A box of bees is twice as sweet

A quarter of the nation’s bees have disappeared. It’s called Colony Collapse Disorder, and nobody knows why it’s happening. Basically, all the adult bees of the hive vanish in a chilling science-fiction scenario. Unfortunately, it's not fiction. Because of the incredible economic importance of bees to agriculture, scientists are racing to find an answer. No doubt a certain species of giant killer apes will be found somehow responsible (is it our industrial agriculture processes, our genetically modified corn, our nicotine-based pesticides, our overall climate change?).

Here’s a good overview from the Science Times and here’s an article on the local NYC situation. There's been recent noise that city bees were tougher, but this doesn't seem to be holding true.

The above picture is from two weeks ago when we hived bees in a community garden in the East Village. They're going to need all the help they can get. Note that it's illegal to keep bees in NYC, so you didn't hear this from me.

Sweet, Sour and Low

So, the non-profit that I work for is actually considering accepting a sponsorship from Sweet&Low. Which is infuriating, since this nonprofit only does programs for children. The ethics of marketing a chemical sweetener known to cause cancer, seizures and other unpleasant things to children is completely lost on them. So I bring you other news from the Food world, that are gnashing my teeth and boiling my brain.

1 A new FDA(Food and Drug Administration) "guidance" document, published on the FDA's website, reveals plans to reclassify virtually all vitamins, supplements, herbs and even vegetable juices as FDA-regulated drugs. Massage oils and massage rocks will be classified as "medical devices" and require FDA approval. The document is called Docket No. 2006D-0480. Draft Guidance for Industry on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Products and Their Regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.
read on...

send FDA a "love" note (before April 30, when the comment period ends)

2 Nestlé buys Gerber foods. Sweet, considering Nesle is targeted with a boycott because monitoring conducted by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) finds it to be responsible for more violations of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements for baby foods than any other company. Nestle has a long and sordid history of pushing third-world women away from breast-feeding so they could sell them their vastly inferior infant formula.

and that's pretty damn sleazy, because

"Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute." - UNICEF

Plus, as you all know, my Jewish self likes eating babies and drinking their blood, so this is completely unconscionable. My supply of healthy fatty babies is going to dry up pretty soon...

more on this...

Loaded questions for tonight's debate

The eight Democrats who are currently running for President are having their first TV confab tonight. One of those so-called debates. Expect the usual platitudes, posturing, preening, hairspray, hairplugs, red ties, well-rehersed comebacks, adenoidal refusals to take a stand, and, alas, the hopeless clarity of Dennis Kucinich.

Not that I'll be watching, but these are my questions:

When will all Americans have access to a basic level of health care?

What radical actions are needed now to mitigate the effects of climate change here and abroad?

Do you subscribe to Clinton-era “Rubinomics,” which gives primacy to finance capital over working people? And what’s your opinion of the reigning neo-liberalism that profits a tiny elite at expense of the vast majority of the American, as well as the world’s, people?

How do you reconcile the unaccountable power of the national security state with the Constitution? Give us some examples of how you’ll be rolling back the authoritarianism manifested by Bush & Co.

Explain your plans for disengagement from Iraq. Also, how should we instead spend the $8 billion a month we are currently wasting there?

Elucidate the steps necessary to be an actually neutral broker in the Israel-Palestine conflict instead of a partisan of the side with the most votes in the U.S. Then tell us how the U.S. might guarantee and/or force both parties to come to a peace agreement.

Norms ( invoking )

Via Really Magazine:

Hotel chains can cut down on their environmental impact (and save a large percentage of their laundry bill) by encouraging guests to re-use their towels. Many chains now use message cards in the guest rooms to persuade visitors to comply—but what would be the most effective message to have written on the card?
One [message] stood out, persuading almost half the guests to recycle.

The message read :

Almost 75% of guests who are asked to participate in our new resource savings program do help by using their towels more than once.
It was clear (brushing aside the slightly-less-than-factual "75%" assertion), that the best way to influence the guests was to imply that they would be behaving abnormally if they requested a fresh towel every day.

Abstract here. Full paper here?

Following up on Radical Lace…

Another canary in our increasing caving-in coal mine is the bleaching of coral reefs. Vast stretches of reef are already dead due to warming water temps and pollution. The Institute for Figuring is crocheting a coral reef in memoriam: “a woolly celebration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft, and a testimony to the disappearing wonders of the marine world.” Cool, beautiful, sad.

