Category Archives: Science

Rest Easy – Looks like the Mayans didn’t predict the world ending this December after all…

According to archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University,  the earliest known Mayan calendar has been found in an ancient house in Guatemala. It offers no hint that the world’s end is imminent. In fact it predicts forward movement for 7,000 years.

Element from newly discovered calendar

“For the first time we get to see what may be actual records kept by a scribe, whose job was to be official record keeper of a Maya community.

“The ancient Maya predicted the world would continue, that 7,000 years from now, things would be exactly like this.

“We keep looking for endings. The Maya were looking for a guarantee that nothing would change. It’s an entirely different mindset.”

Well, I know I’m relieved. Aren’t you?

As long as there are people who believe the unreal, we will have a hard time progressing into the future…

Here is an article from The Texas Observer that caught my attention. I’ll give you part of it here, but it is much, much longer and I encourage you to read it. If you scratch your head with wonder, then you are just like me:

In the beginning, God created dinosaurs and humans, and they walked together in Texas.

At least, according to many people in Glen Rose.

The small town about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth is home to some of the best-preserved dinosaur tracks in the world; it’s also a heavily Christian community where many locals interpret the book of Genesis literally.

Their belief is bolstered by a phenomenon in the riverbed. Alongside the dinosaur tracks are what resident R.C. McFall and others call “man tracks”—tangible proof of biblical creation accounts and a refutation of the theory of evolution.

McFall walks along the Paluxy River, careful not to place his cowboy boot in a dinosaur track. Muddy water fills the fossilized footprints embedded in this rocky ledge.

“There’s a track right there,” he says in a deep Texas drawl, pointing. “That hole is where my dad dug one out.”

If the river weren’t up, McFall explains, we’d see man tracks just a few feet away, in the same strata of rock as the dinosaur tracks.

The 113-million-year-old dinosaur tracks, first discovered in 1909, are an important part of Glen Rose’s livelihood, bringing thousands of visitors a year to attractions like Dinosaur Valley State Park and Dinosaur World. The town’s tourist industry, accounting for $23 million in annual revenue, was built largely on the jaw-dropping fact that fossils this old are still present today. Visitors can park their trailers at the Jurassic RV Park (the tracks actually date to the Cretaceous period) or stay at the Glen Rose Inn & Suites, where the sign features a cartoon dinosaur.

“The dinosaurs are what drive us,” says Billy Huckaby, executive director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Glen Rose. “You can’t develop a town of 2,000 into this kind of tourism revenue unless you’ve got something really special to promote.”

Tourist literature describes the tracks as millions of years old, but not everyone buys the science.

“I believe in the Bible,” McFall says. “I don’t believe the world’s over 6,000 or 7,000 years old. Course, everybody’s got their own interpretation.”

Go HERE for the rest of the article.

Join science experts like the Unabomber if you believe in Global Warming…

Who? What? Ted Kaczynski? And other billboards with Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Coming soon are billboards featuring Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).

What nutjobs are responsible for this terrific promotional campaign showing us how science proves there is no Global Warming? Why, The Heartland Institute, a 28-year-old organization whose mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

And, of course, to create the kind of stimulating, educational pieces like these billboards.

Heartland also produces books and brochures with titles like Climate Change Weekly: New York Times Misrepresents Global Warming Surveys and EPA Official Says Goal Is to ‘Crucify’ Oil and Natural Gas Companies, all of which seem to be written by noted scientist James M. Taylor, J.D. Senior Fellow and Managing Editor, Environment and Climate News.  (J.D. is that a scientific degree or a law degree?) Their Science Director is Dr. Jay Lehr, author of recent articles like Nuclear Fears Trumping Reality in Wake of Fukushima and An Open Letter to the Oil and Gas Industry: The Ethical Case for Fracking. Hmmm, support of Nuclear Industry and Hydrofracturing (Fracking).

Needless to say, given their support of corporations over individual citizens, my guess is that they will be advising Romney and the Republicans.

Help!

