News Addiction

If you are depressed stop wallowing in the outrage culture. Think happy thoughts, you’ll feel better.

That was the gist of the suggestion offered to a friend who posted the image featured in yesterday’s article Depression. As if depression is something you can turn off, like a switch. It isn’t like that.

I do follow the news closely these days, as does my friend. I was a news hound for decades before Meniere’s took my joie de vivre. I was active in the Travis County Libertarian Party, taking a hands-on role in as much local politics as I could handle while still holding down a full-time architecture job. I listened to news and radio talk shows constantly while working on whatever architecture project was in front of me that day so as to keep informed of whatever the current trends were. It was crucial to know what was happening if you wanted to have a hand in changing it. I switched to podcasts for my news well before most other people even knew that podcasts existed. I read newspapers and news sites. I immersed myself in the political realities of Austin, of Texas, of the United States, and did my best to be the positive change that I thought the world needed. Just as every good citizen of the world should do.

But then I got sick, and I didn’t get better. I didn’t have a livelihood any longer and I couldn’t look forward to finding one again, probably ever. The constant stream of information about what was going on in the world became a distraction from what it was that I needed to deal with. The barrage of things that I couldn’t change externally just drove home how helpless I was to even be able to alter what was happening in my own body.

That was what was important. Figuring out what was wrong with me. Finding ways to cope with the new reality of my disabilities. I didn’t have time to spend on informing myself about things that weren’t directly impacting my health until I found a way to stabilize my own internal situation.

So I quit the news.

I quit listening in 2006-ish. I just quit, cold turkey. I’m not saying that I didn’t know what was happening in the world, I simply quit seeking out that information. There is no way to stay completely uninformed (a perfect idiot) so long as there are people who tell you things they think you want to hear. But I put science, medical and skeptical podcasts at the top of my queue starting at about that time and stopped even listening to news feeds that didn’t include other information that I might personally find useful.

I only started back listening to the news directly, for news content, when all the hatred for Barack Obama made me decide to find out what all the fuss was about. That was when I realized that the news culture had split into two camps that couldn’t even agree on basic facts. While I hadn’t been paying attention, FOX had lead conservatives and Republicans down a dark alley that lead to a thousand foot cliff and then expected all those lemmings following them to walk off the cliff in blind subservience.

In determining what the facts were I came to realize just how poor my understanding of the world was prior to that point, and just how poorly the average American, the average human, understands anything that isn’t forced into their stream of consciousness. I stopped seeing Rachel Maddow as someone who brought up questionable narratives about accepted truths and instead saw her as the accomplished storyteller that the current crop of news consumers clearly see her as today.

However, It’s going to take an American version of the Extinction Rebellion protests that have been taking place in London and New York to also take place in everytown, USA to wake the average FOX news watcher up to the requirement that we do something about climate change. I’m not even certain that anything short of re-education will make them understand just how scandalous their behavior and the behavior of their leaders are.

The Extinction Rebellion Returns | Jonathan Pie | 9 October 2019

But I remain hopeful, for the time being.

After all, the Wife was telling me “they won’t impeach Trump” just two weeks ago. Now Rachel Maddow has said it is a foregone conclusion that they will impeach him. I have to agree with Rachel. I don’t see any way for them to not impeach him given the crimes he has committed that we know of, to say nothing of the crimes we suspect him of but still don’t have the proof to convict him of. The sticking point remains the Senate and Trump’s co-conspirator, Moscow Mitch McConnell.

I’m reserving judgement until after the power hand-off that should occur in 2020-2021, impeachment or no impeachment. We’ll see just how bad things really are at that point. To draw this circular argument to a close and tie it in with the title, I quit listening to the news precisely because I felt that my health was suffering from spending so much time obsessing about what was going on in the world and what the proper solution to the problems were. I’m glad I stopped paying attention then. The solutions that I would have embraced back then are completely different than the ones I would embrace today. 180 degrees different.

