Thursday, December 30, 2010

CDC Says We're Dying Younger



Latest CDC report - issued December 9, 2010, using 2008 data - says our lives are getting shorter.   Read the full report here if you'd like to.

Heart disease and cancer, together accounted for whopping 48 percent of all deaths in 2008. 



The top 15 causes of death:

1. Diseases of heart
2 Malignant neoplasms
3 Chronic lower respiratory diseases
4 Cerebrovascular diseases
5 Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6 Alzheimer’s disease
7 Diabetes mellitus
8 Influenza and pneumonia
9 Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis
10 Septicemia
11 Intentional self-harm (suicide)
12 Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
13 Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease
14 Parkinson’s disease
15 Assault (homicide)
 
Click this sentence for heart disease risk factors and other information from Mayo Clinic.


Click this sentence for cancer risk factors and other information from Mayo Clinic.

If you're not sure about some of these, my favorite online medical dictionary is here:  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/


Interesting Tidbits:
 
Respiratory diseases edged out Stroke (cerebrovascular) as the number three disease for the first time in 50 years. 
 
Other diseases that experienced an up-tick include Alzheimer's, Flu and pneumonia, two different forms of kidney disease, and Suicide.
 
HIV deaths were down by 10 percent.
 
Death by other diseases remain relatively stable from the last reporting period. 

A NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION FOR THE RICH


Sam Harris, self-proclaimed member of the "haves," as well as a neuroscientist and author, wrote today in the Huffington Post about the growing wealth gap between the "haves" and the rest of us. 

I ask that my libertarian and Republican friends kindly perservere through my blog today - if for no other reason than to humor me - even after your gut says Harris is probably one of those left wing elitists who want to tell us all what to do and how to spend our money.  I don't really believe that, by the way, but I know some of my pals will see it that way.  Try not to bite your tongues past that point where blood is involved.  Harris begins:

"While the United States has suffered the worst recession in living memory, I find that I have very few financial concerns. Many of my friends are in the same position: Most of us attended private schools and good universities, and we will be able to provide these same opportunities to our own children. No one in my immediate circle has a family member serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, the only sacrifice we were asked to make for our beloved country was to go shopping. Nearly a decade has passed, with our nation's influence and infrastructure crumbling by the hour, and yet those of us who have been so fortunate as to actually live the American dream--rather than merely dream it--have been spared every inconvenience. Now we are told that we will soon receive a large tax cut for all our troubles. What is the word for the feeling this provokes in me? Imagine being safely seated in lifeboat, while countless others drown, only to learn that another lifeboat has been secured to take your luggage to shore... "


Many of my readers are youth - my students.  Depending on your upbringing, you may or may not relate to a perfectly comfortable life - a life that has enough of a cushion to weather a financial malstrom.  A life that gets adjusted in an economic downturn by keeping a car a year or two longer, or staying in the U.S. for vacation this year. 

But those of you who do relate, Harris is getting ready to help you think about what happens when the nation's wealth becomes more concentrated into fewer hands.  There are more poor people in our country right now than at any time since the Great Depression.

During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt created jobs programs that created actual jobs.  His largest program, the WPA [Works Projects Administration] created eight million jobs between 1935 and 1943. 

We, by contrast, have created stimulus programs which require that we hold our breath and hope jobs will be created.  One of the reasons we go that route is because jobs programs would be government-run and these days we lack political will for programs that increase government.   Instead, we all get mad at President Obama when holding our breath does not result in enough jobs.  It's such a catch-22. 

Yes, yes, right-leaning friends.  I know you would have created an entirely different stimulus package, for which we would also have been required to hold our breaths and hope.

Since that is not the stimulus package we have, however, you remain free to imagine that your stimulus plan would have resulted in more jobs than the Obama version.  Such imaginings are both the consolation and political weapon of the minority party. 

Frankly, the only sure way to use taxpayer money to create jobs is a jobs program, but these days, that's a "when pigs fly" kind of thing.

But let us return to Harris:

"Most Americans believe that a person should enjoy the full fruits of his or her labors, however abundant. In this light, taxation tends to be seen as an intrinsic evil. It is worth noting, however, that throughout the 1950's--a decade for which American conservatives pretend to feel a harrowing sense of nostalgia--the marginal tax rate for the wealthy was over 90 percent. In fact, prior to the 1980's it never dipped below 70 percent. Since 1982, however, it has come down by half. In the meantime, the average net worth of the richest 1 percent of Americans has doubled (to $18.5 million), while that of the poorest 40 percent has fallen by 63 percent (to $2,200). Thirty years ago, top U.S. executives made about 50 times the salary of their average employees. In 2007, the average worker would have had to toil for 1,100 years to earn what his CEO brought home between Christmas in Aspen and Christmas on St. Barthes."

"We now live in a country in which the bottom 40 percent (120 million people) owns just 0.3 percent of the wealth. Data of this kind make one feel that one is participating in a vast psychological experiment: Just how much inequality can free people endure? Have you seen Ralph Lauren's car collection? Yes, it is beautiful. It also cost hundreds of millions of dollars. "So what?" many people will say. "It's his money. He earned it. He should be able to do whatever he wants with it." In conservative circles, expressing any doubt on this point has long been synonymous with Marxism.


And yet over one million American children are now homeless. People on Medicare are being denied life-saving organ transplants that were routinely covered before the recession. Over one quarter of our nation's bridges are structurally deficient. When might be a convenient time to ask the richest Americans to help solve problems of this kind? How about now?"

This conversation brings to mind another writer, economic historian and philosopher, Carl Polanyi.  In his seminal work, "The Great Transformation," Polanyi explains how capitalism came into existence, what evils it erases and what evils it cannot erase.  By the way, if you've never read this book, do it!  It may have been the singular best use of nonfiction reading time I've ever spent.  I don't say that lightly.

Polanyi discusses the role of redistribution of wealth across time and culture.  It's always been with  us.  From small society to large.   Consider the Trobriand Islanders of Malanesia, whose chief is the recipient of a substantial portion of the locally grown produce.  He, in turn, stores and distributes it to his people as needed.  Hammurabi's kingdoms in Babylonia and in Egypt were similarly centralized bureaucratic despotisms to which spoils were gathered, and from which they were redistributed to the population.  Our biblical history tells us that Joseph's Pharoah gathered and stored grain to redistribute to the people, especially during times of famine.  In fact, until secular government displaced the Church as the primary institution, regional and local churches were the institutions of wealth gathering and redistribution, and had primary responsibility for the poor.

