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People Lie October 4, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Last night, John and I were sitting on the couch in our PJs discussing how people “Other” God when I had a life-shaking revelation.

We’d just finished a rolicking debate when I popped open the computer to look up something on the Internet.  Of course I ended up on Facebook, where one of our RELATIONS* had a status update.  Of course, it looked like someone had hacked his/her facebook account, but the status update read like this:

“UNNAMED RELATION sits on the computer and Skypes with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend all day and never goes to class.”

I laughed, because this RELATION is a freshman in college and, as we all know, freshman year is rife with mistakes.  Also, I’m not entirely sure that this RELATION’S status is a lie–honestly, not going to class and hanging out with the boyfriend/girlfriend sounds about right to me.  The only problem is that this RELATION’S parents are also on facebook, so they caught wind of the update and had some choice comments.  (By the way, how much drama must friending your parents cause?  Thank God both of mine are computer illiterate and I’ve blocked any other family member that might cause me problems).

I read the update to John, and I laughed about how, since RELATION doesn’t have a scholarship and has no academic distinctions to compromise, it would be impossible to know what his/her GPA is.  John just sort of snorted and laughed and was like, “Yeah, and even if s/he talked about it, there’s no way to know if s/he’s telling the truth.”

It was like two semi-trucks full of cymbals had collided IN MY BRAIN.

People lie about their GPAs?  I grew up in a city where I couldn’t go out alone at night after dark, and yet it had never occurred to me that people would lie about that.  GPAs are like…sacred.  It’s not like lying about your weight, which is really anybody’s guess.  It’s like lying about your innate character, your capabilities, and your competency.  It’s one of those WHOPPER of a lies, one of those lies that is so incredibly unethical at its center that it pretty much qualifies you as the scourge of the earth.  What’s the use of going to school and working hard if I can just fake how well I did on my resume, application, or otherwise?  I’ll just tell everyone I got a 6.0 because I’m awesome like that and move on.  I get that not everyone does well in school, sometimes through no fault of their own.  Fine–then leave your GPA off your resume, or make sure that you can address it with honesty, candor, and effectiveness in your interview.  It makes me think that students right out of college with no job experience should have to turn in transcripts to their employers or something, to keep them honest (don’t eat me in the comments, I know this is a poorly thought out and rash idea).  It makes me want to find people who lie about their GPAs and kick them in the throat.  Hard.

*Name unspoken because I cannot afford another one of those hoo-rahs**

**Last time I had a blog, I posted some things that John’s family found controversial and it was a big, awful, HUGE mess.

So Now What Do We Do? June 1, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Oh, so you heard that BP’s top kill method of plugging up the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico didn’t work?  I’m assuming that you weren’t distracted by what is effectively the beginnings of The Korean War Part Deux Only With China This Time or that little tidbit of Israel Going Batcrap Insane And Boarding A Turkish Aid Flotilla In International Waters And Killing Some Folks (sidenote: John and I don’t agree on Israel.  He’s an Israeli sympathizer whereas I think their failure to compromise makes them big bullies).

Anyhoo, there’s still oil pumping into the Gulf of Mexico.  Just a little bit.  Over the weekend, BP announced that they’re going to cut below the damaged pipe to get a clean surface, then try to put another containment vessel on top of the leak.  You know, like that containment vessel that didn’t work the first time.  As of this morning, Gizmodo is reporting that this new method of correction could put 20% oil into the Gulf. Since BP has done such a wonderful, bang-up job so far, I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll be seeing a lot more oil in the Gulf of Mexico in the next few days.  Let’s just pray that those relief wells get dug sooner rather than later.

Sorry dolphins, sea turtles, and various avian life.  It was nice knowing you.

What the Crap, BP?! May 26, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Loathin'.
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OH MY GOD.  It has been umpteen thousand million days since this whole fiasco started (read: over a month), and still no solution.  An article in USAToday says that BP is trying a “top kill” method of plugging the spill that works on aboveground leaks, but it has never been tried underwater.  Their estimate for success?  Somewhere between 60% and 70%.  I don’t know about you, but those are unacceptable grades for a math test, much less the last desperate idea to stop ecological travesty.

Let me just get this out of the way before I continue on:  SCREW YOU, BP.

