Monsanto going down?

Several times in the past I’ve written about the benefits of non-GMO foods, and effects of heavy pesticide use on the environment, and other things on that line. Of course, Monsanto and it’s army of lawyers have maintained all along that there was no PROOF that any of this is true – all while using PR campaigns to make claims that Monsanto is “feeding the world.”

On Wednesday, 3/15/2017, all of that changed. The New York Times has published an article that literally rakes Monsanto over the coals. Rather than telling you about it, I’ll just share part of the text, as quoted in an email I got from the Organic Consumers Association:

Today, the New York Times reported new explosive evidence showing how Monsanto gets away with selling dangerous pesticides and GMOs into our food supply.

As horrifying as this news is, even for those of us who aren’t surprised, it gives consumers a little more leverage—and we intend to use it.

According to the NYT, while farmers and children exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide were dying from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a high-level EPA official was colluding with Monsanto behind the scenes to hide the truth.

And he actually bragged about it.

Newly unsealed court documents reveal that former EPA official Jess Rowland let Monsanto ghostwriters write the toxicology reports that would form the basis for a government investigation into whether or not Roundup causes cancer.

“If I can kill this I should get a medal,” Rowland reportedly told a Monsanto executive, who shared the comment in an email.

Wow.

The only way we will stop Monsanto, and other corporations, from this kind of ruthless disregard for public health is to keep the pressure on—through boycotts, through relentless demands for accountability, and through the courts.

We may have lost the battle to label GMOs. But make no mistake—the years of educating consumers about the risks of GMO foods, and the poisons used to grow them, are paying off.

• Monsanto is facing more than 20 lawsuits from victims who say they, or a family member, have non-Hodgkins lymphoma because of exposure to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup. Lawyers for the victims say Monsanto knew all along that its flagship herbicide causes cancer.

• Just this week, a California judge ruled that the state can require Monsanto to label Roundup sold in retail stores as a “possible carcinogen.”

• On April 18, judges who presided over the International Monsanto Tribunal will assemble in The Hague, Netherlands. They will tell the world what they found, after six months of poring over testimony delivered by more than 30 witnesses, including victims of Monsanto’s poisons, scientists, doctors and lawyers. The testimony was delivered during a 2-day citizens’ tribunal, held in October, in The Hague.

• OCA, along with another organization, will soon file our own lawsuit against Monsanto—details to be made public soon.

Be aware, though. This turn of events isn’t the end of the story. For the last few years, Monsanto has been actively courting mergers with European corporations that it could hide behind, using a new name to continue playing dirty politics while getting entry to European markets that have outright BANS on Monsanto’s products.

Advertisements

More House Maintenance…

Well, we knew it was coming.

Nearly 7 years ago when we bought this house, we were told that the HVAC and water heater were both old. An average water heater has a life-span of 10 years, and the one in the house was already 18. I’m not sure what a normal life-span for an HVAC system is, but I’m pretty sure 45 is pushing it. This one was installed in 1973.

Anyhow, in the last 18 months we’ve had 4 service calls on the heater, so we knew it was about to go. Day before yesterday, we had to have another visit, and after spending 2 hours cleaning burners and electronic ignition switches, he stated that he’d done all he could and it was still uncertain. So, I asked him to have someone from his company come by to give us an estimate on a complete system. That night, the heat failed to light yet again.

The fellow who came to do the estimate was quite impressed that this old thing lasted so long, and said we’d definitely see some energy savings from getting the units replaced before summer arrived. As an added bonus, there will be an actual place to put the filters, so they won’t rub up against the blower motor anymore. It will be easily changed, too. After measuring this, that, and a few other things, he tallied the bill to – – – – $4600, installed.

So, my wife and I spent some time last night looking at how to juggle some plans and savings arrangements, and figured that it is doable. Certainly not the way we wanted to do it, but we can do it. Oh, and we got the bill in the mail for the water heater installation, too. It was just under $700.

So, a quick recap of the last 6 months of home maintenance:
$3500 Fireplace insert
700 Water Heater
150 Security light
4600 HVAC system

I certainly hope that’s enough for a while.

Shutting down . . .

Well, having accomplished what I set out to do with this blog, I think it is time to shut it down.

The reason I’m doing this now it simple:  I had 90 days to renew my domain registration when they informed me that WordPress has decided to force a 2-stage authentication process that requires a form of verification that I literally can’t provide – a cell phone number.  Since I do not have a cell phone, and wouldn’t tie it to my blog even if I did, it is time to quit WordPress.  Besides, I’ve done what I set out to do with  this blog, by laying personal claim to ideas that were hugely influential in the outcome of the 2016 election for the USA.  Everything else was gravy.

