it’s because they have to pay for your fuck-up in Iraq. ($452 BILLION and counting!) Or how about the $1.2 TRILLION for your unfunded prescription drug benefit. Or how about the wasted BILLIONS from your failed no child left behind policy. I guess the Bush policy is "promise it but don’t pay for it". Any self-respecting republican and/or conservative has got to hate Bush for all of this crap.
Even if we didn’t have to eventually pay for the president’s fucked up decisions, we still have the problem of our "house of cards" economy that’s been growing out of control for years. (Personally I blame the 80′s and the selfish yuppie fucks that Reagan spawned for starting it all. Although I guess you should properly go back to Nixon and taking us off the gold standard. Causing the dollar to devalue by 75% so far. Yea!) The economy is totally screwed and we’re all living on borrowed time. Buy, buy, buy, and never thinking of having to ever pay it back. The credit card economy. The selfish and short-sided "I want it now (and cheap from China)" mentality. (Remember what happened to Veruca Salt when she tried to have it all NOW!)
Of course the prez’s speech was prompted by the stock market tanking because of the collapse of the sub-prime lending market. (Economy.com [Moody's] says: "the nation’s housing market will slip like it hasn’t slipped since the Great Depression.") Damn, that’s gotta hurt!
(God I hope we don’t have another savings and loan collapse/bailout type debacle.) For once and for all, regardless of what the politicians and TV news reporters want you to think, THE STOCK MARKET IS NOT THE ECONOMY! REPEAT—THE STOCK MARKET IS NOT THE ECONOMY!
Let me put it plainly—in rough numbers and in real dollars, the average American worker is making less now than they were in the late 1960′s and prices have increased by dozens or hundreds of percent (depending on the product/market). Meanwhile the average CEO is making 600x more than they were in the late 1960′s. Does anyone see a bit of a disparity? I know you don’t mr. prez, but do any of you regular folks see anything fucked up about this? And people wonder why mom and dad both have to work now and still can’t pay the bills. That and they’ve fallen for the buy, buy, buy mentality.
Of course I could go on and tie this short-sided, childish, and selfish economic mind-set into the recently "discovered" infrastructure problems, but I don’t want to write that much today. Suffice it to say, we live in a "plastic surgery" world, where if it looks good then it must be good. Don’t look behind the curtain or behind the boob-job because it ain’t pretty.
I’ll just leave you some fun facts here from Will Marre’s latest blog post.
* We live in a country of 300 million people in which the richest 3 million own more than the bottom 256 million. 1% owns more than 90% of us put together!
* Profits are at a 40 year high for Fortune 500 companies ($705 billion) nearly 2X previous high, and worker productivity is up 48% between 2000-2006, but average wages are only up 1% (inflation adjusted) (Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)).
* Median personal income is actually down, below 2000 levels (BLS), and also below 1977 levels in real dollars! (The real median income in 1977 was $51,223 (inflation adjusted). In 2006 it was $50,700.) (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)).
* Prices in real terms of housing, college education, and health care have risen nearly 300% more in the past 30 years, while individual incomes are stagnant. (College Board and U.S. Census Bureau).
* The amount of monthly income it takes to buy a house today is nearly 23% vs. 17% in 1970. People who pay 50% of their income for rent or mortgage payments are at an all time high.
* The average home price adjusted for inflation in 1970 was $115,000. Today it’s 2X as much in real dollars ($219,000). (Fetterman, Mindy. (2006, Nov. 19). Young people struggle to deal with kiss of debt. USA Today.) In many markets it’s 4X more (475,000+).
* The average debt of a college graduate is nearly $20,000+ (College Board).
* 47 million are medically uninsured. Most are in families with at least one full time worker.
* In many communities, teachers, policemen, and firefighters cannot afford housing.
* Medical Insurance Premiums of an average American family exceed $1000 per month.
* Loan defaults and foreclosures are doubling monthly in many parts of the country.
* In Cleveland, Ohio nearly 10% of the homes are vacant and abandoned due to foreclosure caused by job loss.
* Retail sales are declining due to increase costs of gasoline, insurance, and housing.
* The savings rate for the average American 30 years ago was 9%. Today it is at zero.
* America has fewer manufacturing jobs (14.3 million) than it did in 1950 with 2 times the population. SOURCE
* Since 1977, inflation-adjusted medium income for U.S. males has declined 7.5%.
* U.S. productivity in terms of output ranks 8th behind Norway, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Austria, and Germany (OCED).
* U.S household debt exceeds $12 trillion.
* U.S. Federal Deficit is $8.8 trillion!
Please read Will’s post. He’s always got something great to say.
To be fair, to the current prez, it’s not all his fault although he’s made things much worse. Most politicians are weak spined and won’t make the hard and necessary choices, because they’re scared of the people not reelecting them. Whatever happened to "leadership"? The pols and the people all need to pull their heads out of the sand and start fixing things. It’s selfish and irresponsible to keep pushing this disaster upon later generations. People say they care about others, and their children, but they don’t act like it.
Excuse me now. I’m gonna go bang my head against the wall…
Popularity: 95% [?]