The U.N. Population Fund claims that the 7 billionth person to currently live on this spinning rock was born at the end of this past weekend. Of course we do not know the exact number, nor is it possible for us to count 7 billion people. And some think we aren’t quite there yet. However, one thing is clear, the number of people on this planet has been exploding. How did we get here and where will we go?
At one point in our human history, high birth rates were necessary to keep our species alive. We had to contend with wild animals, famine, disease, tumultuous weather and each other. As time went on, we learned to protect ourselves from wild animals by living in stable structures and in communities. We got better at growing, storing and distributing food. We better controlled illness and disease. We learned how to better predict weather and protect ourselves from it. We learned to get along better with each other.
None of these measures are perfect, but we have gotten better at children living into adulthood and having children of their own. So good in fact that we have went from our first billion to to our seventh in two centuries. We don’t need women to have as many children as possible anymore, but many cultures and countries continue to have high birthrates.
Although the populations of some countries continue to grow, many industrialized nations have near zero or negative population growth. Those with the means to better care for children are less likely have many. Educated women and women with access to good health care are more likely to have small families. In other words, it seems that when and where women can, they have fewer children.
Some countries, such as China and India, tend to have more mouths to feed than they can handle. Although there have been some success in slowing their growth rates, these countries are still bursting at the seams. I find it ironic that countries with cultures that scorn female children are those with high birth rates. In other words, it is interesting that the their societies despise the females who provide the wombs for the large families that many of the men in those countries use as evidence of their virility. (Although biologically the man’s contribution in the whole reproductive process is minimal and the woman’s health and stamina factor much higher in a positive birth outcome) It is interesting to note that within these countries more affluent women tend to have less children.
As medical care in countries with high birth rates improves and women can control their ability to have children, the population growth will slow if industrialized nations are an example. Also, with selective abortions, the proportion of males to females is already becoming skewed in the China and India and less women will mean less births. (It's also ironic that their cultural misogyny will lead to many lonely men)
Where will the population count be in 10 years? 20 years? Your guess is as good as mine. I figure it will hinge on whether women in third world countries begin to be valued and if they are allowed to control their own wombs.
As 16 cops in NYC defended themselves against ticket fixing, 500 of their brothers and sisters jeered the prosecutors and carried signs that say, for example, "It's a courtesy, not a crime".
As a "civilian" I find the justification for making the tickets of friends and family go away appalling. It just demonstrates that certain police officers think they and their's are above the rest of us. They don't have to struggle to find a legal parking spot and decipher nearly incomprehensible signs because it can be made to go away. They don't have to walk blocks and blocks in the rain or snow or freezing rain. Nope. Those inconveniences are for us common slobs.
Don't get me wrong. I appreciate police officers that understand the huge responsibility they have taken upon themselves. But there are those individuals that are seemingly drawn to the profession just so they can lord over the rest of us and comments like "It's a courtesy, not a crime" just illustrate this fact. It's also one of the reasons I avoid socializing with "law enforcement"; you never know which is which.
To those officers who decided to protest the prosecution of those that would set themselves above the rest of us: Thanks for letting the rest of know who you are. Obviously you see no problem with standing above us. We need protection from crooks and criminals not to be be victims of crime perpetrated by those who are unlikely to get caught.
To the officers that didn't protest: I hope you realize that it is an abuse of your power to pick and choose who obeys the law and who doesn't. And if you do, thank you. I hope it is one of you that patrols my neighborhood.
I wonder if the Occupy Wall Street folks will make snowmen or pack up. Of course the weathermen might be exaggerating with their predictions of 2-4 inches in New York.
And I'm still not sure what to make of the "Occupy" movement. I'm not even sure if "movement" is the right term.
I get the whole "I'm the 99%" part, it refers to not being part of the 1% wealthiest. I get it and I'm certainly part of that 99%.
I get that corporations treat their workers like chattel and refuse to hire more workers amid good earnings, just to give great big bonuses to their CEOs. Some of the protesters claim to want jobs, but many of them don't look interview ready to me. I'm not sure who would hire someone who showed up a bit unkempt from camping for a month. How are they sending out resumes? How do they expect to hear anyone on a cellphone amid the racket at the occupy sites?
