Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?

Don't question the need for it, just sate demand.

China is building a shitload of nuclear reactors, planning on about ten a year in the coming years.

The last country to carry out such a rapid nuclear expansion was the United States in the 1970s, in a binge of reactor construction that ended with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979. And China is placing many of its nuclear plants near large cities, potentially exposing tens of millions of people to radiation in the event of an accident.

Good, good, they are in great company. Three Mile Island. That worked out so well. Isolated incident though, don't worry.

Westinghouse is helping out, and I would imagine General Electric is as well. I know they have built reactors for China in the past. They bring good things to life, (they manufacture the guns that fire the depleted uranium rounds) you know?

Do they have Indian reservations in China? If not, I guess they'll have to ship the spent fuel rods here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Soon, the beach will be closer than ever!

Yet another great development brought to you by humanity:

New computer modeling suggests the Arctic Ocean may be nearly ice-free in the summertime as early as 2014, Al Gore said Monday at the U.N. climate conference. This new projection, following several years of dramatic retreat by polar sea ice, suggests that the ice cap may nearly vanish in the summer much sooner than the year 2030, as was forecast by a U.S. government agency eight months ago.

Soaking up the rays in Philadelphia? Sunning in Cleveland? Bodyboarding in St. Louis? I hope so. Think of the convenience! And we can be greener than grass, with all those people who survive living on an ever-shrinking land mass, making for increasingly shorter distances to the fun sun beach.

D.I.Y. eggs

sucks. I guess it's cool/trendy/popular now to raise chickens for eggs? Predictably, it's not working out so well for the chickens:

Backyard poultry flocks are growing in popularity all over the U.S. as more and more people decide to try their hand at raising chickens in their urban or suburban yards. Hobbyists may be hoping to cultivate their own local sources of fresh eggs, but animal sanctuaries nationwide are witnessing another product of this trend: homeless, mistreated and neglected animals. Farm Sanctuary has always received calls asking us to take in unwanted chickens, especially roosters, but recently the number of requests to place roosters has been on the rise. There are roosters wandering city streets, roosters stranded in the suburbs, roosters left at shelters across the country – all castoffs of the backyard flock trend and most with no prospects of reaching safe homes.

Compared to the factory farming system that produces most U.S. eggs, backyard raising may seem idyllic, but the practice is generally far from humane. Animal welfare abuses often start at birth for the birds involved. In fact, most chicks purchased by backyard raisers are born in the same sort of facilities as those slated for battery cages: large, industrial hatcheries.

Ideal Hatchery, just one facility of the many, touts its annual sales rate of 5 million chicks. Let’s think about that number. Because roosters do not produce eggs, and because most towns that allow chickens exclude roosters, those who patronize these hatcheries are overwhelmingly ordering hens. Half of all chicks born, however, are roosters. This means that, for 5 million chicks sold, another 5 million are either killed at the hatchery – often ground up alive – or used as "packing material." The majority of hatcheries pack male chicks to cushion the females who have actually been ordered, and customers therefore end up with unwanted roosters who are also often illegal for people to have in their communities. Large numbers of these roosters are dumped at municipal shelters, which are unequipped to handle the birds and usually either euthanize them or send them to farms. Others may end up at live markets, which are becoming increasingly crowded with roosters.

Whether male or female, all chicks sold by hatcheries to homes and feed stores are subjected to a harrowing journey. At one day old, they are shipped through the mail. Industry group Bird Shippers of America has their own lobby team working tirelessly to protect the right of its members to ship these fragile, young animals in this way. The group claims to follow self-imposed regulations that protect the birds, but we have seen evidence much to the contrary.

