Saturday, February 27, 2010

Addendum to "When we poison the world..."

So yesterday, I came upon this NPR article about two Canadian men documenting how toxic and quietly self-destructive our everyday Canadian/American lives are:

Inspired by Morgan Spurlock's fast-food gluttony in the movie Super Size Me, two environmental activists from Canada devised their own experiment. Instead of fast food, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie absorbed themselves in everyday products like shampoos, soaps and cleaners to find out what kind of damage might be done to their health.

Their book about the adventure is called Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things. Smith tells Guy Raz that writing the book was like conducting an adult science fair project — with one cardinal rule.

"Our experiments had to mimic everyday life," Smith says. "Obviously it would be very easy to dramatically increase your Teflon levels if you were willing to drink some Teflon, but nobody does that, so it wouldn't have any applicability to daily life."

But Smith and Lourie didn't need to take baths in mercury or eat tuna for a whole year to see the chemical levels in their bodies skyrocket. After just two days of eating only canned food microwaved in plastic containers and drinking from one of his son's old baby bottles, Smith saw a major rise in the levels of BPA in his body.

"My levels increased over eight times," he says. "You can only imagine what the levels in an infant would look like if after two or three years of their sole source of nutrition being a BPA baby bottle. Their levels would just be through the roof."

The book they wrote should be a pretty interesting read, showing anyone who's daring enough to read how profoundly poisonous (western/westernized? I don't know. Humans are humans, one species. It seems kind of silly to divide along culture/ethnicity lines in that sense. It's like saying some kinds of people are bad, but others aren't. I really do think it's a species-level biological issue, not simply culture. This is a much longer debate, I know) humans have made not just the world in general, but the homes in which they live, the food they eat and even the containers and delivery mechanisms for that food. We buy this shit every day with no qualms, and likely not even any thoughts. Just keep pushing ahead, pretending that everything will be ok. Cause it always has been, right?

Non-surgical abortion, live on the internet

Hats off to you, Angie Jackson. Here we see a strong woman explaining, with absolutely no apologies, that she is having an abortion. You see, since she took RU-486, she is actually having the abortion while she speaks. It's a French pill that induces abortion and finally made it over here some years back. She got it at Planned Parenthood, that redoubt of women's rights, and has been posting her experiences with it on the internet. All over the internet, actually. The description of her video says she has a blog and twitter account (Twitter hashtag #livetweetingabortion or follow me @antitheistangie) documenting it.

Here is a Daily News article all about what she's doing, replete with a "response" (as though they have a fucking thing to do with it) from the Family Research Council, which is just some bullshit cloak name for a bunch of misogynistic, fourteenth century fucks.

Hell yes Angie. Good for you. I do not know anything else about this woman, and to be honest, I really don't feel like watching the rest of her youtube videos, reading her blog or having a fucking thing to do with twitter. This, though, is fucking awesome, that she is showing the world what having a non-surgical abortion is like. I guess no one has done this before? I'm not sure why. People will put literally anything on the internet. I guess they tend to be a bit more hesitant to do things that are of import. Also, I understand that a lot of women, for a variety of reasons, don't really want to be waving this flag all over the place. Well, someone has, so they don't have to. It's so, so important to combat this fear-fanning crap that the would-be controllers of women put out there.

Of course, she is being bombarded by those same religious (Christian) woman-hating zealots telling her what a piece of shit she is, calling her a baby killer, a whore and whatever else, and even threatening her life. All because she made a decision about her body, that ultimately affects no one else besides her and to a lesser extent, her boyfriend or whomever the potential father is. What a wonderful world.

The shit that people say and do to intimidate women out of having abortions makes me want to go on a face-punching spree.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

When we poison the world...

we poison ourselves, as we are of it. It follows that we also poison our children.

I was part of a discussion earlier this afternoon about autism and its potential causes. Toxins, like mercury, were mentioned as one.

