Friday, December 11, 2009

On Gays... ' ... Right .... s

My distinguished colleague, Alan, will have to forgive my hurried critique on his blog stage seven article. Perhaps his forgiveness will be more forthcoming than it might otherwise have been had he not hurried through this assignment himself!

I make this assumption based on the rampant typographical and grammatical errors that permeate his text. One fairly obvious instance of hurry appears in the first non-interrogative sentence in his post - the fourth overall - in which he refers to "an unanimous vote of 38-24." As my colleague is in fact a college student, and must presumably know the definition of this word, I can only conclude that this was a rush job. He does, however, seem to have done some research to support his stance - with which, incidentally, I concur - for his post contains links to sites supporting some of his claims of fact, which lends him far more credibility than if he had not linked at all.

In summation, some light proofreading and editing would serve my colleague well in his blogging endeavors, for, despite the clear fact that his chosen medium
is in this case inherently forgiving of typographical and other errors occurring naturally during spontaneous composition, this post suffers from appearing too off-the-cuff, and would be better received, in the opinion of this critic, were it more carefully constructed.

This is David Adams, signing off.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On War and Peace

United States President Barack Obama spoke yesterday in Oslo at the ceremony at which he was presented the Nobel Peace Prize. With what must come to be called characteristic class, he referenced deftly the ugly actions of recent America, while pointing out that which continues to be justifiable. He challenged the nations of the Earth to stand up to injustice, and to hold violators of what we all recognize to be human rights accountable. He called for citizens of the world to band together in enlightened self-interest to help secure a better future for our progeny.

He called for clarity regarding use of force, reminded his audience that violence has been a fact since the dawn of man, putting things into perspective, context. The faces of many in the audience echoed my own at moments when I feared the President may have misstepped. There were members of the audience whose egos were not broken, who were not sold on the ideas presented. I hope that some of these people will see footage of themselves and be compelled to examine themselves and their beliefs. I do not claim that they are mistaken, only that, by the looks of their eyes, they may do well to spend some hours in quiet reflection.

"Clear-eyed, we can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth." (Obama, Dec. 10, 2009)

This was an excellent speech, the kind of art that begs repeat engagement. History will judge whether it was a milestone in the journey of a great man, the blunderings of a man ill-equipped to deal with the challenges presented him, or someone of less note. Personally, I saw a man, doing the best he can, holding himself to the highest standard he can manage, challenging himself constantly to grow, learning, gaining in stamina, strengthening the muscles of integrity and discipline as he attempts fully to utilize the resources with which he has been provided. I see a man of high caliber working diligently. What do you see?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Danger, Will Robinson

My young colleague, Veronica, recently published a blog addressing climate change. Her post acknowledges climate change, refers to several facets thereof, commends companies for going green, and calls readers to action today. This is all very good. However, a few simple procedures could take this post to the next level.

In the first paragraph, the author ambiguously refers to money spent by companies in automotive and other industries on 'green' improvements as evidence that people are committed. I think this would be a much more effective paragraph if it cited, or at least linked to, specific examples of how automobile manufacturers are investing in 'green' research, surveys or statistics about consumer preference for 'green' products, etc.

The next paragraph mentions polar bear commercials, which evoke holiday coca-cola advertisements, both to me, and to google. A link here would have been especially helpful.

The third paragraph emphasizes that global warming is here causing real consequences, one of which was actually stated backwards. (Ocean levels are rising, not sinking.) Also, elevated temperatures during the summer, even record temperatures and such, do not PROVE things. They provide evidence. As legend-in-his-own time scientist and thinker Freeman Dyson will attest, proving things within such complex and poorly understood systems as the global ecosphere can prove exceptionally difficult. My point is this: the fact that global warming is practically indisputable at this point is no excuse for sloppy reporting.

In short, while I generally agree with the sentiments expressed by my colleague, I felt they could have been presented more clearly and with documentation.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Population Control

It is becoming clear that the world is facing new problems. Globalization, global climate change, and the technological revolution with its attendant risks and benefits, present today's generations with unique challenges, problems we must all overcome if we are to avoid, nay, avert disaster. These puzzles will continue to stimulate the brightest and most creative minds, as we ponder our course. Innovative strategies are already being developed and implemented all across the world.

It is well known that for the last three decades, the People's Republic of China has had a population control policy in effect. This plan was implemented in the hopes that population control might "alleviate social, environmental, and economic problems in China" (Rocha da Silva, Pascal (2006)
). This has resulted in drastic reduction in population growth in China, which even so remains the most populous country in the world, though India's population is quickly rising. As this has certainly reduced the country's environmental footprint (it is estimated that at least 250 million people haven't been born as a result of the policy; that's a lot of people not using electricity, making waste, etc.), it is a boon to the rest of the planet and a beacon of hope for countries looking for revolutionary new ways to tackle the tough trials of today.

The United States produce the most pollution per capita, of all the nations on the planet. If we implement a policy similar to the one-child policy in China, we would have a terrific impact on the pollution output in our world. Since each American on average puts out more pollution than any other citizen of the Earth, each child not born as a result of this policy would save the world more efficiently than children not born anywhere else on the planet!