So I improved my health by breaking the news addiction. I’ll break it again if I feel that following the news is negatively impacting my health. So long as the authoritarians that back the Orange Hate-Monkey lose power, I’m pretty sanguine with whatever else happens along with it. Which means, my depression isn’t based on my news consumption. But I do appreciate the suggestion.

Wildly expanded from Facebook comments.

It’s been three years now. In order to get a sense of the history of what OHM means, I will link a few crucial posts. I wrote The Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) when it became clear that the Republicans were going to nominate Donald Trump.  I wrote The GOP Cuddles Up To the NSDAP when the GOP refused to ostracize the OHM for his dangerously xenophobic populism. I wrote Caveat Emptor on the day Trump lied with his hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the US constitution. I wrote Bullshit is Bullshit on the day I stopped even trying to catalogue the blatant disregard of the truth by the OHM. It mystifies me why people still listen to him, and why the OHM still holds the office of the president. #MAGA means Misguided Appallingly Gullible Americans. Anyone who believes differently is a MAGA themselves.

Hope?

Some people say that I should study to become a climate scientist so that I can “solve the climate crisis.” But the climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change. And why should I be studying for a future that soon will be no more when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save that future? And what is the point of learning facts in the school system when the most important facts given by the finest science of that same school system clearly means nothing to our politicians and our society. Some people say that Sweden is just a small country, and that it doesn’t matter what we do, but I think that if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not coming to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could all do together if you wanted to.

Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg|TEDxStockholm – The disarming case to act right now on climate change

Some people mock me for my diagnosis. But Asperger is not a disease, it’s a gift. People also say that since I have Asperger I couldn’t possibly have put myself in this position. But that’s exactly why I did this. Because if I would have been ”normal” and social I would have organized myself in an organisation, or started an organisation by myself. But since I am not that good at socializing I did this instead. I was so frustrated that nothing was being done about the climate crisis and I felt like I had to do something, anything. And sometimes NOT doing things – like just sitting down outside the parliament – speaks much louder than doing things. Just like a whisper sometimes is louder than shouting.

Greta Thunberg

Perspective

George Bush got a pass from history that I will never understand. He starts a war for a completely fictionalized reason, which results in hundreds of thousands of people dying, and an entire generation of war vets coming home, damaged for the rest of their lives, and you can see them on the streets. Why are they on the streets? Because George Bush started a war for no reason. Right? And then not to mention the devastation that is left over in Iraq because we started a war for no reason. Right?

…And somehow this doesn’t matter and we’re obsessing about Trump’s tweets when there is a guy in Texas…

(Larry Wilmore: You know who was against that war? Your boy Trump.)

I don’t think Trump is nearly as egregious as George Bush. I don’t think it’s even close. He started a war on the basis of a lie. A complete falsehood which he told to the American people that had nothing to do with 9-11. Which devastated tens of thousands of lives, cost a trillion dollars, and left a generation of American soldiers devastated and wounded and somehow he’s perceived as this genial guy down in Texas painting pictures and giving speeches.

What is the matter with us? There is nothing Donald Trump has done that has come even close to the human devastation of George Bush’s time. Not even close. Not even close. I mean, Trump is a deeply objectionable figure, but he has not resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people for no reason.

George Bush is a war criminal. That is what a war criminal is. Someone who enters into a disastrous conflict for no good reason. For worse than no good reason. For a completely trumped up, ridiculous reason. The choice of things that Americans get riled up about has always amazed me.

Malcolm Gladwell

Something I’ve pointed out a few dozen times myself. As much as Trump is an active threat to the proper functioning of the United States, and a fraudster that is duping us of millions of dollars for every day he is in office, he hasn’t yet descended to the level of war criminal that Bush, Cheney, et al occupy.

The Orange Hate-Monkey hasn’t gone that far down the scale of evil yet. Yet. The back and forth occurs at 40:45 in this episode of Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air.