First, get a sense of the size of this spill.  One of John’s coworkers mocked up these images yesterday, and it really puts things in perspective, though you’ll need to click through to see the full size image:

Here's an outline of the spill in the gulf. It's already big, right?

Here's what the spill would look like on land in Northwest Arkansas

I feel awful that people died in this catastrophe, but their deaths are far outweighed by the outrageous awfulness that is this oil spill.  Scientists estimate that 7 million gallons of oil have already leaked–oh, excuse me, GUSHED–into the Gulf, and if this last minute attempt at plugging the hole doesn’t work, there will be “significant down time” before another alternative can be implemented.  That’s compounded by the fact that scientists say the oil plume is actually getting darker, which implies that the oil coming out is more polluted and even more dangerous.  The dispersants that BP originally used to try and break up the oil are just as flawed; now there are giant plumes of oil floating willy-nilly in the water column.

The water is so toxic that they won’t let divers go in with ANY SKIN EXPOSED.

What really pisses me off is that this whole disaster could have been avoided if the platform had redundant shut-off valves.  When oil companies–including BP–were approached about this by regulatory committees, they pooh-poohed it off as overly expensive and unnecessary.  Now BP is facing a piddling $4300 dollar per barrel fine (which, by my estimates, totals somewhere near $30 billion dollars in addition to clean-up costs.  Lots of people are wagging their fingers at BP, but we should also be looking at Deepwater Horizon (which owned the rig) and Halliburton (which set the lines).  Even more so, we should be glaring down a gunsight at OSHA, which is in charge of inspecting and regulating off-shore drilling rigs.

This should make Obama’s push to open new offshore drilling sites even more infuriating that it was when he backed out of his campaign promise to stop the expansion of such drilling sites.  This wasn’t an old announcement, either–this hit the wire a mere three weeks before BP blew the Gulf of Mexico all to heck.  Don’t read this as an indictment of the Obama administration, because I know full well that McCain would have done the same thing. Consider this an indictment of the American political system that has been sleeping with Big Oil for the past century.

People are screaming at the government to get involved in this process, but that’s not feasible, either.  What is the government going to do that BP isn’t’ already doing?  Obama has assembled a team of scientists to deal with this issue, but they’re going to need as much time as BP is to get in there and fix this thing.  Not only that, but why waste taxpayer dollars on this when you can run a company into the ground instead?  I really think that BP is trying to do everything they can to stop this leak to save the company itself.  Any more of this and they’re going to go under: hook, line, and sinker.  In an effort at self-preservation they’re going to do anything they can to get this mess cleaned up.  The government would be no faster, more efficient, or better.  The only thing it could do is get more manpower on the scene, but with 21,000 BP employees already on the ground and countless American scientists and volunteers, how many more people do you need right now?

The real tragedy here is that it doesn’t matter what we do now.  Even if we plugged the spill today, we cannot feasibly undo the damage to the gulf.  The ecosystem will take decades to recover, but with the current state of affairs–global warming, oceanic acidity, pollution, et. al–it may never, ever recover.  EVER.  All of the regulation, restrictions, and nay-saying that will come in the next few months isn’t going to fix anything.  It may prevent another spill of this magnitude, but it’s not going to help out the Gulf Coast now.

I hope you all are PISSED OFF at the lack of planning, initiative, and competency evidenced by everyone involved in the offshore oil drilling industry. I sure am.

Wherein I Refuse to Recognize Arizona as a State April 30, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Loathin'.
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Have you people seen this?  Today, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would require police officers to ask for documentation if they suspect you are illegal, and it makes being in the United States illegally a state crime.  Additionally, it invests citizens with an inordinate amount of power

Other provisions [in the bill] allow citizen lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal for people to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

Holy God, Arizona.  Have you lost your ever-lovin’ minds?

The issue of illegal immigration is a conflicted subject for me.  On the one hand, it’s illegal to come into this country without proper documentation for various reasons.  First, and foremost, is the effort to keep out the riff-raff, like criminals who are trying to evade charges in their own countries.  I get that.  I don’t want murderers waltzing into the United States for safety.  Then there’s that whole thing about taxation and job loss, not to mention the vaccination scare.  In El Paso I had to get all sorts of additional vaccines because–obviously–I would be coming into contact with people who would not be inoculated.  So yeah, I get that you need papers for a reason.  On a personal level, my family was able to come into the country legally, so I think that everyone else should do it the right way, too.  Elitist?  Maybe.  Honest?  Yes.

