November 2011

Pick Your President Well


The race for a Republican presidential candidate is well underway and while many of them are decrying the mistakes of Barack Obama and trying to figure out how to get us out of this recession and increase the job rate.

One area they are not surprisingly silent on is energy and energy self sufficiency. There have been many bold statements by the Bush and Obama administration about saving energy and decreasing the U.S. Consumption of foreign oils.

I know for a fact that the government national laboratories spend a significant portion of their budgets on alternative energy technologies and basic research. The one thing we don't want is to choose a president that will set back our efforts to become more energy self sufficient. It's easy to get caught up in our trillion dollar deficit, but lets face it, we've been accruing that debt for 20 years and its not going to change.

They can put out as many plans and programs to reduce the deficit as they want, but the truth is that nothing is going to change. Don't let them take the money out of programs designed to make use more self sufficient in terms of energy. A president that cares more about saving a few cents on gasoline isn't going to want to spend money of a new hydrogen infrastructure or putting in electrical outlets at gas stations.

So, pick your president well America. It doesn't matter if he's Republican or Democrat as long as he realizes that energy is just as important as job creation and debt reduction. A good energy plan could lead to benefits in all areas.

Traffic Fumes May Cause Autism and Brain Damage

As parents are often rallying around the possible link between autism and vaccinations—which may or may not be true; like many people, I am not sure of it, as we still lack absolute proof—I hope they soon choose to rally around another cause, too: air pollution—specifically, traffic fumes. Apparently, traffic fumes may be linked to autism, as well as brain damage.

The brain damage that is caused by the air pollution may include memory loss, learning problems, and even emotional stability. So far, all findings are circumstantial; nothing has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. That said, scientists everywhere are trying to get in on these important studies as they attempt to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Is Sharpie Anti-Occupy?

In a word, I would say probably—and that’s without any other information. Just knowing that the entity in question is a corporation is enough for me to lean toward believing that it’s anti-occupy movement, despite the rare exceptions, like Ben & Jerry’s. If anyone stands to lose anything from the occupation protestors (or the lack of support from the 99% of us that are not wealthy), it’s corporations!

But Sharpie has additional anti-occupy credentials, it seems. Their latest advertisements advise their users to quit with the protesting.

Anti-Pregnancy Vaccine Isn’t Controversial, It’s Essential

The development of an anti-pregnancy vaccine would save millions of lives, prevent the spread of mass overpopulation (we just hit 7 billion people, for those who hadn’t heard—a completely unsustainable number that would take around three or more Earths to sustain if each of them lived like an American) and allow millions of people—particularly women—to control their lives and get themselves out of poverty (or escape it altogether). Perhaps the idea of women actually controlling their fates is what has everyone in an uproar.

U.S. Sitting On Geothermal Jackpot

Google-funded university study reveals that a majority of the continental U.S. is on a wealth of geothermal energy sites.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that American households spend, on average, about $2,000 a year on their energy needs. The lion’s share of that cost? Heating. In fact, 43% of our annual energy expenditures is simply on the heating of our homes and the water that we use. A byproduct of all of this residential and commercial heating is the EPA estimated 27,300 pounds of CO2 annually emitted into the atmosphere per home. Southern Methodist University’s Geothermal Laboratory has recently released a resource map, funded by Google, that shows that geothermal energy is a possibility almost everywhere in the continental United States. In fact, according to their report, the U.S. is sitting on almost 10 times the recoverable energy deposits from geothermal heating than what is available to the U.S. today in coal-produced energy.

Teaching: Going Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

"Doc B" is my new hero and she should be yours too

Teachers have always held a special place in my heart, not just because I used to be one, but because of how they have affected my life.

There are teachers who are there simply to earn a paycheck - as with any job. Then there are the teachers who do it because they cannot imagine doing anything else with their life. Teaching is truly their calling and it shows every single day they walk into the classroom.

Believing in the Constitution

I am not a member of the Constitution Party. Nor do I agree with everything they stand for anymore than I completely agree with what any party stands for. I can honestly say, however; I am a voter and I believe in the Constitution. I believe in the intent and spirit infused within this living document. I believe that it has the ability to evolve in a progression manner while still maintaining its integrity under the right circumstances. I realize the Constitution was developed by a pre-dominant Christian faithed collective but I do not believe in the mixing of church and state anymore than our founding fathers did.

Cain Loses Support Among Female Voters

Harassment allegations hurt numbers in new poll


In the comprehensive farce that is the GOP's presidential race, Herman Cain has been a standout player. His uncomfortably absurdist TV spots and curious campaign lingo have certainly drawn no shortage of attention to him, be it positive or negative. His latest harassment scandal, however, has had an undeniably negative effect on his female supporters.

Defeating Personhood

On November 8, 2011 the people of Mississippi successfully voted against Initiative 26, the Personhood Amendment. This was an incredible victory for the supporters of the right to choice. Of course, those supporting the amendment voiced blame and laid it squarely at Planned Parenthood’s doorstep stating that the organization spread lies and misinformation despite the legal and medical ramifications the amendment would have introduced.

Damage to the Cain Campaign as a Result of Sexual Harassment Accusations


Herman Cain’s reputation continues to suffer after having been accused of discrimination by four women who have either worked for him or come to him for help in the past. The alleged harassment occurred while Cain was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s. While Cain continues to see strong support among Republican women, that support has declined considerably since the accusations emerged.

Other Benefits of Fair Trade

It's More Than Just Higher Wages

One advantage to fair trade certification is that it is not just about wages. Fair trade certification may not always mean that producers actually earn a living wage, even though that is its goal. However, certification with either of the major fair trade certifying organizations (FLO International and FLO-CERT) also guarantees that no slave labor or child labor was used in the production of the product, that workers had the right to collective bargaining and that the product was created according to environmental standards.

