Archive for April, 2012

Truthout and The Plan

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Truthout is a site I follow frequently.   Today, they’ve stated the core problem before us as:

We, as a species, are coming up against a fundamental choice: Do we embrace our potential for good by coming together and working to reverse the damage we’ve done to each other and to the planet? Or do we choose the path of exploitation, separation and destruction? It’s the duty of the storytellers – independent journalists, writers and media makers – to use their time to try to make this choice clear. 

– This is the motivation for the ideas I’m calling The Plan.   We need, as they’ve said here, to choose to ‘reverse the damage’ or to continue to ‘choose the path of exploitation’.

– dennis


The Plan

Monday, April 16th, 2012

I’ve created a new category and a new permanent page; both are called The Plan.

Anything I write or republish that bears on the ideas behind The Plan will be linked to with the new catagory.

And I will maintain the new permanent page, The Plan, as one of the central ideas of this Blog.   Much as the concepts of The Perfect Storm Hypothesis, Eden Lost and our Biological Imperatives are central themes.

To read The Plan, click here: or click on the words The Plan in the right side column under Permanent Pages.

Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Are racists dumb? Do conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals? A provocative new study from Brock University in Ontario suggests the answer to both questions may be a qualified yes.

The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood.

I.Q., or intelligence quotient, is a score determined by standardized tests, but whether the tests truly reveal intelligence remains a topic of hot debate among psychologists.

Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology at the university and the study’s lead author, said the finding represented evidence of a vicious cycle: People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice, he told LiveScience.

Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world, Dodson said. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice,” he added.

Dr. Brian Nosek, a University of Virginia psychologist, echoed those sentiments.

“Reality is complicated and messy,” he told The Huffington Post in an email. “Ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simpler solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies.”

But Nosek said less intelligent types might be attracted to liberal “simplifying ideologies” as well as conservative ones.

In any case, the study has taken the Internet by storm, with some outspoken liberals saying that it validates their suspicions about conservatives and conservatives arguing thatthe research has been misinterpreted.

– To the original…

 – I blogged this other story ( Does Your Personality Influence Who You Vote For?) some time ago and it seems related…

– And this one (Brains of liberals, conservatives may work differently, study finds) as well!   Damn, look out, Bubbas!  We may be onto something here…



Why the world is running out of helium

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

– I’ve been following this for years since one of my long-term hobbies has been a deep interest in The Elements of the Periodic Table.    

– The situation with Helium just screams ‘investment opportunity’ to me.   I just wish I has some cash to do something about it.

– Dennis

– – – – – – – – – – – –

A US law means supplies of the gas – a vital component of MRI scanners – are vanishing fast

It is the second-lightest element in the Universe, has the lowest boiling-point of any gas and is commonly used through the world to inflate party balloons. But helium is also a non-renewable resource and the world’s reserves of the precious gas are about to run out, a shortage that is likely to have far-reaching repercussions.

Scientists have warned that the world’s most commonly used inert gas is being depleted at an astonishing rate because of a law passed in the United States in 1996 which has effectively made helium too cheap to recycle.

The law stipulates that the US National Helium Reserve, which is kept in a disused underground gas field near Amarillo, Texas – by far the biggest store of helium in the world – must all be sold off by 2015, irrespective of the market price.

The experts warn that the world could run out of helium within 25 to 30 years, potentially spelling disaster for hospitals, whose MRI scanners are cooled by the gas in liquid form, and anti-terrorist authorities who rely on helium for their radiation monitors, as well as the millions of children who love to watch their helium-filled balloons float into the sky.

– More…

– And, see this:  



Why some of us are leaving the U.S.A.

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

– These comments were part of a larger discussion in which some of us were discussing why we’d immigrated from the US to New Zealand.   Some felt ‘pulled’ by New Zealand’s attractions while other felt more that events in the U.S. were ‘pushing’ them to find another place to live.  

– Chanah’s comments here clearly show that she and her family felt they were in the ‘pushed’ camp.

– Dennis

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“We came back in 2004. We did NOT come because we fell in love with New Zealand-we came because we wanted to get the Hell out of the United States while we still could (before we hit the age of 40). We came because they were charging us over $500 per month for Blue Cross health insurance that only covered 80% of the doctor THEY chose after we paid $500 deductable. Pretty crappy health care for a Registered Nurse. We came because a root canal ran me nearly $2000 and there was no dental coverage available. We came because we had to pay nearly $300 for a bottle of eye drops for my husbands glaucoma (that now costs us $3 BTW)-we came because we needed a credit card just to afford basic medications and co-pays. We came because I was tired of having to pay “malpractice cover” in order to keep my job. We came because after 911 my Civil Engineer of a husband had nearly $300 per month deducated from his pay for insurance in the event that a terrorist blew up a bridge that he happened to have signed off on. We came because the families of those killed on 911 are now suing those who happen to still be alive that built the World Trade Centers and while personal people have donated money the US governement has done little to nothing to support the families of those lost. We came because my nephew was forced to join the US Army in order to afford College/University and now that his term is up the Army is making him stay on additonal tours of duty against his will. We came because young people in high schools feel forced to go to college whether they want to or not in order to “get a job”. There is little to no respect for the hardworking plumbers, carpenters, labours who find it very difficult to make a decent living to raise a family on. We came because we felt the only way to be safe from the “Mad Cow Disease” that was being covered up was for us to becme vegetarian. Most important, we came because New Zealand offered us Permanent Residency and Australia only offered work visas. The first few years I was miserable. We had to live on savings and minimum wage jobs (we did not have jobs when we came). Am I happy? Actually I think I have come around to the point that I am a lot happier here then I would be in Australia. We’ve had a child (FREE-BTW) and  I KNOW I’m happier raising Rachel here then in America. About the government-the earthquake and its aftermath has given me a whole new respect for the New Zealand government. They are not “unreachable” or “untouchable”  like in the USA. If the Kiwis don’t like something that is going on they WILL hold their officials accountable. And, if that does not work they WILL vote them out of office-and the officials here know it. There are time AND financial limits on elections…all of this primary and sub-primary crap simply does not go on here. When I went to vote I was given an orange  marker to check the box of who I wanted. I forgot my ID so I simply gave my address and phone number and was permitted to vote. I then placed my ballot into a cardboard box….no hanging chads or “rigged” machines here in New Zealand.  What would make my life perfect? For my family to financially reach a point that we can travel to the States yearly-see family & experience the toursit sites. Each trip to the USA is “fun” but it leaves me happier then ever to return to New Zealand…I view the USA a bit like an amusement park-love to go eat, shop and see friends but when the day is over I’m happy to return “home” to some normality and stability.”

