October 29, 2003
Quote of the day:
It's curious how many free-market evangelists so quickly turn to state intervention when it suits their competitive advantage. David Batstone
Biochemical giant Monsanto is suing Maine-based Oakhurst dairy in order to force the company to remove a label it places on its milk carton stating, "Our Farmer's Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones."
As far as I can tell, Monsanto's main gripe can be summarized as follows: "Shame on you, mom and pop business, for using the truth to your competitive advantage. We'll take our whiny, corporate-giant, free-market claim to the courts, thank you very much. We would much prefer if you would leave your customers guessing. (Plus, we need to make a LOT more money if we're ever going to be able to pay off the settlements of all those baritone 10-year-olds and cancerous plaintiffs who will come our way in 15 years when our 'promises of safety' fall through the cracks."
While the truth about the positive or negative effects of hormone enhanced dairy products remain to be seen, one interesting fact certainly grabs my attention: although the hormone is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is banned in all 15 countries of the European Union as well as Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. (Barstone)
Suspicions about the hormone seem to revolve around the possibility of early puberty in children, and links to colon and breast cancer. Doesn't sound too promising. The positive effects are supposed to be increased production of milk by cows. Mmm. Let me think about this one... Breast cancer vs. Niagra-Cow. Tough choice.
I leave you with this little lesson from history, quoted from Legal Opinion on Monsanto Lawsuit Against Oakhurst Dairy:
Given government and industry's poor record of protecting consumers from unsafe products, exercising the precautionary principle is a reasonable personal choice. Apparently safe products have been proven over time, and upon further scientific study to be exceedingly dangerous.
The classic example is asbestos, the "magic" heat resistant component once used in countless products. The long latency period of the lung diseases that resulted from asbestos exposure hid the true dangers of the product from generations of consumers and workers.
Another example is the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES), once thought to be safe and effective for preventing miscarriages. DES came into use in 1947. It was not banned until 1971, after it had been shown to cause severe birth defects in the granddaughters of the mothers who originally ingested the drug.
Part of the explanation for these tragic cases, is that products can be approved for consumer use long before the long-term health effects are known.
October 28, 2003
Separation of True and Civil Religion
Religion is the most dangerous energy source known to humankind. The moment a person (or government or religion or organization) is convinced that God is either ordering or sanctioning a cause or project, anything goes. The history, worldwide, of religion-fueled hate, killing, and oppression is staggering.
Eugene Peterson (from the introduction to the book of Amos in the Bible paraphrase The Message)
If there ever was a time to understand the difference between biblical Christianity and civil religion, it is now. With conservative Christians of all types mobilized to speak out and take a stand, I am forced to ask the question of my (misguided) brothers and sisters in Christ, whose kingdom are you advancing anyway?
So it's time for some action items, courtesy of Sojourners, of course:
- Take Action: General Boykin Should Resign (You might want to read Wallis' open letter to the General first.)
- Read Jim Wallis' article, "Dangerous Religion"
- Read Donald E. Wagner's article, "Short Fuse to Apocalypse"
October 27, 2003
Michael Moore Comes to Portland
Thanks to VJ for sharing her perspective on Michael Moore's recent visit to our fair city. I didn't even have to twist her arm! Thanks VJ!
I went to see Michael Moore the other night at Memorial Coliseum. I've been feeling rather morose about the political situation in the U.S. so, it was gratifying to see the place sold out. In spite of glib titles like "Dude, where's my country" and "Stupid White Men", his work is laced with humor but very well researched. He hit the high points you might expect: Bush lied about Iraq, and meanwhile our soldiers are dying there; other developed countries don't understand why we show such disrepect to our worst off; why are our elected officials moving towards electronic voting (which destroys the evidence) when we've recently seen election fraud; Rush Limbaugh's drug addiction, and his old refrain about drug addicts ("lock 'em up and throw away the keys").
