Thoughts

A pandemic of laziness

The rhythm of life in a temperate climate with four seasons is, understandably, cyclic. Spring is when nature thaws and outside work begins. Summer is when the work goes on in earnest, with a view of the cold seasons to come. Building work, for example, requires the summer heat for foundations, masonry, painting, etc. Agricultural work is spread out through the three warmer seasons. Autumn is when nature begins to wind down and withdraw into itself, and people tend to do the same. The focus of the work shifts to gathering and getting ready for the winter that is almost in sight. The coming freeze is made inescapably clear by the cold, frosty mornings of autumn. The signs are all there and no one can deny them.

As I worked on our NGO’s charitable projects last year, which involved a lot of landscape and building work, I saw certain signs as well. By the end of the summer and in the fall, it was undeniable to me. Wherever I went, people just didn’t want to work. The concept of an honest day’s work got lost on most people. Somehow, it’d become esoteric to them. I have already attempted to exorcise it back into something known and unmysterious, through a post I wrote on the very subject.

Then, winter came and with it came a certain time when we all had to put… time… aside for reflection (or drivel, as the case may be). We all call that time now “the coronavirus pandemic”. It stretched on and on through spring and just as summer came round the corner, we were free (almost) once again to resume our work. The pace did indeed become frenetic, given the prolonged pause we were all forced to partake, but to my dismay, most people did not choose to engage in productive work, re-confirming last year’s observations.

I would have thought that economic activity would begin with a fury, with people wanting to make up for lost time, especially given the dim prospects of facing more waves of restrictions and economic troubles in the fall and winter but no, the frenetic pace was set mainly by people trying to organize parties and barbeques, to find places to vacation and by those eager to protest and vandalize anything and everything under the sun. I think I can best describe this frenetic post-quarantine activity with one phrase: no rhyme or reason whatsoever — wild flailing of arms and tongues, mad goings to and fro, but ultimately meaningless.

As I pointed out in a previous post, pent-up frustrations will out, and perhaps I’ll write a future post on the anarchic, asinine, “bite the hand that feeds you and shit your own bed” tendencies of the current post-modern ideologies that are driving these protests, or rather driving the people brainwashed into believing them into utter chaos and certain disaster, but for now I’d like to focus on an epidemic of much larger proportions than the coronavirus epidemic: rampant, universal laziness. At some point, this might have been called endemic, but we can safely call it epidemic, and we could even go so far as to call it a pandemic: a global pandemic of laziness. Many more people are infected with it than COVID-19 and with no cure in sight, many will die from it as well.

When I look at the generations of today that are of working age, what I mostly see is a blithe indifference to the inescapable, undeniable fact that life must contain a certain proportion of work. I’m talking about real work, hard work, an honest day’s work, backbreaking work, drudgery, sweaty bits and bobs, wet back, red neck kind of work. It simply must. Our mammalian bodies need this physical work in order to stay in condition. Going to the gym for an hour or so a few times a week is a poor substitute for proper physical work. Life requires work. Achievements require work. Even the pleasurable bits of life consist of physical labor, as horny teenage boys with sweaty palms will surely attest, several times a day.

And yet, once the people of today reach working age, they begin to assume, wrongly, that life can somehow function without work. Never mind us working, the robots will do our work and the government will pay us a universal basic income that will free us from the torture of work and allow us to focus on our creative sides, such as scratching our balls and asses as we watch television, or liking absolutely inconsequential posts on Facebook or Instagram. Let’s just do a bit of shopping with that free government money, let’s throw in a bit of work on the car, like upgrading the subwoofers or mufflers (for the completely tasteless), maybe get a little tattoo here and there, a bite or ten of fast food, and life is good and complete for probably 90-95% of people.

While this kind of stuff may allow various societies to slide by for a number of years, coasting on the hard work of a few motivated individuals, things will inevitably slip from existence to subsistence, and that is where the civilized world is headed if people don’t start doing some proper work.