Today the wealthy collect money, not storehouses of food goods.  That makes it more difficult to see that redistribution can sometimes be fair and necessary.  Recalling Harris' figures (40 percent of the poorest own just .03 percent of the wealth):

If 120 million Americans owned only .03 percent of the foodstores, it would become obvious that the horded foodstores needed to be redistributed. 

It's harder to understand that coins, bills, gold bars, land holdings, redistributed, becomes food, clothing, shelter in the hands of the poor.  This is not to say that wealth should simply be handed out.  There is nothing to say that some of this redistribution cannot be contractually handled - e.g. folks can work for their supper.  But let's put that issue on the shelf for the moment.

Harris notes that part of the objection to redistribution is because the money goes through the government in the form of taxes.  Not only do people not like to give up their money, but they particularly, in our day and age, do not like to give it up through government, which is viewed as bloated and bureaucratic on the one hand, and as spending our hard-earned money to pay for assorted pork projects for special interests on the other. 

"It is easy to understand why even the most generous person might be averse to paying taxes: Our legislative process has been hostage to short-term political interests and other perverse incentives for as long as anyone can remember. Consequently, our government wastes an extraordinary amount of money. It also seems uncontroversial to say that whatever can be best accomplished in the private sector should be. Our tax code must also be reformed--and it might even be true that the income tax should be lowered on everyone, provided we find a better source of revenue to pay our bills. But I can't imagine that anyone seriously believes that the current level of wealth inequality in the United States is good and worth maintaining, or that our government's first priority should be to spare a privileged person like myself the slightest hardship as this once great nation falls into ruin.

# # #


And here I omit a few of Harris' words. To make it flow without the missing transition, I offer up the word, "Yet...

American opposition to the "redistribution of wealth" has achieved the luster of a religious creed. And, as with all religions, one finds the faithful witlessly espousing doctrines that harm almost everyone, including their own children. For instance, while most Americans have no chance of earning or inheriting significant wealth, 68 percent want the estate tax eliminated (and 31 percent consider it to be the "worst" and "least fair" tax levied by the federal government). Most believe that limiting this tax, which affects only 0.2 percent of the population, should be the top priority of the current Congress.


According to Harris, however, sooner or later the wealthy must favor at least enough redistribution of wealth to ensure the preservation of their wealthy status.  That requires a consumer class.  Consumers create the market for goods and services upon which the economy thrives.  A thriving economy supports the wealth accumulation and preservation efforts of the rich.  A failing economy tends to take wealth with it.   To ensure a consumer class, we must educate our workforce, since jobs for the uneducated are dwindling due to the double whammy of technology and the export of manufacturing overseas to cheaper labor sources.  Educated, employed workers can remain consumers. 

"Who will pay for this?" Harris asks. 

Harris says, "The wealthiest Americans often live as though they and their children had nothing to gain from investments in education, infrastructure, clean-energy, and scientific research. For instance, the billionaire Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, recently helped kill a proposition that would have created an income tax for the richest 1 percent in Washington (one of seven states that has no personal income tax). All of these funds would have gone to improve his state's failing schools. What kind of society does Ballmer want to live in--one that is teeming with poor, uneducated people? Who does he expect to buy his products? Where will he find his next batch of software engineers?"

# # #

"There is only one group of people who can pay for anything at this point: the wealthy." 

That is because they have gathered all the wealth into their own storehouses.  Redistributing some of it to pay for education and other infrastructure to shore up the realm may readily be seen as a cost of wealth preservation. 

So, what, exactly is the objection?

# # #

"Perhaps Ballmer is simply worried that the government will spend his money badly--after all, we currently spend more than almost every other country on education, with abysmal results. Well, then he should say so--and rather than devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to stoking anti-tax paranoia in his state, he should direct some of his vast wealth toward improving education, like his colleague Bill Gates has begun to do."

Can you see where this is headed?  Harris knows the politicos are in no mood to extract monies from the storehouses of the wealthy by taxation fiat.  He is about to suggest that the wealthy step up to the plate and deliver the gold bars themselves!  Brilliant!

"There are, in fact, some signs that a new age of heroic philanthropy might be dawning. For instance, the two wealthiest men in America, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, recently invited their fellow billionaires to pledge the majority of their wealth to the public good. This is a wonderfully sane and long overdue initiative about which it is unforgivable to be even slightly cynical. But it is not sufficient. Most of this money will stay parked in trusts and endowments for decades, and much of it will go toward projects that are less than crucial to the future of our society. It seems to me, however, that Gates and Buffett could easily expand and target this effort: asking those who have pledged, along with the rest of the wealthiest Americans, to immediately donate a percentage of their net worth to a larger fund. This group of benefactors would include not only the super-rich, but people of far more modest means. I do not have 1/1000 the wealth of Steve Ballmer, but I certainly count myself among the people who should be asked to sacrifice for the future of this country. The combined wealth of the men and women on the Forbes 400 list is $1.37 trillion. By some estimates, there are at least another 1,500 billionaires in the United States. Something tells me that anyone with a billion dollars could safely part with 25 percent of his or her wealth--without being forced to sell any boats, planes, vacation homes, or art. As of 2009, there were 980,000 families with a net worth exceeding $5 million (not including their primary residence). Would a one-time donation of 5 percent really be too much to ask to rescue our society from the maw of history?"

"Some readers will point out that I am free to donate to the treasury even now. But such solitary sacrifice would be utterly ineffectual, and I am no more eager than anyone else is to fill the pork barrels of corrupt politicians. However, if Gates and Buffett created a mechanism that bypassed the current dysfunction of government, earmarking the money for unambiguously worthy projects, I suspect that there are millions of people like myself who would not hesitate to invest in the future of America.'

I like Harris' idea.  I often thought that the Health Care lobby should have gathered into a room and figured out how to reform itself, and offered that up to the country.  It would have been bold, the right thing to do, an acknowledgement of reciprocity and symbiosis with the consumers who support the industry.  In the same way, the storehouse keepers of the realm's wealth ought to get together to figure out how to fairly redistribute some of it for the health of the realm.  Harris goes on to imagine what that redistribution might look like, and you can click this sentence to be whisked to Harris' article for the full roll-out.  Myself, I will end this blog with a few supportive words from some historic figures. 