I get that the banking industry got bailed out while the little guy struggles. The American dream crumbled under reckless actions by the banks and government. Unfortunately the American people bear some of the brunt of blame for the housing collapse themselves. They listened to bad advice about what kind of home they could afford.
I get some of the supposed issues. What I don't get is how a bunch of people huddled in tents for a month, banging on drums and dancing has anything to do with me. I get up every weekday morning, make myself presentable and schlep into work. I deal with shit from my bosses and/or customers. Every once in while I get a pat on the back. It isn't awful, it's just reality and it pays the bills.
So what are the "Occupy" folks trying to say?
I was at a meeting. There were many people from many groups mulling about the room. I overheard one discussion where who parties were discussing an upcoming meeting. The meeting would be held to update a community about a project. A representative from an elected officials office quipped that he didn't care about having a meeting during "the Holidays" and in fact he thought we should have the meeting on Christmas. The person he said this to seemed somewhat speechless.
I was appalled. The community in question is heavily Catholic. I think that they would care if the meeting was held on Christmas.
I find it odd that a person employed by an elected official would disregard the community his boss supposedly represents. I think the young man should keep his personal opinion about Christmas, whether it is driven by being Jewish or an atheist, to himself when he is working. His boss is supposed to represent people in his district and if any particular holiday matters to a good portion of those folks than it should be taken into consideration.
It also makes me wonder if his staff perhaps is echoing the honorable Assemblyman's opinion. I don't believe it does, but it does make me wonder . . .
They came and looked. We decided on a price. Money was exchanged and the paperwork signed. Then I watched her drive away. ... Well, I followed so I could get my plates.
A car is just a car, but some mean more than others. It may have been only a back-up, but this particular one had been with me or my family for a decade. That Subaru was already pretty old when we got it. My father thought it was pretty sound, and the body was. It did have problem after problem.
First was the automatic transmission, that I quipped was the car's only flaw. We found a junker with a standard transmission and in it went. Then the engine died. The engine from my recently retired, body-rotted Subaru fit in. A few more tweaks and she was good to go. Dad spent many hours working on her.
People made fun of that car, but she saved me trouble time and again. Need lumber from Home Depot? Strap it to the roof. Old dresser needs to be moved? Yup, just fits. Generator needs to serviced? Slider her in the back. Transportation charges? I don't pay not stinkin' transportation charges. And on top of that, the old girl could still haul ass. It's hard to kill a Subaru. And damn it was fun passing people with a car they thought was beyond it's prime.
The new owners are Subaru people, too. They understand that the oldies are goodies. I hope the old girl serves them well. And I hope to see her sometime. Her new owner couldn't wait to polish her up.
I got a glimpse of the "Occupy" movement today. They made their stand in a little park in the middle of my favorite farmer's market. I tried hard to not make eye contact. I just wanted my veggies and milk and to get out of there.
Some of the vendors said they recognized some of the protesters as their customers. But most of the protesters camped in our little farmer's market were not part of our little "community" that come together every week.
Over the years I have developed a relationship with many of the vendors. These are hard working people who earn their living off their land. It is not easy work. Nor in most cases is it enough to pay the bills, and they have other jobs, too. Some of them did not seem to have very high opinions of the lot. In other words, hard working people don't have time for such things as protests.
And the police were out in force, flex-ties in their back pockets if the crowd became unruly. The crowd was pretty well behaved. I think the protesters didn't want to make enemies of the farmer's market and the cops certainly didn't want to look like bullies to the people who pay their salaries.
Then the throng started their march. They noisily went by, the press happily in tow to record the events. Yes, it was another fun day at the farmer's market.
The other day I got a phone call from my Alma Mater. At first it was to verify my information. Phone number? check. Address? check. etcetera, etcetera. Pleasant enough young woman, I presume she was a student volunteer. She was considering my major or one more similar to what I wound up doing. Told her how I wound up where I am and wished her luck.
