Get Your Reusable Water Bottle and Utensils! The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has Spoken!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 3, 2009 by theseep

Haven’t heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch yet?  Besides the chemicals that that likely affect human health, like phalates and bisphenol-A, and the use of finite and polluting fossil fuels, the plastics that are so important and ubiquitous in our society are toxic to our oceans as well.  Surfline.com has a good article on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and a Good Morning America segment too.

Refuse to drink bottled water and don’t use disposable utensils! Get a reusable bottle, we like Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottles (for kids too!)and SIGG bottles, or some plastic bottles – ‘if it is a #2 HDPE , or a #4 LDPE, or a #5 PP, your bottle is fine“.  (You can even make your own SIGG bottle at cafepress.com for cheap or grab The S.E.E.P.’s “Consume Like You Give a Damn” series bottle!

As for the sporks, grab a mismatched set of utensils, a camping mess kit, or there are some bamboo utensil travel kits at gowesty.com. Throw them wrapped up in a cloth napkin in your backpack, purse, laptop bag, or man-purse and do your best to stop using disposables!

The S.E.E.P. Welcomes it’s Newest Addition!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 19, 2009 by theseep


We’ve been chronicling some of our efforts toward an eco-friendly nursery over at http://www.orionslaughter.com and now we can switch to logging our efforts at raising a sustainable baby! Orion was born on 7/10/09 at 2:53pm, weighing 7 lbs, 11 oz, and 21 inches long. Laura and he are doing great and I’ll be posting on our adventures with cloth diapers soon! Sorry for the lack of updates lately, we’ve been working hard preparing our home for Orion’s arrival and now we’re getting used to an entirely new life with our wonderful new family.

An Excellent View on GM’s Demise, by Michael Moore

Posted in clean energy, ethical consumerism, politics on June 1, 2009 by theseep

Although Michael Moore makes excellent and valid points in his documentaries, you have to take them with a grain of salt as he’s decidedly biased in his views.  This forwarded letter, however, rang so true with many of my views on the environment and what we can do with this opportunity as we try to bail out GM.  I don’t necessarily agree with the bailout in the first place, but if that’s what were doing, we might as well make it as productive as possible for the American workforce and the American people.  Definitely worth a read, even for the anti-Moore crowd.

Goodbye, GM by Michael Moore

June 1, 2009

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM’s birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented “planned obsolescence” — the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one — has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh — and that wouldn’t start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the “inferior” Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to “improve” the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Beginning in the 1980s, when GM was posting record profits, it moved countless jobs to Mexico and elsewhere, thus destroying the lives of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans. The glaring stupidity of this policy was that, when they eliminated the income of so many middle class families, who did they think was going to be able to afford to buy their cars? History will record this blunder in the same way it now writes about the French building the Maginot Line or how the Romans cluelessly poisoned their own water system with lethal lead in its pipes.

So here we are at the deathbed of General Motors. The company’s body not yet cold, and I find myself filled with — dare I say it — joy. It is not the joy of revenge against a corporation that ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with. Nor do I, obviously, claim any joy in knowing that 21,000 more GM workers will be told that they, too, are without a job.

But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know — who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let’s be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we’ve allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?

Thus, as GM is “reorganized” by the federal government and the bankruptcy court, here is the plan I am asking President Obama to implement for the good of the workers, the GM communities, and the nation as a whole. Twenty years ago when I made “Roger & Me,” I tried to warn people about what was ahead for General Motors. Had the power structure and the punditocracy listened, maybe much of this could have been avoided. Based on my track record, I request an honest and sincere consideration of the following suggestions:

