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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Water Water Everywhere?

A few months ago, Mike Cox, the attorney general for Michigan filed a federal lawsuit to stop the flow of water from Mississippi river tributaries into Lake Michigan. The claim is that Asian carp are migrating through these channels into the Lake. Further, once there, their affect on the Lake’s ecosystem will be devastating. Nonsense! Asian carp are filter feeders, which means they eat algae that is floating in the water. Another invasive species is the zebra mussel. They have already finished off most of the algae floating in the waters of Lake Michigan. Therefore, the large Asian carp are going to find it difficult to survive in large numbers.

It is likely that Mike Cox and other members of the Michigan’s government know this, yet they persist in their lawsuit. Why? Because this isn’t about fish, it’s about water. Great Lakes states want to control the water flowing into and out of Lakes. They know just how valuable the largest fresh water supply in the world will be in the coming years. As global climate change takes its toll on the planet, rainfall patterns will continue to shift. It is likely that some major population centers will suffer massive droughts. In order to survive, people will either need to leave (an economically devastating prospect) or purchase large amounts of water from elsewhere. Hmmm…now where might there be large amounts of “extra” water? Oh, I remember – the Great Lakes!

Welcome to world war four – the war over water. Everyone knows that large scale diversions of water from the Great Lakes will be devastating to an already suffering ecosystem, but standing on the shores of any of the lakes and looking across at a watery horizon makes it difficult to imagine that we don’t have some water to spare. If Michigan was still having an economic tough time, selling some high-priced water might be just the trick (hey, we bought Canadian garbage – don’t rule anything out).

The problem is, Great Lakes water doesn’t belong to Michigan. It belongs to Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Ontario as well. In case you hadn’t noticed, that last one makes this an international concern, which means the U.S. federal government might have something to say about it. Hell, there’s no way the federal government will stay out of this one anyway.

These early skirmishes over “fish” are just a test of power. Can individual states control access? Will the federal government step in? Can Great Lake states/provinces cooperate with each other? This may seem like minor stuff while we’re still fighting world war three (the war on terror), but make no mistake, this is the birth of world war four – maybe it won’t turn violent, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll

We come to the final blog of this great triumvirate. All this thanks to our friends the bonobos. I’m quite sure that if we could get bonobos to blow a dube after sex, they would appreciate some good rock ‘n roll while doing it. Who wouldn’t? As the baby boomers become the old folks, not many.

I remember when I was a kid, most of my friends’ parents listened to Elvis or Frank Sinatra or some other old crap that we thought was lame. I used wonder what our kids would listen to. We all thought that rock ‘n roll was as good as it could get. Bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and AC/DC were so good in their way, we couldn’t imagine any kid not liking it.

Turns out, we were right! Rock ‘n Roll has never died. Our kids (and their kids) do like it. Oh sure, there have been other genres – hip hop, rap, and electronic that are different enough that some old folks won’t like it (I’m not one of them). But, along with thousands of new artists producing new rock music, some of the old guys still crank it out. Why just the other day, there were the remains of the Who playing at the Super Bowl. They didn’t smash their instruments or anything cool, but it was nice to see Townsend and Daltrey still standing.

A few months ago, I saw a kid wearing what looked like an old Aerosmith tour t-shirt. I asked her if that was original. She looked at me and smiled and said “no.” I thought to myself, “sonofabitch, they’re still making old rock ‘n roll clothes.” I think bands like Rage Against the Machine, Muse and Tool breathe new life into the old girl, but Huey Lewis was wrong, the old girl is NOT barely breathin; she’s running hard. Long live rock – be dead or alive!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Legalize It

My friend Kase really liked my last blog about bonobos. It was largely about sex. Bonobos like sex – lots of sex. It seems like that blog belongs at the beginning of a three part series. This, the second part, is about drugs. You can guess what the next one will be about.

My recreational drug of choice is marijuana. I don't do it that often and never within 24 hours of working, which is more than I can say for my alcohol drinking friends.  Sadly, our “free” country has preselected alcohol as the State sanctioned drug. Ever since it was made illegal, “our” government has been discrediting marijuana as a dangerous narcotic. Meanwhile, back in alcohol-land, thousands of people die every year from alcohol related problems. Can you drink yourself to death? Yes. Can you smoke enough pot to kill yourself? No. Hmmm…very confusing.

Finally, after years of study and testing, the medicinal value of marijuana has become so conclusive that 35 states have medical use laws on the books. In my life, I have met people rich and poor, young and old who use marijuana on a regular basis. Lawyers, police officers, doctors, athletes, stock brokers, business consultants, engineers, computer programmers – apparently, there are no socioeconomic class distinctions among pot smokers.

Here we are with budget problems and there’s an estimated $35 billion industry going untaxed. I’d guess that the politicians are the only ones not smoking weed, but I know that’s not true – they’re smoking it, too. And, most of them inhale.

Lots of people blog about the stupidity of not legalizing marijuana. They talk about how cowardly our politicians are behaving. We, the people, need to have courage, too. In California, there is a petition with 700,000 signatures on it; enough to put full legalization on the ballot. That’s courage. The days of marijuana prohibition are numbered.

Now, if we could just get bonobos smoking marijuana…

Friday, February 05, 2010

Moral Decay

When you put enough rats in a confined space, they turn violent.This is also true of chimps and gorillas. Turns out, people suffer the same reaction. As a matter of fact, the only species of primate that doesn’t is the bonobo.
They are dominated by females and are obsessed with sex. Females have multiple partners, both male and female. If the males get out of hand, the females withhold sex, which causes the unruly behavior to last about 45 seconds.  Maybe we had it right in the 1960’s – make love, not war!

All war is ultimately about sex anyway.  If we modeled our society after the bonobos, we wouldn’t need war.  Okay, that sounds like a leap, but I can explain.  Pick a war, any war.  What do they all have in common?  Answer – men.  Men start wars.  Men think about sex all the time.  Some say that they don’t – they are liars.  No man has ever started a war while having sex.  It’s just not possible.  So, if women could keep men having sex all the time, they wouldn’t have time to start wars.

This would also help the obesity problem.  Sex is great exercise.  And, the drug problem – okay, maybe not that one, but Brian Ferry (Roxy Music) once pointed out that “love is the drug that I’m thinking of…”  Finally, frequent sex would eliminate the need for organized religion, the greatest cause of wars throughout history.  Why, you ask?  Because, people think about god more when they are having sex.  I’m sure if you haven’t found yourself saying “oh god, oh god, oh god” during sex, you’ve heard your partner saying it (if not, you need more practice).

Humans think we’ve got it all figured out.  We think because we make such great tools, we’re better than all the other animals.  I’d rather be a bonobo.
(photo courtesy of the Bonobo Society)