Lavabit and Silent Circle have given up when it comes to providing encrypted email communications. Mega plans on providing something to cover the gap and in general the only real way to deal with privacy-in-email is end-to-end encryption. There was talk that at some point email might give way to writing letters and using the US Postal Service but there as well you’ve got Postmasters writing commands taped to mail about how everything has to be photocopied and stored – so even the US Postal Service is full of spies, the only thing the US Postal Service can be trusted to carry is junk mail.
What is the answer? Pretty Good Privacy. PGP, or rather, the non-Symantec version of it which is the GNU one, the GPG. If you really want to keep what you write private when you send it to someone else, the only way to do that is for everyone to have GPG installed on their email system so you can write email using their public key, which converts your email to cyphertext, secure from even the NSA’s prying eyes, and requires your recipient to unlock the message using their secret key, which they have.
I’ve been playing with PGP and GPG now for a very long time and I decided I would at least make a route available if anyone wanted to contact me with privacy intact – my public keys are on my blog, they are also on all the keyservers including the one hosted and run by MIT and the GPG Keyserver as well. To send me a private message via email all you need to do is get GPG, set it up, create your secret and public key, get my public key, use it to write me an email and only I’ll be able to read it. The NSA will just flag the encrypted contents for later analysis and thanks to AES–256, they’ll be hard pressed to get to the plaintext in your message.
That’s the way around all of this. GPG for everything. GPG public keys for email, for chat, for VPN, for files, and HTTP-in-GPG. Everything pumped through GPG. Since the government won’t stop spying on us, it’s our duty as citizens to secure our own effects against illegal search and siezure, and technology exists to do so.
What a wonderful day it has been so far! I woke up, had my customary oatmeal breakfast and then after some puttering around the house I got into my bike outfit (not anything specifically bike-outfitty, just some UnderArmour gear that helps) and hit the road. The entire plan was to take care of the light-mass errands all by bike. That meant hitting KL Cat Hospital for Griffin’s special food and then Pets Supplies Plus for Owein’s special food. I also wanted a handlebar case for my iPhone so I didn’t have to carry it around in my pocket all the time; I’m always afraid that my pocket will empty my phone out onto the ground and make me a very sad geek. I was able to find what I was after not at Dicks, which I half expected I should, instead they opened without all their product being placed properly. Dicks also irked me, I had to secure my bike to a local tree. It’s not something that’s an outrage, but if you are selling sporting goods, wouldn’t a simple hum-drum bike rack out in front be a nice touch? Alas, I didn’t find what I was after. I did find a lot of UnderArmour, of course, but I have no money for such frivolities and I honestly don’t need any more clothes. Between my Doc Martin Chukkas, which I can boldly say are my favorite pair of shoes that I’ve ever owned, and the recent acquisition of all my bow ties I don’t think I’ll need any more additions to my wardrobe for a long while.
On my journey I used several apps on my iPhone which worked very well together. The central fitness app I use is MyFitnessPal. This app works really well with my FitBit, but there isn’t any integration with MapMyRide yet, so when you want to cross-log your efforts in apps you need to have three bits of information, the time you started, the duration and the number of calories that you burned. Irritatingly enough, the MapMyRide app will only give out duration and calories but not start time. I searched high and low throughout the App Store looking for a time logging app and found one good enough in TimeKeeper. I can start it, tap the title, then tap Biking and it’ll take a timestamp for me without me having to muck about with Siri. She doesn’t understand the phrase “Siri, mark the time.” So, irritating. Once I get all the data going I use MapMyRide to trace my biking performance, MyFitnessPal to track my calorie availability and manage what I can eat, and then last but not least, Google Maps. Google Maps has a biking mode and turn by turn directions which work really well when I’m on the road.
Biking around can be dull but I have another app on my iPhone that I use called Downcast that downloads and streams Podcasts over my phone so I can listen to original programming while I work out, going from one place to another. I’m currently listening to only three podcasts, “A Way With Words”, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”, and “RadioLab”. I have to say that I enjoy all of them immensely and the player is good enough to stream one episode back to back with the next so I don’t really have to fiddle with my phone much at all.
