Sex and KFC

November 27, 2007

We can no longer trust our major media to report the news properly any more because of corporate interference trying to sell us hot pants and fast food which, you would think, are fairly mutually exclusive items*- if we’re lucky. The other area where it affects us heavily is medicine. It was pointed out long ago by concerned research scientists that if you put combating disease in the hands of profit-oriented companies alone without having government labs involved what you will get is only treatments- not cures. A cure, after all, is only for Christmas- a treatment is for life.

The first truly awful science of my generation was the way AIDS was handled in the 80’s. Cargo-cult science from a doctor of dubious repute connected a retrovirus to a syndrome and transmission to sex and we were told, with the usual enthusiasm of the tabloid media, of the bodies piled high on the streets come the year 2000. Sex sells. Sex kills. Those alive, paying attention and not out shopping for hot pants holding a bucket of KFC would have caught, at the time, the BBC Panorama documentary which questioned the science and pointed out that the odds on contracting the HIV retrovirus, should it exist, from sex was thousands to one**. The threat increased to one in hundreds only if both partners had an open wound on their genitalia. I personally lack the commitment to have sex hundreds of time with my penis bleeding profusely and even if I did I lack the charm, I feel, to talk another person into rigorous sex whilst suffering from severe blood loss.

Lunatic fringe thinker, I, joined only by Nicholas Regush of ABC News, Harpers, a few Nobel Prize winners for chemistry and around ten thousand scientists outside the USA whose income is not dependant on companies making billions from HIV treatments in thinking there is some less than robust thinking here are now re-joined by the BBC.

The method that has been proposed (but never proved) by which the retrovirus kills our T-cells has as much credibility as a trial lawyer representing OJ Simpson or Robert Downey Jnr. according to, for all my dissing Americans, a study led by Emory University in Atlanta. In reporting the story the Beeb, though, fearful of the American treatment of the English language, decided to get a quote from a trustworthy British scientist at Imperial College, Cambridge. Professor Jaroslav (very British) Stark said: “Scientists have never had a full understanding of the processes by which T helper cells are depleted in HIV, and therefore they’ve been unable to fully explain why HIV destroys the body’s supply of these cells at such a slow rate. Our new interdisciplinary research has thrown serious doubt on one popular theory of how HIV affects these cells, and means that further studies are required to understand the mechanism behind HIV’s distinctive slow process of cellular destruction.”

What’s worrying is this: they decided HIV causes AIDS by killing T-cells without ever understanding or proving the process by which it happens. Then how do you know that HIV is doing it, exactly? There is a word for this kind of thing: it is called a guess. Guessing, as you may conclude, is not great science. Guessing is what loses you huge amounts of money at the track. Guessing is what you do when you try and win the lottery. Guessing is not something you want from, say, a person packing your parachute, deciding on the length of your bungee cord or sending you to a foreign country to find weapons of mass destruction. So filling yourself with toxic chemicals to kill a retrovirus which may be sitting around, chilling, and generally showing the activity and work ethic of a procrastinating grandma on a weeks break in Torremelinos based on a guess may be considered to be less than smart.

The problem is the way we demand answers from medicine. Other sciences get to dabble around and have fun trying to make the universe accidentally fold up or putting new elements together to see how big a bang we can get. We, as individuals, don’t really care so we place no pressure on them. But we want to be cured of every tiny ill. Since none of us really believe in heaven any more we are afraid of death, otherwise we would let ourselves be “taken” at the first opportunity. Lying there, measle-infected, “See God,” we could utter, “it’s not suicide- just your will. See you in a minute- put my sexy birds on ice and pour me a Martini.” So we believe in something new: we have faith in medicine. Which is dumb. Medicine is reason and evidence. And profit. When we substitute reason and evidence for faith we end up with faith and prophet. Possibly one called Mohamed, or Jesus, or Dave The Amazing Faith healer. Or GlaxoSmithKline.

It is really our fault. Our brain seeks conclusions to problems and it seeks them quickly. We are designed to suffer anxiety about the unknown because early humans who were not quick to decide the best option when faced with, say, a large and pretty kitty with sharp teeth and savage claws, never got to decide anything ever again… least of all who to accidentally get pregnant at the prom.