On the other hand, have you seen what daily life is like in Mexico?  I can’t blame anyone for wanting a better life than that.  The problem is that trying to get entrance into the United States is incredibly difficult.  The tests you have to take are in English, and this predicates two things: that you know how to read and write English, and that you know all about the history of the U.S.  I mean, the last isn’t so hard, right?  Oh wait, except that the poor who are running the border haven’t had any education to speak of.  The tests themselves create a barrier that keep out the people who want to come in.

But all of this is sort of beside the point.  The fact is that there are illegal immigrants in the United States, and under current immigration law, they should be arrested and deported.

In theory, Arizona’s law seems like a good idea.  The only real way to catch illegal immigrants is to figure out that they’re illegal, and unless they have contact with the police or a health care professional, that’s awfully hard.  The issue with Arizona’s law is really very small, really…nothing more than BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

Case in point: this morning on Good Morning America, political pundit Lou Dobbs was defending the Arizona bill.  When asked what an illegal immigrant looked like, this was his response: “Well, an illegal immigrant looks like someone with no legal documentation.”  (This is a paraphrase, but you can see the full video on the GMA website).  HOW do you know someone has no legal documentation, exactly?  Do those people have flatter pockets than others?  Perhaps your left eye turns green when you don’t have your license on you?  No.  People with no documentation look like poor, dirty, uneducated MEXICANS who have poor English skills.

This is racial profiling at its best.  All of you guys who might look like Mexicans better watch out–I’m talking to you, Native Americans.  Oh, and you Middle Easterners better wear headgear or burkhas or whatever to distinguish yourselves (and so you can be discriminated against in a completely different way.  Lucky you).  Even more terrifying is the power that the bill invests in the citizenry.  Under the bill, citizens can make “citizen arrests” of illegals.  Except…wait!  How will they know who is illegal?  The same way Lou Dobbs does, obviously.  I can’t wait for all of those “wrongful arrest” lawsuits to start piling up.

This law is terrifying, and it scares me that there are people in legislatures that think that this kind of categorization and violation is in any way justified.  I sincerely hope that one day they feel persecuted for something out of their control, and made to feel like an outcast in their own country.  May THEY be afraid to look underprivileged, have a certain color skin, or speak with a specific accent.

In conclusion: screw you, Arizona.

EDIT:  I just found this addendum to the Arizona bill:
“HB2281 states that any course, class, instruction, or material may not be primarily designed for pupils of particular ethnic group as determined by the state superintendent of instruction. State aid will be withheld from any school district or charter school that does not comply.”
This directly attacks Chicano studies programs.  Ummmm.  Really?  I’d like to see that bill get passed about African-American heritage classes.  This place would burn there would be so much outrage.  I dare you to tell me this isn’t racial profiling.

A Few Thoughts on the Health Care Bill March 22, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life, Loathin'.
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I’ll just come out and say it:  I’m unhappy that the House passed Obama’s health care reform.

I’m not, however, unhappy for the typical conservative reasons.  I’m glad that the abortion clause was taken out, but it wouldn’t have been a deal-killer for me.  I’m actually glad that it will require all Americans to have health insurance, and that it is going to provide an affordable option for that.  Let’s be completely honest with one another–uninsured Americans cost the health care industry billions every year.  That cost has to be redistributed across insurance payers, other procedures, etc.  This will, ultimately, be a good thing, if not screw over illegal immigrants.  Does it rankle me that people will have no option in this matter?  Sort of, but the ultimate point of the matter is this:  most people who don’t have insurance in this country don’t have it because they can’t afford it.  Those who still don’t want it aren’t the rich who can pay for their own medical treatment but the POOR who don’t want to pay for it at ALL.

It’s not that I’m not for health care reform.  I am.  There are plenty of people in my life who struggle with their health and can barely afford treatement.  Some examples:

1.  A good friend of mine’s father has recently been diagnosed with chronic leukemia.  He’s the sole breadwinner for the family, and although he’s a University employee, his health insurance won’t cover enough of the cost for sustained chemotherapy and radiation.  He cannot afford treatment; instead, he and his family have turned to alternative therapies to treat the disease.