Nobody wants to do physical labor anymore. Everyone wants to click around on a computer screen all day for greater pay. Most of the “white collar” work has become a joke, with everyone pretending to work but actually doing as little of it as possible, and very few people willing to do “blue collar” work, which is actually what builds and maintains civilizations. I’m not saying that blue collar work builds the arts and humanities or the sciences, but our physical world requires blue collar work in order to build and maintain the infrastructure that supports the higher endeavors. Let me put it to you this way: someone’s gotta lay the internet cables, build the routers and assemble the phones and tablets that you use to faff around all day while pretending to work. How about the obsession of modern man with food, which must be stuffed into their mouths at all times, in all sorts of forms? Out of the population of any civilized country, the percentage of people engaged in agriculture is ridiculously tiny, and in my view, it’s not because of agri-giants, it’s because no one wants to do the back-breaking work of tending to the lands and the farms. Thank goodness there’s farm machinery available that allows fewer people to still do all of the farmwork that’s needed to keep all those office workers well-fed to the point of morbid obesity, because we’d all be in for a seriously rude wake-up call otherwise.

I look around me and I see so few people willing to work hard, willing to put in an honest day’s work. I don’t care what their excuses are. Even if it’s just for a crummy, humdrum job, someone with a backbone will want to put in some good work so they can sleep well at night. Apparently, a lot of people have lost their backbones, because most of them aren’t doing good work. Look around you. Out of your circle of friends and acquaintances, how many of them put in an honest day’s work? Don’t tell me, just figure it out for yourself. Isn’t it worrisome once you do the math? Heck, look at yourself and be honest, you don’t have to tell me, you just have to admit it to yourself: have you been putting in an honest day’s work, day in and day out, in recent years? Please don’t post a comment to brag about how much work you’re doing. Just do a bit of self-assessment and be brave enough to admit to yourself where you stand.

I’m not saying we should be working to the point of breaking down our bodies, day in and day out. We should have a balance. Those of us who predominantly do office work should have 1-2 full days of proper physical labor each week, in order to keep things in balance. Those of us who predominantly do physical labor should have 1-2 full days of restful work each week, once again in order to keep things in balance. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s what weekends are good for? Office workers should, for their own health and personal satisfaction, engage in serious physical labor during the weekends, around their houses or in volunteer work with various organizations in their communities. Factory workers and those who do mainly physical labor should, for their own health and personal satisfaction, spend their weekends educating their minds by reading or watching documentaries on various subjects, meeting with friends and having meaningful conversations (not getting drunk and stuffing their stomachs).

I for one am having such a hard time finding people to help us with our physical work. About the only people who are willing to work, from my experience, are the older generations who’ve grown up under very different circumstances than today’s working youth and adults, and active or ex-military folks, who’ve served and know what it means to work hard. All the rest of them are just fluff. They simply can’t handle a full day of physical work. Most people I’ve seen are ready to fall down after a half hour of serious work, and that’s so problematic, in so many ways. The youth are the worst: they’re pampered little simps who parade in and out of coffee shops, instagramming their meaningless, unproductive lives, unable to read or write properly, subject to every whimsy of their “influencers”. I have seen so few of them that know the value of work. If I were to estimate, I think less than half a percent would be a fairly accurate figure. Everyone’s trying to make a fast buck without the work. It simply doesn’t bode well for the future of work and for our future as the human race. If things keep going this way, I truly hope that robots will become advanced enough and affordable enough so they can do the hard work, because everyone will simply be too old, too fat or too frail and out of practice to do anything worthwhile.

PS. I realize the youth critique is historically repetitive, and that virtually every older generation decries the state of their youth, yet I look at how much the older generations have accomplished and I am in awe. With every passing generation, we are accomplishing less and less, and we’d be in seriously bad shape if leaps in productivity, invention, automation and mass production didn’t offset the gradual and certain loss in elbow grease. Less and less people are doing the work that carries our civilization forward. Most are sitting back and benefitting, without having contributed. I look at what the young generations are accomplishing right now (triggered SJWs, influencers flogging shit left and right, carpentry faffers on YouTube more concerned with sucking up the dust in their workshops than doing any substantive woodwork, etc. ad nauseam), and I shudder.