So we get betrayed, every day, by our Selves. Our Selves are not something to be trusted. They will fuck with us at every given opportunity making us think our hair looks bad, our hot-pants don’t suit us and make us buy another bucket of comfort-KFC. We tend to believe what will make us happy and accepted rather than what is inconvenient and, quite possibly, true.

One of those things is: you’re going to die. Get over it. Stop worrying about it. Get laid. And use a condom not because you think you’re going to die from some random infection but because you’re considerate, because you are careful, and because if you have kids they will want you to send them to school and college and will want to borrow your car- which will eat into your drinking money and destroy your social life. Who wants that? Honestly.

*- bridged by the diet supplement market.

**- “Male-to-female transmission was approximately eight times more efficient than female-to-male transmission …The constant per-contact infectivity for male-to-female transmission was estimated to be 0.0009 [Meaning that female-to-male would be 0.00001125 or about 1/10,000]…We observed no seroconversions after entry into the study…No transmission occurred among the 25% of couples who did not use their condoms consistently, nor among the 47 couples who intermittently practiced unsafe sex during the entire duration of follow-up. This evidence argues for low infectivity in the absence of either needle sharing and/or other cofactors” Padian NS et al. Heterosexual Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Northern California: Results from a Ten-Year Study. Am J Epidemiol. 1997 Aug;146(4):350-7

http://www.aras.ab.ca/

The USA needs heroes…

October 26, 2007

There is one guy running for President in the USA worth anything. He is a whistle blower, releasing the “Pentagon Papers” (information on the Vietnam war being kept secret by Nixon) and the man who effectively ended the draft in the USA during the Vietnam war. The Senator for Alaska is in no-one’s pocket and was just dropped from the Democratic Nomination debates on NBC for not doing things he did and not being rich enough. This would be the second televised debate that he will be excluded from. Gravel is against the war and vocally for substantial cutting the USA military. NBC is owned by General Electric*, the USA’s biggest arms contractor and the second biggest company in the world. The USA spends more on military than the rest of the world combined (even excluding the cost of the Iraq war).

Mike Gravel asks inconvenient questions like “are you genuinely talking about dropping a nuclear weapon on Iran?” Particularly important for Americans since Putin, yesterday, assured Iran that any attack on its sovereignty will be seen as an attack on Russia.

Come a hero: a young multimillionaire, Gregory Chase, who agreed, if necessary, to simply hand NBC the $1million they say Gravel needs to be taken seriously as a candidate and allowed to debate. He says he is happy to buy advertising on their network for Gravel to that amount if but will hand over the money gratis if required. Chase, a man who seems to understand “sound-bite” culture, said: “We could put it (the &1mil) in a fireplace and burn it for all I care, as long as he gets in the debate.”

Chase has also put up $25,000 for the person posting the Mike Gravel YouTube Video that gets the most hits before January 1st 2008.

Oddly enough this story has been missed by The BBC, Sky and CNN.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bryan-bissell/gravel-supporter-puts-his_b_69789.html

 

*- GE was convicted in 1990 of defrauding the U.S. Department of Defence, and again in 1992 on charges of corrupt practices in the sale of jet engines to Israel.- wikipedia

The most important issue about the latest Bin Laden tape has been skirted over and the world at large is just lucky to have such a prescient mind as mine at the ready to catch it: who does Osama Bin Laden’s beard- dye and trim job? It is so wonderfully stylish. He looks 20 years younger. Perhaps only 70… maybe 73.

The lack of hair salons and convenient chemists in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan are legendary, leading to a tourist trade limited to Islamic fundamentalists, opium- questing hippies and Boris Johnson*. One is led to assume, therefore, that over the last 6 years or so Bin Laden has not only kitted out his cave with the necessary dialysis machine for his failing kidneys and video editing studio (running on linux to foil American Imperialism- ahaha ahaha hahahahahah!) but now, too, a hair salon.