Nicholas Kristof, you shining star of the New York Times, you had a piece on this very topic waiting for me in my inbox. In it, he writes about new research establishing more explicit documentable links than ever before between deadly chemicals and developmental disorders.

It sucks that there has to be any investigation into this issue at all. How could it be anything other than logic? If you take poison into your body, whether you eat it, drink it, breathe it or it seeps into your skin, it's gonna fuck you up. It's also going to fuck up the children in you. This should not come as a shock. Really. Think about it.

I promise that it will fuck you up in some way, and it probably won't be obvious. It's not like you will suddenly have a third arm, or your skin will begin to fall off. Things like this are subtle.

Example - drink a gallon of antifreeze. You will die. Drink two drops of antifreeze, and you will likely not die, but it will have ill effects on your body. Drink two drops of antifreeze every day, and you will develop long-term health problems.

Think about children eating lead paint. Think about people working in a coal mine. Think about smoking cigarettes. Over time, sickness will come.

Our bodies are resilient, but there is only so much we can take and this world we've made poisons us with way fucking more than we can handle. Rates of cancer are no surprise. Autism on the rise, well that's no revelation.

Senator Lautenberg says that under existing law, of 80,000 chemicals registered in the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has required safety testing of only 200. “Our children have become test subjects,” he noted.

Eighty thousand. Fuck. We're all test subjects. Unknowingly, unwillingly. Testing for no end.

Perhaps the worst part is that corporations have us paying them so that we may poison ourselves through our daily routines, especially ones of cleanliness:

Researchers measured the levels of suspect chemicals called phthalates in the urine of pregnant women. Among women with higher levels of certain phthalates (those commonly found in fragrances, shampoos, cosmetics and nail polishes), their children years later were more likely to display disruptive behavior.

What a deep irony.

So here we are, steeped in ignorance. It's a cultural and personal ignorance. I see several vectors behind this feigned blindness, all interconnected.

One is the intense desire for profit, profit at all costs. People in charge of manufacturing firms, chemical companies and drug corporations, almost always, do not give a fuck about the outcomes (not necessarily side effects, as they are often primary effects) of their endeavors. If they let such concerns get in the way of their money making, that would significantly hamper their money making. They figured out ways to make things cheaply and pay very, very little concern to anything that does not cut into their bottom lines. Until pollution and killing people significantly takes away from their profits, they will show no concern.

For fuck's sake, these people can hardly be bothered to pretend to care even when serious problems arise in the public eye. Once again, look at what's going on with Toyota. The people running that company should be on their knees, begging for forgiveness and mercy for being such heinous pieces of shit, but instead they're going around telling people about how hard they are working and trying to play it off as though they haven't done anything wrong.

Closely related to the greed aspect of these problems is the issue of a profound lack of knowledge. People simply do not understand most of what they create. Humans are real fuckin good at making things, but holy shit are there difficulties controlling them and knowing the full range of what they do. Again, and I will always go back to this, the human species has this biological flaw where if we can do something, we go ahead and do it to the furthest extent that we can with no concerns for repercussions. Atomic bombs/energy. Petroleum-powered global economy. Slavery. Cloning. Factory farming. On and on. We sure are curious.

Finally, there is the pathetic trust we put in others, especially our supposed superiors. What sorry supplicants we are, always deferring to those who tell us they know better. People simply don't believe that companies would make something harmful, and ESPECIALLY not knowingly. If it's bad for you, well then it wouldn't be in a store, right? Yeah. Pork rinds? And if these things were bad for you, then the government would take care of it! Yup. Check out the recent/current handling of the diabetes drug Avandia. Similarly, we willingly turn a blind eye to these kinds of things. We have ideas in the back of our heads. We know. How could it be ok?

