Dangerous Cooking?

Amy (from her wise and wonderful dad) sent some information on some developments related to non-stick cooking surfaces made with DuPont’s Teflon. I love cooking, irregardless of Micah suggesting I cook “strangely”. But I do, predominantly, use non-stick surfaces.

It seems that our non-stick cooking pans might be a little dangerous for us. The EPA, even under a more “conservative” administration, is digging into DuPont about its Teflon product’s manufacture and effects, mostly focusing on the use of PFOA – a primary chemical used in the product.

PFOA, originally was supplied by 3M Corporation to DuPont, but 3M stopped making it around 2000 – at which point DuPont began making it themselves.

PFOA has been demonstrated a carcinogen in rats, but DuPont says nothing indicates it is in humans.

Animals have been dying around the manufacturing plant, a couple women working at DuPont have given birth to babies with facial defects similar to those exhibited in the rats, and DuPont has settled a lawsuit for over $300 million dollars by the local residents near the manufacturing plant – but they contend there is no risk to humans.

Interestingly, PFOA has been found in over 90% of American’s bloodstream (apparently by screening donated blood). Even small amounts is considered bad.

The EPA says there is currently no reason for consumers to stop using Teflon products. However, I think I’m going to start phasing out the non-stick stuff.

Here are some related sites:

EPA seeks review of Teflon ingredient

U.S. Officials Accuse DuPont of Concealing Teflon Ingredient’s Health Risk

Dupont Denies Poisoning Consumers with Teflon Products

DuPont settles water pollution case for $300M

Honestly, I don’t believe it’s wise to limit punative damages. We have to make sure that’s it’s more costly for companies to give us life threatening things. Whether Teflon itself is dangerous to have on cooking gear, I have no idea. But it’s always irritated me, using non-stick surfaces. It’s always felt like cheating. Time to start re-seasoning my cast iron. Honestly, it’s more flavourful anyway.

What Are We Becoming?

A while ago Justin sent me a very interesting read – Dr. Lawrence Britt had come up with 14 points common to national fascism. Thanks Jus…

I did some looking around, trying to find various examples of each point, then came across a site that had already done a very good job of it.

View it if you’d like to see examples of each point listed.

And, here are the points:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause. The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people�s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice�relentless propaganda and disinformation�were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite �spontaneous� acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and �terrorists.� Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes� excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting �national security,� and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite�s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the �godless.� A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of �have-not� citizens.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. �Normal� and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or �traitors� was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

Private Industry Giving Up Their Patents

To me an amazing development – IBM is allowing 500 software patents to be be freely used by open source developers.

IBM has invested a lot into Linux – not entirely altruistically, of course. But this, to me, is a wonderful trend – letting ideas freely exist in the world for us all to benefit.

A hurrah! for IBM….

HBO Gives to PBS and the Public

A really nice idea, and thing to do from HBO: they are making three documentary-ish films, then running them for a month for their paid subscribers, then letting them air on PBS.

The three films are on biological warfare, genocide and AIDS.

They say they are doing this to make sure a wider audience gets to see them.

PBS will be adding a group panel commentary to the films as well, when they air on PBS.

Forgive the link to the New York Times article – they require you to create an account to view many of their articles – but here is the link.

He Gave It Away

He wanted to play, and gave it away – and changed the world.

I use Linux all the time – started a few years after this. Many of my friends do, too.

This isn’t a message about anything really. Just a thank you, to Linus Torvalds for being such a wonderful person (firstly) and a smarty pants, too.

And to everyone else who’s wanted to play, and make something neat and wonderful for everyone else.

Here’s his original public post announcing what was to become known as Linux.

All from honesty, humility (well, you know) and open-ness. And, of course, a little pride.