moldybluecheesecurds 2

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Tea (Kettle) Movement

Tom Friedman says the Tea Party is all steam and no plan.  I'm still waiting to see if there's a non-Democratic Party with a plan to govern the country and not just bankrupt it with tax cuts.

The Tea Kettle movement can’t have a positive impact on the country because it has both misdiagnosed America’s main problem and hasn’t even offered a credible solution for the problem it has identified. How can you take a movement seriously that says it wants to cut government spending by billions of dollars but won’t identify the specific defense programs, Social Security, Medicare or other services it’s ready to cut — let alone explain how this will make us more competitive and grow the economy?

And how can you take seriously a movement that sat largely silent while the Bush administration launched two wars and a new entitlement, Medicare prescription drugs — while cutting taxes — but is now, suddenly, mad as hell about the deficit and won’t take it anymore from President Obama? Say what? Where were you folks for eight years?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Study: Real Men Do Apologize

Miller-McCune.: "men are, indeed, less likely to say “I’m sorry.” But they’re also less likely to take offense and expect an apology from someone else.

Their conclusion is that “men apologize less frequently than women because they have a higher threshold for what constitutes offensive behavior.” Whether on the giving or receiving end, males are less likely to feel an unpleasant incident is serious enough to warrant a statement of remorse."
Interesting. They go on to talk about how mixed gender relationships can suffer when the female takes offense at something the man doesn't think is an offense, and the lack of acknowledgment (or apology) can rankle.

FactChecking ‘The Pledge’ |

FactChecking ‘The Pledge’ |


The Republican “Pledge to America,” released Sept. 23, contains some dubious factual claims:

* It declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.
* It says that “jobless claims continue to soar,” when in fact they are down eight percent from their worst levels.
* It repeats a bogus assertion that the Internal Revenue Service may need to expand by 16,500 positions, an inflated estimate based on false assumptions and guesswork.
* It claims the stimulus bill is costing $1 trillion, considerably more than the $814 billion, 10-year price tag currently estimated by nonpartisan congressional budget experts.
* It says Obama’s tax proposals would raise taxes on “roughly half the small business income in America,” an exaggeration. Much of the income the GOP is counting actually comes from big businesses making over $50 million a year.

For details on these and other examples please read on to the Analysis section.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Republican promise to repeal would toss kids off health care

Who is affected?

Andrew (13) and Emily Thompson (11).  She has autism, he has attention deficit disorder.  And until we got health care reform, insurance companies refused to cover them.

Ryan, age 6.  He survived leukemia.  Insurance companies refused to cover him.

Tucker Morefield.  He's 15 and lives with cerebral palsy and hit the $1 million lifetime maximum coverage on his parent's insurance, so the insurance company stopped paying the bills. 

Health care reform means that these kids will get health insurance and proper health care.

And Republicans want to take it away.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Voting, Learning, Happiness, America, Nutrition, iPhone photos, Cats, Flight Search Engine

  • Are you registered to vote?  If you live in Minnesota, check online!
  • Need focus as you learn, mix it up!  Changing locations and varying your topics helps you learn better than cramming a single subject in the library.
  • More money makes you happy to a point, but freedom means more.
  • What it means to be America, a thoughtful 9/11 editorial.
  • The false security of nutrition-based eating, and the value of focusing on food.
    • a) the percentage calories from fat in a food is meaningless,
      b) the percentage of saturated fat in a food is meaningless,
      c) the human body does not need to eat grains, be they whole or refined,
      d) you can forget about reading the Nutrition Facts altogether
  • Finding the date/time for your iPhone photos: a free app
  • Cats should wear collars outside
  • Awesome, visual flight search website

It's about effing time

U.S. Zeroes In on Use of Antibiotics by Pork Producers - "Now, after decades of debate, the Food and Drug Administration appears poised to issue its strongest guidelines on animal antibiotics yet, intended to reduce what it calls a clear risk to human health. They would end farm uses of the drugs simply to promote faster animal growth and call for tighter oversight by veterinarians."