Found out about this project in Lawrence Weschler's article on artistic responses to global warming in the May 7th The Nation special issue on “Surviving the Climate Crisis: What must be done.” The issue contains a half dozen short articles that are mandatory reading.

And what's to be done? Let's start with a carbon tax.

Follow the footsteps...

So on the way to work, I saw footsteps in the street and had an uncontrollable urge to follow them wherever they might lead. What is it about footsteps that is so powerful? In any case, I did a quick search on footsteps and here's some interesting stuff that I found:

Around the World


Tokyo ticket machines powered by footsteps

Photoblog of Tibet

Not as good as Colbert but....


crunchy dirty beach

crunchy dirty beach
clear blue sky
frightfully sharp water in sun
cool under floating ducks

crowd of wandering bad egg collectors
picking through brooklyn's past
like sandpipers for worms

finding really disgusting things:
chopped up dead pigs and horses
evidence of dead winos
mutated rollerskates and motorparts
many peices of feet
tangled things who knows what

cheerful folks though to spend a long sunday afternoon with
and birds
and washing waves

What a dump!

Typical Bad Eggs Maneuvers.

A lovely picnic on the beach decays into anarchy as oyster catchers fly back and forth screaming their heads off. First we drink up a storm, a wild frenzy turning into sullen morbidity, then break bottles left and right, sometimes even on nearby heads. There was desperate talk of cannibalism, at least until we realized that the cars were still in the parking lot and food was close. In the end, we were reduced to stripping the pants off of each other. Or tree roots, whatever.

Dirty Car Art

Barry sent this to me a while ago:

Kinda cool, huh?

Soapboxing (hey, somebody's got to add content)

A busy news day:

It’s almost funny how Abu Gonzalez, the Torturer General, is such a little bootlicker, so like Dracula’s Renfrew, Frankenstein’s Igor, or the familiar, toady, sucking-up little yes-man of your choice. “Yess, master, yess!” But it really isn’t funny. This was the man, so to speak, who blithely gave Young Bush the death warrants of more than 150 Texans after “reviewing” (wink, wink) them; who has done so much to make the Commander-in-Chief triumphant over our tripartite democracy; who has overseen the disappearance, gulagization, torture, & execution of untold (assumed) enemies, making America the moral equivalent of a dictatorship; who has put blind loyalty to his capo and his dirty little party above country. But it’s ok, really, since he’s wearing an American Flag Lapel Pin as he perjures himself in the Senate. And such a cuddwy backstowy!

How about that Old Dominion? It only takes a psychopath 20 minutes there to buy all the weapons and ammo he needs to “2nd Amendment” 32 lives. But that’s being unfair, isn’t it? Non-psychopaths can do it in five minutes.

Is it sweeps week? NBC must think so. Yet another argument to throw your television out the window.

The picture-profiles of victims, as pioneered by the Times after 9/11, connect us to the human lives lost in massacres and other tragedies. But they also remind us that American lives are more important than others. (After all, we’re supposedly God’s children; the rest, evidently, Satan's). We’ll never see profiles of the tens upon tens of thousands of Iraqis who have died as a result of Bush’s war. As long as they remain abstract numbers, nothing more than dead ferners, they will not count.

Tawk amongst yourselves

The May issue of Harper’s Magazine, which is not yet available on-line, has some thought-provoking articles that may boil your eggs. (Subscribe to this bad egg unbible: harpers.org.)

Lapham’s “Notebook: Time Travel” on the American ignorance of history, and what this state of childishness leads to. “The national shortage of adult minds suits the purposes of a government that defines its task as a form of child-rearing and guarantees the profits of the consumer markets selling promises of instant relief from the pain of thought, loneliness, doubt, experience, envy, and old age. A country so favored by fortune is one in which no childhood gets left behind.”

Greenberg’s “Manufacturing Depression: A journey into the economy of melancholy” raises many interesting questions about the pharmacological (i.e. profit-driven) approach to depression. This is particularly apropos to our potential next discussion.

Lewis-Kraus’s “A World in Three Aisles: Browsing the post-digital library” explores the Prelinger Library project in San Francisco. Fascinating.

I christen, baptise and circumcise thee...

So it begins...