2.  My pastor and his wife both have preexisting conditions that keep them from switching insurance providers.  Right now they pay 35% of their income after taxes to keep their insurance.  Though they could get a bit of a break by changing companies, that would mean that they wouldn’t be covered for any of their preexisting conditions for a year–tough, considering one of them suffers migraines.  My pastor is looking for a second job in order to keep his health insurance.

3.  John and I have a close friend whose nephew was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Because the boy’s family doesn’t have health insurance, he wasn’t diagnosed until January even though he had been having fairly severe symptoms since September.  Once he was diagnosed, the family struggled to find charity care at a hospital because they couldn’t afford treatment.  He died last week.  (To be fair, there’s a lot more to this story besides health care reform and insurance, but it still made a difference).

I love these people.  I want them to have everything they need to make their lives comfortable.  However, I think we are going to pay an awful lot of money for a health care band-aid, not reform.  This bill is not transformative enough.  I also think this is just not the right time to pass the bill.

Let me start with that last bit first.  Look, guys.  We’ve just paid out BILLIONS in bail-out money.  BILLIONS.  The economy is in a hole.  Unemployment in this country is at an all-time high.  As of yet, I have heard of no compelling plan of action for actually PAYING for this bill.  Instead, it inflates the deficit without any thoughts of reducing it.  I don’t understand why this bill couldn’t have waited another year for the economy to stabilize a little more in order to support such continued, sustained, massive spending.

I also think that this bill has been pounded through Congress with little thought to actual health care reform.  The one issue that is critical to reducing health care costs substantially has been little addressed: tort reform.  Right now, doctors run tons of unnecessary tests in order to avoid lawsuits.  The amount hospitals and doctors pay in malpractice insurance is incredibly high, and doctors that lose malpractice suits often find themselves jobless.  They become a risk that clinics and hospitals no longer want to assume.  Though I think it’s important that we keep doctors accountable for their actions, we’ve become sue-happy, which drives up costs.  But tort reform is unpopular.  Lobbying groups pretty much kept that discussion from happening.  Secondly, we need to streamline our healthcare system.  It’s SO SLOW.  However, this is going to require automating a lot of processes and eliminating jobs–also unpopular.

Anyway, I”ll be interested to see how all of this unfolds, but I’m not optimistic about its long-term feasibility.

Captivity March 1, 2010

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the Orca attack at Sea World in Orlando, Florida.  Tilikum, a male Orca with a history of attacking humans, killed his trainer last week in what Sea World has called “an unfortunate, tragic accident.”  Of course, this has brought another, older debate to the surface: should animals–especially dangerous ones–be held in captivity?  And, on yet another level, what do you do with an animal like Tilikum?

I, of course, have an opinion on this, but to get there, we first have to talk about ponies.  I. LOVE. HORSES.  This almost goes without saying, I know.  I share the sentiments of most 7 year old girls in that horses are pretty much the best animals ever.  Not only that, but I’m incredibly attached to them.  I can remember the individual foibles of all the horses I’ve ridden, and even though I don’t know where many of them are today, I can look back at many with fondness.  My horse, who died tragically when I was a sophomore in college, was my best friend in high school.  When I heard she’d died, I cried for months.  I’ve still not taken out the pictures of her that I boxed up; even remembering her now is incredibly bittersweet.

Yet, I’ll be the first to tell you that of all the animals that I’d be comfortable letting a 7 year old girl hang out with, horses would be at the bottom of my list.  They are crazy mo’fos.  Totally unpredictable.  You can have a horse for 20 years and never have him freak out at a bird, and then one day…BAM.  You’re on the ground and Trigger is running terrified from a pigeon.  You just can’t predict their behavior.  Some horses, though, are much more dangerous than others.  Those horses you have to kill.  You can’t sell it to someone and have it hurt and/or kill a kid.  Sometimes the only place they can go is the glue factory.

This reminds me of the story of Magic Pony.  I cackled with glee as I loaded him up on the Dog Food Trailer.  That’ll teach you to roll on my brand new saddle, you jerk.

