Archive for the 'society' Category

Methyl Iodide for California’s Crops

No Methyl iodideMethyl iodide is so reliably carcinogenic that it’s used to induce cancer in the lab. Even so, Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corporation is pushing for its use. Arysta seeks approval for the use of methyl iodide as a soil fumigant – injected as a gas into the fields of communities across California and the U.S.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) first registered methyl iodide as a pesticide on October 5th, 2007, despite a letter from dozens of distinguished chemists saying that it is “astonishing” that the EPA is considering “broadcast releases of one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing into the environment.” EPA initially limited its approval, registering methyl iodide for only one year. Then, during the final months of the Bush Administration, EPA quietly removed the time limits on its decision, effectively giving Arysta a green light for entry into the United States’ market.
However, on September 25, 2009, U.S. EPA agreed to reopen its decision on methyl iodide, pending results of a California Scientific Review Committee. The science is in. The Committee’s final report (PDF), which found (PDF) that “any anticipated scenario for the agricultural…use of this agent would…have a significant adverse impact on the public health,” was posted on DPR’s website on February 11, 2010. On March 31, groups from around the country submitted a petition to U.S. EPA to reopen their decision.
Despite scientist concerns, on April 30, 2010, California proposed using methyl iodide in agriculture.

Don’t Wanna Be Like Mike

Stumbled across a cool old article about Michael Jordan. It’s weird how you literally have to relearn EVERYTHING you know.

October 6, 1993. Not what you’d call a red-letter date in history. But in the sporting world, especially the NBA, nothing could’ve been more shocking. Michael Jordan, the biggest and brightest star in the entire sporting world, suddenly announced his retirement from the NBA. Having just led his team, the Chicago Bulls, to its third World Championship in as many years, and still reeling from the tragic murder of his father James Jordan in July of that same year, MJ had had enough.

But almost forgotten in the hubbub surrounding his retirement was the NBA’s ongoing investigation into allegations of Michael Jordan’s gambling problem. Not surprisingly, just two days after Jordan’s speech, the NBA announced its five month long investigation had ended with the league apparently finding nothing of significance.

Under this squeaky clean surface, however, bubbled true ugliness. For I don’t believe that Michael Jordan willingly “retired” on that October morning, but was directed by the NBA and its commissioner David Stern to seek counseling for his growing addiction to gambling. An addiction that was well known both inside and outside the league, and one that had to be kept as invisible as possible so as not to tarnish the image of both Michael Jordan and the NBA.

High Stakes

In the 70’s, Dr. J brought excitement to the NBA. In the 80’s, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird added fuel to that smoldering fire with their skill and rivalry. But in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Michael Jordan turned that fire in an inferno. And with him, came an economic boom unlike anything the NBA had ever seen.

For Michael Jordan wasn’t just an NBA superstar. He was the NBA. It was estimated at one time that 70% of all basketball fans considered themselves Chicago Bulls fans –meaning Michael Jordan fans. Almost single-handedly, Jordan made the NBA into a commercial powerhouse. Ticket sales increased league wide (Jordan almost always played to sell-outs, both home and away). Merchandise (mainly Bulls jerseys with the number 23 emblazoned on them) flew off shelves. And most importantly to the NBA, the money taken in from TV revenues went through the roof. In 1985 (Jordan’s rookie year), CBS paid the NBA $188 million for a 4-year TV contract. In 1989, NBC was willing to shell out $600 million for that same amount of time. Who do you think the #1 attraction was?

However in the fall of 1991, a series of events began that threatened not only the image of Michael Jordan, but the millions of dollars his name meant.

Money on the Line

Michael Jordan craved competition. It was this passion that led to his compulsive gambling. He gambled on just about anything. While at North Carolina, he used to bet fellow players sodas or small amounts of money on free throws or games of “Horse.” Although not necessarily sanctioned by the team, it went largely ignored. These activities carried on into the pros, and with the huge influx of money, the stakes steadily increased. He played poker with his teammates on road trips and was known to be quite the shark. Bulls coaches would warn the younger players not to play poker with him– he was that good. He even gambled on the outcome of video games. [1] But it was golf, his second passion, which proved to be his downfall.

