Friday, May 28, 2010

Asher's Summer Ideas

  1. Feed some ducks
  2. Finish the skeleton puzzle and the glow in the dark stegasaurus puzzle
  3. Make a strawberry bush
  4. I want to eat a smore and go camping and listen to this american life
  5. We need to buy a tent and some sticks
  6. Pick some raspberries from our raspberry bush
  7. Plant an apple tree, instead of buying apples we could pick an apple from our tree
  8. Take a boat ride at greenlake where we get off is right near peets because I was hoping you wanted a coffee
  9. Eat some doughnuts and crackers and lime popsicles

Maira Kalman: Illuminations

I'm hoping that our August vacation to Los Angeles will coincide with the Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) exhibition at the Skirball. In her TED talk she said she was a dreamy child who was ignored by her parents which was really the best thing in the world for her development.

"How much truth do we tell? What story are we actually telling? How do we know when we're our real selves? How do we know if the sentences coming out of our mouths are real stories or real sentences or fake sentences that we think we ought to be saying?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ten Reasons Not to Buy Factory-Farmed

I could say that I've been a conscientious vegetarian for 25 years, but really, I've eaten at least two dozen fish during that time and I've bought many leather products too (leather shoes, couch, chair etc.). What I have done is not eat red meat or poultry during the last 25 years (bacon hasn't tempted me one bit). However, I haven't thought deeply enough about why I'm vegetarian and what choices I can make that will be more in line with my values.

Eating Animals is such a persuasive book about the choice not to buy / eat animal products because of Safran Foer's personal ethical evolution as well as the way he frames the issue around factory farming as a destructive environmental force. Of course big agriculture is destructive too. If you have the resources, the best solution is to abandon grocery stores for farmer's markets or ethical local sources of produce. If you must eat meat, eggs or dairy, carefully consider the source.
Here are 10 reasons not to buy factory-farmed meat, poultry, or fish. The quotations are from Eating Animals:
Factory farms
1. Use antibiotics to raise sick genetic mutants in crowded, filthy conditions
In the typical cage for egg-laying hens, each bird has 67 square inches of [floor] space [or less than ¾ the size of a sheet of typing paper]. Nearly all cage-free birds have approximately the same amount of space. (p 79)
2. Send animals to slaughterhouses where cruelty and even sadism are routine
Animals are bled, skinned, and dismembered while conscious. It happens all the time, and the industry and the government know it. Several plants cited for bleeding or skinning or dismembering live animals have defended their actions as common in the industry and asked, perhaps rightly, why they were being singled out. (p 230)
3. Produce highly infected animals
Scientific studies and government records suggest that virtually all (upwards of 95 percent of) chickens become infected with E. coli (an indicator of fecal contamination) and between 39 and 75 percent of chickens in retail stores are still infected. Around 8 percent of birds become infected with salmonella…. Seventy to 90 percent are infected with another potentially deadly pathogen, campylobacter. Chlorine baths are commonly used to remove slime, odor, and bacteria. (p 131)
4. Contribute to the creation and spread of new viruses (think influenza)
Breeding genetically uniform and sickness-prone birds in the overcrowded, stressful, feces-infested, and artificially lit conditions of factory farms promotes the growth and mutation of pathogens. The “cost of increased efficiency,” the report [by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, which brought together industry experts and experts from the WHO, OIE, and USDA] concludes, is increased global risk for diseases. (p 142)
5. Contribute to antibiotic resistance (think MRSA)
In the United States, about 3 million pounds of antibiotics are given to humans each year, but a whopping 17.8 million pounds are fed to livestock—at least that is what the industry claims. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has shown that the industry underreported its antibiotic use by at least 40 percent…. Study after study has shown that antimicrobial resistance follows quickly on the heels of the introduction of new drugs on factory farms.  (p 140)
6. Destroy species
For every ten tuna, sharks, and other large predatory fish that were in our oceans fifty to a hundred years ago, only one is left. (p 33)
[Shrimp] trawlers sweep up fish, sharks, rays, crabs, squid, scallops—typically about a hundred different fish and other species. Virtually all die…. The average trawling operation throws 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures as bycatch overboard. (p 191)
7. Pollute
Farmed animals in the United States produce 130 times as much waste as the human population—roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second. The polluting strength of this shit is 160 times greater than raw municipal sewage. And yet there is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals. 174
Conservative estimates by the EPA indicate that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has already polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in twenty-two states. (p 179)
8. Contribute to climate change
According to the UN, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, around 40 percent more than the entire transport sector—cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships—combined. (p 58)
9. Violate the human rights of their employees
[Undocumented immigrants] are often preferred, but poor recent immigrants who do not speak English are also desirable employees. By the standards of the international human rights community, the typical working conditions in America’s slaughterhouses constitute human rights violations. (p 131-32)
10. Change or ignore regulations in order to make more money
High-speed machines commonly rip open intestines, releasing feces into the birds’ body cavities. Once upon a time, USDA inspectors had to condemn any bird with such fecal contamination. But about thirty years ago, the poultry industry convinced the USDA to reclassify feces so that it could continue to use these automatic eviscerators. Once a dangerous contaminant, feces are now classified as a “cosmetic blemish.” As a result inspectors condemn half the number of birds. (p 134)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Toxic Sunscreen Ingredients

