Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mammals: Whales

by Dick Mac

In 1971, protesters around the world started demonstrating for the protection of whales and other sea mammals. The cry was heard by millions and most Westerners embraced the idea.

Like so many movements of the mid-20th Century, this movement was inspired by song.

In 1970, "Songs of the Humpback Whale" was released. The LP was a collection of recordings made by Roger Payne, Frank Watlington and other contributors. It sold well. We had the record in our collection at home.

The sounds of whales communicating with each other in our living rooms, and the flood of information that was spread through the media about the whales turned pretty much everyone into whale-lovers.

Eventually, a worldwide moratorium on whaling was enacted by the International Whaling Commission. The IWC had been formed in 1946 to "provide for the proper conservation of whale stocks and thus make possible the orderly development of the whaling industry" and is largely controlled by nations that oppose commercial whaling.

This is changing now, and the world's largest whaling nation, Japan, has spent billions of yen purchasing the support of developing and undeveloped nations to reverse the ban, or at least gut it beyond recognition (sort of like what they do to whales).

Nations are allowed to apply to the IWC for permission to harvest a certain number of whales each year, ostensibly for research. Japan was allotted just over a thousand whales during the last whale-hunting season.

Japan sends a whale-processing factory boat, three smaller whaling boats and a security boat to Antarctica to harvest their allotment.

The anti-whaling movement, however, is stronger than it's ever been and substantial funding has been provided to various non-government agencies over the past few decades. One of these agencies is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Among many other works, Sea Shepherd funds a fleet of boats that operate out of the South Pacific and make every effort to disrupt Japanese whaling in the waters around Antarctica. This work is the basis for the television series Whale Wars on Animal Planet.

Sea Shepherd's methods get more aggressive, their tactics more sophisticated, and their exploits more daring each year. During the last whaling season, the Sea Shepherds' interdiction kept Japan's harvest down to 528 animals, about half of that to which they were entitled.

It is hoped that this harassment will make whaling unprofitable, and the Japanese will turn away from the slaughter.

As I mentioned in yesterday's article about dolphins, I fear that Japan now sees whaling as a matter of honor and will stop at nothing to enlarge their testicular domination over Western ideas about protecting marine mammals. They know the slaughter of whales and dolphins is unsustainable and unprofitable, but they continue to do it as a matter of pride; which is sad, really.

Photo by Rolf Hicker

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mammals: Dolphins

by Dick Mac

I watched The Cove last night.

I have been a bit shell-shocked since.

I know the Japanese resent the Western domination they've suffered since the end of WWII. It seems to me, and is suggested in the movie, that their insistence on continuing to hunt marine mammals is not rooted in their need for a food supply, but a need to snub Western ideas and ideals about the need to protect those animals.

The mercury levels in our oceans are particularly bad for dolphins, who seem to absorb and manage higher levels of mercury more quickly than fish. One scientist/activist in the film referred to them as living toxic waste dumps.

Dolphin meat is dangerous to eat. It is not tasty and it contains upwards of 2000 ppm of mercury. Generally, food from the sea is allowed to be sold only when the mercury level is 4 ppm or lower.

Many Japanese believe that nobody in Japan eats dolphin. The government perpetuates this myth by allowing dolphin meat to be sold as whale meat, and most consumers do not know they are getting dolphin.

There is no natural market for dolphin meat, so I can only conclude that this is a matter of "honor" and "tradition" that Japanese officials cling to the way Americans cling to flags, guns, and bibles.

In fact, the dolphin meat industry is completely fabricated and propped-up by the Japanese government. In order to continue propping-up the dolphin-slaughter industry, the Japanese government is considering a law that requires Japanese schools to serve dolphin in school meals. School meals are mandatory in Japan; children are required to eat all of the food they are served. Serving them toxic dolphin meat will likely have the short-term effect of benefiting some politically well-connected "fishermen"; but could have devastating long-term affects on the health of Japanese children.

The International Whaling Commission is completely ineffective, as it is a governing body that does next to nothing. In fact, Japan has successfully collected enough votes with bribes to begin reversing some of the hunting bans that have been most effective over the past few decades. How? They give money to the politicians of small, developing nations to build fisheries. These countries really need the money, and since the United States can only prop up a certain number of industries, we are in no position to try and outbid the Japanese in this market.

Dolphins are mammals. They have a remarkable sense of self-awareness, they may even have ego for all we know. They belong to the same branch of living things as humans, yet we treat them like fish.

We waste billions trying to contact beings in space who may not be there and we slaughter beings in the ocean that we KNOW communicate effectively, live in familial units, breathe air, give birth to live young, breast feed, and grow hair.

