Lance Armstrong and the Media

So Lance Armstrong is all over the news again, this time because he allegedly confessed to Oprah yesterday in an interview to air at a later date that he did use performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) during his cycling career.

Honestly I think this illustrates a problem that has more to do with our media and how we judge what is important than it does with Lance Armstrong and what he did.

Of course I should say here for the record that no cyclist should rely on the use of PEDs to advance their career blah blah blah, and that it was wrong, blah blah.

The thing is that all cyclists who are well-known probably use PEDs. And the events with Lance Armstrong occurred many years ago. Some as long as 15 years ago. Lance was really good at not getting caught. And most likely he has a huge ego-driven urge to prove himself because of the extent he went to to sustain his lies. That is his issue and now his karma to deal with.
Lance Armstrong Headshot (BlackWhite)

However, since that time, Lance Armstrong took the money that he got from cycling and he used it to create the Livestrong organization that has helped millions of people to overcome their own cancer and to improve their lives.

In the main Lance Armstrong has done a lot of good for the world. By comparison his cheating in a sport and lying about it afterwards are pretty minuscule. It’s a sport in the end.

People say well the organization is based on a lie! How can I believe him now he lied to me! But the truth is, even with the PEDs he still overcame cancer and he still had to ride the races and win them. He still had to create the organization and run it.

So I wonder why the media is all over this, their need to air the details hourly, and crush Lance Armstrong like a bug into dust until he confesses in a fit of tears or whatever in a press conference and pays back the money and we can all go righteously on our way because we saved the world from a guy who cheated in a sport and then lied about it.

I want the same news coverage for the corporate CEOs and financial business people and military hawks who truly do bad things to the world. Who decimate our planet and plunder its resources, and who indiscriminately kill innocent people all over the world to advance some agenda they have and satisfy their greed. And then lie to us and say it’s to further peace in the world, and to spread democracy, and we all have to sacrifice.

Those are the people who are truly bad. They are the ones killing the planet and the people who live here and there is not a word of real coverage about this, and they are not going to have to go to prison or pay back the planet or the families of the dead people. Where is the righteous indignation for these guys?

ecologicaldisaster

Lance Armstrong is just a guy with a big ego problem and he did some questionable and wrong things on a public stage. But in the main he’s not that bad a guy, and the media should focus on more important things.

Advertisements

The Cove

One of my favorite TV shows when I was little was Flipper. It was about a wild dolphin who befriended this family and did amazing dolphin stunts for them while enforcing the law, rescuing people at sea and taking care of Sandy and Bud, the two main characters in the show.

flipper

Here’s Flipper, actually Flipper was played by 5 different dolphins,
most of the time by a dolphin named Cathy

sandy and bud

Sandy and Bud

ric

Ric O’Barry, the trainer who personally caught all the dolphins in the show

the house

The TV-show house which in real life was Ric O’Barry’s house located at Miami Seaquarium

I liked the show so much I wanted to be a marine biologist for awhile. So many people liked the show so much that it started the whole industry of Seaworld and all the other sea aquariums where dolphins and whales put on shows for the public.

dolphins-bottlenose

The show ran for 3 years and during this time Ric O’Barry got really rich. He was considered the top dolphin trainer in the world.

He said about the show:

I captured the five dolphins that collectively played the part of Flipper. I trained all of them, from the very beginning of the first show to the last show. I lived with all five of them in the Seaquarium. And on Friday nights, at 7:30, I would take the TV set, with a long extension cord, out to the end of the dock, so Flipper could watch Flipper on television. And that’s when I knew they were self-aware. I could tell when the dolphins recognized themselves and each other. Cathy, for example, would recognize the shots she was in, Suzy would recognize her shots, and so on. Dolphins are hard to read, because you have to look at body language. Almost all other animals you can read by looking at their faces. But dolphins have this built-in “smile” that makes it look like they’re always happy.

The truth was, and still is, that dolphins in captivity are miserable. They spike their fish with Tagamet and Maalox to help relieve the pain of their ulcers from the stressful conditions they live under.