She mentions that there is one more thing, my Alma Mater got a grant. That grant will match donations toward a scholarship.
I think, hmm, interesting . . .I ask "Can I designate a group of majors for my donation?"
Pause. "I think so."
"Well, is that a yes or a no."
"Let me check."
Silence. She returns "Yes you can."
"OK, send me the info."
Why was I being such a pain in the ass? Because it's my money and I'll spend it how I want to spend it.
My Alma Mater gave an education and it pretty much stopped there. It was a no frills state school. There were no helpful teaching assistants holding my hand. Heck I was lucky to find one who had a functional grasp of English. Then after graduation their employment assistance sucked donkey balls. I vowed I would never give them a cent.
However, they hit a soft spot. Helping someone who may struggle to pay tuition. I worked part time most of the way through and my grades showed it. I managed and found a job and it is all good now, but it was not carefree. The only caveat to my help is majoring in something I would consider useful. Useful is a science, engineering or medical sciences degree. Useful is a degree that leads to a real job taking care of real life issues.
I met people with liberal arts and philosophy degrees flipping burgers when I worked at McD's. They whined they couldn't find a job and they had looked for years. I do not want to waste my money on a scholarship for someone who can debate about Nietzsche, Camus and Socrates while they put the fries in the fryer. Nor do I need to help someone squirt special sauce more artistically on a sesame seed bun. Or have the cashier explain to me that his/her state of under employment is an artifact of our oppressive/patriarchal society.
I can hear the arguments: "Education has intrinsic value!" I may agree up to a certain point, but ultimately one would hope that a college student will graduate and be employable and not just an educated bum. I see little use for about 75% of "the humanities", and that is my prerogative. And it is also my money, so yes, I want to know where it goes.
... but unlike Secret, NOT made for a woman. It is a diet soda made for manly men. Ooo, I can hear the grunting and smell the sweat...
Dr. Pepper Ten is a soda with a mere 10 calories. I guess for all those guys that want to have their taste of sweet soda and keep the 6-pack etched on their abdomen. I'm not really sure. However, I really doubt if any men, or any one else for that matter, are going to run to the nearest supermarket to pick-up a 6-pack.
This marketing strategy may be a huge fail. Based on observed demographics most grocery shoppers are women (barring Superbowl weekend). Maybe convenience store sales are that huge. Or maybe many men will ask the women who shop for them to grab a 6-pack. However, I don't recall hearing a guy, any guy, say "honey, that is your wimpy diet soda, I want a manly diet soda." Actually, I've seen many guys seemingly happily grab the diet Coke and chug away. They really don't seem to care that it's a "chick's drink".
I may try it out of curiosity. I like the taste of Dr. Pepper. However, I will not be a routine customer because it has two things I avoid: high fructose corn syrup and Aspartame. Now if they would only give me some old fashioned Dr. Pepper with real sugar.
By the way, although Dr. Pepper is strong and has an interesting flavor, it is not the most "manly" or "robust" soda I have ever had. That distinction falls to real Jamaican Ginger Beer. If a guy wants to fortify the hair on his chest, I recommend that. Unfortunately Ginger Beer is not diet.
And don't forget to stock up on the Dr. Pepper Ten if you like it. It may not be around long. Just watch out for the Aspartame to methyl alcohol conversion with age. Methyl alcohol is the not so fun alcohol.
Robert Jeffress, according to his church's website:
... is the senior pastor of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Dr. Jeffress’ bold, biblical, and practical approach to ministry has made him one of the country’s most respected evangelical leaders. Vision America honored Dr. Jeffress in 2006 with the Daniel Award for his steadfast commitment and boldness in proclaiming the uncompromising Word of God.
Robert Jeffress also called the Mormon church a cult at a Voters Values Summit and he uses the Southern Baptist's stand as "mainstream" support of this view. Personally I find people waving their arms in the air during a church service to be odd and cult like. I have found my numerous Southern Baptist relatives to be overbearing (I'll say "damn" if I want to) and ridiculous. There is plenty of mud to be slung around for all. I you go back a 400 years or so, all Protestants were considered heretics.