One reason why this form of government is untenable

This is a from a New York Times article about hicks (who seem to comprise well over half the national population) fearing that Big Guvment or Uncle Scam or black people or immigrants or the ZOG or whatever will take their guns away:

That Mr. Obama signed legislation allowing guns in national parks and on Amtrak trains should not be seen as respect for the Second Amendment, Mr. LaPierre said. The two measures had been attached as amendments to larger pieces of legislation — a bill cracking down on credit card companies and a transportation appropriations bill, respectively — that the president wanted passed, Mr. LaPierre said.

Ok, so it's a problem that guns are permitted in national parks, definitely. BUT THAT THE FUCKING LAW CAME ATTACHED TO CREDIT CARD LEGISLATION? What the fuck. You hear about "pork" and "pork barrel legislation" all the time, but holy shit, if this isn't some next level shit. Legislators attach just about anything they want to a wholly unrelated bill, and there it goes, into law. Even if you believe in the concepts of government and nation states and so on, what kind of way is that to conduct legislative business in one?

Wow. Just wow.

"Whale that killed its trainer won't be isolated"

Good thing to see that common sense never steps in to get of the way of profit and "fun":

Trainers will continue working with a killer whale that grabbed one of their colleagues and dragged her underwater, killing her, but SeaWorld said Thursday it is reviewing its procedures.

Sea World. What a fucked place. Who can justify something like this? Good fucking god. However pretty they dress it up, it's a place of misery and confinement. I don't care how big the pool is. They exploit these animals (who are probably smarter than we are) in whatever ways they see fit. They "own" them.

Honestly, I don't feel bad for these people at all, any of them. Anyone who takes on such a job, "training" a large animal, especially a carnivore, whether it be a tiger, bear or killer whale, is a fool. You are also an asshole, but that is completely besides the point; it really is. The only surprise is that these people don't die more often. There is no tragedy here. We're not talking about someone getting hit by a car or trapped in a fire caused by a faulty appliance. Or, to put it in a most relevant context, hitting a wall at ninety miles an hour in their Toyota.

Nope. This is someone (or a host of "scientists", a corporation, or an industry) thinking she/they/it can subdue a wild animal and force it to interact with other people as a person. Ridiculous.

"We like to think we know 99.9 percent of the time what an animal is doing," he [Chuck Tompkins, who is in charge of training at all SeaWorld parks] told The Associated Press on Thursday. "But this is one of those times we just don't know."


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Billy the cow

He had only been in this world one day, but it was about to be his last. Billy, one of many male calves born into the dairy industry and considered worthless, was about to receive a fatal hammer blow to the head when a Truxton, New York man, Larry, impulsively intervened. Shocked by the brutality of what he saw, Larry decided to spare this tiny calf a painful death by persuading the farmer to let him take Billy home.

So home Billy went, yet while Larry did not wish to see the calf killed in such a horrific way, he still intended to have him slaughtered for meat once he had grown up. Sale negotiations were made and a buyer lined up. However, as Larry cared for Billy over the next eight months, something changed: he began to realize that Billy was not just a mere commodity but an individual capable of experiencing pain, pleasure and friendship just like us. No longer wanting to see his new friend be killed for food, Larry began researching alternative options for Billy.

That’s where Farm Sanctuary came in. Knowing that his backyard shed was not the most appropriate place for a calf during the winter, Larry got in touch with our National Shelter Director Susie Coston. After making the necessary travel arrangements, Billy arrived safely at our New York Shelter in early January. Here, he was given expert veterinary attention and has since gained a healthy amount of weight.

Our caregivers instantly opened their hearts to Billy: playful, affectionate and determined to make as many friends as possible, he is known to follow the shelter workers right to the end of the pasture as they leave the barn – as if guilt tripping them into letting him join them! His overtly friendly nature is perhaps best epitomized by one of his favorite pastimes: giving kisses. He currently resides in a section of our Rescue and Rehabilitation Center with two pigs, both of whom he appears quite enamored with as well. Life has certainly taken a dramatic turn for this sweet boy, and we are truly grateful for the change of heart that brought him to our door.
A sledgehammer. Fuck. People are so twisted and heartless, at a biological level. I cannot wait for the end of us.