1. Just as President Roosevelt did after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the President must tell the nation that we are at war and we must immediately convert our auto factories to factories that build mass transit vehicles and alternative energy devices. Within months in Flint in 1942, GM halted all car production and immediately used the assembly lines to build planes, tanks and machine guns. The conversion took no time at all. Everyone pitched in. The fascists were defeated. We are now in a different kind of war — a war that we have conducted against the ecosystem and has been conducted by our very own corporate leaders. This current war has two fronts. One is headquartered in Detroit. The products built in the factories of GM, Ford and Chrysler are some of the greatest weapons of mass destruction responsible for global warming and the melting of our polar icecaps. The things we call “cars” may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet. The other front in this war is being waged by the oil companies against you and me. They are committed to fleecing us whenever they can, and they have been reckless stewards of the finite amount of oil that is located under the surface of the earth. They know they are sucking it bone dry. And like the lumber tycoons of the early 20th century who didn’t give a damn about future generations as they tore down every forest they could get their hands on, these oil barons are not telling the public what they know to be true — that there are only a few more decades of useable oil on this planet. And as the end days of oil approach us, get ready for some very desperate people willing to kill and be killed just to get their hands on a gallon can of gasoline. President Obama, now that he has taken control of GM, needs to convert the factories to new and needed uses immediately.

2. Don’t put another $30 billion into the coffers of GM to build cars. Instead, use that money to keep the current workforce — and most of those who have been laid off — employed so that they can build the new modes of 21st century transportation. Let them start the conversion work now.

3. Announce that we will have bullet trains criss-crossing this country in the next five years. Japan is celebrating the 45th anniversary of its first bullet train this year. Now they have dozens of them. Average speed: 165 mph. Average time a train is late: under 30 seconds. They have had these high speed trains for nearly five decades — and we don’t even have one! The fact that the technology already exists for us to go from New York to L.A. in 17 hours by train, and that we haven’t used it, is criminal. Let’s hire the unemployed to build the new high speed lines all over the country. Chicago to Detroit in less than two hours. Miami to DC in under 7 hours. Denver to Dallas in five and a half. This can be done and done now.

4. Initiate a program to put light rail mass transit lines in all our large and medium-sized cities. Build those trains in the GM factories. And hire local people everywhere to install and run this system.

5. For people in rural areas not served by the train lines, have the GM plants produce energy efficient clean buses.

6. For the time being, have some factories build hybrid or all-electric cars (and batteries). It will take a few years for people to get used to the new ways to transport ourselves, so if we’re going to have automobiles, let’s have kinder, gentler ones. We can be building these next month (do not believe anyone who tells you it will take years to retool the factories — that simply isn’t true).

7. Transform some of the empty GM factories to facilities that build windmills, solar panels and other means of alternate forms of energy. We need tens of millions of solar panels right now. And there is an eager and skilled workforce who can build them.

8. Provide tax incentives for those who travel by hybrid car or bus or train. Also, credits for those who convert their home to alternative energy.

9. To help pay for this, impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline. This will get people to switch to more energy saving cars or to use the new rail lines and rail cars the former autoworkers have built for them.

Well, that’s a start. Please, please, please don’t save GM so that a smaller version of it will simply do nothing more than build Chevys or Cadillacs. This is not a long-term solution. Don’t throw bad money into a company whose tailpipe is malfunctioning, causing a strange odor to fill the car.

100 years ago this year, the founders of General Motors convinced the world to give up their horses and saddles and buggy whips to try a new form of transportation. Now it is time for us to say goodbye to the internal combustion engine. It seemed to serve us well for so long. We enjoyed the car hops at the A&W. We made out in the front — and the back — seat. We watched movies on large outdoor screens, went to the races at NASCAR tracks across the country, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time through the window down Hwy. 1. And now it’s over. It’s a new day and a new century. The President — and the UAW — must seize this moment and create a big batch of lemonade from this very sour and sad lemon.

Yesterday, the last surviving person from the Titanic disaster passed away. She escaped certain death that night and went on to live another 97 years.

So can we survive our own Titanic in all the Flint Michigans of this country. 60% of GM is ours. I think we can do a better job.

