Your Food Is Poisoning You

From Outside Online:

Introduced by Monsanto in the early 1970s under the trade name Roundup (and used primarily back then as a weed killer), glyphosate is now used throughout the world on wheat and soy crops and since 2007 it has been the most widely used herbicide in the U.S.—and the growing target of research linking it to a variety of illnesses.

There haven’t been many studies on the long-term effects of ingesting glyphosate and other pesticides or bio-chemicals used within agricultural production. It’s almost impossible to get scientists to conduct this research because they receive funding from companies that produce these chemicals.

“Some of our scientists are the ones who are the most difficult—and the biggest impediment to better research—because they’re funding is dependent on the very same agrichemical companies like Monsanto that are producing Roundup,” says Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University (who for years consulted with Monsanto scientists). “They’re not about to go in a different direction from the people who’ve been funding them.”

But that doesn’t mean these chemicals are any less dangerous. Scientists, while reluctant to conduct studies, basically agree that these chemicals, like Roundup, are incredibly dangerous.

“There is indeed an enormous amount of published data showing that Roundup is very nasty stuff, particularly at the levels currently being used (ten times more than before genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops) and the extent of human exposure in food—a greatly allowed increase by the EPA to reflect increased use.”

The Importance of Kindness

The commencement address is becoming its own genre. Most commencement speeches are nothing special, but some stand out more than others. “The Importance of Kindness” was adapted from one of the more memorable commencement speeches; George Saunder’s 2013 commencement address at Syracuse University, “Becoming Kinder.”

If your commencement address sucked this year, apparently Chuck Schumer is famous for giving the same commencement speech every year, take a look at some of the better ones here.

Life Is Impermanent

The world constantly offers up reminders of our impermanence. Everything, including people, change. The seasons roll into one another. Spring brings us life, summer brings us revitilization, fall brings us a slow decay, winter brings death. Nothing is ever the same because we are always in a process of transition. Families grow and shrink.

Our bodies remind us that we’re not mortal. I wake up daily with a back ache or a pinched nerve. My asthma reminds me that I probably won’t complete a marathon anytime soon. My bladder reminds me in the middle of the night that I am not a child and can no longer sleep through a whole night without dispensing what I put into it before bed.

Two years ago I met my partner. We’re about to start on an epic journey of life together. Our two distinct lives will converge to follow the same path and our journey through life will continue together.

This weekend my grandfather died.

Families contract and expand. Always transitioning.

We are part of something bigger than ourselves, a chain of events that began before us and will not end with our death. It will continue on without us. This tapestry of being has no end, even if our own lives begin and end in the middle of it. Our actions, and their effects, will reverberate throughout time and history. We are all star dust, our children will be star dust, our children’s children will be star dust. Each of us is part of the universe and the universe is part of us.

This fact, this reminder, that we are all subject to a beginning and an end should help guide our actions. We all need reminders that we should focus on using our life and time, our impermanence, wisely. Our time is limited. The choices and actions we make and do have repercussions not only within our own lives but in the lives of others and, beyond that, the tapestry that we are all a part of.

Longreads: March 7th

Here are a few of the most interesting longreads I’ve read this week. If you feel like consuming even more longreads, check out TheLongRead, a subbreddit dedicated to sharing interesting longreads on the Internet.

Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia: The Sochi Olympics have been over for awhile now but leading up to the Games were a number of news stories about what would happen to LGBT athletes. Russia’s new anti-LGBT law that bans “homosexualism” and gay propaganda because they don’t want their children to have to see love between two people of the same sex. But no one is talking about the anti-LGBT law anymore. All eyes are on Crimea. Meanwhile, other countries have passed, or are considering the passage of, anti-LGBT laws. Even states in the US are trying to push through laws that would allow discrimination of the LGBT community.  – http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/201402/being-gay-in-russia

The Man Who Built Catan: I’ve been trying to find local people to play Catan with but apparently everyone else in town isn’t as nerdy as I am. Maybe a small profile of the creator will get you all interested? – http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2014/02/klaus-teuber-the-settlers-of-catan.html

Ghosts of the Tsunami: The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and the resulting tsunami in Japan sent a shock (pun?) throughout the world. Many of us watched in horror as entire towns were obliterated. Almost three years later, the tsunami revisited. – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n03/richard-lloydparry/ghosts-of-the-tsunami

Grief Has No Deadline: After two decades reporting on crime for the Los Angeles Times, a reporter experiences grief much closer to home. – http://narrative.ly/unsolved-mysteries/grief-has-no-deadline/

The Real Poverty Trap

So the whole poverty trap line is a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy; the alleged facts about incentive effects are mostly wrong, and in any case the entire premise that work effort = social mobility is wrong.

Paul Krugman on Paul Ryan’s poverty report.

Tyler Cowen also has some thoughts on the poverty report:

Overall this needed to be a lot better than it was. The document has almost no vision, only a marginal command of the scholarly literature, and it is a good example of how the conservative movement is still allowing the poverty issue to defeat it and tie it up in knots.