Friday, October 26, 2007

Who lives longer and why?

Discussion Topic Number 2: Article in the Economist claims that females live longer than males because males use up all their energy attracting, competing for, and hanging onto their women. That's the way it is in the animal kingdom, the article suggests, so that's gotta be the reason for the same in the human race. My response to a friend who sent me the article follows. Anyone else have anything to add?

So, the point is that women live longer than men because men use up all their energy chasing, and keeping, their women?!?
Apparently that's what we have learned by studying the animal kingdom, although for this specific subject animals represent an imperfect test group. Thus, the leaders of the study discussed in the economist feel that to prove the hypothesis they need to take those lessons learned from the animal kingdom and apply them to a test group that generally dies of old age, namely us. If humans show a trend whereby women outlive men, then it is somehow inverse proof that this is a relic of our animal ancestry.
To prove their hypothesis scientifically, the next step should be to look at specific subsets of our human test group. We should compare generations of men who have married early and lived family life without much challenge (with respect to "defending" their women) from society, to generations of men who remained single longer, competed for a fair number of partners and so on. If there is a definitive age discrepancy between these subsets, then we may have something to help support their hypothesis.
Still, my guess is that in both groups men would still die younger, and at about the same average age. Why? Well if it's strictly a matter of we humans being animals, as put forward by the study, then it's simply "built in" and has nothing to do with our day to day lives as human beings.
I think that's bollocks. In my opinion there are two major factors as to why women outlive men:
1) physiology - Women's bodies are built to last longer than men's. Call it the child rearing factor.
2) life style - Men are dumb testosterone filled pigs. Many more of us are killed off in our teens trying to ride our bikes or cars over canyons. How many Darwin awards have you read that were about women? If we live through our teens, men tend to drink, eat poorly and generally take part in unhealthy activities to a much higher degree than our female counterparts, and we do it for many, many years. Just compare how long men spend on the toilet on a Sunday morning compared to women (and the lingering odors that follow) and you'll "catch my drift". Add up all that abuse on the male body and later in life it spells heart attack, stroke or whatever other ailment that finally does him in.
If there is any difference between the two male groups discussed earlier, it is probably that the longer one remains single, the more opportunity he has to do irreparable harm to his body, and perhaps that could lead to a slightly lower life expectancy. Now that's worth studying, although I suspect slinking out to the shed to avoid yet another badgering barrage from the spouse probably leads to some harmful habits as well, which would tend to even things out.
Either way, when it comes to the life expectancy competition, men don't stand a chance. Whether or not males in the animal kingdom exhibit the same pattern, perhaps due to competition for mates, really has no bearing. However, if we change the rules a little in our human test group, and call it a FUN competition, we men may actually come out ahead...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Where Will The Water Come From?

Hi all!
I've been having some interesting email discussions with friends over the last few days, and figured I'd share them with the Digglings in hopes of starting some virtual conversations.

The first topic results from the "state of emergency" declared by Georgia's governor with respect to water supply issues. I hold this topic close to my heart as it is a large part of what I have done in my career over the years.
So here goes, discussion topic number 1:

The US is literally f*cked when it comes to water supply issues.

The SW has been in trouble for years (too many people living in the desert for crying out loud!!!), Florida's problems have been well documented (as the Everglades rapidly dry up and what used to be Lake Okeechobee is presently on fire), and now places where water seemed plentiful are being affected, like Georgia. It should really come as no surprise because part of Florida's woes result from increased usage by those ahead of them, namely Georgia! The problem is simply moving upstream.

Now, I apologize for going all Naomi Klein on you here, but it is very much related to the "disaster politics" she refers to in her Harper's article last month. She describes the dismantling of public agencies and utilities that are in charge of basic infrastructure, things like highways, bridges and levees, and how private companies are now profiting from the resulting catastrophes. Consider the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - the US contracted out even the most basic aspects of emergency recovery in New Orleans (they actually contracted the very contracting!) because the Federal Agencies are no longer equipped to do so.

Now some may suggest this is a good thing (profit and all that, I get it), however the well being of our precious natural resources, the ones that humankind relies upon for our survival, can not be left up to private enterprise. Corporate mandates do not include exemptions for the folks downstream. They don't involve putting a little something aside for a rainy day, or in this case for a day when the rains don't come.

The purpose of Federal and State water agencies is to oversee the use of water, and protect the resource. Unfortunately, they no longer have the money (which inevitably restricts their power) to do the job. The result is we see PGA golf courses being built in areas suffering from ten year droughts, and huge housing developments in similarly sensitive locations. Do this enough times and the result is the governor declaring a national water emergency for a state once famous for it's heavy rains.

Go figure.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


It's been a while since the Digglings had a political post, but for those of you who thrive on that sort of thing, the wait is over.

What follows is a short thread of correspondence resulting from a friend sending me one of those "In memory of all those slain in the twin towers on 9/11, pass this on to everyone you know, but if you don't care and don't stand for freedom, go ahead and delete it" emails. She sent the email asking "What do you think?" I responded to her, then got another friend to comment as well.
The exchanges are as follows. You'll note that my other friend is obviously much more level headed than me.

But first, the original message:

Thought you might be interested in this forgotten bit of information..........