Look at how loving and playful he is. Why would anyone wish harm upon such a beautiful creature? Because he is not profitable? Even for food, it simply cannot be justified beyond "I like how it tastes."

On a happy note, Billy is forever safe. No one will swing a hammer at him, nor will they be able to. He is so fortunate to be able to live out all the rest of his life in peace around many other animals like him, in the care of people who love him and respect his life and sentience.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Police: Iraq vet abused daughter, held her head in water"

Big fucking surprise. A guy who was recently in combat, where shooting, beating and violating people is not just normal, it's the way of "life," abuses his daughter:

Seattle, Washington (CNN) -- An Iraq war veteran has been charged with assault on suspicion of abusing his daughter, whose head he allegedly held in water to get her to recite the ABCs, according to police in Yelm, Washington...

The child had "severe bruising on her entire back," "scratch marks on her back made in a downward motion" and "bruising on both of her arms, her legs and her buttocks," the police report said.

According to the report, the girl told police: "I don't know why he did it ... Daddy used his hands."

The child also told police that Tabor "put me in the water," the report said, so she "would say my letters."

"It was hot, the water was hot. I told him I would say my letters then!" the girl told police, according to the police report.

I guarantee you this shit, war-related abuse, happens EVERY FUCKING DAY. Every day.

How could you possibly expect people to come back from that shit and leave the war behind? You can't, that's how. They're fucking ruined. They're violent, they have been trained to be extremely violent. Methodically trained, in ways that are constantly refined through scientific analysis. You've made them killers, torturers, violators of sovereignty, people who have no respect for "them." You can't just forget that, cause it's not conscious. It's forced into you to become your default reaction. Perhaps it can be unlearned, but few people have the power to do that themselves. And no one is interested in help them. "Support" them, forget them. However fucking stupid they were for signing up, whatever kind of blind idiot patriot they are, we all have to deal with these people when they get dumped back into general population.

Back from Iraq and on the streets. Watch out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So this guy I kind of know was on a train last week...

and got arrested for making terroristic threats on his cell phone. While wearing a blanket. He's also black. Check it:

LA JUNTA, Colo. -- An Amtrak passenger who alarmed fellow passengers by talking about terrorist threats on a cell phone was pulled from a Chicago-bound train and is being held in Colorado.

The 64-year-old man from Elizabeth, N.J. was arrested Tuesday on a train from Los Angeles to Chicago. Passengers alerted authorities after hearing the man mention al-Qaida and make threats in a cell phone conversation.
Police said in an affidavit that passengers overheard the man saying he hadn't killed anyone yet and talking about going to jail.

Passengers say the man said, "We have to work in small groups. They can hold you for 18 months. Do they have security on these trains? Are you with me or not?"

One passenger said he heard the man mention al-Qaida, saying, "17th century tactics won't work, we have 21st century tactics."

The conductor said the man had a tan blanket over his entire body so the conductor could not see what he was doing.

The man was taken into custody at the La Junta train station in southeastern Colorado. Police said he was not armed or carrying explosives. He was carrying propaganda for an anarchist group called Afrikan Liberation Army.

The man is being held in lieu of bond in Otero County.

-- Associated Press

A week later, the District Attorney dropped all charges. There seems to be no one who can testify that he actually said or did anything out of the ordinary, including the original complainant. I don't think this was a case of police intimidating "witnesses" into silence. Here are the laugh a minute pages regarding that (click to view the images if they don't load properly in your browser):

Whoops! Sorry guy, you were just black and had a blanket on! Free to go now!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Where's Danny? (formerly known as "picture brah")

Man, even his mom doesn't know. How the fuck is Frank supposed to get his hands on that treasured Sublime picture??

Have we spent out way out of world dominance?

I hope so. Alarm bells are sounding left and right that America is on its way down, for good:

WASHINGTON — In a federal budget filled with mind-boggling statistics, two numbers stand out as particularly stunning, for the way they may change American politics and American power.

