The competition is fierce. Vying for the title: Overzealous state legislators pushing bans on common food ingredients; health officials prohibiting full-grown adults from eating dessert; prominent food activists caught in acts of rank hypocrisy; and animal-rights fanatics using the force of law to make food companies conform to their radical anti-meat dogmas… Adria Hinkle and Andrew Cook, “Dumped Dogs Tell No Tales” Award — People for the “Ethical” Treatment of Animals (PETA) employees Hinkle and Cook admitted in court to picking up healthy dogs and cats from North Carolina-area shelters, killing the animals in the back of their PETA-owned van, and tossing the bodies into nearby dumpsters.
This one takes the cake too – literally:
Putnam County Office for the Aging, “86-ing Octogenarians’ Food Choices” Award — Health officials in this small New York county tried to take donuts from the elderly. To protest the ban on donated baked goods at local retirement centers, senior citizens wore signs to remind officials that they’re “86, not 8.”
Bet ya a buck all these self-appointed society nannies are "pro-choice" too.
I’ve seen this commercial a number of times this holiday season and it bothers me more and more every time:
But what precisely is wrong with this ad, and the spirit that animates it?
Rev. Billy might say that the problem lies with the gifts themselves. While he might be satisfied if the gifts came from places such as “the shelves of mom and pop stores, farmers markets, artisans and on Craigslist,” he certainly wouldn’t approve of gifts from a “big box” store like Best Buy.
But I don’t think the problem is with the gifts per se. I think it’s with the “givers.”
Speaking of material goods, Augustine writes, “Sin gains entrance through these and similar good things when we turn to them with immoderate desire, since they are the lowest kind of goods and we thereby turn away from the better and higher: from you yourself, O Lord our God, and your truth and your law.” Material goods, just like any other created reality, can be an occasion for sin and idolatry.
So if that is the problem, with our immoderate desires, what is the solution? Reordered desires. Rightly valuing material goods and gifts as penultimate and limited created goods.
What might change in this commercial if we applied these solutions? How would the commercial look different? Rev. Billy might have the family give handmade gifts or secondhand items, or perhaps forego material gifts altogether and take a family walk. These things all have their own value.
But there are good things at Best Buy and other stores, too. That’s what makes it so important to be discerning about how we use good gifts, and that’s what makes Rev. Billy’s message so problematic.
An Augustinian solution to the problem in that Best Buy ad would be something more like this: the family would bring some gifts to Grandma to share with her, and the family would all spend time together enjoying each others’ company and the material goods associated with the holiday. The focus wouldn’t be exclusively on the gifts themselves (as it is in the commercial’s current form), but neither would such a view denigrate the objective, albeit limited, good of material gift-giving.
Rev. Billy: “We’re supporters of Jesus.”
What’s wrong with Christmas consumerism? It isn’t the fact of consumption itself. It’s in the disordered and immoderate desires for earthly goods when compared with the truly and ultimately important spiritual goods.
So while the Best Buy ad runs afoul of virtue by over-emphasizing material goods, Rev. Billy goes to the opposite extreme by not valuing them enough. As Augustine also wrote, “He who uses temporal goods ill, however, shall lose them, and shall not receive eternal goods either.” This would include not appreciating the material benefits God bestows on us.
Here at Global Warming Consensus Watch World Headquarters we’re bold. We push the limits. We tackle subjects that other bloggers just don’t have the guts to tackle (I’m looking at you, Ballor). And if that means we need to do a post on kangaroo flatulance, then that’s what we do.
But what, you may be asking, does the gassy emission of the herbivorous marsupial of the family Macropodidae, of Australia and adjacent islands, have to do with climate change? We’re glad you asked! It seems that our bouncy buddies from the land down under may play a central role in opening up a whole new class of offsets:
AUSTRALIAN scientists are trying to give kangaroo-style stomachs to cattle and sheep in a bid to cut the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, researchers say.
Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.
While the usual image of greenhouse gas pollution is a billowing smokestack pushing out carbon dioxide, livestock passing wind contribute a surprisingly high percentage of total emissions in some countries.
“Fourteen per cent of emissions from all sources in Australia is from enteric methane from cattle and sheep,” said Athol Klieve, a senior research scientist with the Queensland Government.
“And if you look at another country such as New Zealand, which has got a much higher agricultural base, they’re actually up around 50 per cent,” he said.
Link courtesy of Weasel Zippers. One wonders – who was the courageous scientist who discovered that kangaroo gas contains no methane?
This development may prove more important to Australia that it seems at first glance, as on the heels of this report comes news that new Aussie PM Kevin Rudd, fresh off an election victory over John Howard, has already backed away from an election pledge to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions after finding out that in doing so, electricity costs would skyrocket:
PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd last night did an about-face on deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, days after Australia’s delegation backed the plan at the climate talks in Bali.
A government representative at the talks this week said Australia backed a 25-40 per cent cut on 1990 emission levels by 2020.
But after warnings it would lead to huge rises in electricity prices, Mr Rudd said the Government would not support the target.
The repudiation of the delegate’s position represents the first stumble by the new Government’s in its approach to climate change.