The only thing I would change is that I would bring battery backup for my phone next time. I was glad that Culvers had power plugs by the dining tables and I was able to get a wee charge from them while I had lunch, but that’s not something I should plan on – I need to prepare some sort of backup power deal when I go out biking.
So now, after lunch, which I splurged on (allowed myself french fries, which are my guilty pleasure) I’m at home, recovering from the 32 mile bike adventure. After this, I think I’ll head out and get the rest of the supplies, which entails a trip to Meijers. I may stop at Chocolatea for something not quite unlike Green Tea.
Earlier today, around 5pm in the afternoon I decided to swing by the Portage Barnes & Nobles Bookstore and get a snack and something to drink from the Cafe. I sat down with my Nook HD and was enjoying my drink and my snack and everything was going just fine until this one fellow came into the Cafe. He seemed like an average guy and I only briefly glanced at him, I half think because he was sitting adjacent to me and instinctually you just want to see who’s near you. I noticed that he was carrying a 9mm handgun in a holster attached to his belt. This was extraordinarily provocative and I couldn’t not notice it even though I tried.
I have talked at length about this very situation in a hypothetical sense with a loved one and I am fully aware of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution and I’m aware that Michigan has a fully respectable non-concealed carry law on the books. Nothing about this was a crime, illegal, or anything like that. It was however provocative, worrisome, and ultimately repellent.
This situation, now that I’ve been faced with it – and I’ve seen people carry weapons like these before, mostly state cops in their uniforms who stop at the bookstore Cafe for some coffee on their way along I–94, has created a new personal rule for me. None of this touches on honest police officers in their uniforms – it’s a part of their job and they have strict rules and extensive training on the conditions where they can access their sidearm. You don’t get bent at your appointed Gunslinger, Jake. But it has created a new rule for regular folk (or out of uniform police, carrying) that if I see that I will leave. I don’t have to remain anywhere I don’t feel safe, I have a car, I have feet, hell, I had my bike in my car. I could have pedaled away if the car wasn’t going to hack it. It isn’t against the law, and it wasn’t a crime, but it was definitely against my sense of safety and the risk was a bright throbbing red cloud around that gun.
How do you know that a situation won’t come up? Mistakes can be made. People can get weapons who shouldn’t have them and people can get permits to carry who really shouldn’t have them – how do you know? The uniform, or if not that, a displayed badge is enough to settle folk, but just a regular guy with a gun? It’s time to leave. So this is my new rule, it’s just for me and not necessarily for anyone else but if I see someone with a gun I will leave. I don’t have to be anywhere – my liberty guarantees me that and it’s all quite humdrum when you get right down to it. It doesn’t have to upset anyone, think of it as “I have to wash my hair” if it makes you feel any better. Just because people are allowed to do something doesn’t also mean that I have to stay where I do not feel safe. A bookstore is the last place where a gun should be, but that’s my personal opinion and the law is quite clear that the fellow carrying the weapon was in his rights to do such a thing, just as much as it was my right to get up and leave.
I know guns. I was trained by a competent marksman on how to handle various weapons and even how to load ammunition. I have read the Second Amendment and I know the law in Michigan. I would suggest that other people heed their surroundings with more consciousness and see people like the fellow I saw and do what they feel comfortable in doing. Each of us has to behave according to the dictates of our conscience and our morality. For me? Staying in a place where I don’t have to be (like the Barnes & Nobles Bookstore) makes it a snap. I just walk away calmly and quietly. I fully understand that the probability of gunplay is quite on the same level of being struck by lightning or winning the lottery, but what I know of a gun and what I know about the fragility of the human psyche – I’m all set now – Time to go.