Genetically Modified foods should be labeled…

…we have a right to know what we are eating, and the right to refuse to eat GMO foods.

Just Label It! We have the right to know.

Visual Illusion (I’ve got nothing better to do tonight until Bones comes on)

Just look at it and watch the center grid move:

 

So why does it happen?

And now a word from Penn Jillette:

Thanks, Penn… we’ll pass it on.

Do Monsanto Employees eat GM foods?

If you worked for Monsanto and knew their pharmaceutical evils, would you eat Genetically Modified food?

There is a notice in the cafeteria of the Monsanto pharmaceutical factory is High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, advising customers

as far as practicable, GM soya and maize (has been removed) from all food products served in our restaurant. We have taken the steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve.”

The notice was posted by the Sutcliffe Catering Group.

Adrian Bebb with Friends of the Earth says the notice in the Buckinghamshire plant is hard to misinterpret:

“The public has made its concerns about GM ingredients very clear – now it appears that even Monsanto’s own catering firm has no confidence in this new technology.”

Monsanto company spokesman Tony Coombes says the only reason for the GM-free foods is because the company “believes in choice.” Yeah… that’s a good one.

Unfortunately, we won’t see such announcements in the United States which won’t even require LABELING to show genetic modification. The reason? If LABELING was permitted people wouldn’t buy it. It also doesn’t hurt Monsanto that FDA head Michael Taylor, a Monsanto executive, was appointed by Obama… and America’s Chief Agriculture Negotiator, former Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddiqui, was also an Obama appointment.

We are, as they say, screwed… unless everyone realizes the problem and takes action, whether writing Congressman or shopping for organic foods or campaigning against the patented seed stores of Monsanto.

 

 

 

 

The Monsanto Story – a personal documentary

I’ve talked many times about Monsanto and Genetically Modified seeds and the dangers they are bringing upon farming since they have been allowed to patent seeds. Perhaps you don’t know Monsanto’s history. This short piece by Andy Radford will give you an education:

Approaching Diabetes

As most of you know, since I have discussed it before, I am a Type 2 Diabetic, having been diagnosed about 15 years ago. Recently, I have been getting very concerned with the direction the disease seems to be going. For the last few years I have been traded around by a number of doctors with a number of specialties, I’m loaded with medications and insulin shots and, personally, I feel like things are getting worse.

My greatest worry (and that of most diabetics) is that someday I will end up with one or two amputated legs… something I don’t see as worth living with. While researching the return of itching, coloration and the presence of water under the skin of my lower legs (which I was in the hospital several years ago, getting relief from), I did some looking on line (I can learn more here than I can from a Doctor who gives you an average of 8 minutes on a visit). I found listing for a book by Dr. Mark Hinkes, a podiatrist, titled “Keep the Legs You Stand On.”

Just flipping through it before beginning to read, there was, right before me, a photograph of just what my legs look like…the condition is called Hemosidirin Deposits and show how Iron is lodged under the skin causing discolor. This lower leg condition also includes dangerous skin ulcers, bleeding, itching and other symptoms that can lead to bone infection and leg loss.

Yeah, I’m depressed about this… and while Hinkes’ major recommendation is to go to the Doc or the Emergency Room and have them put me off my feet and treat with antibiotics and lubricating oils that keep the skin from drying out. I have yet to convince myself to do this… having done my own therapy with dermatological lubricating cream and locally applied antibiotics has shown good signs that the symptoms will once again go away.

In order to bring my blood sugar under control, I am in the second day of  thirty day program by Dr. Stefan Ripich (a Naturopathic Doctor, which my wife tells me is a legitimate profession even though I questioned it) which claims to “cure” diabetes. I reality, it is a change in lifestyle which brings blood sugar under control and, having read through the program and the reports from people who have used it, find that it makes a certain amount of sense.

Truth to tell, on the second day of the program I have already eliminated sugar in more forms than I knew existed, and my blood sugar readings have been closer to normal than they have been in a couple of years. I’ll be interested in what I will be like at the end of thirty days.