Anyway, this has everything to do with the debate at hand.  What do you do with a killer whale who kills people?  Heck if I know.  My instinct is to terminate it, but the issue is more complex than that.  The whale (or dolphin, really) was just doing what it instinctually does.  It’s not like a horse in that it is WILD, and no matter how many hoops you teach it to jump through, it is not a puppy, pony, or kitty.  It is an apex predator that abides by you when it wants to.  Not to mention, there’s no telling how many instinctual triggers you can trip in a given day that might scream, “I am yummy and delicious FOOD!” and get you eaten.  I don’t really think you can punish it for that.  To wit, you can’t release the thing into the wild either, because it’s just domestic enough that it isn’t equipped to deal with the Darwinian system.

This is the textbook definition of rock and hard place.

What I do know, though, is that you absolutely cannot start hating on Sea World because it has killer whales in captivity for a couple of reasons:

1.  It’s not like Sea World went out and snagged a baby Orca from its momma.  Tilikum, like many of Sea World’s orcas, was actually bred in captivity.  The whales, dolphins, sharks, and other assorted creatures that aren’t from a captive breeding program are almost always rescues.  Animals that otherwise would die in the wild are given a pretty nice life with lots of food.  Sea World, like most zoos, does its very best to not to take animals out of the wild for a life in captivity.

2.  Sea World, like zoos, are incredibly important for educational purposes, and I’m not just talking about understanding how these things live, eat, and breed.  Do you know why little girls love horses?  Because they can go out and pet them, ride them, and otherwise get to know them.  That’s why there are more people fighting for America’s wild mustang than fighting against open ocean pollution.  Ponies are majestic.  They’re wonderful.  Everyone’s met one that they thought was beautiful/awe-inspiring/the poo.  The key to conservation efforts is allowing people to understand why these animals are important.  When you go to a zoo and see the elephants, all of a sudden the shrinking African savannah seems like a much more important problem.  Sea World banks on the fact that at least a few of the people who visit will start driving Priuses and switch to compact flourescencts when they realize that the way they’re living is killing Shamu.

What Sea World–and other zoos–understand more than ANY of that is that children must be educated to actually make a difference.  If a kid falls in love with bottlenose dolphins, maybe he or she will become an eco-conscious adult.

I guess what I’m saying here is that I can’t see people getting pissed off about captivity.  I mean, yes, I understand when animals are kept in inadequate conditions.  I’m not even touching that part of the argument.  What I’m talking about are places that make every conceivable effort to keep their animals healthy and happy.  What it comes down to for me is this: if 20 whales, scattered across America, can help educate the public and encourage environmental awareness about the 100,000 whales in the wild, then that’s fine by me.

Tim Tebow and Focus on the Family January 26, 2010

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So, yeah.  Abortion.  Recently Tim Tebow, golden boy of the University of Florida’a offense, has agreed to be in a Focus on the Family commercial that will air during the Super Bowl.  Surprisingly, I first read the story on the E! News website (way to go, entertainment news!).  To make things easy, I’ll recap the issue:  Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, are going to talk about how Pam refused to abort him despite medical advice.  Women’s groups are pissed, and lobbying CBS to pull the ad.

Alright, so I might have already commented on abortion on this blog, but I’m going to do it again.  I have to say, I find the statements by the Women’s groups really, really disturbing.  It’s this comment that’s upsetting:

Citing the history of violence against doctors who perform abortions and the recent murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, the letter continued pointedly: “We sincerely hope you do not want CBS associated with this brand of un-American hate.”

Now, I can understand this kind of anger if CBS is not allowing Pro-Choice groups to run advertisements during the Super Bowl.  I agree with equal representation; if CBS is trying to block pro-choice commercials…well, then, that’s a serious problem.  However, from the articles I’ve read, this doesn’t seem to be the case.  Instead, women’s rights groups are hissing about a “hate filled” agenda.  Also, it’s important to note that no one knows what this commercial says, except that CBS has released statements that the 30 second piece never uses the word “abortion,” though one assumes it talks about “choosing life” and “keeping babies.”