"Money is like muck, not good except it be spread. ”

—Francis Bacon, 'Of seditions and Troubles', Essays, 15


"Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community."
—Andrew Carnegie, citation unknown.

"Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

— Mark 10:21.

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.'"

— John F. Kennedy

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Lennon 1940 - 1980



Rest in Peace



Don't just IMAGINE the Dream Act. Contact your Senator. Senate contact information here: http://tinyurl.com/25nubaq

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

THE EIGHTH CONTINENT

Please watch this Nightline video.

Please.

It's so far beyond anything even I have imagined.

We need to try to swear off plastic whenever anything else is available. See this link for more on plastic alternatives.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

VISUALIZE THIS!

Imagine if each social network site were it's own country on a map of the social networld.  The folks at http://www.flowtown.com/ did just that.  Here's the result. 

This very cool visual tells you at a glance the relative membership size of each of the social network sites.  The other really interesting thing is how many of the big ones I've never heard of, or even if I've heard of them, have never visited.

I guess I have some travel plans to make!   








































Many thanks to my pal Alison for steering me to this map, and to Diane Adams of Bit Rebels blog for writing about it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

INCEST is NOT BEST


"If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested."
           
      ~ anonymous but now famous protest about a pre-flight pat down by the TSA.








Ok, I admit I'm trying to get your attention.

The incest I'm talking about is the incestuous relationship between our government policy-makers and corporations whose products offer possible "solutions" to our assorted problems.  Thanks to the huge influence some of these corporations enjoy, policy alternatives do not appear to get a full airing before procurement decisions are made.

Take, for example, the Transportation Security Administration [TSA]'s use of new invasive security techniques. If your head has been under a rock, or you're still suffering from a turkey tryptophan hang-over, you might have missed the loud outcry about the use of body scanners that show operators pictures of your body through your clothes.  I can't remember where I read it, but apparently the "view" is accurate enough that one airport employee apparently beat the heck out of another for making fun of the size of his member after a TSA demonstration.  Oh yes, and don't forget the really personal physical "pat downs" that go with the body scan, to erase any lingering doubts.

It's the body scanner I want to focus on at the moment.  Is it good policy or good lobbying that landed $338 million worth of federal contracts for Advanced Imaging Technology [AIT Corp]'s body scanner technology?   Mother Jones Magazine presents a pretty thorough list of lobbyists involved, although somehow they left off Linda Daschle, wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and also a former FAA Administrator.  Her contract for AIT Corp is said to be $100K.  Look at this line-up:

"Which brings us to the money shot. The body scanner is sure to get a go-ahead because of the illustrious personages hawking them. Chief among them is former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff, who now heads the Chertoff Group, which represents one of the leading manufacturers of whole-body-imaging machines, Rapiscan Systems. For days after the attack, Chertoff made the rounds on the media promoting the scanners, calling the bombing attempt "a very vivid lesson in the value of that machinery"—all without disclosing his relationship to Rapiscan. According to the Washington Post:


Chertoff’s advocacy for the technology dates back to his time in the Bush administration. In 2005, Homeland Security ordered the government’s first batch of the scanners—five from California-based Rapiscan Systems.
....
In the summer, TSA purchased 150 machines from Rapiscan with $25 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.


The Washington Examiner last week ran down an entire list of all the former Washington politicians and staff members who are now part of what it calls the "full-body scanner lobby":


One manufacturer, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is American Science & Engineering, Inc. AS&E has retained the K Street firm Wexler & Walker to lobby for "federal deployment of security technology by DHS and DOD." Individual lobbyists on this account include former TSA deputy administration Tom Blank, who also worked under House Speaker Newt Gingrich.


Chad Wolf—former assistant administrator for policy at TSA, and a former aide to Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., a top Senate appropriator and the ranking Republican on the transportation committee—is also lobbying on AS&E’s behalf.

Smiths Detection, another screening manufacturer, employs top transportation lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates, including Kevin Patrick Kelly, a former top staffer to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who sits on the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee. Smiths also retains former congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley, R-Md."


Former Sen. Al D’Amato, R-N.Y., represents L3 Systems, about which Bloomberg wrote today: "L-3 has ‘developed a more sophisticated system that could prevent smuggling of almost anything on the body,’ said Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., who has a ‘hold’ rating on the stock."

Oh, and by the way, the CEO of one of the manufacturers' parent companies, Deepak Chopra - no, not that Deepak Chopra -  is said to have been deeply involved in influencing President Obama's trip to India this month. 

# # #

But, you might ask, don't we need these scanners, as distasteful as they may be, to deal with a serious security threat?   

Yes, folks, we have a pretty serious terrorist problem.  But there are other, proven security methods.  Take Israel.  That country's airport security is the safest in the world, and they do not use body scanners.  Perhaps Israel never even considered body scanners.  Their multi-party system includes heavily religious orthodox-influenced parties with a strong value around modesty.  Their cultural considerations demanded a less invasive solution.   In the short video that follows, Isaac Yeffet, El Al's head of security, talks about Israeli security procedures: 






One of my facebook friends, Andrea Kent, made the point that Israel can do this because almost all air traffic goes in and out one (admittedly huge) airport in Tel Aviv.  This might be different than running security through hundreds and hundreds of airports spread out across the United States.  But then again, it might not be.  We train police in every city and small town in the country.  It's not impossible.   I'm not even sure how the cost for hiring extra security staff compares to the cost for the body scanners, but think of how many people could be taken off the unemployment roles!  I love a solution that solves multiple problems!

Look, friends, I'm not suggesting that America should necessarily do security like El Al, or that we shouldn't have purchased the scanners.  I really don't know.  But what I do know is this:  there was no cadre of lobbyists pitching El Al-like low tech, less invasive security measures.  We do not get a full and open debate when policy discussions are this imbalanced.

This is not a new problem.  It reminds me of nothing so much as the Halliburton connections to the Bush White House - click here for one article, but you can google for others.  

It reminds me of the White House connection with Goldman-Sachs that spans at least five presidencies, and placed Goldman-Sachs people in influential posts within Administration after Administration.