Fennel, one of our most popular roosters, was among many male chicks shipped from Iowa to Pennsylvania with 100 Jersey giant hens, packed around the females to keep them safe and sound. As we so often see, this strategy failed disastrously. The birds were not retrieved from the post office the day they arrived and so were scheduled to be shipped within 48 hours back to the hatchery – a trip they would never have survived. When a postal worker looked inside the box, he found that more than half the birds had already perished. The kind man called his local SPCA, who then called us. The box, clearly marked as containing 50 white jersey giant hens and 50 black jersey giant hens, contained 53 live chicks and 77 dead ones. The 30 extra were roosters. Of the fluffy peeps who were still alive, 25 grew into hens and 28 into roosters – "packing material" surviving the shipping at a higher rate than the actual "product." This is only one of many stories that every shelter that deals with birds could tell. Fennel and the other surviving chicks were lucky to be discovered by someone who cared enough to find refuge for them. Here with us, their amazing personalities can shine through, and they can educate so many people about the suffering behind backyard flocks – a very high price to pay for fresh eggs.

A coalition of sanctuaries, all of us seeing the consequences of the urban chicken trend, got together and wrote up our position on the issue. If your town is considering allowing residents to raise chickens for eggs, or for meat, please discourage this move by sharing our statement with your community and with town officials.

God, are people sick.

"Dark Side of a Natural Gas Boom"

Wow. And the bright side is? It's really something how the fundamental source (human existence aside) of environmental and planetary destruction, petroleum and natural gas extraction, is portrayed in the media.

In the end, I can promise you, very, very few people truly benefit from an economy based on resource superexploitation and environmental subjugation/annihilation. People who were born in the 1920s and 1930s, got rich as fuck off of oil and gas, and have already died or will soon, are the ones who had a good time with this stuff. They were the life of the party. They raged their whole lives. Not a whole lot of downtime for them. The economy kept expanding, and nobody gave a fuck about anything. However, their kids are going to suffer. Their grandchildren are going to SUFFER. In the days to come, it won't matter how rich you are nearly so much as it does now; you will not be able to stop the oceans from rising. Your money will be able to stave off the worst, but only for a time. Once the cash economy crumbles, you will be just like everyone else as far as resources go. You will be more resented than others and likely have less knowledge of how to do anything related to surviving.

Anyway, a bunch of people throughout the country, more than ever, are living with filthy water coming from their taps. In this instance, we can blame people extracting natural gas, "a very reliable, safe, American source of energy," through a process called hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing consists of "injecting huge volumes of water at high pressure to break shale rocks and allow natural gas to flow out more easily. The water is mixed with sand, chemicals and gels to lubricate the process and help keep the rocks open."

Well, I don't understand it. Incomprehensibly, the "chemicals and gels" being shot into the ground have apparently created some pollution.

Good use of water, too.

"U.S. Will Settle Indian Lawsuit for $3.4 Billion"

This is sort of old news, but I've been really busy. Lots of backlogged posts coming soon.

If you didn't know, Native Americans/American Indians are children. From a New York Times article on a recent settlement of a really long lawsuit:

The Interior Department now manages about 56 million acres of Indian trust land scattered across the country, with the heaviest concentration in Western states. The government handles leases on the land for mining, livestock grazing, timber harvesting and drilling for oil and gas. It then distributes the revenue raised by those leases to the American Indians. In the 2009 fiscal year, it collected about $298 million for more than 384,000 individual Indian accounts.

Fucking incredible. GIVE THEM THEIR LAND BACK ASSHOLES. At least some of it, fuck. And yes, even the rights to make their own decisions. What's hard? I don't get it.

The lawsuit accuses the federal government of mismanaging that money. As a result, the value of the trusts has been unclear, and the Indians contend that they are owed far more than what they have been paid.

Wow, not the federal government! Not to worry though, Obama's got a good perspective on the whole thing:

President Obama hailed the agreement as an “important step towards a sincere reconciliation” between the federal government and American Indians, many of whom, he said, considered the protracted lawsuit a “stain” on the nation.

That's a long reconciliation. Also, I'm pretty sure, that over the years, Native Americans have had bigger problems than this lawsuit.

Kim Peek died

Kim Peek, the guy on whom Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man was modeled, died yesterday. What a fucking incredible mind:

In 1988, the film “Rain Man,” about an autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman, shed a humane light on the travails of autism while revealing the extraordinary powers of memory that a small number of otherwise mentally disabled people possess, ostensibly as a side effect of their disability.