Malcolm Gladwell on ‘Talking to Strangers’ (Live) | Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air

I also took the time to listen to It’s Been a Minute With Sam Sanders,  Best-Selling Author Malcolm Gladwell On ‘Talking To Strangers’: A Live Conversation. Both podcasts were worth the time, and you gain an insight into the personality of Sandra Bland that isn’t available anywhere else unless you just happened to run across her Youtube channel yourself, as well as why every time you call a racist a racist you are in some small way handing a victory to institutional racism.


It is worth noting that not prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney et al for their war crimes leads directly to Donald Trump becoming president. Which means that in some small part, Barack Obama is to blame for the predicament that we find ourselves in today. George W. Bush was not prosecuted for war crimes because the Obama justice department chose not to make a case of the conspiracies and lies that lead us into war in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives lost, the foundation of DAESH (what the media in the US calls the Islamic State) hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives lost, thousands of American lives lost, more than a hundred thousand injured and disabled US veterans, trillions of dollars wasted. George Bush and his administration get a pass for all of that when all of that sprang directly from the lie that Iraq was somehow involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. President Obama gave him that pass.

Had George Bush been prosecuted. Had the known crimes against humanity committed by the Bush administration been subjected to inquiry, justice and restitution, the Republican party would not have felt that they were still in the right when it comes to their delusions about foreign policy. Their delusions about christianity. The place of the US government as part of a whole world which requires governance. Requires justice.

They would have known that their beliefs were based on lies because the criminal proceedings would have made the truth of this blatantly clear. Whether they agreed with the verdicts or not, in the end, the trial of George W. Bush for war crimes would have altered the trajectory of the Republican party if not resulted in its destruction and reformation as a viable opposing party to the Democrats.

Instead we let George Bush off the hook. And what we got for letting him off the hook was transparently racist hatred of Barack Obama and an unrepentant Republican party willing to sacrifice everything on one last chance to get their beliefs enshrined as public policy, even if that meant they had to destroy everything they pretended to hold dear in the process.

What we got for our inaction on the crimes of the Bush administration was civil war in Syria and unrest across the entire region that we refer to as the Middle East. How many millions of lives will be negatively impacted by our unwillingness to get involved in the Syrian civil war?

Morning Edition – Survivor Of Torture In Syria’s Prisons Is Telling His Story

Climate change is a portion of the reason why Syria descended into civil war. Civil war is always more complex than any one group involved in the civil war ever wants to admit. An extended drought in the region lead to crop failures and the migration of the starving farmers into cities and towns where they demanded aid and assistance from the Assad government. Instead of responding with aid, Bashar al Assad imprisoned these protestors and forced the dissident groups within his country to ally with outside forces in order to topple his government. Topple his government so that the poor in his country could be given the assistance that they needed to weather the crisis brought on by climate change.

The conservatives here in the US deny that climate change is real, and they further deny that we have any reason to think that the human tragedies occurring in Syria and elsewhere around the world are our responsibility. All while we pump out more carbon dioxide than any other country as technically advanced as our own.

How many millions of people, if not billions of people, will suffer and possibly die because of the denialism that we allow to fester in our country, when it comes to climate change? Why do we allow these people who deny science to lead our country? Why do we think that they have a right to believe things which are demonstrably not true? Will flat earthers be given a seat at the leadership table next?

Morning Edition – We Are On The Front Line Of Climate Change, Marshall Islands President Says

That is perspective. Study it closely.

The Folly of Prometheus

This scheme of combustion to get power makes me sick to think of — it is so wasteful. Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy. Do we use them? Oh, no; we burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the front fence for fuel. We live like squatters, not as if we owned the property.

Thomas Alva Edison (via Wikiquote)

A hat/tip is due to the On The Media episode Too Hot For School and their contributor Leah Stokes for bringing this quote to my attention. It is truly prophetic, his vision of what science could do for us if we simply applied ourselves to the problem of providing energy for ourselves.

