Friday, August 19, 2011

Galactic Internet is Here!

Finally, you will be able to Tweet or Facebook to someone in outer space. But they won't be real aliens, only rich snobs on Virgin Galactic's new space ship cruise.

SpaceShipTwo is a luxury tourist space flight, costing $200,000 a head. It doesn't go anywhere, only circles in deep space for "a few minutes" before returning to Earth. Some passengers may want to spend this time gazing intently at the wonders of outer space, making a $200,000 memory that will last forever. But I guess some other tourists just need to tweet live about how "shooting star meteorite so COOL OMG!"

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tanorexia and Tanning: It's Bad!

Tanning releases opiods, the same addictive chemicals in morphine and heroin. Frequent tanners experience withdrawl when they don't get these opioids, just like drug users!
Most tanners report mood enhancement, relaxation and socialization while soaking up the sun. But tanorexics become very competitive about tanning, and may actually hate their skin and view it as untolerably pale, in the same way anorexics view themselves as hatefully fat even when they're starving. Tanorexics experience the most serious withdrawl symptoms, which include intense anxiety, nausea, and jitters. Since UV light from the sun and tanning beds creates a feeling of euphoria in the brain, it's also likely tanners feel depressed when they are removed from their lights for too long.

Since any tan at all is evidence of sun damage, and tanners continue to ignore medical risks, this has led many dermatologists to push that UV light tanning addiction be recognized as a substance abuse disorder. And just like any substance abuse order, we already have celebrity posterchildren. Wikipedia says "notable figures known to have suffered from tanorexia are Christine Swanson, Jordan Cohen, the British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal and the cast of the MTV reality show Jersey Shore."

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Class Warfare, Now With Sharks!

Is it still Shark Week? Because I think I found a new way to celebrate AND solve the problem of America's rich; who are apparently "less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish" than everyone else.

Wouldn't this make a great reality TV show? We could call it "Sharks Vs Sharks."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Economic Rumble USA

Neutral economic facts in America are hard to come by these days. On one hand, you have our liberal commentators, who say 40 million Americans are living on food stamps (~12% of the population) , and that the middle class is disappearing. This side tends to blame the 400 billionaries who "own" Congress, and says things like, "if you don’t have a job, it is in part because Cheney cut taxes on the super-rich and made it impossible for the Federal government to ameliorate the economic straits of the middle class with various programs. This problem just got worse, with the budget deal this year." So, the rich are to blame for all our problems, and "we increasingly look like a Third World robber baron country with a few rich at the top and luckless peasants toiling below."

The other side says "the rich create jobs and that taxing them would hurt the economy." Some conservatives even go so far as to say that it's the unemployed's fault they have no jobs, because "GDP is now higher than it has been in the entirety of U.S. history," so the 10+% unemployed we have now must just have been working useless jobs before. "The fact that the United States has pre-crisis levels of output with fewer workers raises doubts as to whether those additional workers were producing very much in the first place." They recommend the jobless retrain or otherwise adapt to our new society, because the old jobs are not coming back.

How can these two sides coexist? They seem to be completely at odds and both vilifying the other side. If your job was outsourced or downsized, and then you were told it's your fault, how would you respond? Similarly, if you could make more money with less workers, why would you hire more people?

Yet even with all this animosity, Americans show no sign of protest or revolution. Alternet has some theories that we're just too fearful, over-medicated, financially stressed, brainwashed, distracted or plain dumb to organize a fight.

The new budget only increases these problems, by preserving all tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy while cutting from everywhere else. Education, Medicare, Social Security, even the military are all up on the chopping block. Exact cuts still remain to be determined.

Instead, if we just undid the Bush-era tax cuts, we wouldn't have to cut so much other stuff:
But, can we raise taxes without fueling the class wars? Raising taxes actually doesn't scare millionaires away, and it might make more sense to tax the rich than the poor. Not only are the rich, well, RICH; they are the only ones benefiting from the current economic climate. If we try to tax the middle class that is already suffering or cut more benefits from the poor, we might finally find their breaking point.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Texas: Now Unquestionably the Reddest State Ever

When I wrote about Hell-On-Earth heatwave disasters last week, I thought I was being clever. Now there's an actual RIVER OF BLOOD in Texas, and I'm afraid that we'll see a plague of locusts next. Seriously, what the frick? I don't believe in the Bible but when The Weather Channel starts sounding like the the End of Days, you have to take note.

This Red River is not actual blood, but a bacterial sludge fed by dead fish and oil runoff pollution. Intense drought and heat lowered the San Angelo water so much that it became stagnant, unable to move. While the water evaporated, the pollution stayed behind, and the remaining muck was too toxic to support the fish. As they all died, their rotting corpses robbed the water of oxygen, which made it a perfect environment for the Rosy-faced Chromatiaceae bacteria.

So, although not actual blood, the San Angelo Reservoir is looking pretty scary. The worst part? These Red Rivers lead to a Red Lake, which actually provides DRINKING water for San Angelo and its surrounding communities in Tom Green County. I haven't heard of anyone turning on their tap and screaming bloody murder, so the drought must have kept this reservoir from reaching the pipelines. SO FAR. God only knows what will happen the next time a rainstorm hits Texas.