Yours,

Michael Moore

MMFlint@aol.com MichaelMoore.com

Autism is Not Caused by Vaccines: A Response to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Article.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2009 by theseep

Autism has become a major issue for modern parents, affecting 1 in 150 children, and can be linked to a number of exposures, including vaccines, according to a piece written last year by actress Jenny McCarthy and actor Jim Carrey and published in the New York Times (McCarthy, Carrey, 2008).  Unfortunately, although some legitimate sources are cited, including statistics from the CDC, McCarthy’s article uses mostly supposition and anecdotal evidence to support her arguments that vaccines “play a major role” in the development of autism.  McCarthy and Carrey have apparrently had success in reversing many of their son’s autism symptoms through “starting a gluten-free, casein-free diet, vitmain supplementation, detox of metals, and anti-fungals for yeast overgrowth that plagued his intestines” (McCarthy, Carrey, 2008).  While they do make an excellent point that physicians that they have seen after this improvement have not investigated the factors in his recovery, an action that could potentially lead to more understanding of the disease, the improvements could be due to any one of their interventions, behavioral or cognitive therapy, or a combination of factors.

Although it is true that Autism rates have risen in recent years and is a major health problem, it is imperative to use information derived from reliable sources before rushing to stop vaccinations, an intervention that saves countless lives.  The Wakefield paper published in 1998 that began the popular notion that autism is caused by vaccines was only a case series, where 12 children who were observed to have developed intestinal problems within a month of the MMR vaccine, and 8 of whom were also diagnosed with autism at that time (“A Look at What Causes”, 2008).  While there may be a correlation, this does not denote causation, and along with the small sample size and type of study, this paper should not be used to base any conclusions on, only the possibilty of future research.  Other studies are currently looking at biochemical contributors for autism that may lead back to an environmental cause (Deth, Muratore, Benzecry, Power-Charnitsky, & Waly, 2008; Van Den Hazel, Zuurbier, Babisch, Bartonova, Bistrup, Bolte, et al., 2006), and the CHARGE Study is an ongoing large-scale case-control study investigating a wide array of possible environmental and genetic factors into the development of autism and hopes to uncover some statistically significant causational factors (Hertz-Picciotto, I., Croen, L., Hansen, R., Jones, C., Van De Water, J., & Pessah, I., 2006).

There is much epidemiologic work to be done in the search for causes of the autism epidemic.  Although it is good to have these types of issues brought to the attention of the public through media, much of the media information and hype is innaccurate.   In this case, because of celebrity status and media attention, McCarthy and Carrey write a heartfelt and well-intentioned piece that is presented by lay-people without the epidemiologic background to properly interpret and synthesize the current data on autism and it’s contributors.  This lack of scientific rigor and support in many popular media outlets unfortunately is not uncommon and spreads innacurate and potentially harmful information.

References:

Deth, R., Muratore, C., Benzecry, J., Power-Charnitsky, V., & Waly, M. (2008). How environmental and genetic factors combine to cause autism: A redox/methylation hypothesis [Abstract]. NeuroToxicology, 29(1), 190-201. Retrieved May 10, 2009 from the EBSCO Database.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center.  (2008)  A Look at What Causes, and What Doesn’t Cause, Autism.  Retrieved on May 9, 2009 from:  http://www.chop.edu/consumer/jsp/division/generic.jsp?id=84662#other_studies .

Hertz-Picciotto, I., Croen, L., Hansen, R., Jones, C., Van De Water, J., & Pessah, I. (2006). The CHARGE Study: An Epidemiologic Investigation of Genetic and Environmental Factors Contributing to Autism. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(7), 1119-1125. Retrieved May 10, 2009

McCarthy, J., Carrey, J. (2008, April 4).  Jenny McCarthy:  My son’s recovery from autism.  CNN.com.  Retrieved on May 8, 2009 from:  http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/02/mccarthy.autsimtreatment/ .

Van Den Hazel, P., Zuurbier, M., Babisch, W., Bartonova, A., Bistrup, M., Bolte, G., et al. (2006). Today’s epidemics in children: Possible relations to environmental pollution and suggested preventive measures. Acta Paediatrica, 95, 18-25. Retrieved May 10, 2009 from the EBSCO database.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 13, 2009 by theseep

Cap and Trade: What is It?

