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Category: Ranting and Whining

Hoof and Mouth Disease

by Scott Smith

New Foot-and-Mouth Case in Britain, New York Times, Sept. 13, 2007.

In a report on the August outbreak, the government said that it had most likely been caused by drainage problems at two animal-disease research laboratories — one privately owned, the other run by the government — at Pirbright, in Surrey. Milton Park Farm is about 10 miles from Pirbright, but Ms. Reynolds said it was too early to determine the cause of the latest case.

I keep reading about all of the family farmers who have been put out of business in England because all of their animals had to be culled. If it turns out to be true that the research laboratories are responsible for the outbreak, shouldn’t all of those families be reimbursed for their losses so that they can continue making their living? Does it not work that way in England?

Good News

by Scott Smith

Lake Michigan from Space

I signed an online petition, which is not really supposed to be an effective tool for change, however, I did get this update on BP and the Great Lakes:

On Thursday, CEO Bob Malone announced that BP was reversing its decision to increase dumping in Lake Michigan. This is a watershed moment for the Great Lakes and for all of us who have fought to protect and preserve Lake Michigan.

I’m not going to post the entire e-mail because I don’t want to give the impression that I support any particular political party or that I believe that the two politicians who organized the petition deserve as much credit as they are claiming. Whatever changed BP’s mind, I’ll take it and be happy about it.

Another Reason to Keep Ethanol Out of Your Gas Tank

by Scott Smith

Researchers have found 9,650 square miles of “dead zones,” or oxygen-depleted water, in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, the biggest area since tracking of the annual phenomenon began.

The Louisiana dead zone is caused mostly by nitrogen-based fertilizers carried by the Mississippi from America’s farm belt into the Gulf, she said. The nitrogen feeds the growth of algae, which depletes oxygen from the water.

Corn needs more fertilizer than other crops, which is probably why tests have found more nitrogen in the Mississippi this year, Rabalais said.

Reuters Article

Indiana Let’s BP Take a Big Dump in Lake Michigan

by Scott Smith

For a while, back when I was into quilting, or thinking I’d like to be, I went to a huge quilt show in Indianapolis. I still remember my favorite quilt because it actually spoke to my personal Indiana experience. It was called “Indiana Memories,” or something very close to that, but instead of the obligatory rows of corn and tractors that so many people associate with Indiana, it was two little girls in bathing suits playing in the sand on the shore of Lake Michigan. Those are some of my happiest childhood memories; Splashing in the waves, climbing dunes and building sand castles. I also remember the ever present Industry on the skyline.

BP, who has a refinery in Whiting on the Lake, is considered to be a progressive company. I honestly don’t have enough facts to make any proclamations to the contrary. They have these really, really cute ads that make me want to buy gas from them and feel good about it, but that’s what ads are supposed to do. I suppose it wouldn’t be sales effective to show those cute little cartoon characters shoveling up this mess…
BP oil spill in Alaska

But back to those Indiana beaches… in exchange for 80 whole jobs, the powers that be in Indiana went ahead and gave BP a permit to dump 54% more ammonia and 34% more sludge into the lake than they already were. It just makes me sad to see the Lake going backwards in water quality for a handful of jobs.



by Scott Smith

Do you remember your first bottle of bottled water? I do. I was in Chicago, circa 1988 when my high school boyfriend insisted that I must try some Evian (if you remember him you are probably chuckling over that). He said that it was so good, it was ‘like drinking air.’ He was right. It was the tastiest water I had ever… not tasted. Barb! sent me this NPR link which led me to the article Message in a Bottle which is what got me thinking about that first taste of bottled water.

Bottled water is often simply an indulgence, and despite the stories we tell ourselves, it is not a benign indulgence. We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That’s a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water. (Water weighs 8-1/3 pounds a gallon. It’s so heavy you can’t fill an 18-wheeler with bottled water–you have to leave empty space.)

The author questioned John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market about the ethics of bottled water and got this response:

As for the energy used to transport water from overseas, Mackey says it is no more or less wasteful than the energy used to bring merlot from France or coffee from Ethiopia, raspberries from Chile or iPods from China. “Have we now decided that the use of any fossil fuel is somehow unethical?” Mackey asks. “I don’t think water should be picked on. Why is the iPod okay and the water is not?

