Sunday, May 2, 2010


With most of you snorting your prozac off the kitchen counter in anticipation of a return to work tomorrow, a quick recap of the week's events, in no particular order.

The oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, while awful for the wildlife, ecology and people of that state, may be the best thing to happen to the clean-energy movement in years. It's time everyone realized something when thinking about issues of energy production as we head further into the twenty first century: just as one can't be half-pregnant, one also can never be half-clean. The coal industry has long been in love with "clean" coal and "sequestering" carbon omissions. Does this make sense? Oh, quick guys, let's grab that carbon dioxide before it escapes and shove it underground! What do they put all that gas in? Ziplock bags? To quote Biff Tannin, that sounds like a screen door on a submarine to me. The other energy source that I heard described as clean just this morning by Florida Governor Charlie Crist is nuclear energy. Hmm... yeah, I guess I see what he means. Once you lug all of that radioactive waste and used up plutonium out the back of the plant and then fill ten thousand rusty barrels full of the gunk and then dump those barrels into the deepest part of the ocean (or maybe fling it into outer space the way Superman did in Superman IV- The Quest For Peace... yep, I saw it) I guess nuclear energy actually is pretty clean, especially since that kind of stuff never leaks or... spills. It's time to only vote for politicians who are ready to raise their clean-energy IQ and get serious about this stuff. Of course there will be a transition period where we're using multiple sources to generate energy but I have no doubt that if all of our scientific and technological acumen were to be concentrated on this issue, we could solve it. Let's not let our political leaders (or the environmental holocaust deniers that we run into every day) get away with pathetic excuses and half measures. Spill, baby, spill.

Arizona is the gift that keeps on giving. While people all over the country continue to be outraged about the new anti-immigrant legislation, I can't help thinking that the right is making the same mistake it's always made: overshooting. Despite what many on the right often say, America is actually a center-left country with deep socialistic roots (think unions, social security, freedom of speech, women's rights, an advance in gay rights, protection of public lands etc), as much as corporations continue to try to dig them up. People may talk a big game, but ultimately most of the citizens in the US feel much more comfortable when the fascistic, fanatical right wing of this country stays where it is: on the margin and the fringe. That was the genius of Karl Rove's 'compassionate conservative' strategy in 2000- make the voters believe your guy actually cares about something other than the continued enrichment of the super-enriched. Just as Barack Obama needed eight years of Cheney/Bush to further his cause, the fair treatment of immigrants in this country, illegal or not, may now actually become a live issue that will be tabled thanks to a policy right out of Nazi Germany. 

Conan O'Brien speaks on 60 Minutes tonight. I have to admit I'm a sucker for late night drama. I've taken an interest in the machinations of this stuff since Letterman was overlooked for The Tonight Show. It's a grand  soap opera that never dies. Conan has always been my favorite. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses: Letterman can be brilliant but a little cold for my taste; Leno's likable and unthreatening but can also be too likable and unthreatening; Conan strikes the right balance for me of wackiness, likability and a real curiosity about his guests. What's more, the man is actually funny. It'll be interesting to see if he brings in any innovation on his new show.

Interesting article on the Huffington Post  this week about dairy consumption, written by Dr Mark Hyman. I've long suspected this stuff can't be very good for us. Ninety-five percent of the human population loses the necessary enzymes to effectively process milk after the age of eight. We're conditioned to believe that we must get calcium from this animal product that our bodies dislike, when we could have those same needs met by eating many green plant foods and receive many other kinds of nutrition (fibrous carbohydrates and vitamins to name two) in the process. Definitely worth a look.

Lastly, by now you've probably all heard about the car bomb that malfunctioned, sparing the lives of possibly hundreds of people in the Times Square district of New York city. It's obviously a relief that the thing did not go off but it begs the question: just how many people are actually trying to detonate bombs in major US cities? Is it that hard to build a car bomb and if it isn't, what does that tell us about the actual danger that is clear and present to the citizens of this country? If so many people out there hate us, why aren't bombs going off all the time? If so many of these supposed fanatics are willing to give up their lives in order to kill us, why aren't we seeing people blowing themselves up in cafes and public gathering places the way they do in other parts of the world? Is it a case of our borders being so impenetrable that they leave thousands of would-be attackers pushing at the gates, clamoring to get in and hurt us? Or is it that our 'enemy' isn't as organized, well-funded and determined as we thought? I don't have an answer to these questions but there does seem to be an incongruity existent in the amount of blood and treasure spent on fighting terrorism and the actual threat posed to us as Westerners.The perpetrators of this attempted attack have yet to be identified but we can be sure the 'threat levels' will be elevated to the appropriate splashy colour as a result. It's an unfortunate event that will further undermine other civic issues in dire need of attention. 

So there are all the talking points you'll need for your local water cooler. Go forth and provoke.

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