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Slowing antibiotic resistance

Key To Slowing Rise Of Antibiotic-Resistant Infections Is Pharmaceutical Conservation: "'This is a war we cannot win unless we adopt a two-pronged strategy: one that would boost the supply of new drugs and at the same time preserve the ones we have left,' says Aaron Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., one of the paper's co-authors."

I write about antibiotic resistance a lot, because I think its one of the most pressing issues of our time. We take for granted that when we get seriously ill, there will be a cure. But the truth is that we give so many antibiotics to animals and to sick people that don't need them, that we are in danger of losing all our cures.

And this article points out that the market cannot keep pace with antibiotic resistance because the incentive is to overuse drugs once they are newly developed, leading to accelerated resistance.

The article proposes changing the incentives and rewarding pharmaceutical companies for promoting judicious use of new drugs. It's something that needs to happen.

A decent analysis of the federal deficit

Contributing Columnist - One Nation, Two Deficits - Op-Ed - "Let’s look at the facts. The projected deficit for 2015 is 4 percent to 5 percent of G.D.P., depending on whose assumptions you use. A sustainable level is more like 3 percent or lower. So we need deficit reduction of 1 percent to 2 percent of G.D.P., or about $200 billion to $400 billion a year by 2015. These figures are uncertain, but they’re the best we have (and they may well turn out to be too optimistic)."
I think it's a dumb idea to be so deficit-crazy when our economy is in shambles, but this is a pretty objective analysis of the situation. You'll note that he's not suggesting we can balance the budget and keep the Bush tax cuts permanent. He's also not suggesting that we can't raise taxes (although there's obviously no political courage for that, either).

We don't just eat poorly, we make food poorly "the larger truth is: industrial agriculture is itself unhealthy.

Repeated studies have found that cramming hens into small cages results in more eggs with salmonella than in cage-free operations. As a trade journal, World Poultry, acknowledged in May: “salmonella thrives in cage housing.”

Industrial operations — essentially factories of meat and eggs — excel at manufacturing cheap food for the supermarket. But there is evidence that this model is economically viable only because it passes on health costs to the public — in the form of occasional salmonella, antibiotic-resistant diseases, polluted waters, food poisoning and possibly certain cancers. That’s why the president’s cancer panel this year recommended that consumers turn to organic food if possible — a stunning condemnation of our food system."
It's pretty sad when your government tells you to avoid buying conventional food because of the dangers in the food itself (pathogens) but also because of the extreme environmental and human impact of making food industrially. And as I just wrote about, we can grow our food organically and get better food and a healthier environment, without significantly sacrificing yields.

As to the profits of the agribusiness sector, that's another story. When it comes to the unhealthy food we eat, follow the money.

Study confirms organic food is healthier, tastier, better for soil

Grist: "Does growing food organically really matter?"
The study design was both careful and comprehensive in scope. The strawberries were grown on 13 conventional and 13 organic fields, with organic/conventional field pairs located adjacently in order to control for soil type and weather patterns. The data was drawn from repeated harvests over a two-year period, and the strawberries were picked, transported, and stored under identical conditions to replicate retail practices. And just as farming is a complex business, scientists contributing to the study range from soil and food scientists to genetics experts and statistics specialists, who analyzed 31 soil properties, soil DNA, and the relative taste and nutritional quality of three strawberry varieties in California.

The results are pretty convincing: organic strawberries are healthier, tastier, and better for the soil than conventional strawberries.

What I find fascinating and heartening, however, is the results regarding soil quality.

Despite the conventional practice of spraying soils with synthetic fertilizers, the study found that organic fields contained significantly higher amounts of nutrients. Organic and conventional soils contained similar levels of most extractable nutrients, but organic soil had higher levels of zinc, boron, sodium, and iron. Organic soils also performed better through a number of biological properties, such as enzyme activities, micronutrient levels, and carbon sequestration.

