Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'll keep my flush toilet, thank you very much

Common sense is dead. To wit:

The Western World's dependence on flush toilets could be its environmental downfall.

Toilets that use less water, such as the "squat toilet" in which one squats over a hole in the ground, are prevalent in parts of Asia, Europe and Africa, but a new historical study suggests that after decades of flushing, it will take radical innovations for the mainstream West to adopt any new system.

Part of the reason the West was able to advance beyond other parts of the world was due to the fact that the West figured out how to separate the human from the human waste, which improved health. Water plays a crucial part in this.

"Most people can hardly imagine that other ways of handling human waste have ever existed," said study author Maj-Britt Quitzau, an environmental sociologist with the National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark. "But actually, systems did exist prior to the flushing toilet where human waste was collected within the cities and re-used in farming areas."

Perhaps most people are naive to the previous systems for the collection of human waste, but there is a reason for that...water proved to be the superior and most advantageous way of removing waste sanitarily.

Since the 1900s, scientists have known that flushing away human waste comes with environmental consequences , such as using precious, potable water. Each year, a typical person will use almost 4,000 gallons of drinking water to flush away 75 pounds of feces and 130 gallons of urine, according to a 2001 study by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

While drinking-water shortages plague millions in such places as India and in some African nations, Westerners continue to oppose alternatives to the flushing toilet.

Water is not an internationally traded commodity (or commode-ity, if you will). It is a local to regional commodity. Using less water in Peoria will not provide drinking water to Africa.

Westerners have not always been addicted to flushing toilets.

In the 1850s, for example, a recycling "earth toilet" was as American as apple pie.

It consisted of a seat placed over a container filled with dry earth. After use, more dry earth was piled into the container. Instead of throwing away the waste in the container, farmers put it to use in agricultural fields as compost.

Try taking a dump in January in Eagle River, ass clown. That method is dead, especially in Northern climes where, despite the screeching of global warming, it still gets damn cold. And if you have even been to an old cabin built by the CCC in the 30's, then you know that an outhouse in the summer is pretty damn unpleasant, too.

In the city of Stockholm alone, the number of water-flushing toilets rose from 127 to more than 80,000 between 1890 and 1925, according to a study reported in a Swedish Science Press journal. At the same time, environmentally sound earth closets, considered less sanitary, went extinct.

Sanitation is the key. The sanitation renaissance is what really kicked us into the modern era. Look, if someone can develop a toilet that is superior to the flush toilet, I'm all for it. But until that point, I'm willing to trade wastewater for worrying about the waste related diseases that killed so many in our past. Wastewater, I might add, which in many communities is recycled and sent back into local rivers or lakes.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Putin Youth

This is beyond creepy.

Remember the mammoths, say the clean-cut organisers at the youth camp's mass wedding. "They became extinct because they did not have enough sex. That must not happen to Russia".

Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.

With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.

But this organisation - known as "Nashi", meaning "Ours" - is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life.

But the sex is just the tantalizing lede. For those who read past the first couple of paragraphs, you find that the Nashi and all of its unpleasant aspects is just one part of an attempt by Putin to rewrite Russian history and propagandize a new generation of Russians. Read the whole thing.

The Jimmy Carter candidate in '08

Captain Ed looks at Barack Obama's willingness to meet with America's enemies and he draws an apt comparison to Jimmy Carter. I think Ed should have drawn this comparison out a little further, though, because the comparison is applicable in more than just this narrow sense. In 1976, Jimmy Carter positioned himself as fresh, new blood to Washington. Given America's fatigue with politics in the mid-1970's, it worked like a charm. Carter's fresh perspective and new blood translated into naivete and a hopeless lack of experience to get the job done, though. In that way, Obama is the new Carter. I hold few doubts that Obama would prove to be too naive and experienced to lead the country sufficiently. Obama's answer at the CNN/YouTube debate solidifies that fact for me. A vote for Obama is a vote for Jimmy Carter circa 1976. As we all know now, all of those votes for Carter in 1976 are pretty solid proof that the American voting public is not infallible. Hopefully we will have learned at least one lesson in 30 plus years, even if that means the Democratic nominee is Hillary.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Where Walmart and Walgreens miss the boat

Photo processing is a nice chunk of change for big box retail outlets, and Walmart and Walgreens are arguably the kings of that business. Both of them are missing out on more potential revenue, however, since neither has chosen to open user friendly photo sharing/networking sites.

As I've begun to utilize Flickr more and more to share my photos with friends and family, one glaring weakness has stood out-Flickr isn't as convenient for printing photos as it could be. Yeah, they have an arrangement with Target, but most people do not have a Target store within a 15 minute drive. Most people do, however, have a Walmart or a Walgreen's near by. Both stores allow you to upload photos to albums or print via Snapfish, but their invite systems are clunky and inconvenient. Their systems are also designed to primarily let the uploader print as opposed to, say, the uploader's semi-computer literate parents or aunts/uncles. If either one of those stores started or purchased their own photo sharing/networking site with user controls over who is allowed to make prints, they could become the undisputed market leader in photo processing. And if they offered unlimited storage to any account from which an order is made, they'd make serious inroads on sites like Flickr and Photobucket.