It’s the continued, sustained violent rhetoric that I have such problem with.  Not everyone who is pro-life is also a crazy, violent, murderous nutjob.  In the same way, pro-choicers are not all passive, peace-loving, non-agressive folk (you should you-tube pro-choice violence.  There’s a video of a pro-choice woman taking out a peaceful pro-life protestor).  The fact that organizations on both sides of the picket-line keep using incredibly divisive, incredibly charged language is dangerous, in my opinion.

Additionally, I hate it when people who are pro-choice act like the idea of keeping a baby is a terrible option.  In one of the articles, a women’s group basically gives CBS the big wagging finger of shame for aligning itself with a pro-life political stance (though, if CBS believes in all the commercials it airs, it also thinks Axe body spray is basically female supermodel attractant).  It seems to me that Focus on the Family–which, I’ll go ahead and say it, is mostly a nutball organization–is presenting another choice to women across the country.  They’re not saying don’t abort, but they are saying that there’s a choice for life.  I think that real feminists would put a certain amount of value on the power of knowledge.  There was once a time when women didn’t have the option for abortion at all; there was also a time when a women didn’t have the right to choose whether she kept or aborted her fetus.  In a world where women are still wrestling for equality with men, we should be focusing on educating our daughters, not polarizing them.  What a sad world it is when someone who gets unintentionally pregnant thinks she has to abort or has to keep the baby to term because that’s what she’s been taught.

The real loser here is the Super Bowl, really.  When the station cuts to break, I want to watch ads with dancing frogs, or people falling down, not get inundated with the same political mumbo-jumbo that I see every day.  Come on, CBS!  Do us all a favor and keep politics separate from football.

So, Vaccines… November 4, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Recently, I read this article about the anti-vaccination movement in America.  It’s long, but if you have the time to read it, it’s fascinating.

Vaccines have been all over the news lately.  From swine flu to cervical cancer, vaccinations have people all worked up, and I can understand.  I, myself, am not getting the swine flu vaccine for many reasons, not the least of which is its lack of availability in Arkansas.  I am leery of any medicine that has been rushed through trials, and it looks like swine flu really isn’t any worse to have than the regular flu.  A good 48 hours of bed rest and some popsicles, and you’re all better.

I’m also really invested in not making the cervical cancer vaccine mandatory as well.  You might remember when Texas decided that it was going to make all middle school aged female children get the Gardasil vaccine.  It later came out that Merck, the company responsible for making the shot, was a huge campaign contributor to then-governer Rick Perry.  Additionally, the shot would not be covered by many insurance companies, forcing families to pay the $70 per shot out of pocket.  This is not to mention the actual health dilemma: the vaccine was released in 2006, and although it had already gone through thorough medical testing, there were no statistics on the vaccine’s long-term effects.

Optional vaccines are optional for a reason.  However, what I have an immediate concern with are the folks who refuse to give their children mandatory vaccines.  The Wired article proves the point better than I ever could, but I still wag my finger at you, crazy parents.  The reason we vaccinate our children is not because we’re necessarily afraid of little Ricky catching measles, but to keep measles “extinct.”  The problem with not vaccinating your children is that every time a kid comes down with an “eradicated” disease, the disease has the chance to morph. I realize that this is a minute possibility, but follow me down this path for just a second.

Last month, John came home frustrated because the producer on one of his jobs was working out of his house and couldn’t come in to proof some mock-up shelving units for Pantene (I think, I don’t know for sure).  Anyway, the guy had been quarantined by the CDC because his son had come down with pertussis, i.e whooping cough, one of those “invisible” diseases you’re supposed to be inoculated for before you go to school.  Turns out this guy had vaccinated his son, but a stronger form of the germ was going around the kid’s daycare.  Where it came from the CDC couldn’t say, but they were trying to get it taken care of before the germ spread.

Again, this is the story.  It could be false.  Regardless, that’s the issue with swine flu, isn’t it?  The danger that it could morph into something not unlike avian flu with a high kill rate is possible, and that’s why the medical community is trying to get a handle on it.  Why contribute to the problem?  I know that many people are afraid that vaccines cause autism, but with no definitive proof, the argument doesn’t seem to hold water.  Additionally, most pediatricians now subscribe to a delayed vaccination schedule that space out the shots over a longer period of time to give the child’s immune system time to cope on the off chance that there are side effects from having too much thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) in the system.  This seems like a happy medium to me.