Ripich claims I will probably be able to stop the meds and insulin… not sure what my Endocrinologist will say.

Anyway, I’m hoping it’s not too late to make all these changes… but I’m an old guy who has not been the best patient all these years. It’s amazing what fear will do.

Researching Robert G. Ingersoll

I have become fascinated by the life and work of Robert G. Ingersoll (1833 – 1899), Civil War Colonel, friend of Walt Whitman and Mark Twain, nationally known lecturer on many topics, lawyer and, if he had not been an avowed non-believer, he could have been President of the United States.

He was known as “The Great Agnostic” and was an early, and liberal, Republican who was a supporter of civil rights, women’s rights and freedom from religion long before the intellects of the mid to late 20th Century.

I’ll be posting transcripts of his speeches and other writings on the Robert G. Ingersoll page I have established on this blog.

Enjoy.

TED talk: Michael Shermer on “Why Do People Do Strange Things?”

Here’s a TED talk I found interesting and revealing from skeptic Michael Shermer:

Here is a man that I have great respect for. Great speech for all you skeptics out there.

How to make public education worthless…

I guess new York City public school students will be the best motivators for home schooling in the future. Why? Read on…

This post was put up by Jonathan Turley, one of the legal bloggers I have the most respect for:

The New York City Department of Education has barred the use of “Dinosaur” on tests to avoid upsetting people who believe creationism.

Educations in New York decided that, with such things as Halloween and dancing, the reference to dinosaurs “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.” Also banned is the word “evolution.” It is basically designing a test for Sarah Palin to pass.

“Birthday” is also out because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.

Well, there’s a list of a couple of dozen more words which should not be included in the students’ education… words like “slavery”, “terrorism”, and “Religion.”

In commenting on the DOE, The New York Post came out with this:

Officials said there isn’t an absolute ban on the items, in that they do get included on some exams on a case-by-case basis.

“The intent is to avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge,” said Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the Core Knowledge Foundation, an education group.

“But the irony is they’re eliminating some subjects, like junk food, holidays and popular music, that the broadest number of kids are likely to know quite a lot about.”

This is the most absurd… most unbelievable approach to education that I’ve heard about anywhere. I’d love to know what New York teachers think and what they intend to do about the situation.
Any ideas?

Fracking: industry vs. Reality

From an article by Walter Brasch over at MyDD:

Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, says “no evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination.” Fracking “has never been found to contaminate a water well,” says Christine Cronkright, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Research studies and numerous incidents of water contamination prove otherwise.


Research by Dr. Ronald Bishop, a biochemist at SUNY/Oneonta, suggests that

New York State Assemblymembers Robert Castelli...

New York State Assemblymembers Robert Castelli and Steve Katz call for a moratorium on on hydraulic fracturing in the Croton Watershed in October 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

fracking to extract methane gas “is highly likely to degrade air, surface water and ground-water quality, to harm humans, and to negatively impact aquatic and forest ecosystems.” He notes that “potential exposure effects for humans will include poisoning of susceptible tissues, endocrine disruption syndromes, and elevated risk for certain cancers.” Every well, says Dr. Bishop, “will generate a sediment discharge of approximately eight tons per year into local waterways, further threatening federally endangered mollusks and other aquatic organisms.” In addition to the environmental pollution by the fracking process, Dr. Bishop believes “intensive use of diesel-fuel equipment will degrade air quality [that could affect] humans, livestock, and crops.”

So who do we listen to? Executives who depend on Fracking for making themselves rich, or scientists who continue to build up proof from actual experience and related experiments.

The complaints continue to pop up, from the movie “Gasland” to State and Federal committee testimonies:

“Some of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing—or liberated by it—are carcinogens,” Dr. Sandra Steingraber told members of the Environmental Conservation and Health committee of the New York State Assembly. Dr. Steingraber, a biologist and distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College, pointed out that some of the chemicals “are neurological poisons with suspected links to learning deficits in children,” while others “are asthma triggers.

What we all need to do is make our feelings heard on all levels – especially at the top… Obama is promoting Fracking in his energy plan without showing any understanding of the procedure’s danger.