– Chanah Luppens – Christchurch, New Zealand


Housing NZ head questioned over trips

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

– This is the kind of insider trash that goes on in the U.S. all the time.  I.e., folks work in the government agency that regulates an industry, they meet with folks from that industry, they get cosy with them, then new laws, favorable to the industry, are passed and then the individuals involved leave government service and end up on the boards of the industries they previously regulated.

– I would have hoped that New Zealand was smarter than this but this story would indicate not.

– Dennis

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Two former senior Housing New Zealand executives went on a $35,000 trip to visit a software company in Britain just months before both quit Housing NZ and set up a private company which went into partnership with the same software company.

Labour housing spokeswoman Annette King yesterday questioned Housing NZ chief executive Lesley McTurk about a trip to London and Canada in June 2011 by Stephen McArthur and Roy Baker. The two were senior executives at Housing NZ who left soon afterward to set up their own consultancy firm, Tinakori.

The trip to London was for a conference held by Northgate – a software company Housing NZ has contracted for a major part of an $80 million IT upgrade. Northgate is now also a partner for Tinakori which was set up in February this year. Mr McArthur left HNZ in August 2011 and Mr Baker left in December 2011. Both are now directors of Tinakori.

Mr McArthur was the chief operating officer of Housing New Zealand and Mr Baker was the chief financial officer – both had significant roles in the IT project’s development.

Ms King asked Ms McTurk if she was aware the pair intended to leave Housing NZ when she approved the travel costs and whether there were questions about conflicts of interest.

Ms McTurk said she had no knowledge at that point that they planned to leave and believed it was appropriate the pair went to the conference given their role with the IT upgrade.

– to the original story…


2.4 million victims of human trafficking

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The U.N. crime-fighting office says that 2.4 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time, and 80 percent of them are being exploited as sexual slaves.

Yuri Fedotov, the head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, told a daylong General Assembly meeting on trafficking that 17 percent are trafficked to perform forced labor, including in homes and sweat shops.

He said US $32 billion is being earned every year by unscrupulous criminals running human trafficking networks, and two out of every three victims are women.

Fighting these criminals “is a challenge of extraordinary proportions,” Fedotov said.

“At any one time, 2.4 million people suffer the misery of this humiliating and degrading crime,” he said.

According to Fedotov’s Vienna-based office, only one out of 100 victims of trafficking is ever rescued.

Fedotov called for coordinated local, regional and international responses that balance “progressive and proactive law enforcement” with actions that combat “the market forces driving human trafficking in many destination countries.”

– More…


Earth Sends Climate Warning by Busting World Heat Records

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

First decade of 21st Century warmest on record; US locations break 7,000 temperature records in March

Accelerated climate change, driven by human activity, has led to soaring temperatures around the world and the decade between 2001 and 2010 was the warmest ever recorded in all continents of the globe, according to a new report released by the World Meteorological Organization.

Additionally, an ‘unprecedented’ heatwave in the United States “has set or tied more than 7,000 high temperature records” across the country, according to a report from Climate Central. “This heat wave is essentially unprecedented,” said the media and research orgnanization’s Heidi Cullen told Reuters. “It’s hard to grasp how massive and significant this is.”

The increase in global temperatures since 1971 has been “remarkable” according to the WHO’s assessment. Atmospheric and oceanic phenomena such as La Niña events had a temporary cooling influence in some years, the report says, but did not halt the overriding warming trend.

The “dramatic and continuing sea ice decline in the Arctic” was one of the most prominent features of the changing state of the climate during the decade, according to the preliminary findings. Global average precipitation was the second highest since 1901 and flooding was reported as the most frequent extreme event, it said.

“This 2011 annual assessment confirms the findings of the previous WMO annual statements that climate change is happening now and is not some distant future threat. The world is warming because of human activities and this is resulting in far-reaching and potentially irreversible impacts on our Earth, atmosphere and oceans,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud. “The world is warming because of human activities and this is resulting in far-reaching and potentially irreversible impacts on our Earth, atmosphere and oceans,” he added.

– More…

– Research thanks to Kathy G.