Priorities: A Snapshot


As much as people complain about the media, it is occasionally worth attending the self-inflicted wounds. To wit, Huffington Post readers:

"Trending" sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.• “Pro Wrestler Comes Out As Bisexual After Video With Boyfriend Hits The Web”

• “7 Signs Of A Nervous Breakdown”

• “7 Reasons Your Pee Smells Weird”

• “‘Girls’ Is Now Officially Unwatchable”

• “These Will Be The Best Places To Live In America In 2100 A.D.”

So, yeah. Trending. According to HuffPo’s metrics, this is what people are reading and promoting.

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Image note: “Trending” sidebar widget noting popular articles at the Huffington Post, 17 March 2017.

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Incongruity and the Moment


Bloom County, by Berke Breathed. (n.d.)

The weather report for the next couple days is hardly catastrophic, but neither is it pleasant, and that in turn brings to mind talk of blustery, wet, generally unpleasant winter expected to be, overall, too mild to build significant snowpack in the Cascades, and while it is easy enough to hope such chatter is, well, merely chatter, it is also rather quite tempting to mutter something about, Damn it, Nature! stop wasting water like that!

Except, you know, we’re the human species, so the next thought to mind is also pretty obvious: Oh, right.

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Image note: I’m pretty sure I was playing around with the photocopy filter in GIMP. Never mind. It’s Bloom County, by the one and only Berke Breathed, and I’ve a date of 26 March 1982 for this particular episode.

Must I Love ‘I (Effin’) Love Science’?


You know, it’s articles like this that make me wonder why the hell I have so many IFL Science links coming in via Facebook.IFLS Logo

Despite the many products that claim otherwise, using the term “chemical-free” is plain nonsense. Everything, including the air we breathe, the food we eat and the drinks we consume, is made of chemicals. It doesn’t matter if you live off the land, following entirely organic farming practises or are a city-dweller consuming just processed food, either way your surroundings and diet consists of nothing but chemicals.

(Lorch)

Obviously, I need new friends.

No, really. That’s the kind of half-witted, deceptive excrement I can get from the local news. Thanks, guys. I effin’ don’t love you.

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Lorch, Mark. “Five myths about the chemicals you breathe, eat and drink”. IFL Science. 26 June 2014.

If they can deliver ….


For my generation, those simplistic “educational” reels alleging to inform people about vital issues have become something of a cultural joke. To wit, The Simpsons, which frequently mocks these films, as in “Homer’s Odyssey” (nuclear power), or “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love” (sex education).

Thus prefaced, I would point to The Stranger‘s Eli Sanders, who notes:

On Friday, in the Washington Post, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and Republican Susan Collins of Maine, wrote:

    There has been much talk recently about whether Republicans and Democrats in Washington can produce a bipartisan clean-energy and jobs bill. The answer is: We already have.

Already have produced, yes. Already passed in the U.S. Senate? No.

Which is why, with clean energy now at the front of everyone’s mind because of the very dirty energy that’s on perpetual display down in the Gulf of Mexico, Cantwell is headed to the White House this Wednesday (along with Harry Reid, John Kerry, and others) to talk with President Obama about what needs to happen—and what can, realistically, get through the Senate.

Which brings us back to simplistic informational films:

It’s simple: If they can deliver ….

I know, I know. It’s Congress, and trying to be bipartisan, at that. Still, though, if Sens. Cantwell and Collins can bring us everything that video promises, I’ll raise a glass to their honor, at least.

Best of luck to them.

A caption worth a thousand words?


Okay, just take a look at this Irfan Khan photograph that ran with Charles Duhigg‘s New York Times story on water quality.

The caption to the photo reads:

This Los Angeles reservoir contained chemicals that sunlight converted to compounds associated with cancer. The city used plastic balls to block the sun, but nearby homeowners asked why, if the water didn’t violate the law.

Am I … you know … the only one?

Better Reading


Nicolette Hahn Niman, “The Carnivore’s Dilemma“.

It’s true that food production is an important contributor to climate change. And the claim that meat (especially beef) is closely linked to global warming has received some credible backing, including by the United Nations and University of Chicago. Both institutions have issued reports that have been widely summarized as condemning meat-eating.

But that’s an overly simplistic conclusion to draw from the research. To a rancher like me, who raises cattle, goats and turkeys the traditional way (on grass), the studies show only that the prevailing methods of producing meat — that is, crowding animals together in factory farms, storing their waste in giant lagoons and cutting down forests to grow crops to feed them — cause substantial greenhouse gases. It could be, in fact, that a conscientious meat eater may have a more environmentally friendly diet than your average vegetarian.

Compact Fluorescents: I was wondering about that


And here I thought it was just me. Apparently not.

It sounds like such a simple thing to do: buy some new light bulbs, screw them in, save the planet.

But a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don’ts ….

…. One of the 16 Feit Electric bulbs the Zuerchers bought at Costco did not work at all, they said, and three others died within hours. The bulbs were supposed to burn for 10,000 hours, meaning they should have lasted for years in normal use. “It’s irritating,” Ms. Zuercher said.

Irritation seems to be rising as more consumers try compact fluorescent bulbs, which now occupy 11 percent of the nation’s eligible sockets, with 330 million bulbs sold every year. Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking.

I have this one light, in my laundry room, that is a combination flood light and fan. I don’t know who thought anyone needed a flood light over my washing machine; maybe this particular fixture was cheaper, or something.

But I can’t have the fan on without the light; that’s what bothers me. The fan is vital, though. I have a cat that is obliged at present to live indoors. That fan helps cycle the most part of her unpleasant odors out of the place. Unfortunately, if I want the fan on, the light is on, too.

Unless it’s burned out.

But it’s the only light in the laundry room.

Damn it.

I figured to compromise, you know? I need to be able to see; I need that fan on; a compact fluorescent isn’t what I would consider a painful measure. And, hey, the thing is supposed to last ten thousand hours, right? I don’t mind the increased cost when I’m going to get better lifespan out of the product. At least, not the difference between this and an incandescent bulb.

Unfortunately, it’s not meant to be. The shortest-lived light bulb in the house is a compact fluorescent screwed into the socket in my laundry room. It’s not even close. Maybe a thousand hours? Nope. Maybe five hundred.

Maybe five hundred.

I get the idea of CFLs, but we need them to work. That’s all. I’m not going on a crusade here, especially since I’m betting it’s something about the wiring in my building and the particular fixture I’m trying to put these lights into. Still, though, it presents challenges to reducing one of my largest home energy demands, and that’s unfortunate.

To be fair, the CFL in an old floor lamp in my bedroom works just fine.