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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

The most Brooklynest band in Brooklyn is playing at Trash Bar in Williamsburg this week. Be there, or be square. And by “square,” I mean “one who does not partake in free beer from 8 – 9 p.m.”

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Friday, July 20
8:00 p.m.
Trash Bar
256 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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chickenA bunch of chickens have eaten chicken feed tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, used to manufacture plastic utensils and fertilizer. Gross.

Apparently the feed was partially made from pet food that had ALREADY been recalled because of its taintedness. Gross.

Richard Lobb, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council says to blame China!

“Melamine is not supposed to be in any animal feed, pet food… it’s an industrial chemical and that problem goes back to China where they were deliberately spiking the product with melamine and before that with urea in order to boost its protein content,” Lobb said.

Eww! Urea? That’s nasty. I bet that China’s not the only place where that kind of shit (or piss) happens.

So who is to blame? China? No way. Blame the chicken growers importing their feed rather than feeding the chickens things grown on their own farm. Importing feed, even when it’s not loaded with nasties, is bad a) when its manufacture creates pollution, b) when its shipment creates even more pollution, c) when the chemicals in it make the chicken sick, d) when the chickens get antibiotics to combat the sickness from the tainted feed and our bodies get overloaded with antibiotics, and e) when the people getting rich off of it are the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the industrial feed manufacturers, and farmers are forced to participate in the system even though it is totally f-ed up.

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Ethanol or Ethan Hawke? A possibly sustainable alternative fuel or a faded star with a history of sexual infidelity?

 So in order to debate the issue, we need to know a little bit about them. The type of ethanol that is the current media darling is Corn-Based Ethanol. When I first heard about this I was like, what? Seriously, the government is taking an alternative and renwable fuel source seriously? Awesome! But eeh, these guys are usually on the wrong side of things, what’s the catch? I hope there isn’t one…….

Hmm. Oh wait. Of course there’s a catch. The catch is corn. Corn is something you should know about, and be thinking about, regardless of whether or not you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which you might want to consider, as it is fun to read and pretty interesting).

One basic thing to know is that corn is in everything we eat. It is there to hang out and add calories. Now, I know as soon as you mention ‘calories’ you sound like a one-apple-a-day-eating-livejournaling freak (perhaps like Ethan Hawkes’ ex? interesting….) but it’s important. Adding corn syrup is food manufacturers’ way of bulking up a product, making it look and taste more like food, without actually adding any nutritional value. It’s like the Rosie O’Donnell of food (not that The View was so nutritious to begin with).

Check the back of your bread package. Chances are, unless you buy organic or some other kind of ‘specialty’ bread, corn syrup is the second ingredient. Hmmm, right. You don’t need me to tell you, that doesn’t belong.  You don’t need me to tell you, it will make you fatter and take away delicious calories you could use elsewhere, like, for this. Mmmm.

So anyway, the point is that corn makes its way into everything, corn farmers get huge subsidies from the government for growing things that make us fatter and more diabetic, and oh right, it’s also totally genetically modified and freaky (like Gattaca maybe? interesting….).

When I said “corn farmers” up there, it’s important to note that I don’t mean happy jolly feel-good farmers, I mean huge huge HUGE businesses like Archer-Daniels Midland and Monsanto. They get the vast majority of the millions of dollars the government spends on farm subsidies, and they use much of it to produce corn, much of which is for corn syrup and animal feed (cows and salmon and other such animals are trained to eat corn-based feed instead of their natural foods and it makes them fatter and, right, us who eat them fatter).

So who stands to gain from a push for corn-based ethanol? Those guys.  Those already super rich and just gonna get richer guys.

Alternative fuels are a totally good idea, much like a movie version of Fast Food Nation. However, it’s not such a good movie to watch, and corn-based ethanols are already driving up the price of food around the world. People in Mexico have been protesting in huge numbers the 60% (!!) increase in the price of corn tortillas that has already happened, and some economists are estimating rises in the US as high as 14% for milk and 21% for a dozen eggs.

“The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world’s 2 billion poorest people.”

Yikes.

So, what’s the answer? Another term you might have heard is cellulosic ethanol – it just means stuff made from plants. Any plants. Different plants take different amounts of pollution to make into fuel, and different plants’ fuels result in different amounts of pollution. Corn is not the best. Different plants do different things to the soil – some are better for it and some are worse. Corn is worse.

Just a few things to think about as we move into our debate: Ethanol vs. Ethan Hawke. Hmmm. 

The truth (duh) is that Dead Poets Society (oh god my heart!) will win out over any fuel, ever, be it cellulosic ethanol or trillium or coal.

I encourage you to continue the debate with your friends and onlookers.

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I suppose it’s every mayor’s prerogative to clean something up in the city before his time is up. Fiorello LaGuardia, the Little Flower, crusaded against corruption. Rudy Giuliani, the Little Catholic, made it his business to cut down crime via fixing broken windows and making people scoop dog poop.

And Michael Bloomberg, the Little Billionaire, is all up in our shit. Early on, he became mortal enemies with 90% of New Yorkers by banning smoking in bars. At this point, only about 5% of people still hate him for that and they’ll all be dead soon anyway. Now he’s just looking to keep New York over-crowded, apartment availability at around 1%, and our subways like sardine cans. Our mayor is trying his darndest to keep up alive. Because there is absolutely nothing he can do to keep us safe from other people, Bloomberg is just protecting us from ourselves, one fragile bit at a time.

The Lungs: Banned smoking in bars
The Arteries: Banned trans-fats from restaurants
The Baby-makers: Distributed millions of NYC branded condoms
The Foreskin: Offering free circumcisions to prevent the transmission of HIV

For the record, I understand the no smoking in bars. It’s just bad. I think we can all basically agree with that. I, personally, agree with the trans-fat thing because their very existence scares the bejeezus out of me. However, I’m a little concerned with how much thought the mayor is putting into the collective wang of NYC. And I’m also kind of touched. Yes, in that way.

Update: Bloomberg not so interested in our bloomers – Today, he recanted his administration’s circumcision proposal. Oh well. I’m sure he’ll be talking about my fallopia tomorrow.

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