One of the humorous high points that he has done on every talk on the tour is a test of civics and geography with the "smartest" Americans versus the "dumbest" Canadian from the audience, where invariably, the Canadian can answer all the questions while the Americans can't. Questions posed to the Americans included who is the Prime Minister of Canada (Jean Chretien), what is the capitol of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario), and what are three countries that border Afghanistan (Pakistan, China and Iran are three possibilities).
Moore finished by advising us not to have a "Anyone but Bush" mindset he reminded us that this early in the process, we could actually say to the candidates hey, I like most of your stands, but I can't vote for you while you're anti-gun control and have some effect. I left feeling empowered that I might be able to make some difference.
October 22, 2003
Just want to give a shout out to my cool cousin Stephen who used to live in Northwest and as of this moment, is the only other person who knows about this site!
Welcome!! Here's a link to Sojourners, that magazine on faith, culture, and politics I was telling you about.
October 21, 2003
Answers for Oregonians
This could be interesting...
October 20, 2003
Saving Endangered Animals by Killing Them?
Found this on AlterNet: Saving Endangered Animals by Killing Them?
Especially note the closing section on the big picture. (Don't even get me started on Secretary Norton. )
A CD-R = (Apparently) Complicated Device - Revealed
I'll be adding this to my morning commute reading list: CD-Recordable FAQ.
At the women's missions brunch on Saturday, my eggs and ham went cold as I was summoned to rectify a situation in which the keynote speaker's PowerPoint presentation, recorded on a CD, was unreadable by the DVD-Rom drive of a Windows 98 Compaq laptop. I was to go to a "nearby" Kinko's and have a new CD burned that would be readable by the laptop. No problem. Glad to do it. Ten blocks later, I arrived at what I realized mid-journey to be the 2nd nearest Kinko's. A manageable situation quickly became desperate when I attempted with puzzling futility to turn on the laptop. The good man behind the Kinko's counter did eventually get it powered up by removing the battery. After rebooting his machine (irony not willing to be left out), another CD was made, this time as an non-rewritable disc. The new CD was successfully read by, what I now considered to be a very "special" laptop. I just pray that this is not the machine I am to take with me to India. (Prayer notwithstanding, actually I think I would refuse to take this machine with me, if given the option.)
Now, of course, I am commissioned to develop a set of guidelines for how to burn a CD that will be readable by the Missions department's laptop so that my errand on Saturday will never again be a necessary one.
October 16, 2003
Real Simple Syndication Aggregation and Me: Chapter 1
After reading about RSS some time ago, I will finally get my newbie blogging hands on it with the RSS Aggregator, Blagg, using a Movable Type Blaggplug. Not only does this mean fun with RSS, but also fun with OS X and the super-fun Terminal! (No, I'm not a real geek, nor a pseudo-geek, but a level below that, a wanna-be-pseudo-geek: the worst kind!) ::wink::
October 14, 2003
Standards in Space
Life on Planet Earth:
"On this page you will find a table of color names that are supported by newer versions of both Netscape and Internet Explorer."
Life in Outer Space:
"Note: Color names are not supported by the W3C standards. If you want to write correct CSS you should use the Color HEX values."
Huh. I didn't know that color names weren't supported by W3C standards. Why? Because most, if not all (graphical) browsers support using color names. (I.e. color: black; as an equivalent to color: #000000;)
Another crisis of conscience in the web design world. ::wink::
Well, almost not everybody is telling the truth...
Well, almost not everybody. Here's the full transcript of a Sojourners interview in which "two former CIA analysts talk about the lies behind the Iraq war and the heavy weight of conscience."
October 13, 2003
So many things, so little time.
- Convert Animal Lover's Bakery to lean, mean PHP/MySQL products catalog machine.
- Create facinating, ultra, cool templates for the plethora of unfinished and works-in-progress web sites I have in the queue.
- Prepare to go to India.
That should keep me busy for now.
Retrospection and Perspective (and one groovy resource!)
My first business trip is coming up next month: exhibiting and attending the CCDA conference in New Orleans. (Not this CCDA, not this one either (although maybe the Christian Community Development Association should think about buying it!) I'm mostly interested in topics relating to resource development and faith-based and community initiatives.
October 11, 2003