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Thoughts

Work

The single highest purpose in life.

The more one lives, the more they ask themselves about the meaning of life. What’s the point of it all? Why are we here? Who made us? We get into all these complicated discussions about origins and God and the afterlife, discussions that amount to just about zero. All the while life goes on, with or without our answers.

The point is, we are here. And if our lives are to have any meaning, if we are to get any enjoyment from them, we need to contribute. We need to do something. We need to work. It’s not an external mandate but an internal one. We ourselves get to find out that our lives have less and less meaning once we stop working. Even if it’s work we don’t like, it still gives some meaning to our lives. And when we do like it, oh boy, then our lives become wonderful!

Some of you will say, “Surely love is the single highest purpose in life. You’ve got your priorities wrong.” Nope. Love without work is dead. That’s a paraphrase, and I bet it sounds familiar to some of you. The actual quote is “Faith without works is dead.” A wise man wrote it. What is love but a kind of faith? The two imply each other. Faith cannot exist without love and love without faith just isn’t love. Furthermore, what would your love be worth to your partner without works? If you profess your love for them, but your deeds (your works) say otherwise or say nothing at all, then that love is dead. I’m not talking about esoteric things here, I’m talking about human love, the kind I hope you’re experiencing in your lives.

If all this talk about work is ringing false for you, then I am sure you don’t like your work. You see, for most of our written history, a lot of people have been engaged in doing unpleasant work. That’s still going around these days. Instead of each of us thoughtfully considering what work we should do, because we can do that nowadays, we jump at jobs for the wrong reasons, only to find out we hate them, and therefore we wrongly assume we hate work.

Even if we can’t pick our jobs, we can actively choose to do the jobs we have better. It’s a choice we can make every day, to do good work and let that be what makes us happy in our jobs. When we do that, the wonderful thing that will happen over time, is that our jobs will get better. We’ll find ways to make them better and new opportunities may open for us, perhaps advancement, perhaps other jobs that we’ll love. But we have to do good work first. We have to make that choice and we have to follow it through.

Rest assured when I tell you that work is the highest purpose in life, and that we can only find meaning in life by doing good work.

In recent years, research has been done on productivity that has shown that people who take proper vacations (where they break off from work completely) are more productive in their jobs. It’s easy to misinterpret those results and say that we need more vacations as rewards for substandard work, but I’d like to point out with quite a bit of personal certainty that vacations only make people who love their jobs more productive. In case you hate your job, you’ll simply dread going back to work and once you’re back, you’ll do the same crappy work you’ve done in the past. When someone loves their job, the contrast of being away from it is what charges them up. It’s the lack of work that winds them up like a spring-driven toy, and once they’re back, they unleash their newly gained energy on the work they love. That’s why we see increased productivity.

Instead of asking ourselves charged, difficult questions about the meaning of life and our origins, we should be asking questions like these, questions that will help us see right away that our lives have purpose and are worth living:

  • Am I working?
  • Am I doing good work? (Here I’m referring to the quality of our work.)
  • Is my work contributing to the greater good?
  • Do I like my work?

If the answers to those four questions are yes, then I’m fairly sure your life is good and you’re also feeling good. You wake up each day with a sense of purpose and at the end of the day, though you’re tired, you go to bed content because you’ve done good work. If not, then find out how you can turn that no into a yes. You know exactly what to tackle in order to get your life in… order.