I just wish there was a provision for private landowners, or in this case tenants of buildings like Barnes & Nobles to establish a Gun-Free Zone. Why have a gun in a bookstore? The people at a bookstore are not stupid, at least that’s the last thing one would expect, and they’ll likely be quiet introverted types who are averse to danger, risk, or doing something stupid. I look in the mirror for that. I know guns, I know people, and I know that the two really shouldn’t be mixed together – especially in public situations. How can you be sure that someone who has a permit to carry a weapon won’t have a spontaneous psychotic break, a stroke, or even temporal lobe epilepsy? What if they suddenly hallucinate danger? It comes down to risk. If you don’t care, then fine – but I do. People are a mess, on their own they are trouble, but with a gun? Now they are even worse trouble. Trouble waiting to happen.
And that’s what it comes down to. A gun is murder waiting to happen. What point is there in even having a weapon if you aren’t going to kill? It serves no other purpose, especially in a bookstore. You aren’t going to hunt a wild volume of Sherlock Holmes bargain book, it just sits there. It’s people you’ll be hunting instead. I often times wish I didn’t know, that I wasn’t so sensitive, that I could just get along and shrug and pay it no mind – but I just can’t.
So, I move along. All set now. Time to go.
Over the past few years there has been a slow evolution of revelatory agents that have exposed the darker parts to the light. These people have been declared whistleblowers, they have also served as placeholders for people to mount other titles to their taxidermied busts on display. Some of the other titles have been “coward”, “shill”, “thief”, “traitor”, and “enemy combatant”. They have performed actions which have revealed truth as they see it to as wide an audience as they possibly could reach and then let the chips fall where they may. I’ve got at least three people in mind for this when I’m writing about it. Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden. Each of these people in turn have done very similar things – they’ve found ways to collect secrets and hidden things and reveal them to everyone. There are a few things to unpack for all of this discussion, first the nature of what they revealed and the point of their revelations and then how people responded to what they did. All of this is very relevant now because as time goes by I am starting to see how others respond to these revelations and it deeply concerns me.
Julian Assange has created a progressively expanding website called WikiLeaks, which is devoted to exposing secrets wherever they hide. The response wasn’t one of understanding and defending a person for taking a risk for what, in my opinion, is the greater good but rather condemnation, promised punishments, and lengthy discussions about extradition.
Bradley Manning was in the military and hamfistedly stole military secrets and helped reveal things about the US Military that they would have preferred remain secret. We don’t have to wonder what the response was to Bradley Manning. He was apprehended and incarcerated. He still is incarcerated.
Then we get to Edward Snowden. Not as hamfisted as Bradley Manning, he went about his task with design and cleverness. He revealed something truly upsetting and honestly “Earth Shattering”, that the US Government through the auspices of the National Security Agency has been spying on everyone. Not just citizens, which is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment but on everyone on the planet. This is about as revelatory as one can possibly get and what he did and how we all responded has really been an education.
What of these three people? They are vilified, declared traitorous and because we don’t know much about their story except for what is fashioned for us through the media, a mouthpiece of the government really, everything we are told is colored by those particular filters. I see people declaring that these “whistleblowers” are reprehensible traitors, communist sympathizers, and deeply criminal. For all of them, Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden, I stand apart from the mob. Instead of fashioning them into scapegoats on which I can blame a host of flaws and then punish, I instead spend a lot of my time thinking about what they did, and then moving on to why they did it. What they did was expose secrets. Why did they do it? Why does a whistleblower blow their whistle?
Revelation is a violent act, the Bible has it as the end of the world – that’s quite violent enough and serves as a great set-dressing for what these three people did and how we all responded to them. Is it better to know the dark secrets? I think it is. Pulling back the curtain and letting sunshine hit the darkness makes it cleaner, tidier, more orderly. By exposing secrets you flush out the darkness, the mystery, and once aired, everyone is wiser for the experience because we no longer suspect, we know.
Really this is about Edward Snowden because he is the most recent whistleblower and his secrets are the most upsetting and how people have responded is the most enlightening thing I’ve experienced in years. It has definitely been quite a shock for me to witness how the material has been dealt with by others and how Edward Snowden himself is being slowly painted as a monster. The revelations keep on pouring out of him and with each new exposure the narrative that we are presented with paints Edward Snowden more as the villain and less as the hero.