BTW, Dr. Walter Brasch’s current book is Before the First Snow, a critically-acclaimed novel that looks at what happens when government and energy companies form a symbiotic relationship, using “cheaper, cleaner” fuel and the lure of jobs in a depressed economy but at the expense of significant health and environmental impact. The book is available at amazon.com and from the publisher, Greeley & Stone.

Here’s something we can do to head off Fracking in West Virginia (and elsewhere)…

I received this e-mail today from  Josh Fox at Gasland. I hope you will read it and follow his suggestions.:

Dear Friends:

I want to call your attention to some critical news and ask you to quickly take action:

FIRST: USDA GATE!!!

BREAKING NEWS: USDA Reverses Itself and Exempts Rural Properties with Gas Drilling Leases from NEPA

ACTION:  Call President Obama and tell him:

“Please do not allow the USDA to exempt housing loans from a full NEPA review.”

White House Phone numbers:  202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414

Here’s the background and the reasons why you should call:

In a move that has angered hydrofracking opponents, the USDA did an about-face and reneged on earlier statements that its popular rural housing loans on properties with gas drilling leases would have to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and today authorized an Administrative Notice stating that rural housing loans would be excluded from NEPA.  On Monday, The New York Times had reported the USDA was planning on issuing an Administrative Notice to the opposite effect, telling staff that loans on properties with gas leases must undergo a full environmental review as required by NEPA before mortgage loans are made or guaranteed by the agency.

“The proposal by the Agriculture Department, which has signaled its intention in e-mails to Congress and landowners, reflects a growing concern that lending to owners of properties with drilling leases might violate the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, which requires environmental reviews before federal money is spent,” the Times wrote.   The article quoted the program director for rural loans in the Agriculture Department’s New York office saying that, “We will no longer be financing homes with gas leases.”   “Approval of such leases would allow for a number of potential impacts to possibly occur which would need to be analyzed in a NEPA document that would be reviewed by the public for sufficiency,” another USDA official was quoted as saying.

See the full New York Times article HERE.

But in an email statement yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reversed those positions and said, “USDA will not make any policy changes related to rural housing loans…The information provided to Congressional offices on March 8, 2012 was premature and does not reflect past, current or future practices of the department.   Tomorrow, I will authorize an Administrative Notice reaffirming that rural housing loans are categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

Friends, this is a very important development and one that we need to speak up about.  A full NEPA review, like the type the agency was talking about affirming, would have been more transparent, more rigorous and comprehensive.  USDA staff experts in the NY office as well as in DC made clear in emails that the law and the science require that mortgages with drilling leases shouldn’t be exempt from NEPA.   This 180-degress turn by Secretary Vilsack contradicts both science and law.

Excluding NEPA review of fracking’s environmental impacts is a significant move.  It means that environmental review of rural housing loans would be limited to the EPA‘s far less comprehensive national study of fracking, which is focused exclusively on drinking water and does not admit public comment.   Doing a NEPA analysis would have ensured that federal agencies issuing loans are complying with the law.  In fact, officials expressed concern the agency would be vulnerable to lawsuits if they didn’t conduct the NEPA reviews thoroughly enough.  But exempting rural housing loans from NEPA means that gas drilling leases will also be exempt from legal recourse and other basic public interest protections the law was meant to provide.  It also means that when property values drop precipitously due to contamination from gas drilling, sometimes to as low as 10% of their original value as we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, the American Taxpayer is going to be left holding the bag.   

Not only is this is unlawful, it’s just not right.

Call President Obama and tell him:

“Please do not allow the USDA to exempt housing loans from a full NEPA review.”

White House Phone numbers:  202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414

SECOND: EPA VINDICATES DIMOCK FAMILIES!!!

BREAKING NEWS: EPA confirms Dimock water is unsafe.  The Gasland team and I provided Pro-Publica with the unreleased water tests.  The families in Dimock, PA have high to explosive levels of methane as well as chemicals known to cause cancer and heavy metals that exceed the agency’s “trigger level” in their water wells.  The families have been vindicated.  Science triumphs over spin.