The first is the projected deficit in the coming year, nearly 11 percent of the country’s entire economic output. That is not unprecedented: During the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the United States ran soaring deficits, but usually with the expectation that they would come back down once peace was restored and war spending abated.

But the second number, buried deeper in the budget’s projections, is the one that really commands attention: By President Obama’s own optimistic projections, American deficits will not return to what are widely considered sustainable levels over the next 10 years. In fact, in 2019 and 2020 — years after Mr. Obama has left the political scene, even if he serves two terms — they start rising again sharply, to more than 5 percent of gross domestic product. His budget draws a picture of a nation that like many American homeowners simply cannot get above water.

That last part is so significant - "a nation that...simply cannot get above water." I wonder how China will go about foreclosing on America. That will probably be rather ugly. No amount of patriotism or jingoism will get that bank off of your back.

In an uncharacteristically bleak assessment of the future, the New York Times says that we are basically fucked for good, that this is the end:

For Mr. Obama and his successors, the effect of those projections is clear: Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors. Beyond that lies the possibility that the United States could begin to suffer the same disease that has afflicted Japan over the past decade. As debt grew more rapidly than income, that country’s influence around the world eroded.

How about that. That big party we had for the last sixty years just foreseeably blew up in our fat, rich face. It's over. Time to walk around and drink what's left in the beer cans you find.

"Obama budget would cut NASA moon plan"

Incredible. Truly incredible. This shit is stupefying:

President Barack Obama is no longer shooting for the moon, with a budget plan that aborts a symbolic but expensive lunar program and spends $6 billion over five years to turn over space exploration to commercial companies.

Some members of Congress immediately promised a fight. One legislator called the plan a "death march" for human space flight. But NASA deployed astronauts and other experts to say the Constellation program, begun under former President George W. Bush to return humans to the moon, was too slow and wasteful.

The space agency's budget would grow to $19 billion in 2011 under the proposed budget released on Monday, with an emphasis on science and less spent on space exploration.

"What this does is open up (space) for more people to be going more places in a way that is not on the back of the taxpayers," NASA's deputy administrator, Lori Garver, told reporters in a conference call.

Could someone explain NASA to me? I've only seen it written about and heard it spoken about as though it is self-evident. I'm sure it's fun and all, but that really ain't enough to justify such endless expenditures.

Seriously? Nineteen billion dollars? For what benefit? I know the military benefits a lot from developing the bleeding edge technology necessary for space exploration, and I guess we have a lot more plastic things as a result. I really don't think anyone's life has been legitimately enriched by any of this, ever. I know lots of people have made fortunes off of this shit, but that doesn't count. I mean things that really make a difference in people's lives. Really, this is a case of money that could be much better spent elsewhere. They will blow nineteen billion dollars in one year, but it's not enough by their terms. I know they want more. Space travel is some patriotic bullshit. American flag on the fucking moon. Kill me.

"China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy"

For what? Towards what are they racing? Sustainable industrialism? Impossible.

We are talking about more consumption, more demand, more need for resources, more development, more land clearing, more ocean-emptying. This is insane.

It does not matter if it is done with "green" technology. Solar-powered homes where trees once stood is still the annihilation of an ecosystem.

But you can read all about it in this New York Times article from a few days back:

China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, and is poised to expand even further this year.

China has also leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. And the country is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants.

These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China...

Regulators have set mandates for power generation companies to use more renewable energy. Generous subsidies for consumers to install their own solar panels or solar water heaters have produced flurries of activity on rooftops across China.

China’s biggest advantage may be its domestic demand for electricity, rising 15 percent a year. To meet demand in the coming decade, according to statistics from the International Energy Agency, China will need to add nearly nine times as much electricity generation capacity as the United States will.