Perhaps the US forces in Afghanistan on Bin Laden’s tail should start looking out for particularly well groomed shepherds and, with what one hears about shepherds, particularly well groomed sheep, too. They should consider, and investigate, the possibility that Bin Laden has brought in an image consultant to help with his new promotional idea of “one peaceful Iraq with every Islamic U.S.A. purchased.” It sounds like a television shopping idea to me. But wait… don’t buy now! Could Al Qaeda finally be tapping into the American market’s sensibilities and shopping patterns?

I expect to see the next video with him in a hot- tub with 12 virgins promoting the benefits of an Islamic martyr’s life or, more precisely, death**. Capitalism creeps in everywhere and, as things continue forward, Al Qaeda could allow the infidel to pay for their ignorance with VISA rather than, as is usual, their lifeblood and that of their families, their friends, their aunts, their dogs and chickens.

Look out Pat Robertson… here comes an Obama for the Whitehouse and an Osama for the lighthouse.***

*- running for mayor of London, has stupid hair… do catch up.
**- that, as always, would be in the small print which is read very quickly at the end of the advert and never discernible to anyone.
***- seeing the light: a dig a Christians. Yes, I know it’s lame and doesn’t really work terribly well. So what? It rhymes, it’s 1am in the morning and I, quite frankly, am beyond caring.

Enjoy a lower cost of living- because you’re not!
Guaranteed no suicidal tendencies if you fail a year!
No sports and, hence, no jocks to deal with.
Smell more, care less.
Discount clothes from ‘Zombies r Us’

A wide range of extra curricular activities…

Enrolment in the “Thriller Re-Enactments’ and the Neverland Ranch
Weekend ‘extras’ trips to Hollywood.
Scare-O-grams

Free eulogy with every enrolment. Urn of your choice with “don’t discriminate, hire post-cremate” sticker and complimentary dustbuster for those awkward family moments…

33 places already gone… apply soon.

I have been waiting for a psychological backlash to the most shallow generation in history: the tweeny label- whores from hell. What we may come to see as the “bling” generation.

Sucked into the advertising mire more than any generation in history. People have sought guidance and self- definition through the ages from Drugs, Religions, Warlords, Pacifists, Prophets, the Famous and the Fatuous. This was the first to start to look to possessions for guidance. The pendulum always swings back and forth and, as usual, at the tip of the conservative end of the swing was an annoying war that finally sends the pendulum back. It has been building, though, for quite some time and just needed (mixing my metaphors badly) a trigger.

I remember well this from fight club, Tyler Durden: Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Born in the 70’s I have been through the swing away from the Love, Liberalism and Peace of the late 60s and early 70s to the money- orientated conservatism, large hair and bad pastel suits of the early 80s, through the grunge gender anonymity and unshaven women of the late 80s and early 90s and on to the vicious capitalist label feeding frenzy of the turn of the century.

This global warming thing we finally noticed (I did a school project on it in 1984- took the governments of the world 23 yrs to catch up to a student who spent less time in class than George W. does at work), of course, will not be stopped and I wonder how, at the tip of the green touchy- feely renaissance the other end of society will spin things and what they will place on the table to get society to start the swing back towards conservatism.

Will recreational space flight be it? Immersive computer games to get away from the mess when people get exhausted from over-caring? Or are they smart enough to have worked out enough ways to market the new green movement in such a way that they can profit from it? I think so. I take all 3 but in reverse order.

Looked at dispassionately neither side of the swing has any better claim to sanity. From the one side of rich warmongers and authority to the poor vegan touchy- feely side there is plenty of nonsense. But if there is nonsense to be had I prefer the pendulum at the point where we stop caring too much about possessions, allow dull people to take drugs to make them more interesting, stop caring too much about our jobs and start enjoying our sexuality more but women still shave their armpits.

Pools have a shallow end and a deep end. So, sometimes, do I.

Feeling Stupid

April 8, 2007

If you have a day where you are feeling a little dumb. A day, lets say, where you have written your first ever predictions column for a sports magazine and got everything, against all odds, horribly, terrifically and spectacularly wrong. To feel better and have restored to you some sense of intelligence and cognisance above that of a lemming, brick, politician or talent-show judge one need only to turn to the news.

Intelligence and stupidity are, after all, comparatives. So what is happening that I can compare myself and my various vagaries to out there in the world that will make me feel better?

