Category Archives: The Environment

Sick Kids and Parents with No Paid Time-Off

This article in The Nation indicates that 9 of 10 employees in “food handling” positions do not have paid sick leave from their jobs.  The salaries for these jobs are not such that workers can easily afford unpaid days off to care for their sick children.

Obama has recently encouraged parents to keep their kids home if it is necessary because of the flu epidemic, but is not time to at least think about employment benefits that will make such good advice doable for working poor employees?

iggy donnelly

5 Comments

Filed under Healthcare, The Economy, The Environment, Universal Healthcre

Planet Earth: Too Big to Fail

Some thoughts from The Nation that you won’t see on the other blog.

iggydonnelly

2 Comments

Filed under Climate Change, Political Reform, Republicans, Science without political control, The Environment, Wingnuts!, World Politics

04/16/09 Public Square

winding-fence-neighbor-lg

According to google images, this beautiful and serene setting was photographed in western Kansas and is filed under “prairie.” Isn’t it gorgeous!?

So lean on that fence and let’s visit while we drink in the beauty of our state.

fnord

45 Comments

Filed under Kansas History, The Environment, The Public Square

Academia Shirking Its Responsibilities?

In an interesting WashPo editorial today, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., of Harvard University brings up the interesting question about whether Academia is fulfilling its mission of contributing to public policy.  He notes the trend that Academic research is getting ever more specialized and as a result less relevant to applications that Public Policy requires.  In the void left by Academic Institutions, a growing number of public policy “think tanks” have rushed in to fulfill Public Policy needs.  Often times, these so-called “think tanks” are merely the marketing agencies, dressed up in scholarly clothing, for various large corporate interests.  See the Flint Hills Public Policy Institute (read Koch Industry Propaganda Arm) as a local example of this marketing effort which has been dressed up in innocent appearing academic clothing.

Think tanks have many a scholar readily available with a nice list of talking points that can be conveniently sold to state and national legislatures.  The Wichita Eagle publishes reports the Flint Hills group provide  like it is fair and balanced opinion/research.

A consumer warning:  Beware of who funds the pretty info supplied by think tanks/public policy groups – for it just may be a nice looking Trojan Horse.

See the Washpo editorial here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/12/AR2009041202260.html?hpid%3Dopinionsbox1&sub=AR

Iggy Donnelly…

5 Comments

Filed under Economics, Elections, Life Lessons, Media, newspapers, Political Reform, Science without political control, The Economy, The Environment

The Party of “No,” can’t keep up

po090408__1239291871_0032

The Republican Party has proven to have no ideas, no alternate plans, can’t even decide who leads them and what they stand for, and now to add to their problems, they have to scramble to keep up with everything they need to be against!

President Obama is pushing forward, and his agenda isn’t limited, but includes addressing all our nation’s concerns and challenges.

“The budget! The environment! Immigration! Why is Obama attempting so many big projects at once? It’s not a legislative strategy, Eric Alterman argues. It’s a way to drive his enemies insane.”

“Obama’s opponents will continue to look angry, unreasonable, unfriendly, and generally distasteful in more ways than one can comfortably count.”

Interesting observations! Read it all here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-04-12/obama-on-overload/

fnord

6 Comments

Filed under Economics, Healthcare, Obama, Political Reform, Republicans, The Economy, The Environment, Universal Healthcre

Obama and the Science of Change

In a Time magazine article that will be officially released on Monday, How Obama is Using the Science of Change, Michael Grunwald describes how the Obama campaign and now the Obama Administration is taking advantage of the principles of Behavioral Economics.  Obama used these discoveries to help himself get elected, and now elected, he plans to use them to help our citizens change.  Yes, Xam Cinborg, Obama is adept at getting the sheeple to act like better sheep – you’d better watch out – your guns are next.

At the end of the grueling campaign the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists, a secret advisory group to Obama, suggested that Obama repeat the line “A record turnout is expected”.  This strategy was chosen because a very powerful motivator for people is the suggestion that “everyone is doing it.”

As the Time article reports, “President Obama is still relying on behavioral science.  But now his Administration is using it to try to transform the country.  Because when you know what makes people tick, it is a lot easier to help them change.”

Behavioral Economics is the next generation of Economics and replaces the Neoclassical Economic school championed by the likes of Alan Greenspan.  The Neoclassical school maintained that the economy works best when we get government out of the way and let self-interested rational actors (us) do our business.  A nice sounding bunch of platitudes, but there have been many  social psychology experiments which demonstrate how irrational we actors in reality are.  Behavioral Economics recognizes these irrationalities and takes them into account when encouraging positive change.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Economics, Media, Obama, Political Reform, Psychology Ramblings..., Republicans, Research, The Economy, The Environment, Universal Healthcre

If Only Gay Sex Caused Global Warming

A Harvard psychologist examines the neuropsychological origins of Global Warming denial.  They may not be able to help it.

Published on Sunday, July 2, 2006 by the Los Angeles Times

Why we’re more scared of gay marriage and terrorism than a much deadlier threat.
by Daniel Gilbert
No one seems to care about the upcoming attack on the World Trade Center site. Why? Because it won’t involve villains with box cutters. Instead, it will involve melting ice sheets that swell the oceans and turn that particular block of lower Manhattan into an aquarium.The odds of this happening in the next few decades are better than the odds that a disgruntled Saudi will sneak onto an airplane and detonate a shoe bomb. And yet our government will spend billions of dollars this year to prevent global terrorism and … well, essentially nothing to prevent global warming.

Why are we less worried about the more likely disaster? Because the human brain evolved to respond to threats that have four features — features that terrorism has and that global warming lacks.

