Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thoughts on Creationism

You want red herrings - the whole creationism thing is a red herring. If you a referencing the bible or some such other theological writing - you are having a philosophy discussion. If you are using the scientific theory to prove a fact you are dealing with science. When the day comes that we can prove life after death, and knock on gods front door and get invited in for a cup of tea - that's when philosophy (some call it religion) will move into the scientific realm and science will merge into the faith realm by having the need for "faith" eliminated. Now what kind of religion wants to eliminate faith, trust - it's the most important component - a belief and a trust in things unseen.

Science is not religion and religion is not science - otherwise "faith" wouldn't be an issue, have an impact or be the necessary ingredient in the "belief" models of organized religion and individuals personal philosophies.

If you want to teach creationism put it in a philosophy or religious studies class. If the school is getting public funding you have to make sure the school board, district, staff and principle aren't advocating for one religion or another.

What's so hard about bringing some ethical clarity and intellectual honesty to personal behavior. Stow your religious agendas at the school house door. Children deserve to see and hear all the world has to offer before we try and make up their minds for them. That's intellectually honest. Someone advocating for their religion over someone elses isn't being intellectually honest. They are recruiting.

Religion was the first system of laws put forth to civilize society. Now the pendulum has swung too far and we have religious sects - acting in cult like fashions using and manipulating "believers" and the faith mechanism in an effort to seek personal gain, wealth and power for themselves.

My recommendation is believe what you want to believe but unless you are following these two rules "live and let live" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" you are the one doing the wrong thing - you don't need dogma to tell you that's right. Our collective conscience informs us all.

Life is a tapestry with many points of view - most likely a different one for each person. Impose your "belief" system on someone else - worse yet call it science and you will meet immediate resistance from those who are exercising their "god given" free will. This is what all the wars are about. Trying to now shroud (pun intended) the christian myth legends as science does both science, critical thinking and belief and faith a huge disservice.

Show me Jesus's robes, sandals, bowl he ate out of, name written down in the tax records - he allegedly walked on water - you think someone would have kept a lock of his hair. Show me something with provenance and we can move him to an unquestioned, existing, human being. Until then he is someone or something that requires faith and who knows - maybe that's the way it's supposed to be.

Something tells me that when we die whatever we see if anything will be based on what we need to see based on what we believe inside our souls and consciousness. Buddhist will see Buddha, Muslims will see Mohammad, Christians will see Jesus, Native Americans will see the Great Spirit as a wolf, bear, eagle or Geronimo, some of us will see Hendrix, Garcia or Pablo Neruda, families, friends or pets. Who's to say it's not all the same thing. After all creation has shown us that variety is it's hallmark and change is it's constant.

Finally I would add we didn't put this planet or ourselves here. We should treat each other and the planet with that in mind. This is not a world of our doing and it is only our undoing that we can control. I would recommend treating all that we see as sacred and that despoiling this creation of air land and sea with pollution is an affront to the creator and the creative process. Would you throw battery acid, pesticides, soot, or oil on the Mona Lisa? Don't you think creating the Earth and all that is in it took more talent?

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home

Friday, April 24, 2009

Religious - Movie Review

I've been meaning to post something up about Bill Maher's movie Religious - it's great! Oh yea a little reality thrown at the kool-aid drinkers. Where are the hard core right wing skeptics who debunk UFO's, Ghosts, ESP, Edgar Cayce but don't ever speak out about Religion as if somehow those belief systems are based on hard core evidence of some kind? What do religions give us, books, myths, contradictions, dogma, where are the artifacts?

For those of you brave enough to question how things are with the brain and free will you were created with invest ninety minutes of time and catch bill's take on World Religions. The critics of this movie feel threatened by how easy it is to poke holes in organized religion and their (to coin a phrase) faith based realities. Hey I'm not discounting a creator. I didn't build this universe, put this Earth here, or all these people, but when it comes to organized religion there are some dubious claims and people running the show. I would venture to say that most people who are not card carrying members of some "faith based" organization, big and powerful, asking for money, and cult like in their behavior, are far more respectfull of the Earth, it's environment and each other.

Remember if you are not living by these two codes "live and let live" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" then you are the one doing the wrong thing.

Check out Bill's movie and tell your friends!