And maybe worst of all are the war profiteers who lobby heavily for the continuation of war because it profits their companies, casualties be damned!  click here for a really disturbing story from Truthout. 

While I'm not thrilled by the possibility of some leering - or even earnest - airport security employee looking through my skivvies, I am extremely bothered by way these decisions get made - and I hope you are too.  I am tired of the American people being victimized by incestuous relationships between our policy makers and our corporate "citizens."   Discussions upon which these big contract decisions are made are not fair, competitive or thorough.  It's a set-up, loaded from the get-go. 

Unfortunately, that's just D.C.

The problem for me is, this was supposed to be the Administration to end "business-as-usual."  I hated it under the Bush administration, and I continue to hate it under the Obama administration.  The only thing better now is that social networking makes it possible for these little "relationships" to be outed.  Not that my little blog with its 50 or so readers on a good week can make much of a difference.  But let's get verbal, friends.  It's the only hope we've got.

If you care, repost this blog post.  If you want to read more, here are the articles that got my ire up:

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/01/airport-scanner-scam

http://www.dakotavoice.com/2010/11/intrusive-security-or-smart-security-the-el-al-way/

http://www.suspiciousnews.com/2010/11/tsa-use-of-advanced-imaging-technology.html

http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/130439-body-scanner-manufacturers-armed-on-k-street.

And this site has a video, but it doesn't have an "embed code," so you have to go there to watch it:  http://www.buzzbox.com/top/default/preview/the-big-business-of-scanner-lobbying/?clusterId=2524576&id=15497070&topic=lobbying%3Ascanner.

I "borrowed" the picture above from Mother Jones contributor, Kevin Drum's blog, btw.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tough Truths About Plastics

This 6 minute video featuring Dianna Cohen, co-founder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition and artist, talks about plastic in our world.  This is an important TED shortie!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

POWER to the 3RD!


Last night, while I was just kicking back watching "Lie to Me," my dear friend Alison Rapping was thinking hard about how to save the world.  I love Alison for that!

Actually, Alison was thinking about how to help nonprofit organizations shift their roles and relationships to enable them to adapt, thrive, and continue to carry out their good works in current times.  Alison wants nonprofits to speak out more on their own behalf, to actively invite  communities and community leaders inside to discover the nonprofits "assets" in their midsts, to form new alliances and networks to bridge the gap between need and the growing disintegration of traditional institutional support structures.  This may sound like a dry subject, but if you haven't ever given it any thought, you may be interested to know a few factoids:

1. The nonprofit (third) sector is our culture's safety net.  Business provides whatever services can be delivered profitably. Government handles any services society is willing to spend tax dollars for - fire, police, libraries, schooling, etc.   A lot of stuff falls between profitability and tax-payer goodwill.  The nonprofit sector steps in to fill that gap - delivering unprofitable but highly needed services of all sorts.

Do you or anyone you know frequent local museums, aquariums, botanical gardens, zoos?  Use a wheel chair, prosthetics or eyeglasses provided by a service organization?  Remain alive today thanks to cancer or other research undertaken by a medical research foundation?  Receive donated food, holiday gifts or transportation services? 

All these and many more services offered through nonprofit organizations lift our society's quality of life. Nonprofits are part of a system that ensures that an American standard of living is available to all of us.

2. The nonprofit sector makes a fairly large economic contribution to the U.S. economy. According to a 2007 report out of Johns Hopkins, "Measuring Civil Society and Volunteering: Initial Findings from Implementation of the U.N. Handbook on Nonprofit Institutions," volunteering and nonprofit institutions account for upwards of 7 percent of the United State's GDP. By contrast, the vast business of delivering utilities - water, gas, electric - to the combined residential and industrial customer base comes in at a mere 2.4 percent of our GPD!   As governments shrink under economic and political pressure, and private businesses encounter a tighter bottom line, the gap to be filled by the nonprofit sector will grow. 
Here are a few more tidbits from an article in yesterday's Arizona Republic:

- A study released last week by Forbes magazine on the nation's 200 largest charities shows donations overall down 11 percent in their most recent reporting year. Those 200 largest charities include four based in Arizona - the Muscular Dystrophy Association, St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance, Food for the Hungry and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.


- A survey by GuideStar USA, a non-profit-research group, reported that contributions continue to drop this year, with some entities scaling back programs, laying off staff and relying more on volunteers.


- Of 28 large Arizona charities profiled in this Arizona Republic special report, half reported flat or lower revenue over their most recent fiscal years, while three in four faced rising expenses.

Alison is thinking that if we want a healthy, thriving America, we all should be thinking about how to help our nonprofit sector stay healthy.  Below are seven things that an organization can do to make a difference - and many of them are easily adapted for families, individuals, groups.  Click this link to read the rest of her thinking.  At this season of thanksgiving, I hope we all stop to be thankful for the gift of our third sector, and to consider the ways in which we can each empower our nonprofit community to achieve their many important missions.

SEVEN SIMPLE THINGS YOU, YOUR ORGANIZATION, AND YOUR VOLUNTEERS CAN DO IN THE NEXT MONTH (WHY NOT START TODAY):



1. Donate just one can of food to the community food bank.


2. Set up a food drive at your organization or place of worship (and donate lots of cans!) Invite all the businesses, schools and residents to take part. And, if doing this before the holidays seems to much, plan it for February or March. Our food banks need food all year around, not just during the holidays.


3. Host an open house for your neighbors, business owners, local elected leaders, volunteers, board members and the community (please invite me, I would love to attend!)


4. Host a Sunday Party for all the community members, elected officials (and their staffs) and business owners to cheer on the Suns, Cardinals, or this summer, the Diamondbacks.


5. Team build/volunteer to serve a meal at a shelter or take part in a neighborhood clean up at a local park.


6. Invite the children in your community to come make a Thanksgiving card to bring home to their families.


7. Invite the community to come make cards for our soldiers oversees; they would love the holiday cheer. (or considering doing this for Valentines Day!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cap & Trade Animated

The "Story of Stuff" folks put together this video on Cap & Trade.  If you've wondered about the real story behind the political wrangling, but were afraid to jump into such complicated, murky waters, this video's for you!   Thanks to my student, Dana Cunningham, for bringing it to my attention!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Turbine as Art or Imposition?