Hank Green over at ecogeek.com has posted a nearly auction-style, fast primer on the Cap and Trade system proposed by the Obama administration. This is a must see, as this legislation stands to be one of the most important pieces in starting our emissions decline. He does a good job flitting though the major point of contention – the assertion by many conservatives that it’s just another tax. Although it can be construed as such, it’s more of a pollution cap with monetary incentives for companies, a system that should be much more flexible, functional, and fair to both businesses and American citizens than a straight “carbon tax”.

26 Week Ultrasound Art and Treehugger.com’s Going Green Guide

Posted in conservation, ethical consumerism, sustainability on April 17, 2009 by theseep


For the latest installment of Orion’s ultrasound art, on Orion’s sustainable baby blog, I chose to completely rip off Andy Warhol’s techniques, right down to the colors! This is a pretty good 2D close-up view of his face and everything is going well so far.

In our continuing quest to have a “green baby” and with Earth Day coming up and all, I figured we could check out one of my favorite green blogs, treehugger.com, and their “Going Green Guide”. Many people aren’t sure where to start once their eco-consciousness has been raised, and the guide is a great place to start without being too overwhelming. It’s divided into many categories, so whatever subject you want to start working on, from dinner parties, to home energy, gift guides, personal care products, and of course, having babies, there is an incredible amount of information there. Right now we’re researching reusable diaper options, so stay tuned and have a great Earth Day!

24 Week Ultrasound and Ecofriendly Baby Chair Review: Crate and Barrel’s Bayside Swivel Glider

Posted in ethical consumerism, recycling, sustainability on April 7, 2009 by theseep


I was happy to see Orion striking a “Thinker” pose when we were playing with the ultrasound last week. Laura is feeling well, still exercising with swimming, spin class, and hiking with Marley. We’re both busy with work and school, but the nursery is almost done, and we’re trying to figure out our “chair” situation. It seems that getting the proper rocker/glider/combo/baby calmer is a big deal and we’ve been trying to find the most comfortable-yet-eco-friendly option.

After much internet research, we found Crate and Barrel’s Bayside Swivel Glider, a slipcovered glider benchmade in the USA from “certified sustainable” hardwood with soy-based polyfoam seats and 100% recycled and post-consumer backing. We tested one out in the San Jose store, and I must say that it is a VERY comfortable chair with a soft feel, low armrests good for breastfeeding (and I’ll mention again the removable/replaceable slipcover – nice for baby messes). The only drawback was the lack of head support, which was easily fixed with a well-placed throw pillow. With quite a few attractive fabric options, this one would fit our needs well, along with the matching ottoman, and actually was both domestically produced and pretty ecofriendly! For this well-made furniture with these premium options, unfortunately you’ll pay a premium price, $1398 for chair and glider. This is in comparison to $649 for a wood glider made in Canada at our local baby store, Johnson’s or $209 or more for a BabiesRUs glider made who-knows-where of unknown materials.  Interestingly, Laura’s Dad is bringing her Great-Grandfather’s 75 year old rocking chair, so we may not even need a glider, but it’s been fun doing the research!  The best part about the hand-me-down rocker is that it’s a family heirloom and carries special memories, with now 4 generations of the family being rocked to sleep in it, not to mention that it’s the ultimate in recycling!

If we do end up needing one, I think we’ll end up going big and getting the Crate and Barrel chair – it’s by far the most comfortable, is well built, attractive, can end up being a regular piece of furniture instead of just a “baby chair”, is made in the U.S., and is pretty darn ecofriendly (I’d like some organic cotton or hemp slipcover options, though).  Either that or get a used crapola one on craigslist for super cheap! I think what we’ve learned from this is to not get caught up in the “baby hype”, many things that people say you need you can find used, get through your family and friends, or you may not even need it at all.