So what is the big deal? That one question is principally the extent of the response that I’ve witnessed from everyone. I feel so alone, so estranged from my fellow American citizen. I am alone in my outrage, not at Edward Snowden, but at the NSA. Nobody seems to care. That’s really the galling thing about it. When you tell someone that the NSA is actively recording everything that you do, from the harmless-sounding “Telephony Metadata” they collect to recording your email conversations and your telephone conversations, listening in on your private affairs. This bothers nobody. This is absolutely gobsmackingly outrageously stunning to me. What really shocks me is the line ripped right out of the Nazi SS officials playbook on this “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” This pretext is just a stepping stone to “Papers, please.” and still nobody seems to even notice. When I raise the concern, in general around others about how our Fourth Amendment rights are being trampled RIGHT NOW I get confused looks and blank stares. The majority of responses I get amount to the notion that people either don’t know, can’t grasp it, or can’t be bothered with it at the moment.
If the NSA is spying on all of us, if the FISA court is a kangaroo court as people in our very government have said it is, if what Edward Snowden revealed is true then I have really only one question: Why did we fight in World War Two? What did we win? Is it awful enough that the GOP has turned into Nazi Party Part Two, or that lines from the SS are now being laughed over as punchlines? “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” I used to have something to hide. Something that 60 years ago could have landed me in a concentration camp next to a Jew. I suppose I’m a lot closer to this bleeding edge than other people, but what is one secret against another? If I have nothing to hide, I have nothing to fear.
And there is the word again. Fear. Fear is harvested and manipulated like a force. A force that manipulates public policy and public discourse and as it is, the narrative for Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden. Fear. Fear of? Pick something, pick anything. Fear of Iranians, fear of Israelis, fear of terrorists. And there isn’t enough without, try some fear within too, fear of economic collapse, fear of environmental collapse. Throughout all this fear we feel, this fear that allows others to short-circuit our thinking and provide us with a narrative that we feel safe with:
“Julian Assange is a traitor and a criminal, he should be punished for revealing leaks and I feel safer now that he’s taken care of.” –
“Bradley Manning is a traitor and a criminal, he should be punished for revealing leaks and I feel safer now that he’s taken care of.” –
“Edward Snowden is a traitor and a criminal, he should be punished for revealing leaks and I feel safer now that he’s taken care of.”
Fear and “… taken care of.” How this plays out for these people means very little to any of us, as we don’t know them, not personally, so we don’t care so much to know the real people behind these names. Perhaps these people are just like the rest of us in extraordinary circumstances. It strikes me that if I had access to expose secrets I would, which makes me just like these other people. The value of exposing the truth is more important than what other people think of me and that personal journey may be very close to how these other people perceive their own situations as well. These others could be just as engaging and loving and nice as I am deep down, but if I were in their shoes, the narrative would be written against me and people would hurl rotten vegetables at me as well, because fear makes people seek the refuge of canned narratives.
So what is to be done? What can anyone do? I’ve done about as much as I can. Professionally there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. All that is left is personal due diligence and so I have overhauled my PGP keys, enriched them, sent the public bits back into the public key servers and championed the technology as best as I can. What’s the traction in security? Zero. Nothing. I’m the only one. So, being lonely as I am, being concerned as I am, and being apparently alone in my concern is a source of stress, but at least I am prepared. I have encrypted everything, I’ve done everything I can to secure my own self and my effects.
I am still consistently and persistently shocked at how the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution has been violently savaged by our own government and we can’t be bothered. We’re being spied on and we don’t care. Our private conversations are being recorded and we just shrug it off. People are sleepwalking through the alarm klaxons. It’s hilarious and sad.