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home

Here's the link

The Amateurs - Movie Reviw

Take a look at some of the cast members - Jeff Bridges, Joe Pantoliano, William Fichtner, Ted Danson, Tim Blake Nelson, Patrick Fugit, Glenne Headly, Lauren Graham, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Steven Weber, Valerie Perrine, Judy Greer.

For some strange reason this has a terrible review out on Net Flix. Way off base I think the reviewer was having a bad day. In any event the film is just terrific, it has lots of heart and lots of laughs. Most of the actors are going against type and that's fun to see. Jeff Bridges brings his usual warmth to the role and Pantoliano is a hoot. I'm a big fan of Fugits and even if you don't recognize the cast names listed above you''ll recognize their faces and talent.

Small town bunglers make a porno - what a great premise but there is more here to the movie and it gets beneath the surface of quite a few issues. Lots of laughs a few surprises and genuine kinship make this movie an absolute pleasure to see. The big block busters get all the press so occasionally I give a shout out to some lesser known movies that I stumble into.

I can wholeheartedly recommend The Amateurs. Watch the extras on the DVD after the film for some fun stuff. Pop over to Net Flix and put it in your queue. You won't be disappointed.

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home
Here's the trailer

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Honeybees Continue to Vanish: It's The Pesticides Stupid

This is a repost from AlterNet by Evaggelos Vallianatos, and a very serious problem that we are not making enough noise about.

The chemical lobby needs to be brought to task for this affront to the natural order of things...why are we so stupid - common sense tells you that you can't dump loads of man made chemicals into the environment without problems arising. I have gone all organic on my lawn using corn gluten and alfalfa and it looks just fine - get a grip America and wake up!

Thank you Evaggelos!

When I was teaching at Humboldt State University in northern California 20 years ago, I invited a beekeeper to talk to my students. He said that each time he took his bees to southern California to pollinate other farmers' crops, he would lose a third of his bees to sprays. In 2009, the loss ranges all the way to 60 percent.

Honeybees have been in terrible straits.

A little history explains this tragedy.

For millennia, honeybees lived in symbiotic relationship with societies all over the world.

The Greeks loved them. In the eighth century BCE, the epic poet Hesiod considered them gifts of the gods to just farmers. And in the fourth century of our era, the Greek mathematician Pappos admired their hexagonal cells, crediting them with "geometrical forethought."

However, industrialized agriculture is not friendly to honeybees.

In 1974, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency licensed the nerve gas parathion trapped into nylon bubbles the size of pollen particles.

What makes this microencapsulated formulation more dangerous to bees than the technical material is the very technology of the "time release" microcapsule.

This acutely toxic insecticide, born of chemical warfare, would be on the surface of the flower for several days. The foraging bee, if alive after its visit to the beautiful white flowers of almonds, for example, laden with invisible spheres of asphyxiating gas, would be bringing back to its home pollen and nectar mixed with parathion.

It is possible that the nectar, which the bee makes into honey, and the pollen, might end up in some food store to be bought and eaten by human beings.

Beekeepers are well aware of what is happening to their bees, including the potential that their honey may not be fit for humans.

Moreover, many beekeepers do not throw away the honey, pollen and wax of colonies destroyed by encapsulated parathion or other poisons. They melt the wax for new combs: And they sell both honey and pollen to the public.

Government "regulators" know about this danger.

An academic expert, Carl Johansen, professor of entomology at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, called the microencapsulated methyl parathion "the most destructive bee poisoning insecticide ever developed."

In 1976, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a report by one of its former employees, S. E. McGregor, a honeybee expert who documented that about a third of what we eat benefits from honeybee pollination. This includes vegetables, oilseeds and domesticated animals eating bee-pollinated hay.

In 2007, the value of food dependent on honeybees was $15 billion in the United States.

McGregor also pointed out that insect-pollinated legumes collect nitrogen from the air, storing it in their roots and enriching the soil. In addition, insect pollination makes the crops more wholesome and abundant. He advised the farmer he should never forget that "no cultural practice will cause fruit or seed to set if its pollination is neglected."

In addition, McGregor blamed the chemical industry for seducing the farmers to its potent toxins. He said:

"[P]esticides are like dope drugs. The more they are used the more powerful the next one must be to give satisfaction" and therein develops the spiraling effect, the pesticide treadmill. The chemical salesman, in pressuring the grower to use his product, practically assumes the role of the "dope pusher." Once the victim, the grower, is "hooked," he becomes a steady and an ever-increasing user.

