Friday, January 30, 2009

Exxon Mobil sets record with $45.2 billion profit

The price of oil went up, the price of human life went down, the price of nature has never been lower. Let the end come.

Exxon Mobil sets record with $45.2 billion profit

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Monument to Bush shoe-throwing shines at Iraqi orphanage

This is so fucking political. Jesus. The sculptor, Laith al-Amiri, had orphans help him build it. War orphans. The director of the orphanage opines that

"Those orphans who helped the sculptor in building this monument were the victims of Bush's war," al-Naseri said. "The shoe monument is a gift to the next generation to remember the heroic action by the journalist."

"When the next generation sees the shoe monument, they will ask their parents about it," al-Naseri said.

"Then their parents will start talking about the hero Muntadhir al-Zaidi, who threw his shoe at George W. Bush during his unannounced farewell visit."

Pretty badass.

I suppose that al-Amiri could be accused of using these orphans for ends that they do not fully understand. At the same time, I am sure that these kids have a sense that things are really fucked up where they live and that some people are much more responsible for it than others. And it's not like they're being exploited for sick, selfish gains. They helped a guy with a sculpture.

If a shoe and a sculpture is all Bush gets in retribution, he's a lucky guy.

#44 - still not my president

Yippitee yay, Barack Obama is following some of the more controversial and less desireable lines of his predecessor. Warrantless wiretaps are still in this season, I guess. As well as continuing to support immunity for the telecommunications conglomerates who allowed the NSA and whomever else to listen to us, to watch us and to read us. Fuck. Change has come.

You're being watched

And listened to. And read.

Really, I hate to be the person who's paranoid, and has this ubiquitous feeling that "Big Brother" is omnipresent, but it's true. And it's not an idea, it's not something I heard about from someone who knows someone who saw a person working on the phone pole who they "know" was from the FBI. This guy is from the NSA.

The targets - not "terrorists." Not even Muslims. Everyone is a potential target. Anyone. In this case, we hear about journalists.

This isn't a reform issue. Sure, it needs to stop. But it's an organization issue, not an individual issue. This is not Bush. This is the United States.

Blackwater out of Iraq

Done. Of course, this is not the end of Blackwater and perhaps will provide the impetus to prove that no one can push them around, but all the same, HAHA. Fuck the people who run that company and everyone who works for them.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two ex-Gitmo detainees join al-Qaida: report

Big surprise. I'd probably join Al Qaeda too if some sadistic fucks locked me up for nothing for about five years.

As with most other Guantánamo returnees, the Saudis did not have evidence of criminal wrongdoing against Shihri. In such cases, Turki says, the men were charged with the minor violation of traveling to Afghanistan, a country Saudi passport holders are barred from visiting.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A peculiar relationship to food

I was sitting in the food science building at school the other day and noticed a display on the wall entitled "Role of Nutraceuticals in Cancer Treatment." There was a picture of some broccoli and another picture of carrots, along with explanations of how nutraceuticals, or extractives of food, combat cancer.

Nutraceuticals. In other words, food? Reterming food as a drug? Rethinking food as a drug? This struck me as very odd.

What's so odd? Well, if people taking "nutraceuticals" had eaten these things in reasonable quantities in the first place, it would have been "food" and they would have been much less likely to develop cancer. Instead, many people in the western world eat copious amounts of things that are not really food. Sure, you can eat them, but they provide no nutrition to your body and often have adverse affects, like raising blood pressure, cholesterol, clogging your arteries, giving you diabetes, making you obese, giving you heart disease, cancer, so on and so forth. You CAN eat a lot of things, but that doesn't make them food. People have eaten bikes and I don't even know what else. Little kids will eat their own shit if you let them.

Our concepts of food, I think, are often defined by those who produce and market food. If it's on a shelf, in a package, then it's fair game. If someone will sell it to us, then it's food. They wouldn't knowingly sell us things that are so bad, right? People will decline to eat things based on taste, but seldom out of some objection to its quality, or whether or not it counts as food. Realistically, much of the food available to us is ridden with bug spray, which they've somehow convinced us is safe to eat, and of course ingredients that make us sick, slowly poisoning us, especially high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, and monosodium glutamate. We consume dairy products and flesh rife with hormones, antibiotics and literal disease - see any outbreak of e coli or salmonella.

And that's normal. Those are our diets. That's what we're sold, so that's what we buy. That's what we grew up eating, so that's what we keep eating. No one wants to think that we were raised on shit. No one wants to think that our parents fed us poison. Understandably, we do not want to believe that the society around us, of which we are a part, and especially those in control of it, is so perverse and ignominious.

So nutraceuticals, yeah. Food. You ate shit and didn't take care of yourself, and you have cancer or diabetes. Now you want the benefits of those "healthy foods," but you don't really want to eat them or change your diet all that much. Besides, it couldn't have been related to your diet. It just happens.