In other words, all that effort being expended denuding soil of microorganisms with pesticides and fumigants and then replenishing a few key nutrients (e.g. nitrogen) is a colossal waste. And it means that even as fossil fuels run down, we can still grow high quality produce. And according to a UCS study cited in the same article, we can also keep high crop yields to feed the world.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Be still my beating heart

The Minnesota DFL put together a video about the GOP candidate for governor. It's clever, pointed, and well put together. I didn't know they had it in them...

Monday, September 06, 2010

We don't have WWII to save us from this economy

Op-Ed Columnist - 1938 in 2010 - "Here’s the situation: The U.S. economy has been crippled by a financial crisis. The president’s policies have limited the damage, but they were too cautious, and unemployment remains disastrously high. More action is clearly needed. Yet the public has soured on government activism, and seems poised to deal Democrats a severe defeat in the midterm elections.

The president in question is Franklin Delano Roosevelt"
Frankly, I find this comparison frightening. The Democrats held on to Congress in 1938, and World War II came just before the 1942 elections might have ended their time at the helm. Will there be a similar savior for the Democrats and our economy, or will the party of Hoover get a second chance at a Great Depression?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Just one more reason to breast feed if you can

Breast Milk Sugars Give Infants a Protective Coat - "Such findings have made the three researchers keenly aware that every component of milk probably has a special role. “It’s all there for a purpose, though we’re still figuring out what that purpose is,” Dr. Mills said. “So for God’s sake, please breast-feed.”"

Who agrees on the mosque in NYC? "In short, the proposed community center is not just an issue on which Sarah Palin and Osama bin Laden agree. It is also one in which opponents of the center are playing into the hands of Al Qaeda."
What, really, is the harm of a religious center devoted to tolerance? It could be a powerful symbol of healing, built so close to a place where religious extremists caused so much harm.

Voting for 'None of the Above'

In Nevada, No One Is Someone to Watch - "Since 1975, Nevadans have had the choice of voting for “None of These Candidates,” which appears as a ballot line along with the named candidates. The option has waxed and waned in popularity. But in 1976, None of These Candidates actually won the plurality of votes in the Republican primary for a United States House seat. (The nomination was awarded to the second-place finisher, Walden Earhart.) And in other cases, the ballot option has played a spoiler role: the 1.2 percent of voters who selected None of These Candidates in the 1996 presidential race was larger than the margin separating Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. And in the 1998 Senate race, the 8,125 votes for None of These Candidates easily outdistanced the 395-vote margin between Harry Reid and John Ensign, allowing Mr. Reid to be re-elected."
Fascinating look at the impact of a "none of the above" option on the ballot. In short, there's somewhat of an incentive to go negative, because it can draw away your opponent's leaners.

Where Did Our Water Go? Trading Public Water Fountains for Private Bottled Water

Peter H. Gleick: Where Did Our Water Go? Trading Public Water Fountains for Private Bottled Water: "It is time to stand up and demand that our public places and spaces have clean, working, water fountains. It used to be that no city in ancient Greece and Rome could call itself civilized unless public fountains were available for everyone. Even today, when our tap water is remarkably safe and inexpensive, we need water in our public areas."
An interesting piece highlighting a few particular public places (stadiums) where public water fountains are being removed for expensive, wasteful bottled water. Stupid.

Duke Nukem Forever is back: coming to both consoles and PC

Duke Nukem Forever is back: coming to both consoles and PC: "According to Pitchford, Gearbox began finishing “Duke Nukem Forever” in late 2009. “Clearly the game hadn’t been finished at 3D Realms but a lot of content had been created,” he says. “The approach and investment and process at 3D Realms didn’t quite make it and it cracked at the end. With Gearbox Software we brought all those pieces together. It’s the game it was meant to be.”"
Pigs can fly!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Moralizing trumps governing for MN GOP

He's decided to turn [a free federal comprehensive sex education] program away in favor of failed abstinence-only policy, for which the state of Minnesota will shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars...Research has repeatedly found that teens who report that they received comprehensive sex education are 50 percent less likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy.

But why base your decision on facts when it feels so good to be righteous.  Oh yeah.  So good.  Mmmmm....