He began betting small, maybe $100 on a hole or a putt. But as his confidence on the golf course grew, so did the amounts of the bets. And why not? Jordan had plenty of money and he was a good golfer. Just not good enough to avoid losing to the wrong people.

In 1991, Jordan and a group of friends went on a week long gambling spree at his Hilton Head home in North Carolina, golfing all day and playing poker all night. By the time it ended, Jordan was into James “Slim” Bouler for $57,000 and Eddie Dow for $108,000. This in and of itself wouldn’t be such a big deal except for the fact that Bouler was a convicted cocaine dealer and had two probation violations for carrying semiautomatic weapons.

This was just the beginning for Jordan. On October 21, 1991, Jordan paid the $57,000 to Bouler who turned around and placed the money in an account for the “Golf-Tech Driving Range.” The IRS quickly seized it, believing the funds may have been ill gotten since Bouler was again under investigation for dealing cocaine.

Now the shit hit the fan for Jordan. In the wake of these dealings coming to light, Jordan told the press that the $57,000 was merely a loan to a friend to start a golf range. That lie carried a lot of weight. So much so that U.S. District Court Judge Graham C. Mullen ruled that the IRS violated Bouler’s rights in seizing the $57,000 check. Judge Mullen admitted that he based his ruling on Jordan’s claims that the money was a loan — even though he never actually questioned Jordan. [2]

That seemed to suffice. For a while. Then in February of 1992, Jordan’s gambling associate Eddie Dow was robbed of $20,000 and murdered just outside his home. In Dow’s belongings they found photocopies of three checks that totaled $108,000 — the exact amount Jordan had lost to him months earlier. Two of the checks were from Jordan’s personal account. The third was a cashier’s check made out by Jordan.

Then, almost one year to the day after originally paying Bouler the $57,000, Michael Jordan was in court at Bouler’s trial for drug and money-laundering charges. Under oath, during a nine minute testimony, Michael Jordan admitted that the $57,000 was not a loan but indeed a gambling debt…

You can read the rest at the disinformation archive

Somethings Fresh

The Love Police

I’ve found the most wonderful organization/fighter for change: The Love Police

The Love Police is located in London, it attends/ambushes political meetings of any partisan with its camera and megaphone shouting out that the elections are but for the middleman, serving the purposes of the super-rich and elite, and we the people are being lied to.

It’s fantastic energy, a fantastic mission statement with fantastic methods of reaching towards the universal goals of stopping this modern form of slavery and consciousness control. Accusing the big media reporters of being cronies, not allowing them to speak on live television.

Absolutely wonderful. Share this with whoever you can!

In a world…


In a world dominated by preoccupation of the past, chaos was ruled by those who didn’t care. Mystery was knowledge while fact was religion, as speculation was denial.

In this world, there was doubt. Doubt that didn’t yet exist but plagued the minds of every being.

Those who knew of the truth had no option, and those who didn’t cherished their apathetic rule. There seemed to be no hope in this world, not inside nor out…

But change was on its way, rushing in on the wings of a number that symbolized a day in the near future…

POWs, Revolution, and the media

I wrote this a few weeks ago and it’s been sitting in WordPress’ “drafts” folder forever. Maybe it’s interesting, despite it’s lack of finality.

All we know is what our general news/media sources allow us. Let’s take that into context using good old CNN (a trustworthy, reliable news source according to most Americans’ viewing habits) as an example and we’ll play a little game:

Let’s see, CNN brings us ‘news’ about a golf player, the story of which I really don’t care to learn. But hey, American hostage in Iraq, whereabouts still unknown? That sure sounds interesting, right? It has to do with terrorists.

