Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Smog Monster

Short-term exposure to smog, or ozone, is clearly linked to premature deaths that should be taken into account when measuring the health benefits of reducing air pollution, a National Academy of Sciences review concludes.
Ground-level ozone is demonstrated often by the yellow haze or smog that lingers in the air.
The findings contradict arguments made by some White House officials that the connection between smog and premature death has not been shown sufficiently and that the number of saved lives should not be calculated in determining clean air benefits.

Must Children Be "Socialized"?

There is some good info over at Survival Blog including this on Fostering the Survival Instinct in Babies and Young Children:

There has been a great push in this country by child rearing experts and the medical profession that children must be "socialized". It has been a pivotal buzzword for educators and parents alike. It is a main reason for the negative swell toward homeschooling. Yet, it is my contention that what we need to foster, from birth, is natural instinct. Natural instinct is what we understand as the survival instinct. It is an innate instinct of distrust. It is the instinct that alerts us as we start down a dark alleyway on our way home from work. It is the instinct that forces us to take a step back from a new person that we meet that sets off alarm bells in our brain. It is this instinct that must be fostered in our children and future generations.

From the moment our children are born, they are whisked away from the mother in the arms of another. As parents, we hand our babies off to Aunt Betty and Uncle Ernie, the day care worker, people we meet, and those we don't even know, the girls at the office, and those child care workers at church and the gym. It is expected. Those that don't hand their children over are scolded, scorned or scoffed at. Negative comments about the welfare of the baby are passed around behind the back of the cautious parent.

All of this passing around from person to person and situation to situation kills the child's very first survival instinct- distrust. A baby who is bonded closely with his primary caregiver will not take kindly to being passed from person to person. They will scream until they are returned to that person whom they trust above all else. A child who has been passed around and has never bonded closely with one primary caregiver will not display any sense of distrust with strangers or strange situations at all.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Walking With Bees

I took my walk again the other day and I stopped by the drug store on the way back to browse. After I left the store to walk the rest of the way home I saw a girl a little ways in front of me on a bike. She stopped at one point on the sidewalk and then crossed the busy street in the middle, then continued on her way on the other side. I wondered why she had decided to cross right there. I kept going and soon came upon a swarm of bees next to a wall by the sidewalk. It happened very fast so I just stepped to the side as far as I could to go around them as they were buzzing and flying in a big cloud almost out to the curb. A horrible thought entered my mind as I hurried along, "What if these are KILLER BEES?". I know that much of the southwestern US has been invaded by the Africanized Honey Bees that are very aggressive as opposed to the more docile European honey bees. I have read stories of the killer bees chasing people for blocks and stinging them to death. Well, I kept walking without looking back but I heard a buzzing around my head and a few of the bees were following me! I walked faster and soon they gave up the chase and left me alone.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Atheist Fools

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God (Psalm 14:1)

Taking the above bible verse as his starting point, Zachary Kroger made the following short video, which became a YouTube sensation, garnering both praise and condemnation from thousands. If you haven't seen it before, it will either inspire you or (if you are religious) possibly anger you (Kroger received the usual Christian hate emails, such grown-up stuff as "you'll burn in hell"). Such nice Jesus-loving people!

Here is an interview with Kroger by the Secular Student Alliance. In the interview Kroger (a film student) explains what inspired him to create the video.

While I loved it, I wish he had included the following atheists:

John Lennon

Katherine Hepburn

Charlie Chaplin, and

Stanley Kubrick.

I also wonder about Charles Schulz being included. He may very well have been agnostic, but I always assumed he was a least a nominal Christian, what with A Charlie Brown Christmas having an overtly religious message and the Bible so prominent in so many Peanuts strips. Schultz was a member of the Church of God until he died, but did say in the late 80s that he considered himself a secular humanist, so his final view on God seems ambiguous.

But why quibble. It's a great video!

Note: I originally posted this at another blog. I have also posted this video before at Skeptical Eye, but without the additional commentary. I thought it was worth posting again. On whether or not John Lennon was really an atheist, see here and here. As someone commented at the first link: "... it pretty much surmises that we don't really know if Lennon was an atheist when he died, more probably an agnostic. However, for me, "Imagine" is quite telling - only an atheist could have written it. But, having said that, the most I would offer is that he was probably an atheist at the time it was written."