And so, we get to Edward Snowden, who stands in for Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. They’re all pretty much the same story played out over and over again. I’ve noticed people throwing their rotten vegetables over the notion that Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong, and then Moscow, with a hint he was maybe headed to Cuba, or Ecuador perhaps. I’ve read that people consider Edward Snowden to be a traitor who has “secrets to sell” to these other countries and that’s why he’s “on the run”. We’re starting to see old grudges reappear all because of Edward Snowden. “The relationship between the US and insert country here have been deeply damaged by their harboring of the known traitor Edward Snowden.” Grudges we thought we could get past, against China, against Russia, against… Ecuador? Sure, why not. Anything works to serve the corrupt narrative we’re being fed. So why is Edward Snowden popping up all over? He has more secrets to reveal and that the NSA has spied on US Citizens is just the start. The secrets he has to tell likely have more life in them to people who are the actual subjects of the secrets themselves. If the NSA spies on the US, and the United States is one of the largest multiplexes of the Internet on Earth, then it’s pretty much a safe assumption that the NSA is spying on EVERYONE. Get a map of the world, throw a bucket of red paint at it and you’ll have a relatively accurate map of just how deep this particular rabbit hole goes. That’s why Edward Snowden is traveling, that’s why he’s talking to other countries, this is all just getting started.
And it comes down to secrets. Secrets and spying and doing massively illegal things. As I observe how this is all playing out – with Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden, I can’t help but think about how people react to hearing news about death. If you tell someone that John Doe killed Jim Doe in premeditated cold blood people are outraged. If John Doe kills a million people in premeditated cold blood, people frown, shrug, and stop thinking about it. When you do something wrong and it’s small, it’s important. When you do something wrong and it’s immense, it’s irrelevant. The NSA spying on me? Upsetting. The NSA spying on us all? Irrelevant. People like me are screaming in the dark and we are upset because nobody around us seems to be interested – and perhaps it’s because people can’t be interested. When wrong is being perpetrated at this scope it may be beyond peoples capacity.
But life will go on. It’ll go on for Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden. I don’t see these people as villains or criminals or traitors. I see them as making the hardest decision and the bravest for doing what they did and living with the consequences. I reject the narrative that Edward Snowden is a “sell out” or is “selling our secrets to the highest bidder”. He’s playing the revelation game, this isn’t an Ian Fleming novel.
When it is all said and done and we see the extent of just how bad things are for us all I can only hope that it isn’t too late and what I foresee happening is just a fever dream of what could be and not what is to be.
I may or may not have just invented something new! I’ve been pondering for a while how to feed all my apple trees. Specifically this came about when I looked at my Weather Underground app and noticed a rather beautiful but dry week ahead for us here in southwest Michigan. The problem is, how do I water the trees where I don’t overdo it, where I don’t spend a while outside being a buffet for mosquitoes, and where I can water my trees on days that won’t have any rain without having to fuss any.
As I was walking home from taking the bus today it struck me as I was looking at all the lawns and gardens that I pass on my way home from the bus stop on East Main Street. Why not repurpose gallon-sized water bottles? I buy pure water for my cats drinking and food-additive water when I go to the market anyways and after I scrounged around the house I found three exhausted one-gallon jugs of purified water. Usually I just crumple them up and throw them in the single stream recycling bin where they go to be recycled, but as I was walking it struck me, why not poke very tiny holes in the water jugs and then I could put them out by the trees base and let the jugs drip-water my trees. It works wonderfully well! I keep the plastic from the recycling stream and I can fill them up in the morning with exactly one gallon of clean water and then cap them. One teeny hole at the top lets in air while there are two teeny little holes at the bottom that slowly let the water drip into the tree’s base. I don’t have to screw around holding the hose, wondering how much water I’m delivering and exposing myself to those nasty little bloodsuckers, at least not any more than I have to in order to water my trees. The only trick was figuring out what to make the holes with. The perfect tool is a thumbtack but I don’t have any at home, no application for them, so I tried the next best thing – flair-button pins! We’ve got a decorative glass bowl full of flair buttons. I grabbed a worthless one that nobody would care about and pulled it’s pin out, turning it into a kind of funny looking thumbtack. It did the job perfectly. Poked a next-to-invisible hole at the top, then two or three in the base and that’s that, all done! I went outside, filled the jugs with water and walked them over to the trees. Over the span of maybe half an hour the jugs will lose all their water. I know I have delivered one gallon of very slow drip-drip-drip water to my trees, not flooding them and not having to worry about how much or exposure. In the mornings when it won’t rain I can go outside and with the hose fill up each jug lickety split. Cap them and walk away.