No government agency listened to McGregor.

The result of America's pesticide treadmill is that now, in 2009, honeybees and other pollinators are moving towards extinction.

In October 2006, the U.S. National Research Council warned of the" "demonstrably downward" trends in the populations of pollinators. For the first time since 1922, American farmers are renting imported bees for their crops. They are even buying bees from Australia.

Honeybees, the National Academies report said, pollinate more than 90 crops in America, but have declined by 30 percent in the last 20 years alone. The scientists who wrote the report expressed alarm at the precipitous decline of the pollinators.

Unfortunately, this made no difference to EPA, which failed to ban the microencapsulated parathion that is so deadly to honeybees.

Bee experts know that insecticides cause brain damage to the bees, disorienting them, making it often impossible for them to find their way home.

This is a consequence of decades of agribusiness warfare against nature and, in time, honeybees. In addition, beekeepers truck billions of bees all over the country for pollination, depriving them of good food, stressing them enormously, and, very possibly, injuring their health.

Save The Environment Eat Less MEAT!!!!!!

This is a repost from AlterNet - By Kathy Freston
Thanks Kathy for assembling these facts - I highlighted my favorite!

My first post on the effect of eating meat on the environment provoked quite a bit of discussion, so in honor of Earth Day, I thought I should follow up with more information about how our natural resources (e.g., air, water, and soil) are depleted and devastated by animal agriculture.

Of course, Earth Day is also a good time to remember that animal agriculture only exists at astronomical levels because people are purchasing vast quantities of chicken, beef, pork, and fish. The market for meat (i.e., we, the consumers) drives the depletion and destruction.

1. Excrement produced by chickens, pigs, and other farm animals: 16.6 billion tons per year -- more than a million pounds per second (that's 60 times as much as is produced by the world's human population -- farmed animals produce more waste in one day than the U.S. human population produces in 3 years). This excrement is a major cause of air and water pollution. According to the United Nations: "The livestock sector is... the largest sectoral source of water pollution, contributing to eutrophication, 'dead' zones in coastal areas, degradation of coral reefs, human health problems, emergence of antibiotic resistance and many others."

2. Water used for farmed animals and irrigating feed crops: 240 trillion gallons per year -- 7.5 million gallons per second (that's enough for every human to take 8 showers a day, or as much as is used by Europe, Africa, and South America combined). According to the UN: "[t]he water used by the sector exceeds 8 percent of the global human water use." As just one example, "[O]n average 990 litres of water are required to produce one litre of milk." So drinking milk instead of tap water requires almost 1,000 times as much water.

3. Emissions of greenhouse gases from raising animals for food: The equivalent of 7.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the UN report. Concludes the UN: "The livestock sector is... responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions." That's about 40 percent more than all the cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships in the world combined (transport is 13%). And "The sector emits 37% of anthropogenic methane (with 23 times the global warming potential-or GWP-of CO2)... It emits 65% of anthropogenic nitrous oxide (with 296 times the GWP of CO2). These figures are based on the power of these gases over 100 years; in fact, over 20 years-a more important timeframe for dealing with global warming-methane and nitrous oxide are 72 times and 289 times more warming than CO2. And Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC (which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore) has been saying that the 18% figure is probably an underestimate.

4. It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie of animal protein as it does to make one calorie of plant protein.

5. Soil erosion due to growing livestock feed: 40 billion tons per year (or 6 tons/year for every human being on the planet-of course if you don't eat meat, none of this is attributed to you; if you're in the U.S. where we eat lots more meat than most of the world, your contribution is many times greater than 6 tons/year). About 60% of soil that is washed away ends up in rivers, streams and lakes, making waterways more prone to flooding and to contamination from soil's fertilizers and pesticides. Erosion increases the amount of dust carried by wind, polluting the air and carrying infection and disease.

6. Land used to raise animals for food: 10 billion acres. According to the UN: "In all, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet." And "70 percent of previous forested land in the Amazon is occupied by pastures, and feedcrops cover a large part of the remainder." And "About 20 percent of the world's pastures and rangelands, with 73 percent of rangelands in dry areas, have been degraded to some extent, mostly through overgrazing, compaction and erosion created by livestock action."

