American Elephants


August 30: Bumbershoot Weekend in Seattle by The Elephant's Child

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Sorry about the light blogging. Labor Day weekend here is the time of Bumbershoot, a festival of umbrellas? It is, not surprisingly, raining. This is the greater Seattle area, and that’s what it does here. But, music, entertainment, food, vast crowds, and all the hippies come out of the woodwork — great fun for festival lovers.

Blogging is light because I went out yesterday to refill the suet feeder upon which all my woodpeckers, pilieated and flickers, depend. The clay soil was wet and slippery as all hell, and I went flying. No broken bones, but a remarkably sore backside. Standing is fine, sitting is fine, and sleeping is fine. It’s getting from one position to another that is troublesome.



Domestic Violent Extremists? Homeland Security Paranoia. by The Elephant's Child

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A leaked document from Homeland Security predicts the rise of “anti-Government violence. That was a headline that caused a brief flurry in the press (very brief). Notable in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis concern over an increase in violence, was the standoff at the Bundy ranch when the BLM attempted to seize Bundy’s cattle, but backed off when a ‘militia group’ showed up.

The seven page report, titled, “Domestic Violent Extremists Pose Increased Threat to Government Law Enforcement” dated, July 22, 2014, said, “After years of only sporadic violence from violent domestic extremists motivated by anti-government ideologies, I&A has seen a spike within the past year in violence committed by militia extremists and lone offenders who hold violent anti-government beliefs. These groups and individuals recognize government authority but facilitate or engage in acts of violence due to their perception that the United States Government is tyrannical and oppressive, coupled to their belief that the government needs to be violently resisted or overthrown.”

I have written recently about the impermeable “bubble” in which the Left resides. They require protection from the wrong information emanating from the Right, at all costs. As far as I can tell, this is caused by the fact that their policies are a result of their feelings about events on a case-by-case basis. They do not rely on foundational principles.

There was a point a while back when they worried because Republicans had think tanks to give them ideas, and they didn’t. So they got their money people to start one — the Center for American Progress — because they’re progressives now, not liberals, or leftists.  (I keep forgetting). But nothing much changes. The CAP comes up with ‘Issues’ with which to defeat the Right like ‘the War on Women’ and ‘free contraceptives,’ and the language and tactics to make a war on women seem real, but not the principles that make it an important issue.

In the hothouse of such a bubble, there exists a constant element of paranoia. If you know your argument is flimsy and has no principles behind it, you expect it to be shot down, or attempted to be shot down. With that nagging fear comes a fear of the Right in general. You never know what they might try next. When your history is invented, and you have no firm, unchanging, bedrock principles — when your opposition, who you are convinced are both radical and stupid, starts holding demonstrations and carrying signs and waving a  yellow flag with a rattlesnake on it, and talking about the revolution, you get all nervous.

They know who the protesters are. They send them out. They are union activists demanding a higher wage,  and people from the radical green groups trying to save us from the ravages of global warming, and the folks from La Raza demanding amnesty now. But these people are dangerous. Who ever heard of Republicans demonstrating. Singing. Carrying American flags. And their signs are about the Constitution, or demanding repeal of the law that gives everyone free health care. Violent extremists.

This is not new. If you want to get into a major battle with a lib, just say something about the evils of socialism and how similar Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia were. You might get away with calling Stalin and communism an aberration of the Left, but they will be absolutely certain that Hitler was a right-wing dictator, despite the fact that NAZI was an acronym for National Socialist Party.

They were certain that Kennedy was shot by a right-wing nut, that Timothy McVeigh was a member of a Right-Wing militia, that the Branch-Davidian standoff was a right-wing something or other. They have convinced themselves that the Dixiecrats were really racist Republicans, and some have actually gone so far as to believe that Lincoln was really a Democrat. The bubble has tough walls and is quite impermeable.

The Left is positive that any objection to the policies of the Obama administration is racism. There are beginning to be some cracks in that edifice. The media is noticing that their president is not really engaged by foreign policy, and would clearly rather spend his time on the golf course. His third-string advisers are not up to the job. John Kerry’s insistence that climate change is a more pressing concern than Hamas, Gaza, ISIS, the Kurds, Putin’s advances on Ukraine, China’s flexing of its muscles, Iraq’s centrifuges, is not evidence of a serious administration.

This all blends into the militarization of the police, the drive to ban guns. A California congressman has just introduced a bill to prevent the purchase, ownership or possession of enhanced body armor by civilians. (HR. 5344). “This bill will keep military body armor out of the wrong hands, Representative Honda said, “It would ensure than only law enforcement, firefighters and first responders wold be able to access enhanced body armor.” Now that’s paranoia.

