Archive for June, 2007

Big Kids, Big Dreams, Big Load of Bull

June 30, 2007

(Please see my post ADD and Obesity for more on this issue.)

Has anyone seen the commercials for the new television show hosted by Shaq?

It’s one of those weight loss shows… for kids.

Yes, 200lb fifth graders will face boot camp with our beloved Shaquille O’Neal on ABC in a show titled, “Shaq’s Big Challenge”.

As my wonderful friend so lovingly put it, “The Europeans must be laughing their asses off at us right now.”

If any Europeans happen across this post, trust me, I am laughing right along with you.

Shaq dishes out some (insert sarcastic tone here) profound insight and states that in this society, “it’s easy to eat a bag of chips and watch TV, easy to eat a bag of chips and play with your PlayStation. It’s easy to eat a bag of doughnuts and just sit down and not do anything.”

Well put, Shaq. And now, thanks to you, the other 250 million Americans can sit down in front of their television with a big bag of buttery popcorn to watch you scream at a bunch of overweight kids.

But a few questions for you, Mr. O’Neal:

How many video games have you helped promote that included you as the star player?

Weren’t you, at one time, a spokesperson for Sprite… and the Big Mac?

And, how much are you making off of this television show?

Ah yes. Well, once again, Americans have shown the world what we’re made of:
Obese kids whose parents couldn’t do their job and raise healthy children in the first place
Loving parents who willingly sacrifice their children’s dignity for a couple bucks and the opportunity to meet Shaq
A love for watching fat children get screamed at while trying to run, jump, and do sit ups
The ease with which we will blindly follow network television and a 7 foot, 325lb giant.

Here’s to you, fat children of the world. Instead of those carrots, get mom to take you to Micky D’s. You never know, one day, you could meet the NBA star of your dreams.

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Tonight on Smackdown: Nature v. Business

June 29, 2007

Who will emerge the reigning champ?

I realize that most of my posts so far come off quite liberal, and although that is the direction in which I tend to lean, on many issues I’m pretty stumped.

Like business and nature, for example. I love the environment, and I’ve been pretty clear on that, but business is important, too. We need a strong economy as a crucial keystone for just about everything else. If we want to end poverty, we need a good economy. If we want to keep jobs in the U.S., we need a good economy. If we want to help fight AIDS in Africa, well, we need a good economy. Everything we do depends on our revenues. Even nature depends on it! Keeping our environment safe is not a cheap cause. We need money to fund alternative fuel research, cleaning our lakes, oceans, and rivers, and the saving of endangered species It all costs something. However, the loss of a healthy ecosystem would be hundreds of times more costly than anything we can ever imagine. Food, wood, cotton, steel, makeup, gym shoes, baseball mitts, everything from A-Z depends on nature….and on business.

Understandably so, we face quite the dilemma: Where do our priorities lie? In the thing that governs our very livelihood, or… the other thing that governs our very livelihood?

In a really neat series of articles that the Washington Post did on Dick Cheney’s vice presidency (June 27, 2007), an incident of nature v. business was cited. While farmers faced droughts in Oregon, they were prohibited from irrigation in 2004/2005 because of the trauma it would cause to two types of threatened fish in the area. Due to VP Cheney’s work, the law was changed, and farmers were allowed to irrigate. Following the reversal of this law, tens of thousands of fish were found dead along the banks of the Klamath River.

Business won.
But at what expense?

Whether it is because of selfishness, ignorance, or just the difficulty of the subject, humans have a tough time seeing how important the interrelations of nature are. So what if we lose two types of fish?

Well, let’s say that those two types of fish feed off of smaller types, and those smaller types eat plant organisms that grow in rivers. When you eliminate the fish at the top of that food chain, the population of the next fish in line grows exponentially because they no longer have anything to keep their numbers “in check”. In turn, these fish consume all plant life in the river, lowering oxygen levels. The fish starve or suffocate, leave mass amounts of corpses, and create a river full of fungus/algae. The destruction of the entire ecosystem occurs because of the loss of the higher fish. When any one piece of an ecosystem is changed too drastically, it can very easily cause the destruction of the whole thing. (If you want to take that scenario a step further… Animals around the area no longer have a clean body of water from which to drink. Now where will that take us?)

However, not only was the ecosystem lost, Oregon lost the fishing business. Fishermen (er… fisherpeople to be politically correct I suppose) have lost their jobs, and people have less fish to eat directly from the area, causing them to shell out more money to get the fish from areas that are further away.