7. According to the UN, animal agriculture is a leading case of water pollution. The main water pollutants in the US are sediments and nutrients. Animal agriculture is responsible for 55 percent of the erosion that causes sedimentation, and for a third of the main nutrient pollutants, nitrogen and phosphorous. On top of that, animal agriculture is the source of more than a third of the United States' water pollution from pesticides, and half of its water pollution from antibiotics.

8. Livestock are also responsible for almost two-thirds of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.

9. Grain and corn raised for livestock feed that could otherwise feed people, according to the UN: 836 million tons per year (note that the more commonly used figure, 758 million tons, is metric). That's more than 7 times the amount used for biofuels and is much more than enough to adequately feed the 1.4 billion humans who are living in dire poverty, and the number doesn't even include the fact that almost all of the global soy crop (about 240 million tons of soy) is also fed to chickens, pigs, and other farmed animals.

10. An American saves more global warming pollution by going vegan than by switching their car to a hybrid Prius.

11. Razing the Amazon rainforest for pasture and feed crops: 5 million acres of Amazon per year. Former Amazon rainforest converted to raising animals for food since 1970 is more than 90% of all Amazon deforestation since 1970.

12. According to the UN: "Indeed, the livestock sector may well be the leading player in the reduction of biodiversity..." And "[l]ivestock now account for about 20 percent of the total terrestrial animal biomass, and the 30 percent of the earth's land surface that they now pre-empt was once habitat for wildlife." And "Conservation International has identified 35 global hotspots for biodiversity, characterized by exceptional levels of plant endemism and serious levels of habitat loss. Of these, 23 are reported to be affected by livestock production. An analysis of the authoritative World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species shows that most of the world's threatened species are suffering habitat loss where livestock are a factor."

13. United Nations scientists, in their 408-page indictment of the meat industry, sum up these statistics, pointing out that the meat industry is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global," including "problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

The U.S. vs John Lennon

I finally got around to viewing this documentary. I have to admit I teared up when I saw the millions protesting on the Mall in Washington D.C. Where are those people now? There is so much to fix in this country. Hopefully we are starting to correct the wrongs. The Patriot Act is un-patriotic, and Homeland security is a bureaucratic nightmare.

The mind set of torture, war, a trashed environment, the status quo closing its grip and ignoring the reality of health, education and the environment for a few more coins persists and won't go away without a desperate fight. They are beyond selfish and short sighted, nuclear weapons proliferating, nuclear waste piling up with no safe means of getting rid of it, and there is a legacy of debauchery and mismanagement from the previous administration that has to be cleaned out, cleaned up and fixed. We have a lot of work to do.

This film is a loving tribute to John. His detractors will point out his flaws and scream foul but their nit picking sounds hollow and desperate and afraid of the light and vision John promoted.

John told his fans peace is an alternative, apathy is not the answer and engaged his fans to register to vote and get involved in the process. For this he is dead. Just like the right wing war mongers of today and their smeary clamoring wannabe friends in the media and in the government John Lennon was vilified, and victimized for daring to speak out.

How do we know Utopia isn't possible if we do not try? Yes men are horrible creatures but if we lead by example instead of by poor example maybe more good men will evolve. Anything less than an attempt to educate, share and provide for each other will drop us to our knees as we grapple for each others throat. These are the alternatives these are our choices. It's better to aim high than excuse the pitiful debased hypocrisy of self aggrandizement and politics/business as usual and their ongoing atrocities.

Sorry clear eyed, dog eat dog, survival of the machismo whores your world view ends in chaos as the everyone in it for themselves crowd and their death struggle for the top of the heap leaves us all in a toxic waste land of decay and death.

Gandhi was right, so was John - Give Peace a your souls, in your home and in your world. Otherwise we are doomed to a failure spiral of greed, selfishness, false bravado, deception, and lies. You can't even follow the ten commandments of your espoused religion and you dismiss the peace makers as fools.

For those of you open minded, hopeful and practicing in your every day life what you preach - rent the DVD from Net flix. It's a must see documentary, heartfelt and eerily poignant for this very moment we live in...god bless you John - he was prosecuted, harassed, vilified and shot down for trying. To honor his memory - remember his message, give peace a chance and get active....apathy is not the answer.