On the Media – On The Many Gulfs In Climate Coverage – September 20, 2019

Outside Was Death

This is the intro to a work I’d love to finish some day. I’d love to finish it before the dark future it predicts comes true.


We had Denver. For awhile anyway, we had Denver. Then a particularly bad stormfront passed over the rockies dragging the Earth-bound poison with it, and after that the Denver radio station that we had looked to as the last hope for humanity went silent.

There were plenty of survivors at first, don’t get me wrong. Submarines at sea, for example. Stealthy death machines that were suddenly without purpose or much hope for long-term survival. Their mission to rain death upon an enemy successful without their having to kill a single person directly. Mission accomplished. They were among the last to go. Those nuclear fueled, hermetically sealed pressure vessels were perfect for long-term survival, except for one thing. No way to re-supply without opening the hatches and suffocating with the rest of humanity.

A few of them teamed up. They linked their death machines together in the hope of maintaining life-sustaining atmosphere for long enough for the outside to be livable again, but that just meant they took longer to starve to death. In the end, you can’t live on fungus scraped from the damp walls of a submarine. Not for long, anyway.

Before the last of them went silent, we lost the crew on the orbiting platform. The not-quite-ready for primetime gateway to space. The hopefully self-sustaining first effort at off-world colonization brought to a halt before it even had a chance to fail, the beam-jacks suffocating in their orbiting barracks after the air scrubbers failed. Those were particularly ugly deaths to witness.

Ugly deaths, compared to the vast majority of human beings on the planet surface. Most of them simply lost consciousness and suffocated in their sleep. How I envy them. They didn’t have to face the knowledge that humankind had committed willful suicide. As surely as the redneck who said “hold my beer” and “watch this” knew that he could do the impossible, humanity continued to poison the mother that gave birth to them, always thinking that they had one more year. One more month. One more day. To enjoy that latte. Hamburgers in discardable wrappers. Sweet, sweet sodas in plastic bottles. Disposable diapers.

How I envy the unknowing dead.

It happened suddenly, if suddenly means that glaciers moved at lightspeed. I mean, we knew it would happen eventually, we’d been told about it for decades. But it didn’t matter enough to the average person. It wasn’t going to happen tomorrow. It was going to be hard to change everyone’s habits. It was going to cost a lot of people their jobs, as if jobs were the most important thing about life on Earth.

So we ignored the warnings. We pretended that there was an all-powerful god who would make sure we didn’t destroy ourselves, as if the stories about him hadn’t included cautionary tales about him nearly destroying us all himself in a fit of pique. We ignored the truism “god helps them that helps themselves” and went on feeding poison into the systems that sustained us, pretending that the red warning lights and klaxons weren’t raising hell all around us. Hottest years on record. Raging wildfires that burned entire states to the ground. Storms of a size and speed that we had never seen before.

Miami had to be vacated, as did Houston. New Orleans was already a lake by then. Venice’s great experiment with sea walls had already failed, and the seas had reclaimed the areas of the Netherlands that had so carefully been pulled from the sea in the first place. China’s attempts to build new islands in the South Pacific? Laughingly thwarted by the oceans that gobbled them right back up. The Indian ocean now covering a lot of low-land india and where the Amazon rainforests had been before they were burned off was now several feet underwater. The vast oceans had gotten even more vast, but sadly no less acidic.

I wonder if the transplants from Miami who were handed bottles of disposable water to refresh themselves with refused to accept the water, insisted on drinking straight from a fountain? Did any of them make the connection between death and plastic? I don’t remember any stories like that, but then there were a lot of stories and not much time to see them all, there at the end. When that last coral reef died. When the krill ran out and the whales starved to death. When the great encircling ocean was returned to its most primitive primordial inhabitants, and their waste by-products rose up out of the oceans and engulfed the land.

What was it like to be on the beach that day? I don’t have to wonder what it’s like today because I have that feed on 24/7 now. No birds, no animals of any kind visible today. But what was it like on the day, the day that being outside was a death sentence? Could you smell the rotten egg smell before the poison killed you? Did you notice the birds falling out of the sky, squirrels out of the trees, before you yourself lost consciousness?

