Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stand Your Ground for Compromise

It's not true that right wingers hate science, they just think there's no one right answer, and they should be entitled to their own opinion on science. Round or flat earth, who's to say?  After all, if you compromise between right and wrong you'll have truth. ----- This sounds crazy but it really sums up the arguments they make.

"We'll have to agree to disagree..." That's a great one, it almost sounds reasonable. The person who says this won't acknowledge he's wrong. Even though he admitted it by saying this, but he ends by telling you that it's you who agree with him. Would carrying a large stick to use on people like this be covered under the Stand Your Ground Doctrine?

Friday, April 27, 2012

The 80%, the new minority

If you poll the population on individual liberal values, one at a time, 80% favor each and every one of them. In fact the conservative base loves all the rights, privileges and benefits that liberals have given them. It was liberals that dumped the tea in Boston harbor after blocking the British East India Company from docking in New York and Baltimore, not teabag conservatives. Yet the teabaggers want the the liberals to "keep their government hands off their Social Security and Medicare". If the American public actually knew the facts there would never be another Republican elected. Of course with electronic voting, it doesn't matter what the 80% wants.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Could cynicism be catching?

Feeling a little twitchy after your last visit to the burger-plex? Don’t  worry it’s just in your head, or rather, IT IS IN YOUR HEAD AND THERE’S NO CURE! Actually your chances of developing the 100% fatal Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease are unlikely. The discovery of a Mad Cow at a rendering plant in California doesn’t mean we’re all going to die. If you think joining the veggie-cult is the answer, far more people die every year from diseases spread by corporate grown spinach than have ever died all together from Mad Cow.

Some basic facts: the actual disease only exists in sheep (but can spread to cohabitating goats). It’s actually caused by a prion, this is a protein more simple than even a virus. The problem is that these prions are virtually indestructible, not only won’t cooking get rid of them, but they can exist in the environment for decades. It’s not some new “super bug”, it was first scientifically identified in 1732. Although the actual mechanism only came to light in the last 15 years and is still under study.

The disease only exists in cows and humans from ingesting the prions which will accumulate since they are indestructible, they kill brain cells more like a poison than an infection, and it won‘t spread to others. Regulations have been in place for, well centuries, that kept the disease in check. Unfortunately deregulation under Thatcher/Reagan and rise of large corporate farming resulted in an increasing level of contamination in the UK and to a lesser degree in the US. The UK and France had several hundred human deaths, but the so far no human cases have been “admitted to” in the US.

All that is required to end the disease is to not to use sheep nerve tissue as animal feed or human food. There have been suspicious occurrences in the US such a mink farm in Wisconsin that had all its minks develop an unidentified disease exactly like Mad Cow (dead cows are typically use for mink food). There have been major outbreaks of “wasting disease” in wild deer fed bone meal (to produce trophy racks). The last I heard it doesn’t seem to spread among deer like it does in sheep.

The good news is that the USDA came up with a very clever DNA based eradication program. All that is required is to test all herd rams (breeding males), and not use any that carry a certain gene that allows the disease to develop in sheep, ewes don‘t spread the gene. This disease probably came off the ark with Noah and most sheep are actually immune if they don’t have the gene introduced to their off-spring through breeding.

Since corporations are by definition amoral they tend to break rules to enhance profits. Somebody in California broke the rules and has been feeding contaminated nerve tissue to cows. The rendering plant where the random test turned up the disease may well have been “recycling” the prions back into the feed supply for years. The problem is the USDA has been testing very few samples. Some activists have claimed that the USDA has been deliberately covering up the existence of the disease, but I guess this public report disproves that claim. Either that, or it’s so out of control now that somebody didn’t think it wise to continue the practice. Is one of the early symptoms cynicism?