“For members of Congress and candidates for Congress spend anywhere between 30% and 70% of their time raising money from this tiny, tiny slice of us. Think of a rat in a Skinner box, learning which buttons to push to get pellets of food, and you have a pretty good sense of the life of a congressman: a constant attention to what must be done to raise money, and to raise money not from all of us, but from the tiniest slice of the 1% of us. And so what issues might that tiny, tiny slice of the 1% care about? Unemployment? Out-of-control health care costs? Actually reforming Wall Street? Obviously not. The issues that matter to this tiny fraction of the 1% are not the issues that matter to America. This is the corruption of USA-land. And it will only ever change if we change the way we fund elections.”
“Their intelligence. Elephants understand that ivory is the reason they’re being killed. There are very, very few big bulls with big ivory left in the world, and the two or three still in Tsavo have become nocturnal. I’ve seen a bull with big tusks by the road turn his back, trying to hide the ivory.”
What’s the biggest misconception people have about elephants?
Daphne Sheldrick, interview in TIME Magazine, June 4, 2012
This makes me so sad.
Just like humans are either left or right handed, elephants have a dominant tusk that’s usually shorter than the other from being worn away. Now, elephants are purposefully grinding their tusks against trees and rocks to wear them out and shorten them. Many aren’t being born with long tusks or even tusks at all because those who survive maintain the genes that make their tusks virtually nonexistent. So through evolution and poaching, elephants are slowly losing their tusks all together.
Amanda Palmer: The art of asking (by TEDtalksDirector)
“There is something truly grotesque about corporate leaders who earn millions of dollars – or even hundreds of thousands of dollars – arguing over paying their workers literally pennies more. Those workers often have to rely on food stamps or government welfare programs to make up the difference. Meanwhile, company CEOs have barely received a cut in pay for years, and on average they make 231 times as much as the average worker. That’s a lot of money, obviously. So the idea that paying $1.50 an hour more in minimum wage would break their companies and force them to save on costs is patently ridiculous. The first and most obvious cost they would have to think about cutting would be their own pay packages. What if those CEOs made, say, only 200 times the average worker? Or 100 times? One suspects their companies could afford that uptick for poorer workers then.”
David Loy: Society is Separating the Self from Nature
It’s hard to imagine the president of the International Olympic Committee on the “naughty step,” forced to stay there until he had repented for his behavior. But that’s more or less what has happened. Jacques Rogge had to “clarify” (in other words, backtrack on) his newsworthy comment that there was a “question mark” over the suitability of McDonald’s and Coca-Cola as Olympic sponsors. Apparently he had actually first flagged his concerns four years ago, but the lure of sponsors’ cash far outweighed any considerations about growing obesity levels … and apparently still does.
Speaking of debts, as most governments now do in order to explain why they can’t create anything and need to cut back on whatever is already there, here’s what I think we owe to those striking Quebec students.
We owe them for taking a shot at saving our national honour in the eyes of the world. We’ve lost brownie points on the environment, our even-handedness in areas like the Mideast, our commitment to peacekeeping — but their campaign for equal, publicly funded access to higher education hits a note closer to that other, previous Canada…
The students have fought this one on the issue of free — in the sense of publicly funded — post-secondary education. If post-secondary seems a bridge too far, think about this: any argument you can make against accessible post-secondary schooling, would apply in exactly the same way to high schools and elementary. In fact, during the last Depression, when high school still wasn’t widely available, there were the same arguments you hear now about how we couldn’t afford it. It was then, in that economic mess, that the fight was fought. I’m not talking about Quebec; it happened here in Ontario. The students aren’t just out to save a few bucks personally; they’re fighting for a historic principle.
OK, now having opened the door, as they say in the courtroom shows, I suppose I have to address the cry: There isn’t enough money! Along with its twin: The numbers don’t lie. Actually, since numbers are animated by people, they do anything people do: they lie, obscure, omit — so let me just point this out: When something is a widely agreed social priority, the numbers obediently adjust. The money gets found. That happens in every war and natural disaster. In those cases nobody ever says there’s no money. They raise taxes, rejig priorities, rearrange financial schedules. Suddenly it’s no prob. In other words, this isn’t just about economics, it’s about politics…
Rick Salutin in The Toronto Star (more here)