It seems that there is a strong interrelation between business and the environment, and it’s one that we can’t afford to ignore. We cannot function in a world without a healthy environment, nor can we function in a country without a healthy economy. Look to any example, and if you think hard enough, it is not so difficult to see the ways in which the two rely on each other.

The problem now becomes this: in the U.S., one cannot be “pro business” and “pro nature”. It’s just not possible. Politicians will be condemned for flip-flopping or being soft and won’t stand a chance in the next election. Ah, the two-party system: You are only one or the other, never both, and always neither.

I’m all about compromise- maybe it’s because I’m young and I’m still lost in a land of ideals and “what-could-be’s”, but for the sake of this country, for the sake of the world, and for the sake of the future, we have to find a way to reconcile business with nature, or nature with business. If we do not, there is no telling what could lie in store for us.

This is a reply blog to a friend of mine

June 14, 2007

A conservative friend of mine (Trent, we are friends, right? haha) posted a blog that I just HAD to comment on. However, my comment was extremely long, so I decided to make it a post instead. This is the link to Trent’s post that I am replying to. The World According to Trent

Trent, I love your writing. It’s solid, thought-provoking, and makes me so angry I don’t know what to do with myself! Hahaha. Alright, so let me try to hit on everything I want to. Hopefully this doesn’t get too long:

I believe in global warming; it’s a reality in my eyes. The basic principle is this: certain gases react with light in a manner such that, when the sun hits them, they move very quickly. They bend and stretch and wobble around. As many know, things in motion create heat. When you’re cold in the winter, you jump up and down and wiggle about. It warms you. Well, the moving particles (CO2 is just one type) heat up the air around them as the sun hits them by all the bending and stretching. The greenhouse effect is NOT heat being trapped around the earth by the ozone or anything like that, and I just wanted to clear that up with… well whoever is reading.

Secondly, I DO understand what you mean when you say that global warming actually hurts the poor. Countries in Africa that are trying to develop do not have the technology developed nations do, and they end up really hurting the environment. They clear-cut forests to make farms and utilize other such harmful practices just so that they can get by. (Which, in my opinion, is just another reason why we need to give them a hand, not so much monetarily, but through teaching). Similarly, emissions tests in this country ban cars from the road that do not pass whatever pollution rates. However, who are the people who own cars so old/beat up that they emit too many pollutants? Ah yes. The poor ( a person making $150,000 is not driving around in a 1989 Ford Tempo). This takes away the cars that THEY NEED to travel to their jobs. So, tough choice on that one, huh? Cleaner air or keep low-income people employed?

The Kyoto Protocol took into account a country’s population, economic status, and rate of development when determining the reduction of pollutants. For example, the U.S. would have to reduce a greater percentage of our CO2 emissions than, for example, a country in South Africa would.

I don’t see global warming as something that will decimate our economy. I hate so much that liberals have to turn global warming into something so unbelievably radical while conservatives need to deny it outright. There is a middle-ground! I read an article in Time Magazine a while back on how business people (to be politically correct! hahaha) and entrepreneurs in the U.S. are developing amazing technology that will lower greenhouse emissions and put the U.S. back on the forefront of scientific/technological advancements (something that NO ONE, left or right, can say is a bad thing). I also have an earlier post titled Global Warming: An Economic Tale, which I believe you commented on, Trent, discussing how much money people can save while conserving energy at the same time.

Personally, I don’t see how taking reasonable steps to care for the environment and putting the brakes on global warming is a terrible thing. I know that I want my children to grow up in a safe, healthy future. How horrible would our generation feel if our children or children’s children had to deal with, for example, flooded coast lines, almost unlivable air quality, and sky-rocketing temperatures that lead to famines and water shortages? Although those are drastic ideas right now, if we push things too far for too long, they are definite possibilities for the future. I would not want two generations down the line to resent and hate us for something we could have prevented. I would like them to believe that we did what we could to make their futures good places to live. Decimation of the environment really is a problem in that we are stewards to this place that, well, isn’t really ours. And yes, taking care of global warming and the enviro as a whole will cost a couple bucks, but that’s why it is something we need to plan and work on logically and REASONABLY. Let’s start with basic steps before we jump around and get ahead of ourselves. Advancing our technology to find different sources of energy could help boost our economy a great deal, rather than hurt it.

All in all, Trent, I think you bring up awesome points. It is so hard to choose between our environment and our poor. Issues such as these are going to take a ton of compromise, discussion, and give-and-take. None of it will be easy, but there IS a middle ground, and there ARE answers. We just have to find the people (or hell…Let’s BE the people) who are open-minded enough to get it done.