The events since the BP well exploded and began spewing oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico have forced President Obama’s hand. No politician wants to be the one to catch the Peak Oil hot potato, but it looks like it’s landed right in Obama’s lap. In his Oval Office speech the other night, he came the closest any president has yet to frankly discussing the challenges we face (emphasis mine):
So one of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean — because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.
For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked — not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.
The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight.
The perky woman on this Grist video (“Umbra”) has convinced me to make my own shampoo and conditioner. Not only will this save me money, but it will put end my practice of covering my scalp with numerous chemicals that contain known-harmful ingredients–many shampoos and conditions are laden with harmful and potentially harmful ingredients (I found this video at Huffpo). I should also mention that I have become extra-motivated to try this experiment based on this recent post by Brynn Jacobs. First, the fast-paced video featuring “Umbra”:
Now a short detour to the Environmental Working Group website, where you can determine all of the nasty chemicals in your shampoos, conditioners and other products. The EWG “Cosmetics” database is here.
I went to straight to my bathroom and dug out various bottles each of shampoo and conditioner. My Pantene “Full and Thick” shampoo contains all of the following (among other chemicals): METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE, ETHYLENE OXIDE, 1,4-DIOXANE, ETHYLENE OXIDE, 1,4-DIOXANE) NITROSAMINES) COCAMIDE MEA, METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE, SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE. Various of these chemicals are associated with the following things: Neurotoxicity, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive) Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs).
I checked out a bottle of Suave Professionals Sleek Shampoo and it contained a comparably ominous list. The Revlon Aqua Marine Moisturizing Shampoo was even worse in that it contained four chemicals associated with cancer.
Then I looked up two bottles of hair conditioner. The Garnier Fructis Fortifying Conditioner – Sleek & Shine has a comparably nasty list of chemicals –Umbra urges that these chemicals are totally unnecessary for washing one’s hair. I couldn’t find the Citre Shine Daily Revitalize Conditioner with Shine-Infusing Citrus Extracts on the EWG website, but I carefully read the fine print on the back label and plugged four of those chemicals into the EWG site; they all came up as bad, despite the front label’s suggestion that this product contains “healthy” ingredients. I suppose the theory is to balance out each industrial chemical with a whiff of something healthy-sounding like “citrus extract.”
BTW, isn’t it ironic to read all of those the benign-sounding names of these products and then compare those names to the long lists of chemicals within?
What is Umbra’s solution to this apparently unhealthy situation? She is encouraging us to make our own shampoo and conditioner (this is the same advice offered by Colin Beavan). For shampoo, she recommends that we mix a tablespoon of baking soda with each cup of water. Shake it each time before using it. For conditioner, mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with each cup of water. She says that the vinegar smell goes away after you rinse.
As soon as I publish this post, I’m going to the kitchen to mix up a batch of each. I’m appearing in court tomorrow, and my hair and scalp, for the first time ever, will not be drenched in potentially harmful chemicals.
I promise to report on the experience after I use these home-made hair products for a few days.
Parents wonder how their kids will grow up. Will they be kind, smart, generous, or axe murderers? In my experience, the surest way to make sure your children develop compassion, empathy and generosity is to get them a cat.
“Daddy, Daddy!” the kids chorused. “Mommy said we could get a kitty!”
“I told them that if they did chores for 10 days straight,” she said, “each of them could get a kitty.”
We were having difficulty getting the kids to do their chores. My wife had solved both our chores-problem and the kids’ desire to have a pet in one stroke. The kids had wanted another cat since loyal friend Nat King Cat had died.
“Now you guys understand that YOU have to take care of your kitties,” said my wife.
As the result of the “deal,” my kids became chores maniacs. The whole thing smacked of bribery, but the house and kids were cleaner and the kids were happier.
The kittens would stay in the kids’ bedrooms for the first 10 days. After day eight of the chores marathon, we went to find kittens.
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China has issued a detailed report that examines the human rights record of the United States for the year 2009. Plain-spoken. Unvarnished. disturbing.
Psychologist Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel laureate who has spent his long life making dozens of startling discoveries regarding judgment and decision-making. More recently, he has done considerable work in hedonic psychology. He recently appeared at TED to discuss the “The riddle of experience vs. memory.”[caption id="attachment_11875" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image by Nruboc at Dreamstime.com (with permission)"][/caption]
There is no person better qualified than Kahneman to describe how the human psyche is rife with “cognitive traps.” In this TED talk Kahneman explains that these traps “make it difficult to think about happiness.” One foundational problem is that humans tend to resist admitting complexity; happiness is a monolithic term for most of us. Kahneman states, however, that “happiness is no longer a useful word, in that it applies to many things. We need to completely give up the simple word “happiness” in order to effectively communicate. One of the biggest problems is that there is a huge confusion between experience and memory when it comes to determining happiness. The distinction is with A) happiness IN your life versus B) happiness ABOUT your life (or WITH your life). The problem with trying to determine one’s own happiness is exacerbated by the “focusing illusion.” The effect of this illusion is that “we can’t think about any circumstance that affects well-being without distorting its importance.” Kahneman gave an example of a friend who claimed that a scratching sound at the very end of a music recording ruins the entire experience. This is utter nonsense, since the scratching sound occurred only at the end of the recording. It didn’t ruin the entire experience. Rather, it ruined “the memory of the experience.” Human beings consist of two selves: the experiencing self (who lives in the moment) and the remembering self (who keeps score and maintains the story of our lives, selecting and maintaining our memories. For the remembering self, a critical part of any story is how it ends. If it ends badly, the memory of the entire experience is contaminated (In this video, Kahneman describes earlier studies regarding colonoscopies which dramatically illustrated this point). Time is a funny thing for human beings. For our experiencing self, a two-week vacation is twice as good as a one-week vacation. For the remembering self, a two-week vacation might not be any better than a one-week vacation–“time has very little impact on the story” for the remembering self.
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Sometimes, after a stressful period digging through work, family, and community obligations, I find myself driving past a cemetery and telling myself a private joke. “Lucky bastards,” I utter in a serious voice. “They get to to have endless amounts of deep sleep.” I’m trying to be ironic at those moments (though I always do enjoy my own jokes!).
There is a serious point to this. Many people have had enough, and they do want to end their lives. It turns out that they do have some options other than an often gristly self-inflicted suicide, the type of death that leaves behind families that are horrified, angry and/or guilt-ridden.
Since 2002, Holland has allowed euthanasia to those afflicted with ‘hopeless and unbearable suffering’ certified by two doctors. But now, after 112,500 signatures were collected on the issue, Holland’s legislature is considering pushing the envelope even further. According to World News, the Dutch legislature is considering a measure that provides for this:
Assisted suicide for anyone over 70 who has simply had enough of life is being considered in Holland. Non-doctors would be trained to administer a lethal potion to elderly people who ‘consider their lives complete’. The radical move would be a world first and push the boundaries even further in the country that first legalised euthanasia. Supporters say it would offer a dignified way to die for those over 70 who just want to give up living, without having to resort to difficult or unreliable solitary suicide methods.