Well, for one thing, the iPod is a durable good and really, that question seems like a diversion tactic. As for the other food issues mentioned, I would have to say that local is better on all counts, however, I’m not going to drink 8 bottles of French merlot a day in the same way that I might drink 8 bottles of water. And coffee is also not generally not consumed in the same quantities as water and doesn’t weigh as much since we add our own water once it gets to us (although it does have its own unwieldy set of environmental issues). I think its clearly a matter of efficiency but with all of the global warming and “getting off foreign oil” talk, bottle water seems like an issue we ignore too easily.

So, if I am to minimize my “footprint,” clearly bottled water has to be taken off the list of conveniences I consider available to me. I’ve been working on eating more locally. I guess its time to start drinking more locally too.

The moral health of a nation…

by Scott Smith

I knew there was something I didn’t like about this guy…

Romney placed his family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, into a kennel lashed to the top of his station wagon for a 12-hour family trip from Boston to Ontario in 1983. Despite being shielded by a wind screen the former Massachusetts governor erected, Seamus expressed his discomfort with a diarrhea attack.

Washington Post link.

Ecological Footprint Quiz

by Scott Smith

I just took a footprint quiz. If everyone lived like I do we would need 2 1/2 planets! It’s because I eat meat and don’t have access to public transportation. So I wanted to know, what can I do to be a better person? Well, I can eat less meat and visit this website and start buying their environmentally friendly products… like disposable diapers.

Hey. As long as we’re all on the same page.

Pink Dogwood

by Scott Smith

My beautiful, pink dogwood is no more. It had to go so that our well could be repaired. Last time we had our well worked on (only a couple of weeks ago) I contemplated trying to move it by hand (we don’t have money to have it professionally moved) but decided that I would probably kill it anyway and that I should just enjoy it in it’s ‘current’ location until the well had to be worked on again. The only problem with my decision was that I thought I’d have another season of blooms before that happened. C’est la vie.


by Scott Smith

I’ve been trying for sometime now to understand the USDA’s NAIS (National Animal Identification System) program. There seem to be a lot of holes in their logic to me and I don’t think that its really been thought through.

Here’s a puzzling piece of logic in the form of a question posed and answered on the NAIS website:

Q. If a Person Raises Animals for His or Her Own Use and the Animals Never Leave the Owner’s Property, Do They Need to be Identified?
A. Under the current plan, animals that never leave a premises do not need to be identified. However, animal owners are encouraged to identify their animals and their premises, regardless of the number of animals present, since many animal diseases may be spread whether an animal leaves its home premises or not. Examples of such diseases include West Nile virus, foot-and-mouth disease, vesicular stomatitus, and equine infectious anemia.

Hmmm. If the point is to track diseases that are being spread by the “commingling” of animals that happens during the transportation of said to feedlots and slaughter houses, why do they need to know that I have livestock at all if I’m not moving it anywhere and no animals are being moved to my property? What good will it do me or the program to register my premises and animals with the NAIS when my animals would only be exposed to disease by means other than commingling? Aren’t I already required to report these diseases if they occur on my property?

Inside Out

by Scott Smith

It’s interesting to me the way the outside world creeps into my house. I’m not talking about the “evil television,” or the influences of my childrens’ “evil classmates.” I’m talking about EVIL, spawn of Satan straight from the lake of fire… cockleburrs. They come into the house on shoes, dogs, coats, sweaters, mittens, scarves, hats, socks, underwear, trucks, buses, airplanes, trains and I think I saw a couple of them riding in on Segways. Madeleine complained just yesterday that after she picked all of the burrs off of her pink, Converse high top shoelaces outside, she came inside the house only to get more burrs on her shoelaces! So, we did the only reasonable thing there is to do. We took a full sized axe and walked around the property hacking gleefully at the cockleburrs and piling them up. Next week we are going to have a bon fire of cockleburrs and dance around it naked.