These questions are also good criteria to be used when evaluating those in our societies who prefer to shirk work, the goldbricks, the ones who seek to be on social aid perpetually, the ones who complain about not having enough and about being downtrodden while they sit at home wasting their days glued to their TVs, making children so they get more aid from the government. Sadly, there are plenty of those human bed bugs around. What’s even more sad is that governments are willing to tolerate them and use them for cheap votes instead of requiring work from them. Those are exactly the kinds of people who deserve to do unpleasant jobs, because they’ve been living off the blood and sweat of honest folk and they haven’t contributed anything to the greater good. They need to go through plenty of tough work so they can compensate society for their squalid, useless lives where they’ve only consumed resources and generated trash and bodily waste.

Okay, back to pleasant things…

Let me entreat you to find work that’s meaningful to you. See if you can do work that contributes to society somehow, work that adds to our civilization, that builds upon that of others in order to yield even better results.

If you’re retired, see if you can do some consulting or mentoring work for 3-4 hours each day. Not only will you supplement your fixed income, but you’ll wake up each day with a renewed sense of purpose and you’ll contribute your lifetime of experience to those who need it, even if they’ll take a while to realize it.

Here’s to good work from all of us! 🤲

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Thoughts

Enough with aiding society’s trash

I am fed up with all of the aid that the world’s various governments give to society’s trash. How long have we been doing it? In some form or another, governments have been handing money out to people, with surprisingly little control over who gets it, for almost 100 years now. The way these programs are currently run, they’re not really helping those who truly deserve help, and they’re providing too much help to those who don’t deserve it. If anything, I see societies slowly declining and I see more and more goldbricks and welfare swindlers around every day. I have had it with these parasites who are walking about and poisoning our societies on our own money!

I want to make myself clear so you don’t get the wrong idea. When I talk about societal parasites, I’m talking about trash of any color and breed. I mean those who won’t work because they know they can wiggle their way through the welfare system without doing it. I mean the ones who can work, are offered jobs but won’t take them, the ones who have no problems turning down an honest day’s work but have no problem selling their children into sex, the ones begging in the streets even though they’re perfectly healthy, the ones who’d rather commit crimes instead of getting a job. Those are the shitheads I’m talking about.

I am not talking about people who have lost their jobs, who need a temporary helping hand, a leg up, who can’t get by even though they’re working, because their jobs don’t pay enough for them to support their families, the widowed, the elderly, the disabled and any other honest folks I might have not mentioned here. By all means, let’s help these people! As a matter of fact, if we stopped helping the shitheads I named in the previous paragraph, I bet we’d have a lot of money that we could use to help these people, who are truly deserving of our help.

It’s fiscally irresponsible to just hand money out without thoroughly checking who gets it and what they do with it but then, when have we known politicians in general to be fiscally responsible? It’s very easy to spend someone else’s money, especially when it means you can be a populist and earn cheap votes from all the scumbags who never do an honest day’s work, simply by promising to keep their aid flowing.

This sort of thing does nothing but encourage the same kind of disgusting behavior we now see in most developed countries of the world: shitty people being shitty, all day long, all over the place. Think about your own community for example: you know exactly who these shitty people are, the ones who live on welfare and multiply like fleas because they get more government aid that way. They’re filthy drunkards and/or drug addicts, horrible parents and as humans, they’re not only subpar, I doubt they even qualify for the title. In countries where it’s allowed, they are out begging on the streets, teaching their children to do the same, sometimes even mutilating them (yes, you read that right) in order to make them into better beggars.

In Romania for example, these assholes get free government-subsidized housing, which they shit on, literally. They get new housing and in a few years, it’s unrecognizable, in part because they shit around it and in it. Yes, in it, you read that right. They have toilets but don’t use them. They shit and piss outside the buildings, in the hallways and in their apartments. They get free TVs, free furniture, subsidized utility bills (they can spend all the energy they want, they only pay 5-15 lei per month). In return, they do nothing but evil. The law says they’re supposed to do some community work per month, but no one holds them to it. They go out and they beg on the streets. They steal. They have more children in order to have more benefits. They break the law more often than you can keep track. They pollute the city with their garbage, which they throw everywhere, including right out the window, so it piles up next to their free housing. They pollute the cities with their noise because they play their TVs and stereos loud all the time. They have fights on the streets. The list goes on and on. It’s utterly disgusting to watch them and no one wants to see them around. Come voting day, they pile up at the booths to vote for whatever politician bribed them off (the going rate is about 50-75 lei per vote). And they continue to get welfare from the government. Why in hell does that happen?

