Biodiesel/plastics

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Ran across this interesting site about BioDiesel. In summary, BioDiesel is made from common vegetable oils, is completely renewable, and much lower in emissions. I used to hope that fuel-cell cars would be the next big thing, but I recently read some articles which “proved” that the overall cost of manufacturing the hydrogen for the cells is much more than current fuels. Perhaps BioDiesel is the answer.

http://www.biodieselnow.com/

And here’s a movie about a guy who drive a Biodiesel van across the country:
http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2642249?htv=12&htv=12

Also, I find it equally frustrating that about half of oil is used for plastics. We use WAY to much plastic in our everyday lives. Sure it has some good uses, like keeping medical equipment sanitary. But do we really need to sell every single kids toy wrapped in plastic?

Here’s an alternative
http://www.bpalternatives.com/

Bush is redeemed?

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This is a response I sent to an email about an article claiming Bush’s State of the Union lie about Iraq trying to get nuclear materials in Africa had been redeemed. It in fact was not redeemed. Here’s both the articles:

http://www.suntimes.com/output/steyn/cst-edt-steyn11.html
http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=541511

And this was my response. I was pretty mad at the time. Lately the thought that crosses my mind whenever anyone mentions “justifying” this war, or any war, is how they’re trying to make themselves feel less guilty for murdering tens of thousands of people. This implies that (other) people are so worthless that their death can be justified so some yuppy in a rich part of the world sleeps better at night. Anyways, here’s what I said:

Ahhh… Redemption. It’s a sweet word isn’t it? I hope this makes all those supporters of the war sleep better at night, knowing those tens of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq died for a worthy cause! After all, they deserved it, didn’t they? Those nasty mothers deserved to leave orphaned children. Those nasty children deserved to leave grieving families.

People like this will keep groping to find their justification. Just remember the people who died. And no, their dead aren’t worth any less than ours.

I didn’t know Bill Moyers was this good…

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Wow. This article, by Bill Moyers, sums up almost everything I think is going wrong in the US, and to a lesser degree with entire “West.”

I’m still reeling from all the thoughtfully-covered topics. Class warfare, concentration of wealth, holy wars, the bastardization of religion for political and monetary gain…

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0408&article=040810

Some interesting movies

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This weekend I’m going to see the movie “Outfoxed.” The title of the movie is “Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism.” It sounds very interesting, and since I believe Fox news is the worst thing to happen to journalism ever, I’ll probably enjoy it. I’ll talk about it again once I’ve seen it.

http://www.outfoxed.org

A friend in Canada told me about a movie called “The Corporation.” This sounds really good, and I’m depressed I can’t see it here in Austin until September. This is getting excellent reviews and seems to be playing most places in the Northeast US already, and of course all over Canada. Again, I’ve thought for a long time that corporations are fueling the deterioration of western society. Greed takes precedence over everything, and I don’t think a successful society can be built on Greed as a pillar.

http://www.thecorporation.com/

Monsanto (Goliath) vs. Percy Schmeiser (David)

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The bio-tech giant Monsanto sued Mr. Schmeiser for a reason that kind of defies common sense. Schmeiser is a famer in Saskatchewan Canada. A farm near his began using the Monsanto GMO version of Canola. Over time, some of the Monsanto product contaminated his farm. Schmeiser did not want any of the Monsanto version of Canola. However, Monsanto found out they contaminated his farm and then sued him for patent infringement.

This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard in my life. Why don’t I put on cologne and then sue people for getting the pleasure of smelling it without paying for it.

So this case finally made it’s way to the Supreme Court. The decision was mixed. They declared while the patent was infringed, Schmeiser had no intention of profiting and was therefore not liable. At least some sanity prevailed.

Here is Schmeisers site:
http://www.percyschmeiser.com/

The fear of socialism

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One interesting thing I’ve found while living here in the US is the fear of socialism. People are so mis-educated on the subject it’s scary. The cause was probably the extreme amount of propaghanda here during the cold war.

So, let’s try to set a few things straight:
- Socialism and communism are not the same thing.
- Russia did not come close to implementing what communism was supposed to be. The most important thing they “forgot” is that they still had a wealthy class.
- Socialism and communism are not the opposites of democracy. The former focus more on the structure of the economy and how wealth is distributed. The later focuses solely on how governments are selected. A closer (but still not perfect) comparison would be between capitalism and socialism or communism. A socialist/communist country can be democratic.

Personally, while I would prefer one of these non-capitalist systems, I don’t think humans are evolved enough yet to support them fully. That’s why I like the ideals of a lot of the European countries: a capitalist economy mixed with heavily socialist ideals.

Anyways, what got me on this topic today was reading this funny article:
http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20040710/MALL10/TPComment/Columnists

Apparently, one of her peer columnists tried to say she couldn’t enjoy shopping because she likes socialism. Also, it mentions what I always enjoy seeing: Bill O’Reilly getting his panties in a bunch over the word socialism. It still boggles my mind how someone so clearly uneducated on nearly everything gets taken so seriously (not to mention a documented compulsive liar. Go to http://www.americanprogress.org/site/apps/custom/cap/findorg.asp?c=biJRJ8OVF&b=45294 and pick Bill O’Reilly in the list.)

Please, someone explain the Imp…

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I was flipping through some channels the other night when I ran into the Jack Van Imp show. I like to stop there sometimes to see what they’re talking about. Rexella went through a series of newspaper articles about how the US is increasing military spending and highlighted several new projects. Her comment, immediately following the reading of these headlines, was “This is such a great time for President Bush.”

Now, I’m no expert in Theology, but this struck me as odd. Why would someone who’s preaching Christianity think it’s good that any country is increasing its military spending? Do they think war is good? Are they excited by the Crusade against Islam? I’ve always just assumed that most religions are at least publically against war, based on my limited knowledge of their teachings. Is there some deeper level of insight, of theirs, that I’m missing which makes it OK to wage war?

At first I’m tempted to write this off as some fringe sect. However, these kinds of opinions are frighteningly on the rise here in the US, very evidently in the “Religious Right.” This section of the population is also seen to be the most in favour of the US invasion of Iraq. Why is this so? Were I to naively believe that all Christians followed the teachings of the Bible to the letter, I would be forced to conclude that those who claim to follow it most closely would be opposed to any war. Can someone please explain to me why these sections of the population seem to align so closely?

What frightens me more and more is the feeling by some people here in the US, and to some extent the West in general, that the people in the Middle East are somehow less civilized and as a consequence worth less than us. Those are REAL people, with REAL relatives who cry REAL tears when their loved ones are murdered. And I think back to the night the latest Crusade agsinst Islam started, and our media is cheering that we were bombing the crap out of Baghdad. The city was in flames, with probably thousands of people dying, and we make it a fantastic media event. All for the entertainment of the people.

Maybe we’ve become too desensitized, since North Americans flock to movies flush with special effects of thousands of people being killed in an instant. It still strikes me as very odd how the death of just over 3,000 people here in the US got the entire world into an uproar, but the death of 11,000 people, conservatively, in Iraq at the hands of the US is a rallying point to prove that Bush is “tough on terror.” I think the difference is that the entities in the uproar over 9/11 were governments (plus outpouring of goodwill from people) but the people in an uproar now are the people of the world.

For a description of the death toll estimates in Iraq visit http://www.iraqbodycount.net/