So, I’m transferring all of my files and blog posts to my original blog at:  http://mr-spock.livejournal.com/ and asking that if you want to continue to follow my journey of self discovery, you’ll bookmark that page or subscribe to it.  I’ve been blogging on that page since 2004.

Thank you, one and all, for making this page feel like a resounding success.

House maintenance update . . .

There are a few people reading this who probably remember earlier blogs where I described the house we live in and what challenges we deal with in trying to “go green” with it.  However, since I get about a new subscriber every week, I’ll do a brief recap.

First, our house was built in 1930.  It is solid brick – by which I mean that the exterior is brick, the interior is brick, and the only wood is the floor, roof, and interior paneling.  There is no insulation or dry wall.  The electrical outlets are almost entirely built into the floor, like they were an added afterthought – quite likely since indoor electricity and plumbing weren’t particularly common in 1930.  The house inspection listed our water heater as “approximately 18 years old” – and the HVAC system was installed in 1973.

So, one of our focus points on investing in our house has been looking for ways to improve the energy efficiency.  We’ve replaced about half of the windows with energy-efficient double-pane vinyl windows – with good results.  Every window we replace shows an almost immediate reduction in our utility fuel use.  We have also planted nearly a dozen trees around the east and south borders of our home, to eventually provide shade in the summer.

But, one of the things we’ve been keeping an eye on was that hot water heater.  Knowing that the average water heater lasts around 10 years, ours was nearly 2x expectancy when we bought the house.  So, we started a special savings account just for putting aside money against the day it would fail.  That day arrived – today.  I first suspected a problem when I went to make coffee at 0300 (3AM for those who don’t work with international time) and it seemed to take a very long time for the water to warm up at the kitchen sink.  Later, when my wife got up and started getting ready for work, she couldn’t get any hot water for her shower.  She tried 3 different water faucets with no hot water, and pronounced a state of emergency.  So, I called our plumber at 0800.  After I described the situation, he said that it did indeed sound like the unit had finally failed, and told me that he’d stop at the store on the way over to get a new one.  He’d be here within an hour.

He left here, job completed and all trash cleaned up, at 1030.  He didn’t even give me a bill – saying, “We’ll mail it to you.”

Then, completing the cycle of spending this year’s income tax refunds, we had our electrician come over to give us an estimate on upgrading our outside security light.  The one we currently have uses mercury-vapor bulbs, which (besides being an incredibly BAD idea for the environment) drink electricity like a drunk goes through beer.  We’re going to have him replace the fixture the mercury-vapor bulbs go in with one that uses standard light bulbs – which would be an energy savings in itself.  But we’re not going to use standard bulbs, which would still use about 200 watts.  We’re going to put in an LED bulb, which will use about 40 watts for the same amount of light we get right now.  He thinks he can get this job done within the next week.  His fee?  $35 plus parts.

Fine Tuning . . .

First off – let me state with no reservations that the paleo diet has helped me fantastically.  It managed to accomplish what no other diet I’ve tried over the last 20 years did – I lost weight and kept it off.

I recently had to go to a chiropractor, because I got a little too ambitious with a deceptively effective easy exercise – the Hindu Squat (to see an example of how to do one http://www.cbass.com/Furey.htm  ) and over the next day my lower back and hip muscles practically locked up. When I was at the chiropractor (who I’ve been seeing off-and-on since 2006) his jaw dropped and he congratulated me on how much different I looked.  He totally understood that the paleo diet has been helping, and he said my other exercises were putting the muscle in the right places.

So, I’m pretty much on track to taking back my life – with one exception.  The migraines and arthritis still get in the way of much that we’d call normal living.  However, my wife and I have already established that a healthy diet can do fantastic things for our bodies – she confronted and BEAT endometriosis using nutrition and chiropractic – so we decided to see if it would work for migraines and arthritis, too.

Turns out – going paleo for weight loss was a huge step in the right direction for that, as well.  My wife recently found Dr. Peter Osborne’s new book “No Grain, No Pain” (ISBN: 978-1-5011-2168-5 or ebook ISBN: 978-1-5011-2170-8) – and one of the big bombshells we got right away is that migraines AND arthritis can be caused by the EXACT same thing – a gut made unhealthy by the use of NSAID pain killers.  Which I used very heavily in the first 15 years after the surgery on my bone tumor – back when I didn’t know any better.