It’s free, easy, and I think at least a fair bit clever. I think this could also work really well for our garden once we get it going. No more having to worry about how much water, how frequently, or any of that. And no more buying stupid “watering hoses” that disintegrate or don’t work properly when you get them home. This way it’s free, active recycling, and for four apple trees, that’s four gallons of water. Bam. I could even sneak some fertilizer in there and shake the devil out of them and dissolve the fertilizer or food and walk away.
If you find this useful, please comment here, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Google+ as I link-dump on all those other services as well.
Give your newer sisters and brothers-in-WordPress one piece of advice based on your experiences blogging.
If you’re a new blogger, what’s one question you’d like to ask other bloggers?
The best advice I can give is to be honest but have control over what you say. Honesty is the best policy, as the old adage is fond of saying and it keeps blogging simple as you don’t need to remember any lies you’ve written in order to keep your blog internally consistent. However, honesty has it’s limits, and that has more to do with sharing and privacy. Depending on why you blog, sometimes you may find yourself wanting to write about something private. I think that assigning posts passwords is a great feature to WordPress and makes sharing securable.
Some things are worth talking about, writing about. Some things you share aren’t really meant for your coworkers of your employer and then the best policy here is to slap a password on the posts and keep them private from wandering eyes.
There are a lot of great reasons too, to blog independently from WordPress.com. Having control over your content, not having to worry about quotas or paying for extra services all make self-hosting with WordPress.org really worth it in the long run, especially with the right hosting provider. I’ve found a lot of the plugins that enrich the self-hosted option of WordPress.org makes the product really shine. Here are some things to look into if you think blogging may be for you:
1. Fixing your .htaccess file on your blog. This can be configured to restrict your blog from foreign browsers. I’ve decided to ban entire countries from reading my blog mostly because I don’t agree with their politics, and in the case of China, I’ve gotten quite tired of comment spam. By limiting incoming traffic from browsers using this file, you can preclude them from ever being a problem. Just because the Internet is global doesn’t mean that you should feel forced to respect that globality.
2. Blacklist & IP Filter – These two plugins help identify unwanted IP addresses that are unwanted on your blog and the plugin IP Filter helps you block those with more configurability than you can get with .htaccess.
3. Akismet and Jetpack really help protect and extend your blog. Every blog I host has these two plugins and once you get them configured properly they add so many wonderful features to your blog that it’s difficult to imagine using the blogs without them.
4. PhotoDropper – This plugin makes searching for and inserting pictures in your blog posts a cakewalk. It takes care of searching for the terms you want, only shows you Creative Commons licensed imagery so you don’t accidentally run afoul of image copyright holders and automatically includes credit lines to your posts to help respect the people who are sharing the imagery you are using on your blog. It’s about as turnkey as I’ve been able to find when it comes to finding and crediting blog pictures that I use to enrich my blog posts.
Beyond plugins it’s also worth it to mention AgileTortiose’s iOS app Drafts. This app makes writing anything, journal entires, emails, and blog posts a snap. You can update on any connected device until you are ready and the destination selector feature makes pushing your updates out to various service a snap. I journal with DayOne and I post to WordPress using Poster. Drafts has options for these other apps and a dizzying array of more just for the tapping.
I read the article and I watched the video and I even caught some of the german the CEO of Nestlé was using. In the video he makes lots of arguments, including that drinking water as a human right isn't something he thinks is right – because water should be considered a foodstuff, so it can have value, and that value shows how important and valuable it is. He also declares that genetically modified foodstuffs have been in use in America for 15 years with no ill effects and then kvetches about how Europe refuses to allow this kind of food out of safety sake.