Please read the full Pro-Publica story HERE.

Thanks for taking action and being a part of a profound movement to stop fracking!

–Josh

The USDA seems to be in the pocket of the gas companies. It should be the representative organization of the American rural citizenship.

As Josh says: “Science triumphs over spin.”

Why I still like Ike…

All Hat, No Cattle posted this picture with quote (one I’ve used before and keep in my quote collection.) Makes you wonder what will happen to the current Repiglicans…

It is “they are stupid” that stands out.

Remember when “Conservative” used to be a word defining a form of political economics?

Sometimes we just have to admit that even some women politicians are a bit crazy. Like Majority Whip Debbie Lesko who authored Arizona House Bill 2625 which would allow employers to eliminate employee health care coverage on birth control and related needs:

“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union. So government should not be telling organizations or employers to do something against their moral beliefs… My whole legislation is about our First Amendment rights and freedom of religion.” 

And what about freedom FROM religion?

But the most revealing look at conservatism is the current Doonesbury series that many newspapers are not printing. Gary Trudeau is looking at the trans-vaginal sonograms required in Texas prior to an abortion:

It would be very nice if “conservatism” got back to economic politics and out of the bedroom and the vagina. Little choice is left to women when considering who to vote for.

Someday I’d like to go to the TED Conference…

… but as things look now, both economically and physically, I’ll probably never get the chance.

For those not familiar with TED, here is their statement:

WHAT IS TED?

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. And in fact, the event is broader still, showcasing ideas that matter in any discipline. The format is fast paced: 50+ talks over the course of four days (to say nothing of the morning and evening events). This immersive environment allows attendees and speakers from vastly different fields to cross-fertilize and draw inspiration from unlikely places. This is the magic of TED.

THREE CONFERENCES EACH YEAR AND TED LIVE

TED holds three yearly conferences: TED at Long Beach, California, TEDActive at Palm Springs, California (which runs concurrently with TED at Long Beach) and TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Attending a TED conference is by application. There are several levels of conference membership, and attendance fees depend on which level and conference you choose. Become a TED Live member to watch both TED and TEDGlobal live in your home, school, or office.

Thankfully, the TED folks post the best lectures on YouTube and I get to enjoy them at no charge and get something important to think about.

For instance, from the recent conference in Long Beach, CA, is this talk by Adam Savage showing how great ideas come from very simple sources:

To find out more about TED, go to http://www.ted.comand be sure to take in some of the videos. You’ll find talks in many areas:

  • technology
  • entertainment
  • design
  • business
  • science
  • global issues

Passing on a Disgusting Practice…

Here it goes again…  My cousin turned me on to this piece:

Seven Million Pounds of “Pink Slime” Beef Destined for National School Lunch Program

By Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger | Healthy Living – 6 hours ago

“Pink slime” burger? McDonald’s and Taco Bell have banned it, but now the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is buying 7 million pounds of beef containing ammonium hydroxide-treated ground connective tissue and meat scraps and serving it up to America’s school kids. If you thought cafeteria food was gross before….

Related: What You Need to Know About the New Meat and Poultry Labels

According to TheDaily.com, the term “pink slime” was coined by microbiologist Gerald Zirnstein, formerly of the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service. He first saw it being mixed into burger meat when he was touring a Beef Products Inc (BPI) facility in 2002 after an outbreak of salmonella. “Scientists in D.C. were pressured to approve this stuff with minimal safety approval,” Zirnstein told The Daily.

“Pink slime,” which is officially called “Lean Beef Trimmings,” is banned for human consumption in the United Kingdom. It is commonly used in dog and chicken food. Celebrity chef and safe food advocate Jamie Oliver featured the substance and called for its ban on the April 12, 2011 episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, which may have influenced McDonald’s to stop using beef patties containing the filler.

