Protest prison privitization

Privitizing prisons  is a bad idea.  That makes the prison a business.  What do businesses typically do?  Increase profits, layoff workers, and look for ways to cut corners while increasing the customer base.  What does this mean if a prison is a business?  If companies make money from running prisons, obviously they will want more and more prisoners, and will lobby for more laws and stronger punishments.  America already has the largest prison population in the entire world.  The idea of executives plotting to increase prison populations, and hence their bankroll, should make us all queasy.

Prison should not be a place to cut corners.  Instead of locking people up and forgetting about them, we should be looking at ways to make inmates productive members of society so they can assimilate after release, instead of being career criminals. Programs that allow prisoners to train dogs have been very successful, and enjoy public support thanks to portrayal on TV.  Will those programs continue in a commercial prison, whose goal to make money?  Not likely.

Safety is also a concern.  If commercial prisons cut staff, that means both employees and inmates are less safe.  A report on NOW (http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/419/video.html) shows that privitized prisons have more security problems, including riots.

 

Hillary for VP

While I think Joe BIden has done a fine job as Vice-President, he needs to realize, for the good of the Democratic Party, that he is not the best person for the ticket.  First of all, the VP should be someone who can get voters fired up to re-elect Obama this year.  Second, the VP should be electable as President, to run once the current President’s terms have expired.  Biden, though popular and likable, has a very slim chance of becoming President in 2016.  Nor is he.  Instead, he should step aside and recommend Hillary Clinton become VP for Obama in this election.  Not only would it boost enthusiasm for Obama’s campaign, it would put Hillary in place for a near-certain Presidential win in 2016.  Many Democrats I know are disillusioned and disappointed with Obama’s performance so far.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has approval ratings above 60%.  I could list for pages all her accomplishments as Secretary of State.  Adding her to the ticket would generate enthusiasm and confidence in the Obama administration.  After the election, perhaps Obama would even solicit and listen to her advice on matters.  She has proven herself a master diplomat on all levels, while Obama still struggles to be effective.

Monsanto bought Beeologics

While researching colony collapse disorder, I came across a nice website called Beeologics, “dedicated to Restoring Bee Health.”  Then, off to the side, a small disclaimer stating Beeologics has been acquired by Monsanto.  Yes, one of the companies making systemic pesticides, which are suspected of causing colony collapse disorder, has bought an organization supposedly dedicated to bee health.  So, if we start hearing “news” coming from Beeologics that says chemicals are not to blame for bee deaths, be very suspicious.

Beeologics – Dedicated to Restoring Bee Health.

Honeybee die-off nearing a ‘critical point’

Bees are still dying at an alarming rate….so much that some beekeepers are applying for disaster aid….

Please take a moment to visualize the countryside dotted with busy, happy, healthy honeybees….

via Honeybee problem nearing a ‘critical point’ | Grist.

Don’t give up on drinkable tap water.

The more we resign ourselves to purchasing bottled water, the more power these companies have over our lives. We may think it’s a necessity to go to the store and purchase clean, pure water to drink. We lift heavy cases or bottles into our carts, cars, and homes, stacking and storing them. What if we expended this effort instead toward lobbying city officials to ensure that our tap water is just as pure? Besides saving ourselves money and strain, we could be helping to provide the same access to drinking water by the elderly, poor, and others who may not have the ability to go buy bottled water or have a fancy filtration system installed in their homes. Developing countries such as Bolivia are seeing drinking water as a public right, not something to be made profitable. Shouldn’t the United States at least be as civilized?

Besides, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, bottled water is bad for the environment, and often exploits the community which provides the water for the bottling company.  And don’t forget that chemicals from the plastic may be leaching into the water and causing health problems.

Review of Loopt.com

At some event I attended, I received a card that said I could get 5 free songs from Loopt.com if I downloaded the app to my mobile phone. I decided to check out the website first before committing to adding an app that is difficult to remove. On the site, I didn’t see any button for downloading music, and the main page was a blog post about “smartphone intervention week.” I thought this must be urging people to put away their phones for a week, but no…it was propaganda urging people to abandon their current phones and buy smartphones. Surprisingly, this has been “liked” by 75 people. This is called advertising, people. It is not news or culture. I threw the card away.