I think his arguments come from a place that I would characterize as obnoxious capitalism. This is what happens when money clouds your thinking so you don't see individual people anymore, you just see the bottom line and big numbers you can crow about. Like supporting 4 million people with your company and so forth. Each of his arguments is something I would expect a capitalist to make, one who has lost his inherent humanity. So, lets unpack them one at a time.
I was born and grew up in the Great Lakes region. For me, potable drinking water was never a concern – the city I grew up in had such excellent drinking water that you could make ice from it, and then pour it into a glass and drink as much as you wanted without having to worry about any ill effects from that water. Water here is common, so common as to be beyond thought. Potable water is free, available to everyone who wants it, and as much as they care to drink. Anyone can walk up to any business or restaurant or house and ask for a glass of water and get that very thing without paying one cent for it. This is something that is very important to understand about America versus the rest of the world. It is only in America where the water is free and clean and healthy. Everywhere else, you could drink the water that's available and reap the consequences of that action – or you could pay for bottled water. This CEO of Nestlé comes from a culture where water is Evian or Perrier. It's bottled, it costs money, so obviously his instinct is that water isn't a human right – because it would mean that the companies that sell good water would be forced to give it away for free. This is something that Americans take for granted and it was something, as a child of the Great Lakes, had no operating concept of when I went to France. In Europe, if you wanted to quench your thirst you had only a few options – wine or beer, bottled water, or your own urine. The last is unpalatable, but it is sterile and in a way, minimally potable. I think that the outrage over this video about water should be tempered by the light of cultural sensitivity. Poor Europeans have no operating knowledge of water so clean you can stick your head in Lake Superior and drink until you burst and you have absolutely nothing to fear about what comes next. No parasites, no bacteria, no cross-contaminated sewage-laden water supply to fear, just pure clean crystal clear water and a nearly inexhaustible supply of it to boot! So I for one write a pass for this poor swiss, or german, or whatever he is – ultimately European person and his weak understanding of just how vital and important water truly is. This is why we call it the New World here, we don't suffer from water scarcity or doubts about water quality, and it's free. It's something that I remind myself regularly when the political winds smell of shit here in the United States, yes, life can be difficult, challenging even, but. BUT. BUT WE HAVE FREE CLEAN WATER. How much is that worth? More than gold, more than money, more than anything. Humans can go without food for weeks and not die. We can't do that kind of survival when it comes to water, we need water too much, it's too dear. So temper your wild exhortations about leaving the New World, and think about water. For us, as Americans, the idea that water is a human right is so obvious as to be a complete surprise that not many consider it to be as we do. The Great Lakes are our blessing, worth more than any treasure on the planet. More than Gold, more than Copper, more than Platinum. Sweet cold perfectly clean water.
Genetically Modified Food
Another point this CEO of Nestlé makes is a very wrong-headed argument that Nature is somehow out of balance and not good for us. He states that quite clearly, that he considers “Organic” food to be inferior to his processed food. He even goes so far as to claim that GMO food has had no ill health effects here in America where we consume it with abandon. I call bullshit. GMO food may not kill us after we eat it, but processed food, food with GMO ingredients, things that aren't wild produce and certified non-GMO protein sources are in fact killing us. This crap food is killing us slowly. Very slowly. Imperceptibly slowly. Look at what happened in the United States over the past 15 years. We have become sick! We're ill! We are obese, we're riddled with cancer, diabetes, if you open any random cupboard I bet you'll find pill bottles with medications designed to address our maladies like cholesterol, acid reflux, or diabetes. These maladies may or may not have a causal link to GMO foods, but one thing I can say is that I believe that they are linked, they certainly aren't doing us any good! I've screamed at people that a good healthy long life can be had if you avoid processed “cheap” foods like the plague! Yes, McDonalds is cheap, but is it really? Like GMO foods (yes, I link McDonalds and GMO together, not directly, but in the way that neither are good for you) and the cost of that food is cheap to acquire but devastatingly expensive when you consider the long-term effects of eating that food. Cheap to buy, expensive to overcome obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, high triglycerides… on and on and on. So, when the CEO of Nestlé claims that nature is not good and his GMO processed foods are, my response can be only this, Sir, you are so full of bullshit that you can't walk properly!