Volatile Organic Compounds, Why They’re Bad, Why They’re In Your House, and Why FEMA Wasn’t Really at Fault for the Trailer Formaldehyde Debacle.

Posted in Environmental Health, ethical consumerism, healthcare, politics, sustainability on March 18, 2009 by theseep

In the course of my classes for my Master’s of Public Health, I’ve been doing quite a bit on environmental health. I’m sorry I’ve been a bit slack on the posts, but it’s because of school so besides a baby blog, I’m going to start posting excerpts from some of my papers and discussions. The bonus is that I’ll be adding citations for references and data support for the discussion. This is from a paper on environmental causes of health problems and exposure to chemicals, the section on volatile organic compounds, or VOCs:

“This problem effects us all in varying levels, but can disproportionally effect those living in areas with concentrated levels of certain chemicals, those that regularly utilize potentially hazardous products, and especially those in developing nations where many modern potentially hazardous substances and products are produced or disposed of. Children, pregnant women, and the elderly are also at greater risk for developing disease from lower levels of exposure (Freedman, et al, 2001). Shifts in exposure can occur quickly as well, as in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where thousands of people were displaced from their homes and many were provided trailers to live in by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was found later that these trailers, made from standard off-the-shelf building materials, were off-gassing enough volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde to cause significant health problems in many of those living in them (Final Report on Formaldehyde, 2008). Although it was dismissed by some, offering that these types of trailers were not meant to live in for prolonged periods, these very same materials such as pressboard, melamine, paints and sealants, are used in regular home construction as well and can affect any homeowner given the proper concentrations and conditions.” (Slaughter, Environmental, 2009)

Next is a brief definition of VOCs and some human health effects:

The selected toxicologic agent for discussion is Toluene, described on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry website as “among the most abundantly produced chemicals in the United States.” (Toluene: Medical Management, 2007). Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon molecule that is a type of volatile organic compound (VOC). It is found abundantly throughout our society, in gasoline, glues, inks, dyes, lacquers, paints, pesticides, cleaners, and other household and industrial products (Olson, 1999). Although exposures and overdoses are seen in industrial accidents, it is also commonly abused through “huffing” or “sniffing” the fumes to produce dizzyness and euphoria. It can produce human toxicity through inhalation, ingestion, skin or mucous membrane exposure, is passed through uterine circulation to a fetus, and is also passed in breast milk (Toluene: Medical Management, 2007). Toluene causes a significant amount of toxicity, often from acute exposures, although chronic exposures occur as well, with effects including skin irritation, corneal abrasions, tremors, ataxia (unsteady gait), nausea, headache, and even renal failure and death in high enough doses. Also, because of it’s physical properties like other VOCs, toluene can cause asphyxiation from concentrated inhalation as well as chemical pneumonitis and respiratory failure from aspiration (Olson, 1999). ” (Slaughter, Online discussion, 2009)

So really, even though FEMA made some mistakes, people getting sick from the formaldehyde levels in the trailers wasn’t their fault. The trailers were actually the fault of the EPA and other regulatory bodies that should have been keeping VOCs out of our building materials in the first place, and a building materials industry that doesn’t always take adequate precautions to protect their consumers. Bottom line – have an idea of what you’re consuming and what’s in it.

There are over 85,000 chemicals used in the U.S. in industry and consumer goods, of which we have full toxicologic data for about 7%. That’s a lot we don’t know. Even though we don’t know all of the effects of many of the chemicals we are being exposed to, there is good scientific evidence that some of the more toxic ones and some of the commonly used chemicals cause significant human health problems, even cancer. Exposures are incredibly variable and many of the severe health effects are often accidental or one-time exposures, occupational, or from long-term, chronic exposures, so most people will probably be just fine. However, we’ll see a few thousand people die or get ill from pesticide exposure here, a few hundred thousand cancers from smoking and other carcinogen exposures there, some kids losing 30 or 40 IQ points from lead exposure in homes and toys, male frogs turning into females or having extra legs, little stuff, not really a big deal, right? OR, we could change the way we regulate chemicals to use the precautionary principle and properly test chemicals for human health risks before allowing them to be sold to consumers. Pretty easy way to save lives and an incredible amount of healthcare spending, really.