Wind turbines are springing up faster than spring daisies all across the United States, in response to the search for alternative energy sources, and also because it appears they can be profitable! According to an article in the St. Louis Dispatch one of my students posted:

"In the past six years, U.S. wind capacity has more than quadrupled. And by 2020, the report predicts, it could offset as much as 4.5 percent of the planet-warming carbon dioxide that U.S. utilities would otherwise spew into the atmosphere."

Unexpectedly, some of the very same folks who you might expect to applaud are instead upset because the proliferation of man-made structures is dangerous to birds in flight, requires miles and miles of transmission lines that can disturb delicate ecosystems, and are also aesthetically displeasing to many...

Most of my students thought these costs were reasonable in the face of our need to get off fossil fuels.  If I were a bird or a bat, I think my position would be clear, but today I won't take a stand one way or the other, because I haven't researched it adequately. 

What I did want to share, however, is one response to the aesthetic complaint.  A few artistic souls have decided to give turbine art a whirl (pun intended!).  Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I'm thinking the raptures and the bats won't find these anymore beautiful than the old versions, but I still wanted to share.  My daughters are both artists, and it doesn't surprise me to find that even the elusive wind is a canvas.
Here's a link with several more: http://webecoist.com/2010/10/19/fan-tastic-10-cool-colorful-wind-turbine-designs/

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

350 - Pass It On

One of my students found a website that talks about the ultimate CO2 goal, beyond which is the planet's tipping point. A quote from the site,

"350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.

“Accelerating arctic warming and other early climate impacts have led scientists to conclude that we are already above the safe zone at our current 392ppm, and that unless we are able to rapidly return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk reaching tipping points and irreversible impacts such as the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and major methane releases from increased permafrost melt.

“For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

“So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

“Beginning in the 18th century, humans began to burn coal and gas and oil to produce energy and goods. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere began to rise, at first slowly and now more quickly. Many of the activities we do every day like turning the lights on, cooking food, or heating or cooling our homes rely on energy sources like coal and oil that emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. We're taking millions of years worth of carbon, stored beneath the earth as fossil fuels, and releasing it into the atmosphere. By now—and this is the second number—the planet has 392 parts per million CO2 – and this number is rising by about 2 parts per million every year.”


Below is a short video that graphically demonstrates the CO2 shift since the beginning of the Industrial Age, and asks us to spread the word.  The website address: http://www.350.org/en/mission.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Petroleum Essence Shampoo, Anyone?

The folks who brought us "The Story of Stuff" now bring us "The Story of Cosmetics."  I've written about this at this link, but it's far more powerful to watch!   This video takes no prisoners.  Worth watching...

Friday, October 8, 2010

GO MAYOR BLOOMBERG!

Three cheers for Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York, who wants to end the use of foodstamps' for buying sugary drinks. 

Hurrah!  Hurrah!  Hurrah! 

From ABC World News Tonight:  "New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, one of the most powerful players on the national stage, challenged national policy on food stamps, in essence saying What if all this taxpayer money was used to reinforce national health? This segment aired Oct 7, 2010."

Foodstamps currently may not be used for tobacco and alcohol.  To the many who do not want government telling them what to eat or drink, I say... when the high cost of health care in this country is a direct reflection of our nation's incredibly bad eating habits- which we all pay for in both personal insurance rates and subsidies for medical care for the indigent - then I say we have a right - even a responsibility - to insist that our tax dollars do not subsidize behavior that will steal even more money out of our pockets.

Click this link, http://www.mikebloomberg.com/index.cfm?objectid=8C195590-C29C-7CA2-F34200D6BE30E18F, to watch the ABC story, since ABC did not provide an embed code for me.  Or watch this embedded video below from "Newsydotcom" - a little different.  The video has a few comments I find offensive - like comments suggesting that people who must use foodstamps should not be allowed to "eat better" than those who pay for their food with their own (not tax) dollars.  Sorry.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Did You Flush Right?


The next time you find one of those great 20% Off coupons from Bed, Bath & Beyond in your mail box, let me suggest a way to use it:  one of my students brought this wonderful gizmo - the Flush Right - to the attention of our Managing for Sustainability class, and I want to share it!


"The Flush Right™ quickly and easily turns most standard toilets into water-saving, two button toilets. This unique item slips over your standard flush valve and replaces the flapper, which is the biggest source of leaks and common toilet issues. It then gives you two buttons to choose from; the Quick Flush upper button for liquids and paper, saving up to 70% per flush, and the lower button when you need to flush more. It fits all standard tank designs and has a 10 minute drop-in installation with no special skills or tools needed. Five-year warranty."

Click this link to get to Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walk Around The Block Tonight




One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock walk!







My lovely landlady Jean Calhoun found something way cool online today, and I just have to share it:  WalkScore.com.  WalkScore.com lets you plug in an address, say your work or home address, and it pops up all the eating establishments within a walkable radius of your house!  Check it out below... Just enter your own address into the search box at the bottom of the map.

WalkScore.com also gives you a "walk score."    Our walk score was only 42%.  It would have been even lower, but the application identified the house of our homeowners association president as an eating establishment.  I'm guessing the programmer has been there for a meeting.  What makes an HOA meeting less painful than food? 

Warning:  The program can be rude and insulting.  It called us "car-dependent."   Ok, I know it's true.  Still, I hated hearing it.  Is there a 12-step plan for car dependency?  The first step to ending an addiction is admitting it, right?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

WHAT ABOUT THEM EGGS?



We're all focused on eggs right now.

Salmonella has been found in thousands of egg cartons across the country. Here, just to get it out of the way, are the carton numbers to avoid: P1026. P1413. P1946. P1720. P1942. If you have any of those, take them back.

Now that that's out of the way, what about them eggs? My fb friend Andrew Murphy shared a really interesting MSN.com article recently that talks about the way most eggs are harvested - from caged chickens living in an area about the size of a sheet of copy paper. Apparently, though, chickens allowed to forage for bugs and the like - free range chickens - turn out to be much healthier and their eggs are healthier for us, too. Why am I not surprised?