I tend toward the maudlin. I used to wonder what the eyes in a severed head recorded as it flipped lazily through the air on its way to landing on solid ground. Decapitation humor. The truth is far less entertaining than the fiction. The truth is that the loss of fluidic pressure in the head causes consciousness to cease in the brain. There is no thought after the neck is severed. There is just blissful death. No more rigid procedure to follow. No more same-old, same-old protein packs to consume.

The video feed I watch most frequently has a bench in the foreground. In the early days there was a man’s head visible there, as if he was still watching the waves lapping the eerily familiar beach. His head blew out of screen a few weeks ago, either severed from the rest of his body, or the whole thing slumped over, it would be hard to tell without going out there to look, and we can’t go outside the habitat. Outside is death.

Grandmother

I had the weirdest dream last night. When I’m having dizzy spells like I’ve been having all summer, I tend to have really strange dreams, and this one was a doozy.

I was in my maternal grandmother’s house. It was exactly how I remembered it. The lime green living room walls. The floral patterned couches that I used to lay on and trace the patterns with my fingers. When I looked up I noticed that grandmother was crying. I asked her what was wrong? Why was she so upset.

“I’m sorry Tony. We left you a world that was so broken and we never knew how badly we had broken it.”

I tried to comfort her. I got her to sit down and I hugged her. But I was only a small boy and so my arms wouldn’t go around her. I couldn’t reach her shoulder to rub it consolingly. I’m thinking to myself “why is she so huge? I’m not a child anymore.” and then I woke up. weird dream.

I’d like to think I won’t owe my children an apology for the world we leave them. Hope springs eternal.

50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Listening to the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe #732, they briefly got into the fact that they would be releasing that episode on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Having spent several hours on that day listening to podcasts about the historic occasion, I was jarred into putting an entry on the blog that mentions what is hands down the best podcast about the moon landings that I’ve run across so far.

It’s Thirteen Minutes to the Moon from the BBC, one of several podcast moments that I shared in the newsletter for Sunday. If you only listen to one podcast about the moon landing in your life, listen to this one.

Stitcher – BBC’s 13 Minutes to the Moon

BBC’s artwork for the program. Beautiful design.

As for the other things in the newsletter apropo to the event, wehackthemoon.com was just a cool website. It was mentioned in one of the early episodes of Thirteen Minutes to the Moon. The one about software, I’m pretty sure. All kinds of interactive stuff to do there and the only way to experience it is to click on the link and go there. The Texas Standard stories are pretty self-explanatory. Then there was this film that was advertised far and wide right before the anniversary,

Trailer: Chasing the MoonBluray

I’m looking forward to getting a chance to watch that movie. Since I couldn’t do more than link the trailer, I didn’t even bother to include it in the newsletter that day. It was already getting more exposure through podcast advertising than I could ever give it by sharing the trailer.

…and that’s the way it is.

Walter Cronkite

Nuzzel’s internal functions are shielded from archival for some reason. The Wayback Machine returns an error when I try to save the newsletter to the archive. I’ll just cut and paste the text of the damn thing here, that way there won’t be an emotional outburst when I go back to find the thing and it’s gone here in a few years.

Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than people knew. This is how it was saved.
The New York Times – Elian Peltier – Jul 16, 8:27 PMPARIS — The employee monitoring the smoke alarm panel at Notre-Dame cathedral was just three days on the job when the red warning light flashed on the evening of April 15: “Feu.” Fire. It was 6:18 on a Monday, the week before…More info…

BBC World Service – 13 Minutes to the Moon
BBC How the first moon landing was saved. The full story of the people who made Apollo 11 happen and prevented it from going badly wrong. Theme music by Hans Zimmer. Added, go to My Music to see full list. ranthony I’ve been sitting on this podcast until the 50th anniversary day rolled around. That was Saturday. Pretty interesting podcast so far. I’m up to episode 5.