Collective consumption a growing movement

Most of us have closets full of things we rarely use, but can’t get rid of, in case we might need them sometime, such as tools, baby items, and craft supplies.  Why not have centers in each community where you can borrow, rent, or otherwise share these things?

Someone on the radio today was talking about “collective consumption” as a movement.  Or she may have called it “cooperative consumerism.”  something like that.  …While the name seems hard to pin down, the concept is fantastic.  I’ve recently become aware of new websites such as Neighborgoods, which attempts to connect people who have things with people who wish to borrow them.   I am happy to hear that this theory is evolving into an entire consciousness.  It seems that we have been so wasteful for so long….it is wonderful that people are starting to think of solutions and alternatives.

via Collective consumption a growing movement – Lund University.

self-driving cars

A column in the newspaper by an engineer working on self-driving cars says they are in the works, and have successfully driven between cities in California, and even down Lombard Street in San Francisco.  Besides being safe, there are a few other benefits.  Cars traveling long distance on a highway should be able to hook together like a train, reducing fuel consumption.  And eventually, it should enable car sharing on an as-needed basis.  Imagine signaling for a car, having it drive itself to you immediately, pick you up, and take you where you need to go, then go pick someone else up, before coming back to get you when you’re ready.

Happy Danes

In the book Thrive, Dan Buettner examines why Denmark has on the whole of one of the happiest societies.  One of the most notable things people mentioned was that in Denmark, everyone feels that they have a say and are listened to.  Families agree on what to have for dinner, students are heard in the classroom, and communities thrive on consensus.  “Lifelong health care is a Danish birthright.  Education is free, and university students are paid to go to school.”  Wow.  Status symbols, such as luxury cars, are disdained in Denmark.  One interviewee said that buying a BMW would make people wonder about your masculinity.  Most people ride bicycles, even in the rain.  Yes, they have long winters, but according to Buettner, the Danes cherish “hygge” which is the concept of transforming the home to a cozy, tranquil, candlelit sanctuary.

Interestingly, Buettner says that over 90% of the Danish population belongs to some club, group, or hobby association.  This seems to be a good antidote to the loneliness that many Americans report

Economically, Danes are wealthy, without being workaholics.  Several interviewees reported that they work less that 40 hours a week, make good salaries, have several weeks of vacation, and can take paid maternity/paternity leave.

The concept of “folk schools” is fascinating.  At these high schools, the focus is on arts and creativity, even if the student is never going to be a professional artist.  The feeling is that arts help “give people an idea of the richness of life,” according to one person.

What an interesting culture!

GasHole Review

The documentary Gashole talks about inventors who have supposedly developed automobile engines that can get over 100 miles to the gallon.  These inventions were either purchased by the oil companies and buried, or in one case, the inventor turned up dead.  We all know, on some level, that the technology is out there to improve gas mileage in cars.  We all also inherently accept that the oil industry wants demand to continue to grow for gasoline, and spends millions of dollars contributing to political campaigns in order to assure this. Why aren’t we more angry about this, especially after the gulf oil spill?

Think how many jobs could be created by retro-fitting cars with either biodiesel engines, or improved combustion engines!

In one very telling segment of the documentary, oil company executives are supposed to testify in front of a congressional committee and answer questions about gas prices.  The chairperson, who received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from oil companies, refused to swear in the executives.  They were never bound to tell the truth, so what good was the hearing?  It was a joke.

It is obvious that oil and gas companies are either not actively pursuing, or most likely actively undermining efforts to develop new technologies that would reduce our dependence on oil.  It simply is not in their best interest.  I don’t see how anyone can still buy into the Atlas Shrugged fantasy that corporate greed is good, when we see water in Wyoming being poisoned by fracking chemicals, and we see the polar ice caps melting while our cars still guzzle gas.

For more information on the documentary film:  GasHole – The Official Movie Website.

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