Why do we aid them? Why do we, the tax-paying citizens who support our governments and who work hard, some of us seven days a week, not just five, allow populist politicians to give our tax money to this societal detritus, to these walking piles of filth who pollute our cities and our lives? Why? That is a question for which I have yet to receive an adequate answer.

Some say it’s because the crime rate would go up, that these societal parasites would resort to crime of all sort in order to get some cash, and that we need to placate them with a monthly stipend. To that I reply that they (the parasites) are already engaging in illegal and criminal behavior. And besides, that’s we have we have police forces. I’d much rather know that my tax money goes to pay the salary of honest policemen who won’t hesitate to shoot down a parasite who is committing a crime, rather than have it go to helping that same parasite get drunk or drugged or sit in his or her own filth all day, watching TV.

Are you winching at the idea of cleaning up the filth of the world? Why? Are you more content to see it polluting your world, day in and day out, while you support it with your own money?

Some say that we need to work on rehabilitating the scumbags. To that I say they’re welcome to do it on their own dime and time. I have yet to see these efforts succeed even marginally. Some people are born to be shit and they’re going to be shit for as long as you allow them to be around.

Some say that out of the parasites we sometimes get people who rise up and become good citizens. To that I say I’ve heard enough about the exceptions to the rule. We need to stop worrying about the 0,001% of societal parasites who might at some unknown time become worthwhile people and deal with them as a class right now, the way they deserve to be dealt with.

So why are we spending so much of our money (it’s still our money even if we give it to the government in the form of taxes, I hope you realize that) to support those who don’t deserve any support whatsoever? Why?! Why don’t we cut them loose and help those who truly deserve it?

In case you’re wondering what we can do with the societal detritus, I have a plan and it’s this: mandatory community service. If they want government aid, they need to be out there on the streets, every single day, cleaning up our towns, everywhere. Whatever work to be done in our communities, they report for work every morning and they they get it done properly, under close supervision, otherwise they get nothing. They sweep the streets. They clean the garbage cans. They scrub grafitti off the walls. They scoop the poop leftover from wayward pets and the gum off the sidewalk. They clean our city parks and pull out the weeds. Etc… this list can go on and on. And it should also be mandatory for them to keep their places of living clean, to do everything by the letter of the law, or they stop getting aid. They get caught doing anything illegal, in jail they go, where they do mandatory work assigned to them.

As for the people who deserve help, I bet we can all think of hundreds of ways to help them, besides those currently available in our various countries.

Come on, let’s put a stop to the filth of society already!

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The story of one cellphone theft

My mother’s mobile phone got stolen on Friday (12/11/09). She visited her bank, made a transaction at the counter, left her cellphone there by mistake, went out to the car, realized it was missing, came back to get it, but it was gone. In spite of asking everyone around for help, and even though the phone was bright red, nobody saw it or wanted to say they saw it.

It wasn’t the loss of the phone itself that troubled her. It was the text messages she had stored on the SIM card — a historical archive that went back to 2006 and contained information of sentimental value about her parents (my grandparents), who have since passed on. These were texts back from when they were still alive.