 



At What Point Do You Lose Faith In The Federal Government? by The Elephant's Child

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How about this one? On June 26, innumerable antiques, musical instruments and Mah Jong and chess sets have been effectively banned by your federal government from sale or trade within the U.S. The idea is to protect elephants in Africa from poaching for their ivory.

Combined with tough new international import-export restrictions, the value of these objects, once in the hundreds of millions of dollars, will evaporate.

Well, so much for my little ivory Buddha, though I doubt he was worth much in the first place, but what about my walrus ivory necklace from Alaska?

There are fantastically beautiful and expensive pieces carved of ivory. Too bad. Now worthless. Your federal government decided. This one is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.To sell or trade your object, you have to prove that it at least 100 years old and possess official paperwork proving that it was imported to America before 1990, or legally thereafter, and provide evidence that the object has been neither repaired nor modified since December 1973. The IRS is unlikely to let you write it off as an investment loss, whether you paid a few hundred or $20,000 at Christie’s.

What Fish and Wildlife will do is step in to prosecute the owners and confiscate the ivory goods.

ADDENDUM: The bureaucrats at Fish and Wildlife may mean well, but their efforts to ban the sale and trade of ivory will not save one elephant. It will only raise the price of ivory on the world market and encourage poaching. One third of African elephants live in Botswana. 150,000 of them live in an area about the size of the New York metropolitan area. Too many for a comparatively small area. Botswana President Ian Kharma has banned wildlife hunting as of January and has received awards for his conservation efforts, but the overpopulation of elephants is controlled only by disease, hunting or starvation due to the destruction of the environment. That jacks up the price even more. Elephants have no natural predator.



The New World of Bacon! by The Elephant's Child

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I assumed that I was done with the food posts, but the current mania for all things bacon interfered. I made the mistake of searching for an image of bacon on Google images. Ooops! We have bacon dresses, bacon bras, a bacon man’s suit, a bacon basket for scrambled eggs, bacon candy, bacon ice cream, bacon gumballs, a child’s bacon costume, bacon cupcakes, chocolate covered bacon, a bacon attaché case, bacon soda, bacon toothpaste, Kevin Bacon, bacon deodorant, and a few other things that would spoil your taste for bacon for some time.

Another search produced a cooking site: endless simmer which features” 100 ways to use a strip of bacon” (with pictures) and recipes to go with each picture, some of which look really good.  The Food Network does “50 Things to Make with Bacon” again with recipes.and delish.com has “Bizarre Bacon: 12 Weird Bacon Products You Won’t Believe.

At that point I’d had enough. I knew that there was a major food fad going on with bacon, but I had no idea how extensive it was.There are websites just about bacon. There are uses too embarrassing to mention. We never quit bacon during all the talk about saturated fat, but it was more Sunday morning with sourdough pancakes. Long ago I used to stuff a hot dog with a long skinny piece of cheddar cheese and then wrap the whole thing in a slice of bacon, but that was a really long time ago. It was really good too.

ADDENDUM: I should mention that the price of bacon is climbing sharply from bacon enthusiasm and a virus that affects baby pigs with a fatal diarrhea. As they say in the investment business, buy on dips.



Food Fads and Misinformation by The Elephant's Child

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In my trip to Safeway yesterday, I grabbed a small container of key lime flavored Greek yogurt. The brand was “Open Nature,” one of Safeway’s proprietary brands, I assume to reach those who are attracted by the word “natural.” I am not. It was just handy, and key lime sounded good. The line after the brand logo was “Real Food From Natural Ingredients” — well, yes, that’s what I expect from food. Nobody’s going to be attracted by a label that says “Phony Food From Unnatural Ingredients”—though I’d bet that most people wouldn’t notice anyway.

Michelle Obama, in pursuit of thinner kids, is betting millions on getting people to read food labels with larger print. Safeway has probably done more market research than Ms. Obama. regarding the extent to which people read food labels. The Open Nature carton continues to note that the 2% nonfat milk is Grade A. The product contains ‘No Artificial Flavors or Colors, No Artificial Ingredients, and Milk From Cows Not Treated with rBST*. The asterisk points to the footnote—no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST-treated cows.

This was a big flap several years ago. Farmers were treating their cows with the forenamed hormone, which helped them to produce more milk. Dairy scientists explained that it was physically and scientifically impossible for the hormone to pass through a cow’s body to enter the milk in any way. Not good enough. Mild panic ensued. Dairy farmers quit using the hormone, cows went back to producing the normal amount of milk and certified that their milk came from cows that were not treated with rBST.