Thank you for your opinion Mr. Jeffress, and thank you for pointing out who I should NOT vote for. Mr. Jeffress is supporting Rick Perry. I consider a "mainstream" Baptist no more "mainstream" than a Mormon. I need a head up his rear end, my way or the highway christian as President about as much as I need a lobotomy. At least most Mormons realize they are the odd man out and that their personal beliefs don't reflect everyone's beliefs. In other words I'll take a Mormon over some whacko fundie (and I reserve the right to lump my crazed don't say damn relatives into that group) any day of the week.
P.S. Mr. Jeffress thinks christians should vote social issues like "traditional marriage" and anti-choice and we should put the economy and immigration in the back seat. I'm sure the Chinese and Mexican drug lords will be so understanding of his beliefs and his 10,000 member church if they get a chance to take over.
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, signed an executive order that expands translation services to those who speak Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Russian, French, and French Créole. The order begins:
WHEREAS, two and one-half million New Yorkers have limited-English proficiency which means they do not speak English as their primary language and have limited ability to read, speak, write or understand English, thereby presenting potential barriers to accessing important government programs or services; and
WHEREAS, the public safety, health, economic prosperity, and general welfare of all New York residents is furthered by increasing language access to State programs and services; . . .
We've all heard the arguments. Some saying this is the USA and people should speak English and if any of us moved anyplace else we would be expected to learn that country's language. Others say that non-English speaking immigrants are entitled to the same rights as we are. Personally, I am afraid that one of these days that we are going to go the way of Canada and require everyone learn more than one language. While I endorse being at least functional in more than one language, it should not be a requirement; particularly when we are not requiring it of others that come here. Furthermore, there may be better places to spend the estimated 1.5 million dollars in this time of economic crisis.
All those arguments aside, I wonder what Governor Cuomo's Italian grandparents would say. Andrew's father, Mario, frequently mentioned the fact that his parents were immigrants. They wanted the best for their children and grandchildren. In those days there was very little "hand holding" of this country's newest arrivals. I'm sure learning English was as much of a struggle for them as it was for so many of their contemporaries. I am not sure what the elder Cuomos did, but based on discussion with friends and family most of the immigrants of the time insisted that their children learn English and discouraged learning their "mother tongue". They wanted to be American and they wanted their children and grandchildren to be American, and part of that was speaking English.
Another side of the argument is that the mere fact that if a person is not proficient in English they are at a disadvantage in dealing with our government and our society. Granted, this order seeks to alleviate part of that problem; however, removing the need may remove the motivation. If people who speak the six languages don't have to, why would they bother to learn English? Why should we reward their lack of effort to learn English? Wouldn't it be far more cost effective to do a better job teaching English to immigrants? And in the long run wouldn't it help them to assimilate and be successful if they learned English?
Although the effort may hope to show inclusiveness of these immigrant groups, I see this order as encouraging continued isolation of these immigrant groups. Without English, how can these people become American? I wonder what would Andrew Cuomo's Italian immigrant grandparents say about this order? Would they be proud of their grandson's efforts to smooth the transition or would they see it as a barrier to slipping into the great melting pot?
Yesterday afternoon it was low to mid 60's and the sun was playing peek-a-boo. I considered it a bit chilly. Then I saw a guy on a motorcycle who was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
I just have one thing to say - BURRRR!
Imagine a cat backed into a corner by a barking dog. The dog is either proving who is dominant or playing with the cat. That doesn't matter to the cat while it scratches and hisses at the dog. Cat finally realizes dog really isn't a threat. The cat then extracts itself from the corner and walks away from the dog. Perhaps sideways, keeping an eye on the dog, but still away from the annoying barking.
This is a metaphor:
I have a cat that takes medication. She needs it, but she doesn't like it. She doesn't know it's good for her, she just knows I am doing unpleasant things to her.
The original formulation was in a pill form. It was a pill that made her foam at the mouth. The process was: grab cat, hold cat tightly, stuff pill as far back in her mouth as possible, rub throat until she swallowed. Then I put the cat down just to see her spit up the soggy pill. I extract cat from under bed and wash, rinse, repeat as often as necessary, getting a new pill after the 4th or 5th time. This process was grating on cat and me.