Thomas Szasz and H.L. Mencken could have been included in the video as well. I think the video included too many Hollywood figures, so more people outside of entertainment would have been nice.

Monday, April 7, 2008

No Pride, No Shame

I took a walk on Sunday. Sundays were made for walking. It always seems so quiet, especially early in the morning (though I usually like to catch CBS Sunday Morning first before doing anything else, it's one of my favorite weekend programs) and I think that is the best time for walking. I went by the canal that is near here. On one side of the canal is a paved road for pedestrians and bicycles and on the other side, where I walk, is a dirt path. Lots of dog owners take their pooches for walks on the dirt side. I don't know what it is about dog owners (and by the way, I do not hate dogs at all) but are these people more inconsiderate than the general population or what? Maybe the whole society has drifted so far from concern for others and into total selfishness that no one gives a damn anymore, so maybe its not just certain groups, but yesterday on my walk I had to leap over huge piles of steaming dog crap several times. Ever hear of a pooper scooper jerks? Or do you think the world is your doggy's toilet and to hell with everybody else? These dog lovers of course won't let Fido do his business in their yard, that would be disgusting and they'd have to clean it up. It's so much easier to force other people to look at it and step in it, isn't it? You have no shame, lazy dog owners!

Further on I finally saw some huge fish in the deeper water of the canal. They looked as if they were shadows, make believe fish created by an artist. I usually see some ducks on the water, but this time I didn't at first and I figured they must be up the other way where they would be out of view. Finally I did see a pair of ducks, a male and female and their two little ducklings. It was a traditional duck family, I guess. They floated away and I continued on until I reached the end of the path and came to a busy street. I walked down the sidewalk, heading for the local drug store to browse for a few minutes before going home. All along the street and the sidewalk I noticed trash everywhere. Soda cans, broken glass, paper fast food bags and miscellaneous junk. It looked like most of it had been there a while, though new trash continued to be added. I wondered why no one has tried cleaning it up. I also wondered again about people and why they just throw their garbage on the street. That is a habit I never picked up. I have too much respect for others and the community to toss my trash on the street or anywhere else outside a proper trash receptacle. The people who do such things have no shame and no pride at all.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Family At Wal-Mart

At Wal-Mart (one of the Supercenters) the other day, I did some shopping for a few items, mostly groceries. I wasn't really tempted to go elsewhere because Wal-Mart is still the least expensive place to shop, at least for most of the everyday things I buy. One of the things that does irritate me about Wal-Mart is that too often it takes forever to get out of the store. They never have enough people manning the checkout lanes (and it doesn't seem that they lack for employees, I see plenty wandering the aisles seemingly doing not much of anything, even when there seems to be things to do, e.g., cleaning up the aisles that have misplaced items and items on the ground etc., that Wal-Mart associates pass right by-I pick up and put back more stuff as a customer than they do, My conclusion: Wal-Mart loves to hire lazy incompetents). And speaking of customer service, try finding someone to help you and actually answer a question about any of the products. I guess ignorance is another qualification for getting hired by the world's largest retailer (not to mention being grossly overweight).

I took my shopping cart to the line that looked the shortest and found myself behind a young family; a mother, a father, and three daughters. One of the girls was trying out a hula hoop, her older sister was looking at the candy and the littlest one was up on her daddy's shoulders, rocking back and forth just a tiny bit precariously. It always makes me happy to see that the traditional family is still around and healthy. And who can blame them for buying from Wal-Mart? With an economy totally destroyed by the total incompetent in the White House, places like Wal-Mart become more necessary than ever for the average American. Still, I was disturbed by the case of Debbie Shank, the woman Wal-Mart sued for $470,000.

Eight years ago, Debbie Shank was stocking shelves for the retail giant and signed up for Wal-Mart's health and benefits plan.

After a tractor-trailer slammed into her minivan, the 52-year-old mother of three lost much of her short-term memory and was confined to a wheelchair. She now lives in a nursing home.

