Monthly Archives: October 2004

Media Matters

I'm having some trouble typing, my hands are shaking a lot this morning for some reason. Must have slept on my brain or something. Anyway, for those of you who missed it, here's a CNN clip you need to watch. Jon Stewart isn't kidding — it really is the desperate plea it appears to be.

14:13 long – 35 MB Windows Media File

While you're downloading that, Fourteen traits of a fascist regime. Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause.
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism.
  5. Rampant sexism.
  6. A controlled mass media.
  7. Obsession with national security.
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.
  9. Power of corporations protected.
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment.
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.
  14. Fraudulent elections.

Those of you who haven't travelled and lived much internationally, let me assure you: the above list of characteristics are not normal. Most countries do not have them.

America has had Presidents and leadership in the past that the world didn't agree with. But America spiralling into fascism is one of the worst and most dangerous things that could happen to the world. I don't know if there's anything you can do to stop it as American citizens, but please try.

Screw you, CO2 levels

Toronto just got its first snowstorm of the year. Albeit one that's short lasting and the snow's melting almost before it hits the ground. Still, nice to see it come! Anyway, off to lunch.

The view from our window


So the Sahara desert is being heavily irrigated (more) to allow farming. There are actually large aquifers under the desert, but with rainfall of less than an inch a year, it's taken thousands of years to build them up. Which means that escalating irrigation projects will eventually end with a catastrophic drought — the water pumped out of deep aquifers like this doesn't just flow back down, it evaporates and is blown out over the ocean, and does not return.

Simultaneously, as the temperature of the planet rises, rainfall increases along the southern border of the Sahara, causing the Sahara to green as well. Now, don't go thinking this is a good thing — the dust storms that blow across the Sahara pick up nutrient rich soil and dump it in and over the Western Atlantic (more). This has a two part effect. First, it buffers and stabilizes the atmosphere over the ocean, slowing down storm formation, and second, it feeds the plankton. So in simple terms, things slowly get better for a couple decades, and then collapse catastrophically over a couple years. Once we get to that tipping point there is no turning back. I've written about this in detail in previous entries, but plankton absorbs CO2, reducing global warming and keeping our atmosphere breathable.

The ocean is dying.

Plankton has dropped 25% in the last twenty years. Coral has declined 80%. It goes on and on. Read The Starving Ocean for good updates and information on this subject. Not that the land isn't dying as well (more), but ocean is what ultimately keeps this planet alive.

Let's distract ourselves with asinine behavior now.

Of course, back in America we've got Bush fighting hard to legalize “extraordinary rendition” or, in simple terms, torture (more). Thanks to Bush's brilliant “abstinence first” sex education policies, abortion rates are way up over the past four years, ending a ten year decline (more). Remember, a vote for Bush is a vote for more abortions. Alternately, if Bush gets his way and bans abortion, a vote for Bush is a vote for child abuse as America is flooded with unwanted babies.

Back in Iraq, the war has now spread to Syria as well (more), attacks on US troops continue in the “green zone” (more), to say nothing of the slightly less green areas like Falluja, currently being blasted by US warplanes (more) and US soldiers keep dying daily (more). You know what, this is stupid and this is wrong. Everything I've written about in this entry is inexcusable, and unless you're one of the 0.1% that's actually profiting from it, supporting it is insanity. But still, the world population blindly follows their wealthy rulers down these paths.

Of course, the simple fact that basically no one reading this even wants to bother becoming a vegan — the single easiest way you can make a significant positive impact on the enviornment (more) and much more — suggests to me that very few people care enough about their own lives to fix them, as long as they get to eat a Big Mac while their souls and their future are being washed down the drain.

Work done

Yeah, so I'm going to go watch Survivor now and learn how stupid men can be when you put them on a volcanic island together. Not that I'd be much better!

I'm really thrilled with where this new book is going. I got really good advice from IAM members about the shortcomings in the last one, and they're addressed, and the individuals who are involved are really amazing… Just incredible lives, even independent of the things they've done to their bodies. Here are four of the people I chatted with today (adults only pictures, NSFW):

El Horizonte (leftmost) has now cut his subincision to within something like 1/4″ of his anus; it's probably the most radical subincision I've ever seen. Sorry about the logo/text on the photos, but people tend to rip these pictures off and make fun of them on various E/N sites. While I'm talking about writing projects, I'll mention that I'm probably bumping the punch-and-taper interview for a day (not my fault, honest).