She didn’t know what to do, so she called her own number, in the hope she’d be able to reach someone. Finally, she did. A woman picked up at the other end. My mother pleaded with her to return the phone, but she hung up and never answered again. Then, my mom logged on the T-Mobile website and saw that illegal international calls had been made to Haiti from her cellphone. I took a couple of screenshots from her call log and posted them below. As you can see, the thief, a woman, wasted no time in taking advantage of the fact that my mother’s cellphone was enabled for international calls, and started calling her relatives right away, as soon as she stole the phone.

illegal-calls-to-haiti-1

illegal-calls-to-haiti-2

Then, my mother got another clue. The woman who had stolen her cellphone took a picture of her child, possibly in their yard. I took a screenshot of that photo from my mother’s T-Mobile account and posted it below.

stolen-cellphone-photo

I can’t get at a larger size of the phone because my mother asked T-Mobile to freeze her account. The T-Mobile website logs either of us out when we try to get to that photo in the web album, but thankfully it is there for the police to review, which brings me to the next step my mother took. She contacted the police and filed a report for her stolen cellphone. I hope the thief who took it gets all that’s coming to them.

What’s sad is the thief is a woman, and what’s more, she’s a mother. We know she’s likely from Haiti, or she wouldn’t be making calls to that country. I have to ask, what kind of life is she preparing her son for? He’ll likely grow up a thief, just like his mother. He’ll grow up thinking it’s okay to take things from other people, that it’s okay to abuse other people’s kindness and money, that it’s okay to ignore their pleas to his better nature, that it’s just fine to step over someone’s feelings. That’s the kind of a person he’s going to be, and it’s all thanks to his mother, who didn’t blink at the thought of stealing someone’s cellphone from a bank counter instead of letting them know they forgot it.

It’s very probable that the thief, the Haitian woman, was still inside the bank when my mother went back to ask if anyone had seen her phone, and can probably be identified from the security tapes. As I said before, I hope she gets all that’s coming to her.

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An interview with Robert Kenner about Food, Inc

David Brancacio from PBS’s Now program sat down with Robert Kenner, the director for a documentary about food and the food industry called, appropriately enough, “Food, Inc”, to talk about the making of this very interesting film.

You can watch the interview here, and the trailer for the documentary here. It comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray in a couple of days, on November 3rd, and can be purchased directly from the movie’s official website or from stores like Amazon. I highly encourage you to get it and watch it.

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Thoughts

Using the economy as an excuse to shortchange employees

I’ve seen companies do some pretty disgusting things in my time, and the move some of them are pulling lately definitely ranks right up there with some of the biggest stinkers.

In effect, they’re using the current weak economy/recession as an excuse to lay off employees and burden the existing ones with the extra work, while keeping them mum under the fear of losing their jobs. If this isn’t corporate exploitation of its workforce, I don’t know what is.

I’m going to give you three examples, each juicier than the other, but I’m sure you can come up with more if you’re in the US and you’re employed in a full time job.

The niche business with an owner

I talked with an employee from a certain company lately, one which specializes in a niche market that has not been affected by the economic slowdown, nor does it look like it will be affected any time soon. I can’t disclose any identifying details, because the employee confided in me. What he told me was this: the president (and owner) of the company fired some employees while cutting year-end bonuses for the rest of the employees, using the recession as an excuse. The employees, the ones doing the hard work, have been handling a record amount of business for the past year, but the president cited a slump in incoming business. I was told the same president has been spending lavishly to expand his own mansion and buy extra cars and toys, during the same year when the supposed slump in business took place.

Adobe’s record profits

This example is more concrete than the previous one. In December, Adobe reported record revenues for the 4th quarter of 2008, and the sixth consecutive year of double-digit growth, yet they still laid off employees in November just the same. I’m not surprised though. I talked with a friend who is a long-time software developer, and he told me Adobe has another ugly habit: historically speaking, they have relied mostly on contractors, because it’s cheaper, and they’re easier to shed without bad press.

JPG Mag starts a bidding frenzy

Let’s look at JPG Mag. It’s the darling of many amateur photographers, because it gave them the chance to publish their work when other magazines might turn them down. I never really liked it, and I’ll tell you why: I thought they were cheap.