It was 1987! At a lecture the other day they were playing an old news video of Lt.Col. Oliver North testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings during the Reagan Administration. There was Ollie in front of God and country getting the third degree, but what he said was stunning! He was being drilled by a senator; "Did you not recently spend close to $60,000 for a home security system?" Ollie replied, "Yes, I did, Sir." The senator continued, trying to get a laugh out of the audience, "Isn't that just a little excessive?" "No, sir," continued Ollie. "No? And why not?" the senator asked. "Because the lives of my family and I were threatened, sir." "Threatened? By whom?" the senator questioned. "By a terrorist, sir" Ollie answered. "Terrorist? What terrorist could possibly scare you that much?"
"His name is Osama bin Laden, sir" Ollie replied.
At this point the senator tried to repeat the name, but couldn't pronounce it, which most people back then probably couldn't. A couple of people laughed at the attempt. Then the senator continued. Why are you so afraid of this man?" the senator asked. "Because, sir, he is the most evil person alive that I know of", Ollie answered.
"And what do you recommend we do about him?" asked the senator. "Well, sir, if it was up to me, I would recommend that an assassin team be formed to eliminate him and his men from the face of the earth." The senator disagreed with this approach, and that was all that was shown of the clip.

By the way, that senator was Al Gore!

Also: Terrorist pilot Mohammed Atta blew up a bus in Israel in 1986. The Israelis captured, tried and imprisoned him. As part of the Oslo agreement with the Palestinians in 1993, Israel had to agree to release so-called "political prisoners." However, the Israelis would not release any with blood on their hands. The American President at the time, Bill Clinton, and his Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, "insisted" that all prisoners be released. Thus Mohammed Atta was freed and eventually thanked the US by flying an airplane into Tower One of the World Trade Center. This was reported by many of the American TV networks at the time that the terrorists were first identified. It was censored in the US from all later reports.

If you agree that the American public should be made aware of this fact, pass this on.

Subject: 9/11 Do Not Break - it is 3 years strong
This has not been broken since 9/11/01, please keep it going...This has been kept alive and moving since 9/11. In memory of all those who perished this morning; the passengers and the pilots on the United Air and AA flights, the workers in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and all the innocent bystanders. Our prayers go out to the friends and families of the deceased.
Send this to at least 10 people to show your support.

OK! OK! I get it. Pass it on already.

Oops. Sorry. Didn't mean to be so opinionated in my introduction. Still, couldn't help it.
Regardless, here's my response to my friend's question asking "What do you think?":

What do I think of that?

Well, here goes:

I think that the Republicans should get it through their heads that 9/11 is over. Americans, and the rest of the world with them, will never forget the terrible events of that day. However, American political policies need to be based on something other than fear related to the twin towers.

I think that finding a way to somehow blame 9/11 on the Democrats is idiotic. Bill Clinton's sternest warning to George W when handing over the White House was to be wary of Osama Bin Laden. George went on record saying he was more concerned with Iraq.

I think the debacle of Iraq, and the blood of each dead or maimed soldier, should be slung like a noose around every Republican's neck. Marching into Afghanistan to depose a Taliban regime that was harboring Bin Laden and was in support of the 9/11 attacks? Yes, and that's why the international community supported those efforts. But, to deflect money, resources and lives into a misguided grab for oil in Iraq? That's abhorrent, and those behind it should be held accountable. Instead, they are all making big bucks off their stocks and royalties as the war machine profits the likes of Halliburton and Lockheed Martin. (Dick Cheney really is the Anti-Christ)

I think any senator who goes on record suggesting that we send an assassination team after a suspected terrorist is nuts. That's against international law, and can be prosecuted as such. Al Gore is no idiot. Poor little Ollie North IS AN IDIOT! Watch the entire hearings and tell me that he was intelligent or trustworthy. True, he was the fall guy for those who told him what to do, and that is unfortunate. But he's no saint or martyr, either.

I think the Israelis have an effective way of sneaking into "enemy" territory and killing individuals as they see fit. Perhaps that would have been an equally effective means of eliminating Bin Laden, but I doubt if that would have prevented 9/11. Besides, somehow justifying the bloodshed done in the name of Israeli "self defense" in order to defend current US efforts in the Middle East is naive and misguided.

And finally, I think that email propaganda such as this, much like the supposed boat brigade email claiming that John Kerry was practically a terrorist himself, is propagating hate and misconceptions to the minds of the gullible and moronic. Unfortunately, just such a message, one that continues to promote the concept of fear to the American people, can be surprisingly effective.

So, as you can see, I really don't have much of an opinion...

And finally, the much more appropriate and human response of a very good friend from the States:

I read the Osama bin Laden related message and reply. What a wonderful world this would be if there were only a handful of “bad guys” (as Republicans call them) and their motives and guilt were obvious and beyond question. But, of course, it is a dangerous oversimplification to think that, Wow, if somebody had followed Ollie’s advice then the world today would be shining and safe. BS. Oliver North was a criminal and an idiot. Should he have been “rubbed out” by people opposing his views? No.

My stand is that there are bad people in this world, evil ideas, dangerous cults, and destructive philosophies. There are also good people, positive ideas, productive groups, and constructive philosophies. There is also the gray area in between, where we have all ventured and where we continue to stumble into every now and again no matter how much we don’t want to. Assassination squads are evil, no matter who they target. Torture is evil, for whatever purpose. Killing and destruction in the name of promoting peace or in God’s name does not ring true. Yes, I believe in self defense and in people defending their values, but I also believe that people should lead by example and take care of each other. Take the high road, or at least strive to do so. Terrible situations and destructive people are always around us. They always will be. Sometimes they are us. Strive to be on the side that promotes kindness, not pain. But, be prepared to endure pain. It is part of life. That is my stand.