Is Fair Trade Just a Gimmick?

No, But It's Not Perfect Either

Is fair trade just a marketing gimmick? It depends on how you look at it, but there is some justification for the claim. When you buy a cup of fair trade coffee, for instance, you usually have to pay more for it than for a standard cup. The assumption is that the extra money is going straight to the farmers, but that isn't really the case. A small percentage of the extra cost does go to the farmers, but much of it is just extra profit for the cafe or the coffee supplier. It's a mark-up based on your willingness to pay extra for fair trade coffee.


The other problem is that the farmer's cooperatives that supply fair trade coffee have to meet the costs of earning certification out of their own profits, and those costs are covered before workers get paid. The end result is that, while fair trade farmers do make a little more money than non-fair-trade farmers, they still make far below a living wage or even the minimum wage in the coffee-producing nations.

The Great Sword Hunt

When The Samurai Disarmed Japan's Peasants

The “Great Sword Hunt” of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is an instructive historical example of what can happen when the right to bear arms is taken away. Hideyoshi began his career as a lowly peasant spear-man in the armies of warlord Oda Nobunaga during Japan's Era of Warring States.


Working his way up to samurai status through his personal talent and strategic acumen, Hideyoshi eventually became one of Nobunaga's most important generals, and finally the dictator of medieval Japan. Considering his start as a peasant, you might think Hideyoshi would have been sympathetic with the condition of the lower classes, but then you would be failing to understand the mentality of a megalomaniac.

No Compromise With 1% Greed

Too Much Has Been Given Up Already


Imagine this scene- a man comes up to you with a gun and demands your wallet, but a police officer sees him. You think everything is going to be all right, but when the officer gets closer he tells you not to be so selfish- you have to compromise with the robber.


That's the situation America is in right now with the Congressional super-committee as it looks for a way to reduce the budget deficit. The super-wealthy who caused the world financial crisis don't want to be criminally prosecuted. They don't want to be regulated. They certainly don't want to hand over any of their ill-gotten gains in the form of taxes. They've managed to accumulate almost all of the money in the United States while leaving the rest of us to fight over the scraps, and the result has been disastrous.

Intolerance Is A Smoke-Screen

Solidarity Is The Solution

“Because health care, housing and living wages are human rights; because the average CEO makes 475 times more than the average worker; because gutting social services, detaining immigrants, demonizing Muslims and gays, destroying unions, are not solutions, they are injustices; because we are building the anti-racist, feminist, economic justice majority.”


These are the words on a sign from one of the Occupy Wall Street rallies. They exemplify the complexity of thinking behind the movement, which many have misconstrued as a lack of focus. Is it actually accurate to see such a wide range of issues as being connected?

Occupy Minnesota Defends People's Plaza

Hennepin County Tries "Soft" Eviction

On Monday, November 14, starting at 5pm, Occupy Minnesota will be holding a rally and march to defend People's Plaza from the “soft eviction” planned by Hennepin County. What is a soft eviction? Hennepin County hasn't actually told the occupiers to leave, but they are trying to make the conditions in the plaza impossible to endure, so that the occupiers will give up and go home.


The county already had refused to allow the occupation to put up tents to protect themselves from the cold of a Minnesota autumn (soon to be winter). The new rules going into effect on Monday will ban signs, remove the port-a-potties, and ban sleeping on the plaza. Unattended items will also be confiscated, so if there aren't enough people to work the food table 24/7, it gets hauled away!

Santa Declares War

Santa Saves Christmas by Defeating Obama

Santa is up in arms as President Obama tries to steal Christmas. Fortunately, Santa has had to take on the Scrooge several times and was through past experience and strategic battle plans able to triumph. Santa does however plan to stay alert and on guard for any future Christmas threats.

A little silly, I know but then this entire idea was a little silly. The President Obama Administration decided that it was time for our federal government to enter into industry marketing. That’s right, our federal government wants to be directly involved in marketing and promotion. They were trying to start out small and were planning on overseeing the promotion of Christmas trees, of course we all know that it all starts somewhere.

They were planning on providing information, research, evaluation and promotion of the Christmas tree industry. They were also planning to add a $.15 tax on each Christmas that sellers were welcome to pass on to consumers. Of course, they didn’t bother to consider all of the people who could barely afford a Christmas tree. I know, you’re probably thinking what’s $.15 in the grand scheme of things and you would be right to question that. Sadly, right now people are struggling and an extra cost at Christmas may just be the one cost that they just couldn’t afford, with trying to provide a happy Christmas for their family on a minimal budget.

Reclaiming the Holidays

What will you be doing this Veterans Day?  Honoring our veterans at local events, visiting military cemeteries, spending time with family or friends who have served or are serving in the armed forces? Or will you be spending your day sleeping in, shopping, or at a movie?  It seems that Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day have all become holidays to honor the almighty dollar.  Sales, sales, sales.  Even Thanksgiving has become a day to prepare for Black Friday.  Between the power of media advertising and businesses trying to capitalize on more available shoppers the reason for most of our holidays is lost in making or saving money.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a good sale.  I actually enjoy Black Friday.  But, when attending my children’s school for their Veterans Day assembly I realized that the celebration of many of these holidays happens before the holiday itself as our children learn about them in school.  I am grateful that our educators take the time to discuss and celebrate some important moments in our country’s history. They cover holiday topics like freedom, civil rights, the founding of our nation, honoring those who have served our country, and economic and social contributions of workers. They also tiptoe around as they try to cover the religious significance of other US Holidays without offending the cultural variety of today’s classroom.