The film won four Oscars, including best picture, best actor and, for Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass, best original screenplay. But it never would have been made if Mr. Morrow had not had a chance meeting with Kim Peek, who inspired him to write the film.

Mr. Peek was not autistic — not all savants are autistic and not all autistics are savants — but he was born with severe brain abnormalities that impaired his physical coordination and made ordinary reasoning difficult. He could not dress himself or brush his teeth without help. He found metaphoric language incomprehensible and conceptualization baffling.

But with an astonishing skill that allowed him to read facing pages of a book at once — one with each eye — he read as many as 12,000 volumes. Even more remarkable, he could remember what he had read.

Shit like that amazes me to no end. It's so crazy the capabilities human minds have, and how rarely we see them manifested. It's people like Kim Peek who show us that we know almost nothing about intelligence and brain functionality. No one can explain why or how he can do what he did. Incredible.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too"

I'll leave it to people in "the movement" to write some measured, informed, patient and diplomatic response to this article:

December 22, 2009

Sorry, Vegans: Brussels Sprouts Like to Live, Too

I stopped eating pork about eight years ago, after a scientist happened to mention that the animal whose teeth most closely resemble our own is the pig. Unable to shake the image of a perky little pig flashing me a brilliant George Clooney smile, I decided it was easier to forgo the Christmas ham. A couple of years later, I gave up on all mammalian meat, period. I still eat fish and poultry, however and pour eggnog in my coffee. My dietary decisions are arbitrary and inconsistent, and when friends ask why I’m willing to try the duck but not the lamb, I don’t have a good answer. Food choices are often like that: difficult to articulate yet strongly held. And lately, debates over food choices have flared with particular vehemence.

In his new book, “Eating Animals,” the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer describes his gradual transformation from omnivorous, oblivious slacker who “waffled among any number of diets” to “committed vegetarian.” Last month, Gary Steiner, a philosopher at Bucknell University, argued on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times that people should strive to be “strict ethical vegans” like himself, avoiding all products derived from animals, including wool and silk. Killing animals for human food and finery is nothing less than “outright murder,” he said, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “eternal Treblinka.”

But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.

When plant biologists speak of their subjects, they use active verbs and vivid images. Plants “forage” for resources like light and soil nutrients and “anticipate” rough spots and opportunities. By analyzing the ratio of red light and far red light falling on their leaves, for example, they can sense the presence of other chlorophyllated competitors nearby and try to grow the other way. Their roots ride the underground “rhizosphere” and engage in cross-cultural and microbial trade.

“Plants are not static or silly,” said Monika Hilker of the Institute of Biology at the Free University of Berlin. “They respond to tactile cues, they recognize different wavelengths of light, they listen to chemical signals, they can even talk” through chemical signals. Touch, sight, hearing, speech. “These are sensory modalities and abilities we normally think of as only being in animals,” Dr. Hilker said.

Plants can’t run away from a threat but they can stand their ground. “They are very good at avoiding getting eaten,” said Linda Walling of the University of California, Riverside. “It’s an unusual situation where insects can overcome those defenses.” At the smallest nip to its leaves, specialized cells on the plant’s surface release chemicals to irritate the predator or sticky goo to entrap it. Genes in the plant’s DNA are activated to wage systemwide chemical warfare, the plant’s version of an immune response. We need terpenes, alkaloids, phenolics — let’s move.

“I’m amazed at how fast some of these things happen,” said Consuelo M. De Moraes of Pennsylvania State University. Dr. De Moraes and her colleagues did labeling experiments to clock a plant’s systemic response time and found that, in less than 20 minutes from the moment the caterpillar had begun feeding on its leaves, the plant had plucked carbon from the air and forged defensive compounds from scratch.

Just because we humans can’t hear them doesn’t mean plants don’t howl. Some of the compounds that plants generate in response to insect mastication — their feedback, you might say — are volatile chemicals that serve as cries for help. Such airborne alarm calls have been shown to attract both large predatory insects like dragon flies, which delight in caterpillar meat, and tiny parasitic insects, which can infect a caterpillar and destroy it from within.