References

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2007). Toluene: Medical Management Guidelines. Retrieved on March 12, 2009 from: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MHMI/mmg56.html

Freedman, D., Stewart, P., Kleinerman, R., Wacholder, S., Hatch, E., Tarone, R., Robison, L., Linet, M. (2001). Household Solvent Exposures and Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. American Journal of Public Health. 91:4

Centers for Disease Control (2008). Final Report on Formaldehyde Levels in FEMA-Supplied Travel Trailers, Park Models, and Mobile Homes. Retrieved on December 28, 2008 from: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehhe/trailerstudy/

Olgar, S., Oktem, F., Dindar, A., Kilbas, A., Turkoglu, U., Cetin, H., et al. (2008). Volatile solvent abuse caused glomerulopathy and tubulopathy in street children. Human and Experimental Toxicology. 27:477-483. Retrieved on March 12, 2009 from: EBSCO Database, Walden Library.

Olson, K. (Ed.). (1999). Poisoning and Drug Overdose. Stamford: Appleton and Lange.

Slaughter, C. (2009). Online Discussion. PUBH 6105 Environmental Health Class. Walden University

Slaughter, C. (2009). Environmental Causes of Illness. Final Paper. Course 6115: Social, Behavioral and Cultural Factors in Public Health. Walden University

If You’re Not In The “If It’s Yellow Let it Mellow” Crowd: $150 Toilet Retrofit Will Save You Thousands of Gallons of Water!

Posted in conservation, sustainability on February 8, 2009 by theseep

In the bathroom in our bedroom, Laura and I generally stick to the “If it’s yellow let is mellow, if it’s brown flush is down” mantra.  Instead of flushing the toilet, say 12-15 times a day, we only flush 4 or 5.  At 1.6 gallons per flush, just doing this on one toilet saves us over 5000 gallons per year of water.  We tend to flush the downstairs toilet regularly, as we don’t want to gross out our guests, plus for some reason that bathroom has an uncanny amplification of smells (tmi, I know).  Many people are uncomfortable with not flushing every time, especially in more public restrooms, and we’ve started to see some businesses install dual-flush toilets such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Now there is a solution for the home!  Rather than replacing your entire toilet, Brondell is releasing the “Perfect Flush” retrofit that can be installed on nearly any standard home toilet and can save about 50% of the water you would normally use if you’re an “everytime flusher.”  At $150, it’s also affordable and looks to be fairly easy to install yourself.  Although we should be seriously rethinking our water use in general, (ie: how much sense does it make to contaminate millions of gallons of water from showers, kitchens, washing machines, sinks, etc, with a few hundred gallons of blackwater?)  this is an easy and affordable first step until you can get your composting toilets and greywater systems in place!

via Gizmodo.

The Tables are Turned: Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are now “Un-American” and “Traitorous” for Not Supporting Our President!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24, 2009 by theseep

Hit the “Fox News Fears Imbalance” link above, WordPress is not properly embedding Comedy Central Video – sorry.

Incredibly, but not so surprisingly, the right-winged pundits such O’Reilly and Limbaugh,and the rest of Fox News, have completely flipped their attitudes about supporting the American presidency. It was not so long ago that these very same people ranted and raved about how “Un-American” it was to criticize the war in Iraq or any of the other poorly informed/thought-out decisions of our last President. Now, when it’s not “their boy” in the White House, they’ve opted to take the Un-American route of unabashedly fear-mongering, undermining, and other douchebaggery while covering President Obama’s first few days in office, rather than being constructive and contributing reasonable and intelligent discourse to the sorely needed changes in our government.