Hack the Moon
Hack the Moon – Jan 27’One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ But it almost didn’t happen. Apollo 11 was the mission that enabled… Full Story Astronaut Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 11 mission, visited the MIT Instrumentation Lab…More info…

Why Apollo 11 Wouldn’t Have Happened Without Lyndon Johnson
Texas Standard – Michael Marks – Jul 19, 8:14 AMOn Oct. 4, 1957, Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson, and his wife Lady Bird, were entertaining friends at their ranch in the Texas Hill Country. The Johnsons often took after-dinner walks – a habit they developed after he had a heart…More info…

How Space Exploration Provided A New Career Path For Women
Texas Standard – Alexandra Hart – Jul 19, 8:55 AMParish Hirasaki was not planning on being a scientist. At least, not when she first got to Duke University. “I was sent off to college to find a husband,” Hirasaki says. “And to get a teaching degree so if god forbid anything…More info…

A Vaccine Eliminating Cervical Cancer

The World Health Organization’s calls to eliminate cervical cancer “may be possible in many countries if sufficient vaccination coverage can be achieved,” said Marc Brisson, a biostatistician at Laval University in Quebec and one of the study’s authors.

NYT Science

Babylon is Babel

The internet is a click-bait whore. After more than two decades of living in this digital realm, I can say that with confidence. Everything on the internet is composed to get you to follow the link and find out what AMAZING, STUPENDOUS, GLORIOUS things are waiting for you on the other side of that provocative come hither looking text. Unfortunately, the reality that awaits on the other side of that click is rarely worth the energy it takes to click the link.

Take this promotion for Unexplained on Gaia for example. It popped up on Facebook for me a few months ago. Dramatic music. Good-looking talking heads tell you things you want to believe. What isn’t to love about that trailer?

You know what I can’t find in a shareable form? The trailer thrown in my face on Facebook, promoted by the Gaia streaming service. I can’t find it anywhere to post to the blog so that I and my readers may laugh at it. The curious will have to go to Facebook and see it there (click the clickbait. You know you want to) because no keyword search that I’ve come up with so far can produce the actual trailer promoting this episode of Ancient Civilizations produced two years ago. If you want to see it, you have to pay for it. I guess the charlatans are getting smarter. You can’t get the rubes to give you the money if you blow your load in the first teaser trailer.

…and that link to Facebook. Just watch the repeating video at the top. That looping video is really all you need to understand the confidence game that is being played on the believers who pony up to pay for this streaming service. Ancient aliens are among us? Please.

There was no Tower of Babel, just as there was no real Atlantis. Just as there was no Ark built by Noah. I shouldn’t have to explain the difference between religion and history to people smart enough to know how to work a camera and create a documentary. There was no Tower of Babel where god looked down and cursed man with many languages for its construction. That Tower of Babel is myth. If you believe otherwise, you are a fool.

Like Atlantis, the Tower of Babel is a storytelling device. Atlantis was embroidered in the imagination of Plato, a mythical place created to hearken back to earlier, more prosperous times. This storyline should sound familiar to anyone currently immersed in US politics. But like the lies of the Orange Hate-Monkey, Plato created the illusion of Atlantis to paint a picture that his students would want to strive for, and still people think they can find it. Noah’s Ark is similar.

The Ark of Noah is encased in ice on Mt Ararat

Prove it. Go to Ararat yourself and take pictures of it, yourself. I’ve taken the same trek that you’ve taken so far; which is to say, a vicarious trek. I listened to the stories told to me by elders and I believed. I read In Search of Noah’s Ark in the seventies. That book had me convinced. I just knew there was an Ark somewhere under all that ice. Just like the child shoveling out the stables. Then I started reading the works of other religions and other believers, and that’s when I discovered that it’s a common prehistoric myth. 