Critics of the one-child policy cite increased rates of abortion and infanticide as negative consequences of this policy. While many babies, born and unborn, would certainly be sacrificed, this is a small price to pay for a cleaner planet. Besides, their sacrifice helps keep the planet inhabitable for you and me. Also, studies show that people of lower intelligence breed more prodigiously than do smarter people, so we would be reducing emissions while increasing our national I.Q., so to speak. With that in mind, we might even enact such reform with retroactive elements, to startling effect.

In short, of the many wondrous possibilities with which we are faced today, the one-child policy has shown that, by producing less offspring, it produces results.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"White House vs. Fox News"

While this blog may not be the most recent in the outpouring of material on the controversy between Fox News and the Obama White House, it does address the appropriateness of the White House's apparently controversial policy of standing up for itself in response to the constant onslaught directed toward it from the Fox News Network. As the blog appears on the site, one can assume that the intended audience consists of people of generally left-leaning attitudes, people who will recognize that the first sentence (fragment) of the blog, and even the blog's title are stated sarcastically, that the opinion being expressed is opposite that actually stated. The author's credibility is strong for a blog, as MediaMatters is a site of some reputation (credible enough to be a recommended source in this class :-).

The argument implied in the blog is that the White House is right to speak up in defense of itself in the face of the constant onslaught coming from the Fox Network, despite its being depicted as being a bully or lowering itself. The author cites a Time article that announced the "new White House strategy," as well as several video clips and blogs, which provide extremely effective support for the author's claim that, since the major news networks are not responding to Fox's claims, not clarifying anything themselves, leaving the facts so obscured by crap on all fronts, the Obama Administration is justified in wanting to "call 'em out."

I whole-heartedly agree with this assertion, though I wish it were not a necessary step. I shake my head at what has become of our beloved press. For a more detailed harangue, not really appropriate for this assignment, see the previous post.

It's worse than I thought

...And oh so putrid.

I have long known that Fox News was a conservative pipeline with a Machiavellian drive to spread right-wing dogma and garner support for its Grand Ole' Party by offering oft-quoted soundbites and manipulative rhetoric and by building elaborate thought-structures of ostensibly explanatory purpose, yet which are in fact shoddily constructed, extensively self-referencing, often built on cornerstones of falsehood, much of which is provable as such (though such honesty would be inconsistent with network objectives, and therefore appears nowhere and at no-time on the network); that with charismatic, persuasive, bold and recognizable public personalities forcefully and self-assuredly asserting these soundbites, talking points, and referencing and updating the fear and manipulation-bent structure/ideology/dogmatic construction/web of lies/machine, the network systematically and methodically chugs away toward its apparent goal of chipping away at the credibility of the current administration.

Incidentally, I have worked before with people who had their radios on constantly, tuned into Rush and Hannity and their ilk, a fact I mention only to lend at least some measure of credibility my analysis of their output. I can honestly say that it is a real challenge to me to remain objective while listening to what they say, and how they are saying it, both in terms of non-verbal communication and in terms of the terms themselves (i.e., decoding the rhetoric, shaving through endless layers of entrenched dogma, cutting through a sort of political slang in which phrases are used in such ways that imply frameworks that are in fact narrowly and faultily built, and which aught to be deconstructed and contextualized before any serious discussion can take place), the product of which is an urgent-sounding pounding on the listener's brain; these voices demand to be heard, and address their material with the relentless cunning and speed of, well, the best professionals in their field, propagandist loudspeakers, and to me, it seems, to be able to survive without being reactionarily reoriented in some way, one must have either strong and resilient beliefs that survive any harangue (not my cup of tea, generally speaking), or be extremely swift, deft, and sharp, able to engage in all manner of mental gymnastics and martial arts, capable of addressing each spin, twist, attack and maneuver without losing focus, calm, or bearing. It seems to me that this would require intense training for some time, and, had I these skills to the degree I think it would require to engage at this level, I might feel obligated to do so, though I would likely not be given much room to speak, at least on their airwaves. As it is, I'm afraid I have a terribly weak stomach for all this, and must leave such matters to others, as diverse as Noam Chomsky, John Stewart, and now Anita Dunn and her crew, to whom I wish clarity, honesty, and candor, along with ample doses of the patience and discipline it is going to take to sort through all of that fetid and noxious excrement.

This will obviously not meet the needs of the assignment, but was a prerequisite.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More on Agri-business

This article shows how continuing malpractice by slaughterhouses and meat processors saves them money and puts carnivores at risk. A quote from a USDA official, exasperated by Cargill's probably not unrepresentative reluctance to improve its food safety precautions, wrote during USDA's four months of negotiations with Cargill, "How is food safety not the ultimate issue?"

If you don't want to read the whole article, there's a reader's digest quality video a little bit down the page.

Friday, October 2, 2009

If nothing else, break up this affair

As noted in this article, doctors stand to profit greatly from intercourse with pharmaceutical companies. Here we have the suggestion that the federal government take more power, involving itself in relationships between corporations and professionals in related fields. This, viewed from this fundamental perspective, may seem like a bad idea, granting more power to what seem already to many a federal government swollen with powers, at a time when less federal interference might seem the direction the pendulum aught to swing.