The debate last night showed that Bush's strategy is just to lie. No debate. Just lie. Repeat the lie over and over. Get Guilliani and everyone else to repeat the same lies. Gamble that there are more stupid and gullible people in America. Gamble that most Americans prefer a President who they want to come to a BBQ and share a beer. Gamble that most Americans get pissed off when they're told a long string of numbers about jobs and healthcare and economics.

Americans know that Bush has screwed up. I see it every day when I look at BME memberships. Memberships overall are up, but US memberships are way down. Every day I get multiple emails from people saying, “I've been a member for years, but I've lost my job and I have to cancel,” and this trend just keeps growing. Americans know their economy is a mess. Americans know that getting a $500 tax break doesn't mean shit if you've lost your job and benefits and would be lucky to find a job that pays half what they had before. Americans know that giving a $90 billion tax break to the richest 1% doesnt “trickle down” to the middle class. Americans know they need healthcare. They know they don't have “the best healthcare in the world” — they literally have the worst in the industrialized world, along with one of the lowest minimum wages, the highest poverty levels, the highest crime rates, and so on. Americans know this. We shouldn't have to even have this conversation.

However, I would like to touch on some of the vaccination issues just because it's one that you may not know the details of.

SCHIEFFER: New question, Mr. President, to you. We are talking about protecting ourselves from the unexpected, but the flu season is suddenly upon us. Flu kills thousands of people every year. Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?

BUSH: Bob, we relied upon a company out of England to provide about half of the flu vaccines for the United States citizen, and it turned out that the vaccine they were producing was contaminated.

Funny that Bush left out that the other half of the flu vaccine supply was bought from France (under the brand name “Victory Vaccine” or “Flu Freedom” I suppose). Anyway, it is true that Chiron, the British supplier of the flu vaccine was forced to destroy two and a half billion dollars (street value) of vaccine due to contamination (more). However…

And so we took the right action and didn't allow contaminated medicine into our country. We're working with Canada to hopefully -- that they'll produce a -- help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season.

Yes, it's true — Canada has an excess of flu vaccine (more) which we make here in our little country. In fact, every other Western nation on the planet has more than enough flu vaccine (more). Americans need to start asking themselves why US drug companies — arguably the some of the biggest, most advanced, and most powerful companies in the world — are unable unwilling to meet the demands that are met by drug companies everywhere else in the world.

And didn't Bush say in the previous debate that he didn't want to get drugs from Canada due to the fear that they wouldn't be safe?

My call to our fellow Americans is if you're healthy, if you're younger, don't get a flu shot this year. Help us prioritize those who need to get the flu shot, the elderly and the young. The CDC, responsible for health in the United States, is setting those priorities and is allocating the flu vaccine accordingly. I haven't gotten a flu shot, and I don't intend to because I want to make sure those who are most vulnerable get treated.

Well that was disturbing.

We have a problem with litigation in the United States of America. Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting sued, and therefore they have backed off from providing this kind of vaccine. One of the reasons I'm such a strong believer in legal reform is so that people aren't afraid of producing a product that is necessary for the health of our citizens and then end up getting sued in a court of law.

Statistically flu vaccines are far less dangerous than many other drugs that flood the US market. This has little to do with lawsuits, and a lot to do with profit margins. US citizens pay more for drugs than anyone else in the world, and US drug companies have some of the highest profits of any companies due to aggressive legislation protecting them. Flu vaccines are expensive to develop and change from year to year, so they're not really a patent protected high profit drug such as drugs like Viagara. The simple truth of the matter is that the US drug companies don't make flu vaccines because the profit margins aren't worth their while (more). The US is about profit for the rich, even at the expense of life for the rest.

But the best thing we can do now, Bob, given the circumstances with the company in England is for those of us who are younger and healthy, don't get a flu shot.

Or, thanks to profiteering by US companies that have obtained the flu vaccine and have increased the price by 1,000% (more, more), let's just say that the drug is limited to those with wealth, just like everything else in America.