flood myth or deluge myth is a narrative in which a great flood, usually sent by a deity or deities, destroys civilization, often in an act of divine retribution. Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primaeval waters found in certain creation myths, as the flood waters are described as a measure for the cleansing of humanity, in preparation for rebirth. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero, who “represents the human craving for life”.[1]
The flood myth motif is found among many cultures as seen in the Mesopotamian flood stories, Deucalion and Pyrrha in Greek mythology, the Genesis flood narrativePralaya in Hinduism, the Gun-Yu in Chinese mythologyBergelmir in Norse mythology, in the lore of the K’iche’ and Maya peoples in Mesoamerica, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa tribe of Native Americans in North America, the Muisca, and Cañari Confederation, in South America, and the Aboriginal tribes in southern Australia.

Flood myth From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The myth is so common as to be pointless to attempt to verify any one claim. Like the virgin birth of Jesus reflects the virgin birth of other godlike creations, flood myths pervade early religions everywhere. All of these myths may be based on some historic flood that the local population remembers, none of them spanned the globe and destroyed all human civilization. What I’ve seen in several decades of curiosity about this subject is that there is no proof, none whatsoever, for Noah’s Ark. The story was someone else’s before it was Noah’s, and Ararat is just the nearest peak to where the myth of the Ark was located.

Also, Mary was probably having it off with someone about nine months earlier and didn’t want to die at her father’s hands. This is a practice still pathetically commonplace in many regions of the world. She got caught by being the sex that carries the young of the species (humans, in case you are wondering) a problem that the fertilizing sex doesn’t have. She couldn’t hide the belly anymore, so she claimed that god visited her in the night and that’s how the baby got in there. This is another common occurrence, lying to save your own life. It goes hand in hand with death penalties wherever you find them. You’d think parents would be happy to have grandchildren to raise, rather than worrying about selling off a virgin daughter to the highest bidder. She ended up being fobbed off on the carpenter, someone who was happy to have a few extra hands around the jobsite with all the work he had to do.

There are probably evangelicals reading this right now, or they were reading it until they got to that last paragraph. They probably aren’t reading it anymore. But if they were they would insist that we can’t find the ark on Ararat because if there was a wooden boat under the ice on Ararat for all those millennia it would of been ground to a pulp centuries ago and pushed down the mountain as debris. Myths are not realities. There was no boat, because flood waters cannot rise that high even if all the ice in the world melted. How high would it rise? 70ish meters. Numbers vary. We should see 9 feet of rise in the sea levels over the next couple of decades based on current CO2 levels. More if we don’t moderate emissions that produce warmer temperatures.

But all of that is beside the point that the Tower of Babel is a myth.

What’s that I hear you saying? The tower of Babel existed? Well yes. There were ziggurats in Babylon, one of them near the Gate of God (Marduk) so the history experts say (some of them even say it in breathless tones) and if you talk to language experts they will say that Babylon renders out as Babel or Bavel in Hebrew. So there were several towers in Babylon, one near the gate of Marduk that the Hebrew scholars of the time elbowed each other in the ribs over. Every discipline has their weird inside jokes.

But there wasn’t a tower where god sundered the languages and caused strife across the world. That would be kind of pointless since he had drowned the world just a few years earlier because of all the strife in the world. Or are you suggesting that god condemns his people for things that he created them to do? That he holds us all accountable for the things that he makes us do? Well that figures.

Facebook comments expanded for the blog.

Raw Milk is Woo. Goat’s Milk is Not. And Yes, Plastic is Bad

This week on the SGU Cara decides to trash all things Hippy and all things Austin with the following line,

These are the places where they sell, like, raw goat milk because apparently cow milk is unhealthy. And they have only organic free-range bleah.

Cara Santa-Maria SGU #705

Cara deciding to trash all things Hippy isn’t surprising. There is little at the typical health food store that warrants a special trip there. Little, unless you happen to have special dietary needs. If you have food allergies. If you are lactose intolerant. If any number of food-related issues bother you, the health food store used to be the only place you could go to find relief. Considering that skeptics would claim you couldn’t be allergic to foods, until those allergies could be demonstrated, and still flame-on when anyone mentions the word gluten, panning all things health food related is completely understandable.