Here was an easy way to get print-worthy photographs without paying a dime. Turns out you could get amateur shutterbugs happy and willing to give away their work simply by dangling the illusory promise of publishing their pics in your magazine. The incentive was fame, which is as fleeting as a fart and just as troublesome, if you’ll excuse my expression. Where’s the moolah? Last I checked, bills were still payable in money, not fame.

When they announced they were going under, I thought it fitting. Good riddance to bad rubbish. First they don’t pay the photographers, then they fire the founders, now they’re going under — okay by me. Unfortunately, the buzz generated by their announcement stirred the vanities of those with bigger wallets, and a bidding war began.

But wait, there’s a nugget of bitter truth to be found among all this fake glimmer and shine. Turns out they fired all their employees, and now the CEO trumpets the company’s earning potential in messages to the bidders. PDN Pulse called them out on this, and rightfully so. Sure, now the company has earning potential since everyone’s gone. Hire a skeleton staff, make them do double or triple the work, pay no money to the photographers, and you’ve got a hand-dandy business model fit for the 21st century.

To sum things up

So you see, it’s okay to use the economy as an excuse when it befits your bottom line. Apparently, it’s okay to lay off people, it doesn’t matter that they’ve got bills to pay, that they’ve put a lot of hard work and time into your company. You shouldn’t do what you can to protect them in a weak economy when it’s harder to get jobs.

None of that matters, right? Ethics are so passĂ©. You just use whatever excuse you can to make sure your precious bottom line gets bigger and bigger. It’s all about GREED. You can never have enough money, and people are only a means to it, right?

Well, I think that’s wrong. I don’t care if you’re afraid that the recession will affect your company. I don’t care if you really want that shiny new toy and a couple of employees and their mortgages stand in your way of getting it. I don’t care if your stockholders will bitch. If greed and money are your only motivators when you run a business, and you’d gladly step over people to balance the spreadsheets — don’t give me any of that I’m so sorry and I feel your pain crap — then you’re a spineless, slimy, pus-covered slug, and you deserve to be squashed under a steel-toe boot.

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Watch "The Future of Food"

If you have not yet heard of a documentary called “The Future of Food” (2004), or haven’t yet watched it, please take the time to do so. It is vital that you know what’s going into the food that you eat, and it’s vital that you know it now, before it’s too late.

What’s been happening over the past 20 years here in the States is that our food supply has been slowly taken over by biotech companies who are interested only in their bottom line. They have used tactics akin to racketeering practices in order to get farmers to use their seeds and only their seeds. They have placed their executives in key government positions, in order to ensure that their policies go through. They have done and are doing everything in their power to get us to eat their genetically modified foods, without regard for safety, common sense, decency or ethics. I’m not saying this by myself. The documentary itself will prove it to you.

All that is bad enough, but what’s really appalling is that they are patenting genes. They have patented plant genes, and now they want to patent animal genes and even human genes. They are trying to get the market in their tight snare, so they can squeeze profits out of everywhere and ensure they control our food supply completely. They have even patented one of the genes involved in breast cancer, then sued researchers who had been doing working on it, to force them to pay exorbitant licensing fees. Needless to say, research on that gene has been significantly curtailed, directly due to their malefic influence. That’s the sort of “work” they engage in.

When I call them racketeers, I have a great frame of reference in mind. It’s a short crime drama made in 1936, entitled “The Public Pays“, which won an Oscar. It depicted a protection racket that preyed on the local milk distribution in one American city, and the people’s successful fight against them. The biotech goons may not beat up people and physically destroy their milk trucks and containers, but they have legal “procedures” which wield the same sort of power and yield the same horrible results. This time, they’re working hand in hand with specially-placed government officials who make sure the biotech rules get enforced and the little guys get screwed royally — not to mention that the consumers, and the marketplace in general, are manipulated to no end as well.

Don’t believe me? Watch the documentary. And if you can find “The Public Pays”, watch that as well and compare the two to see the striking similarities. What’s more, if someone can assure me that “The Public Pays” is now in the public domain, I’ll gladly post it online, either at Google Video or somewhere else.

