Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Satan's spit

I once heard someone describe smoking as "sucking Satan's fingers". (This was someone who disapproved of smoking, not a connoisseur of cigarettes who also happened to be a Satanist.) In roughly the same vein, I propose that bottled water be labeled "Satan's spit".

To start with, around these parts, at least, bottled water is (a) often less pure than tap water, (b) by far more poorly regulated than tap water, and therefore (c) not as safe as tap water, and, besides, (d) often doesn't taste as good. Tap water is regulated by 100s of people at the EPA, while there is one official at the FDA whose duties include oversight of bottled water. For more on this, and also some amusing blind taste tests demonstrating point (d), see Penn and Teller and 20/20.

But that's not all. The above points just show that bottled water is kinda dumb. But, more than that, the bottled water industry is also evil: in short, it works to falsely undermine public confidence in tap water, to actually undermine the quality of public water resources, and to privatize water resources. In the long term, Satan's spit corporations have their eye on a future in which they control the water supply as population growth and global warming lead to increased demand and decreased supply, which, for them, would equal profit.

No Impact Man has provided a summary of the evil corporate conspiracy underlying the rise of bottled water, comparing the future of water to what we have seen with oil. And we see this underway here (No Impact Man quoting BusinessWeek).
In the coming decades, as growing numbers of people live in urban areas and climate change makes some regions much more prone to drought, water—or what many are calling "blue gold"—will become an increasingly scarce resource. By 2030 nearly half of the world's population will inhabit areas with severe water stress, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development. [Evil water privitizer T. Boone] Pickens understands that. And while Texas is unusually lax in its laws about pumping groundwater, the rush to control water resources is gathering speed around the planet. In Australia, now in the sixth year of a drought, brokers in urban areas are buying up water rights from farmers. Rural residents around the U.S. are trying to sell their land (and water) to multi- national water bottlers like NestlĂ© (BW—Apr. 14). Companies that use large quantities of the precious resource to run their businesses are seeking to lock up water supplies. One is Royal Dutch Shell, which is buying groundwater rights in Colorado as it prepares to drill for oil in the shale deposits there.
And here is a handy selection of further quotes. Also word of an upcoming documentary.

There is also the absurd waste of resources involved in the packaging and transportation of bottled water, but I won't get into that here.

Anyway: Please don't drink bottled water. And bottled-water-free zones are popping up in city halls and campuses and whatnot (there is no such thing here that I'm aware of, but I am eying the well-documented record of the successful campaign at the University of Winnipeg), so support those if they come your way--individual boycotts alone aren't going to defeat Satan's spit.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Michelle Bachmann

As best as I can tell, Michelle Bachmann has recently embarked on some kind of nuttery marathon.

First I heard of her campaign against a fictitious global currency.

Then I heard her raise the alarm about some fictitious re-education camps.

And just now I ran across her call for an armed revolution against cap-and-trade.

Everywhere I turn these days, she's saying something crazy. Is she in some kind of contest?

The first two bits of nuttery can be partially explained by her unmistakable allegiance to a popular bit of End Times conspiracy theory. (Slacktivist pointed this out with respect to her opposition to the imaginary global currency.) According to scenarios like those popularized in the Left Behind series, the second coming of Christ is going to be heralded by the creation of an evil secular one-world government. This regime is going to bring the whole planet under a single global currency (you know, just cuz), and is also going to institute re-education camps. And Bachmann is going to assume that plans for those things are already under way, because she's quite convinced that the second coming, and all of the things on the checklist leading up to that, is going to happen any day now.

Just kidding!

This afternoon the news came out that, despite the Mayor's promise that four mental health clinics would not be closing (yet), they had in fact closed.

So, that sucked. We'd thought we'd won that one.

But wait! Within the span of a few hours, the news stories were updated: yes, the clinics have closed, but they'll be reopening real soon now, promise.

So: victory again! Maybe this time it'll last even longer than a couple of days.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Score one for the good guys

So I've been getting all activisty recently. (After Obama's election campaign, community organizing became the in thing, so I thought I'd check it out.)

Here's an infuriating thing: a while back the city decided to close down four of the city's mental health clinics--and all the ones slated for closure just happen to be in poor, largely minority neighbourhoods on the southside. Because if you've got a budget problem, the thing you really want to do is take support away from people with mental health problems living in impoverished areas.

There was a whole series of actions on this issue (protests and town-hall meetings), but none of those yielded much success. The mayor's office consistently refused to talk to anyone about the issue. Things were looking pretty grim. But then:
Mayor Richard Daley today issued a temporary reprieve to four South Side mental health clinics slated to close but did not say how long they would stay open.


The clinics were to close as early as Tuesday, but a brief sit-in staged Monday by clinic patients and their advocates led to meetings with Daley Chief of Staff Paul Volpe and the subsequent mayoral reprieve.
The sit-in involved a half-dozen people dressed in suits, walking into the office at different times with various legitimate-sounding inquiries--and then refusing to leave. That was the core group, ready to be arrested if it came to that. They were backed up by a much larger group of protesters outside of the office. And also a bunch of cameras from local news outlets. Beautiful.

Alas, I didn't actually make it out to that last rally. (Naturally I now feel terrible about that--not only would it have been a good thing to participate in, but it would have been a big rush, too.) And the lack of a full commitment to keeping the clinics open is worrisome. But, all that said, it still feels pretty damn good.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Goggle go!

I was looking up Kraftwerk's "Man Machine" on Youtube (good stuff), and ran across a piece of my childhood: the opening credits to Seiun Kamen MachineMan, a superhero adventure TV series of the genre which Power Rangers took all its clips from (except MachineMan belongs to the subgenre that features a single hero, rather than a team of five--I'm not sure if that's made it over here). For more information, I refer to this wiki page, which appears to be the Portuguese entry run through a computer translator.

Man that is a great theme song. I think I might have had it on tape.

And it led me to others. For example:

Don't ask me to explain the name "Goggle Five". I mean there's 5 of them, and their helmets look like they have goggles.