First, global warming lacks a mustache. No, really. We are social mammals whose brains are highly specialized for thinking about others. Understanding what others are up to — what they know and want, what they are doing and planning — has been so crucial to the survival of our species that our brains have developed an obsession with all things human. We think about people and their intentions; talk about them; look for and remember them.

That’s why we worry more about anthrax (with an annual death toll of roughly zero) than influenza (with an annual death toll of a quarter-million to a half-million people). Influenza is a natural accident, anthrax is an intentional action, and the smallest action captures our attention in a way that the largest accident doesn’t. If two airplanes had been hit by lightning and crashed into a New York skyscraper, few of us would be able to name the date on which it happened.

Global warming isn’t trying to kill us, and that’s a shame. If climate change had been visited on us by a brutal dictator or an evil empire, the war on warming would be this nation’s top priority.

The second reason why global warming doesn’t put our brains on orange alert is that it doesn’t violate our moral sensibilities. It doesn’t cause our blood to boil (at least not figuratively) because it doesn’t force us to entertain thoughts that we find indecent, impious or repulsive. When people feel insulted or disgusted, they generally do something about it, such as whacking each other over the head, or voting. Moral emotions are the brain’s call to action.

Although all human societies have moral rules about food and sex, none has a moral rule about atmospheric chemistry. And so we are outraged about every breach of protocol except Kyoto. Yes, global warming is bad, but it doesn’t make us feel nauseated or angry or disgraced, and thus we don’t feel compelled to rail against it as we do against other momentous threats to our species, such as flag burning. The fact is that if climate change were caused by gay sex, or by the practice of eating kittens, millions of protesters would be massing in the streets.

The third reason why global warming doesn’t trigger our concern is that we see it as a threat to our futures — not our afternoons. Like all animals, people are quick to respond to clear and present danger, which is why it takes us just a few milliseconds to duck when a wayward baseball comes speeding toward our eyes.

The brain is a beautifully engineered get-out-of-the-way machine that constantly scans the environment for things out of whose way it should right now get. That’s what brains did for several hundred million years — and then, just a few million years ago, the mammalian brain learned a new trick: to predict the timing and location of dangers before they actually happened.

Our ability to duck that which is not yet coming is one of the brain’s most stunning innovations, and we wouldn’t have dental floss or 401(k) plans without it. But this innovation is in the early stages of development. The application that allows us to respond to visible baseballs is ancient and reliable, but the add-on utility that allows us to respond to threats that loom in an unseen future is still in beta testing.

We haven’t quite gotten the knack of treating the future like the present it will soon become because we’ve only been practicing for a few million years. If global warming took out an eye every now and then, OSHA would regulate it into nonexistence.

There is a fourth reason why we just can’t seem to get worked up about global warming. The human brain is exquisitely sensitive to changes in light, sound, temperature, pressure, size, weight and just about everything else. But if the rate of change is slow enough, the change will go undetected. If the low hum of a refrigerator were to increase in pitch over the course of several weeks, the appliance could be singing soprano by the end of the month and no one would be the wiser.

Because we barely notice changes that happen gradually, we accept gradual changes that we would reject if they happened abruptly. The density of Los Angeles traffic has increased dramatically in the last few decades, and citizens have tolerated it with only the obligatory grumbling. Had that change happened on a single day last summer, Angelenos would have shut down the city, called in the National Guard and lynched every politician they could get their hands on.

Environmentalists despair that global warming is happening so fast. In fact, it isn’t happening fast enough. If President Bush could jump in a time machine and experience a single day in 2056, he’d return to the present shocked and awed, prepared to do anything it took to solve the problem..

The human brain is a remarkable device that was designed to rise to special occasions. We are the progeny of people who hunted and gathered, whose lives were brief and whose greatest threat was a man with a stick. When terrorists attack, we respond with crushing force and firm resolve, just as our ancestors would have. Global warming is a deadly threat precisely because it fails to trip the brain’s alarm, leaving us soundly asleep in a burning bed.

It remains to be seen whether we can learn to rise to new occasions.

Daniel Gilbert is a professor of psychology at Harvard University and the author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” published in May by Knopf.

10 Comments

Filed under Psychology Ramblings..., Republicans, Science without political control, The Environment, Uncategorized, World Politics

Food for thought, or thoughts about food!

I see in the news that there is a new warning about baby formula being contaminated with a chemical found in rocket fuel? And it is especially dangerous if the baby formula is mixed with water that is also contaminated with the same chemical?

Perchlorate is found in the water supply of many communities, and earlier this year, the EPA considered setting new limits for it but, ahem, they were busy with the economy to do it.  Perchlorate is most often found in communities with defense industries and military bases. And it is most often found in formula made of cows milk.

Couple that news with the pistachio nut salmonella contamination, the peanut contaminations, and every other bad thing in our food…Does anyone wonder why I’m so excited by the arrival today of my baby chickens? And the planting of the ‘taters and onions next week? The other veggies next month?

Additionally, my friend who has goats is helping them birth the little ones this week and has requests already, without advertising, from parents wanting goat milk for their children allergic to cows milk.  With this news, she may have more demand for her product than she can produce.  I find it significant that folks out here are looking for goat’s milk and finding it by word of mouth.

And yet, the goat feed for pregnant mothers has things in it we cant pronounce, and I get drift from the chemicals my farmer neighbors spray, enough that I cant grow grapes.  The chick starter feed has antibiotics in it, and my own, supposedly pure, Downer Creek well water has lots of nitrates from years of fertilizer leaching into the water supply.

I guess we do the best we can with what we have. But it’s damn scary to think about how insecure our food supply really is. I dont think its “terrorists” who will kill us. It’s the karma of our own environmental misdeeds that will do us in.

16 Comments

Filed under The Environment