So what is to be done? Teach children to cook! For the love of all that is good, learn to make your own food! Use wholesome ingredients, avoid processed food-shit, and if you can't afford to stuff yourself full, at least get a little something to get by! If we were serious about bettering our health and our happiness we would outlaw these processed food-shit items outright. They are not good for us and as a country, they could bankrupt us! Sure, McDonalds is cheap to buy and fills you up, but years later when you are riddled with cancers, obese, diabetic, and hypertensive the cost to keep your sorry body alive will be immense! What's the best thing that public policy can do to better our health? Ban GMO foods, ban processed foods, ban “fast food”. Ban this food-shit outright. If you did that, Americans would weigh less, we'd have less cancer, we'd live longer, we'd be regular, we wouldn't need insulin, and I bet we wouldn't need the handful of pills a day once we get to a ripe old age of 60!
But there is so much we can't risk, and that's really at the center of everything. We can't risk Big Agro and Big Pharma. If we did what we know we should we would have to tell all the drug companies and all the fast food joints to divest themselves in America and go elsewhere for their business. That's the trap at the center of all of this, we know that's the right way for us to go but we know we can't ever do it because it would upset the status quo. Ultimately my arguments can't be expected to survive in this harsh light when it comes to public policy matters, but I can make an argument to individuals and perhaps my arguments can make an impact there. If it's processed by a company, it's food-shit. Do you really want to eat food-shit? How much of your day do you spend eating food-shit? Minimally processed foods, produce, proteins, dairy – the things our grandparents and their grandparents considered as food is where we came from and where we should go back to! Learn to cook your own food! Can't cook? That's a bullshit argument and you know it. People who can't cook their own food are lazy and stupid and deserve their dark fate. If you hand the responsibility for eating well to some company, I wish you all the luck in the world. That company cares for your health about as much as a sea sponge does. Only those people who learn to cook care about their lives, the rest are just throwing it all away. Essentially if you eat this food-shit, and you are what you eat, then you are not made of anything good, you're made of shit.
So, what is best? Ignore this Eurotrash CEO and the wrong bullshit that he spouts. Take responsibility for your health and wellbeing. Take responsibility for your food! For the love of God, LEARN TO COOK.
Watching gun nuts trying to use logic, even their own warped logic and watching their points being used against them is both highly entertaining and deeply upsetting. I saw the clip on the Daily Show where John Oliver talks to that gun nut and demonstrates this very point. The way he looked, the way he dismissed everything single-mindedly reminds me of my gun-loving family members. Nothing matters so much as keeping the Second Amendment from being violated. I don’t think they have basic human empathy and I think it works much like how conservatives change their minds when their children come out as gay, when it comes to gay marriage. Perhaps, and I don’t actively wish this on anyone, but there is a part of me that wonders if these gun nuts would be so intensely resistant to gun control if someone they loved died in a massacre where a background check would have revealed that a mentally ill shooter bought one gun online and the other at a gun show. Their dead child would still be alive if they had learned to compromise on at least background checks. Alas, it’s too late for their dead imaginary child.
Unless of course those people happen to be any of the thousands who have lost loved ones to gun violence and gun massacres.
The shame comes when a change of heart that comes after such an imaginary event that might come to pass comes too late for everyone else. That’s why America is upset with the Senate. That’s why our government has let us down. We don’t have the time for them to lose their loved ones for them to wake up in time to keep our loved ones from dying. The people are suffering, and Congress would rather ignore the will of the people. That’s a clear case of a government that has ceased representing the people and are, to borrow a word from the gun nuts, a tyranny.