Anyway, the turning point for Ric O’Barry came when his favorite “Flipper” dolphin Cathy died. He explains this in the movie The Cove, and here is an excerpt from an interview in New York Entertainment where he explains how.

How did your ideas about captivity turn around?
Cathy died in my arms, of suicide. It was just before Earth Day, 1970. The next day, I found myself in a Bimini jail, trying to free a dolphin for the first time. I completely lost it.

How do you know it was suicide?
You have to understand, dolphins are not automatic air breathers like we are. Every breath for them is a conscious effort. She looked me right in the eye, took a breath, held it — and she didn’t take another one. She just sank to the bottom of the water. That had a profound effect on me.

And now, for the last 30 years, O’Barry has been trying to undo what he basically started. He goes around the world trying to free as many dolphins as he can in as many places as he can and tries to bring as much awareness as possible to the horrors that lie behind these businesses.

thecove3

Photo from The Cove, produced by the Oceanic Preservation Society

The movie The Cove talks about all of this in general, but focuses mostly on the Japanese city of Taiji, where dolphins are rounded up between September and March in huge numbers.

340x

In these fishing boats they round up the dolphins by putting long metal pipes into the water and banging on the pipes with hammers – because dolphins are hyper-sensitive to sound, and because it is their primary sense, it is easy to herd them in the direction they want

the_cove8f58fa24-7b62-46cb-b588-7c0996be7f32

No doubt they want to keep everyone away from the area

The first day the dolphins are caught they are sold to sea aquariums. Trainers and buyers come from all over the world to select the animals they want, usually young females, and pay $150,000 apiece for them.

The Cove in Taiji, Japan tucked away in a National Park and is a

On the second day, the dolphins who are not sold are rounded up into this cove

covepic

Under the cover of darkness they begin to kill EVERY SINGLE DOLPHIN

dolphin_slaughter_250270a

It’s sick and disgusting. Seriously, what is wrong with humans? To get these photos the team of people working on the movie had to cross over rows of razor wire using night vision goggles and hide cameras in fake rocks so as not to be discovered. Literally they made this movie at risk to their lives.

They kill 23,000 dolphins every year in Taiji, Japan.

After this, the nightmare continues as the dolphin meat is unknowingly sold to the Japanese as whale meat. The allowable level for mercury in fish is .4 parts per million. Dolphin meat from Taiji has a 2000 ppm contamination level of mercury. One of their government plans to get rid of the meat was to give the food to their school children as part of their compulsory school lunch program. In interviews the Japanese public were unaware all this was going on.

csi06305

Toward the end of the movie O’Barry walked into an International Whaling Commission meeting with a TV strapped to his chest playing a loop of the carnage that goes on in Taiji. A really brave way to stage a peaceful protest.

Anyway, this movie deserves support and the word needs to get out about this. To find out more about what you can do go to takepart.com/thecove .

ric-flipperofbrazil

Ric O’Barry today, who said if he had really been aware of what was going on at the time during the TV show Flipper and where it was all headed, he would have not looked away but would have, and should have, set all the dolphins free

Food, Inc.

Yesterday we went to see the movie Food, Inc. It’s not exactly a fun light-hearted movie, but on the other hand, if you eat food and live in America you should try to see this movie as soon as possible.

food-inc-poster

The movie exposes the industrialized food system in America and the effect it has on the environment, our health, the economy and worker’s rights. It ain’t a pretty picture, as they say.

You’ll never look at dinner the same way.

If you don’t know what industrialized food is, it’s mostly everything sold in the middle part of a grocery store that comes in a box. Estimates are there are 47,000 food products in the average supermarket. Most of it is industrialized food that is created in a chemical laboratory and is designed to have long shelf life and never rot. While normal food spoils in a few hours or days if left on a shelf,  industrial food can sit in your pantry for months virtually unchanged and show almost no signs of degradation.

All the following pictures are from the movie.

foodinc_farmer

This is the owner of Polyface Farms, where cows live in and eat grass like they were designed to do.