  • Para amino benzoic acid...
  • Octyl salicyclate...
  • Avobenzone...
  • Oxybenzone...
  • Cinoxate...
  • Padimate O...
  • Dioxybenzone...
  • Phenylbenzimidazole...
  • Homosalate...
  • Sulisobenzone...
  • Menthyl anthranilate...
  • Trolamine salicyclate...
  • Octocrylene...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Top 10 Best Places to Be a Mother

Houses in Australia and Sweden. 

Among the top 10 best places to be a mother:
1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Iceland
4. Sweden
5. Denmark
6. New Zealand

7. Finland

8. the Netherlands 
9. Belgium
10. Germany

Among the bottom 10 places:   Afghanistan ranks last, preceded by Niger, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea.

The United States places 28, down from 27 in 2009, primarily because its rate for maternal mortality – 1 in 4,800 – is one of the highest in the developed world.   The US also ranks behind many other wealthy nations in terms of the generosity of maternity leave policies.

More Reasons to Buy Organic Produce

From the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides, presenting the Dirty Dozen:
  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quick. Name 5 Women Artists

  1. diane arbus
  2. frida kahlo
  3. mary cassatt
  4. fay jones
  5. dorothea lang
  6. alice neel
Those are the artists that popped up for me, the top three sprung from my earliest exposures to women artists. No georgia o'keeffe. no nan goldin. no barbara kruger. I had just read about Dorothea Lang so that's why she's in there.

From the film, Who Does She Think She Is? 70-80% of visual art students are female, but 80% of the artists in galleries and museums are male.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mothers' Words Have Healing Powers

Mothers’ words have healing powers. That’s the conclusion released yesterday by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. More specifically they found that a stressed-out daughter will calm down as effectively after talking to her mother on the phone as from getting a hug from Mom in person.

Researchers first asked 61 girls (between ages 7 and 12) to do something stressful, like give a speech or tackle math problems. Then one-third of the girls were reunited with their mothers for 15 minutes of hugs and soothing talk. Another third got no hugs, but spent 15 minutes hearing soothing talk from their mothers on the phone. Both of those groups then watched a chatty, nonstressful movie for an hour. The last third had no contact with their mothers, and watched the same movie for 75 minutes.

The levels of cortisol (a stress-producing hormone) and oxytocin (a stress-reducing hormone) were measured both before and after the stress test. Those who had contact with their moms showed a decrease in cortisol levels and a decrease in oxytocin levels, while those who had no contact showed had cortisol levels that continued to rise even while watching the movie, and they showed no increase in oxytocin.

I imagine many of you want to jump in here and point out that dads can soothe their daughters, too, or that sons respond to their mothers, thank-you-very-much. I know that. But this study happened to be done with mothers and young daughters. Yes, I’d like to see one that includes some men, but the one I would like to see even more is a measure of the stress levels of these parents who are doing the long-distance soothing. I would bet that their cortisol levels jump when a stressed-out kid is on the line. And I would also bet those levels remain elevated long after the child’s have gone down.

Water Skirt