She also lost her 18-year-old son, Jeremy, who was killed shortly after arriving in Iraq. When Debbie Shank asks family members how her son is doing and they remind her that he's dead, she weeps as if hearing the news for the first time.

Wal-Mart's health care plan lets the retail giant recoup the cost of its expenses if an employee collects damages in a lawsuit. And Wal-Mart set out to do just that after Shank and her husband, Jim, won $1 million after suing the trucking company involved in the wreck. After legal fees, the couple received $417,000.

Wal-Mart sued the Shanks to recoup $470,000 it paid for her medical care. However, a court ruled that the company could only recoup about $275,000 -- the amount that was left in a trust fund for her care.

Wal-Mart reversed itself and will now let the Shanks keep the money they need for Mrs. Shanks care. Wal-Mart's health plan allowed them to recover the money from these poor people but did not require it, but that didn't stop hypocrite Lew Rockwell from attacking those who dared criticize Wal-Mart's evil lawsuit:

I turned off his [Keith Olbermann] one-note rants when the alleged war skeptic refused to even mention Ron Paul. Recently--no surprise--the rich socialist Keith has been attacking Wal-Mart, the working man's friend. Here is a link, if you can stand it, to his lying attack, but also to Wal-Mart's ezcellent response.

Yes, asshole, I can stand it, more than I can stand your lies for zombie Jesus (I once sent an email to Mr. Rockwell, wondering about his posting of so many stories supporting idiocy like anti-science creationism on a site supposedly about libertarianism and he wrote back telling me to start my own web site if I didn't like it because was his "hobby" site). That he dare call one of the most vehement critics of George Bush's foreign policy an "alleged" war skeptic shows how hateful Rockwell really is when someone doesn't fit the mold he creates for "true" war critics. Could the key be Olbermann's failure to mention loser Ron Paul, a man everyone on the fucking planet knew had no chance to become President, except Mr. Rockwell, who throughout the primary season continued to publish ridiculous scenarios showing how Paul could win.

What was Wal-Mart's response that the "Christian" Mr. Rockwell loved so much? Here it is:

"This is a very sad case and we understand that people will naturally have an emotional and sympathetic reaction. While the Shank case involves a tragic situation, the reality is that the health plan is required to protect its assets so that it can pay the future claims of other associates and their family members. These plans are funded by associate premiums and company contributions. Any money recovered is returned to the health plan, not to the business. This is done out of fairness to everyone who contributes to and benefits from the plan. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal of the case, which concludes all litigation. While Wal-Mart's benefit plan was entitled to more than the amount that remained in the Shank trust, the plan only recovered the funds remaining in that trust".

How very nice of Wal-Mart to only take the remaining $277,000! Now Wal-Mart, under pressure of bad publicity, has backed down and changed its tune. Isn't that how the free market is supposed to work, Mr. anti-state Rockwell? Wal-Mart had already won in the courts, but thanks (at least in part) to a good man (who by the way has been consistently opposed to the Iraq war and the Bush administration) named Keith Olbermann exercising the first amendment right to free speech, a family has been saved from a terrible injustice. What does Mr. Lew Rockwell believe his homo erotic Jesus would do in these circumstances? I know as a devout Christian that Lew loves his gay zombie lover Jesus, so why then does he approve of Wal-Mart's previous very unchristian attitude toward this family? I think the answer is simple, Rockwell is nothing but a goddamned hypocrite.

And Rockwell may also be a racist. If you read the story you may find yourself shaking your head at Rockwell's hatred of the late William F. Buckley for trying to purge libertarians and paleoconservatives from the conservative movement. Rockwell's site published the following: “’the Ron Paul question’ constitutes a litmus test for libertarians. Simply put, the ‘Ron Paul questions’ consists of determining whether or not a person supports Dr. Paul. If so, as I see matters, he passes the test and can be constituted a libertarian; if not, his credentials are to that extent suspect.” I guess it's okay for Rockwell to have a litmus test but not Buckley. Go to hell Lew Rockwell, you hypocrite!
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