It's complicated to parse out responsibility for this mess. In the end, the overarching blame rests with the food industry, no doubt. The proliferation of shit food is absolutely a case of supply creating demand. Were people ever clamoring for twinkies? No. People made these foods in labs, packed them with artificial flavors, colors and scents, and made sure to incorporate ingredients that have physically addictive properties, particularly the sweeteners they use. Sugar is certainly addictive on its own, but much more so when distilled into more potent forms, such as white sugar and the worst, high fructose corn syrup. Then these foods were unleashed on the public and here we are, fat, sick and dying.

Still, we need to take responsibility for ourselves, you know? We need to take a good look at what we eat and what it does to us. We need to listen to our bodies. Getting in tune with your body is so important - what makes you feel good, what you should eat, what your body does not want you to eat. We've all been raised to ignore our bodies and take what we want, trying to fix the problems we make with drugs. Our bodies know best.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Few Israelis Near Gaza Feel War Achieved Much

Says the New York Times today. I bet they are right. Only in sense though, cause they probably achieved a whole lot that doesn't fit so well into military goals - building resentment and furthering what is already an extreme hostility. They'll probably push some more people into supporting Hamas. Killing civilians and children rarely pacifies a population. It usually just pisses them off. In this case, I think it pissed them off.

Here are two huge examples:

Two weeks ago, Israel blew up a Palestinian school and killed 40 civilians. There were some guys firing mortars in the area, they said. Sure. Even if that were so, gotta kill that ant with a sledgehammer, right?

Last week, Israel wiped out a Palestinian doctor's family while he was on the phone with some media. This guy, Izzeldin Abuelaish, is a long-time peace activist who works in both Palestinian and Israeli hospitals.

Death tally from this flare up: 1300 Palestinians, 13 Israelis.

Research ties human acts to harmful rates of species evolution

Shocker. People having an effect on how other species develop. Interference with nature - how, oh how could this happen? I just don't understand. I hardly use plastic bags at all anymore...

Human actions are increasing the rate of evolutionary change in plants and animals in ways that may hurt their long-term prospects for survival, scientists are reporting.

Hunting, commercial fishing and some conservation regulations, like minimum size limits on fish, may all work against species health.

Hunting, yeah, I can see that not benefiting the natural world, with mechanized weapons and all. Probably my favorite hunting was when white people would ride trains in the late 19th century and shoot buffalo for fun. They pretty much killed them all. That was awesome.

Here's buffalo hunting now.

That guy should be proud of himself. I bet that was hard. Look, he was reduced to using an arrow gun. You can tell he needed it. Just skin and bones, he is! Tough work. It looks like it was pretty cold too.

The researchers also noted that the pattern of loss to human predation like hunting or harvesting is opposite to what occurs in nature or even in agriculture.

Predators typically take "the newly born or the nearly dead," Darimont said. For predators, targeting healthy adults can be dangerous, and some predator fish cannot even open their mouths wide enough to eat adult prey. Animals raised as livestock are typically slaughtered relatively young, he said, and farmers and breeders retain the most robust and fertile adults to grow their herds or flocks.

But commercial fishing nets and other gear that comply with conservation regulations typically trap large fish while letting smaller ones escape. Trophy hunters typically seek out the largest animals. And for some fish in some areas, as much as 50, 60 or even 80 percent of the stock may be caught every year.

I'm pretty sure people will only stop taking from nature like this when there is either nothing left or almost nothing left, and most people can't afford what it will cost, for example, when many popular fish species are stolen and killed at such rates that their low populations lead to commercial fishers charging prices several times higher than they are now, in an effort to maintain profitability.

Really though, it shouldn't be news that industrialized hunting, which is more akin to gathering, ironically, as there isn't much of a hunt involved, is having negative consequences on the planet. How could it be otherwise?


"The departing vice president, Dick Cheney, appeared at the ceremony in a wheelchair after suffering a back injury moving the day before and was also booed."

I wish he were in a wheelchair for other reasons, but that will do.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The war to come

A true invisibility cloak, six months off they say. This is legit a fucking horrible idea. There are no net benefits to this. People might talk about it being fun or making direct action sabotage kind of stuff easier. Sure. But you know what? You know what the overarching uses of this will be? Military and government. Violent fucking oppression. And street crime. 

Like a gun. The gun, hypothetically, could make direct action a lot easier and more effective. But it doesn't. Some people use it for revolutionary purposes, but overwhelmingly, people use it to kill indiscriminately and intimidate.

No one will win with this invention. Fuck.

It also has advantages. Unlike Harry Potter's one-of-a-kind invisibility cloak, a real invisibility cloak will likely be cheap and easily reproducible. It took Smith and his colleagues about nine days to design and implement the experiment.
The scientists used hobby-level circuit boards; Smith's rough estimate was that it took about $1.00 in circuit boards to cloak the one-inch bump on the metamaterial.
"If you were to commercialize this technology it would cost next to nothing," said Smith.
When I wrote "They pushed on because they could, but rarely queried whether they should", this is EXACTLY the kind of shit I was talking about. Fuck.

People just don't understand that some ideas should not be pursued any further. It's like we can't understand that things we do will have undesirable consequences. What a fundamental flaw of humanity - the insatiable quest for knowledge for no other reason than to have it. We always have to check and see if that burner is hot.