Thank you Yoko - well done!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Freedom From Oil

First off anytime you consolidate (acquisition and mergers) you cripple the market place (Exxon/Mobil - the big telecoms, the financial sector, and media). It's bad for business, it's bad for democracy, it's bad for America and its a blatant power grab.

Big oil dug in like a tick blocks new technology through legislation and monopoly, and even places their minions into the Executive Branch (President & Vice President).

That we find our selves mucking it up in the oil fields in Iraq isn't a big surprise. That half of the voting population fell for the saber rattling, bible thumping and jingoism is, but then again maybe that's half of the population that knew damn right well what we were doing and was okay with it - after all "drill baby drill" was their battle cry this past November.

Entrepreneurship and the innovative spirit is not only the story of this country but the life blood of the markets. Anytime a business gets too big to fail is exactly the time the SEC and the FEDs should break it apart. Big oil needs to get out of the way if they aren't going to get on board. Sending our boys and girls to die for their bonuses is down right evil. We can do better than that and should.

Clean energy innovations are busting at the seams. A little seed money from the Feds diverted from antiquated defense weapons, the pentagon and the antiquated energy sector will do the trick.

People back to work upgrading our grid and infrastructure will have jobs for generations. We are on the verge of something big, long lasting, sustainable and equitable. Our politicians must be held accountable - either they are with us or against coin a phrase.

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home

Freedom From Oil - Book Review

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Deregulation, Liar Loans, and 4 Star Ratings = FRAUD

So they made the CEO of GM walk the plank. Anybody at AIG get fired yet, how about at Goldman Sachs, how about at any of our financial institutions?

Geitner is in charge? He's in bed with these scabs. Geitner's head should be rolling. Prior to 9/11 - that's 2001 people, the FBI, the freakin' FBI, warned the financial sectors that unverified loans were a growing scam operation netting CEO's millions in bonuses and application fees. Bush reassigned the FBI squad looking into this financial fraud to terrorism and never restaffed the division. Oh oopss - sorry no oversight - don't mind us while we look the other way - thanks for the campaign donation. The term "Liar Loans" is the financial sectors tongue and check insider term for NOT DOING THEIR JOB.

The CEO's of the financial sector live in the moral waste land of fraud devoid of ethics, accountability or penalty. Our financial whiz kids all still have their jobs and billions of our tax dollars. They pushed for deregulation under the paper work burden argument and the second they got free - they shirked their responsibilities and ripped everyone off - blind.

The high and mighty deregulated, free marketers, bible thumping, wrapped in the American Flag, saber rattling in one hand offering us liar loans and false 4 star ratings in the other. These are the powerful people, the status quo running the show. They do a huge injustice to the real people trying to live a moral, honest life, defrauding them out of their vote and co opting their symbols to get and stay in power. Treason is a word that comes to mind, as well as scam artists and that word FRAUD again.

Can you believe we are actually going to need laws that direct, mandate, order, implore and beg our money lenders to do credit and background checks on their applicants? Would you run a legitimate money lending operation without checking your applicants fitness to pay you back? I didn't think so.

But these CEO's - scam artists, con men, crooks in ties and collars - the CEO's and CFO's knew they were liar loans. They knew they were toxic, and they perpetrated a fraud by wrapping them in 4 star ratings. They got rid of them as fast as they could to unsuspecting investors who rely on those rating systems. Nice scam. Who's going to jail - no one, really...fraud is illegal people and for a good reason - like the one we are living through now!

They took the application fees into the companies, collected the bonuses, put their man in charge to govern the fix (Paulsson and Geitner), left the tax payers holding the bag, and patted themselves on the back for being so clever and corrupt. Full proof and scott free.

Yep the free markets work just fine without oversight - nothing to see here people, move along, move along - go watch American Idol or read People Magazine - hey did you here Madonna got turned down for adoption?

Whatever you do don't read the attached article in the link above and below or call your congressman to express your outrage...or demand hearings. I hear there's free ring tones for your phone...and new apps on facebook...tra,la,la...

Liar Loans
that's their insider term for it...not mine.

Shinning city on the hill, country first, it makes me want to puke for those who fall for the sloganeering and the chiselers who perpetrate it!

Author-Journey Home

Bill Moyers - Journal

Alter-Net Article