So I click it. It’s about the mourning and attempt at closure and the ‘hope’ of his family, back at home. Talking about fundraisers and social networks. Making a brief hypothesis near the end saying that withdrawing troops may be rewarded with the freeing of more hostages. Okay… So I feel completely bad for this guy and his family but… How is this news? So the family’s bummed–I should sure as hell hope so. But bringing this up as “news”–on the front page of one of the country’s most populated news websites–contributes to the situation … how? Is this actually news we need to know?

That point aside, let’s think: what was he doing in Iraq anyway? From

Jeff and Lilly were building a little piece of the American dream in LaPorte, Indiana, as their packaging equipment company, Equipment Express began to grow. Jeff was installing his company’s equipment in an Iraqi water bottling plant when armed gunmen came in and kidnapped him. A day later a video was shown of Jeff being held by hooded and heavily armed captors. In spite of much hard work by the FBI, military intelligence and other groups, there is no information about Jeff’s current status.

And from WikiPedia:

Jeffrey Ake, a contractor, was kidnapped on April 11, 2005, and shown in a videotape two days later. He has not been seen or heard from since. His kidnappers contacted his wife on the day he was kidnapped and demanded $1 million dollars in exchange for his release. After three weeks of negotiations, the kidnappers cut off all communication.

But actually, the source (Washington Post) says this:

Jeffrey J. Ake is 48 now, if he is alive. He is also a husband and son and the father of four children who miss him terribly. He is a storyteller, a Rotarian and a small-business owner who thrived in distant capitals.

He traveled to Iraq, tools in hand, on a private contract to repair machines at a water-bottling plant. Early one morning in April 2005, the telephone rang at a lakeside rambler in LaPorte, 80 miles east of Chicago. An Iraqi man, talking fast in poor English, told Liliana Ake, “We have your husband.”

And you know what’s funny? I can’t find anything else. Nothing of relevance. Family’s in sorrow, has been for years; the business had to file for bankruptcy, he should have demanded better security, yada yada. My question is what was this water-bottling plant? and to whom went the water? Was he a random American fixing the plumbing or was this a private contractor helping out United State resources in an region wanting the United States out? We’ll never know, but my point is simple: this CNN article is by no means news; nor is most of what the news networks distract us with.

Let’s continue to what I’d like to address: who all has heard of  Kyrgyzstan? I sure hadn’t before this week (actually before the Kyrg couchsurfer stayed with us on St. Patrick’s day, ironically). Some little half-Asian half-Eastern European country between Kazakhstan and China. Okay, maybe not half-European but I like the way they dress.

Now I don’t know if you noticed the tiny link to an article displaying pictures of people burying their dead in Kyrgyzstan, but yes indeed there is such a link on that CNN page.

So their’s fucking revolution is going on in Kyrg because of a corrupt, croney-ist government forcing higher energy and public service prices on the people, and apparently another one happened in 2005, the Tulip Revolution overthrowing the “increasingly authoritarian” government. That didn’t work. Now, with cronyism and corruption going on all over the place, the president has actually fled the capital and an interior minister was even killed when the protestors successfully broke in to their white house/palace and took it over. Basically, as the NY Times puts it, the protestors/opposition seek “justice and democracy.”

There’s more involved, since this upheaval could affect affect a US military base that the country had plans to throw out anyway. The base is basically where we keep our troops to watch Russia or something… See the victory photo they even took for the Times to put on their website?

Anyway, search the mainstream media and the “news” will tell you that it’s “opposition” and “unrest” in Kyrg, not revolution nor extreme, and all this opposition is mourning their dead and new leadership is figuring out what to do. Basic enough, who cares about details.

Now, weeks later, I can’t find anything on CNN relating to it…

General Education = more to add to the CSU moneybags

I’m sending this to the school student newspaper…

Hey marine bio professor, we know you want to get rid of us general ed students so you can get back to your research, we see it every morning as you rush through the bullshit attendance quizzes and recycled lectures. We know you know/care little about what lies beyond the box of objective marine biology, as your drifting off and evasion of detail in answering students’ questions of application adequately demonstrate.