Well, there are the people who think we can really do a damn thing about global warming: they’ve lost their minds. Even if we had acted when we first discovered the concept in the late 70’s the odds of reversing or controlling it were small. Only a nuclear winter could stop it now, maybe, possibly, probably not, actually… someone call George W. We need a decider!

Then there are the people who are convinced that we have a clue what the result of global warming will be. They’re gormless too. It could get hotter, it could get colder, it could cause the Alien Lizards controlling our world to finally bugger off because the climate no longer suits them leaving the world in a state of love, peace, harmony and skimpy bathing suits.

I feel a little better already.

Then there are people who think the war in Iraq had anything to do with anything other than money. The Americans that think George W. did the right thing when he invaded Iraq and, as well, the ones that think he did the wrong thing. Americans in general, in fact. With the exception of the ones who watch (and understand) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And a friend of mine who drinks too much and is fun. And some of his friends. Maybe.

Anyone who is reading the book “The Secret” right now and believes any of the words contained within with their tiny, little brains- except for the word “the” which is used in an entirely truthful context in the book.

Kissing in public is illegal in India and they haven’t made their government to overturn the law, so that’s a billion people being stupid over there. 90% of all people who trust any statistic given to them ever are completely retarded, so I feel much smarter than them, too.

Everyone ever who believes that planets revolving around the sun have anything to do with whether they “are going to have to make difficult personal decisions on Thursday” and, even worse, that believes that if this were true the person who knew the system would be writing a magazine column for minimum wage instead of ruling the entire planet or owning Starbucks. How thick.

So I might have been off a little in some fun predictions in a news column. So what? Look at the world out there. They are insane.

I feel so much better now.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article1624022.ece
http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/88836-3/
http://www.badscience.net/?p=392

I spend a lot of time knocking naked capitalism for it’s viciousness and lack of consideration in a world of the “valuable individual.” It’s probably about time I put in some sort of counterpoint argument if, for no other reason, than I am traditionally an argumentative bastard and in the face of no one to argue with today I may as well argue with myself. That and, of course, I am meant to be out having a run right now but it’s raining so I feel the need to pretend I am doing something else more important.

I am all for a more equitable distribution of wealth. I do not believe any society I know of on earth is quite ready for full blown egalitarianism. yet. However, capitalism has driven the economies of those countries who have embraced it to amazing levels in a short period of time.

This excess of wealth, held in the hands of the few, whilst having plenty of negative effects has also created huge scientific and technological advances. The idea of space tourism exists only because of this situation and, of course, the costs will gradually come down till it is far more widely available.

Whether there is a way for this sort of advancement to happen in an egalitarian society is up for debate. Capitalism is fuelled by insecurity which fuels consumerism which, in turn, fuels growth in wealth. It is a negative force with some positive effects. An egalitarian society moves people away from insecurity, decreases consumerism and therefore may well slow growth, we just do not know for certain. It is a land unexplored.

Suffice to say the long-term survival of humanity, the drive of our DNA, lies in expanding off our home planet which will only be habitable for a limited lifespan. For all my pontificating over egalitarianism it is something that could have, without a predecessor of naked capitalism, led ultimately to the extinction of humanity.

Then again, egalitarianism may fuel greater creativity allowing humans more time to expand their minds creating cheaper, more viable options in all technologies.

It would be interesting to see a country try and implement it. With the pendulum swinging once more (finally) away from materialism and also capitalism as a philosophy, rather than an economic tool, the time may be ripe for someone to give it a shot.

Humans are so much more advanced than other animals

I love to watch my fathers dogs, it let’s me see how far the human race has come and how much we work off intellect not instinct.

They have a game. A pack game involving the various dog-bones and toys lying around the house. It is all to do with domination in the pack and your standing. Within the game there is Hoarding and Flaunting. The game is to, when the other dog is distracted or by cunningly distracting the other dog you get their toys and add them to your pile.

A favourite is suddenly getting up barking for no reason and running outside, causing the other dog to follow. Then sneaking back inside first to nick the toys and place them in front of where you are lying. That is called “The Flaunt” and frustrates the other dog(s).