I'd be willing to bet that the lawyers are the reason that neither company has gone down this road. Photo centers can be queasy about photos of questionable taste as it is. I know because I managed a photo center at a smaller retailer right out of college. I can only imagine how stomach turning the thought of hosting photos like that might be for them. Additionally, I'm sure the lawyers also bring up the topic of copyrights, an issue which can easily be handled through user controls similar to those used by Flickr/Target. And the issue of photos being uploaded by someone other than the copyright holder could be handled at the store level as it is now with things like wedding photos. It is too bad for both companies that they have neglected this route. While I doubt that my mother would order prints through their klunky systems, I'm quite sure that if they hosted my photos in an easily browsed system like Flickr, she'd have bought enough prints by now to ensure someone a nice bonus.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Next up, the terrorists use brats as guns

This is very serious. Still, how can you not laugh at it, too?

- Milwaukee, June 4. A U.S. person's carryon baggage contained wire coil wrapped around a possible initiator, an electrical switch, batteries, three tubes and two blocks of cheese. The bulletin said block cheese has a consistency similar to some explosives.

I hear cheese is a gateway fake terrorist attack. Next it'll be suicide Blonde Doppelbock vests at the Madison airport and bratwurst guns at the Green Bay airport. And God help us if they start trying to sneak beer battered walleye fish fry shoe bombs into the Eau Claire or Lacrosse airports.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

We interrupt this hiatus to bring you Victor Davis Hanson

VDH had an interesting post at the Corner this morning which I feel compelled to share.

Some of the figures on prime farm acreage diverted to corn/ethanol production are quite staggering, and range up to one of every four acres planted to corn, maybe as much as 30 million acres quite soon.

An ironic note: The agricultural revolution that changed America was not entirely a result of efficient machines, chemicals, and new crop species. Much of it was due to the end of devoting millions of acres to pasturage and feed stuffs for millions of horses. My grandfather told me that when he was small half our farm was used to feed the horses that pulled the cultivators for the vineyard and orchard. But apparently here we go again-planting land for transportation. And we should expect everything from ice cream to beef to rise in price as a result.

Okay, back to hiatusing for me.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Al Gore III arrest

Once you start blogging, you just can't stop. So I have to bring up the Al Gore III arrest. From CBS:
Al Gore's son was arrested early Wednesday on suspicion of possessing marijuana and prescription drugs after deputies pulled him over for speeding, authorities said.

Al Gore III, 24, was driving a blue Toyota Prius about 100 mph on the San Diego Freeway when he was pulled over at about 2:15 a.m., Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said.

Here's my only question. 100 mph in a Prius? Did he go over the edge into a canyon or something? Or was this a pimp my ride Prius with nitrous or something? Or were the cops stoned, too, and his ten miles per hour only seem like 100?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Miscellany from a hiatus

*I really miss this joint.
*I hate contrived encores at concerts. Honestly, if you know you are going to play six more songs, just play the sums'o'bitches. If you were that good, then you deserve your encores. Don't make me beg for the set you were going to do anyway.
*If you shoot a moderately powerful gun at a tornado, would the bullet go through the funnel or get caught up and become just another piece of debris?
*Speaking of tornados, the center of one is a neon green color, not a glorious blue sky as portrayed in the movie "Twister". (Source: A Weather Channel show on the Siren, WI tornado).
*I must admit, I don't get/appreciate music near well enough. I took the lovely Mrs. Jib and her sister to a concert in Minnesota. Some attendees seemed to get a primal pleasure from the music. Meanwhile, I was just pissed about the contrived encores.
*A man spends the first 18 years of his life learning what his body is capable of on a ball diamond. He spends the next 12 years taking great pleasure from what that body can do. After that, he must learn the new limitations the body places on him every year.
*The controversy over the Scooter Libby commutation is proof to me that politics is the undeclared national pastime of this country. What a stupid thing to get angry over.
*It is sometimes nice to ignore politics for a week. I highly recommend that everyone try it occasionally.
*The comedy channels on satellite radio are highly addictive until you have every major comedians' act memorized.
*I was at the Mall of America this past week, and I had a chance to do a lot of thinking, seeing that I wasn't really shopping. When young people go to the mall, they dress to be seen. That's fair, since the mall is as much about seeing and being seen as it is about shopping for that age group. At some age people stop looking at you, though. And if they do look at you, it is probably because of an unfortunately placed stain or because you no longer care enough to correctly match you clothing.
*Marriage is the number one cause of mismatched clothing.
*Clumsiness due to age is the number one cause of unfortunately placed stains.
*Cleaning unfortunately placed stains will only make you look like you peed yourself a bit. Live with the stain.
*I know none of this from experience (*wink*).
*Minnesota music fans are just as half-assed as Minnesota sports fans.
*A $6 beer is occasionally worth every penny.
*Wisconsin is now apparently the Beirut of fireworks. The lovely Mrs. Jib commented last week on how few fireworks we had heard so far this year. Then dusk came on July 4th. Who needs commercial fireworks displays when your neighborhood sounds like Normandy?
*If you are ever sitting alone in your dark, older, creaky house and your cat suddenly sees something that you don't and takes off running at full sprint, you'll begin to understand why some cultures eat the little ghost whispering buggers.
*I miss this joint.