Saturday, January 2, 2010

Can good defeat evil?

Most people would answer yes to the above question. Come to think about it, if you would have asked me a few years ago, I probably would have agreed. Now however, I'm not so sure. It seems the more I look, the worse things are. There are so many acts of pure evil out there, you really have to wonder if all of the good in the world can ever overcome it.

Life used to be similar to TV. The bad guy did his thing, but the good guy came along and either stopped him or made him pay for it. Not so much anymore. We have people getting away with horrific crimes with either no punishment because they claim insanity or a slap on the wrist because the criminal justice system has gotten too soft. Unfortunately, the criminals here in the US can't hold a candle to what I saw last night.

I caught an episode of 101 East last night on Al Jazeera English that I found disturbing on a level that I cannot describe. They were profiling acid attacks in Bangladesh. In one of the poorest, most crowded nations on the planet, one way for people to scratch out a living is jewelry making. Hydrochloric and nitric acid is used in the manufacturing process, which means that these acids are readily available for a cheap price. This acid is often used as a way of attacking people involved in disputes. Women and children are usually the victims of these attacks. According to the Acid Survivors Foundation, less than 10% of the offenders are ever prosecuted. The cases they profiled shocked me in a way I didn't think I could be shocked anymore.

WARNING: The following descriptions are somewhat graphic. If you are uncomfortable with this, please skip along.
The one woman they followed had acid tossed on her face because of a dispute over a bucket of water. Apparently there was some other tension between her father and his workers.
A six month old girl had acid poured over her head by her father because he wanted a son. Her picture is here. (Bangladesh story picture)
One woman was the victim of an acid attack because of a dispute between her husband and brother in law. This case is disturbing because they think that her husband carried out the attack to frame his brother.
And the worst one. A young boy had acid poured down his throat by his aunt because she was jealous. He was one month old at the time.

This is only the tip of the evil iceberg. Genocides, dictatorships, racial and gender strife...There are so many people out there who are doing things that seem inconceivable. How on earth can the good people of the world overcome the evil? I suppose this is why I'm having such a hard time with the whole religion thing. It's hard to have faith in anything when there is so much evil around. Maybe another talk with Pastor Randy is in order.

For those interested in watching this program, you will need to download Livestation. Go to and get the player. Do not worry. I have used it many times, there is no virus risk. Al Jazeera English is one of the partners, so the channel will come included with the basic setup. The episode of 101 East will be re-broadcast at the following times:

Sunday January 3rd - 03:30 and 11:30 GMT
Monday January 4th - 16:30 GMT
Tuesday January 5th - 14:30 GMT
Wendsday January 6th - 08:30 and 19:30 GMT
Thursday January 7th - 06:30 GMT
(Central Standard Time is GMT -6)

Another word of warning. I am not one to get easily squeamish at things I see on TV. Several times I had to look away during the broadcast.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Green Movement: Feeling good without doing good

This green kick has been a fad for a while now. Being green is the newest status symbol. In their own little world, the greener you are, the better a person you are.

As it has been said many times before, the proof of climate change is far from undisputed. In fact, there has been some debate on whether some green items are any better for the environment. That is for another post though. This post is focusing on the things that are being ignored by the green scene.

Honestly, I feel a lot (not all) of the folks who are passionate about being green are willing to do so, as long as they are not significantly inconvenienced. Priuses, compact florescents, composting, recycling...These are all ways for people to feel good about themselves without going too far out of their way.

Everyone also is vocal about the big issues - Coal burning power plants, nuclear power, SUV's. But there are a few things that are potentially a lot worse for the environment that nobody seems to talk about.

1 - Fireworks. At first glance, fireworks don't appear to have that much of an impact. Individually, fireworks displays do not have a whole lot of impact. However, add up the thousands of firework displays that are fired off every year and you get a significant amount of nasty stuff exploded in the atmosphere. One of these compounds, perchlorates, are responsible for inhibiting the thyroid from absorbing iodine. Because fireworks are often exploded over water, the perchlorates end up in the water supply. Yet, despite the environmental impact, you don't hear anything about a call for banning of fireworks. Why?

Before you start calling me unpatriotic, I enjoy a good firework display as much as the next guy. However, if I have to choose between a fireworks display and infant retardation from iodine deficiency...Well...that should be a no brainer.

2 - Ethanol. Now, I know that this is the baby of environmentalists, but ethanol is no answer. It is expensive, requires a lot of land and water, and can even cause worse air pollution and CO2 emissions than 100% gasoline exhaust. Unfortunately, those of us who know that ethanol isn't the answer are fighting an uphill battle on two counts. We are shouted down as being unfriendly to the environment and supporting "countries that wish us harm". That's a good phrase, except for the fact that 65% of the US crude imports come from friendly countries. Only one of the top 5, Saudi Arabia, is in the middle east. So, in an effort to save the environment, we could be making it worse. Yep...good job greenies.

3 - Recycling. Now this is a hard one to attack. Recycling programs have been around in our country for over 30 years. A lot of people who wouldn't consider themselves environmental believe in recycling programs, so hearing the truth is unsettling. However, considering most communities that recycle have two different crews collecting garbage and recycling, and that most items can be made from raw materials as efficiently as from recycled materials, the environmental impact is greater than if we tossed everything. The only exception are metal cans. Those items are far better all around if they are recycled. For aluminum cans, it can be as high as a 95% savings. Don't believe me? There are plenty of examples here.

These are but a few examples. The environmental movement is attacking all aspects of modern society with shaky pseudo-science. They push for changes in the name of the environment before they even know if what they want is good for the planet or not. To me, that's just plain wrong.