Even if the dog who ends up without the toys is higher in standing in the pack (dominant) he or she cannot just go and take the toys by force. That is against pack rules (regardless, by the way, of human interferance). They have to now get the toys back within the rules, without violence.

In larger packs you do occasionally get dogs who will rule purely by force. They are highly stressed, though, and seldom live long lives, often dying from wounds gained in fights (won or lost).

Ultimately, though, it is about posession and status but operating within a framework of rules that benefits the pack as a whole and does not rip it apart.

I’m glad humans are so advanced and nothing like my father’s dogs. That would just be stupid.

jester

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This is a piece about cultures, about nations, about values and happiness. It is about pride, jingoism and justice, whatever that may be. It is also about South Africa, my miracle country, about 50% too long and it might be preachy as all hell- or it might be insightful. I imagine I will only be able to tell myself when I re-read it some months from now. In other words: you have been warned.[on re-read it is too long and needs to lose the last 2 paragraphs to be a decent piece]

For many years I was, in many ways, a typical white South African woeful of the backward nature of my nation stuck out on the tip of Africa. Seeing massive potential but also seeing it squandered by ignorance, squandered by self interest, suqandered by bickering and distrust.

politics_bush_cheney.jpgThe more I see of our turning world outside this country’s borders the more I laud my home and it’s achievements. I look at the USA and messrs. Cheney and Bush and wonder at the lack of criminal investigation into their dealings. The idea of a government contract foregoing the tender process and being simply handed to a company the “Hander Outer” (right hand man of “The Decider”) used to be a Chief Executive of and still holds shares in is ludicrous and alien to me in darkest Africa.

I do not say that dodgy politicians in South Africa may not try to undermine the tender process: they do. I do not say that when they are caught they do not see some favour and cronyism when it comes to how their sentence is dealt with: they do. But they are investigated, tried and, if found guilty, sentenced by one of the most independent and least corrupt judiciaries in the world. We, after all, are a country with a special division of police simply for investigating corruption, specifically government corruption. The only one I know of.

In the USA I do not even hear talk of an investigation by the FBI into Cheney and Bush. In the UK Tony Blair is interviewed but “not a suspect” in the cash-for-honours scandal. How can the leader of the party that gave away knighthoods for cash not be a suspect? Are they insane? Does he not have a clue how his party is funded? When they get given hundreds of thousands of pounds does he assume “what lovely chaps” and move on? Does he not ask why their names are also on the honours list put forward to the Queen? Not a suspect? What toadying, sycophantic rubbish.

politics_yengeni_boesak.jpgWe, as a country, in recent years, have fired our vice president, put out to pasture dangerously unstable politicians like Winnie Mandela and slammed into jail (if briefly) a number of our politicians (Yengeni, Boesak) for dodgy dealings. When was the last time a UK politician went to jail? Archer had to be hounded by a national newspaper into a jail cell.

In the USA, who was the last senator in office put behind bars? Last congressman? The only person brought up on any sort of charges in recent years was their former president- and this over trying to get some under the table nookie from a fat, unattractive intern who doesn’t clean her clothes often enough. Don’t tell me it was about “whether he lied under oath,” that is rubbish. It was no-one’s business in the first place whether the man was getting laid occasionally and when the question was asked any decent judge would have told a prosecutor to stuff it.

Yet, the same skepticism of South Africans of all colours toward their government and lack of belief in how great we are is part of what will keep us honest. The UK has the same skepticism toward their leaders but their attention has wavered from their government’s activities as the population is distracted by the most capitalist of enterprises: building wealth.

A country which lauds their leadership and believes their own propoganda of how great they are is doomed to be steamrollered by the powerful with just a small squeak as liberty disappears. The USA has been, to outsiders, a police state at least since the 80’s and now starts to look fascist in it’s approach and attitudes. If anyone reads Orwell’s 1984 and then reads the speeches of Bush and Cheney can be in no doubt to the direction in which they are heading, with the UK not too far behind.

big_brother.jpg“FREEDOM IS SLAVERY”: every American must give up some civil liberties to protect freedom.

“WAR IS PEACE”: the war on terror must be fought with troops for the world to achieve peace.

“IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH”: the media must not report what the government don’t want them to as it ’emboldens’ the enemy.

I could go on but considering the comparisons to 1984 are currently being made by every first-year university student in the world this piece is already dangerously fatuous in it’s outpourings.

My confusion comes wherein I believe national pride (not to be confused with jingoism) is a positive force, not a negative one. Jingoism is where you laud the greatness of your country regardless of it’s actual behaviour. National pride is when you laud it for achievements you, personally, believe worthwhile. The safest, most easily gauged and most beneficial source of national pride must be sport as it is also the most easily engaging and widely watched of human achievements. Much more so than science, academia or art- which is why so much money is available to it.

So, if it is this influential it is something we should pay attention to, a great deal of attention. It influences countries behaviours and attitudes. Things like fair play, honour or a win- at- all- cost attitude will filter to the populace. Our South African rugby team winning the world cup after isolation from international rugby for close to 20 years- and the sight of aour first black president, our universally loved Madiba, standing next to the winning Captain wearing a rugby shirt (Rugby being traditionally a whites sport- soccer a black sport in Apartheid South Africa) did a great deal for unifying the country. But since those days of amateur sport over professional sport I have seen my favourites start do display that win- at- all- costs- mentality, seen them cheat with impugnity, and ne’er an eye is batted. Where is the outrage at cheating? Where is the desire for a fair society?

The last time I saw a player do something I was proud of was in cricket and the player was in later years to become a self-confessed cheat- taking bookmaker’s money to adjust player scores (but not to throw games). His moment came in a game against Australia, our traditional chief rivals, in a World Cup game (I seem to remember). Australia were 9 wickets down (the game in it’s dying embers, 2 balls left with 4 runs to get and the game decided if a man goes out- a real Hollywood ending if Hollywood knew anything about cricket) when Shane Warne (Aus), in an effort to avoid being out when taking a quick run, illegally hit the ball a second time- away from the fielder.

South Africa appealed (umpires cannot intervene in cricket unless appealed to- cricket was once a game of gentleman who admitted when they were out and simply walked off the field of play) and the umpires were about to send him from the field with South Africa winning the game by default and Shane Warne in shame. Hansie Cronje approached the umpires and withdrew the appeal. There was now one ball left, four runs needed from it (ball hit to the boundary) and South Africa won by bowling Shane Warne, the cheat, out. Like I said, Hollywood stuff. We showed great sportsmanship and win or lose I was proud of the way our team had conducted themselves, I was proud to be a South African that day.

The last time I saw a sports association do something I could be proud of was that previously mentioned scandal over betting and cheating. Every national team in the world, bar none, was involved. Bar none- I kid you not. South Africa was the only country to ban players: Hansie Cronje, a national hero, was not even allowed to coach at school level, commentate on crcket games or have any official involvement with any cricket team ever again. All the other world associations protected the cheats, hid evidence and generally thwarted the investigators. The only South African involved to escape punishment was Herschelle Gibbs who admitted he happily took the money from the bookmakers and then completely failed to do what they asked. I was proud that we exposed the cheats and banned them, no matter how much I wished Hansie, a much loved captain for what he did for us, had not been involved.

These are things where national pride affects a country. Affects the way it does business and the social behaviour of it’s citizens. I have seen the behaviour of these teams and those in football, the sport I have always enjoyed the most, deteriorate. I think, without doubt, that it affects the psyche of the countries involved. The youth, above all others, are convinced that cheating is endemic in every sphere of society and the odds on their success in life are stacked against them. The sad thing is that they are not wrong.

In America, for instance, the middle class is dwindling as real wages have decreased and time at work increased since the 1960s. Everything we are brought up to believe valuable- property, posessions, family have become less affordable yet company profits- the ones who have allowed wages to decrease, continue to rise. Where is the outrage?

Countries with democracies are having them corrupted by rich people with unregulated donations the politicians could not achieve power without. Where is our outrage?

We are having less time to ourselves, to see our friends, to build families, to expand our minds and enjoy our lives. Where is your outrage?

We are told how many husbands or wives we can have as if it is some universal truth, whether we can sample some drugs and not others, whether we can get treatment for illness based on our income. Should I not be outraged?