Enemies of the plant’s enemies are not the only ones to tune into the emergency broadcast. “Some of these cues, some of these volatiles that are released when a focal plant is damaged,” said Richard Karban of the University of California, Davis, “cause other plants of the same species, or even of another species, to likewise become more resistant to herbivores.”

Yes, it’s best to nip trouble in the bud.

Dr. Hilker and her colleagues, as well as other research teams, have found that certain plants can sense when insect eggs have been deposited on their leaves and will act immediately to rid themselves of the incubating menace. They may sprout carpets of tumorlike neoplasms to knock the eggs off, or secrete ovicides to kill them, or sound the S O S. Reporting in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Hilker and her coworkers determined that when a female cabbage butterfly lays her eggs on a brussels sprout plant and attaches her treasures to the leaves with tiny dabs of glue, the vigilant vegetable detects the presence of a simple additive in the glue, benzyl cyanide. Cued by the additive, the plant swiftly alters the chemistry of its leaf surface to beckon female parasitic wasps. Spying the anchored bounty, the female wasps in turn inject their eggs inside, the gestating wasps feed on the gestating butterflies, and the plant’s problem is solved.

Here’s the lurid Edgar Allan Poetry of it: that benzyl cyanide tip-off had been donated to the female butterfly by the male during mating. “It’s an anti-aphrodisiac pheromone, so that the female wouldn’t mate anymore,” Dr. Hilker said. “The male is trying to ensure his paternity, but he ends up endangering his own offspring.”

Plants eavesdrop on one another benignly and malignly. As they described in Science and other journals, Dr. De Moraes and her colleagues have discovered that seedlings of the dodder plant, a parasitic weed related to morning glory, can detect volatile chemicals released by potential host plants like the tomato. The young dodder then grows inexorably toward the host, until it can encircle the victim’s stem and begin sucking the life phloem right out of it. The parasite can even distinguish between the scents of healthier and weaker tomato plants and then head for the hale one.

“Even if you have quite a bit of knowledge about plants,” Dr. De Moraes said, “it’s still surprising to see how sophisticated they can be.”

It’s a small daily tragedy that we animals must kill to stay alive. Plants are the ethical autotrophs here, the ones that wrest their meals from the sun. Don’t expect them to boast: they’re too busy fighting to survive.

All I will say is that if you buy this shit, if you think that pulling spinach from the ground can be equated in any meaningful way with stabbing a goat and the intense fear that strikes him before, that it has anything to do with the profound sadness a cow feels from having her child taken away at birth, kill yourself.

All I want for Christmas...


Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Rogue traders, law-abiding traders, whatever. Set up some guillotines on Wall Street.

China executes rogue trader, millions still missing

BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Tuesday executed a former securities trader for embezzlement, the first person in the industry to be put to death, but millions of yuan are still missing, a state newspaper said.

Yang Yanming was sentenced to death in late 2005 and took the secret of the whereabouts of 65 million yuan ($9.52 million) of the misappropriated funds to his grave, the Beijing Evening News said.

The report added that Yang was the first person working in China's securities sector to be executed.

"Preserve your moral integrity and don't set too much store by business results," Yang told the newspaper before the sentence was carried out.

He was the general manager of the Beijing securities trading department of the China Great Wall Trust and Investment Corp., which became Galaxy Securities, from 1997 to 2003.

Conscious that the growing gap between rich and poor could generate resentment, China is battling corruption and stock trading abuses. It has used the death penalty as a deterrent in serious cases.

($1=6.828 Yuan)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Monday, December 7, 2009


This is part of what we did at practice a few weeks back. More to come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sinead O'Connor - "War"

This is awesome. 1992. She was super popular at the time and was certainly not one to pass up an opportunity. How powerful, focused and intense.

"The real enemy" or not, certainly a piece of shit. Definitely some people's enemy. And when someone takes such a righteous, irreversible position, I am not going to be pedantic. That is SERIOUS shit. Kind of surprised no one killed her. Religious people are crazy.

I read that her most recent religious affiliation is Rastafari. Guess it makes sense.