Do you see that all of this effort is orchestrated for no other reason than to keep industrial society and economies self-perpetuating? I promise that world leaders do not give a fuck about the state of the environment for its own sake. Clean air and water has no intrinsic value for these people. They value it only for its necessity to keep people alive so that they may continue to work, consume, reproduce, bolster the economy and fight in wars. Wild land serves a purpose only as a place to visit, on which to hunt and to keep sucking carbon out of the air. These people only regard things inasmuch as they perceive them to serve a purpose for people.

They have had, and continue to have, no problem whatsoever ruining land, air and water in ways and on scales unimaginable even one hundred years ago. This goes on every moment of every day, unabated. There will be no more new petroleum-related pollution only when there is no petroleum left. The remnants (all things plastic) will be here to remind us (but we won't care) and whatever may be left after us virtually infinitely.

All of this "green" commercialism is about conserving resources so that they do not run out too quickly. Battery-powered or assisted cars are still insanely toxic, but they provide a way to cut back on consumer oil consumption. That way, there is more left for industry and the military.

Government and industry do not, nor will they ever, put forth discussions of fundamentally changing our lifestyles into something remotely "sustainable;" we only hear about how to maintain what we've already got. There will be no profound change until we force our own hand by running out. Scarcity will be the force of the future. It is already shaping the present.

"Authorities Arrest Anti-ACORN Alumnus"

They sure did. Fucking brilliant. I wish I knew this guy.

This news is a few days old, but I've been super busy with more important things. I should be busy with those things right now, but I just had to post this. So good.

I didn't realize the guy who did the ACORN crap went to Rutgers, let alone is the guy who founded the Centurion. For those who don't know, which means anyone who may possibly see this with the exception of Alissa, the Centurion is the conservative paper at Rutgers. It is basically Fox News in print form, but dumber, while paradoxically appearing under the guise of an intelligent, thoughtful periodical. Even if you put aside the prominent spelling errors and repeated problems with spacing and layout, it's still of incredibly low quality. What you get in this magazine is the standard self-congratulatory group masturbation in which conservatives so often and gleefully engage. There is not really any news, just a lot of arrogant, reactionary commentary and a good amount of bellicose chest beating, fluffing out all their feathers as though there are more than ten of them on campus. They essentially hate everyone and everything that isn't them or their idols, want to harken back to a "golden age" that never was and mystifyingly proffer that global warming is a myth. Jesus.

If you take a look at their most current issue, you see that they accomplish such daring feats as banging on a black man who has been dead for more than thirty years, actually referring to Bill Clinton as "Slick Willy" and deriding women's studies. What they put forth as "news" is readily available in a more in-depth form at virtually any news outlet and their commentary is trite and simplistic. That's what you get from zealots, I guess.

Anyway, so yeah, the guy who started it is in jail. Funny stuff. I'm sure they will lionize him and talk about him as a political prisoner, but the reality is that what he was doing was patently illegal, regardless of political affiliation. The next issue should be incredible.

Here is another story about it that shows some of his other fearless exploits, armed with that conservative dogma and video camera:

Despite a pretty good run through four years at Rutgers, O'Keefe regularly attended student government meetings even after graduating, a former student who attended during O'Keefe's time at the school tells TPM.

"Most memorable" to her was in spring 2007 when he attended a meeting where members wanted to go into closed session to elect a new member for an open seat in government. She said leaving the room was standard polite/privacy measure for the candidates.

O'Keefe "refused to leave the room and took out a video camera, videotaping our attempts to have him leave the room," she says. She said he sat there and refused to move and "ultimately campus police had to escort him out of the building."

What a hero he is, fighting that good fight against the oppressed, heavily editing his interactions with low-level employees of communist groups or whatever he thinks they are, and even the newspaper he founded. I also like the fact that he seems to have been terribly reluctant to have to graduate Rutgers. I wonder if that's a violation of his "rights." Sounds like he would have stayed forever if he could have. Maybe they offer some correspondence courses he can take while in federal prison.

The Lucky Charms are still there.