A quote from the article:

"When you put four or five chickens in tiny cages, they can't engage in normal chicken behavior—pecking in the dirt, dusting. If they're in a cage, they can't do any of these things," explains chicken expert Gail Damerow, author of the classic Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens (Storey, 2010). (She hasn't purchased a store-bought egg since 1982.) "The pressure of the wire cages against their feet causes infections, their feathers rub off on the side of the cages. Basically, they're just totally frustrated. They've got nothing to do. They can't run around and eat flies and take dust baths. They just sit and lay eggs—what kind of life is that?" One result of all that stress and cruelty is that confined birds' eggs contain less nutrition than eggs from hens with room to roam."

Charming. But read the article. There's a lot of real information in it too. Well, enough from me. Here's the link: http://health.msn.com/health-topics/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100262707>1=31036.

And, thank you Andrew!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Making A Really Good Thing Bad for You



Google almonds.

Any discussion about healthful eating includes a recommendation for including a handful of almonds each day.

You'll find almonds listed in:

"Fifteen best foods for runners," 
"Ten nutritional powerhouse foods"
"Top five foods to lower your cholestoral
"Ten best protein sources"
"Ten best foods for flat abs"

The list goes on and on. 

And the most healthy of the healthy is the raw almond.  Studies comparing the nutritional and health benefits of raw to roasted almonds show the nutritional content of raw almonds is negligably better.  Roasted nuts lose a minimal amount of B vitamin and anti-oxidents in the roasting process, and certain roasting procedures can damage the nut's fatty acid content, leaving a rancid flavor.   However, roasted nuts often have added oils (unless dry roasted), salt, sometimes sugars and other additives.  Given almonds' high caloric value, adding calories through oil roasting or added sugars is highly undesirable.

But then there's salmonella.  

Since 2007, the FDA has required raw almonds to be treated for salmonella.  Salmonella is bad, but the treatment itself can be carcinogenic.   Unless you buy organic.

According to Worlds' Healthiest Foods, mandatory pasturization to inhibit salmonella can be handled one of two ways, exposure to steam heat sufficient to raise the almonds' surface temperature high enough to destroy the salmonella, or to fumigate the nuts with propylene oxide gas.

Propylene oxide has demonstrated carcinogenic implications.  Not to mention it is used in motor oils to enhance racing performance!

To make sure you are getting steam-treated almonds rather than propylene oxide treated nuts,  you must buy organic.  Propylene oxide nuts are not allowed to be labeled organic.



More on propylene:  http://www.gasdetection.com/TECH/pro.html
More on the nutritional value of almonds: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20#healthbenefits

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back away quickly...


Soda manufacturers are backing away from high fructose corn syrup - obesity, diabetes, cancer risks!

Shouldn't you back away too?  Check ingredient labels.

From Daily Finance:

"New findings published this month in the journal Cancer Research by University of California Los Angeles researchers could further sour the public's sentiment toward the super-sweet, super-cheap syrup and reduce its use even further. HFCS is 55% fructose and 42% glucose. The study found that pancreatic tumor cells metabolized fructose differently than glucose and that the cancer cells "readily metabolized fructose to increase proliferation." In other words, as the headline reads, "Cancer cells slurp up fructose."


Read the full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/aQrpbz

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Something Wrong With This Picture

Ok, I do not mean to disparage a good cause, and I'm thrilled that Glad is a proud sponsor of Cookies for Kids' Cancer... but...there is something wrong when Glad, purveyor of plastic products that may have toxic effects, promotes unhealthy sugar products, to raise money for cancer. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

Inspiration for the American Political Junkie


I'm so inspired!


Hey you, American Political Junkie!  Yes, you!   You gotta pick up this book! 
I'm making it easy for you by putting a link at the bottom of this post.  Notice, the cheapest version is $1.58.  Just do it!

I'm old enough to remember the news photos of people protesting in the streets during the Viet Nam war.  (Not old enough to have joined them!).  Those people were largely young people, staging sit-ins, getting shot at, rallying for their cause.

Today, that generation laments today's young people and their fascination with electronics over politics, calling them uninspired, unpatriotic, and worse.  But Russell Dalton, author of the book "The Good Citizen: How a Younger Generation is Reshaping American Politics" says, "look again." 

Decade by decade, our younger citizenry is becoming better educated and more politically engaged.  It's just that political engagement means something different to these kids.  And the impact of their engagement is reshaping America in important and exciting ways. 

Whether you're young or old, liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, if you're a political junkie like I am, you'll be inspired by this book's message.  Pick up this book and read it. 

An easy read - I read all the really juicy parts and skimmed the rest in about two hours - it will inspire you and give you hope for our future!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Too Much of A Good Thing?

For you:

"What do we do when freedom undermines freedom?"

A Huffington Post thought piece by freelance writer Alan Krinsky.  Below is the introduction.  Then click here for the rest of his analysis.

"In a free society, what do we do when the full expression or fulfillment of a core principle results in its own undermining or destruction?


For instance, what if someone uses the free market to gain a monopoly or otherwise suppress the free market? Or builds institutions too big to fail, meaning that they accrue profits in good times but pass debts to the public in bad times?


What if someone uses free speech to silence others? And what if equating money with free speech subverts the democratic system by selling access and air time to the highest bidders?"


Image courtesy of buycostumes.com

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How Safe is your Cookware?


How safe is your cookware?

Today I'm sharing an article in full.  I don't usually do this, and I might be busting a copyright.  But it covers the safety of assorted cookware surfaces, something I'm asked about a lot.  Cookware surface materials make their way in minute amounts into your foods, so this is important.  Not all surfaces are created equal when it comes to safety.

This is not the article I dream of writing - where once and for all I review all the supposedly safe cookware out there and figure out which ones really, truly are safe. 

I'm thinking I am never going to get around to that.

In the meantime, this article is from the website The World's Healthiest Foods, http://www.whf.org/, and it goes through the environmental and health issues related to different cookware material.  It's very informative!  If there's a copyright issue, I hope WHF will forgive me for spreading the good word. 

And I highly recommend you check out their site if you haven't already, and get on their list for all the important nutrition and health information that they'll send your way.

# # #

Healthy Food Tip


Is anodized aluminum cookware better than non-anodized?

Concerns with aluminum cookware come from the fact that measurable amounts of aluminum can migrate from the pot into the food. Several research studies have confirmed migration of aluminum from conventional aluminum cookware at a level of concern for our health. Aluminum is included in the 2007 list of top priority toxins in the United States (a list put out every year by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry), and aluminum has been clearly identified as a toxin for the human nervous system (neurotoxicity), immune system (immunotoxicity), and genetic system (genotoxicity).