SP32-20090716-101551

These are feedlot cows standing in piles of manure. This is where US beef comes from. (Not sure why I could only find a picture like this with the lines across.)

food-inc

This lady was a Perdue Farms chicken grower. Perdue wanted her to change her barn with the windows to the new type where the chickens live in complete darkness their whole lives. She didn’t want to and ended up losing her contract after allowing the film crews into her chicken barn.

The movie talks about a lot of different topics including high fructose corn syrup, treating chickens, cows and pigs as commodities instead of living, breathing animals, the growing prevalence of E Coli 0157 and it’s relationship to cows eating corn instead of grass, Monsanto, federal farm subsidies, how the ability to buy healthy food in America (ie. not industrialized or fast food) has more to do with economic status than anything else, how all this affects the environment, etc. It’s a pretty bleak picture.

foodinc2

Chickens as commodities: in 1950 it took 68 days to grow a chicken, in 2008 it takes 47 days to grow one that is really huge thanks to hormones and antibiotics. The 2008 chickens can’t stand up because their bones are too weak from growing so fast and having to support so much unnatural weight.

foodinc-lg

Inside a processing plant.

Then at the end the movie leaves you on a positive note by giving you 10 things you can do to help change this. Some of the most important ones are to buy local, in-season, organic food and reduce your intake of animal flesh.

As they say in the movie, you vote 3 times a day by the food you eat, and consumer choice is the biggest factor by far to make changes in the US food system.

They also provide a web page where you can find out more information about the issues on these and related topics.

A good, thought-provoking movie.

What’s in Your Water?

Last year the Associated Press ran an investigation to check the levels of pharmaceuticals in drinking water. The results were shocking:

A vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.

They tested 24 metropolitan areas, but also say that these kinds of chemicals are found in water supplies all over the world. Of course the amount of any particular pharmaceutical found in drinking water is very low, the problem is that no one knows what the cumulative long-term effects of all this mixture of drugs will be. During that study they would not release exactly which pharmaceuticals they found.

pills-in-water

Now a new study has been done by the Southern Nevada Water Authority testing 19 different water utilities for 51 compounds, and they did release the list of the top 11 pharmaceuticals that they found. They include beta-blockers, an organic herbicide, a mood stabilizer, a tranquilizer, an antibiotic, and more.

Thankfully Austin was one of the 3 cities that tested clean of all pharmaceuticals in the original study a year ago.

Welcome Back – 2009 news

I’m back after a long delay in posting. Hope you all had a great Holiday season. We did.

In old news, here was our Christmas palm tree and presents before we opened them:

christmas-tree-2008

I also wish you all the best for 2009.

new_year_celebration_rocket_fireworks_display

We’ve been busy here.

Our webdesign business is going great – we have more jobs than anticipated which is always a good thing.

logo

Over the Christmas break I got to see three excellent movies: Valkyrie, Slumdog Millionaire, and Doubt. All very good and well worth the time and money to go see.

movies

My kids are back in school and getting ready for finals week.

mavlogo_blue

A lot is happening in the news.

We were all outrageously shocked to hear the news out of Oakland about the unarmed and handcuffed man who was shot in the back and murdered New Years night by the Oakland police. This was caught on video and witnessed by a number of people. The videos are horrible to watch. You can go check it out on youtube if you want to see them. What’s amazing is that we did not even hear about it until a couple days ago. Even more amazing is the cop was not arrested on the spot by his obviously shocked fellow officers. The family now suing for 25 million in restitution should be asking for more. Here’s a picture of the ensuing riots:

alg_oakland

The weather here is all over the place. 80 degrees F one day and in the forties the next. I don’t remember these kinds of fluctuations before.  Always you wonder whether it is global warming related. Here is my hibiscus blooming in the middle of winter:

hibiscus1

I learned about how some people think jellyfish are the canary in the coalmine as far as global warming. It seems that jellyfish do better in unhealthy water that other things die in. Somebody put together a chronogical listing of some news stories from 2008 that are showing more and more jellyfish swarms (or whatever it’s called when it’s jellyfish) all over the world.  By themselves these kinds of stories seems weird and far-fetched, but there are so many weird and far-fetched environmental problems that altogether it’s a little scary.

