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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Your Right to Know

Centre Daily Times (State College, PA)

March 12, 2008
Page: 8


Monsanto, its customers and its academic spokespeople, bless them, don't want us poor, illiterate consumers -- and again, don't you love being characterized by what you use up and throw out? -- to be confused by all those fancy, scientific words on food labels. You know the ones. Synthetic hormones. Genetically altered. Words and phrases like that. Unnecessary information, and misleading besides. After all, Monsanto and its official government arm, the Food and Drug Administration, have already determined that what these unnecessary and misleading words refer to are completely safe.

Honest. What you don't know, can't hurt you. Trust them. Or, if you insist on knowing how your food was produced -- whether the cows that gave your milk were injected with (perfectly safe, according to the FDA) hormones that some scientists aren't quite certain about, or the cereal you pour it over was made with Roundup-Ready, structurally modified grain -- you will be vilified. Many people, in fact, would like that information. But all that mumbo-jumbo on milk-carton labels just confuses people, our intellectual and agri-corporate superiors inform us. They'll tell us what we need to know. The artificial hormone marketed and sold by Monsanto improves milk production -- about a gallon per day per cow. "We know it's a technology that makes us money and is safe for our cows," a Kansas dairy farmer and co-chairman of American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, said. That independent, "grass-roots" group, incidentally, was organized in part by Monsanto and a Colorado consultant who lists the agribusiness giant as a client, as a recent New York Times report noted. Even the grass and its roots, it appears, are structurally modified. If dairy farmers want to use the bovine growth hormone, that's fine. It's not illegal. Heck, the FDA says it is entirely safe. But if people don't want to drink milk from injected cows, even if they have to pay more for it, that's fine, too. In fact, it's more than fine. It is their fundamental right to know what it is they are putting into their bodies and those of their children. The same with herbicide-resistant grain or cloned meat. To say that it is too confusing to include "produced without synthetic hormones" or "natural" or "organic" on labels or that such labeling somehow implies that hormone-free is better ... And to say that consumers -- that lovely term again -- can't be trusted to tell the difference and determine for themselves what they want ... Well, that artificially alters the structure of something else that many still consider to be important. The truth.

Copyright (c) 2008 Centre Daily Times

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More "News for Nerds"

Paul Krugman's 1978 Theory of Interstellar Trade

(Posted by kdawson on Wednesday March 12, @02:52AM
from the world's-pre-eminent-stand-up-economist dept.
It's funny. Laugh. Space)

jerryasher recommends Paul Krugman's blog at the NYTimes, where he introduces a paper he wrote, The Theory of Interstellar Trade, with tongue very much in cheek. Some packrat academician was kind enough to send him a scan, because "back then academics did their work with typewriters, abacuses, and stone axes." Abstract: This paper extends interplanetary trade theory to an interstellar setting. It is chiefly concerned with the following question: how should interest rates on goods in transit be computed when the goods travel at close to the speed of light? This is a problem because the time taken in transit will appear less to an observer traveling with the goods than to a stationary observer. A solution is derived from economic theory, and two useless but true theorems are proved... This paper, then, is a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics."

Monday, March 10, 2008


Patent reform is a big issue in communications, computer, and software industries as well as genetic engineering. But what exactly is the purpose of a patent? Why is there a patent law and exactly how should it be changed to meet the challenges posed by ever-newer technologis undreamed of when the original patent laws were written?
clipped from news.yahoo.com
The Patent Reform Act would overhaul the U.S. patent system. Among other things, it would create a new way to challenge patents after they've been granted, and it would allow courts to change the way they assess damages in patent-infringement cases. Currently, courts generally consider the value of the entire product when a small piece of the product infringes a patent. The legislation would allow courts to base damages only on the value of the infringing piece.
Many large tech vendors, including BSA members Microsoft, Symantec and Apple, say it's too easy for patent holders to claim that a small piece of a tech product infringes a patent and to collect huge court awards. But some small tech vendors, independent inventors and pharmaceutical companies have opposed the Patent Reform Act, saying it would water down the value of patents and give small companies fewer protections against large companies that steal their ideas.
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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Important Notice

I recently received the following message on my computer. What do you think it means?

About Me

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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