Anodization is a process in which chemical baths are used to prepare the surface of aluminum to receive an electrical charge that will increase the thickness of the oxide layer and make it harder, more durable, and less likely to corrode. Anodized aluminum is definitely less reactive than non-anodized aluminum and will leach less aluminum as a result, provided that the surface has not been damaged. Although it is more difficult to damage the surface of anodized versus non-anodized aluminum, its surface can still be damaged.

Although the non-stick properties of anodized aluminum have been a selling point for this cookware to consumers, most cookware in the marketplace using anodized aluminum does not feature this material on the surface that is in contact with the food; instead, they feature a specialized non-stick surface that may have potential toxicity problems much greater than anodized aluminum. Many manufacturers are taking advantage of the durability and quick heat-transfer properties of anodized aluminum by using this material on the exterior of their pots and pans, but they are leaving the non-stick tasks to another material (not anodized aluminum).

Given all of the potential health risk factors listed above-together with the environmental problems created by aluminum mining and manufacturing-I still favor stainless steel and porcelain-coated pots as my first choices for stovetop cooking. Copper-bottomed pots or pots with a layer of copper in between the stainless steel are also fine. Some stainless steel cookware now comes with a layer of anodized aluminum sandwiched inside, and that cookware would also be fine from a health standpoint, even though the environmental problems with aluminum would remain.

It's important to wash all cookware carefully. For example, take care not to scour stainless steel pots too harshly when cleaning them as once the surface of the stainless steel has been damaged, the pot will leak nickel into the food that is being cooked. Stainless steel pads or brushes, for example, are too harsh in my opinion to risk using.

Inside the oven, stainless steel, tempered glass designed for oven use (for example, oven-safe Pyrex), and non-leaded ceramic are all good choices.

References:

Rajwanshi P, Singh V, Gupta MK, et al. Leaching of aluminium for cookwares: A review. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 1997;19(1):1-18.

Gramiccioni L, Ingrao G, Milana MR, et al. Aluminium levels in Italian diets and in selected foods from aluminium utensils. Food Additives and Contaminants. 1996; 13(7):767-774.

If you have any questions about today's Healthy Food Tip Ask George Your Question

Monday, July 26, 2010

Throwing Precaution to the Wind? An Ethics Perspective

Skip to m'loo! 

I just love it when someone smarter and more educated and higher up the ladder than I says something that confirms what I've been preaching all along!

This month, I've used two posts to advocate for the precautionary principle over a "wait for certainty" approach, here, and here.  Today, in my email box, I got wind of another such argument, made through the lense of ethics, by environmental philosopher Donald Brown, Professor of Environmental Ethics and Law at Penn State.

I've mentioned here before that the primary ethical lense through which our policy-making apparatus is viewed is teleological, or consequentialist.  We ask, what are the benefits of a policy proposal, and what are the costs?   We're all familiar with the "cost/benefit" analysis.

I've also pointed out that this is just one of the possible ethical lenses, and does not give us anything like a full ethical picture. 

Cost/benefit analysis is written into administrative procedures acts at all levels of government, and so proposed legislation almost never makes it through the process without that perspective.  Conversely, the alternative ethical frames have rarely been ensconsed into our policy-making structure.  Not just a shame, but a crime, really, because many harms could be identified and mitigated against by methodically reviewing the multiple ethical ramifications of policy decisions before finalizing them. 

That is not to say that the other ethical perspectives are never a part of the discussion, but since we're not trained to pursue them methodically, alternatives are brought into the discussion only when one side thinks to use, for example, a particular principle as an argument for or against an idea.  Without a methodological approach, there's no apparatus to ensure that competing alternative principles are considered, or that someone "checks the logic" of the principle offered.

It would come as no surprise to my students that I believe our administrative procedures system is ethically inadequate

Quickly, what are the four primary western ethical lenses?

1.  Teleological:  What decision will lead to the greatest happiness?  Of what use is an idea?  What will the long- and short-term, direct and indirect consequences a particular action be?  What will be the consequences of failing to take action?

2.  Deontological:  What principles should be applied here?  Are any of the principles conflicting?  Would we apply the selected principle in another like situation?  Would we apply it universally?   Would we apply it if we personally stood to lose something, or to gain something?  Would we apply it if we knew the impacted parties?   If we did not know the impacted parties?

3.  Virtue:  What would a person of good character do?  What would taking a particular action do to or for the reputation of the actor or the sponsoring organization?  What precedent would this action create?  What message would it send to others?

4.  Intuition:  What does your gut say about the action in question?  Yes or no?  Good or bad?  Embrace or run?  This is not so much an analysis, but more of a first, visceral reaction.

Why am I bringing all this up now?

Ethics professor Donald Brown says that by asking ourselves the typical teleological cost/benefit questions - in identifying the harms to plug into that analysis - we've limited ourselves to asking to the wrong question, e.g. what are the known scientific impacts? 

When we ask that question, we are confronted both with what we know, and with a great number of uncertainties.  If we tend to make policy based on this simple cost/benefit analysis, then a large amount of uncertainty will impede action until we are more clear on the costs.  This is particularly true when we know the benefits - all the economic and material benefits that flow from allowing green house emissions to continue at present levels.

Instead, says Professor. Brown:

"This post argues that for over thirty years the public climate change debate has focused on the wrong scientific questions compared to those that ethics would ask of climate science. Since the mid-1960s opponents of climate change policies have demanded to know from science what are the known climate change impacts; yet ethics would ask: (a) What are the scientifically plausible climate change harms?, (b) Would these harms happen if we wait to all uncertainties are resolved and the consensus view turns out to be correct?, and (c) Have the potential victims of climate change consented to be put at risk while uncertainties have been resolved?

 # # #

This post argues the misplaced focus on the scientifically known, rather than the scientifically plausible climate change impacts and subsequent ethical implications that come from scientific notice that we are doing something dangerous is partly responsible for over thirty years of delay in adopting climate change policies."

Professor Brown's questions take us beyond a simple teleologic cost/benefit analysis into a deontological - or duty - analysis.  It asks, when uncertainty makes a cost/benefit analysis premature, do you have a duty to look at plausible harms instead?  And do you have a duty to include the potential victims of those plausible harms in the discussion?