The slaughter of dolphins at The Cove in Japan is wrong. I am willing to discuss dolphins as a viable food source for people; but what is happening in Japan is veiled in secrecy and is endangering not only dolphins, but the citizens of that nation.

Watch The Cove on Animal Plant.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Take Me Out To The Ballgame, Then Take Me Out Of My Job

by Dick Mac

I have nothing good to say about David Paterson, the current Governor of New York. I think he's a buffoon whose political skills aren't even as good as mine (and that's pretty bad), a man whose desire for personal success has caused him to betray all New Yorkers.

His buffoonery and inability to govern are an embarrassment, and his punishment is that he will not be re-elected.

Last year, Paterson attended a Yankees World Series game. Governors do that. I always thought that governors, presidents, and mayors, police chiefs, movie stars, diplomats, and rock stars attended these games for free, as guests of the team; and I think this is absolutely OK.

"The Governor Attends The World Series" is not a headline that I find disturbing. "Governor Appoints Douchebag Right-Winger To Replace Your Nominally Liberal Senator" is much more disturbing, almost criminal. A baseball game? Really? This is a problem? And Kirsten Gillibrand is OK?

Now, the price of Yankees tickets is criminal, and perhaps Paterson is guilty of general shitheadedness for even wanting a baseball game ticket with a face value of $425; but, then many New Yorkers are guilty of that decision. But is it a crime? Really?

This really required an investigation that now has Paterson facing possible criminal charges because he answered poorly (dishonestly?) when grilled about the event?

Now, you know how I feel about Paterson, but he had to be shocked, as shocked as me, to find out that a governor attending a baseball game for free would become an investigation!

What the fuck?!?!?!

I think we should pass a law that says: "Governors attend championship sporting events and nobody asks why or how." Perhaps we can require companies like the Yankees, who suck off the taxpayers, to provide those tickets for free so that everyone knows how the Governor got the tickets.

I am surprised to find myself defending the governor; but, I mean really people, is this what it's come to? Is this all we can get on this guy - free Yankees tickets?

Clearly I think more highly of New Yorkers than I should.

Paterson Misled Inquiry Over Tickets, Report Says - New York Times

Report Finds Paterson Testimony Over Yankees Tickets 'Inaccurate and Misleading' - WNYC

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Anti-Muslim Violence in NYC

by Dick Mac

A young man gets into a cab, a little drunk. He starts chatting-up the driver, asks the same questions cabbies get all the time: where are you from, where do you live, etc. As they approach his destination, the young man becomes agitated, reaches through the safety partition and starts stabbing the driver who he has learned is Muslim.

Is this incident an indication that hate speech like we are hearing about the Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan can incite individual violence against Muslims?

Again, New York City is invaded by an out-of-towner, this time a suburbanite from Brewster, who wants to spew his hate and behave in a completely uncivilized manner. No matter what excuse he has for his behavior, his actions are reprehensible, illegal, incendiary, and unfortunate.

I agree with Mayor Bloomberg who says:
This attack runs counter to everything that New Yorkers believe, no matter what God we may pray to.

Please note that by "New Yorkers" he refers to residents of New York City, not suburbanites and other out-of-towners who abuse our city on a regular basis.

Citizens of the world need to know that people who live in New York City do not, by and large, share the attitudes of most suburbanites, rural folks, Southerners, and tea-baggers. New York City is the world's ultimate melting-pot and we live, generally, in harmony. Residents of the city who are unable to accept those who are different from them usually move to the place that all bigots move: the suburbs. This is not to say that all suburbanites are bigots, but that most bigots make their way to the isolation of the suburbs where they are free to stew in their hate.

There is a price to be paid by Mr. Enright and I am curious to see how low a price he'll pay.

Rider Asks if Cabby Is Muslim, Then Stabs Him

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Me & Them Joneses (Music Videos)

by Dick Mac

In the early seventies it was suggested to me that Billy Paul's song "Me & Mrs. Jones" was a song about drugs, not romance. Well, unless you find drug addiction romantic, of course. The line that convinced me is: "Tomorrow we'll meet, the same place, the same time." Even the most dedicated adulterous lover is going to miss the occasional tryst, but a drug addict and his dealer are never going to miss a date! The obvious argument is the use of the word "jones" to refer to addiction.

Irrespective of the intended meaning of the song, I always liked it:

A few decades later, Amy Winehouse released her song "Me & Mr. Jones." Knowing Winehouse's love affair with drugs makes it easier to consider the notion that this is a song about drug addiction. "No man comes between me and Mr. Jones" is easier to turn into a drug reference than the lyrics of Billy Paul's song.