You’d think that would be something he could have looked into before making the promise. Ah well, no matter – There are other things that Australians can do to make up the difference…
First, I found the article’s “hook” to be quite shoddy and lame. The blatant attempt to “shock” the reader into a reaction of disgust that a billionaire like Dick DeVos, yes, “that Dick DeVos,” got a whopping “$6,000 in federal farm subsidies from 2003 to 2005.” That’s roughly $2k a year for three years.
Unsurprisingly, DeVos’ spokesperson didn’t know anything about it. It’s ludicrous to think that a guy with as much on his plate as Dick DeVos would have any time for what is essentially pocket change for a billionaire. Does the fact that DeVos got a subsidy even though he campaigned on eliminating government waste make him a hypocrite?
Judge for yourself, but I think these payments say more about the government’s inefficiency and waste than they do about DeVos’ integrity. People of all income brackets pay tax professionals to maximize their returns. For the very wealthy, it’s simply a process that’s on a bigger scale, that’s much more thorough, and with many more loopholes than when you or I go to H&R Block. The more diversified your holdings, the more likely there are a plethora of tax breaks for you to exploit. The breathless lede to this story was simply off-putting to me, especially given the rather clear political undertones of the insinuations.
What’s the real lesson? As a recycling hippie once told The Simpsons‘ Principal Skinner in a quite different context, “Simplify, man.” Simplify the tax code and eliminate all these special interest loopholes.
But the complaint about the story’s hook is really a minor quibble compared to my second point. In a companion piece, Lisa Rose Starner, executive director at Blandford Nature Center and Mixed Greens says that farm subsidies are essentially about “social justice.” That’s right, subsidies are about social justice. They’re about the social injustice of subsidizing a product so that people from poorer nations around the world, who would like to do more than simply engage in subsistence farming, can’t compete in a global marketplace because prices are artificially deflated. So, our subsidies are feeding the rich at the expense of the poor in more ways than one.
Of course, the pat response is that other nations are subsidizing too, so our subsidies are just leveling the playing field. To be sure, the world of agricultural business is a complex one, as many of the commenters on our piece point out. Direct farm subsidies are just one thin slice of the government’s intervention into agriculture. Perhaps they’re the most obvious, but they may also not be the most insidious. As one astute reader wrote to me, “The web of market interference in ag is broad and complex.”
Update: The Detroit News ran a version of the original piece here.
And next, “In attitudes toward education, drugs, abortion, religion, marriage, and divorce, the current generation of teenagers and young adults appears in many respects to be more culturally conservative than its immediate predecessors.” From: “Crime, Drugs, Welfare—and Other Good News,”Commentary.
On second thought, perhaps what I said before was even an understatement.
Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president of the Acton Institute, is scheduled to join Fox Business host David Asman tonight to discuss the new documentary, “What Would Jesus Buy?” They’ll be joined by documentary producer Morgan Spurlock and performance artist Bill Talen, of the “Church of Stop Shopping.” The segment is set to air between 7-8 p.m. Eastern time. Check your local listings — and expect a lively debate.
Add another crisis to the list of problems caused by climate change – a lack of jet parking at small international airports. To be fair, this isn’t a direct consequence of climate change, but it wouldn’t be a problem in Bali, Indonesia right now if not for the big UN climate change shindig that’s going on. Via Newsbusters, a report on the urgent situation:
Tempo Interaktif reports that Angkasa Pura – the management of Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport are concerned that the large number of additional private charter flights expected in Bali during the UN Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) December 3-15, 2007, will exceed the carrying capacity of apron areas. To meet the added demand for aircraft storage officials are allocating “parking space” at other airports in Indonesia.
The operational manager for Bali’s Airport, Azjar Effendi, says his 3 parking areas can only accommodate 15 planes, which means that some of the jets used by VIP delegations will only be allowed to disembark and embark their planes in Bali with parking provided at airports in Surabaya, Lombok, Jakarta and Makassar.
It’s bad, folks. It’s really bad.
Artist’s conception of the current state of Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport – Click for full size
Never before have so many people converged to try to save the planet from global warming, with more than 10,000 jetting into this Indonesian resort island, from government ministers to Nobel laureates to drought-stricken farmers.
But critics say they are contributing to the very problem they aim to solve.
“Nobody denies this is an important event, but huge numbers of people are going, and their emissions are probably going to be greater than a small African country,” said Chris Goodall, author of the book “How to Live a Low-Carbon Life.”…
…The U.N. estimates 47,000 tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants will be pumped into the atmosphere during the 12-day conference in Bali, mostly from plane flights but also from waste and electricity used by hotel air conditioners.
If correct, Goodall said, that is equivalent to what a Western city of 1.5 million people, such as Marseilles, France, would emit in a day.
But he believes the real figure will be twice that, more like 100,000 tons, close to what the African country of Chad churns out in a year.
A couple of questions spring to mind:
have these folks ever heard of videoconferencing?
If that isn’t possible, wouldn’t it make more sense to hold the conference in a place served by many airlines that already fly regularly scheduled routes rather than a place that requires so many chartered flights? Say, someplace exotic like, oh, I don’t know – how about… New York?
A hat tip on the carbon footprint link goes to Texas Rainmaker, who closes this update with a friendly reminder:
The conference is aimed at developing a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty whose members actually increased greenhouse emissions after ratifying it.