Just to demonstrate how important Dr. Brown's lense is, what if someone had applied Dr. Brown's questions before permitting deep drilling in the Gulf?  We now know that BP lacked a lot of geological, technical and mechanical information about the way the oil field and their own equipment would behave in case of emergency, and about potential harms to the gulf ecosystem, and to the human society that relies upon the ecosystem for sustainance and economic well-being.  What if the regulatory agency had required BP to analyze "all plausible harms," and to bring the information to all the possible victims and their representatives for comment - from fishermen to wildlife scientists to seafood purveyors - as part of the permitting process?   Would we be where we are today?

If you are interested in reading Professor Brown's discussion about the ethics of decision-making about climate change, why the right ethical question is what harms are plausible, rather than which harms are definite, and who should be involved in making these decisions, the link for the article is here:

http://rockblogs.psu.edu/climate/2010/07/have-we-been-asking-the-wrong-questions-about-climate-change-science-why-strong-climate-change-ethic.html.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE!

You may have heard the old lobbyist saw, "We aren't buying influence, we're buying access."  Well, who can compete with that?


We all can, if we all use available avenues to let our elected officials know that we have an opinion, we watch their behavior, and we vote!

The fastest, easiest route to access I know is to simply contact your elected official, either by phone, email or regular mail.  They do keep track of those calls and letters. 

What to say? 

    * Name the issue you are calling about, and give a brief "what you want & why" statement.
    * That you live in the district and vote. 
    * If you supported the person in the last election, say so.
    * If you gave money, say so. 
    * Ask the person who answers to let the official know you will be watching to see how they speak about and vote on the issue.

Below are links to websites where you can easily look up and contact your elected officials.

For my tastes, USA.gov is the best online resource.  It has contact information and an online contact for for everyone from the President down to your state's Governor, including a tweet option!  Obviously, it also has phone numbers, if you prefer to pick up the phone and talk to a real staffer.  That's sometimes good when you want to ask questions - what view does your elected official hold on a particular issue?  http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Both the Senate, http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm, and the House, http://tinyurl.com/NoiseHouse, have their own official contact sites.  Again, you can find names and contact information, and contact these people right from the website.

You only have one vote, but you can be noisy over and over again.  If you really care, make noise!  REPOST this blog on your facebook page, or tweet it, and ask your friends to make this joyful noise too.  

Remember that other old saying, "Squeaky wheel gets the grease!"

TOXMAP

One of my summer Urban Environmental Policy students - thanks, Jenna! - found an awesome online service, ToxMap, courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.  http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/home/welcome.do
With this online resource, you can create a Geographical Information Systems [GIS] map of any area in the U.S., showing contaminated sites and sites identified through the Toxic Release Inventory [TRI] by any one or multiple toxic elements.  

Once you find what you're looking for, you can pull down specifics: Maybe you've asked to see accidental releases, and you want to see which company is responsible for the leak.  Maybe you want to see all the sites in a particular geographic area where toxins are being stored.  Maybe you want to see all the Superfund (contaminated groundwater clean-up sites).
 -
Because of a particular exercise my students did in class, I decided to ask for an Arizona map showing Toxic Release Inventory [TRI] sites.  Those are sites that manufacture, transport, use, or store chemicals that are considered toxic by the EPA. 

Suppose you want to find all the companies with a TRI for a particular chemical - say benzine.  Once you locate these, TOXMAP will give you company data. 


And maybe you want to know more information about particular toxic substances - say, what human exposure can cause, how to treat for exposure, etc. 

The site has a full data base of educational material.
 


This site just has a wealth of information, whether you just want to know what's going on in your own backyard, or you need information for a project.

The site provides a very good, fast "how to" video, here: http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/tour/misc/ToxmapBasics.html.  I did try to find a video on YouTube so you didn't have to actually go to the link, but there apaprently isn't one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Deniers Chorus Redux


So, my wonderful visitor Christine Conte just left  (no, that's not her to the left).    I could barely wait to get to facebook to see what Jeffrey Malashock had to say about what I had to say about what of Brenchley had to say (yesterday's post).

Disappointment of disappointments, Jeffrey had not yet attended to my little missive.  But, wide awake, unlike last night while I was writing, it occurred to me that I'd not added a citation for the of Brenchley article.  Naughty me.  

And then I thought, "Gee, I didn't look up this fellow, of Brenchley, either."

Whoa!!!

Jeffrey, did you say of Brenchley did not have an agenda?  Are you serious?   Let me quote from Wikipedia, tacky as that is:

"Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is a British politician, consultant, writer, columnist, and hereditary peer. Since June 2010 he has been the deputy leader of the UK Independence Party.  He served as an advisor to Margaret Thatcher's policy unit in the 1980s and invented the Eternity puzzle at the end of the 1990s, as well as the Eternity II in 2007.  In recent years, Monckton has attracted attention for his denialist stance on anthropogenic global warming."

More to the point, whose work did Monckton put his name on?  Maybe it's his.  On the other hand, he has an undergraduate degree in the classics, and a graduate degree in journalism.  Somewhere in there, he got involved in politics, claimed to be a non-voting member of the House of Lords, a claim  debunked by the House, sold puzzles, and worked for a policy unit on Downing Street as a consultant.  Wait, British politics and selling puzzles.  How interchangeable is that?

And the viscount is a brilliant mathematician in his spare time!   Whoa, you go of Brenchley!


One last comment on of Brenchley's paper.  The current disclaimer on the document, apparently strengthened since the version Jeffrey sent me, says this:

"The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions."

By the way, of Brenchley does seem to have a penchant for getting himself into the thick of controversy.  Here's his view on how to handle the AIDS epidemic, for example:

"There is only one way to stop AIDS. That is to screen the entire population regularly and to quarantine all carriers of the disease for life. Every member of the population should be blood-tested every month ... all those found to be infected with the virus, even if only as carriers, should be isolated compulsorily, immediately, and permanently."  From "AIDS: A British View," American Spectator, 1987.  Click here for the citation.


Anymore of my time on this is a waste.  But if you're feeling like a dose of British humor, here's the Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Monckton,_3rd_Viscount_Monckton_of_Brenchley