Today, this article was featured on Yahoo!’s homepage. It documents how American consumers desire toys that are cheap yet made of the finest materials the earth has to offer, even though such trinkets are likely to wind up in a landfill within weeks.
It reads like a joke, and at the end the author suggests that readers could purchase cadmium testing kits if they are worried about cadmium contaminating their ten cent tchotchkes. Did you just spend money on garbage? Why not spend more money on even more garbage to fix the problem! This could be the topic of a comic strip. Buy, buy, buy!
If it were not for consumerism, would this even be a problem? Consumerism is the source of many problems in society. While I do believe that money buys happiness, the happiness is not derived from such junk, but time. Time means freedom to do what you want other than shop.
Aside from the laughable irony, the article is typical media fear mongering. But that’s to be expected from the media in general, and I shouldn’t expect any better from Yahoo!. What typically qualifies as news these days consists of murders, feel good stories (Local Woman Finds Lost Dog!) and fear mongering.
Thankfully, the original article written by the AP actually provided some useful background information regarding what cadmium is, what’s being done about the problem and relevant details, but it is the shoddy summarized version that makes it to the front page.
The original article by the AP states, “Children can be exposed by sucking or biting such jewelry. But without direct exposure, most people do not experience its worst effects: cancer, kidneys that leak vital protein and bones that spontaneously snap.” The summarized article featured by Yahoo! was devoid of context, and simply spit out these worst case side effects, with the implication that even touching cadmium could put a child at risk of snapping bones and dripping kidneys, with no details regarding the various effects caused by the degree of exposure. Wouldn’t recommendation to dispose of all jewelry deliver the message just as well without inciting unnecessary alarm?
This was the question posted by articles on Yahoo! and CNN a few days back. I was surprised that there was a “long-held view that natural selection has ceased to affect humans because, “almost everybody now lives long enough to have children”.
I had always assumed that evolution always occurs. It simply would not make sense any other way. If evolution was not still occurring, it would seem to imply that every individual is reproducing at a similar rate. Evolution is survival of the fittest, but even though everyone reproduces, there are obviously some who reproduce more and some who do not reproduce at all for various reasons. Why isn’t it obvious that evolution is still occurring because of this? Plus, there are those who choose not to have kids, some who choose to have lots of kids and some who don’t have kids.
But what’s more likely is that there are major gaps in my understanding that lead me to assume this from the start.
To keep my mind off of the mass of physics and organic chemistry I have to do, more writing to keep my mind off things and delay the inevitable.
There was a very interesting discussion on NPR the other day about germ line gene therapy. I had heard of gene therapy, but germ line gene therapy was new to me. Something about modifying the damaged mitochondria in egg cells and having healthy monkeys be born. The ensuing discussion included talk about how it was immoral and whatnot.
I don’t really think there’s anything wrong with designer babies, as long as the designer element is restricted to physical ability. After all, if you created a child that looks good or more physically fit, no harm done. The kid would probably be happier overall, although this is hard to say. Who wouldn’t want to eliminate the risk of having a child with some physical deficiencies. Obviously I’m looking at this from a practical standpoint only.
While there’s nothing wrong creating modified people physically, there’s a large risk in improving mental ability through gene therapy. This has an inherent danger because this would essentially create two strata of people. These “superhumans” would have superior intellect, so who knows what could happen.
Any person created through germ line gene therapy would need to be tracked, regardless of whether the modifications are physical or mental.
So buying virtual stuff through internet communities is profitable. It’s so profitable that I should totally create an addictive internet community that sells virtual crap. It makes tons of money for the website owners, as such items cost literally nothing to produce when ignoring labor costs for creating and maintaining the websites. Facebook’s virtual gifts net a cool $15 million a year if I remember correctly. That’s basically no different than people sending you $15 million, because what they’re getting in return is pretty much nothing because it’s virtual.
“Some have called the process inhumane, and news reports describe sweat-shop-like conditions for the people who work to earn the virtual cash,” says CNN. But then, compared to the wide range of other jobs, say, construction labor, what’s more “humane”? At least the gold farmer is sitting in a room, in no real physical danger, and earning more than the construction worker.
While I can see where they are going with this, they’re blocking the exchange of money the wrong way. Instead of preventing people from blowing their hard earned cash on virtual garbage, they’ve instead prevented people from turning virtual cash into real money. All this does is continue allowing people to waste money, while preventing people who are able to make a nice chunk of change gaming the internet from making a living.
So there’s no doubt that paper is out and Amazon seems poised to control the ebook market, but apparently Apple is developing their own tablet or ebook reader according to Fast Company. The article suggests that Apple could essentially leverage its existing iTunes store to start pushing ebooks.
The success of this supposed ebook store would seem to rely partially on Apple’s existing user base, which hardly seems like a demographic that reads books very heavily. This isn’t to say that they might make sales from customers not using Apple products, but it seems that at least trying to push ebooks on its existing user base would fail.
I woke up early yesterday morning and switched on NBC, expecting to be greeted by the exuberant sounds of the 2008 Olympics opening ceremony. Instead, I got some rebroadcasted junk from NBC that created the impression that the ceremony had yet to begin, despite the fact that it was occurring at that very moment. Instead, I had to wait until later in the night to watch it so NBC could make a few more bucks off of ads for sugar water. Even worse was later that night when the opening ceremony was broadcast, and NBC went to great lengths to create the illusion that everything was live, despite the fact that it was all 11 hours late. The ceremony itself was also interrupted with commercial breaks.
Aside from NBC’s greed induced failure, the opening ceremony was unbelievable. The stadium was an ocean of cheering people. The ceremony was incredible, and it consisted of thousands of performers moving in synchronization. Considering how difficult it is to get even a few people’s movements synchronized, I can’t even imagine how long it took to perfect yesterday’s performance.
The Olympics are the world’s greatest celebrations. They are symbols of unity and an opportunity for differences to be set aside. The 2008 Olympic Torch relay was themed the Journey of Harmony. However, rampant protests and demonstrations have turned the event into a prolonged political demonstration. In Paris, supports rushed the torch and attempted to grab it. In London, the reception was much the same with demonstrators violently attempted to impede the torch.
Freedom of speech and peaceful public demonstration are perfectly acceptable. Manic attempts to extinguish the Olympic torch and steal it are not. While the protectors who engaged in such attempts may believe they were furthering the cause, they achieved nothing more than alienating supporters and ruining the event. Plans for boycotts by politicians and demonstrations are nothing more than insults to the host country, and destroy any progress toward a resolution to their cause.