Reportedly, Zirnstein and his colleague Carl Custer studied the substance and classified it as a “high risk product.” Custer, who worked at the Food Safety Inspection service for 35 years, says, “We looked at the product and we objected to it because it used connective tissues instead of muscle. It was simply not nutritionally equivalent [to ground beef]. My main objection was that it was not meat.”

Another issue is the ammonium hydroxide, a chemical that is used to kill pathogens such as E. coli. The FDA considers it safe for human consumption but a 2009 expose by the New York Times questioned its safety and efficacy. Some food advocates are asking for meat containing “pink slime” to be labeled. It’s used in about 70% of ground beef in the US. “We don’t know which districts are receiving what meat, and this meat isn’t labeled to show pink slime. They don’t have to under federal law,” Bettina Siegal, a writer and mother of two who created TheLunchTray.com told NBC. Siegel has started a petition to demand the USDA stop using the product in the National School Lunch Program.

Virginia Governor signs Ultrasound law…

This from the L. A. Times:

Maybe this will get him the VP nomination.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed into law a controversial bill requiring women to have an ultrasound before undergoing an abortion.

The bill sparked a national furor among abortion rights activists who argued that the intent was to make it more costly and more difficult for women to receive abortions.

So here we have a medically unnecessary procedure being forced on women (and their doctors) in a not-so-secret effort to discourage women’s choice. There’s another problem here with serious legal complications:

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said the law might place an undue burden on women, making it vulnerable to legal challenge. Enforcement could also be problematic, he said, because it could violate doctor-patient confidentiality.

“How is the state going to verify that there’s been compliance by a doctor unless they see records?” Tobias said in an interview last week. “I don’t know how you can prevent the state from seeing the names” of patients, he said.

As I have said before, free women should stay out of Virginia.

BTW – Happy International Women’s Day.

The Daily Scoop: Better-educated Republicans doubt climate change; believe Obama’s Muslim

I’m really impressed by the concept “smart idiots effect” which turns up later in the article (when Mashed Potato Bulletin switches over to Salon.) I had always thought that educated Republicans were reachable about Climate Change, but now I find it questionable. What do you think?

Mashed Potato Bulletin

I can still remember when I first realized how naïve I was in thinking—hoping—that laying out the “facts” would suffice to change politicized minds, and especially Republicanones. It was a typically wonkish, liberal revelation: One based on statistics and data. Only this time, the data were showing, rather awkwardly, that people ignore data and evidence—and often, knowledge and education only make the problem worse.

Someone had sent me a 2008 Pew report documenting the intense partisan divide in the U.S. over the reality of global warming.. It’s a divide that, maddeningly for scientists, has shown a paradoxical tendency to widen even as the basic facts about global warming have become more firmly established.
Read more…

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Cartoon(s) of the Week – and what a week it was!

A note before we look at this week’s selections.

I’ve been doing Cartoon(s) of the Week for over 5 years now, and I spend a great deal of time working on the selection. I review 40-75 cartoons every week, look for themes that are carried through them and pick the best artists and most significant captions. It’s a significant amount of work, and I know many of you look forward to it each week.

If you time that with the regular review of other blogs  to add to the significant blogroll I present for your interest and the editorials I research and write up, doing Under The LobsterScope is a considerably active unpaid job.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working on this and have really liked hearing from hundreds of readers like you, both in comments and in e-mail and membership registrations. It is, however, an expense to keep going and I hope you will make a small contribution to keep it alive.

If you go HERE you can see the current thank you gift I send back for donations of $5.00 or more… a gift that I usually sell for 6 times that amount. Take a look and see if you can come in and join the folks who have helped keep this blog going.

Thanks,  Bill.

______________

Jim Morin in the Miami Herald:

Why aren’t they campaigning for what the people need?

-and –

Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Are you wondering where political concerns are inserting themselves?

-and –

Matt Bors of United Features Syndicate:

Focus, focus, focus.

-and –

Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

It’s great to see their relationship to foreign policy…

-and –

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

…and what could be more local?