060119_jellyfish

All the presidents still alive met at the White House. The news commentators said they did not know what they talked about except for that Clinton liked the carpet. I read someplace an analysis of the way they all are standing: Bush senior has his hands in his pockets and so has something to hide; Obama has his hands in prayer position; Bush junior is standing with the backs of his hands forward which no one does and no one knows why; Clinton clasps his hands behind his back which shows guilt and hiding; and Carter stands normally in an open and casual manner showing nothing to hide and an easy conscience.

44402336

In other news: Tennessee is drowning in a sea of toxic sludge. Obama continues on his steady march to the White House – only 10 more days – while John Howard, the ex-Australian prime minister that nobody likes gets to stay in Blair House (a house with 110 rooms and 33 bathrooms). Keith Olbermann and the other news guys that thrived during the Bush years are struggling for something to say (that is my opinion, not an offical news story). The price of cruise ship vacations is down exponentially so book your trip now. About 550,000 more people lost their jobs in December.

Meanwhile, I still continue to be inspired by my yoga practice. Currently I am reading a book from Ramana Maharishi. He never wrote anything himself, but he had students who wrote as he spoke and the book is a compilation of some of his teachings.

200px-ramana_3_sw

The question posed to him is, “Is Mukti the same as realisation?”

He answers:

Mukti or liberation is our nature. It is another name for us. Our wanting mukti is a very funny thing. It is like a man who is in the shade, voluntarily leaving the shade, going into the sun, feeling the severity of the heat there, making great efforts to get back into the shade and then rejoicing, ‘How sweet is the shade! I have reached the shade at last!’ We are all doing exactly the same. We are not different from the reality. We imagine we are different, that is we create the bheda bhava [the feeling of difference] and then undergo great sadhana [spiritual practices] to get rid of the bheda bhava and realize the oneness. Why imagine or create bheda bhava and then destroy it?

America Recycles Day – November 15

November 15 is America Recycles Day. On the National Recycling Coalition website you can learn all about why and how to recycle, the do’s and don’t of recycling, and what is actually done with recycled products. The website also provides several lists of recommended books that you can read to learn more about recycling.

itallcomesback

Check out their conversionator (the link is at bottom of their page) where you can calculate the impact of your recycling, see information on the top ten reasons to recycle, and the top ten items to recycle.

If you are not yet recycling, November 15 might be a good day for you think about how you can get started helping the environment in some small and simple way.

If you already recycle, yay! – but before you pat yourself on the back too many times, check out the site and see if there is anything else you could be doing, or any events you could get involved in in your area.

Ford Fiesta ECOnetic – 65 mpg

Ford has a car called the Fiesta ECOnetic and it gets 65mpg.

As they say here in Texas, the kicker is you can’t buy it unless you live in Europe.

According to a Business Week article:

“We know it’s an awesome vehicle,” says Ford America President Mark Fields. “But there are business reasons why we can’t sell it in the U.S.” The main one: The Fiesta ECOnetic runs on diesel.

Their feeling is that Americans have a perception that diesel fuel is dirty, even though this perception is not entirely accurate anymore.

Diesel vehicles now hitting the market with pollution-fighting technology are as clean or cleaner than gasoline and at least 30% more fuel-efficient.

But:

None of this is stopping European and Japanese automakers, which are betting they can jump-start the U.S. market with new diesel models. Mercedes-Benz by next year will have three cars it markets as “BlueTec.” Even Nissan (NSANY) and Honda, which long opposed building diesel cars in Europe, plan to introduce them in the U.S. in 2010. But Ford, whose Fiesta ECOnetic compares favorably with European diesels, can’t make a business case for bringing the car to the U.S.

That might turn out to be a really bad marketing decision for Ford… If the European and Japanese automakers, whose car sales are doing significantly better than Ford, think diesel models in the US have a chance, why does Ford just sit this out?

There are a bunch more reasons in the article as to why Ford thinks it wouldn’t be profitable to sell the ECOnetic here.

Seems like American manufacturers are quick to tell Americans what they think we will and won’t buy, take away our choices, and then market what products are left to us as if we really have free choice as consumers. As if it’s in our best interest and not the best interest of the corporations.