National Call In Day for Single Payer Healthcare this Friday, January 15th – Call Your Representatives!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2009 by theseep

This Friday, January 15, is national call-in day to promote a single-payer healthcare system.  Here is the official page with information on HR676 and how to contact your congressperson.  Also, you can call (202) 225-3121 and ask to be connected to the office of your Representative or your Senators (you can also look up their direct numbers using your zip code here)

Being in the healthcare community, I find it hard to believe that so many people don’t support this concept.  One of the big arguments is whether healthcare is a right or a dominican1privilege and when you work in the medical field, it is obvious that it should be a right, just like having a firefighter to put out your burning house, or a police officer to rescue you from an assailant, everyone should have basic medical care.  We often hear the term “socialized” attached to single-payer healthcare as a fear tactic because of the negative stigma still associated with the term socialism.  Single-payer, however, is not government run healthcare, it is private healthcare with government paying the bills instead of insurance companies.  Essentially nothing will change with how you interact with your physician or clinic, but rather than insurance companies artificially driving up costs and making profits on people’s health, denying legitimate claims, and costing an extra 15% or more in administrative costs, medicare and medicaid will cover everyone!  Costs overall will decrease, and the out of pocket expense to the individual will be lower than the current system.  If we can combine this with a massive expansion in public health education and services, along with major tort reform to revamp medical liability, we might just be able to improve our status from spending more money per capita than any other country, yet ranking number 37 in the world in quality of health care.  Shameful.

Please call in on Friday and make your voice heard!

Posted in clean energy, conservation, ethical consumerism, green energy, sustainability on December 10, 2008 by theseep

EcoGeek Compares CFL Incandescent and LED Lightbulbs

EcoGeek just posted this is a great and quick comparison of the light output and quality from incandescents vs. CFLs vs. LEDs, as well as discussion of efficiency.

Although we did the conversion to CFLs a few years ago, we’re on the second phase and slowly coverting to LED bulbs as the CFLs burn out. The technology has already come a long way in the last 2 years and LED bulb prices are starting to come down. At this point, if you haven’t changed out your incandescent bulbs, you might as well skip the CFLs and go straight to the LEDs! With 1/4-1/3 of the power use and 10,000-50,000 hour lifespans, LEDs are certainly the way to go.

via treehugger.com, ecogeek.com

John Stewart and John Olliver Say What We All Are Thinking About Terrorists of Any Type.

Posted in Uncategorized on December 3, 2008 by theseep

I can’t get this to embed properly, but click on the Mumbai Tragedy Link for the video.

This is a brilliant exchange between John Olliver and John Stewart on 12/1/09’s The Daily Show. Simply brilliant – an incredibly accurate discussion of terrorists of any kind.

Bush Administration Wants Americans To Have More E Coli Outbreaks

Posted in Uncategorized on November 20, 2008 by theseep
StoptheMegaDairy.org via earthfirst

Photo credit: StoptheMegaDairy.org via earthfirst

It seems that the Bush Administration is trying to get a few more jabs in before heading out of office, making our nation even more unsafe and removing regulations that keep our citizens healthy.

According to the National Resources Defense Council, on October 31st, the Bush Administration signed a rule that exempts factory farms from needing permits that limit water pollution runoff.  Modern factory farms, also known as concentrating animal feeding operations (CAFOs), besides being generally cruel to animals and foster antibiotic resistance through unregulated use, also generate huge amounts of untreated liquid and solid waste from livestock that are forced to live in confined areas.  This rule will keep authorities from having to regulate this waste, which will contaminate waterways and other farms, and will undoubtedly lead to further public health crises similar to the E Coli outbreak that we just had in September of this year.