"Monkeys Recognize Their Pals in Photos"

They also probably recognize that you are a fucking asshole when you drill holes in their heads, give them cancer or otherwise torture them. I am also sure that they didn't need you to confirm their abilities. They would much rather live somewhere outside of a lab, such as their natural habitat. You pieces of shit. If only karma were real...

FRIDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Monkeys can recognize photographs of other monkeys they know, proving that they can both detect differences in faces and figure out if they've seen them before, researchers report.

The study also shows that capuchin monkeys can decipher the two-dimensional nature of a photograph, the scientists authors noted.

The findings, reported by researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta, are published the week of Dec. 4 in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the study, the monkeys looked at four photos, including one of a monkey they knew. They also looked at another four monkey photos, including one of a monkey they didn't know.

"This required monkeys to look at similar-looking faces and use their personal knowledge of group mates to solve the task," lead researcher Jennifer Pokorny, said in a university news release. "They readily performed the task and continued to do well when shown new pictures in color and in grayscale, as well as when presented with individuals they had never before seen in pictures, though with whom they were personally familiar."

According to the researchers, previously, there hasn't been evidence that nonhuman primates can look at two-dimensional images and understand they represent things and animals from real life.

Definitely smarter than people. Why? Cause they haven't ruined the world. We did that one.

Good news!!

There are fewer species to go extinct than ever before. It's quite upsetting when an animal becomes endangered, which then of course induces anxiety as to whether or not it will make a recovery, languish in near-annihilation or get wiped out entirely.

As a relentless optimist, I advocate the following position: the more animals we kill, the fewer there are to be killed off. People will get in the way of extinction from time to time, of course, but that should only be a temporary block. Let us embrace extinction, so that we may one day no longer have to worry about the negative emotional consequences that come with its advent.

Just 50 years ago there were close to a half-million lions in Africa -- about 450,000 in all. Today there are between 16,000 and 23,000. And yet, unlike elephants (a far more numerous species), lions have no protection under the international accord governing such matters.

Yes, that's the way! None of that red tape protection nonsense to impede us.

It's not just the exceptionally brave big game hunters working towards this goal, but also those daring enough to fool the animals into eating poison:

Extinction threatens by the year 2020. Then there will be no lions to hunt, or to protect.

Meanwhile another ominous development poses a further threat to wildlife. A pesticide is being used by poachers to kill lions and many other animals. Sprinkled on meat, it kills lions, hyenas, vultures and other creatures in minutes.

Hopefully, we can get this over in ten years as promised and say goodbye to the worry and handwringing that so unfortunately plagues us.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Unrelenting poaching

"Concerted action at the highest level is needed to stop this global crisis of rampant rhino poaching..."

Some things just make me so sick I cant speak... such as the skulls of endangered species.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I wish...

that this was what the world was all about, and nothing less. If only we could all be surprised kitties.

Gay people - fuck off, go to hell, YOU DON'T MATTER

Again. And again. And again. You aren't good enough, you are filthy, you are not one of us, you are not a real person. That's what they say, over and over. And that's what they said in New York today. And the people around you, they say, "Wait." They tell you to be patient. They say they're working on it. They tell you that your time will come. Like you should have to wait for some bigots to be pushed to the margins enough. Fuck. Just fuck.

New York state lawmakers voted on Wednesday against legalizing gay marriage, dashing gay rights activists' hopes it would become the sixth U.S. state to allow same-sex couples to wed.

The New York state Senate voted down the legislation by 38-24. Governor David Paterson, a Democrat who supports gay marriage, had said he would have signed the bill into law if it had passed.

"This is an enormous victory," said Maggie Gallagher, the leader of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposed the law. "What you saw was the will of the people. .... The culture really hasn't shifted on gay marriage."

Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont have legalized gay marriage, while 40 U.S. states have specific laws that ban gay marriage. Last month, voters in Maine chose to repeal a law that had legalized gay marriage.

Once again, in a familiar refrain, fuck this place.

Fuck every "save marriage" campaigner or whatever you want to call yourself. I hope all of your kids are gay and that each of you dies in a fire. Fuck all of you. You are nothing but hate. Fuck your religion. Fuck your god. Fuck the people who raised you. Fuck the people for whom you vote. Fuck your friends. You are shit.