Anyway, just had this kicking around in the ol’ noggin’ today and thought I’d share.  What are your perspectives?

Y’all, I am READY to take it to some people September 10, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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I rarely discuss politics here, because…guess what?  The fastest way to lose friends and alienate people is by constantly harping on a) political beliefs and b) religious beliefs.  I know that I differ on both of these counts from most of my friends who, although tolerant of my backward ways, would promptly get sick of me if that’s all I decided to write about.  I love you guys.

But seriously.  I am so sick of having labels applied to conservatives willy nilly just because they happen to be conservative.  It also seems to me that most people are incapable of separating the talking heads on news stations and political figures from the average, everyday people that align themselves with the Republican party in some fashion.  It is unfair to think that every American who calls themselves Republican holds every tenant of the party as close to his heart as his Bible and gun.

I especially hate being called ignorant, stupid, classless, and anti-Obama because I remain aligned with the Republican party.  It is exactly this kind of agonism that keeps problems from being solved.  People spend so much time slinging cruel names at one another that actual issues–you know, those things that affect our daily lives, insignificant really–are either unresolved or resolved poorly.  Deborah Tannen wrote an article a few years ago called “We Need a Higher Quality Outrage” that sums up this problem in a completely bipartisan fashion.  It’s quite good.

Don’t think that this doesn’t go both ways.  Shame on conservatives for doing the same injustice to their liberal counterparts.  There’s no reason that we can’t respect each other’s opinions and engage in healthy debate.  I’m just sick of all of this awful name calling and mudslinging.

The Alternative Fuel Wars June 5, 2009

Posted by A. Robinson in Life.
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Rarely do I feel the need to voice my political views here.  Mostly it’s because I want to avoid conflict; the only topic that is more divisive than politics, after all, is religion (another topic I avoid, yet will mention here!).  However, I hope that this post will be less of a rant and more of an open forum for discussion.

About what, you ask?  About alternative fuel sources.

Five years ago, if you would have told me that gasoline would be obsolete in half a century, I would have laughed at you.  I also refused to believe that things I was doing as an individual were impacting the environment for the worse.  Things today, however, are quite different.  Within 50 years, the world’s fossil fuel supply will be gone, according to many experts.  Though I am often distrustful of statistics, the fact is that the United States is the leading consumer of fossil fuels in the world, and the majority of that use is in motor vehicles.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that America needs to start making a change, and that it needs to begin with the largest chunk of the pie.

Everyone seems to be developing alternative fuel sources.  Biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, solar, wind…all viable sources of power.  However, until we decide on ONE alternative fuel for our motor vehicle fleet, all efforts will be in vain.  Here’s an example for you: back when HDTV was first coming in style, there were a few different kinds of DVDs that claimed to capitalize on this new format.  Regular DVDs upgraded their quality, but ultimately, there were two–HD DVDs and Blu-Ray format discs.  Both of these formats tried to coexist peacefully.  It wasn’t long until problems started to emerge.  In order to use one format or the other, you had to buy special players, which required special cables.  Some movies were only available on one format, so you had to have both to watch the movies you wanted at the quality you wanted.  Eventually, HD DVDs folded to the power of Blu-Ray, and everyone lived happily ever after.

This is the problem with offering A MILLION different fuel sources.  There’s no way that there can be the widespread availability necessary to run America’s fleet without settling on ONE source.  Not only that, but the fuel source that wins out will be the one that can be converted to fit existing gas-burning vehicles.  Can you imagine every car on the road being obsolete in 5 years?  Crazy.  Whichever fuel source we pick will have to be adjusted to fit classic/current gas burners.  I’m not sure how this can work, only that I think it has to.

In terms of fuel sources, I think electric cars are the way to go.  If you want to see a compelling speech calling for the use of electric cars, watch this 20 minute video on TED.  Trust me, you’ll love it.  I know that this causes issues in terms of how we produce electricity itself–but what better way to move away from coal power plants to wind/solar/water/nuclear power plants?  It seems like choosing this kind of car will ultimately force a change in the power grid as well.  Both Chevrolet and Tesla have developed electric cars, and with battery distribution points and a standard battery system, problems should be (at least moderately) solved.

So, what do you think?