We know you could give a shit about what we learn, as the BeachBoard readings you “test” us on only show us your scholarly glory and that the larger issues within the box of marine biology are worthless compared to the minute details of the whaling industry and dolphin slaughters that actually appear on our Scantron tests—larger issues that could maybe get a student caring or thinking about this class in a more practical manner, gods forbid. Plus you shrug off the suggestions & comments we try to offer as your students.

You spend sufficient time recounting anecdotes scarcely-related to the topic at hand yet expect us to proficiently recount any of an infinite number of details from an obscure section of the textbook, further proving your apparent lack of objective in “teaching.” We cram your study guide up to the darkest crooks of our assholes yet it’s the previously-unspecified finer details with no laudable purpose that appear on your exams. Why do I want to be taught by someone who doesn’t want me to learn?

I love learning, and I loved a good number of the GE classes I’ve taken in my four years at CSULB—classes of 200 students in large lecture halls full of eye candy are great for the collective anti-wake-up-for-an-early-class vibe—but when fulfilling vain criteria becomes the sole means of taking required courses, and comprehending a larger picture is irrelevant, I realize that the C in CSU no longer stands for California, it stands for Corporate.

Let’s be quite generous and say there are only 200 students overall enrolled in this mandatory GE class—biology—every semester. I’m going to go out on a whim here and, still being quite generous, say that only about a quarter of that hypothetical number a) have a major requiring this course or simply b) actually give somewhat of a shit about the topic at hand. Where does that leave the other 75%– graduating literature students, senior class film/art majors, fifth-year business administration kids taking this last GE class to finally get their goddam diplomas? I’ll leave that question open.

150 students is roughly four laboratory sections. Does the school pay the aquarium for four lab classes’ worth of entry fees when we have our field trip there? What about the gasoline and crew & captain’s pay for that big boat those four lab classes took out into the bay? Drift from the economics—what about the pollution from taking that big boat out and capturing a bunch of sea creatures, four times? Make that eight times, I hear it wasn’t just my class that had to throw the otter trawl out a second time because they didn’t catch any ocean dwellers the first time. Sounds like a great waste of resources on account of the obligatory “education” of 150 kids that don’t give a shit.

Oh wait, I think I know why those 150 students still have to take the class.

Each of those 150 students—that still don’t give a shit about the subject, in case if you’ve forgotten— still pay $40 for a shiny brand-new iClicker quiz-taking gizmo for the professor to be able to babysit and dock you points when you don’t show up to class. That’s $6000. With a rough approximation of each CSU unit costing $150 (also pretty generous), that’s another $22,500 for the school/program. Oh yeah, the book—$130—$19,500. Let’s be fair and only include half of that money paid for the iClicker and the book, since the school doesn’t produce them—so $3000 and $9,750, respectively—and we have a grand total of $30,000. Rough, yes, but this figure is what the school hypothetically makes from forcing 150 students who don’t give a shit to take an arbitrary class (and that’s also not tallying the $25 lab and lecture manuals—the only way to get the syllabus or take notes or complete assignments!)! $30,000 is a lot of money from students who don’t want to be there in the first place. Sure, maybe some good will come out of it one day. But not when your attitude’s in the gutter upon seeing your achieved D after staying up the last two nights studying for the exam.

It would seem, therefore, that students are no longer paying to educate themselves, but paying simply to employ the faculty, who do research in their non-teaching hours that may someday help the school’s reputation. Cool, but I don’t get it. With mandatory GE classes that do not interest a large percentage of the student body, there is no benefit—economic nor academic—to be profited by the student. Wasn’t this whole go-to-college thing about us in the first place?

I sense the CSU system is an effective parallel to that of our country’s management, albeit localized: as long as consumers believe they’re paying towards their own well-being, they won’t stop to question the world they’ve been born into.

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Another twenty some odd young adult who believes he sees things from a unique perspective. Here be my poetry & prose, short stories, favored school papers, rantings, and "blogs." Comment, critique, and profit.