We allow the phrase “it is just business,” the coldest most hateful phrase in the human lexicon, into general usage to justify all means of behaviour destructive to our societies, our neighbours, our friends and ourselves.

Outrage is not enough. Do something. Write a letter to a senator, a congressman, any politician, a company that uses child labour, a television station, a sports association. join a union to fight for a better wage- it’s not just for blue collar workers. Whatever part of your life is most affected.

[should have ended here]

The internet gives us all a powerful medium to effect change. Five days ago I started my contribution. I have decided not to be outraged but proactive. I have decided to do my bit for a change. I put up a website called sportscheat.org where players are shamed for cheating, where visitors are encouraged to sign a petition, write letters to television, sponsors of cheats and sports sportscheat_nas_01.pngassociations. In the first 4 hours it had 350 visitors and 70 signatories. I have committed myself to an hour or two a day to try and make a difference in the world.

What will your contribution be?

sportscheat.org

jester

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dry_riverbed_200×293.jpgI was 12 years old in 1984, the year I wrote a school project outlining the case for global warming due to “greenhouse gasses” as well as ozone depletion by CFCs* and how they were different issues but interconnected nonetheless. Of course there were no resources back then. It wasn’t in the scientific magazines or newspapers or anything.

I had to go out in the back yard and conduct my own experiments with weather balloons measuring emission levels at different atmospheric pressures. I took a 7 month trip to the antarctic, learning how to run a team of huskies in the process, to get ice samples down to 14 metres to measure historical greenhouse gas levels. Yes, I must have been an adventurous little 12 year old to have such startling, new science at my fingertips in 1984.

Being 12 I would not have used very big words nor would I have used particularily complex language in my description of the evidence. I realise, now, that global warming and rising ocean levels is my fault entirely. If only this irresponsible 12 year old had sent his simple report to the US Senate, Congress and business lobbies- written in terms they could comprehend, action might have been taken and the US might have used it’s international clout to effect international change in emissions. As it is, all they had was access to the very best scientists, technology and informational resources that money could buy (or could be threatened out of people with military action or torture).

“But everyone knows that scientists speak in odd and confusing terms. They have always got those funny sums and are so stupid that they can’t even do them with numbers- they have to put letters in instead. I mean, obviously the blokes at NASA need them, especially them ones that look at the stars, and were accordingly budgeted vast resources to hire 12 of the very best astrologers money could buy- one to specialise in each of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. But really, other than astrologists they’re all just guessing stuff. Really. Aren’t they?”

That, ultimately, turned out to be the problem. A scientist, unlike an astrologist, seldom claims absolute knowledge over a domain. They work in a combination of facts and probabilities. Fact: increased levels of carbon emissions in the air lead to the heating up of the planet and disturbance of it’s weather patterns. Fact: levels of carbon emissions in the atmosphere are increasing. Fact: we produce a lot of carbon gas emissions. Probability: is that we are affecting the carbon levels in the atmosphere, leading to global warming, rising sea levels, devastation in the third world and most tragically- another fucking movie sequel: this time to “Waterworld” by Kevin Costner.

Businesses didn’t want those to be the facts and talked to their marketing companies and, well, since when has marketing worried about facts? So “big business” are the culprits? Yes. And we were the culprits, too. The information was there. What of our consumer culture, the famous self-correcting nature of capitalism? We, the caring public, would of course stop buying items that weren’t eco-friendly, wouldn’t we? We, the educated 1st world masses would keep up to date with international news and scientific development rather than watch a rerun of Will and Grace! We would keep ourselves informed. We would save the day…

We have known for a long time about global warming, put it out of our minds and have leveraged our children and grandchildren for a $10 discount on a television. The same way we are leveraging the lives of people in poor countries for that self-same $10 discount on sneakers, footballs, T-shirts, iPods and DVD players. It is something we will continue to do for years to come. I, personally, see no way of stopping it.

The ideology of capitalism is no less entrenched than the ideologies of Christianity and Islam in our world. What will make people tell their legislators: “I will pay $10 more, I want to look after the interests of my neighbour today”?

*- and that ozone depletion may well be a cyclical thing merely exacerbated by CFCs.