The good news is that the book also said that the unhealthy gut is reverseable, with the right diet controls.  First on the list was getting rid of all grains – which is a lot harder than it sounds.  Grains are EVERYWHERE these days – thickening agents in canned soups is just one example where you wouldn’t think to look. Another is instant coffee – all of them. If your meats are raised on grains, you’re still getting grain in your diet even if you try to avoid it.  HFCS is also a trigger – and has the additional warning that it is one of the vehicles by which you’re putting poisonous MERCURY into your system.

Oh, I got a bit off track.  Anyhow, the book has 3 sections – part one covers the science behind the program, part 2 tells you what you’ll be doing, and part 3 has a diet and menu plan to put you on the track to hopefully the best health you’ve ever had.  We aren’t quite at the level of starting the 15 day challenge yet, but we’re taking steps in that direction.  Finding a reliable source of grain-free meats is tough – at least around here.

Continued home improvements . . .

I realize that sleep deprivation and nearly endless pain have made my usually sharp memory a bit more dull, but I seem to remember writing a while back about trying to get our fireplace fixed so we can use it for winter heat.

Well, I FINALLY got an explicit explanation of what made the fireplace “unsafe to use” – it seems some of the bricks in the enclosure are cracked, and the mortar is crumbling, in addition to the chimney liner being cracked.   There is no easy repair.  To make the fireplace able to burn wood again, we’d have to get a mason to tear out the fireplace and rebuild it.

Well, we looked around at other options, and selected a fireplace insert that runs on the same gas that already came into our home for the hot water heater and the furnace.  Except that, being brand new (as opposed to being installed in 1973) it will be FAR more energy efficient.  It cost us about $300 (I think) for the gas line to be run to the fireplace, and the insert itself cost us $3500.

As of Wednesday morning, it is installed and fully operational.

On other updates: I continue to be amazed at how the Dawn Redwood tree I planted in our yard is doing.  Less than two years ago, it was only 2″ tall when I planted it.  It is now over 3 feet tall, and the bottom branches have a diameter nearly equal the height.  It is looking GOOD.  Also, because of all the rain we’ve had this year, the trees the city planted along the new sidewalk grew so tall and so fast that I had to cut some off the tops to keep them from getting top-heavy.  Both are already starting to provide some (albeit small amounts at this stage) shade to the sidewalk, exactly as planned.

Step by step . . .

Slowly, but surely, our move towards a greener lifestyle continues.

One of the things that we’ve been looking at is that our HVAC system has been in this house since the early 1970’s.  There is no doubt that it will someday need replaced, but in the mean time it is not the most energy efficient.  So, I had the brain storm that if we could come up with a more energy efficient way to heat the house in the winter (i.e. using the fireplace) we might save enough money over time to pay for the update.

Well, it turns out that the reason our fireplace isn’t safe to use is that the liner in the chimney is cracked – and there is NOBODY in this area who replaces cracked liners.  I’ve even used email to contact people in KC, Tulsa, and St. Louis – they won’t even consider traveling so far for the job. So, we started looking at other options.  Or, we thought it would be plural.  Turns out, there was only one option – get a gas-burning fireplace insert.

Of course, that isn’t as easy as just snapping your fingers.  A gas-burning fireplace insert actually needs a gas line to provide the fuel, plus it needs a plug-in to power the regulator.  So, we called our favorite plumber, and asked him if we could get a gas line to the fireplace.  Naturally, he needed to know where it should go, and the salesman who talked to us about the insert didn’t tell us where to put the line.  So, after a few delays over the telephone (the salesman took vacation while I was waiting for the plumber’s estimate) I got an answer on the location.  We got lucky – the best place for the line to enter the fireplace was also the easiest place for the plumber to put it.

So, now the gas line is in place.  The plumber even filled the hole around the pipe with a cement compound that was color matched to the brick, and painted the pipe to match.  We’re very happy with the results.  The next step is the insert itself – at a minimum cost of $3k – but I think we would actually want the $3.5k version.  We’re going to be living with this for a LONG time, if fate is kind.

The future of portable energy?

The following link is to a BBC News Online article about how certain microbes can consume almost anything, and their “waste” output is electricity.  Of course, if there will ever be a battery made using this technology, it is not going to happen within the next 5 years.  Still, it’s something to think about.

 

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160613-there-are-microbes-that-eat-and-poo-nothing-but-electricity

13 year old inventor proves free energy . . .

A 13 year old inventor in Nevada has demonstrated on local TV an invention of his, inspired by the genius of Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein, which produces DC electric current literally out of thin air. Oh, and the parts to make it only cost him $15 USD.

13-Year-Old Invents Tesla Inspired Free Energy Device for Under $15