I tried putting pill in a gelatin capsule. She didn't foam at the mouth as much and the pill was in much better condition for reinsertion. Ever so slight improvement, but still far from pleasant for either of us.
After a change in medication and it is offered in liquid form. Pharmacist asked me about flavor and we hit on a winner (vanilla cream). But still there is a good way and a bad way of giving it to her.
I went away for a few days and a friend gave her the medication. Obviously she didn't quite get my instructions and kitty bolted after she firmly grabbed the scruff of her neck, jammed the syringe in her mouth and squirted it in. In contrast I calmly come up behind her, gently pet her, then when she appears calm I sneak the syringe in her mouth and squeeze out it's contents. She jumps a bit but she licks her chops and stays put for a few more pets.
Both techniques have the same result in the end (give or take a few scratches): I have succeeded in getting medication into my cat. I guess the moral of the story is: if the pill is bitter and the mode of administering it is crude, expect resistance. However, if it is sweetened and given with a few gentle pets, it will go down a lot easier.
In the immortal words of Mary Poppins "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go down, medicine go down. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in the most delightful way."
The following was recounted to me by a friend:
He was waiting for the bank to open when a young woman, who was obviously pregnant and carrying a baby, walked up to him and inquired if the ATM was working. My friend told her that he didn't know. She says that the card provided to her for public assistance wouldn't give her a cash advance. She then blurts out to my friend and couple other people in front of the bank a synopsis of her life.
Her first boyfriend knocked her up and ran for the hills. It wasn't really love anyway. Her second boyfriend really loved her. They decided to have a baby (hence the baby bump). All was happiness and bliss until he saw the sonogram. Then he makes the revelation that he doesn't really love her and he runs for the hills, too. Now she is 23, single, one kid, another in the oven, on public assistance and living with her folks.
She said she needed money because her kid was hungry. My friend overheard later that she was not allowed to get cash advances, that the card was supposed to be used directly at a vendor (i.e. grocery store). She stated that using the card was embarrassing. But I guess not as embarrassing as telling your life story to complete strangers. Also, according to my friend, she must have had some cash at one point to pay for her bling, piercings and tattoos.
My friend didn't know if he should just open his wallet and cut out the government as the middle man.
I wonder if the young woman ever considered 1) birth control, 2) abortion or 3) adoption. Yeah, those kids have a great chance. One can hope that after the test run, Grandma and Grandpa have perfected the process.
Blair Jordan Moses hates of the Constitution and throws veiled threats (involving a Constitutional Amendment) at a fellow student who is handing out mini-Constitutions on Constitution Day. Mr. Moses is a Junior majoring in Sociology and Psychology. Well, at least he isn't a Poli-Sci major . . .
I have a few old college friends that I am still in contact with. One of them called me last night. We were discussing hurricane Irene. Her neighborhood was under mandatory evacuation so her family spent a couple days with her parents. After it was all over, her home was fine and everyone was safe. I told her I weathered the storm fairly well myself.
Then we moved on to people we knew or heard about. She recounted this one that had a flooded basement and that one that lost power for two weeks. She asked how it was around here. I tried to interject the devastation that friends of friends had experienced, but she went on about the "hardships" she heard of near her.
A basement flooded with a couple inches of water does not compare to a living room full of mud. Losing a refrigerator full of food does not compare to narrowly escaping your home and then watching it get encased in mud and vegetation and slide away. Having to rotate four generators does not compare to pulling dead animals, some of them your own, out of your fence. Missing work a couple of days to deal with things does not compare to losing an entire season's crop or half of a herd of dairy cows.
I'm sure if we got to the last point, she may have complained about milk prices and how much this year's Halloween pumpkin cost.
I did manage to relay that I was safe. I did find out that she was OK, barring a couple days stuck in a house with her parents. Those things matter between friends. We were lucky. I certainly know that and I am thankful. It's just sad that she doesn't realize how lucky she and her friends were.