Again, whether or not the song is about drugs or love, I think this is a great song:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Forced Religion in U.S. Military

by Dick Mac

Some countries have state religions. England's is actually called the Church of England. Other countries are known as "Catholic" states or "Muslim" states.

Although many wacky Christians have made their way into the public eye here in the United States, some even being elected to public office, there is no actual state religion. The United States is not a Christian nation, per se; although the majority of religious people in the country define themselves as Christian. They are simply a minority, they are not the official religion.

It seems there are a couple of military bases in the South that are punishing soldiers who refuse to attend religious concerts that are billed as the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concert Series."

The brainchild who is enforcing this is Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, a man who is as much an enemy to the United States as Osama bin Laden. Anyone who wants to impose their religiosity on other Americans is in complete and total violation of the Constitution. He is welcome to celebrate the beauty and wonder of his spiritual life; but, he is not allowed to impose that on others, especially those subordinate to him.

An immediate investigation of this must begin and the Pentagon must put an end to this now. These concerts must stop and Chambers must be brought to court-martial for a complete investigation of this Constitutional crime.

American freedom trumps anybody's God. Please contact your elected officials and tell them you want this stopped!

U.S. Soldiers Punished for Not Attending Christian Concert

Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers Hazes Soldiers in his Command

U.S. Soldiers Punished For Not Attending Christian Concert

Monday, August 23, 2010


by Dick Mac

A gang of motorcyclists rode into New York City yesterday morning. They'd travelled three days to participate in a protest against a mosque being built in Lower Manhattan. They joined about 500 suburbanites and a smattering of New York City residents in the protest.

When a black union worker, whose position on the mosque was unknown to all, was spotted in the crowd, he was assaulted.

A person caught the incident on camera:

This picture shows a man in a green shirt and a blue hard hart in the lower-lefthand corner. He is the most vociferous of those around and when you watch the video at about :40, you see that he goes out of his way to get to the guy who is walking away.

This man in the green shirt and blue hard hat is a coward. He screams while in a crowd of like-minded people at an American citizen who may actually agree with him. Why is he yelling? The man has brown skin and a hat the guy thinks makes him a Muslim.

The man is not a Muslim, and the crowd has no idea if the man agrees with them or not. He has brown skin, and this crowd wants a lynching, even if only verbal.

These people are cowards. They would gut the Constitution and abridge the rights of fellow-Americans because of fake issues raised by the likes of non-New Yorkers like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin.

These people, and all people who oppose the mosque are cowards.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hallowed Ground Zero

by Dick Mac

I have never quite understood the notion that the site of the former World Trade Center is special in a religious way. I share the collective outrage and believe the people who died at Ground Zero will be memorialized spiritually and architecturally.

What appears to be a very nice memorial park has been designed in the redevelopment of the site, and I often consider sponsoring a cobblestone for the project.

Some people take the notion a little too far however, and attach religious sentiment to the crime scene. I think it's inappropriate to attach religious significance to the site, because literally every religion was represented by those who died. Sadly, those controlling the redevelopment, and the hysterical Republicans surrounding them, see the religious aspect as specifically Judeo-Christian, ignoring the many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc., as well as the atheists and agnostic, who perished at the site.

I am OK with there being religious events and religious sentiment attached to memories; but I fear religiosity as a basis for making decisions about commerce and development.

The right-wing (more and more accurately described as the anti-American wrong-wing) has raised a fuss that a Muslim community center, including a mosque, completely unrelated to Ground Zero development is being developed four blocks away from the site.

The alleged holiness of the Ground Zero site is already deeply compromised by the inclusion of a shopping mall and an office building thereon. In my book, you do not build a shopping mall at a holy site. The shopping mall, however, is a huge piece of the planning and development. So, those who are trying to demonstrate that this is sacred land need to explain to me why it's OK to put a shopping mall there. They can't, of course, because they conveniently ignore the offensiveness of free-marketeering in a holy place (something Jesus specifically spoke against). In America, to be a conservative now means that you spout religiosity when it conveniently condemns those you dislike, and you ignore the same teachings when it means there is a buck to be made or another political point to be won.

The former World Trade Center that was opened in the mid-1960s was a monument to American capitalism (which is why it was twice selected as the target for jihadist crimes), and it's connection to any religion is a tenuous connection, at best.

I know that the holiness is not related to the buildings, but to the Innocent (and guilty) who perished on September 11, 2001. Still, the construction of buildings after-the-fact represents how we feel about it today, and represents the religious and non-religious in many ways.

We have chosen a memorial park, a shopping mall, a transit hub, and an over-sized office building. Two of these structures are specifically unholy, especially in the context of declaring this hallowed ground. I hear nothing from the hysterical right-wing about this conflict between their religiosity and their politics.