The recent national outbreak of E Coli O157:H7 in spinach was quickly traced back to farms in Salinas Valley, CA, and is a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining a working and vigilant public health system.  It demonstrates how disease tracking and data collection is imperative as a foundation for this process, with rapid action taken by public health field workers to isolate and stop the spread of disease outbreak.  Local physicians and healthcare professionals reported cases of patients with diarrheal illness consistent with a possible E. coli O157:H7 outbreak to their local public health departments.  Through the national public health system network, these departments, in turn, reported the illnesses to the CDC (Grant et al, 2008).  The CDC was able to quickly recognize a pattern and made a public announcement of the outbreak on September 13, 2008.  A study was initiated the next day by the public health departments of Utah and New Mexico, which isolated and contained the source of the outbreak, and within 2 weeks had hard evidence implicating spinach grown in our state that had likely been contaminated by runoff from local cattle farms.  Not only did the public health system discover the cause of the illness, but it then was able to help draft policy changes encouraging improved sanitation that will hopefully decrease the risk of similar contamination in the future.

Unfortunately, whatever we learned from this and similar incidents will be undone with this exemption in waste regulation.  This is an excellent example of how corporate pressure influences the government to make irresponsible decisions.  The economic pressure from factory farms has overcome the health risks to citizens caused by unregulated waste runoff.  The state public health departments, the FDA, and the EPA must review this rule and take political action to prevent the increased public health risk that it poses.

National Resource Defense Council.

Vote: No Bailout For The Auto Industry. Unless. . .

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19, 2008 by theseep


Ok, so first we’ve thrown hundreds of billions of dollars haphazardly at banks, much of which they’ve already hoarded, squandered, and rearranged, rather than taking a few weeks for our government to carefully draft an educated and well-thought out plan to mediate the value to loan ratio problem, devalue existing loans to help foreclosing homeowners restructure debt, and tightly regulate the use of said taxpayer dollars to avoid the current system of lining the pockets of the greedy lenders and traders who were gambling away everyone’s debt and 401k money.

Now we’re talking about bailing out three companies, who no matter how “Downhome American” and “Heartlandy” they are, have spent the last half century manipulating the American public through engineered obsolescence and ruthless marketing campaigns to sell the biggest and least efficient vehicles, partnered with oil companies to actively fight emissions standards and efficiency requirements, have purposefully withheld technology that would improve mileage and save fuel, have killed California’s zero-emission legislation through legal actions, failed to have any concern whatsoever for the growing climate change and peak oil crises, and have allowed their own greed and obliviousness, purposeful or not, to lead to their own downfall.

The ONLY way we should give any money to the U.S. Auto industry is if they are required to use these funds to completely revamp their lines to include only vehicles that are electric, are compatible with modern biofuels, or use some other type of renewable and low or no emissions fuel. They must also begin large initiatives to convert existing vehicles to run on one of these fuels. The beauty is, that this is in reality a fairly easy proposal: Most modern gasoline engines can be easily modified to run E85 or natural gas, every diesel can run on 100% biodiesel (it’s just not covered by warranty) and can easily be modified to run on vegetable oil. Pretty much any vehicle chassis can be easily converted to run on electricity, using standard golf cart batteries to go more than 40 miles to a charge at highway speeds, more than enough for the vast majority of daily drivers. With minimal training and barely adequate electrical skills, I’ve even been thinking about building one in my garage. The “Big Three” have much smarter people than I with much more mechanical knowledge,and they have much, much. . . MUCH bigger garages.

For that matter, I can think of quite a few things we can do as well with that 813 billion (in tax breaks and funds) Congress has already authorized to bail out Wall Street. How about we pay our craftsmen and builders to learn about energy efficient and eco-friendly building techniques? Why don’t we start a national solar loan program that gives anyone who wishes a low interest loan to get solar water heating and photovoltaic panels? Why don’t we reteach and train those losing their jobs how to grow food, how to farm energy, how to retrofit homes for efficiency, and other skills? Why don’t we help towns and cities rebuild their energy infrastructures to make clean power, ethanol, and biodiesel from waste streams and utilize resources efficiently?

We need to use this money wisely in a well-designed renewable energy “New Deal” for our country to build a sustainable infrastructure for a future of economic prosperity, food security, and clean energy.

reference: bbc news article