As you get to the end of the “Future of Food” documentary, you’ll get heartened by the organic farming efforts, which are great, but keep in mind that Whole Foods now sells mostly non-organic fruits and vegetables, and also imports supposedly organic foods from China, whose food supply is so laden with pesticides it’s not even funny. Yet Whole Foods still dares to hold the same high prices on their stuff, which means they’ve cut costs and are pocketing the difference. Lesson learned: don’t shop at Whole Foods. Go to Trader Joe’s or MOM’s, if you have them in your neighborhoods.

Seek REAL organic foods, and make sure to vote with your wallets. Where you buy your food, and what sort of food you buy, determines our food supply’s future. Write to your congressmen and demand that the proposed law (introduced by Dennis Kucinich) to label genetic foods as such be finally approved.

My wife just chimed in with some great advice. It turns that while we wait for foods to be properly labeled as GM or not, there’s an easy way to tell already. Fruits and vegetables all have little stickers on them, with numeric codes (4 or 5-digit numbers). It seems that if those numbers start with 4, they’re conventionally-grown, but not genetically modified. If they start with 8, they’re GM — stay away from them! And if they start with 9, they’re organically grown and are safe to eat. Not sure if this is officially true, but she says that’s usually been the case, at least for the organic foods that she buys.

Here’s how you can watch the documentary:

  • Google Video (free, but quality isn’t that great)
  • YouTube (free, but in multiple parts): start here
  • Netflix (instant streaming, DVD quality, but requires subscription)
  • Amazon (you can purchase the DVD)

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Thoughts

Open source software and its use by for-profit companies

Everyone is happy to use free, open source software these days, and for-profit companies are only too happy to join that bandwagon. After all, they’re supporting the open source movement — or are they?

If you’re not sure, there’s an easy litmus test: see how much they contribute to the open source movement.

  • Look at how much they donate to open source. Many companies will make token donations to open source organizations, but let’s face it, that money isn’t going to the developers themselves, it’s going to public relations and ads and the CEOs of those organizations. (Lest we forget, the CEO of Mozilla made $500K/year while the developers made nothing.)
  • Look at how much of their own code (written in-house) they give back to the open source community. If they don’t do much of either, there’s a pretty good chance they’re in it simply to profit off the backs of the many unpaid open source contributors.

After all, companies are more than happy to use free, open source software, since it means they have to do less development themselves, and they don’t have to pay anything at all for that software. But then they charge an arm and a leg for products developed using open-source software. They win, the original developers get screwed, and the customer pays through the nose for something that was free.

I find that sort of a business practice completely hypocritical. Building your business on the backs of malnourished, borderline-healthy geeks, coding their nights away, unpaid is unethical and exploitative. It harks right back to medieval times, when lords would get filthy rich at the expense of poor, overworked serfs. We were supposed to have evolved beyond that, but as it turns out, those sorts of practices haven’t been phased out, they’ve just been sublimated and adapted.

It gets even worse than that. Some companies aren’t content with just using free, open source software to fatten their pockets. They turn around and try to lock the products they’ve built on the free software, and to make it illegal for users of those products to change them. This is quasi-legal and reproachable, because it goes against the original GPL license of that software. You can’t modify open source software by lines of code here and there, and then call that software yours. It’s intellectual theft. This is why I support GPLv3, in spite of the fact that Stallman gives me the willies.

Some developers would argue that they’re writing free software because they want to, and they don’t care if and when they get credit or if they get paid, or even if some ethically questionable company will use their code to make money. They say they’re only interested in writing free code. I say they’re devaluing their work, and when they’ll find themselves without a job, they’ll wish others placed more value on their code.

I don’t need to name specific companies. You just apply this simple litmus test to the big name (or small name) companies out there, and you’ll find them out soon enough.

In the end, a company’s real commitment to the open-source software philosophy can be measured by how much new, internally written code, it contributes back to the open source community.

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