However, in this particular case, the corporations under examination appear even more swollen and powerful than the government, or at least in ways that are more disgusting and potentially malefic, and the professionals happen to be more directly involved in the health and survival of those they serve than perhaps any but those patients themselves. In this particular case, as there exists the potential for mutual backscratching between corporations and professionals, and to the detriment of the public whom it seems they aught to serve, it seems here reasonable to ask the government to offer its people some protection from this abusive practice.

This article addresses these points, with specifics, confirming that this practice is in fact in effect, and does in fact benefit pharmaceutical companies and doctors alike. While the article does not support its claim that by presenting material provided to them by pharmaceutical companies, doctors "cease to be unbiased caregivers for their patients," though, in fairness, this is an opinion-editorial piece, and it seems true intuitively, and frankly, the exploration of that topic is not well suited to the medium.

All in all, this is a well-written and effective article, asserting ideas with which I largely agree. As members of this society, and particularly of roughly its middle-class, we would all do well to take note of this, and, until greater transparency and control are required of our health care professionals, we should not take prescriptions blindly, that is without recognition of the state of 'affairs' between doctors and corporations that provide them with incentives to peddle their wares; in short, maintain perspective!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yahoo news, or the Onion?

This is just the sort of soft journalism that is chasing away serious news seekers. Still, it's pretty funny.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

1st amendment rights under fire

I am glad to see that active citizens are filing a lawsuit against Pittsburgh police. The G20 convention protests would certainly not have been the first or most incredible instance of institutional suppression of peaceful gatherings, even in our dear union. I hope the lawsuit does much to discourage this sort of behavior in Pittsburgh.

1st amendment rights under fire

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Health Care Op-Ed article

I mentioned an article in the last post, an op-ed, and linked to it.

This article is well written, full of great one-liners and stingers, and is worth the meager time it asks to be read. It's written by Michael Pollan, journalism prof at Berkeley, author of "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto," in which he puts forth the idea that we should stop eating edible food-like substances and eat food. (And while we're at it, actually eat, instead of just stuffing the face.) He points out that, just as health insurance companies took an interest in seeing a reduction in smoking once they realized how much each smoker was costing them, they are likely to do the same when forced to accept people with other preventable illnesses, many of which are direct results of indulgence in what is coming to be called the western diet. He puts forth the idea that agribusiness is so big and powerful that no one has been able to fight them thusfar, but that if insurance companies go after them, well, we might start to see some change in the way food is grown, distributed, prepared, and consumed. Worth reading.

As one who believes that much of our woe comes from imperfect living, much of which is all but required of us to participate "freely" HAHAHA in society, I am hopeful of this change.

I was about to write that "While our abilities to affect the course of things may be quite limited, perhaps we are responsible; perhaps, as my father believes, it is our responsibility to leave the world better than we found it. Well, for our generation, this is an extremely difficult task on some axes. I'd be happy to see a change in sign of the second derivative for now.", but could not in good conscience write the first subordinate clause. Only men, women, and groups thereof ever have "changed the course of history," as the arrogant phrase goes. Be empowered, oh ye with guts and gumption, or the will to get them growing! There is much to be done!

Health, Western

(The title of this blog is not meant to imply that the physical health of any person or population is distinct and separable from mental and spiritual health.)

I did much of my growing up in College Station, TX; my youngest brother, almost all of his. College Station is home to Texas A&M University, known to many as the home of the bonfire tragedy of about 10 years ago. My mother describes it as "the young, white, Republican capitol of the world," and I think you have to add "Christian," and probably "conformist" to the list.

John, my youngest brother, calls it a social experiment.

With that in mind, it may be less surprising to know that my brothers and I have all developed non-standard perspectives on society, judging more harshly the effects of socialization and inclusion to the group, and generally thinking more analytically, more critically about societies large and small.

This has led John to devote his life to spiritual betterment for himself, and to seek to educate and enlighten the public for his work. He sees our society as thoroughly unsustainable. People are unhappy and unhealthy, power and wealth are concentrated, and the environment is suffering. Species are dying out, and climate change is so complex that even the world's best don't know what to expect.

I'm pleased that health care reform is in the wind. That was a really good speech.

I was pleased to read a good op-ed article in the paper the other day. The more I learn about agribusiness, the less meat I eat. I'm on the fence about fish even! It sucks to learn this stuff. Ostriches don't save the world, though, and as we have a world, or it has us, or however you want to look at it, and who knows but no-one.

What to do.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Another test

This is a test of email to post mail2blogger system.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Testing, one, to begin

Politics have repulsed me for some time, as any real exploration has invariably led to incapacitating levels of anger, sense of injustice, etc. Still, the last time I was reading Chomsky, I was doing so from my bed/front seat, trying to read by candle light so's not to run down the battery. Short end of the stick shift?

Anyway, It's likely and apparently time to get serious about being a man, which is to say, not only physiologically and spiritually, but also socially and, if it were a word, and here I'm using it as a word with a distinctly different meaning, societally.