-and –

Drew Sheneman in the Newark Star-Ledger:

Keeping an eye on Birth Control…

Culture Wars…

We are entering another month of the ongoing political culture wars next week, without really looking at the concerns of jobs, economics, climate change or any of the other real problems that need to be addressed.

Tuesday will be the Michigan and Arizona primaries, so the TV pundits are focusing on those states and in so doing are revealing some new cultural phenomena. For instance, in Arizona they are considering a new law that bans college teachers from cursing but allows students to carry guns. Got that? Gun violence good, language violence bad? And then… what is a naughty enough word to get a teacher fired? Will they be listed in the law?

The biggest insertion of cultural conflict into the process is, of course, religion. Between candidates who have been spoken to by God and encouraged to run, to major religious groups protesting established birth control legislation but supporting the penetration of vaginas to discourage abortions, the promotion of religion over secular politics is frightening… and disgusting.

These politicians are ready to scrap what we know of the scientific proof for climate change in order to promote more industries that pollute the air (listen to the righties cheer) or to ignore what is necessary to reduce the unbelievable growth of population. Don’t they see what is going on here?

I turn to the world of intellectual comedy to backup my views of religion, science and atheism (a belief area that I belong to… but like most atheists don’t try to inflict my beliefs on other people using the replacement of secular law.) Here’s Eddie Izzard:

Even if you don’t agree with Eddie (or me), I hope you were at least entertained… and will think about how to get away from the culture wars and back to solving our real problems.

(BTW, Eddie Izzard will soon be appearing in a new version of Treasure Island playing Long John Silver. Can’t wait.)

Is your food going to be sprayed with Agent Orange?

Right now, Dow‘s Agent Orange corn is being rubberstamped through the approval process at USDA. It has not been adequately tested for our health or safety, and it should not be approved. We have until February 27 to tell the USDA to reject Agent Orange corn. Tell the USDA not to approve this crop!

Big Ag is in an arms race with weeds. Most genetically engineered crops are made to withstand chemical weed killer (e.g., Roundup), but over time, weeds evolve to resist these chemicals.

This means that farmers have to apply stronger chemicals to kill the weeds, and the newest version of this is 2,4-D, a major component of Agent Orange. This is the same horrific chemical that destroyed wide swaths of jungle and killed hundreds of thousands of people during the Vietnam War.

If the USDA approves Dow’s Agent Orange corn, more dangerous chemicals will definitely be used on our crops, we’ll see new resistant weeds and people may get sick. Urge the USDA to reject Agent Orange corn!

Tell USDA — don’t approve Agent Orange corn:
http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9513

(Stupid) Quote of the Day

Climate Change is…

“an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life…

“When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth; by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate — this is all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government.”

Rick Santorum speaking in Colorado

In his article in TPM on Santorum’s little speech, Sahil Kapur also put this in:

But lest you believe Santorum’s thinking is hitherto unseen in the GOP. Rep. John Shimkus, in a 2009 congressional hearing, cited the Book of Genesis as evidence that climate change is a hoax, pointing out that God promised Noah that man won’t destroy the Earth. Shimkus was subsequently rewarded with the Chairmanship of the powerful Energy & Commerce subcommittee on the environment.

Don’t you love the Religious Right? Isn’t the Book of Genesis the one that never explains where all the other people beyond Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel come from? And there’s a talking snake.

Just got back from a Solar Project lecture at Town Hall

Than Hitt starts it off...

Sustainable Shepherdstown had David Brosch of University Park Solar LLC from Maryland to discuss how that organization created an investor solar project, got some state laws changed, and got small investors involved in solar energy.

This is the project that Than Hitt spoke about on my radio show last Saturday, and the show and a Sustainable Shepherdstown mailing brought in about 30 people (would have been more if the Chronicle had run the release, but it didn’t.)

David Brosch

The concept of setting up a (small) profit-making LLC to get groups of people involved with solar power for multiple locations with a 20 year profit of about 7% (money deducted from the electric bill). It has been successfully started in Maryland and could be done in West Virginia.

This was a good start and everyone left Town Hall interested to take it further.