It is OK with right-wingers to build a shopping mall on hallowed ground. However, when American taxpaying citizens want to erect a house of worship four blocks away, the bigoted right-wing turns on its hysteria machine and condemns a Muslim community center and mosque (a holy place of prayer) four blocks away.

The hypocrisy is chilling and laughable at the same time.

Blogger Daryl Lang has exposed the foolishness of the opposition to the community center at his "History Eraser Button" blog. His entry of August 16, 2010, is a collection of photos of other establishments within a four-block area of the very holy site, the Hallowed Ground of Ground Zero. There are a strip club, a betting parlour, McDonalds, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, street vendors, and a pub. Now, if this area surrounding such hallowed ground cannot include a house of worship, how can it include a strip club and Dunkin Donuts?

It's time for the hysterical right-wing, their leadership in the Democratic and Republican parties, and their mouthpiece at News Corporation to drop it. You are barking up a tree that ignores you.

See Lang's photos here: Hallowed Ground

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Support Ceara Sturgis

by Dick Mac

Ceara Sturgis is a young woman whose choice of clothing styles has always leaned towards the masculine. She wears "boys clothes" and is most comfortable that way.

She wore "boys clothes" as a pre-teen and a tween and a teenager, and as she approaches the end of her teenage years, she still wears "boys clothes."

Obviously, any clothes owned by Ceara are girls' clothes. She is a girl and she owns them, and that makes them a girls' clothes. The notion that I might see these same clothes in an advertisement or on a mannequin and think of them as boys' clothes matters for nothing. They are purchased by a girl, they are in her wardrobe, she wears them and they are girls' clothes now.

At the high school she attends in Mississippi, high school seniors are required to "dress" in a particular way: the boys are put in a tuxedo jacket, dress shit and bow tie, and the girls are put in a drape.

Ceara posed in her drape and was not at all comfortable. She asked to pose in the tuxedo, the photographer got her re-seated and took a beautiful picture of her for the yearbook.

When someone in the school's administration saw the picture they decided to exclude her from the yearbook. It's not rocket science to conclude that this decision is unconstitutional and a violation of Ceara's civil rights.

Needless to say, and thankfully, the American Civil Liberties Union has taken the issue to the federal courts.

This sort of discrimination has to stop.

Please support Ceara anyway you can.

I Support Ceara Sturgis on Facebook

District sued over yearbook

Support Ceara Sturgis: Yearbooks Must Include Everyone

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Influencing Elections Without Voting

by Dick Mac

News Corporation, especially its subsidiaries of Fox News and The New York Post, have been referred to as the media appendage of the Republican Party.

This isn't news, it's not even a stretch. Anybody who pays any attention to the dissemination of information knows that News Corporation broadcasts and distributes the party-line for conservatism, general, and the GOP, specifically.

No other news agency operates in such a complicit manner: not Gannett, not New York Times Corporation, not Time-Warner, no other company perfectly aligns itself with a political party as does News Corporation.

The Supreme Court, today's conservative power base, decided that corporations can spend money on electoral campaigns in the same manner as voting citizens. This is bad news for Americans.

There is so much wrong with this decision that the simple statement that corporations aren't people, and companies can't vote, seem too simplistic to even present as an argument. In reality, though, they are the best arguments: if you can't mark a ballot, you shouldn't be giving money to influence electoral campaigns.

Recently, Target and Best Buy have donated large sums of money to Republican campaigns, and you can probably bet your bottom dollar that every other corporation with an extra nickle in the bank plans on donating that money to the Republcians, as well. Why? They know that Republicans will enact laws that benefit business to the detriment of workers and consumers.

This is bad news for eveyrone, including teabaggers who work for a living.

News Corp. Gives Republicans $1 Million

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Target Ain't People

by Dick Mac

Target (a/k/a Tarjhay) is the first large corporation to make a campaign donation after the Supreme Court declared that corporations are people and have the same right to spend money on electoral campaigns as ordinary citizens.

Sadly, Target donated that money to the campaign of a man who opposes the civil rights of taxpayers and the workplace rights of America's labor force.

I wrote about one mother's dismay a couple weeks ago in my post When Moms Boycott.

Recently, some who disagree with Target's decision took to the aisles with a demonstration that consisted of singing a reworked version of Depeche Mode's "People Are People," renamed "Target Ain't People."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aerosmith Perform "Dream On" at Fenway Park

by Dick Mac

Easing back into daily publishing, I begin my return from a New England vacation with this bootleg video of Aerosmith performing "Dream On" at Fenway Park, in Boston, on August 14, 2010.

Enjoy it until it's taken down by "the authorities."