I just happen to not react to goat’s milk like I do cow’s milk. So I can drink goat’s milk and suffer little or no ill effects. I still can’t eat pizza, that is too much cheese of any kind, but at least I can put a slice of goat cheese on my hamburger and not have to worry about reacting to the lactose in the cheese. And the best place to get that kind of food is still at a health food store. I buy my oat milk, my Nada Moo, goat cheese and goat milk, and try to restrain myself as I walk past the chocolate and liquorice on the way to the register.

The Wife, who can consume all the cheese she wants because she was descended from Mongols who were raised on yak’s milk, has some very unflattering things to say about us Mediterranean types whose ancestors tended goats and sheep, but I also have some insults I could hurl in return considering she’s pretty much 100% Irish. I won’t utter them because I don’t feel like being beaten up by any Irish who might read this and take offense. I have to be able to sleep sometime. It all comes down to genetics and how your particular gut came to be in the here and now.

Which brings me to the idea of drinking raw milk. If you are drinking raw milk and you don’t milk the cows (or goats. Or sheep) yourself, you are just asking to get sick and possibly be killed by the naturally occuring bacteria found on the udders and in the milk of any animal. And I laugh every time I read the label on cheese and it trumpets made from raw milk. This is just another marketing ploy like organic or natural, since the process of making cheese kills most of the bacteria that lives in the milk. That is why we started making cheese from milk in the first place. If you are still concerned about the possibility of food poisoning, don’t get the cheese made from raw milk. Pasteurization is a good thing. It’s why we have milk on supermarket shelves today.

I mean, we could irradiate the milk and skip the pasteurization flavor change problem, but the fantasists who think that pasteurization is bad also think that irradiation of food is bad. There really is no way to win over everyone. There’s always going to be one or two of them that have to stick their fingers in the electrical outlet before they’ll believe that electric shocks are painful, and there will be at least one guy that swears electrical shocks make him feel better and so recommends you shock yourself two or three times a day.

Steve’s suggestion that bulk foods were useful, while the other offerings at the health food stores were not, is also slightly off-cue. The reason that goods are offered in their own sealed containers should be readily apparent to anyone who gives this much thought. But for those who don’t think a lot, I’ll spell it out. Adulteration or contamination of the product, which was a problem back in the days when everything was offered in bulk quantities. Some nefarious grocers would dilute the products offered and charge the same rate. This is essentially how all vodka is made, but very few people know that their vodka was distilled to 190 proof at the distillery and then cut in half with water at the bottler. There is also the problem of some anonymous others tampering with the bulk products and no one noticing (think Tylenol) as an Austinite, and someone who frequents health food stores for his oat milk and goat’s milk products, I could buy a lot of products in bulk. I just don’t.

Austin is the birthplace of Whole Foods and a few other now-defunct health food chains. I’m an owner at Wheatsville Food Co-op. I could shop in bulk products if I wanted to. I don’t shop in bulk products because I don’t want to have to trust every person who passes by the bulk products bins not to drop their chewing gum in there with my morning steel cut oats. I’ll take the time to recycle the packaging, that is fine by me. I like branded, labeled products in sealed packages. It’s probably the most American thing about me.

I would rather the packaging not be plastic packaging, plastic packaging being the reason that health food stores came up at all in that Skeptic’s Guide episode. I try to avoid plastic packaging when I can, but it is nearly impossible to avoid plastic when it comes to food packaging. You can count me in for testing new packaging that isn’t plastic. Oh, and Jay? You want plastic that breaks down on its own? That also existed once upon a time. They tested plastic bags that degraded in the sun faster when they first rolled out plastic bags, back when everyone was worried about paper demand destroying all the forests. That plastic turned into micro plastics too, just like regular plastic. The only way to avoid this is to create disposable items from something other than plastic. Say, compressed corn starch.