The media, always ready to reproduce anything with the word “study” gives them the chance, I guess to be first with something. Perhaps that is the excuse for failing to vet the “study” or even to be suspicious recognizing that the word “study” does not prove anything. It might all be a mess of pottage.

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The World Needs Genetically Modified Food! by The Elephant's Child

May 30, 2013, 7:07 pm | Edit this

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This is re-posted from about this time last year. I don’t know if they are holding protest meetings against Monsanto, but otherwise the beat goes on. They are still trying to force grocery stores to identify any GMO containing foods with labels, by law.

For most people last weekend was the observance of Memorial Day, a time to remember the fallen. For the easily aroused, it was a time to march in a global protest against Monsanto and genetically modified seeds. Well, the global warming thingy is in freefall as a protest message, since most people are noticing that it is significantly cooling (where is summer anyway?), with late snow to emphasize the fact. Are the protesters always just the same people? The pictures look like it. Is there a certain type who just loves to march and wave signs?

Organizers said  “March Against Monsanto” demonstrations were being held in some 300 cities in more than 44 countries that weekend.  It was described as a social media-generated call to action against genetically modified foods and the multinational corporations that produce them. Goodness, you alter a gene to include vitamin A in rice, creating “golden rice,”which will save millions from blindness, and the perennially suspicious go bonkers.

Genetically modified seeds help farmers to grow more on less land, and to conserve resources such as water and energy. Some supporters just want any foods grown from GMO seeds to be so labeled, others want to prohibit the process. Proposition 37, a ballot measure that would have made California the first state to require labels on fresh produce and processed foods whose DNA had been modified by scientists, was defeated at the polls.

Unsurprisingly, much of the misinformation on GMO crops comes from promoters of Organic Food. “Organic” is merely a marketing campaign. Multiple studies have shown no benefits of any kind from organic food, other than the higher prices it brings to marketers, and Whole Foods.

Demographers expect world population to keep growing until about 2050, and then start declining. The industrialized nations , for the most part, have declining birth rates, and as prosperity increases, that seems to be the natural tendency. Until 2050, we need to produce more food to feed the world. If the world continues to cool, we might desperately need GMO foods that are more adapted to cold. Varieties of  grains adapted to particular soils or climates can dramatically increase production. Reducing the cost of weed control, or reducing susceptibility to a virus, can be a very big deal. Reducing pesticide use makes food healthier. Adding beta carotene to golden rice could prevent millions of cases of blindness. Do people not recognize that countries like Egypt cannot feed their own population?

Growers and marketers are sensitive to the protests of activist groups. They have seen foolish scares do tremendous damage to their businesses. Remember the cranberry scare, Alar, and activists attempting to destroy crops?  Always new food fads or fears that seem to grow in some mysterious underground.  Is it just word of mouth? I don’t know. They are still protesting fluoride in our water, but brushing their teeth with it.



Paul Erlich, Still Alarmed About Population, Predicts the Need to “Eat the Bodies of Your Dead.” by The Elephant's Child

Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist, became famous 46 years ago for his book The Population Bomb, which has been widely debunked. He was back this week on HuffPost Live doubling down on his climate change and overpopulation fear mongering.

He has admitted that his outrageously wrong predictions of human “oblivion” didn’t come to pass (we’re still here), but has never given up on the idea that the dangers of overpopulation are growing, blaming Republicans and the media for failing to take action.

He told HuffPost host Josh Zepps that humans must soon begin contemplating “eat[ing] the bodies of your dead” after resources are depleted. He remains an alarmist at 82. He claims that the scarcity of resources will be so bad that humans will need to drastically change our eating habits and our agriculture.

The Population Bomb predicted that “in the 1970s the world will undergo famines — hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death” and our children”will inherit a totally different world, a world in which the standards, politics, and economics of the 1960’s are dead.”

He attacked pro-life Americans, accusing them of trying to kill women by making abortion illegal, and called for “backup abortions” for any woman whose birth control failed, in an attempt to control “breeding.” He has consistently favored population control, abortion, and I assume, China’s one child policy.

He seems to have missed the Green Revolution entirely. But predicting cannibalism as a necessary evil is going a little too far.

It must be hard when you have one big celebrated idea, and it is widely debunked, and events prove that you were way wrong. Ehrlich is not alone in that. The climate and environmentalism are full of such cases.




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