Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mobile slaughterhouses in New York...

The kill trailer is 8 feet wide and 53 feet long. In that space a cow, lamb or goat is stunned, killed, bled, skinned and eviscerated. The organs are rolled into the adjoining inedible parts trailer, to be composted or picked up by a renderer for disposal. The carcass is sawed in half and washed with a lactic-acid solution before it’s moved to a chilling compartment. Later, it will be transferred to the connecting refrigerated delivery truck, which can drive off to the nearest “cut and wrap” facility, or butcher. During the entire process, a U.S.D.A. inspector — in the Eklunds’ case, a ponytailed woman with a warm smile — stands in the kill trailer.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The lesson of Rand Paul: libertarianism is juvenile...
Because never, and I mean never, has there been capitalist enterprise that wasn't ultimately underwritten by the state. This is true at an obvious level that even most libertarians would concede (though maybe not some of the Austrian economists whom Rand Paul adores): for the system to work, you need some kind of bare bones apparatus for enforcing contracts and protecting property. But it's also true in a more profound, historical sense. To summarize very briefly a long and complicated process, we got capitalism in the first place through a long process of flirtation between governments on the one hand, and bankers and merchants on the other, culminating in the Industrial Revolution. What libertarians revere as an eternal, holy truth is in fact, in the grand scheme of human history, quite young. And if they'd just stop worshiping for a minute, they'd notice the parents hovering in the background. Libertarians like Paul are walking around with the idea that the world could just snap back to a naturally-occurring benign order if the government stopped interfering. As Paul implied, good people wouldn't shop at the racist stores, so there wouldn't be any.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Rise and Fall of the G.D.P.

For now at least, G.D.P. holds almost unassailable sway, not only as the key national indicator for the economic health of the United States but also for that of the rest of the world’s developed countries, which employ a standardized methodology — there’s actually a handbook — to calculate their economic outputs. ...Consider, for example, the lives of two people — let’s call them High-G.D.P. Man and Low-G.D.P. Man. High-G.D.P. Man has a long commute to work and drives an automobile that gets poor gas mileage, forcing him to spend a lot on fuel. The morning traffic and its stresses aren’t too good for his car (which he replaces every few years) or his cardiovascular health (which he treats with expensive pharmaceuticals and medical procedures). High-G.D.P. Man works hard, spends hard. He loves going to bars and restaurants, likes his flat-screen televisions and adores his big house, which he keeps at 71 degrees year round and protects with a state-of-the-art security system. High-G.D.P. Man and his wife pay for a sitter (for their kids) and a nursing home (for their aging parents). They don’t have time for housework, so they employ a full-time housekeeper. They don’t have time to cook much, so they usually order in. They’re too busy to take long vacations.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What do atheists think of death?

For me [an atheist], the fear of death is far and away the most immediate and challenging aspect of my atheism. Death affects me in a profound way, because I know — it's not a matter of belief at this point, for me — that this life is all we get. As much as I would like to believe platitudes like "He's in a better place now" and "I know he's smiling down on us," I see them for what they are, and what they represent: attempts to avoid facing the reality of death. So if you truly believe that "Facing [death] is our life's task," may I suggest you try atheism? Religion is how people AVOID facing it. It's the common thread in all religions, from the most ancient to the most modern: "When we die, it's not really the end. So don't worry so much." But for most religions it doesn't stop there. Most of them teach that life after death will not only exist, but it'll be way more awesome than stupid ol' life with all its trials and tribulations. A choir of angels! Forty virgins! Nirvana! All your old friends, your family, even Mittens and Fido will be there to give you a big hug and welcome you to eternity!

A collection of entertaining math articles... (via).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why her skinny jeans does not give one the right to rape her.
Internet Hindus and Madrasa Muslims.
Disaster unfolds slowly in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kudos to New York attorney general Cuomo for opening up this new investigation against Wall Street fat cats...
Prosecutors Ask if 8 Banks Duped Rating Agencies: "This investigation expands the scope of scrutiny to the interplay between banks and the agencies that rate their securities. Those targets are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Crédit Agricole and Merrill Lynch, which is now owned by Bank of America.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The E-Snub. (via).

Back in the good old days, people used to duck your phone calls. Or just not return them. But in this, the electronic era, a whole new brand of disdain has come into vogue. The age of the e-snub is upon us. ... Annoying e-mail messages plague all of us, but those of a more legitimate nature are surely deserving of a simple reply. Unfortunately, basic e-courtesy is in short supply. So, having been burned in the past by e-boors, I decided that enough was enough.
Atheists to Care for Pets Left Behind by the Rapture... (via).

Many people in the U.S.—perhaps 20 million to 40 million—believe there will be a Second Coming in their lifetimes, followed by  the Rapture . In this event, they say, the righteous will be spirited away to a better place while the godless remain on Earth. But what will become of all the pets? 
Other than Africans, we all have some Neanderthalism in us...
Why Pakistan Produces Jihadists... (via).

In attempting to explain why so many attacks—abortive and successful—can be traced back to a single country, analysts tend to dwell on the 1980s, when Pakistan acted as a staging ground for the successful American and Saudi-funded jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But while the anti-Soviet campaign undoubtedly accelerated Pakistan's emergence as a jihadist haven, to truly understand the country it's important to go back further, to its creation.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Moral Life of Babies...
Here is one more reason to stop using weed killers on our lawns... Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds.
Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers’ near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.
Confessions of a Wall St. Nihilist: Forget About Goldman Sachs, Our Entire Economy Is Built on Fraud. (via).

Monday, May 03, 2010

Cow smuggling in India. (via).
I loved this bit by Bill Maher last Friday night in response to the Muhammad-South Park brouhaha... .